Potter's Creek - Canyon Lake

August 8th to August 22nd, 2017

We had an uneventful drive through Texas. Austin wasn't quite as busy as we thought it might be. There was some construction along the way but no delays.

At Canyon Lake


We're staying at Potter's Creek again which is on Canyon Lake and close to our property. We can only stay here for two weeks though so we'll be looking for another spot soon. We wanted to be close to our storage facility so we could go through some of the stuff we have, both in our small trailer and in the garage space we rent monthly. But before we can do that...




We had to replace the tires on our small trailer. After sitting in one place for almost six years, they were really bad but we expected that. After replacing them, we moved the trailer forward so we could get the doors open and started unloading it. Turns out, after removing less than half the stuff, we really didn't see much point in going any further. It looked like this trailer was well packed and didn't have "junk" in it. So, we put it back together and it will be ready to unload when we move into the house. Next, we need to look at the stuff in the larger rented storage space.  Save that for another day...

We spent time watching the activities around the lake. There were a lot of people on the water on the weekend and the campground was almost full. Several families with small kids playing games and having a good time. Later we drove to Kyle to see Terry and Kym and their daughter Jessika. It's funny how things work out. They moved here a couple of years ago after living in Albuquerque for a few years. Before that, they lived in Elizabeth, just a few miles from us! And of course, they are good "racing" friends too.

One morning, it was cooler than normal with cloud cover so we headed over to the garage storage facility to take a closer look at what we have there. We took a lot of stuff out and reorganized it so now it looks like we have more room if needed. A few things went to the local thrift shop and a couple of items found there way to the dumpster. The task wasn't as bad as we anticipated.

Boerne


Our stay wasn't all work though by any means. We took a country drive to Boerne and Comfort one day and we drove to Fredericksburg for Trade Days another. On the net Saturday, we finally rode the motorcycle. It was the first time I'd been on it in years. We cruised over to Guene, listened to some music, ate lunch, shopped, and returned home via River Road. This is the first time we've been in Texas, near the river, when it was "tubing time". In places, there are so many people floating down the river, you almost can't see the water! Crazy! It looks like a lot of fun.

Listening to music at the Guene Hall - one of the oldest Dance Halls in TX

One morning I opened the RV door to take Cali out and there were hundreds of flying bugs everywhere. They covered RVs, cars and trucks, chairs - everything. I'd never seen anything like it. They were smaller than dragonflies, bigger than mosquitoes.  After some quick research, we learned they were Mayflies. Apparently, they are aquatic in their immature stages and live for years in the water but then they all mature at once and emerge in enormous numbers as adults. They only live out of the water for a day! Sure enough, the next morning, they were all gone. There was no sign of them. Interesting fact: they are susceptible to a number of water pollutants and so their presence indicate a clean, unpolluted environment.  Nice to know.


The Mayfly


Canton, TX

August 1st to August 8th, 2017

Another long drive for us but this one was uneventful. We got to our destination, around 3:00 in the afternoon. We stayed at the same RV park we stayed at a couple of years ago. It's nothing to write home about but the man who owns it is so nice. We're here in Canton for the First Monday Trade Days! The Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday before the first Monday of every month the huge flea market takes place and draws thousands of people to this otherwise little town. It's no secret that Jeff and I love going to antique shops and flea markets. This is the largest one we've ever been to. It literally takes three days to get through it all. And it's not a bunch of junk... there are several one of a kind vendors with furniture, clothing, unique items for the household, etc.. We love it!

Since we are very close to our base in Spring Branch (one day drive away), we felt we could buy a few things and put them in storage. Nothing big though because we still have limited space to transport stuff. We also got a lot of great ideas.

Inside one of about 15 buildings, then there were acres of outside vendors too!

Just love this stuff!

Little Rock, AR

July 25, 2017 to August 1st, 2017

It's always something...

