Sailing ship, sodas, small towns and surprises
Who ever said that the midwest is dull hasn't taken the time to take a good look. I have so much to share and so little space that it is frustrating. I could fill a whole newspaper. I will just list the places we visited and detail the unusual, out of the way or special experiences. Then I'll send you on your way to search out the rest on your own.
After the last newsletter was on its way to you, we explored the Fargo- Moorhead area. Bonanzaville, USA (Pioneer type village) was fair; we had been to better. Do not miss Heritage-Hjemkomost Interpretive Center and Clay County Museum in Moorhead. It features the Viking Ship Hjemkomost (which means homecoming) built by Moorheadite Robert Asp beginning in 1971. His dream was to sail the ship back to Denmark, but he died just after it was launched (summer of 1980) in Lake Superior. His family and friends saw to it that the ship sailed to Norway in the summer of 1982. There were other interesting displays in the museum too. We spent the whole morning there. If you're a baseball fan, check out the Roger Maris Museum in the West Acres Shopping Center. It is an interesting collection of memorabilia in display cases at the mall.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was our next stop. We enjoyed riding both ways on the 13 mile bike path that goes from the falls to the edge of town. East of the city we discovered Garretson and beautiful parks in the area. The town isn't much but tucked on a side street is The Attic. It looks small on the outside but inside it holds Christmas decorations that go on forever. And one feels like they are in a charming attic. Nearby Palisades State Park and Devils Gulch are full of red rock formations and history---Jesse James and silver mining type. Palisades had a nice looking campground too.
Another day we drove to Mitchell, SD to visit the Corn Palace. Our whole week in South Dakota was cold and rainy so that dampened our visits, especially to the palace. And the murals on the palace (done with fresh corn and grains) weren't completed because of the horrible weather all year. It is well worth a visit though.
Spirit Lake, in northwestern Iowa is probably a zoo in the summer. We were glad to be there in the fall when it was quiet. This was a very special place and we detail it on page 4.
Weeping Water, Nebraska, is near the Iowa border and about 35 miles east of Lincoln. While in the area, we toured the State Capitol in Lincoln (good tour), Boys Town in Omaha (fantastic tour) and visited old friends in both Lincoln and Pacific Junction, Iowa. We detail our side trip to the southwestern corner of Iowa on pg 4.
Warrensburg, Missouri, was special because it was a family visit. We had a wonderful 10 days with Jim, Sue, Kristopher and James. Other than traveling to Kansas City to be on a radio program, we just stayed home.
Tampa, Kansas, (pop 100 +/- a few) is about 80 miles northeast of Wichita. I fell in love there�with the town, the people and go into some detail on page 5. While in the area, we made a trip to Abilene and visited the Dwight D. Eisenhower Museum. If you like history, you'll enjoy this one.
Wichita, Kansas, was a short stop for us. We had expected to be interviewed by the newspaper and radio, but both fell through. We took the opportunity to visit Old Cowtown Museum and thoroughly enjoyed this unique historic outdoor museum. Even though it was the slow time, all the buildings were open and it was very realistic; we felt we had gone back in time. Don't miss this place.
Our visit to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was just to attend the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) Six State Rally. We parked with 1,136 other motorhomes at the Fair Grounds. There were sessions to attend, an ice cream social, new coaches and products to see, meals to eat, and lots of nice people to meet. Neal & Lynda McDonald (newsletter subscribers) found us and introduced us to their friends---Doyle & Kathy Hutchason.
We are now in Whitney, Texas, (35 miles north of Waco), but I haven't left the campground---and we won't until the newsletter is done.
We really had an enjoyable 6 weeks traveling through the center of the
heartland. I'll always remember the gentle rolling hills, the quaint villages
and the people---down to earth, friendly and sincere. The people of this
great country ARE it's greatest asset.
Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After our unpleasant experience in New Hampshire, I never thought that I would be recommending a Yogi Bear campground again, but this is a good one. Owners Ray and Audrey Aljets are very friendly and helpful. The pull-through sites are level and in tip-top condition. This reasonable park ($75 a week) is only a couple of miles from downtown Sioux Falls. Amenities include a heated pool and hot tub.
Cutty's of Okoboji Resort Club, Spirit Lake, Iowa, (CCC), page 190. This is absolutely one of the best CC campgrounds that we have visited (haven't been to Hart Ranch yet). The club house, indoor pool, restaurant, tennis courts, activities, and excellent pull-through hook-ups all add to your enjoyment. Mix in lots of friendly people and you are in for a good time. The resort area of Spirit Lake has a lot to offer (see Barb's report). I'm sure you would need reservations during the summer, but most of us full-timers just hibernate during that period.
