House Renovations continue; Tri-5 Nationals come to town; and visiting Fort Knox (Bowling Green, KY)

Still moochdocking at the daughter’s house in Bowling Green, KY.   It’s hard for me to keep the travel blog updated when we’re parked in one spot for so long.  Let me catch you up on our going-ons… first of all – renovations continue on the daughters’ house as you may recall from my last post.

The kitchen cabinets finally arrived that I installed with the help of a local handyman contractor that my daughter and her fiancé had previously arranged.

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Several days later the marble countertops were installed by another local business.  The installers returned the next day to tile the backsplash area.

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The kitchen is finally coming together.  We still have to do crown molding and baseboards, but otherwise it’s almost done.

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The kids are still contemplating new appliances, either black or stainless steel.  They still need to find a microwave that will mount in the space above the existing stove.

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In other areas of the house – Dylan found a good deal on a couple of new toilet bowls that he mounted himself.  Here he is (below) in the guest bathroom that we previously patched and painted.

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The old bathroom sink and vanity still needs to be replaced in the following picture.

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Here we tore out the old built-in vanity to make way for the new one:

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And here’s the new sink and vanity after we got it installed.  Not bad for a couple days work.  We still have to tackle the master bathroom vanity and sink next.

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Okay… that’s enough about updates on the house renovations.  It’s all definitely keeping me busy and Stilla enjoys cooking meals in a real kitchen instead of the Coach.  We’ve been eating pretty good lately 🙂

In other news – The Tri-Five Nationals are in town.  This is an annual event in Bowling Green and is touted as the largest gathering of 1955 thru 1957 Chevy’s in one place.  We (Stilla and I) attended a pre-show to the weekend activities in the downtown park on Wednesday evening:

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Stilla posing in front of the Bowling Green downtown park fountain at the Tr-Five Nationals “Fan-Fest” evening event.

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On Saturday, the Tri-Five Nationals were in full swing at the Beech Bend Race park located next to the Beech Bend Amusement Park.  This time we all (Stilla, Joleen, Dylan, and I) went for the whole day.  I was in 7th Heaven… “57 Chevy heaven” that is 🙂  Most of my readers know that I used to have a ’57 Chevy Bel-Air and a ’57 Chevy pickup that I drove to local car shows.  I snuck in this picture (below) of them parked in the garage back in Colorado Springs before we sold everything to go full-time RVing.

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Here’s some pics (below) we took at the Tri-Five Nationals (←link)… hope you enjoy as much as I did:

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(L to R) Stilla, Dylan, Joleen at Tri-Five Nationals in Beech Bend Raceway park, Bowling Green, KY.

Drag race cars:

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Lots of swap meet items for sale:

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And thousands of 55-57 Chevy’s to check out.

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Cool ’56 Chevy trailer (rear-view).

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Cool ’56 Chevy trailer (front-view).

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I’ve never seen so many ’57 Chevy’s in one place, especially ones that had the original color scheme (Colonial Cream/India Ivory) like mine had.  Here’s a two door Bel-Air convertible.

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And here’s a two door Bel-Air hardtop just like my old one.

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Acres of cars were on display:

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I even spotted this 4 door (below) that looks just like the one my Dad still has hidden away in his garage.

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Cool window tray display and drive-in movie speaker.  We used to have a similar window tray display that we put in place during car shows, I always thought it was a neat touch.

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Another cool trailer.  Good old American ingenuity at work 🙂

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And yet another two door Bel-Air hardtop in Colonial Cream/India Ivory colors.

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The drag races went on all day.  Way cool 🙂

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This (’57 Chevy) golf cart was cool.  Too bad I can’t fit anything else on the back of the Silverado 🙂

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Stilla posed for a color-coordinated photo with a ’55 Chevy.

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What a fun day!  It was a really cool event and I’m glad we happened to be here for this awesome annual gathering.

And in closing – Most recently, this past Monday – Stilla and I took a trip (about 70 miles) in the Silverado up to Fort Knox (←link).

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I did Basic Training and my initial Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) Training here back in 1981.  I also returned in 1989 for about 6 months to attend the NCO Academy for the Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course (BNCOC).  So it was a full day of driving around trying to identify landmarks and buildings in order to revisit the past.