On our way to Little Rock, which was one of our longer travel days yet, we stopped at a gas station to fill up and when Jeff went to leave, the RV would not start. The battery was dead. Luckily, we passed a Walmart a few miles back and he took the truck get a replacement. I'm so thankful that he is handy when it comes to motor vehicles because if not, we would have been stranded way too many times in the last six years.

We also passed through St. Louis, MO on our way but that was unintentional. The exit we were suppose to take according to our GPS, was closed. We ended up driving right through the middle of town and then back trough it to get back on track. The plus to all of this was that we actually got to see the St. Louis Arch and Busch Stadium where the Cardinals play. No pictures.



We decided to stay in Little Rock for a week just to catch our breathe. The RV Park is right downtown and on the Arkansas River. In fact, there is a pedestrian bridge leading from the edge of the park across the river to the Clinton Presidential Library. I walked the bridge a couple of times a day with Cali and Jeff and I walked across and into town a couple of times. At night the bridge is all lit up.



Walking the bridge together - Cali and me
From the bridge a view of Little Rock with a Wildlife Preserve in the foreground
 The Presidential Library was interesting. More of a museum than a library with only about 2-3% of all the documents related to his presidency actually housed here. This covered a period of time I actually lived through so much of it was already known but it was well presented. And you tend to forget everything that happened. Of course, it covered his childhood too. I didn't know he was born only three months after his father was killed in a car accident although I did know he was raised by his grandparents for at least part of his childhood. We took a guided tour. There is an replica of the Oval Office in which you are not allowed to take pictures except from the doorway. The building itself was being built during the time of the 911 attack so it was actually shortened in length. Originally it was suppose to reach out over the river like a bridge to the future but it had to be shortened. Now people say it looks a bit like a couple of double-wide trailers on top of each other! But it was a very interesting stop.

The William J. Clinton Presidential Library
Inside the library
While in Little Rock, the weather was very humid. So much so that being outside was tough. Over the weekend, before we left, there was a cool down. It was only 87 degrees, so we took off on our bikes early one morning. The city boasts of a great bike trail but it is not at all. The first several miles were OK. It led to The Big Dam Bridge which is the world's longest bridge built for bicycle and pedestrian traffic only. It's 4226 linear feet of bridge and ramps. But the rest of the trip was not well marked at times and right on the streets at times. We somehow got off the trail at one point and ended up going through an area I didn't really want to be in. It looked a bit rough. But we got back on track and finish the 16 mile trip before lunch.

We also saw a day of rain which is pretty much the norm for us. Two years ago I invested in a pair of cheap rubber boots and they may have been my best purchase yet.



Sikeston, MO

July 23rd to July 25th, 2017

We stopped halfway on our journey to Little Rock in Sikeston, MO. We selected this town because it's home of Lambert's Cafe. Lambert's is the Home of Throwed Rolls!

There are three of these restaurants in the U.S. and now we've been to all three. The chicken is so good! And you get unlimited sides. We ate our fill and took home enough for at least two or three more meals. It's nuts! But we love it.


Springfield, IL

July 16th to July 23rd, 2017

We moved on to Springfield, IL which is a fairly big city but not huge. We stayed at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Campground and we had a pretty private spot. We didn't have to unhook the trailer. Bonus.The State Fair will be held here in a couple of weeks so there was a lot of activity going on. They have a Farmer's Market on site too and a beautiful perennial garden area. The grounds are so vast that I walk several miles everyday and I don't think I've seen everything yet.


Jeff continued to work on the Falcon. Apparently there's more damage than he thought. He changed spark plugs, check the plug wires, performed a leak-down test and he thinks the problem is a burnt valve or a bad head gasket, or both. Either way, we have to give up racing for now. We will be heading back to Texas soon.




Springfield is the land of Lincoln and so we are doing a lot of Lincoln related sightseeing. We toured his Springfield home which was only three rooms to start with. Now it's very nice and filled with antiques. And then we toured the rest of his neighborhood which has all been restored to its former glory. Senator Dick Durbin has an office on his block.

