Back at the “Dirt Farm” (Casa Grande, AZ)

Author’s Note:  Some of you readers that are also my “Friends” on Facebook® may wonder what we’re doing in Casa Grande when my last Facebook “Check-In” was in California… well, the fact is; I’m still behind on the blog because I continue to have picture download issues to my laptop.  The screen will go blank all of a sudden and all I can do is restart the laptop!  It seems to happen most often when I upload pictures from my iPhone… possibly a memory problem or maybe a video driver?!?  I stopped trying to download pics directly from my iPhone to the laptop because if it freezes during the process, I then have to do a time-consuming rebuild of my iPhoto application (i.e., all the pics on my laptop), and that’s no fun 🙁  So as a result, I paid a little extra ($.99 per mo) to increase my iCloud space and have been letting my pictures on the iPhone upload automatically.  Well, that’s fine except now my iPhone uses a lot of data uploading to iCloud and then when I want to do a blog post I then still have to expend even more data downloading from the iCloud to the laptop which turns out to be another long convoluted process that is also dependent on good internet connectivity.  Today (8 Nov) as I write this post, I just recovered once again from having the laptop freeze up on me, but this time it froze up  while downloading pics from iCloud!  Aaaargh!  We will travel to San Jose today and I will try to get the laptop fixed (a 15″ mid-2010 MacBook Pro; 2.66 GHz Intel Core i7 processor; 4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3 memory; 500 GB DATA Hard Disk Drive; running Mac OS X Lion 10.7.5).  If I can’t get it fixed, I’ll maybe look at “biting-the-bullet” and purchase a new one.  Anyone looking for a used laptop?  🙂


We left the Emerald Cove Resort on the 10th of October and made it back to Casa Grande on the same day.  A ~200 mile travel day.  We parked in front of my Mom’s house at the “Dirt Farm”.  My brother Steve & Cheryl also have a house here on the ~5 acre farm.  As I’ve mentioned before –  the term “Dirt Farm” is the name they gave the place, not mine… kind of a term of endearment or nickname.

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The Urban Escape Vehicle at the “Dirt Farm” in Casa Grande, AZ.

You may recall from my last post I mentioned my Mom was in the hospital but is back home now and doing better every day.  We’re all thankful for that 🙂

Some of you have asked about our little dog “Coach”.  He’s doing fine as you can see in the picture below where you see him checking out his old favorite spot by the window on the back of the couch in the coach.  How do you like that play on words?  Life on the “dirt farm” appears to agree with him and Mom keeps him shaved so he stays cool in the hot Arizona sun.

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Little Coach checking out the Couch in the Coach.

We settled in at the “dirt farm” and helped out around the place as needed.  Stilla always enjoys cooking meals in the kitchen as opposed to the Coach.

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Brother Steve and stepdad Jim working on yet another project around the “dirt farm”.
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Mom and Stilla keeping an eye on the many chickens that have the run of the “dirt farm”.

Soon after arriving we got to spend a day helping to round up some of the roosters running around the farm so they could be harvested, cleaned, and made ready for the fryer.

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Brother Steven and stepdad Jimmy chasing down some roosters at the “dirt farm”.
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Mom getting ready to put some chickens in the pot and freezer.

We also spent a few days helping brother Steve & Cheryl shop for a new motorhome.  We made a number of trips to Phoenix and toured dealerships.  They finally decided on a Super C to replace their older model Class C.  We didn’t get to see the new motorhome in person yet because we left just before they picked it up.

We also spent a few days cleaning up and detailing the travel trailer that I bought for my oldest daughter when she moved (←link) to Phoenix from Colorado Springs.  Sorry, no pics… I was downloading them at the time my laptop froze up again.  Maybe later…

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Typical Arizona sunset in Casa Grande.

As always, we enjoyed our time (~15 days) staying with family in Casa Grande, but the next Alpine Coach Rally is scheduled to begin on 31 October, so we said our ‘see-ya-laters’ and left the “dirt farm” on 26 October to make our way.

My next post will cover our travel to the rally located in San Juan Bautista (near Monterey, CA)… stay tuned 🙂

A Little River Time & Some Off-Road Fun (Parker Strip, AZ)

We left the Elks Lodge in Lake Havasu on 5 October and headed south on 95 to Parker, AZ where we drove across the Colorado River to the California side.  A whopping 50 mile travel day.