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I found the barracks building where I stayed for BNCOC but all the old WWII-era buildings where I attended Basic Training have long since been torn down.  Here’s an example (below) located outside the Patton Museum.  A little trivia item;  the movie Stripes was filmed at Ft Knox just prior to my basic training and many of the old buildings I was very familiar with are depicted in the movie.  It’s always a cool trip down memory-lane when I get to watch that classic movie.

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Unfortunately, the Patton Museum was closed on the day we visited (Monday) but at least I had the opportunity to visit this really neat museum when I was here in ’89.  It would have been nice to see how much it has changed… oh well, maybe we’ll make another trip up here.

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And no visit to Fort Knox is complete without an obligatory pic of the Gold Depository (below).

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It was a fun day, (for me at least), touring all the old sites in and around Fort Knox.

Stay tuned…  We’re expecting our son William to visit on the 22nd.  He’s flying into Cincinnati from Germany with his girlfriend Jasmine for a ~3 week vacation.  We’ll drive to the airport there to pick him up.  Hopefully, we have all of the house renovations completed before they get here so we can run around and do some sight-seeing.

 

House Painting; Fallen Trees; New Scooter (Bowling Green, KY)

We’re still moochdocking at our youngest daughters’ house in Bowling Green, KY.  But we’re definitely paying for our spot in the way of house renovations and daily chores.

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Evening picture of the Urban Escape Vehicle parked at Joleen & Dylan’s house in Bowling Green, KY.

In the kitchen of Joleen & Dylan’s new house, I’ve done a lot of patching, sanding and priming on the walls…

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and also on the ceiling…

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The old kitchen cabinets extended all the way up to the ceiling.  I had to do a lot of scraping and repairing where the old paint and caulk lines left a distinct line across the ceiling.

Before…

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and after…

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Before…

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and after…

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We were lucky to be able to fix the holes and blemishes in the ceiling and match the existing texture without having to sand down and retexture  the whole ceiling.  After a fresh coat of paint it looks like new again 🙂

I also finished fixing all the wall surfaces that won’t be hidden behind the new cabinets.  After lots of hole patching, skimming and sanding, I put on a fresh coat of primer and paint.  I used “texture in a can” to hide all the minor blemishes.  There were lots of scratches along with high and low spots from scraping off the old wallpaper.

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Stilla and Joleen picked out the wall color called ‘Tsunami Sky’.  I think it looks good and the ‘texture in a can’ works really well too.

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The next step is to get the new kitchen cabinets installed.  Wish us luck 🙂

Since my last post, I did some research on a scooter that I had my eye on at a local motorsports store and ended up buying a Kymco Super 8 150X (←link).

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We found out it was a mistake to leave the Harley in Arizona and take the Can-Am ATV along with us on this trip to KY.  There really isn’t any place nearby to get much use out of the ATV; but there are lots of cool winding, hilly roads here that are perfect for motorcycle riding.

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The scooter is street-legal and gets up to 50-55 mph easily, even with both of us on it.  The 150CC engine seems to have plenty of power for scooting us along just fine.  I ended up getting a pretty decent deal for $2,125 out the door but am still expecting some registration fees from our domicile state of South Dakota once I get a permanent plate.  Now I just have to figure out how to haul both the ATV and scooter when we leave here… the scooter will add an additional 235 lbs.

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Daughter Joleen and her fiancé Dylan trying out the new scooter.

While Stilla & I were out getting the new scooter, a micro-burst of heavy rain and wind came through the neighborhood and took down  some trees.  Here’s one that came down in the back yard (below).

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Luckily, I had put the main awning in on the Urban Escape Vehicle before we left.  There doesn’t appear to be any damage but I do wish I had thought about running the satellite dish down.  The weather here has been great (hot & humid) with just some isolated rain storms that occasionally roll through.  So far, any rain storms have been brief or occur during the night.

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The ATV came in handy with the front winch.  We hooked the winch cable up to the fallen tree and pulled it into the yard so we can cut it up.

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Dylan’s boss Jim came by to help out.  Here we are hooking up some straps to the winch cable…

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Jim pulled on a strap to help guide the tree while I winched it off the chain-link fence.

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Now Joleen & Dylan will have a little firewood for their fireplace once we get the fallen tree cut up.

