Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Kansas - El Dorado

El Dorado

September 18, 2016 we left our lovely little spot that was home for so long and headed west into Kansas. It was a straight shot down Highway 54 from one campground to the next. The road had a few hills but for the most part was straight and flat. This was the reason Nancy got brave and drove the RV. She test drove it before we bought it, a couple of blocks around the dealership and had never been back behind the wheel. It wasn't as bad as she expected, but the 91 miles she drove had no big cities or much traffic to contend with and only one turn at the very end. She is still pretty proud of herself though and Les got to experience what it's like in the passenger seat!

We stayed at the Deer Grove RV Campground which is just east of El Dorado. It is a small campground with mostly permanent trailers, and is basically a large gravel lot. There was grass around the edges, and a few trees for shade. They have a small dog park. Laundry room was clean with two of each machine. We paid $32 a night with our Good Sam discount.

A visit with President Eisenhower is one of the things that brought us to this area. His museum and library are in Abilene, and are built on the grounds of his childhood home.
There is a Meditation Chapel, which is where Ike and Mamie are buried.
The Visitor Center is where you start, you can browse the gift shop and watch a movie that outlines Eisenhower's life. You get a short tour of his childhood home, just the first floor and then you can wander the museum at your own pace.

This is our least favorite so far. The museum starts with WWII, which of course he was a leading figure, but it felt more like a war museum than one about Eisenhower.
The displays are wall after wall of pictures and descriptions that follow a timeline as things happened.

There was a section of woman's accomplishments during the war. Of course, most everyone knows about Rosie the Riveter, but not everyone knows the story behind it. The famous graphic of a woman rolling up her sleeve saying "We Can Do It" is not actually Rosie. It is Geraldine Doyle, who was 17 when a photo of her was taken in 1943, for the Westinghouse Corporation. At the time she was working at a metal factory in Ann Arbor, MI. Rosie the Riveter was a song written by Redd Evans and John Jacob, about women in general, the image grew to represent the independent woman and her strength.
Picture on the left is Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973) she was the first 
woman elected to the U.S. Congress in 1916, before woman could vote. 

There was very little about Ike's life prior to his military training at West Point, most of what you learn is in the movie you see at the beginning. The section for Mamie was mostly clothes with a few displays of her charitable work.
Neither one of us came away with any feeling for what the man himself was like, or what Mamie was like.

There was actually very little about his presidency and almost nothing about his life afterwards. Most of the other museums had lots of interactive displays, this one has a few videos and just one bank of phones to listen in on conversations he had.
One rounded wall listed the achievements during his presidency, which there were many, but it left us feeling like they just glossed over them.

He was an avid painter, and two of his paintings were on display.
We were told that the museum will be closed for all most all of 2018 so they can redo all of the displays, so hopefully it will be better. Based on reviews we have read we are not the only ones who felt this way.
We found a few Roadside Oddities in Abilene. A happy looking Tin Man and a Giant Spur gateway at the Fairgrounds.

Nancy fell in love with this barn.
Our drive to and from Abilene took us through the prairies that Kansas is famous for and some interesting towns.

L: Sorghum field - C: Prairie - R: Silhouettes on a hill, we saw a number of these

Lots of places that reminded of us home. Detroit was a great find, a little smaller than our hometown of Detroit, MI!
Florence, was Nancy's moms name, we have found a number of towns named after her.

This old Standard Gas Station was in Strong City. We loved the old cars.

While we did not see the Wichita Lineman, we did see a number of cool things in Wichita. Roadside Oddities of course. A Rooster on the roof of a donut place, and no we didn't stop for donuts this time. The Muffler Horse stands on the sidewalk downtown.

Some Oddities are a little more serious than others. The Lunch Counter, is a tribute to the soda fountain sit-ins of the 1960's.

This sits where a Woolworth's used to be, there was a sit-in at this store in 1958, thought to be one of the first sit-ins in the country.

The Mini Stonehenge Astrological Calendar is in Central Riverside Park. The stones have beautiful mosaic designs on them.
The sun comes through a hole in a piece of blue stained glass, which casts its shadow on the metal date markers.

The Scottish Rites building (L) and the Historical Museum (R)
There are some beautiful old buildings we well.

The Keeper of the Plains is an amazing sculpture that sits on top of boulders and is surrounded by Indian artifacts and history.

The Keeper looks out over the joining of the Little Arkansas River and the Arkansas River and downtown Wichita. He is surrounded by five fire pits that are lit each night at 9pm.

He sits at the end of the property of the Mid-American All-Indian Center. A large building filled with American Indian History.
They hold ceremonies on the expansive lawn, there is an outdoor educational area, and plaques along the walkway with information about local Indian artists.

Blackbear Bosin, a Kiowa-Comanche artist, donated this piece of work to the citizens of Wichita in May of 1974. Bosin's ancestors camped on this spot. Made from weathering steel, he extends his arms in supplication to the Great Spirit. "All living creatures are Indians' brothers" Bosin said. The Keeper was chosen as one of the official emblems of the 1976 American Bicentennial. It is stated that the statue and the All-Indian Center "will symbolize the coming together of the Indian culture, first within itself and then with the non-Indian."