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After crossing the river we immediately turned north on Parker Dam Road until we reached the Emerald Cove Resort (←link).  Click HERE for a virtual tour.

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We knew about this place because a good friend from the Alpine Coach Association is a member of the resort and we visited him briefly earlier this year (February) when we stayed across the river at La Paz County Park.  Link HERE for a link to that post where I also wrote about Chris leading us on an off-road trip to the Desert Bar on our ATV’s.

Our “true” pull-thru and full hook-up site at Emerald Cove Resort (below).

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We downloaded the scooter but never disconnected the Silverado during our 5 day, 4 night stay.  And since we were “guests” of an existing member, we only paid $10 per night.  Can’t beat that, eh?

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Our “host” and fellow Alpine Coach Owner, Chris Cratch was parked in the next row directly behind our site (below).  So we naturally spent a lot of time hanging out together and socializing.  Chris’s wife Sonja was off visiting family so we didn’t get to see her this time.

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Our friend, and fellow Alpine Coach Owner’s site at Emerald Cove Resort near Parker, AZ but on the CA side of the Colorado River.

It’s clearly still early in the season as evidenced by all the empty sites (below).  Many of the “snowbirds” are yet to arrive.

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Some of the full-time residents (aka mules) have the run of the resort as you can see from the pics below:

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Stilla posed for a photo op located near the Tiki Bar and swimming pool here at Emerald Cove (below).

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Here’s some views of the Colorado River here at the Emerald Cove Resort:

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One day, we rode the scooter up to the Parker Dam.  After crossing the Dam, we rode south along 95 back into the town of Parker and then crossed again to the California side, effectively completing a big loop.  Fun!

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Chris got his pontoon boat back from being serviced, so we naturally had to help him get it into the water and he took us on a “shake-down” cruise:

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Lunch on the river at the Blue Water Casino after docking at their riverside bar & grill (below).

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Here’s some more pics we took from the couple times that Chris took us up and down the Colorado River on his pontoon boat while we stayed at the Emerald Cove Resort:

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We had to watch out for the many folks that were water skiing or inner-tubing behind boats on the river.
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One of many RV and mobile home resorts along the Colorado River here on the Parker Strip.
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View of some of the riverfront homes along the Colorado River here on the Parker Strip.

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Notice the camel and zebra in someone’s riverfront yard (below).

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Back at the RV Resort, I flagged down the ShadePro® awning service guy and arranged to finally have some sun screens made and installed for the front windows.  We decided we needed the external shades after two+ months facing the sun while parked at dear daughter’s house in Bowling Green, KY.  We already have a couple internal sun shade screens that we put up on the inside of the windshield with suction cups along with some (cut-to-size) silver insulation material, but it still gets hot (greenhouse effect) when the sun shines most of the day on the front windows.  The external sun shades are the way to go, but are certainly not cheap.  We paid $450 to cover the windshield, drivers side window, door, and passenger side window.

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Chris also had his Polaris Razor® side-by-side here with him at the resort and invited us to go off-roading.  Stilla wasn’t interested this time and didn’t want to go through the effort of downloading our ATV from the back of the Silverado, so I jumped in with Chris and off we went for the day.  He even let me drive for part of the trip.

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Chris Cratch in front of his Polaris Razor®.

Here’s some pics (below) from our day trip on the trails in the California desert west of the Colorado River:

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Lots of really cool rock formations and trails to explore…

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We checked out an old abandoned mine site.  Lots of old core samples still sit in the broken down buildings (below).

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More awesome views…

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and another old abandoned mining building.

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We even came across what was left of an old car…

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I tried to identify the make and model, but couldn’t quite make it out.  What do you think?  An old Ford Falcon maybe?

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A couple more abandoned mines:

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The following pic shows a trail leading up to a memorial…

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It seems that a young kid lost his life here and the family has made and continue to maintain a pathway to a memorial of sorts…

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View from the mountain top memorial site for “Jeremy”.

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A couple more scenic California desert views:

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On October 8th we attended an Octoberfest party that the Emerald Cove Resort put together in an open area next to the river:

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Octoberfest at Emerald Cove Resort.
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Octoberfest at Emerald Cove Resort.
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Octoberfest at Emerald Cove Resort.
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Octoberfest at Emerald Cove Resort.