Thousand Adventures---Thorenhaven Resort, Weeping Water, Nebraska, (CCC), page 280. This friendly resort is still recovering from all the rain and some flooding that the area experienced. The resort has potential, but is struggling a bit. The indoor pool was closed for repairs and the sites need some leveling. Even though it's quite remote, we found it convenient to Lincoln, Omaha and Southern Iowa. We were delayed a half hour upon leaving, because the friendly members just kept coming to talk. We like that.
Blasi Campgrounds, Wichita, Kansas. This Good Sam park has the best possible hook-ups with totally level pull-throughs and cement pads. It has a large laundry room and is just outside the city on US-54, with easy access in and out of the city. The daily rate with GS discount is reasonable at $14.00 a day.
Suncountry Resort, Whitney, Texas, (CCC), page 433. Another nice CC
resort with lots of friendly people. I know I'm repeating myself, but we
really feel at home at the CC resorts. You can keep as busy as you want
at the club house with movies, bingo, cards and other socials. The sites
Did you notice the beard on my caricature above this column? Barb is really getting good with her computer graphics. The nose is still a little big.
After attending the FMCA rally, I can talk with the best of them about motorhome mechanical options. Just ask me about trany coolers, headers and gear venders.
I would have loved to take our good friends, vacancy pastor Don Ryding and his wife Liz, south with us. And they would have loved to join us, but, right now, he is needed more where he is at.
Thanks to Don's installation help our Bounder is now equipped with a CB. We monitor channel 14, so give us a shout when you pass by. My handle is "bean counter."
As an MSU Spartan fan, I love the scores coming out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, these days. I hope Chuck Fisher (fanatic U of M fan) and I can still be friends. GO GREEN!
I can see why Senator Bob Dole is against taxes at the federal level. His own state, Kansas, is one of the highest taxing states in the country.
It's interesting to note that the city hall in Moorhead, Minnesota, is above a very nice shopping mall. The merchants get first crack at those city employee paychecks.
Our motorhome is averaging just under 6 ½ miles per gallon, because
the Spine Trail
There's a rail trail (an old railroad track converted to a hiking biking trail) that goes between the towns of Milford and Spirit Lake. Called The Spine trail, it was honored as the 5,000th mile in the nation's Rail to Trails system. This one year old, 10 mile trail has an asphalt surface, crosses three bridges, and was so enjoyable to us that we rode from Milford to Spirit Lake and back two days in a row.
Technically it was the first day of fall as we drove from Cutty's CCC park at Spirit Lake to Milford and removed the bikes from the roof of the car. The sun was warming us nicely, but a cool, northerly breeze made us keep our jackets on. It felt so good to be on our bikes. We were alone on the trail most of the time; it was just us and the birds, the corn fields and woolly caterpillars. The only sounds were the rustle of leaves trying to hang on one more day and the crunch as the tires ran over dry crisp leaves lost to the season. This was a sensory paradise. Occasionally we heard the scratch and ping of a metal rake being pulled and heard the leaves swish together. Brilliant marigolds and mums graced the edge of yards and flower gardens and the smell of fall was in the air. Leaves burning, fire place chimneys sending fragrant smoke signals. Why is the smell of a wood fire so nostalgic? Just the thought is warming.
There were other sounds too. The whir of our wheels, the hum of a motor boat off in the distance, the splash of a fish jumping up to see what was going on and occasionally the gentle voices of neighbors talking over fallen leaves.
Oh it was a glorious two days. Now you know why we went back for more don't you? One day just wasn't enough and we were so engrossed in all that was around us that we hardly noticed that each day was a 20 mile bike ride.
at Okoboji University
We made a special trip and found it as directed ("turn at the bank and it's right there"). When I entered, I asked where the university shirts were and was directed to the back of the store. Way back! This store went on forever, and as I traveled to the back, I recognized top quality merchandise in this old, unpretentious, creaky floored building. Names like Polo, Patagonia, Esprit, Nautica, Calvin Klein and Nike. But there's even more to this store. Oh yes, there is an upstairs full of marked down "brand name" clothing, but that's not what I was talking about.
In that back part of the store they had all sorts of university clothing--- everything from jogging shorts, football jerseys, tennis shorts etc. to expensive sweaters. All sported the emblem or at least the name of the university. It looked like a college book store minus the books. There were Okoboji University cups, mugs, beach towels, playing cards and more.
I got a little suspicious when I was being helped by a nice woman. I can't remember her name but above it was her title---Director of Economics. Then after picking out my Okoboji tee shirt, I meandered this 10,000 square ft building reading some of the posters and such. The "Fighting Phantoms" seemed an unusual mascott then these headlines hit me "University of Okoboji---Where Fun in Life is Your Degree." I was beginning to see there is no university. It is all tongue in cheek.