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Check back soon for more exciting updates on home renovations, etc.,,,

 

National Corvette Museum; Plant Tour; Old Friends Visit (Bowling Green, KY)

Fair warning – Lots of cool pictures today!  As I mentioned at the end of my last post, an old Army buddy stopped by for a quick visit when he heard we were in the area and was passing through.  We ended up visiting the National Corvette Museum and took the Corvette Plant tour together.  Follow along…

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Gary Fejes and David Hobden in front of the Urban Escape Vehicle.

I first met Gary Fejes when he was a Private First Class (PFC) and I was a Sergeant (SGT).  I dug up this old photo (below) that was taken in Grafenwöhr Germany back in the mid-80’s.

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(L to R) PFC Fejes, SGT Hobden, SPC Soop, CW2 Williams

Gary has stayed in touch over the years and we’ve gotten together a few times.  We determined after looking through some old albums that other visits over the years were in 1990, 2002, and 2008.  Here’s Gary and his wife Kitty (below) visiting us in Colorado Springs back in 2008.

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Gary & Kitty in Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs, CO (2008).
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Self, Kitty & Gary at the house in Colorado Springs (2008).
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Kitty & Gary on our ATV in the Colorado Mountains (2008).

Gary & Kitty were returning from a trip to Alabama and driving back to their home in Pennsylvania when they saw we were in Bowling Green, KY so they coordinated to stop by and stay overnight with us.  The girls (Stilla, Kitty and Joleen) went out shopping and ‘antiquing’ while Gary and I decided to visit the National Corvette Museum here in Bowling Green, KY.

Hope you enjoy the tour as much as we did:

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Link to the National Corvette Museum website (Here) to learn more.

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Gary and I paid an entrance fee of $16 each for both the museum and the separate plant tour.  The assembly plant is across the highway from the museum and tours are scheduled throughout the day.  Our plant tour was scheduled for later in the day so we ended up quickly touring the museum until it was time for the plant tour.  After the plant tour (no photos were allowed) we returned again to finish up the museum.

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The infamous sinkhole:

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Here’s some cars that narrowly escaped the sinkhole.  Notice the cave-in outlined in red and yellow tape on the floor:

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The last section of the museum that we toured wasn’t just corvettes…  They keep dedicated space here for exhibits that get changed out every so often or travel around the country.

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Wow!  The museum tour was awesome, we probably spent 3-4 hours inside  not including the hour where we went over to the assembly plant for our scheduled tour halfway through.

And the assembly plant tour was super cool too!  Unfortunately they don’t allow any photos inside the plant.  The plant tour takes about an hour and you end up walking a mile through the facility.  Link (Here) to learn more about the assembly plant.  It was fascinating.

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Corvette assembly plant (no photos allowed inside).
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Corvette assembly plant (no photos allowed inside).

After the awesome plant tour, we returned to the museum to have lunch at the Corvette Cafe and finish our walk-thru.  I already included all the museum tour pics above.

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Before Gary & I returned to the house to see what the girls had been up to for the day, we also stopped to visit Art’s Corvette (←link).  This showroom full of cars for sale is conveniently located right next to the Corvette Museum but is not associated with the museum.  Entrance fee was $5.

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What a great car day!  I suppose that’s enough automotive-related photos for one blog post 🙂  Hope you enjoyed the tour(s).

We said our farewells to Gary & Kitty and they continued their drive back home to Pennsylvania.  It was great catching up, hope to see you again soon Gary & Kitty!  Hopefully we can make it to PA one of these days.

Check back later for updates on the house renovation and I’ve been looking at small scooters to add to the Urban Escape Vehicle fleet…

Some Local Sites & Friends/Family Visits (Bowling Green, KY)

We’re still parked at our daughter Joleen’s house in Bowling Green, KY and it looks like we might be here for a little while to help out with their remodeling projects on their new (to them) house.

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As I mentioned in my last post, Dylan’s father drove all the way from Colorado Springs, CO for a quick visit to drop off another load of Dylan & Joleen’s “stuff” along with a new puppy.

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(L to R) Stilla, Joleen, Dylan, and Jeff.