Naturally, with Stilla being German, and with myself having spent many years stationed in Germany, we are pretty critical of Octoberfest type events… so we’d rate this one rather low.  But, it was still fun once we got past the undercooked bratwurst and sauerkraut from a can.  The live band was good 🙂

On the 9th of October we said our ‘see-ya-laters’ to Chris and thanked him for allowing us to join him as his guest at this fine member-only resort.  We headed straight back to my Mom’s house at the “Dirt Farm” in Casa Grande, AZ.  We got word that my Mom was admitted to the hospital to have her gall bladder removed.  Thankfully, she’s doing fine and was released from the hospital but we wanted to get back and help out as we could.

Check back for an update on our time at the “Dirt Farm” in my next travel blog post coming soon…

 

A Little Lake Time (Lake Havasu City, AZ)

After the Pahrump Rally was over (3 October), we headed back towards Las Vegas but instead of going south by Hoover Dam on 93, we took Hwy 95 towards Needles but then turned on NV-163 to Lauglin / Bullhead City.

In Bullhead City we stopped to visit good friends and fellow Alpine Coach Owners John & Lorraine Foster.

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(L to R) Lorraine, John, and Stilla in Bullhead City.

John & Lorraine are some of the nicest people you could ever meet and we like to consider them close friends.  Lorraine is also one of our current newsletter editors for the Matterhorn, our Alpine SoCal Chapter quarterly update on all things going on in our 74 member-strong club.

In Bullhead City we parked in a Lowe’s® parking lot where John & Lorraine met us.  They took us over to their nice Condo on the Colorado River just across the street where we got caught up and enjoyed each others company for a short while.  They weren’t able to attend our most recent rally in Pahrump, so it has been awhile since we last got together.  Thanks for the hospitality John & Lorraine!  Hope to see you guys at the next rally 🙂

From Bullhead City we continued south to Needles where we got on I-40 east…

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until we reached the exit to Lake Havasu where we went south on 95 to Lake Havasu City.

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After filling up the Urban Escape Vehicle at the Pilot/Flying J on the corner of I-40 and Hwy 95 (64 gallons for $176.25) we found the Lake Havasu Elks Lodge.  We’ve been here before for dinner, which is always fantastic, but had never parked in their RV lot which had been recently remodeled and upgraded.

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The Urban Escape Vehicle at the Lake Havasu Elks Lodge.
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View from our spot at the Havasu Elks Lodge with the lake in the background. Notice the huge Elk sculpture at the entrance in the center of the photo.

The new upgrades to the RV parking area at the Elks Lodge also came with an upgraded price – it is currently $25 per night for full hook-ups.  We paid for two nights (arrived 3 October, left on the 5th).

We pulled into the RV lot and got set up with barely enough time to make the spaghetti dinner.  We were the last people to be served an awesome spaghetti dinner complete with margaritas for only $21 🙂

We spent Tuesday, the 4th of October, tooling around Lake Havasu on the scooter.  We went out on the man-made island across the London Bridge and did the loop while we checked out some of the RV Resorts for future reference.

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There was a Jet Ski competition going on while we were in Lake Havasu.  The quakysense® World Finals (←link).  We were fascinated with the acrobatic and underwater stunts performed by some of the Jet Ski drivers we had the opportunity to watch practice (below).

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We also visited the London Bridge and browsed through the Visitors Center/Museum (←link) located in English Village.  If you haven’t been here before, it’s a must-see.  And the pedestrian zone under the bridge is chock-full of shops to wander around in.  The ice cream is pretty good too 🙂

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The famous London Bridge in Lake Havasu, AZ.

Stay with me for my next post as I continue to play “catch-up” on the travel blog with my laptop and photo download issues…  maybe I can get a new laptop soon.

Alpine SoCal Pahrump Grape Stomp Rally: 29 Sept – 03 Oct 2016 (Pahrump, NV)

I’m going to make this post short (very little narrative) and let the pictures speak for themselves since it’s so long overdue because of my laptop and photo download issues that I spoke about HERE.

Link HERE for website info on the Lakeside Casino & RV Park.

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Our spot at the Rally:

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Our schedule for the rally:

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Boat House / Meeting Room where we had one of our evening meals and some of our breakfasts:

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Alpine SoCal members:

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Some views around the RV Park:

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Pahrump Valley Museum (←link):

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Happy Alpiner’s doing what we do best (eating and socializing) 🙂

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Evening social hour:

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Stilla and I visited the Chicken Ranch (made famous from the 1982 movie starring Dolly Parton & Burt Reynolds) located just a stone throw away from the RV Park.  They give G-rated tours for the tourists and have a nice bar area for visitors.

