Life's Journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, totally worn out, shouting "Wow...What a Ride!"

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Busy August Days

August 1-September 7, 2017

Will all the things planned for August I knew it would fly by in a blink of an eye. Unfortunately we didn't get up WI do to being sick but as it turns out we'll see our friends in TX but more on that later.

Ranger Dalton with 2 guests

The Lake Shelbyville USACOE holds an annual Aquafest to raise awareness of water safety, it's a reach out program geared toward kids.

Rangers Ashley, Dustin & Sarah

Ranger Amy

Ranger Caitlin-a summer intern Ranger

Water balloon toss

The Lake Shelbyville ISOP (Interpretive Service Operations) group which the volunteers are part of had a BBQ. After hearing Dave talk about pulled pork for a few months they asked him to cook up a couple for the BBQ, there sure wasn't much left so guess they liked it.

The Opossum Creek volunteers-our neighbors

When our son Tom heard we were going to be in IL all summer we made arrangements for him to ride to IL with my brother Andy and SIL Katie on their annual visit to see our folks. He hadn't seen his grandparents since the summer of 2011. Dave and I had to volunteer the day after they got here so everyone came out to check out the Lake Shelbyville USACOE Visitor Center.

Dave giving Tom wannadinger lessons

After a dinner at Monical's, the local good pizza joint, everyone came out to our campsite for a fire and dessert, dessert of course was a cook your own with s'mores and wannadingers.

Andy & Dad trying their hand at wannadingers

Tom stayed with us for two nights, on our whole free day together he decided he wanted to see Springfield and some of the Lincoln Heritage Trail.

Around the capital building were all kinds of statues depicting fire fighters, police, social service and other various social occupations.

Various wall art we saw while walking around Springfield. 

One of our stops was the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. This was our first time to a Presidential Museum and hopefully not our last. 

The next day we took Tom to tour Casey IL. Seems Casey has become our go to tourist trap this summer, shoot we don't even need help getting there anymore.

After doing the tourist thing with Tom we headed back to my folks house where we had a final family dinner before Andy, Kati and Tom headed back to CO early the next morning.

 During family pictures these two always remind us they're not related by blood.

Soon it was time for us to finally get the wheels rolling on the rv and we headed to Thomson Causeway COE on the Mississippi River in north west IL. We had a great time visiting with our good friends Mark & Nancy, we did some tourist things, met up with other friends and kept busy the whole time.

It was our turn to have one of the most popular sites at Thomson Causeway COE campground, site 114.

Cannot beat the sunset views from this site across the Mississippi River. 

On one of our rides we ended up for lunch at Potosi Brewery in WI. After his samples Dave ended up with a few 6 packs finding their way home with us.

Friends Terri & Mike Young were staying about 90 minutes away from Thomson so we all piled in and headed to Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park in Lena IL. Considering how depressing most of the IL state parks we've driven through this summer I was surprised at how nice this state park was.

After a quick visit, cut short by rain, and the obligatory photo we all headed to Monroe WI and Baumgartner Cheese Store and Tavern where we had a wonderful lunch though of course we got no pictures. Lots of great conversation and great food made the visit go by way too fast. Thanks Terri & Mike for making time to get together. Safe travels and we'll see you somewhere down the road.

We then took a stroll around downtown Monroe and got another obligatory photo out of the way.

 By the time we got back to Thomson friends Alex and Paul had arrived for a surprise visit. They, like us, think nothing of diverting a bit to see friends as we travel along. Seems like last time we saw them was at this same campground, wonder if that's going to happen whenever we go to Thomson.

6 adults taking 3 dogs out for a walk. 

For those who know Alex and Paul, here's proof Alex can exercise...not to say he wasn't protesting a bit but he did walk over 2 miles. 

Thanks guys for stopping and for a great dinner. They were on their way to Elkhart IN where we would be seeing them again in a few weeks. 