Before we got to work on house painting and kitchen remodel projects, we took some time while Jeff was here to visit a couple local attractions.  Here we are checking out Aviation Heritage Park

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And we also took a nice walking trail along Lost River Cave

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(L to R) Jeff, Joleen, Stilla, Dylan at the Lost River Cave entrance on the Cave Creek trail.

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We’ll have to come back here again later for the Lost River Cave Boat Tour, it sounds pretty fun.  But we didn’t have time today.

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Joleen & Dylan at the Lost River Cave entrance.

We also did a drive-by of the local amusement park.  Check out the Beech Bend Amusement Park website.  We’ll have to come by here again later when we have more time for a day of fun.  They also have a huge campground here that we checked out for future reference.  It looked really nice, check out the campground website.

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We also stopped to watch the go-karts race at the National Corvette Museum (NCM) Motor Sports Park.  That looked like fun…

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Dylan’s father Jeff only had a couple days here before he had to get back to work in Colorado Springs.  On Sunday evening we were invited to Dylan’s boss’s house for some grilled steaks and salmon.  Jim and his wife Dana have a beautiful home nearby.  Here we are (below) in Jim’s cool ‘man-cave’ enjoying some of his home-brew beer before we had an awesome dinner.  Thanks Jim & Dana!

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(L to R) Jim, Joleen, Stilla, Jeff, and Dylan.

When we weren’t running around town, we were able to get a little bit done on the house.  Here’s one of the doors I prepped and painted (below).

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And to give you an idea of what’s ahead – here’s a pic (below) of the kitchen ceiling where the old cabinets were mounted.  My challenge will be to fix the holes and numerous old paint lines so we don’t have to redo the whole ceiling.  The new cabinets don’t go all the way up to the ceiling like the old ones.  Keep checking the blog to see if I’m successful.

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And also, check back later for my next post…  We had another old Army buddy and his wife (Gary & Kitty) stop by for a quick visit (Tuesday thru Wednesday) while they traveled through on their way home to Pennsylvania.  Kitty went shopping with the girls while Gary and I toured the National Corvette Museum and took the Plant Tour.  Lots of pictures… too many for this post.

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Gary Fejes and I posing in front of the Urban Escape Vehicle in Bowling Green, KY.
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Coming soon… check out my next blog post…

Moochdocking at Dear Daughter’s House (Bowling Green, KY)

We traveled about 170 miles from the US Space & Rocket Center to Bowling Green, KY on Friday to arrive at our youngest daughter’s house.

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We pulled into Joleen & Dylan’s circular driveway around 5PM after a scenic and uneventful drive.  We stopped at another Pilot/Flying J at the Kentucky border to top off the fuel tank with 67 gallons of diesel for $160.  It looks like we’re only getting around 7.5 miles to the gallon with all the recent hills we’ve been pulling.

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Stilla was very glad to see Joleen who moved here from Colorado Springs to Bowling Green back in February.  Joleen got engaged (last Christmas) to her high school sweetheart Dylan after dating for the last 7 years.  Dylan got a job offer here that prompted their relocation.

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They just purchased a nice house on the outskirts of Bowling Green and are doing extensive renovations.  I’m sure we’ll be offering a lot of assistance.  The kitchen is currently torn apart and a beautiful new tile floor has been installed,  New cabinets and granite countertops are next.

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The driveway is rather sloped where we parked to be near the newly installed 50 Amp power outlet.  We heard that Dylan had to do some extensive low-crawling underneath the house in order to get it hooked up.  Thanks Dylan!  Due to the slope of the driveway, we promptly put a couple holes in the asphalt drive with the rear jacks trying to get the whole rear of the Coach raised up.  Sorry about that 🙂  We’ll find some larger blocks or boards to put under the jacks and maybe we can get completely level.  Surprisingly, we were able to get the satellite dish to connect through the trees next to us.

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Unfortunately, our power cord was too short to reach the new 50 Amp outlet so Dylan’s new boss offered to make us an extension cord.  Here’s Jim along with friend/co-worker Ed (below) putting a 50 Amp extension cord together.  Thanks Jim and Ed!