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Day trip through Death Valley National Park:

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Back at the RV Park:

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Pahrump Wine Stomp (←link):

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Members at the Wine Stomp event:

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Our final evening’s social hour gathering:

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Another highly successful SoCal Rally thanks to host(s) Jim & Stephanie Archer along with cohost(s) Sandy & Debi Johnson!  Read more about the Wine Stomp Rally on our Alpine SoCal Quarterly Newsletter “The Matterhorn” (←link here).  Stephanie Archer did a great write up on our time here.

Westward Bound – Racing to the Rally (TX to NV)

After a good nights rest at the Amarillo, TX Elks Lodge on Monday the 26th,  we continued west on I-40 where we stopped briefly at the Cadillac Ranch (←link).  Check out the link to the left or click here for more information from Wikipedia® on this popular roadside attraction that was created in 1974.

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We were able to park the Urban Escape Vehicle on the frontage road alongside I-40 and walk out to the cars.

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We even added our proverbial “2-cents” worth of spray paint, which is encouraged by the way.

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Look at the many layers of paint that have been applied by tourists over the years (below).

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There was even a young entrepreneur, who had set up a temporary stand (on his tailgate) by the entrance gate.  He was selling chunks of the multiple layers of hardened spray paint that had fallen off the cars.  He carved these chunks of multi-colored spray paint into various shapes and made key chains, refrigerator magnets, etc.,  Pretty cool, but we didn’t buy any.  And sorry, I forgot to take pictures of them.

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Close up view of the hundreds, if not thousands of layers of spray paint on the old Cadillacs.

We finally made it to the New Mexico border around mid-day on the 27th.

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Just after the Texas/New Mexico border we stopped at Russell’s Truck Stop & Museum (←link).  Another cool Route 66 themed attraction, but this one was was free 🙂  We took a quick tour:

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While at Russell’s Truck Stop & Museum, I noticed a tire service bay around back so I stopped to ask where I might be able to get a front end alignment and/or new tires.  I’ve noticed that the Urban Escape Vehicle has been pulling slightly to the right ever since we left Bowling Green, KY and it’s been getting worse.  I even wasted an hour or more a few days earlier when we were just outside Memphis because I stopped to check with several tire related businesses there to see if they did RV alignments and to maybe get it checked out.  Every place I stopped at either didn’t do RV alignments and/or didn’t have reasonably priced new tires in stock.  One shop recommended that I just rotate the tires because I still have plenty of tread depth, just abnormal wear.  Anyway, I’ve been on the lookout for an RV service center or other qualified place ever since Memphis.  Once again, this place (Russell’s) didn’t do alignments either, but they recommended a place just down the highway, Terry’s Truck Service.

Check out the unusual wear in the pictures below.  The driver’s side appears to be wearing more on the inside of the tire whereas the passenger side is wearing more on the outside.

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Left front tire as viewed from front of coach.  Wheels are turned to the left for photo.
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Right front tire as viewed from rear. Wheels are turned to the left for photo.

We found Terry’s Truck Service Center (sorry no website link) with the directions we got from the Russell’s Truck Stop & Museum service guy.  Terry’s didn’t have the equipment to do an alignment but the technician checked out my tires and suggested I just rotate the tires and he commented that he’s seen this kind of wear before on some substandard brands of tires.  My tires are 11R22.5’s made by Hankook.  I had new tires put on a little over 4 years ago (March 2012) and have approximately 30k miles on them.  As most RV’ers already know; it’s highly recommended that you replace tires every 5 years, 7 years at the most, regardless of how good the tread may still be.

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They (Terry’s Truck Service) charged me $53 to rotate the front tires.  It made all the difference in the world… the Coach tracks straight and true once more.  It’s like driving a new Coach again.  Weird, huh?!?  But I’m still going to get an alignment soon along with new tires.  I think I’ll just replace the front tires in the very near future and wait until next year to replace the rear ones in order to spread out the financial burden.

We continued on and finally made Albuquerque by the evening of the 27th.  Another long travel day – about 290 miles.