As I was still browsing, Herman Richter, Director of Student Affairs
offered to help me. I recognized him from some of the newspaper stories
displayed in the store. I asked him if I could write about him and he armed
me with all sorts of good stuff for reporting. For example The Wall Street
When asked to describe the University of Okoboji, Herman Richter replies, "It is an attitude. If Walter Mitty were alive today, that's where he'd be going to school. Believing in the University of Okoboji has become a bit like believing in Santa Claus."
We have a banner on our bedroom door, cups, a proper decal on the back window of our pick-up and I have my tee shirt---all announce us as alumni of U of O. What about President Bush?
When Bush was in Iowa for a primary in' 89, someone suggested that Richter
make him an honorary graduate. They included a U of O tennis shirt. A little
while later, the Iowa Register ran a picture of Bush pitching horseshoes
with his new shirt on. They ran it with this heading---U
of O Alumni Makes Good.
Ice Cream Sodas in Iowa
Our first stop was Hamburg, Iowa, and the Stoner Drug Co. Hamburg is a pleasant town with a cute downtown which is about three blocks long. Most of the stores were occupied and looked healthy. The poor town had suffered from floods at the southern end, but the area where the drug store was looked good. Sure enough, right in the center of the well stocked drug store was the soda fountain.
As soon as we sat down at the stool, Beverly was there to wait on us. It wasn't noon yet, but we had decided that the only way to report on ice cream sodas is to have one. Ron ordered chocolate and I ordered cherry. It was absolutely yummy and we ate (drank) it all up. Before we hopped in the car, we walked both sides of the business district. Nice town! Good sodas!
Shenandoah is about 20 miles northeast of Hamburg and we went right to the downtown area. Shenandoah is quite a bit bigger than Hamburg, but we had no trouble finding Jay's Drug on Sheridan Street. Nearly every stool in this 105 year old drug store was full. Still full from the first soda, but determined to be good researchers, we each ordered the standard--- chocolate and cherry. Connie Kites chided us for being so boring and suggested strawberry. Being agreeable sorts, we said OK. They were good, but too rich. I only finished half of mine---Ron ate the whole thing. Jay's is much more than a soda fountain drug store. They have everything and a gift shop too. It's a great place with good sodas.
By the time we got to the A.V. Penn Drug Store in the very small town of Sidney, we could barely say "soda." We told Jina what we had been up to and that we wanted just one sip of the soda so she wouldn't be offended when we hardly touched it. It wasn't fair. If we had gone there first, it would have been OK. But by then it was much too sweet. This was the cheapest of all at only 80 cents. The others were $1.25. All had at least 2 (sometimes) 3 scoops of ice cream. It was fun!
Owner Frank and Mgr Virginia Bentz
stained glass windows are exquisite. A priest comes monthly to hear confession and give communion. Opposite the Catholic church at the end of Main street is St Johns Lutheran Church which celebrated it's centennial this year. Don will serve there until June when they hope to get a pastor from the seminary.
The Santa Fe trail ran through here and ruts of the trail are clearly
visible at the cemetery. In 1857, during the great rush for Pikes Peak,
50,000 wagons pushed through in just 100 days. Few people pass through
now, but if you do, you'll be treated like family. Anytime we went for
a walk, everyone said a few words and wanted to know about us. I'd say
it was even friendlier than a Coast to Coast campground. And do have a
meal at Butch's Cafe. We did on Sunday after church; it was standing room
only and good home cooking. It was like eating a big Sunday dinner with
a huge loving family.
(Remember that this report was written many years ago and the restaurants may or may not be in business or as they were.)
Moorhead Host, at the Moorhead Center Mall, Moorhead, Minnesota. Fast, friendly service even at the busy lunch hour. The turkey dumpling soup was yummy and the dessert list was heavenly---all freshly made on the premises. The dessert varieties were amazing---16 pies, 8 bars, 10 cookies and 8 muffins.
Spirit Lake Bakery, Cheese Mart and Donut Inn, Spirit Lake, Iowa, is open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.. They have an early bird special from 5-8 a.m. and a breakfast buffet. We had a regular breakfast and it was great. The breads and baked goods are terrific too.
Butch's Cafe, Tampa, Kansas is not gourmet or fancy, but if you
are looking for down-home cooking in a very friendly atmosphere with very
good prices, this is the place to be. Sunday dinner was chicken fried steak,
fried chicken or BBQ chicken. Each dinner came with potatoes, creamed corn,
coleslaw or jello salad, coffee or tea and included ice cream for dessert.