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And so, here we are in beautiful green Bowling Green.  We’ll moochdock here for a while visiting and helping out around the new house.  We’ve already gotten a couple of quick tours around town and stopped by to check out all the Corvettes during the annual National Corvette & Chevy Invitiational.  We also did drive-bys at Western Kentucky University (WKU), Beech Bend Amusement Park, the National Corvette Museum, and adjacent NCM Motorsports Park.  Lots of cool sites to visit here…

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Dylan’s fatherJeff also arrived by pickup truck on Saturday with another load of their “stuff” and a new puppy from Colorado Springs.  Now they’ll have 3 large dogs to take care of.  Jeff has to be back at work on Tuesday, so we’ll just do some socializing before we get to work on the house.  Stay tuned…

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Joleen and her new puppy.

 

 

 

 

US Space & Rocket Center Tour; Old Co-Worker Reunion (Huntsville “Rocket City”, AL)

On Thursday morning we said our thanks and ‘see-ya-later’s’ to Tom & Johnna for letting us stay at their beautiful home on the lake and we headed north towards Huntsville, AL.

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After a scenic 90 mile drive we arrived in Huntsville, AL around mid-day.

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A couple of the rockets on display at the Space Center are visible from a long distance while driving on the interstate.

We found the US Space & Rocket Center Campground (←link) with one of our online search tools for RV parks and campgrounds.  It’s located right next to the Space Center and Space Camp buildings.  I called ahead to confirm availability while we were enroute.

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When we pulled in to the RV park we saw a ‘Campground Full’ sign in the office window, but luckily the host remembered my call and directed us to our spot after we paid $20 for the night.

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Our nice shaded spot at the US Space and Rocket Center Campground in Huntsville, AL.

We quickly got set up in our 30 Amp full hook-up site and went directly over to the US Space & Rocket Center for a tour.  We wanted to make the most out of the rest of our day here.  This is a really cool place, check out the Wikipedia® link which tells us:

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama is a museum operated by the government of Alabama, showcasing rockets, achievements, and artifacts of the U.S. space program. Sometimes billed as “Earth’s largest space museum”, astronaut Owen Garriott described the place as, “a great way to learn about space in a town that has embraced the space program from the very beginning.”

Opened in 1970, just after the second manned mission to the lunar surface, the center not only showcases Apollo Program hardware but also houses interactive science exhibits, Space Shuttle and Army rocketry and aircraft. With more than 1,500 permanent rocketry and space exploration artifacts, as well as many rotating rocketry and space-related exhibits, the center occupies land carved out of Redstone Arsenal adjacent to Huntsville Botanical Garden at exit 15 on Interstate 565. The center also offers bus tours of nearby Marshall Space Flight Center.

The entrance fee to the Space & Rocket Center was $46 for the two of us.

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We spent around 4 hours walking around the Space Center checking out the myriad of interactive displays and exhibits:

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We toured the International Space Station as part of a guided tour.

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We watched divers in the Neutral Buoyancy Training Tank.

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We watched a cool movie at the Spacedome IMAX® Theater (additional $10 fee) and afterwards continued our tour.

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Lunar Lander exhibit.
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Saturn V exhibit.
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The  Mobile Quarantine Facility built out of an Airstream® trailer.
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Pathfinder – the world’s only full-stack space shuttle display.
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Outside rocket exhibits.

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When we finished touring most of the interior exhibits we headed outside to find out it had rained as you can see in most of the following pictures of the outside exhibits:

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When we finished our cool tour of the Space Center we drove back to the adjacent campground just in time to meet up with a former co-worker and friend from my previous job with the Missile Defense Agency, in Colorado Springs.  Jeff drove over to see us after he got off work.

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Jeff Woods visiting the Urban Escape Vehicle in Huntsville, AL.

I was in contact with Jeff on Facebook® and we coordinated to meet up while we were in Huntsville.  Jeff and I were co-workers during the ~7 years I spent with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).  Some of you may recall that I resigned my position and retired from MDA in May 2014 which is when we started full-timing in the Urban Escape Vehicle.  He recently changed jobs and moved here to Huntsville where the MDA  is headquartered.  It was great catching up on old times.  Thanks for stopping by Jeff!  Hope to see you again soon.

After we said our ‘see-ya-laters’ to Jeff; Stilla and I relaxed under the awning to enjoy the cooler evening weather.  It was actually pleasant outside after the brief rain showers in the afternoon.  Then we heard model rockets being shot off next to the campground.