We chose to stay at the Enchanted Trails RV Park & Trading Post in Albuquerque and paid $18 with our Passport America discount.  The main reason we chose to stay at this park is because some friends and fellow Alpine Coach Owners, Mike & Donna Kuper happened to be there.  I follow Mikes blog at FlyingtheKoop.com and was aware of their location which happened to be along our route.

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(L to R) Stilla, Donna & Mike Kuper in front of their Alpine Coach.

Mike & Donna graciously invited us to eat with them outside their coach after we got parked and settled.  We enjoyed some adult beverages while we caught up with each other’s recent travels since we were last together in Lake Havasu at the Fireworks Rally back in February.  Thanks Mike & Donna!  It was great seeing you again, and hopefully it won’t be so long to the next time 🙂

On the morning of the 28th, we hit the road again and set our sites on reaching Kingman AZ.  We heard of an Elks Lodge there that has dry camping spots available to travelers at no cost.  Additionally, we knew that if we reached Kingman, we could easily make the final leg of our trip to Pahrump NV in order to make it to our Alpine SoCal Rally in time for the scheduled Rally kickoff on the 29th.

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View of I-40 nearing the New Mexico/Arizona border.

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470 miles later, yup! – you heard right – 470 miles later we pulled into the Elks Lodge in Kingman, AZ on the evening of the 28th.

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We drove onto their old (no longer used) tennis courts and dropped jacks, put out the slides, and ran up the satellite dish.  We went inside the lodge for a couple adult beverages and then went back to the coach for some much needed rest.

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On the morning of the 29th, we left Kingman and headed north on Hwy 93 towards Las Vegas.  The following pictures are coming up to and crossing the new bridge by Hoover Dam.  This was the first time we’ve used the new bridge (←Wikipedia® link), on previous trips we always had to drive across the dam itself.

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Hoover Dam as seen from Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.

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Las Vegas skyline.

After skirting Las Vegas we continued west on NV-160 and made Pahrump by early afternoon… plenty of time to check in and join the Alpine SoCal group for social hour (meet & greet) and pizza.

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My next post will cover our fun times at the Alpine SoCal Rally in Pahrump, NV.  I promise to get caught up soon as I continue to work through the computer and photo issues that I discussed earlier in this post (←link).  Stay tuned…

 

Westward Bound – Moochdocking at Casa de Baumgartner (Broken Arrow, OK)

Okay… it’s “catch-up time” again on the blog posts;  I’ve let the blog get waaay behind because of computer issues coupled with photo download problems.  I’m still working through some of the issues and might end up having to get a new laptop soon.  My circa. 6 yr. old MacBook Pro laptop has crashed several times, and once even required an extensive and time-consuming rebuild of our iPhoto Library (aka Pictures Folder).  In the meantime, as a temporary stop-gap measure, I’ve upgraded my iCloud space limitation so I can let the iPhone automatically upload pictures to iCloud since they won’t transfer directly to my laptop anymore.  However, this means every time I upload or download pics for the blog, I’m using mega-data on our already limited data plans transferring pics from my iPhone to the iCloud and then back down again to the laptop for resizing and posting.  We have (I think) ~20GB AT&T service with rollover data on our iPhones and 20GB of data on our Verizon JetPack hotspot.  And oh, by-the-way… don’t go over on the Verizon data because they’ll hit you with a $15 fee for every GB you go over!*!  And don’t get me started on how lame Verizon’s usage data is… for instance, our jetpack data usage menu will show 18GB of data used out of our 20 GB at the end of the month (our data renews on the 2nd of each month) and naturally, I think I have 2 GB left so I’ll download a few more pics from iCloud and BAM! the next thing ya know, you’re 3GB over and looking at an extra $45 – $60 in fees!!  Aaargh*!%#

So bear with me as I try to get the blog posts caught up to the present…

We left Memphis on the 23rd of September (hope you liked the Graceland Tour from my previous post), we took many more photos but only a select few made it into the last blog post, for the reasons explained earlier.

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Crossing the Mississippi River.

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We drove 295 miles from the Agricenter RV Park in Memphis and ended up at the Fort Smith – Alma RV Park in Arkansas for $35 per night.  We found this park by using our AllStays iPhone app (←link).

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The Urban Escape Vehicle at Fort Smith – Alma RV Park, AK.

 

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Our evening view at Fort Smith – Alma RV Park, AK.  Nice pond in the background with ducks that follow you around.
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View of our closest neighbors at Fort Smith – Alma RV Park, AK.

