After we left Jackson, we had a two night stay in Rawlins, Wyoming. I remember it being a small and desolate town when my family stayed a night while driving cross country in 1971.
It still is.
Actually, it has grown some, but its still small and desolate. There's an area on the east side where there is active construction—shopping centers, etc.—and there is mining and railroad business that seems to support their economy, such as it is. But the appearance of abandonment and decay pervades the older parts of town. I find it sad that new construction is underway while the buildings that carry the historical, western feel are slowly turning to dust. And it isn't just the commercial buildings. The homes in the area are sagging, peeling and leaning. Very few seemed well maintained. But, boy oh boy, were there a lot of new hotels and motels, all built for the mining executives that visit regularly.
|Found at a fuel stop on our way to Rawlins.|
|Our camp in Rawlins|
What we did experience in Sidney was an awesome lightning and thunder storm. It was close and the thunder was loud. Out of the cats, Brandy was the one who went and hid, but it didn't phase Louis at all, which surprised us. If it hadn't been for the storm, Sidney would've been a bust. Its all part of the adventure.
But, then our refrigerator went out. We couldn't figure out what happened. Rob did some asking around and found out about an RV repair shop in North Platte, Nebraska, that was well recommended and was on our way to our next stop. After a phone call, they said bring it in and they would check it out for us.
We had to buy an additional ice chest, 20 lbs of ice, and move the most important of foods into the two ice chests. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our freezer is well insulated and we didn't lose any of our frozen foods.
We arrived in North Platte just before lunch, and the repairman drove the Beast right into a bay. He said the fellow who specialized in the refrigeration systems would be back shortly, so off we went to a family restaurant up the street to get a bite. It was plain, midwest, home-type cooking. Nothing fancy, but filling and delicious. We loved our waitress, who was probably my age or maybe older and had a great personality and sense of humor. We felt very welcomed.
After we got back to the RV repair shop, we met the refrigeration guy, who showed Rob what the problem was. Apparently, a device was installed as a recall fix to our refrigerator and the lightning we experienced in Sidney tripped something in the box. All it took was a strong magnet swiped across the unit to reset it. After imagining dollar signs flying out of our bank account, or another claim on our extended warranty, we ended up paying $21.25 for their time. Now we know. If the refrigerator kicks off after a lightning storm, we pull out the magnet. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Thank God!
We arrived in Kearney, Nebraska, for another three night stay. I should've made it two. We were in an RV park off a gravel road in the middle of cornfields. No surprise there, it is Nebraska after all. But, we were getting bored. Rob has learned that he doesn't really need three nights down after a drive like he once thought. Two nights is enough unless the drive is 6 hours of more in a day and we try not to do that. Why tax ourselves. Kearney is a nice town, though.
|Sunset in Kearney. That's corn off to the right. Nothing but clouds whilst there.|
Then on to Oak Grove, Missouri, which is a suburb of Kansas City. We made a 6-night stop there so Rob could visit his high school alma mater, Wentworth Military Academy. When he was entering high school and his father was stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Missouri, they found that the local high school was non-accredited. If he'd graduated there, the only college he could have entered was Missouri State, I believe. Thus, through recommendations, they found Wentworth.
A delightful woman, Cheney Parrish (pronounced Shen-nay), who is the alumni and 'Institutional Advancement Coordinator' took us on a tour of the school. Rob reminisced and discussed people and instructors, long out of mind, on whom Cheney was able to fill in information. Many things have changed, women are now included, and the buildings are getting old. They need a serious infusion of funds. Enrollment is low, especially compared to 50 years ago, but their commitment to exceptional education remains high. They are still a respected institution that prepares individuals with the leadership skills and critical thinking necessary for success in any endeavor, an important component that public high schools lack throughout the country. Wentworth also offers junior college courses and degrees, whether or not one is interested in a military career. There are many men who graduated from Wentworth who went on to distinguished careers, some whose names you'd recognize like Marlin Perkins (Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom), and some whose names you wouldn't, such as William E. Adams, Medal of Honor recipient (posthumously), Viet Nam.
Our day was interesting and fun. And I felt privileged to walk the hallowed grounds of Wentworth Military Academy, a place which I know played a pivotal role in shaping the character of the man I married, of whom I am very proud.
|Rob in front of Wentworth after 48 years.|
|The Medal of Honor ribbon belonging to William E. Adams. Its very beautiful.|
|A helicopter used in Viet Nam like the one William E. Adams was flying when killed in action while saving others.|
|We couldn't see the room Rob lived in for his last three years at Wentworth, but this was the room he had for Freshman year. At that time, there was a bunk bed and two students shared the space.|
|The barracks where Rob was housed.|
|On the day we visited, returning students were being sorted out.|
|Rob with Cheney Parrish, a fun and informative tour guide. Thanks, Cheney.|
|Our camp in Oak Grove, Missouri. Very nice.|
|Louis relaxing on my seat and checking out the view.|
The Arabia was one of hundreds of steamboats that served the people living in the western frontier by bringing much needed provisions on the Missouri River, and one of many that sank during the 19th century. The waters were treacherous with debris such as trees that were torn from their roots by the seasonal rise and fall of river levels. One such tree, known as a 'snag,' sank the Arabia in 1856. Amazingly, there was only one casualty, a mule that was still harnessed and tied to a post.
Eventually, a levee system was implemented to control the direction and flow of the Missouri, obscuring the location of the site. In 1987, Bob Hawley and his sons, David and Greg, decided to find the old ship. With the use of modern technology, they found the ship under farmland south of what is now the path of the Missouri River, north of Kansas City. The farmer allowed them the winter of 1988/89 to dig and salvage what they could of the Arabia, and they had to be finished before spring planting.