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The Space Center here has several programs for kids here; Space Camp, Space Academy, Aviation Challenge, and Robotics Camp.  The Space Camp kids were coming over by the bus load to shoot off their model rocket kits and we had a front row seat 🙂

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Innumerable model rockets seem to find their final resting place in the trees surrounding the launch field and campground.

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Space Camp counselors assisted each kid in placing their rockets on the permanently installed launch stands.

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And then they were remotely launched.

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While we were watching the rockets being launched, one of them had a mis-fire and landed directly behind the blast windows in the middle of the kids.  No one was hurt, but it sure created some excitement.

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I hope you enjoyed the Space & Rocket Center pictures… it’s another “must-see” attraction if you’re ever in the area.

This morning (Friday) we will continue our trek towards Bowling Green, KY to visit our youngest daughter.  She’s expecting us to get there before evening.  It’s also our 33rd wedding anniversary.  Happy Anniversary Stilla!

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Evening view of our spot at the Space Center RV park in Huntsville, AL.

Next post will be from Bowling Green, KY…

 

 

Moochdocking at Weiss Lake (Centre, AL)

As I mentioned in my last post, we’re still hanging out at Tom & Johnna’s house near Centre, AL for a couple days.  It’s been great catching up with them.

Tom & Johnna hooked us up to 50 Amp power from their super-nice RV garage.  Tom’s Alpine Coach is safely tucked away inside the large door next to us.

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The Urban Escape Vehicle parked at Tom & Johnna’s.

Here’s the beautiful Phillips homestead (below).  What a nice place to moochdock, eh?

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View of the lake and boat house from the back deck.

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View from the dock back toward the house.

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And here’s another backyard shot (below) looking towards the back of the house.  Glad I don’t have to mow the lawn 🙂

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Tom grilled us some burgers on the back deck on our first evening.

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On Wednesday, we all jumped into their car for a guided tour of the area.  You just can’t beat having local tour-guides 🙂  Check out Tom’s car (below); he had accent stripes applied that match the Alpine Coach.  It looks pretty good being towed down the road behind the Alpine with matching colors.

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Our first stop was Noccalula Falls Park (←link) in Gadsden, AL.  Per the official website (←link) the park consists of 250 acres and the falls are located on land once owned by R.A. Mitchell, who gave the site to the city of Gadsden, so that the area could be improved, and everyone could enjoy the majestic falls. Across the street from the falls you will find R.A. Mitchell Elementary School, named in his honor. The main feature of the park is a notable 90-foot (27-m) waterfall with a gorge trail winding through its basin and past caves, an aboriginal fort, an abandoned dam, pioneer homestead, and Civil War carvings. The park also features a petting zoo, mini-golf course, the Gilliland-Reese Covered Bridge (built 1899) and a replica 1863 C. P. Huntington train ride. It was listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage on May 12, 1976.  Located next to the park is a nice campground that we toured for future reference.  Pretty nice!

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Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, AL.
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Me semi-wading above the falls.

We also took a short miniature train ride around the park.  It was fun but I don’t know if we got our money’s worth.

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And then we visited the Veterans Memorial area of the park:

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After our little park tour, we checked out another local campground (River Country Campground) that Tom & Johnna stayed at before while they were waiting to close on their house.  Check out the link, it’s pretty nice.  We’ll have to keep this campground in mind the next time we’re in the area.  But then again, who’d want to pay fees at the campground when you can moochdock on the lake, eh? 🙂

Then we stopped at a nice restaurant named Super Hibachi Buffet & Grill for a late lunch/early dinner.  Great food with great friends.

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(L to R) Johnna, Tom, and Stilla.

One last stop on the way back to their house was the Lake Weiss dam.  I would have loved to join those guys fishing off the raised walkway (below).  Maybe next time.

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And here’s a picture of the beautiful sunset from the back of the house.

