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volume 4                         November  1993                         number 7
NORTH DAKOTA TO TEXAS
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 thereŚwith 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.


CAMPGROUND  UPDATE
                                                           by Ron
(Remember that this report was written many years ago and the campgrounds may or may not be in business or as they were.)
This month we have 5 campgrounds to report on --- 2 commercial and 3 Coast-to-Coast.  All were good and one was outstanding.

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 are
adequate with good hook-ups (some pull-throughs). There is a golf course adjacent to the park with reasonable rates. The resort is handy to Waco (35 miles) and a good stopping point for those on the way to the Rio Grande Valley for the winter.


          Potpourri
                                      by Ron
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 it's
recommended not to use the overdrive when towing.  I'm glad we are back where gasoline is about a dollar a gallon.


Quiet & Fun Times 

Biking the Spine Trail
The Iowa Great Lakes in the northwestern part of the state include West and East Okoboji and Big Spirit Lakes. There are other smaller lakes too. All are glacier made and boast great fishing. A tour book lists fish of enormous sizes being caught here. Obviously this is a bustling place in the summer, but we were there in the fall---my favorite time of year. 

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. 

Fun at Okoboji University
Did you know that former President Bush, Ron and I are all alumni of Okoboji University? We are. We had heard about the university. Several snickered that we had to get our university shirt. Figuring that any tee shirt shop would sell us the university tee shirt, we stopped at a shop in Okoboji. "No, you can only get them at the Three Sons in Milford," we were told. 

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 Journal wrote
in 1977 "The University of Okoboji, located somewhere on the boundary line between the Big Ten and the Big Eight, has everything you would expect of a top flight institution of higher learning.  Everything, that is, except dormitories, classrooms, a curriculum, students and a faculty. That leaves bumper stickers, pennants and sweatshirts...."

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.


Small Towns in the Heartland

Ice Cream Sodas in Iowa
   Just after we got settled at Weeping Water, Nebraska, I read an article about old fashioned soda fountains in five little towns in southwestern Iowa. I checked the map and discovered that three were  very near and figured that it would be a pleasant drive to check them out. I made the proposal to Ron by suggesting that it would be a good newsletter story. So one morning we were off, armed with camera and empty stomachs.

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! 

Tampa, Kansas
Tampa is on the map but not listed in the index of our road atlas. You'll find it north of Wichita and near state route 15. Why would anyone go to Tampa? We went to visit our good friends Liz & Don Ryding. He is vacancy pastor there in the Lutheran church. We were beginning to wonder what we were in for when we turned on the dirt road off routes 56 & 77; the badly faded, nearly fallen sign said "Tampa 11 miles." 

Less than 100 people live there in neat little houses on the half dozen streets. The good sized school originally held all grades up through high school, but it hasn't heard the sound of children's laughter since it closed in 1969.   The theater burned in the 40's. Once upon a time there was a doctor and dentist and even a gazebo in the center of town. Everyone from around would come in to town on Saturdays to listen to the music. Now the only businesses are a bank (The Tampa State Bank), a small post office (still gives out hand written receipts), Moffitt's, a small but fairly complete grocery store (they even have videos to rent), a grain elevator and Butch's cafe. There is a beautiful park with nice playground equipment, but few children live here. Most of the residents are retired farmers. 

Moffitt's Grocery
Owner Frank and Mgr Virginia Bentz
It is a very quiet town. No one locks their doors. There used to be five churches in town; only two remain, and the Catholic church closed last year. But the church doors remain open for anyone who wants to sit and pray or meditate. Anytime I entered there were fresh flowers on the alter and the 
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. 


Good Places to Eat
(Remember that this report was written many years ago and the restaurants may or may not be in business or as they were.)
Smoky's Tavern & Steakhouse, Fargo, North Dakota. Great prices, plenty to eat. Both of our entree's were a bit salty though.

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 pantry.


This 'N That
by Barb

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
coaches.


Signs Along The Way

Bumper stickers on Motorhomes

A happy childhood can begin anytime

It's not good mileage for a car, 
but it's great for a house.

In the Lincoln Foundation garden
downtown Lincoln, Nebraska

If you with litter will disgrace
and spoil the beauty of this place
may indigestion wrack your chest
and ants invade your pants & vest.

                  Sign in Salina, Kansas

Don't worry about middle age
You'll out grow it

University of Okoboji Entrance Exam II
This is a small portion of the exam

Interpret the Following
 

1. wheel
   wheel  drive = 
   wheel
   wheel

2.    MAN
    CAMPUS  =

3.  KEET  KEET =

4.  10SNE1 =

5.   SPIEKY =

6.   HO GUARD HO =

7.   MALOSTIL =

8.   NORIGHTWHERE =

Answers

1.  Four wheel drive
2.  Big man on campus
3.  Parakeet
4.  Tennis anyone
5.  Pie in the sky
6.  Garden hose
7.  Lost in the mail
8.  Right in the middle of nowhere
 

Copyright © 2001, Movin' On with Ron & BarbTM- All Rights Reserved 

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