The next day, we headed on to Broken Arrow, OK to visit with good friends Jerry & Marilyn Baumgartner.  Total travel distance for the day was 120 miles.

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The Muskogee Turnpike toll caught us by surprise between I-40 and Broken Arrow.  Fortunately, it was only $2.50.  Here we are taking a break at a rest area (below) just south of Broken Arrow.

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With a little help from Marilyn over the phone with directions on the last mile or so, we pulled into the Baumgartner ranch and hooked up to power from the garage.  And you can’t beat the moochdocking rate 🙂

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Moochdocking at the Baumgartner homestead.
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Stilla and Marilyn catching up with things on the patio.

Jerry & Marilyn showed us around the ranch…

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where we made friends with some of the livestock…

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and even fed the fish in the well stocked pond.

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Jerry & Marilyn showed us around town and we checked out a couple of local hangouts.  Good times!

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(L to R) Jerry, Marilyn, and Stilla.

The next day we took a drive around the area to check out some nice rivers and lakes.  We scoped out a few nice campgrounds for future reference.  Thanks for the personalized tour Jerry & Marilyn!

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Here we are enjoying lunch at a cool hangout near one of the local lakes.

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(L to R) David, Jerry, Stilla, and Marilyn.

On our last night before heading on west, we drove into Tulsa and spent a fun evening at the Hard Rock Casino.

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(L to R) David, Stilla, Marily, and Jerry at the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa, OK.

Luckily we didn’t leave too much money behind at the casino.  It’s all about supporting the local economy, right? 😉

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Stilla and Marilyn playing the slots at the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa, OK.

We said our ‘see-ya-laters’ to Jerry & Marilyn on Monday the 26th of September and headed back towards I-40 to continue our westward trek.  It was really great getting to stop by the Baumgartner Ranch… just wish we could have stayed longer but we had a deadline to be at the Alpine SoCal Rally in Pahrump by the 29th.  Thanks for the hospitality Jerry & Marilyn! See you down the road again soon 🙂

After another long day traveling west on I-40 and after getting past Oklahoma City, we stopped to take a break at the Route 66 Museum (←link) located in Clinton, OK.

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The entrance fee was $10 and in my opinion, well worth the money.  I always enjoy anything Route 66 and car related.  Follow along on the tour with the following pictures:

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We finally made Amarillo after a 375 mile travel day.  We usually like to average around 150 miles per day when we’re traveling, but unfortunately (for us), we hung around the daughters house in Bowling Green KY a little too long and got a late start.  We have to push it hard in order to meet our rally commitment in Pahrump NV by the 29th.

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We used our iPhone apps and the Elks.org website to locate an Elks Lodge in Amarillo.  We paid $15 and pulled around back to hook up to 50 amp power.  After a couple adult beverages inside the lodge, we settled in for some presidential debates on TV 🙁

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The Urban Escape Vehicle at the Amarillo Elks Lodge.

Check back soon for my next post that will (hopefully) bring the blog a little closer to being up to date 🙂

 

Westward Bound – Graceland Tour (Memphis, TN)

We finally got everything loaded and said our goodbyes on the 21st of September so we could begin our trek westward in order to be at our next scheduled Alpine Coach Rally in Pahrump, NV by the 29th.

I mentioned at the end of an earlier post (here) that I’ve been having problems downloading photos and got behind on the blog posts…  It was great staying at my daughters house for the last two months and we got a lot of renovations done on their new house, but it was finally time to get back on the road.

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I was able to secure the new scooter on the back of the Silverado with a receiver hitch carrier that I got from DiscountRacks.com for around $200.  I wrote about getting the scooter in an earlier post (here).

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We stopped just south of Bowling Green, KY at a Speedco and got an oil change and lube for around $300.  I like Speedco because they work fast and let you supervise the work.  They also do an oil analysis and give you the results right away.  After a relatively late start to the day and stopping for the oil change, we only managed a little over 100 miles for our first day back on the road.  We found an RV park/campground that offered the Passport America (←link) discount near Dickson, TN.  The Tanbark Campground only cost us $13.75 for our overnight stay.

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The Urban Escape Vehicle at Tanbark Campground near Dickson, TN.

We noticed a passenger just under the main awning when we set up for the night.  I wonder if we brought him all the way from Bowling Green?