One last evening and campfire with these good friends. It'll be at least a year before we see them unless they come to CO next summer. Thanks for the good food,  big fires and priceless friendship.

Before we knew it the Solar Eclipse was here. We were in 95% totality and on duty at the visitors cen/ter. Most recently our calls at the visitors center were inquiries about the $10 Lifetime Senior Pass. When the cutoff date was announced we had 500+ passes, by mid August we were out. Calls continued until the cutoff though as the eclipse approached we were getting calls for eclipse glasses. There was no program going on for the eclipse so no glasses had been ordered. It got to the point where we wanted to pick up the ringing phone and say "We have no passes or glasses" Since there was no program planned I had purchased us some eclipse glasses since I knew we'd be in a good place to observe what ever the skies might bring that day. Dave was able to get some of the filter film so he placed that over his camera lens, he got some pretty good photos.

Rally bound

At the end of August we attended the 2017 Grand Design Owners Rally in Elkhart IN. Our only other rally had been in Quartzsite in 1/2016 which was a loose meetup of owners, we have plans to attend the next Quartzsite Rally in 1/2018. There were about 225 Grand Design RV's which equated to about 450 people. Seminars every day on different aspects of our rv or other related rv seminars. Breakfast and lunches were provided every day, a few potluck/happy hour dinners and the final dinner provided by Gradn Design. Factory tours, excursions, new rv's to walk through and lots of other things to keep our days hopping. We had a great time, hanging out with friends, putting faces to friends we've only met on Facebook. We look forward to attending some of the regional rallies as our travels permit. A big thank you to Grand Design, the volunteers and wagon masters who put on such a wonderful experience.

Tim Reames
Julie Reames

For many of us these three are the face of Grand Design. Tim and Julie spend the year traveling to rallies all over the country. Tim heads up the service dept and Julie is a wonderful Grand Design ambassador. Bill Martin is the voice of Grand Design on our owners Facebook page. He's head of marketing but to us in the GD family...we call him Superman.

Bill Martin

That's us on the left, along with a whole bunch of like minded folks

We did succumb to a few of the vendors at the rally. One item we purchased was a decal for the back of our RV.

We spent a couple of last days with my folks  taking rides in the country side, then a last dinner at our favorite restaurant, Neimberg's, in Effingham IL. We had a great summer here in IL, made some new friends in the rv community, had lots of friends stop by but best of all we enjoyed the time spent with my folks. So glad we took this time to spend the summer near them while we all could enjoy our time together.

Our last day in town was busy getting supplies stocked up but best of all meeting up with our friends Curt and Glenda of  Camp Lowry: That's How We Roll.

 Thanks you two for thinking of Dave while in VT. So glad we could meet up with you guys for a quick lunch. See you in October in AZ.
As August came to an end we were watching Hurricane Harvey and where it was headed, needless to say we were concerned when it bore down on Port Aransas TX. By the time we got back from the rally we knew we would be leaving Lake Shelbyville early and work our way to Port Aransas. We cancelled our slow drive to AZ and meet ups with lots of understanding friends. We thought though we could still stop in CO to see Tom then head to TX. The plan is to head across MO arriving in CO on Sunday 9/10 and spend the next 3 days with Tom and leaving on Thursday. How fast we travel to TX from there will depend on when we can arrive at Gulf Waters.  We worked our Labor Day weekend shift and then spent the next few days saying goodbye to my folks and meeting friends for lunch our last day in the area.

Our thoughts on volunteering for USACOE, we had a great experience and would do it again, we're on the look out for the next COE project we'd like to volunteer for. Our schedule was 2 on 4 off which was just fine, if we needed to make schedule changes we just talked with the other 2 couples. I liked working at the visitors center because when we were in the campground we weren't on duty. Dave wishes he could have done more maintenance things but it just didn't work out. We look forward to catching up with our friends at Lake Shelbyville COE when we're in town visiting my folks next year.

On to Colorado then on to Texas.

Until next time...