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Thanks for letting us visit your beautiful home Tom & Johnna!  It was great seeing you guys again.  Hopefully, we can go on a local tour together in the Alpine Coaches next time 🙂

Our next stop will be Huntsville, AL for an overnight stay.  Stilla wants to be at our daughter’s house in Bowling Green, KY by Friday in time for our 33rd wedding anniversary.  So stay tuned for an update…

Another Overnight Elks Lodge & Alpine Coach Friends (Tuscaloosa, AL)

We continued our eastward trek along I-20 on Monday and ended up driving 227 miles from Vicksburg, MS to Tuscaloosa, AL.  We stopped at a Pilot/Flying J in Meridian and topped off the fuel tank with 84 gallons of diesel for $187.  I like the Pilot/Flying J’s because they’re always easy-in and easy-out.  Plus we have their discount card (Pilot RV Plus) that we can pay online when the bill is due.  Calculations after refueling confirmed our Scangauge D™ is accurate and we’re getting a little over 8 miles to the gallon.  Not too bad 🙂

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Once again our ~$100 annual Elks Lodge membership pays for itself…  our iPhone app routed us to the Tuscaloosa Elks Lodge #393 where we went into the lodge and paid a reasonable $20 for the night.

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After checking in, we disconnected the Silverado and pulled into a 50 Amp full hook-up site next to the only other Coach at the lodge.

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Nice spots backed up to a short grassy area and thick woods.  Next to us was a nice covered picnic area with BBQ pits.

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After getting set up we went back into the lodge for some tasty margaritas and conversation with friendly folks.  The bartender cooked us up a really good pizza and a BBQ beef sandwich for our dinner.

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In the morning, I got our ladder out and spent some time washing the bugs off the front of the Urban Escape Vehicle.  With a little help from Stilla, I even got most of the coach washed and wiped dry again.

Around noon on Tuesday we hit the road again and plugged the route to a Walmart in Centre, AL into our RVND™ GPS.  We’ve been in contact with some old friends from Colorado Springs who invited us to park for a couple days at their new (to them) house near Lake Weiss.  Tom & Johnna Phillips coordinated to meet us at the Walmart parking lot so they could lead us out to their beautiful home on the lake.

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Tom & Johnna were already waiting for us when we rolled into the Walmart parking lot after our ~145 mile drive from the Elks Lodge in Tuscaloosa.  They guided us to their house where we’re now moochdocking on their 50 Amp power hookup 🙂

Tom & Johnna have been here a year now but used to be in the Family Campers & RV’ers (FCRV), Rolling Springs Chapter out of Colorado Springs.  We were also members of FCRV at that time and went on several camping trips together.  We’ve stayed in touch with them along with several other current and past members.  My Dad and stepmom Elaine are still active members and as a matter of fact – about this time last year we were with them in Gillette WY at the FCRV Campvention.  And BTW – did I mention Tom & Johnna also have an Alpine Coach!?

Tom grilled us up some burgers on the back deck while we watched the sun set over the lake in the back yard and got caught up.  Thanks Tom & Johnna for the hospitality!

Check back tomorrow for more pics… Tom & Johnna plan on showing us around the area…

Civil War Battlefield & Vicksburg Town Tours (Vicksburg, MS)

On Saturday, we drove about 180 miles from the Shreveport Elks Lodge to Vicksburg, MS.  A much more reasonable distance for a days drive as compared to the last leg of our eastward journey that I wrote about in my last post.

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Our AllStays® iPhone app turned us on to the Ameristar RV Park.

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Nice pull-thru sites with 50 Amp power, water, and sewer hookups.  We paid $50 for two nights after our Passport America® discount was applied.

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On our first evening after pulling into the park, we disconnected the Silverado and drove around Vicksburg to check out the sites…

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Bridges over the great Mississippi River.
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A barge on the Mississippi river.
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Civil War era cannon overlooking the Mississippi River.

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We followed the ‘Scenic Drive’ signs around old downtown.

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Click on this link (HERE) to see more details on walking and driving tours in Vicksburg.

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Park with water features in old downtown Vicksburg near the levee murals.

We walked along the Vicksburg Riverfront Murals that are painted on the backside of the river levee wall.  Pretty awesome.

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Then we drove back to the Ameristar Casino to check out the buffet and support the local economy 🙂  The casino is located right on the Mississippi river and across the street from our RV park.

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Ameristar Casino entrance.

After a good nights rest, we drove straight over to the Vicksburg National Military Park (←link).  Be sure to check out the link to the national park service website.

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The first thing we did was stop at the Visitors Center and watch the video presentation in their theater.  A must-see for anyone touring the park.