Pretty bold patterns of the day

The kitchen
We  also visited the Old State House and the current State Capitol building which is by far the most beautiful capital building we've seen yet. I loved the colors and every room seemed more awesome than the last. Next year is Illinois' 200 year anniversary and preparations are already underway around town. It will be quite a celebration, I'm sure.

The Capital Building - not too impressive on the outside but inside...wow




By contrast, the Old State building seems plain

Walking around town we passed by Tammy Duckworth's office and Jeff wanted his picture taken there. He thinks she is going to be a big name some day.


 And the Lincoln Museum is a must. We spent a morning going through this museum which is very organized. First, a look at a replica of the log cabin he was born in and a glimpse into what his childhood was like. He lost an infant brother and his mother when he was young. His father remarried and his step-mother encouraged him to read. He was pretty much self educated and became a lawyer. As a young man he moved to Springfield. The rest is pretty well known except we didn't know he suffered from depression quite a bit. Who wouldn't if you had to deal with the Civil War your whole Presidency. After he died, his funeral train travelled throughout the land before he was buried here in Springfield. We visited his tomb as well. It was a very educational day.

Papers back in the day - making fun of the President (nothing new these days)
The Lincoln Library was pretty plain. Most of the rooms were off-limits but there were windows looking into them. Mostly rows and rows of books and documents just like any library. An interesting story is that a young man in 1952 was going through some of the documents and found the only picture of Lincoln in his coffin. Photographers were banned from picture taking except one who was hired by the War Secretary. Mary Lincoln Todd complained and all the photos were destroyed except the one that the War Secretary thought Abe's son Robert might want to keep but he didn't. The picture was kept by the War Secretary and some how ended up in the Library to be found all these years later.




Lincoln's tomb... a sobering day




Racing in Havana, IL...or not

July 15, 2017 to July 16, 2017

Central Illinois Raceway in Havana, IL is only about 60 miles from Peoria but it seems like it took forever to get here. At one point our Garmin took us down a gravel road that was only one lane wide, past farmhouses and corn fields and we were sure we were lost. You can't see the track from any view point. Its hidden behind trees and when we pulled up, it didn't look very big. Its an 1/8 mile track. We arrived a bit late and there were only a dozen or so racers already here but wait! After an hour or so, more showed up until there were more people here than at many of the big tracks we've been to. And it seems that racing is a real family affair here. Many tracks have a hard time pulling in spectators but this track is doing something right because the bleachers were full.

Jeff made his first timed trial only after cutting the power on his car. Normally would go too fast without a "diaper". They are designed to catch any flying parts and fluids just in case which helps protect the track. We talked about buying one but they're over $500 so we haven't. Anyway, he made the first run and it went OK but the car died while he was waiting in line. Then his second run was worse. It made all kinds of popping sounds going down the track so he decided not to run the race at all. No sense in breaking it.

The next morning he worked on it and found dirt in the fuel cell and filter. He flushed the system, did some other preventative work, and we'll try again in two weeks at the next track in Indiana.

Peoria, IL... and it's always something

July 4, 2017 to July 15, 2017

We travelled the back roads of IA to eventually arrive at our destination - Jubilee College State Park in Peoria, Illinois. It's a small but nice park and they had one pull through space. It was available so we took it. We planned to stay one week but then decided to stay an additional four days then go directly to the next race track from here.

The old railroad station in Peoria

Unfortunately, preparing to leave the race track back in IA, Cali jumped out of the back seat of the truck and caught one of her nails on something and ripped it. She was bleeding so we wrapped it up and when we unwrapped it later found it was damaged enough that a trip to the Vet was required. We had to do this anyway because her tooth needed to be checked too. Luckily, she's been on antibiotics for the last ten days. We found a local Vet and took her in for a look. The tooth was just something we needed to monitor but the nail and the quick had to be removed. Ouch. We picked her up a few hours later and she was pretty groggy. Later that day I carried her outside and she just sat by the picnic table. I was feeling pretty bad for her until she spotted a bunny and took off running after it. Nothing wrong with that dog except now she's blown her cover! She really played me for a while. Within days, she was playing at a nearby dog park and you wouldn't know she had an injury at all.