El Dorado is a fairly small town, but they have a fabulous park system. There is a paved walkway that connects the parks together. We enjoyed a nice stroll down one of them.
Most of the path follows along the river that winds through town.
The path crosses under the train tracks in a number of places. It always strikes us as funny when we see trains that do not have graffitti on them. Most small towns have clean trains, you can always tell which ones spent time in a big city.

Like everywhere else, Kansas is having a very hot fall, it was in the 90's this day and Mielikki was trying to find shade anywhere. Unfortunately, she picked a weeded area to cool off in. It took a number of brushings to get all the burrs out.

This was quite the stop for Nancy, first with driving the RV here and second she got all her hair cut off.
She has hesitated getting it cut because she is not thrilled with finding a new hair dresser every 4 weeks or so. It has been so hot, and with her very thick hair it is a lot of work having it long.
So off it went. Sheri at Forever Young in downtown El Dorado cut over 8" of hair off, the piles of hair on the floor was pretty crazy.
This new short look will be so much cooler and easy.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way.
~ Making a list and checking it twice.
Yes, Les looks like Santa but we are not talking about a Christmas list. As we have mentioned before we usually stay off the beaten path, it's usually quieter, cheaper and puts us centrally located to activities we want to do. It can also mean that stores, even a Walmart can be 25 - 30 miles away. So with his in mind when you are working on a project of any sort and need to run to the store check all your supplies before you go. Les's last project had him making multiple trips, over 40 miles round-trip, to get all the supplies he needed. That was gas money and time we didn't really need to spend.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Missouri - Osceola -Part Two


September 1, 2016 - like most everyone else we couldn't believe it was September 1st! This is the day we moved to Osceola, a little town in the middle of nowhere. We were actually closer to El Dorado Springs but as is usually the case the mailing address is someplace else.

Arrowhead Point RV Park is where we had planned to stay for a week, due to some issues with the RV we ended up being her for 17-days. Couldn't have picked a better place to stay so long. It is beautiful, very well maintained, with a small pond, cabins you can rent and nice long RV sites. Bill greeted us with a big smile and some great stories. Anne was so sweet, she even stopped by on our last morning to say good-bye. Our site was plenty long enough for the RV, tow-dolly and parking the car. They are about average width but angled so that you are not sitting on top of your neighbors hookups. WiFi was pretty good. Site is gravel but very level with a strip of grass and a picnic table. We were in a shady spot, as we don't use our TV, but there are open spaces for satellite users.
Plenty of room to walk the dog and big fields behind the campground to let her run off lead. They have places through out the camp and around the lake to just sit and relax. Nancy's morning walks resulted in lots of pictures, some flowers, turtles, spiderwebs and more. Laundry room was very clean and they have a club house that you can use. 
One morning there was some beautiful fog, but mostly just sunny skies while we were there. 
The front porch of the clubhouse has a number of hummingbird feeders that had lots of activity. Dozens of birds at a time.

Independence, MO is home to the Harry S. Truman Museum and Library.
It is a rather nondescript building set in a pretty park like setting. The lay out is very similar to the others we have visited, where you follow along the history of person as you pass from room to room. This one was a little different as the main floor is his political life and his childhood and family information is on the lower level. Neither one of us knew much about him, so it was a nice learning experience.

His presidency was full of turmoil, thrust into the job after President Roosevelt died, and in the midst of war couldn't have been easy.
One room was a wall of newspapers from the time. The front page of the papers were presented for you to read.

After the war, the challenges had just started here at home. As things settled down, the middle class really started to grow and "luxuries" like refrigerators and TV's were becoming more common place.
President Truman was a strong supporter of the little guy.

He was also a supporter of Civil Rights, which divided his party and almost cost him the reelection.

The famous newspaper headline of his defeat is about the only thing we knew of him prior to our visit.

Both Harry and Bess Truman are buried here in the court yard. There is construction work being done so we couldn't go out to the sites, but they are laid to rest between the two trees in the center of the picture. 

The eternal flame was given to the Museum by the American Legion Post #21 and dedicated to the memory of the President who was also a Legionnaire.

Troy, KS was a little farther than we normally travel for a day trip, but the Kansas Peter "Wolf" Toth Indian carving is there. He sits on the lawn of the Doniphan County Court House. It is the 29th carving on the Trail of The Whispering Giants. He was carved in 1978 from a Burr Oak and stands 30-feet tall.

Our travels to and from Troy took us through a variety of familiar sounding towns. It is amazing how many towns go by the same name, we went through a number of Michigan towns Garden City, Adrian, Lansing, and Dearborn. Then there was Nevada, Prescott and one that you don't see very often, Peculiar!
We also drove through Levanworth, KS which is home to the Leavenworth Prison, we didn't stop to visit. It is a huge sprawling complex and not at all what we would have thought it looked like.