$4.00 was the price for each dinner. We wanted to try their breakfast and
intended to go on Monday, but they were closed. I'd bet it would be fun
to sit and talk with all the locals each a.m.. By the way, the Cafe is
in the old bank building, and the safe, which is visible, is used as a
This 'N That
I keep forgetting to mention our great discovery. Great Harvest Bakeries. It is a chain which originated in Montana and they have the very best, hearty bread in the world. It's not cheap, but if you really like bread look for them as you travel. We have found them in Okemos, Michigan, Fargo, North Dakota, and Overland Park, Kansas.
Speaking of food, how many of you know the recipe for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese by heart? We all do. Better look at the recipe before you fix it the next time. It has changed only because the box doesn't contain the amount it used to. Dirty trick, I'd say. And they didn't have the nerve to point it out. I made macaroni and cheese soup because I didn't look. Want to complain? Call 1-800- 543-3733. They say that our comments count. Lets see if they mean it.
I got scalped and fried in South Dakota and not my Indians. A beauty shop in Brandon really clipped me. Every time I look in the mirror, I want to cry. It's been a month and it's still horrible. I carry my perm instructions, but she went crazy before I knew it. I'm not sure how to avoid this once in a while unless it is to have short straight hair. I'm really glad that GMA didn't want us yet. Maybe by the time they do, It will be better.
Since we're talking about consumer things, I heard about a great idea recently. You know those hard cards that they stick in magazines? If we all mailed them (without filling them in) maybe the companies would get the idea that we don't like them. It would cost them a bundle. I'm not saying (in print) that I'll do it---but it is a good idea.
This trip gave us the opportunity to see some people we hadn't seen in a while. We had often met up with Jack & Nancy Pittman (he is controller for the Nebraska Highway department) at highway conventions and promised them 4 ½ years ago that we'd get to Lincoln someday. We had a nice dinner and got to meet some of their fiends.
I had to mention to Jack that it is no fun to travel the U.S. routes in Nebraska. Any of the ones we were on by-passed the towns. I like to drive through them. That is part of the charm of going the "red" roads. If you can't go through towns, it is like an interstate.
We also met up with Earl and Donna Lincoln at their home in Pacific Junction Iowa. We had volunteered with them at Hot Springs National Park in 1990. Since they had never been to Boy's Town, they went with us. We kidded them about having lived there all their life and not seeing it, but that's how it is, isn't it? I wish I had had room to write in detail about the Boy's Town grounds and museum. I have great photos too.
Of course our visit with my son Jim and his family was special. We probably gained more weight because they are such great cooks. And Sue (from England), knowing how much I love treacle pudding, made it for dessert one evening. It is so sinfully wonderful, but I love her for fixing it. We tried to spoil the grandchildren just a little too. Isn't that what we are supposed to do?
Several of you have written asking if it was just a coincidence that there is a rest area in Michigan named for a Ron Hofmeister. No, it is named for Ron in recognition of his contributions to the Michigan Department of Transportation. It's a nice honor. In case you missed the article, it is the second south bound exit from the Mackinaw Bridge on I- 75.
We've been getting good reviews on the new book and the newspaper articles and radio interviews have been terrific.
Trailer Life Enterprises (that included Motorhome and Good Sam) declined to review our book. Barbara Leonard, editor of the magazines said, "It is in direct competition with their book." What do you folks think of that? Too bad---we gave them some good plugs.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Groene's (from FMCA) said that they will review ours (even though they have their own full-timing book) because they agree that anyone who buys one book on full-timing will buy them all.
It was such fun riding the bike paths in South Dakota and Iowa. It reminded me that I still want to make a long bike trip in the United States. I'd like to bike from Washington state to Florida. Since I only want to bike 40 miles or so a day, I figured we could have someone drive the motorhome ahead so we could always have our bed with us. Does that sound like cheating?
We really got a kick out of meeting Neal and Lynda McDonald at the FMCA rally. Being from Arkansas, Neal has a delightfully strong accent. I love listening to him. One afternoon the four of us and Doyle and Kathy Hutchason skipped the scheduled session to talk the afternoon away. We were talking about heights when Neal said, "I doen wan ta go no hi'er an pullin' corn an no lower 'n digg'n taters." Isn't that cute?
There were a lot of big coaches at that rally ($500,000-bus type). We
figured conservatively that the average coach there cost $100,000. $100,000
x 1,136 = well over one hundred million dollars worth of coaches there.
Impressive! Wonder what the national rally is like with over 4,000
University of Okoboji Entrance Exam II
Interpret the Following
3. KEET KEET =
4. 10SNE1 =
5. SPIEKY =
6. HO GUARD HO =
7. MALOSTIL =
8. NORIGHTWHERE =
1. Four wheel drive
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