Peoria didn't seem to be a very upscale place but there is an area, a street actually, called Grandview Drive where there are some very nice homes overlooking the river.


What a beautiful garden at this home on Grandview Drive
 Peoria is home to the Caterpillar Museum. Jeff worked for a Cat dealer back in Denver for two years before he was laid off. It was the best job he ever had and we wish he could have stayed on but that eventually lead to retirement so I can't complain too much. Anyway, the museum was very interesting and we spent a couple hours there. I always thought John Deere and Caterpillar did basically the same thing but that's not the case. I should have seen all of this years ago!

Inside the Museum

A Google Maps view of the building Jeff worked in

So the big take away from this visit was the 797F Mining Truck that stands five stories tall and leaves the factory on 13 separate trucks for on-site assembly. Its the largest ultra class mechanical drive truck in the world. Pretty amazing.





Also in Peoria is a Holocaust Memorial where there are pillars filled with buttons. Each one unique and represents the six million Jewish people that were killed during that horrible time in history. Sad.

Each pillar is filled with buttons
The weather here has been hot, humid, and stormy. In fact, we spent one evening in a storm shelter at the park with a couple of other families. There was a tornado warning and the lightening was beyond frightening. And another thing about this area - bugs. Flying bugs. It really made being outside uncomfortable. In the city is wasn't bad but beyond that, the countryside is all corn and soybean fields with forest land here and there which attracts bugs.


Is this kid adorable or what? His parents said "Get your shoes on. We have to go!" and he did. They were from two different pairs and they were both on the wrong foot!

There was a break in the weather one day so we got on our bikes and rode to the historic site of Jubilee College, a few miles away. It has been closed for years and they're planning a grand opening ceremony for next month. For some reason, there was a group of people there getting a tour ahead of the opening and we were allowed to join in. We got to see inside the two-story Gothic Revival building that used to house the college chapel, dormitory and classrooms. The college was the dream of Philander Chase in 1835 but it really wasn't all that successful, there were a couple of fires, and it later closed down and was pretty much neglected for years. But the restoration is complete now and the grounds include a butterfly garden and a cemetery.




One afternoon we drove to Galesburg, another small midwestern town where Carl Sandburg's birthplace and boyhood home is located. Whoa, that house was no bigger than our motorhome!

Birthplace of Carl Sandburg in Galesburg, IL

And on one rainy afternoon, we took in the movie, Despicable Me 3 which was in 3D. Cute. Time to head to the next race track...






Racing through Iowa

June 20, 2017 to June 26, 2017

Cedar Falls, IA

Iowa is really green this time of year. I didn't remember all the trees and there were more hills than expected too. In any case, the drive was pleasant enough. The only real traffic we encountered was when we drove through Des Moines.

This is Iowa - very Americana
We found a nice enough county RV Park outside of Cedar Falls and the race track is only 10 miles away. Very convenient. Our site is right on a small lake and there is a nice trail that goes all around it. Great for walking Cali. The trail also goes into the downtown area which we planned to ride our bikes to except that it rained all day the first two days we were here. But we finally did get to take that bike ride and went for about 8 miles. It was nice.





Nearby is the John Deere Tractor and Cab Assembly Operation and they give free tours. I can't remember much of the details but it did seem pretty impressive at the time. They didn't allow picture taking at all so the only thing we got were outdoor shots and shots in the lobby. I do recall how very clean it was inside. We actually got to see just about every stage the build for their largest tractors and the tour included two short films.



Also while here we had to take Cali in to a Vet. She woke up one morning with a huge knot under her eye. At first we thought she may have been bitten by something but it turned out to be a bad tooth. She has to take antibiotics for the next 10 days before anything can be done so we'll have to visit another Vet in another town down the road.