Atchison, KS is the birthplace of Amelia Earhart. She was born on July 24, 1897 in the home of  Alfred and Amelia Otis, her maternal grandparents.
Her mother Amy, did not believe in bringing her children up to be "nice little girls". So Amelia and her younger sister had quite the adventurous childhood exploring the outdoors. She was always interested in the sciences and woman's achievements but not aviation. She kept a scrapbook of newspaper articles and information about woman who were working in fields that were considered at the time to be strictly a mans field. She attempted college a few times but had to quit due to financial and family issues. 
In 1918 she attended an airshow and was enthralled by the planes, she later commented "I did not understand it at the time, but I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by." On December 28, 1920 while attending an airshow with her father, pilot Frank Hawks took her up in his plane. "By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly", she said later. After the 10-minute flight she became determined to learn to fly. She saved every penny and with a little help from her mother she raised the $1,000 to take lessons from Anita "Neta" Snook, a pioneer female aviator. 
Roadside Oddity - Wooden cut out plane 
She wanted to fit in with the other pilots and chose a leather jacket, knowing that the other aviators would be judging her, she slept in it for three nights to give the jacket a "worn" look. To complete her image transformation, she also cropped her hair short in the style of other female flyers.  On May 15, 1923, Earhart became the 16th woman to be issued a pilot's licens

On our first trip to Springfield we made a couple of detours, first was Humansville, we got such a chuckle out of the name we had to go and explore! 
The only "human" we
saw in Humansville

The next detour was through Boliver, Nancy's sister Jeanne lived in Boliver, OH which is a small town south of Canton/Akron. We assumed this Boliver would be about the same, but we were wrong, it is quite a large town. They have a beautiful court house in their town square that is bigger than the whole town of Boliver, OH.

As you know we are always on the lookout for Roadside Oddities. Some of these were found while traveling Route 66, others are from different adventures. 

In Springfield we found a Giant Fork and a Submarine coming out of the ground.

While we were waiting on a part for our generator to be fixed we treated ourselves to some Hurt's Donuts - now that takes you back to your childhood doesn't it! It reminded us of Voodoo Donuts in Portland, OR.
The Muffler Car was fun.
It is actually road worthy.

Not far from our campground was the Osceola Cheese Shop, yep it was awesome!

A great find was Jack and Virginia's Restaurant. When Nancy was growing up her second "parents" where Jack and Virginia Hanadel. Both are gone now and greatly missed. 

In Carthage we found a Crop-duster Tractor Plane and in Carterville we came across an ice cream store that is also a Superman Museum, we were so bummed that it was closed. 

In Webb City at the King Jack Park there is a Kneeling Miner and Giant Praying Hands.
Nancy caught the sunlight just perfect behind the flag. 

Our favorite was the 8-foot Airedale statue in Joplin. Of course Mielikki was scared of it so Les had to sit with her for the picture. 

The largest oddity we found was 
Red Oak II.

It is located just outside of Carthage, MO, and is the creation of Lowell Davis an artist who many have called the Norman Rockwell of Rural Art. He was raised in Red Oak, MO and moved to Dallas, TX for work. 

He missed the simpler life of the country and was saddened by the decline of small towns in America. When he moved back to Missouri he found his hometown of Red Oak had turned into a Ghost Town. In 1987 he started buying the old businesses and homes and moved them 23-miles to his Fox Fire Farm.
 At the time the area was just farm land but to Lowell it was a blank canvas, "I don't believe that an artist should be restricted to use only paint or clay. It can be anything including junk, wood, even an old building. To me, Red Oak II is a combination of a painting and a sculpture, and it is just made from things that someone else threw away." 
The church holds a Sunday morning service and on Saturday nights there is a blue grass jam session that takes place. 
As you pull into Carthage, this pickup truck, an advertisement for Fox Fire Farms greets you. The caption under the truck says "It ain't no wonder his wives left him" 

A real bonus to staying longer here was that we got to see our good friend Janet, from Asheville. 
She was biking the Katy Trail and was about an hour from us. It was so nice to see her and share some good beer with her. 
We explored a little of Sedalia and were treated to a homecoming parade - in the rain. 

The Katy Depot Welcome Center is one of the stops on the trail, they have a nice gift shop and some cool metal sculptures on site.

 One day Nancy will learn how to weld and make something as cool as this pole of tools. 

Next up is El Dorado, KS where we will spend a day with Dwight Eisenhower and explore Wichita.  

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Driving the highways and byways
Just a reminder that when you are driving and there are RV's or trucks towing a trailer they need to be treated like a semi-truck. We can't stop quickly, or change lanes as easily as a car. If you're entering a highway and an RV is in the right lane - speed up like you would for a truck. If you are switching lanes, leave room in between you and the RV. It is amazing how many people treat an RV or trailer like it's another car.