Monday, May 29, 2017

2nd Year in Review

Two Years!!! 

It really is hard to believe that we have finished our second year on the road. This second year didn't actually go as planned but as is usually the case the re-write was perfect. We arrived back in Asheville, NC on March 20, 2017. This year we traveled through 20 states - repeating some and adding some new ones. We called 58 RV Parks home. Some we stayed for a day or two, some for a week or more. The average cost per night was $25.99. Sometimes we stayed with family and stored the RV. We put 11,242 miles on the RV and 28,786 on the car. Here is a summary of the people, places and things we saw, with a link back to the original blog. 

Family and friends were a big part of this years stops.

In May we spent time in Louisville with Sherrie, Eric and Lilly and the extra bonus of Nancy's third cousin Kayla visiting from Georgia.They put us to work and we created a relaxing oasis in their backyard. We also got to see Lilly's school play, Much Ado About Nothing. 

Gail - Nancy - MaryRose

Katrina and Steve's house is always on our list of places to visit - we made two stops in Michigan. Once in May (covered in the Louisville link) where there was more yard work to do. 
Then again in August when we celebrated Katrina and Nancy's birthdays with family and friends.
Connie and Nancy
In February, Katrina and Steve flew into San Antonio, TX and spent a whirlwind 5 days with us.
After leaving San Antonio we met up with Les's cousin Dale and his wife Marianne in Fort Worth, TX. This was the second visit with them, the first was when we stayed in Frisco, TX in October of 2016. (Covered in the George W Bush Library ink)
Les also visited with his friend Bill in Florence, AL (covered in the Muscle Shoals link)
David John and Rebecca tied the knot on June 18, in Florida. David John is the oldest son of Dave and Sue, Les's brother and sister-in-law. It was a beautiful wedding and so great to spend time with all of them again.
After the wedding we spent a few days with Nancy's brother Bob and his wife Bonnie. 

On our last stop in Florida we hooked up with Nancy's 2nd-cousin Taimi (Kayla's mom) and her family. This time Nancy's great-niece Lilly from Louisville was vacationing with them!

Our time in Arizona was full of adventure and also a chance to honor Nancy's nephew Don who passed away in 2015 after losing his battle with Leukemia. The annual Light the Night Walk chose Don as the Memorial Hero for 2016. Nancy, her niece Sherrie and nephew Chuck all spoke at the event. It was an emotional evening but also healing. We did get in some fun as well.
Then at the end of December we spent time with just Chuck and Gina when they visited us in Casa Grande

Also, while in Arizona in November we met up with our dear friend Michele. Nancy, Les and Michele worked together way back in the late '70's.

It is always a blast when we visit Jan and Dave in Sacramento. This time we got to meet the new addition to their family. Sky and Mielikki wore each other out.

We even got to hook up with Janet from Asheville in Sedalia, MO of all places while she was participating in a bike tour. 

Route 66 
was the focus for most of this years travels. We did the entire 2,278 miles of it from Chicago to Santa Monica Pier. A lot of the road is gone or combined with the expressways but there are still lots of treasures to be found. 
Ranger Station - Times Beach

In some cases like in Times Beach, which was once a resort community that fell on hard times during the Depression, bad decisions were made for financial reason but the end result turned out okay. It is now the 419-acre Route 66 State Park.

Some places didn't get rescued and entire towns are abandoned. Like Plano, MO (covered in the Bonnie and Clyde link)

A number of old gas station buildings, like these two in Oklahoma City (covered in the Rock Cafe link) have been converted into restaurants, gift shops, museums, offices and the occasional gas station. 
Henry's Rabbit Ranch

Many people have used the route as a way to build a business, Henry's Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, IL is a good example.   

Harvey House - now offices
 in Needles, CA
Harvey Houses (like this one covered in the Hoover Dam link) were a popular place to stay in the heyday of the route and while many are long gone a few have been saved. 