The Hawleys originally planned to sell what they salvaged, but what they found was stunning—a true treasure of American history. Two hundred tons of well preserved cargo, from buttons to cloth to boots to axe heads to cooking pots to doorknobs to glassware. They knew they couldn't sell it because this find belonged to all of us, to remember and honor the bravery, fortitude and perseverance of the American spirit and a long past way of life.
We also visited the Truman Presidential Library located in Independence, which was a well-done presentation. Rob and I hope to, over time, visit all of the Presidential Libraries.
|The stern of the Arabia|
|Tin, bottles and dishes, much of which was Wedgwood.|
|A sample of the Wedgwood found in the cargo.|
|Stoneware, Wedgwood and fine china. To the lower left is row upon row of knives.|
|Lots and lots of clothespins.|
|Perfect cast iron. I'll take a few!|
|An assortment of buttons served up on Wedgwood.|
|Locks and keys.|
|I wondered if these were special prescriptions or like buying readers at Walgreens.|
|This is just a small sample of the amount of buttons displayed.|
|Over four thousand pairs of boots and shoes were found.|
|Stirrups and bridle hardware.|
|Shoes, shoes and more shoes.|
|So many keys.|
|Displays showing saws, hammers, nails, vices and doorknobs, chains, hinges and wall hooks.|
|Some glassware that broke during the probing to find the ship while underground.|
|A menu from the Steamboat Clara. The Arabia's was similar.|
|An end of one of the boilers.|
|Pail and drinking cup with hand pump.|
|The Arabia's anchor.|
|A display of miniature bombers at the Truman Presidential Library.|
|I hope this is what we all want.|
On Tuesday, Rob and I had gone to Grant's Farm, which is where several of the Budweiser Clydesdales are on display for visitor viewing. They also have a mini zoo and wildlife park, and a small museum. Quite a delightful place and it was well worth it. It cost $12 to park, but the rest was free. You only spent additional cash if you wanted to feed young goats bottles of milk, or buy feed for the chickens, camels, etc., at 25 cents a pop; and, it was $5 for a camel ride. Food was a little pricey, but fairly reasonable when compared to other places meant for family amusement.
By the time we were ready to leave Grant's Farm, I was experiencing swollen glands coupled with a scratchy throat. I'd had swollen glands while we were in Oak Grove, but it subsided after a few days and I never really felt sick. But Wednesday morning dawned with me definitely feeling sick. I took a shower in the morning and it exhausted me so much that I spent the day on the couch. My throat hurt, but it wasn't a typical sore throat, and it made every cough unbearable. This virus was high in the chest, no real nasal congestion, with lots of coughing. It even made my vision blurry. We never did get to go see the St. Louis Arch up close.
|At Grant's Farm by the Clydesdale stables.|
|Meet Stan, a 7 month old Clydesdale.|
|This Bud's for you.|
|Rob at the food court.|
|Baby camels are cute!|
|Just what he was waiting for.|
|Guess I was fascinated by the camel. This one looks like he's asking what day it is, but he was really waiting for someone to toss food into his mouth. No, really.|
The next day we traveled to Cave City, Kentucky. Good thing Rob didn't need me to drive, because my vision didn't clear up until about mid-day. Now I have a little residual cough, but Rob has now come down with 'the crud.'
Yesterday, I went into a town called Glasgow, to do laundry. The place was clean, but a bit cramped. Splayed on the floor were three siblings, two boys and a girl, with their arms as far under the dryers as they could make them go. I asked one of the boys what were they looking for? With great enthusiasm, he replied, "Money!"
"How's is going?" I asked. He showed me three quarters, a nickel and three pennies. I said, "You need a long stick so you can sweep the coins out from under the machines."
"Do you have one?" he asked, hopefully.
Next thing I knew, he was by my side telling me that he was able to buy a can of soda to share with his brother and sister and that they thought they saw a penny under the soda machine but couldn't reach it.
"Are you sure you don't have a stick?" he asked.
"I'm sure, but I might come up with something that will work." I told them to keep an eye on my book and drink and I'd go look in my car. I looked in the backseat and found a 'newspaper' from the Grand Tetons, which, opened full-length and tri-folded, would be stiff enough and long enough to sweep any size coin out from under all the machines. As I turned to go back into the laundromat, there were three faces pressed against the window, to which I acted surprised and made a silly face and the three of them squealed and laughed. They used the makeshift implement, rescued the penny and proceeded to re-check every machine in the place but, alas, they had already found all there was to find.
Good kids. And they all got along very well. I loved it. Wish I'd had my camera with me.
After today, we only have four more days left to go see the Mammoth Caves. Sure hope Rob feels better soon.
During our drive from St. Louis to Cave City, one of the interesting things I took note of was the immediate difference between Indiana, through which we drove the southwestern corner of the state, and Kentucky. In Indiana, the houses were rundown, yards unkempt, roads rough and in need of repair. Then we crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky, which was like another world. Everything is so green, homes well maintained, yards with neatly mown lawns, shrubs manicured, everything lovely and tidy. Why is that? What is the difference between the two states? Are the economics so different? Basic attitudes? What?
I'll leave you with that. Enough is enough. Sorry for the length, but I hope you read it all and found it somewhat interesting, at least. And there was so much more to say.
And I hope you enjoyed the photos.
|A scene just a short walk from our camp.|
|Camp kitty. Don't know his name, but he sure is sweet.|
|Camp kitty was very interested in Ollie.|
|Ollie thought he had a new addition to his flock.|
|Sunrise. Not a very good photo, but it is our view from the Beast.|