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Then we drove through the park to check out all the battlefield sites and monuments.  I think I read somewhere that the driving loops through the battlefield are about 16 miles.

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Our driving tour began at this arch (below).

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It was a little over 4 hours later that we finished the loop(s) and got back to the visitors center.  It was awesome… a must-see if you’re ever in the area.

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We were surprised to see that even a couple of RVers in their 5th wheel trailers were taking the battlefield driving tour (below).

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The road first took us along the Union battle lines with markers and monuments at all the trenches and significant battle sites.  Then the road loops around to take you along the confederate battle lines with many stops at the fortifications, i.e., redans and redoubts.

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At the northern side of the battlefield loop we visited the USS Cairo museum.

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The USS Cairo was one of the first iron clad warships built for the Union Navy at the beginning of the Civil War.  It was sunk by torpedo 7 miles north of Vicksburg and was finally recovered in 1964.  Read more at the NPS website (HERE).

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The USS Cairo Museum has two ranger-guided tours daily and we were fortunate enough to have been on time for the 2PM tour.

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After the USS Cairo tour we drove through the Vicksburg National Cemetery which holds the remains of 17,000 Civil War Union soldiers, a number unmatched by any other national cemetery.

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After our driving tour of the Vicksburg National Military Park we found a Chinese buffet to eat a late lunch/early dinner then we drove around old town Vicksburg some more and ended up at the Cedar Hill Cemetery and Soldiers Rest.  Commonly known as City Cemetery, graves in the sprawling graveyard represent more than 150 years of history in Vicksburg.  A section of the Cedar Hill Cemetery contains the graves of 5,000 Confederate soldiers who died during the Siege of Vicksburg.

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I hope you enjoyed the tour as much as we did.  I wish we could spend a little more time here but it’s time to move on.  Our youngest daughter is waiting for us in Bowling Green, KY.  On Monday we’ll move eastwards for an overnight in Tuscaloosa, AL and then we’ll meet up with some old friends and Alpine Coach Owners (Tom & Johnna Phillips) in their new (to them) homestead near Birmingham, AL.  Stay tuned…

Eastbound Elks Lodge (Shreveport, LA)

On Friday we drove almost 300 miles from Stephenville, TX to Shreveport, LA.  I usually don’t like to drive that far in one day but Stilla is anxious for us to get to our youngest daughter’s house in Bowling Green, KY.  Also, with the sad news about the police officers that were cowardly ambushed in Dallas, we just wanted to hurry up and get past the city.

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We checked our various iPhone apps and decided the best value for an overnight stay would be the Schreveport Elks Lodge #122.  And it worked out great because it was also “steak night” at the lodge coupled with a live band playing old time rock & roll.  Can’t beat that for $15 a night which included 30 Amp power and water.  And it was a strong 30 Amp because we were able to run both rooftop air conditioners at the same time and the breaker didn’t pop.  The temperature may not be as high as it was in Arizona but with the high humidity here – we’re definitely feeling it 🙁  Normally I wouldn’t even try to run both air conditioners on 30 Amp power but my power monitor reported a strong 115-120 volts.  If it ever reads less than 110v, I wouldn’t even try to run both because I would be taking a chance of damaging them or the residential refrigerator due to a “brown out” condition.

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Shreveport Elks Lodge #122 is located just south of I-20 between Kings Hwy 1 and the Red River.
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Shreveport Elks Lodge #122 main entrance.

We disconnected the Silverado and backed into one of the available RV hookup sites onto two narrow strips of concrete that were laid in the grass.  I couldn’t park straight on the concrete strips because the leveling jacks are inboard of the tires and when they came down they were on the edge of the concrete.  So with a little readjustment and leaving two of the tires on the grass, we were able to get properly leveled.

We enjoyed a nice relaxing evening with an awesome steak meal and live entertainment.  The view off the back deck was pretty cool as well (below).

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And here’s a view of the Elks Lodge pool from the back deck.  Too bad we couldn’t stay another day to hang out there.

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Live band at the Shreveport Elks Lodge.

On Saturday we moved on to Vicksburg, Mississippi but I’ll leave that for my next post…  Check back for a tour of Vicksburg National Military Park.

Follow along on our adventures…