We try to experience as much local food as we can and the diners on the route made this easy. One of our favorite stops was Sid's Diner in El Reno, OK, just outside of Oklahoma City. Onion burgers from the Depression era are still their number one seller. 

The old Neon Signs are iconic figures of the Route. Motels being the most popular. Tucumcari, NM. has a number of them. 

Do you remember going to the Drive-In? There are still some in operation along the route like this one in Carthage, MO (covered in the Bonnie and Clyde link)

Sayre, OK was one of a number of places where we found Burma Shave Signs. (covered in the Cadillac Ranch link)

While we still haven't seen the Pixar movie "Cars" we did see a number of things and places that were used as inspiration including the truck "Towmater" and the Rock Cafe, whose owner, Dawn Welch, was the inspiration for the character Sally Carrera. 

We came across a number of famous people along the way, but Bonnie and Clyde may be the most notorious. They rented an apartment in Joplin, MO, and when they fled they left behind a camera which gave the police photos of them. When we were there in September of 2016 it was for sale. 

We also made some new friends
like this guy in Oatman, AZ
covered in the Desert Hot Springs link

We crossed paths many times with
Karen Wichert and Werner Wilkens from
Germany who were biking the Route

Along with lots of neon lights and a side trip through the art town of Madrid and a stop at the Tinkertown Museum we also found volcanic rock outside of Albuquerque, NM

There have been three endings to the Route over the years with Santa Monica Pier (covered in the Desert Hot Springs link) being the final and current one. What a ride it was. 

Presidential Museums and Libraries 

We checked off five more Presidential Libraries this year. Abraham Lincoln spent a day with us in Springfield, IL. 

In Little Rock, AR we visited the Clinton Library and Museum (covered under the Little Rock Peter Toth Indian link) as well as his childhood home in Hope (covered under the Crater of Diamonds State Park link).
Abilene, KS is home to the Eisenhower Museum and Library, built on the property of his childhood home. 
The George W. Bush Museum and Library  are on the campus of the Southern Methodist University in Dallas. We also went to the Book Depository Building and stood where President Kennedy was shot. 
The Harry S. Truman Museum and Library, is in Independence, MO (Covered in the link from Janet's visit)

Other History
Muscle Shoals Sound Studio

We followed the music trail to Muscle Shoals, AL, visited an amazing Mississippi River Park and spent some time with Elvis

Little Rock Nine -covered in the
 Little Rock Peter Toth Indian link
Bombing of the Birmingham
Church - covered in
the Birmingham link
We were humbled not only by the Trail of Tears (covered in the Paducah Peter Wolf Toth link) but also by the monuments to 
the Civil Rights Movement. 


Traveling across the south we found many cemeteries dating back to the Civil War, like the one in Rocky Mount, NC. The best find ever was the Nashville City Cemetery. It is here that we learned what all the markings on the headstones meant - information we have used time and time again.
Hank WIlliams
Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery, AL is the final resting place of Hank Williams. 
At the Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, TN we found some very unique headstones. 
Some of the best Willow Trees were found in Delight, AR (you can find them in the link from Craters of Diamonds)
In the Greenwood Cemetery in Birmingham (covered in the Birmingham link at the end of the blog) we found a number of clasped and pointing hands. 
Greenville and Greenfield Cemeteries in Mississippi, the first had amazing sculptures and the second has ruins from an old church. (covered in the Crater of Diamonds State Park link)
Rosehill Cemetery in Meridian, MS is the final resting place of the King and Queen of the Gypsy's.

National and State Parks and Forests

Along the way we hit as many as we could. 
Princess Arch - Red River Gorge
In the Daniel Boone National Forest in TN we hiked the Red River Gorge. 

We visited  Pecos National Historical Park (covered in the link on Neon Signs) while staying in Tucumcari, NM  on Route 66. This is also the stop that brought us to Adrian, TX, the Midway Point on the route. It is 1,139 miles to Chicago and 1,139 miles to Las Angeles.