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After a good nights rest, we traveled on to Memphis (~180 miles) and settled on a campground called the Agricenter International RV Park which is actually located in Germantown, a suburb of Memphis.  A full hook-up spot (30 amp) cost us $27.  We arrived early enough after our relatively short travel day to still make it over to Graceland for a tour.  This was a destination that Stilla has been wanting to visit for a long time.  The RV park was probably a half hour away from Graceland but some friends had told us about it and said it was in a much safer neighborhood than the other RV parks around Graceland.

We set up in our site and disconnected the Silverado for our drive over to Graceland.  We took lots of pictures, but I’ll only leave you with these select ones (below).  Enjoy the tour:

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Our total tour price was $85.50 for the both of us.

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Front view of Graceland:

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Inside the house:

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Rear view of the house:

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Meditation Garden:

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Elvis Presley’s burial site; where he, his parents, and grandmother, Minnie Mae Hood Presley, are buried:

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The Elvis Presley Automobile Museum:

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One of several gift shops:

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Elvis’ custom jets exhibit(s):

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We really enjoyed the Graceland tour, now we can take it off the list 🙂

Back at the Agricenter RV Park, we were able to walk through the onsite Farmers Market the next morning before we continued our trek west on I-40.

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Check back later for the next edition of our cross-country tour as we head to the Alpine Coach SoCal Rally in Pahrump, NV…

Nashville and American Pickers Day Trip (Bowling Green, KY)

Okay… time to bring the blog up to date.  I finally got some of my photo download issues worked out for the time being.  So let me tell you about our day trip to Nashville and then I’ll follow up with separate blog posts about our trip back west to where we are now in Pahrump, NV.

Stilla and I drove the Silverado down to Nashville from the daughters house in Bowling Green, KY where we’ve been parked for the last two months.  This was on the 18th of September, just before we started our westward trek to make it to the Alpine SoCal Rally which starts on the 29th of September in Pahrump, NV.  But more about that in my next blog post.

We made the 67 mile trip from Bowling Green in about an hour and ended up in downtown Nashville for a little sightseeing.

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The hardest part about visiting downtown Nashville was finding a parking spot.  We finally found a parking lot a couple blocks from downtown that cost us $21 for 4 hours.  Here’s some of our pics from the downtown area:

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The pedal bar tours were pretty popular as you can see from the photos:

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There were even “party barges” running around downtown:

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After eating lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe we wandered through some of the stores and finally ended up on the the upper deck of the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery which is the view in the picture below.

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The highlight of our day trip to Nashville was stopping by to tour the Antique Archaeology store from the television series American Pickers.

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There was quite a line of folks waiting to get in when we arrived.  There isn’t an entrance fee, but they limit the number of people in the store at any one time.  Definitely a popular tourist stop… they even had tour buses stop at the store which is only one small part of the larger Marathon Motor Works building which has been renovated to feature numerous different shops.

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Hallway of the Marathon Motor Works building (below) leads to numerous little curio and antique stores.

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A popular photo op in front of the door to the Antique Archaeology American Pickers store (below).  I think every other person that was waiting in line for their turn to enter the store took the same picture.

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Inside the store:  I recognized many of the items in the store from episodes of the television series.  Maybe you recognize some items as well?

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And yes, I got the t-shirt 🙂

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Stilla took my picture (below) in front of the famous Von Dutch Volkswagen motorcycle that was featured in one of the American Pickers episodes.

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One of the other shops in the Marathon Motor Works building sold Jack Daniels items and had a Jack Daniels themed Indian motorcycle on display:

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This Cadillac (below) was showing off outside the building when we finished the tour, so I had to take a couple of pictures, right?

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It looks like someone put the old early ’60s Cadillac body on an old Army 2 1/2 ton truck chassis.  What do you think?

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We finished off our day trip to Nashville by stopping at the Parthenon which is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens.  It was built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition.  Read more on this from my friend Wikipedia  (link here).img_0268

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The Parthenon is located in Centennial Park just west of downtown Nashville.  The park is also where the famous Natchez Trace Parkway begins.

My friend Wikipedia® says:  The Natchez Trace, also known as the “Old Natchez Trace”, is a historic forest trail within the United States which extends roughly 440 miles (710 km) from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee, linking the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Mississippi Rivers.  The trail was created and used for centuries by Native Americans, and was later used by early European and American explorers, traders, and emigrants in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Today, the path is commemorated by the 444-mile (715 km) Natchez Trace Parkway and Bridge, which follow the approximate path of the Trace,[1] as well as the related Natchez Trace Trail. Parts of the original trail are still accessible and some segments are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I’ve been told that the parkway is a popular drive that I’d like to do sometime in the future with the motorhome.