We moved to the racetrack on Saturday morning and Jeff raced both weekend days. He did fine and the car remains consistent. I have to comment on the track itself. Its one of the cleanest and nicest tracks I've seen. Not big but the pit area is completely covered in nicely mowed, green grass. And after the racers all left (we stayed the night at the track on Sunday), I noticed how clean the whole area was. People actually used the trash cans! Very nice.


Pitted at the track at Cedar Falls 
Since baseball is another of our favorite past times, on our way to our next stop we visited the movie sight of "Field of Dreams". We took a tour of the house which is furnished just as it was in the movie even though most of the decor was actually replacement stuff. Then we ran the bases... no sliding.




June 26, 2017 to June 30, 2017

Bellevue, IA

We stayed at a county park right on the Mississippi River and watched as barges went by! Something interesting about this area, people come it and pitch a tent on a site to hold it days before they arrive. I guess that's because of the holiday. We booked online and ended up paying $5.00 extra a night for the privilege. If I'd have known that we wouldn't have bothered. Anyway, Bellevue is a really small town. The Post Office is closed for two hours in the middle of the day for lunch! And there are no big box stores anywhere around. I saw one small grocery store. But there is a really nice park the runs all along the river almost from one end of town to the other.

Spruce Creek Park  on the Mississippi



While here we took a drive over to Galena, IL which I was really looking forward to. I'd heard so much about it but in reality, Jeff and I were both disappointed. Many of the food places as well as "antique shops" were closed on the day we were there. And other shops were just not all that interesting. Oh well.







Another day we decided to explore Dubuque. Great architectural interest. Plus they have a riverwalk along the Mississippi where we saw the railroad bridge open up its gate to allow a barge through. Dubuque also has a dog park and it was good to get Cali out for a little playtime.



On Wednesday evening we experienced our first Tornado Warning of the season. It was coming straight at us. This camp ground has no shelter so Jeff and I drove into town to the fire station to sit it out. All the firemen of the town were there because they were prepping for the town's July 4th celebration. I admit I was really scared but it eventually blew over and we went home.



On Thursday, we met Roger and Lynn for lunch in Savanna, IL. Not much of a town but it was great to see them again. They are buying a home in  Iowa City and said they may be in Texas next winter too. While in Savanna we visited Frank Fritz Finds. Frank is one of the guys on the TV show "Pickers". The shop was pretty dirty and junkie, and the prices were a bit high.We also took a quick drive into the nearby State Park and Roger showed us an overlook of the Mississippi. Beautiful. I can only imagine how pretty this area is in the Fall with all the Oaks and Maples.


Bridge over the Mississippi near Savannah IL

Buddies

June 30, 2017 to July 4, 2017

Racing... Earlville, IA

So, the reason we are here is to race. Because the county park we're in was booked for the holiday weekend when we made our reservation, we moved on to an RV Park owned by the track where Jeff will race outside of Earlville, IA. Then on race day we moved over to the track itself.

Jeff had consistent runs again but was having a heck of a time with his reaction time. He was just a bit too quick most runs. After the race ended on Saturday night a track sponsor held a picnic dinner for everyone. Pulled pork sandwiches, home fries, beans, slaw, and several other dishes including several desserts. Yummy!


Then after the races ended we stayed two nights at the track. The owner was so welcoming. He told us to help ourselves to water and the dump at the RV Park next door too!

Since we had another day, we decided to drive 30 miles to the National Motorcycle Museum. Jeff wanted to ride his bike so he did even though it looked like rain... and he got wet. Once there, a guy in the parking lot actually took pictures of his bike (this has not been the only time). He's very proud of it. But the fun thing was that just inside the door to the museum was a motorcycle almost exactly like his!

Jeff next to his 1978 Kawasaki 1000-Z1R

The 1978 Kawasaki 1000D-Z1R Turbo


The museum has over 400 different motorcycles and tons of pictures and movie posters. They even have a section of related toys. It was fun.