Archive for July, 2009

Frozen Keisters and Camera Problems

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

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Jumping a little ahead of a couple of stories, Last night we were just east of the  Quad Cities of Rock Island, Moline, Davenport and Bettendorf  which are in the states of IL and IA.  (This is the place where the Rock River merges with the Mississippi.) We froze our butts off and had to turn on the furnace. It was a new record low.  It must be time to head back south, but that day still lies about a month away.

About two weeks ago, I dropped the camera and now the screen looks like this.


The last few reports were published (and the next two) with pictures from this camera.  It’s tough to just point and not know what you are shooting at.  Sometimes you get lucky, other times not.

I can’t believe it, but when we purchased the camera back in March of 2007, we had the foresight to purchase a 4-year repair or replace policy on the camera.  We have to be in the general vicinity of the store for a couple of weeks while they process the replacement.  Therefore, we’ll have to wait until we get back to Texas to deal with it.

That poor camera has been through the works and has held up well through the over 12,000 pictures that we have taken with it.

In the meantime, I purchased a Kodak EZ Share camera to tide us over until we have our other one fixed.

Cahokia Mounds

Friday, July 17th, 2009

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It’s amazing what you just come across on your travels.  Located just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, the Cahokia Mounds is a well kept secret.  There is a very informative “Interpretive Center” on the grounds.  Between about 650 and 1400 AD, a prehistoric city of up to 20,000 Native Americans from the Mississipian Culture was established.


This is a drawing of the city based on the archeological digs at the site.


The main structure, Monk’s Mound, is 92 feet tall and is the largest earthen mound in the Americas.  The Cahokia site is the largest site north of Mexico.  This photo of a mural on the wall of the Interpretive Center shows Monk’s Mound with its temple and game fields.


It probably won’t surprise anyone when I say that I opted out of climbing the steps on Monk’s Mound.


There are several shapes for the mounds.  This dome shape indicates a burial mound.


The leaders, or chiefs, were housed in the temples or other structures on top of the flat topped mounds.  The head chief lived atop Monk’s Mound so he could oversee the entire community.

Branson to St Louis

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

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Leaving the Pea Patch RV Park in Branson was no picnic.  Our “pull-through” RV site was anything but.   The park is on such an incline that we could not make a turn to go out forward.  The park operators told us to contact them when we were ready to leave and they would assist us in pulling out.  We had to back out of our slot and head up the extremely steep hill to the site closest to the top of the hill.  If the place had been full, we may never have been able to leave.

Once we worked our way back through the mountains toward Springfield, MO the remainder of the trip to St Louis was pretty uneventful.

From Springfield, Interstate 44 E is a direct shot to  St. Louis.  We kept seeing signs that portions of historic Route 66 were running along side our path. Old rusted vehicles and old obsolete signs were everywhere.


How about a ’49 or ’50 Ford.


We had written some about Route 66 when we went through Arizona last year. (See Article)  So, we decided to take a little side trip down the old road for about 10 miles.  Route 66 buildings are easily recognizable. Here’s one that used to be an old gas station.


Many of the homes along the way are also from that period.


Upon arrival in St Louis, we crossed the Mississippi and set up our rig in Illinois at the Cahokia RV Parque.  A huge storm was bearing down on us and we finished setting up in record time just as the first rain drops fell.

Later we headed back to St. Louis to visit with Rick’s uncle, Richard, and his wife Shirley.  They live along a golf course and we were treated to a beautiful view out their back door once the rain stopped.


We went out to eat and had our fill of some great Italian food.  It was good to get together with Dick and Shirley.

We have a few excursions planned while we are in the St. Louis area and will report on them very soon.

Rest Stop News (Texas and Missouri)

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

 Not all states are created equally.


Several months ago we wrote about the new Texas rest areas in “Out of the Dark Ages“.    The specific rest area was southbound in Bell County, Texas.  On the Northbound Bell County rest area we noticed even more.


The landscaping is nicely done.


There was even an workout area for drivers to enjoy.


A little closer view.


In Walker County the rest area is in the East Texas forest.


This one has its own lake out back.


With walking trail and pavilion.


We’ve found these rest stops to be quite interesting.  So far, it looks like Texas is doing a good job revitalizing their “Safety Rest Areas”.


Now, Missouri is a different story.  We stopped at a rest area on Interstate 44, eastbound, about 80 miles west of St. Louis.  They had your standard restroom near the top of a hill.  Apparently when the laws changed requiring easier access to facilities for handicapped people, they came up with a novel solution. Near the parking lot we found a uni-sex “outhouse”.  Here we had two locking stalls with toilets over a pit in the ground.  I will say that they were extremely clean and were pleasantly deodorized.


Branson Misc.

Monday, July 13th, 2009

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Our time in Branson was short, but we could have filled several more days.

The Pea Patch RV Park, where we stayed, ran another business on the property called Ball Knockers. They had removed a few RV sites from the rear of the property and built a half tube shaped pathway down the hill from a building at the top.  The object is to put a person inside the ball and roll it down the hill.  The people are removed from the ball and the balls are loaded on this trailer for the return to the top of the hill.


We didn’t have enough time on this trip for a try at it.  Maybe next time.

We did, however, have enough time for a free tour of the the Stone Hill Winery.  The main facility is located in Herman, MO., about 70 miles west of St. Louis. Stone Hill was one of the three largest producers in the world prior to 1920 and prohibition.


There are only a couple of wines bottled in Branson.  We tasted about a dozen different wines but decided not to buy any of them.


A trip a few miles south of Branson, on the Missouri/Arkansas border, you’ll find a fabulous recreation area, Table Rock Lake.


Here is the dam that makes it possible.


Below the dam, there were huge fish hatcheries and fishermen were wading in the river fly fishing.


Back in Branson, we were fascinated by the go-kart tracks.  There were at least 6 tracks in town.  This track is a combination go-kart track and roller coaster. They were really busy. We never drove by when there weren’t carts zipping up the circular ramp.


We mentioned all of the shows in town.  Here are a couple of their venues, The Presley’s and The Twelve Irish Tenors.

a-presley.jpg a-tenors.jpg

This is a fantastic place for families.  Most of the shows and other attractions offer family packages where basically you pay for two adult tickets and you can bring a number of children with you.  We saw coupons that allowed up to 7 kids as part of the package.

Patience is required for you to work your way through the main street traffic.  All shows seem to let out at about 10:00 PM and this “rush hour” traffic is miserable.


You can find just about anything you want in Branson.


The most unique structure was the building that holds Ripley’s Believe It or Not.  It makes us want to run right out and set a record.