The New River Trail State Park in Virginia is a great example of what can be done to preserve history and nature at the same time. 

Blue Messa - Petrified Forest NP
One of our favorite stops was at the Petrified Forest National Park. A section of the original Route 66 runs through the park. This should be on everyone's bucket list. 
Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon has been on Nancy's Bucket List forever. Les was here years ago.
The Hover Dam was another side trip from Route 66.
Big Bend National Park was visited from Marathon, TX and is another favorite. 

The roads through the Lake Amistad National Recreation Area in Del RIo, TX takes you in and out of canyons, lake beds, rivers and to a dam. 

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park covers five different mission sites. It was fun exploring them with Katrina and Steve (covered in the link from their visit). 

Some of our stops were "monuments" Mammoth National Monument in Waco, TX was one of them. 
Point Park in Chattanooga TN is another and it is just a short walk from the Incline Railway Depot. 
Shiloh National Military Park  is another battlefield memorial, we actually went for the Indian Mounds that are also a part of the park. 
Ha Ha Tonka State Park  in Eldon, MO has castle ruins and we loved the name! From there we visited the Swinging Bridge State Park.
We also did some diamond hunting at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro AR, alas we didn't find any. 

The Chiricahua Monument National Park (covered under  the visit from Chuck and Gina) gave us sun, rain and snow all in one visit, along with amazing rock formations. In this same blog post we cover our visit to the Casa Grande Ruins

Trail of the Whispering Giants

We found 14 more Peter "Wolf" Toth Indians from the "Trail of Whispering Giants"
Cleveland, TN
The first two we found were in Cleveland,TN and Johhson City, TN. Then Paducah, KY, (covered in the Nashville Cemetery link) and Charleston, SCPunta Gorda, FL is the only one we have found that has a face on both sides. 
Little Rock, AR has theirs in a city park right on the river. There are three in Illinois, the cities of Ottawa and Hopewell each have one as does the Starved Rock State Park
Some we stopped at while driving to our next location, like the one in Vincennes, IN. Others like the one in Troy, KS were closer to us while staying in the neighboring state of Missouri. (covered in the link from Janet's visit) 
Desert Hot Springs, CA
The one in Winslow, AZ  (covered in the Grand Canyon link) is only a few blocks from the "Standing on a Corner" park (from the song of the same name), but we didn't realize it when we visited Winslow from Sun Valley, so we had to back track from Williams. 
Colquit, GA is shown in the link from our last stop in Florida - crazy at that may seem! 
The last one we found was in Desert Hot Springs, just outside of the Joshua Tree National Park.

Roadside Oddities
where in abundance on Route 66 and elsewhere.
Some very large ones like the giant Jesus at the Christ of the Ozarks.

Chris's Bowling Ball Art (covered in the "Towmater" link) in Kansas was great fun. A whole yard full of art made from bowling balls!
London Bridge

The largest roadside we saw this year has to be the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, AZ

Cadillac Ranch was quite something to see along with a number of other oddities on this stop (covered in Sid's Diner link)
Spaceship house in Chattanooga, TN
covered in the Cleveland, TN link

Nancy was in photographers heaven at the Sloss Furnances (covered in the Birmingham link at the end of the blog) in Birmingham, AL.

Some of the best sunsets we have seen were in Texas, and some of the best views of the night skies. 

We consider ourselves very fortunate that the only accident we have had was at the end of our 2nd year. While exploring Birmingham, AL we were the lucky ones in a three car accident, we were the only ones able to drive away and the insurance company for the person at fault covered all the expenses. 

We saw and experienced so much in this past year and we still haven't even made a dent in all there is to see. Looking forward to this next year of adventure. We are so grateful for everyone who follows along with us, encouraging us to keep going. Thank you! 

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You! 

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ There are always going to be bumps in the road, detours that take you off track and unexpected things happening. Don't let any of that stop you. Life will always throw a curve ball but don't let it keep you out of the game. 

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