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The Parthenon building was pretty impressive but unfortunately we couldn’t tour inside because they had already closed for the day.

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After a full day of touring around Nashville, we drove back to Bowling Green to get ready to pack up and start heading west for our next adventure in the Urban Escape Vehicle.

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Hope you enjoyed the pics from Nashville as much as we enjoyed taking them.  Stay tuned for the next installment which details our westward trek to Nevada…

 

Post 2 of 2 – William & Jasmin Visit from Germany (Bowling Green, KY)

Okay… better late than never – here’s post 2 of 2 on my son William’s visit to my daughter’s house in Bowling Green, KY.  William and his girlfriend Jasmin arrived on the 22nd of August and left on the 11th of September.

Other than just seeing the local sites, restaurants, shops, etc., – William also helped out with a couple projects around the house.  He helped paint a few of the interior doors, mowed the extensive lawn, etc.,  You might recall from previous blog posts that this is my youngest daughters (Joleen’s) first house along with her fiancé Dylan and one of the reasons we’re parked here is to help out with some of the renovations.

Over the labor day holiday, William & Jasmin went to rent a car so they could drive south and see some more sites on their own.  The rental agency upgraded them to a pickup truck for the same price due to the unavailability of a compact model.  They ended up at the beach in Pensacola FL and William also ended up with a sunburn 🙁

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When Will & Jasmin returned from their labor day outing, we all (except for Dylan, who had to work) drove up to Clermont, KY to the Jim Beam Distillery for a tour:

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Sign near entrance road just off I-65 south of Louisville, KY.
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Appropriately painted barn at entrance road to the Jim Beam Distillery.
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(L to R) Will, Joleen, Jasmin, Stilla. Tour registration and gift shop in background.
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(L to R) WIll, Jasmin, Stilla, and Joleen waiting for our bus to start the tour.
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The Jim Beam Tour Bus.

Inside the distillery:

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Tour guide explains the ingredients.
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Tour guide explains the fermenting system.
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We could feel the heat rising from the process and we tasted the ingredients by dipping our fingers into the mash.
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Low Wine and High Wine.

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Tour guide demonstrated filling a barrel with the appropriate proof alcohol to begin it’s aging process.

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Our first taste of Jim Beam before the aging process was with our finger dipped into a small glass that got passed around.
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The tour continued with a walk-thru of the large vat room.
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Looking at the ingredients in one of the large vats.
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Quality Control.

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Most everyone posed for pictures between the two alcohol fountains.
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The tour continues at the barreling section of the distillery.

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At the end of our distillery tour, we had the opportunity to fill our own personalized bottle of Knob Creek.

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Here I am rinsing out a new bottle with whiskey before it’s placed on the conveyer belt to be filled and capped by automatic system.
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Waiting for our personalized bottle to whiskey to be filled and capped. (L to R) Joleen, WIlliam, Jasmin, and self.

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The bottle cap is dipped into hot wax after it comes off the line.
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I placed my thumbprint in the wax on the top of the bottle to personalize it and secure my identity in the federal database 🙂
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Our own personalized bottle of Jim Beam “Knob Creek”. Have to save it for a special occasion.
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A bottle of each Jim Beam type or “batch” is saved at the beginning and the end of the filling process for quality control purposes.

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Then we walked through an area to watch the large scale bottling process.

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At the end of the distillery area tour, we got to see a display room with all the old Jim Beam decanters that were sold throughout the years:

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I still have one of these ’57 Chevy decanters somewhere in storage.

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I have this old Duesenberg decanter somewhere in storage also.

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I used to have the corvette decanter, but gave it to my old high school buddy Mike when we “down-sized”.

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Here’s a little “Did you know” item… This is one of the original I Dream of Jeannie bottles that the TV series used (below).

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The “I Dream of Jeannie” bottle.

We boarded the tour bus again to go over to one of the Aging Warehouses and the much-awaited tasting room:

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We walked by various outbuildings to one of the aging warehouses.

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There were numerous huge warehouses scattered around the distillery property.

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We walked into one of the huge warehouses.

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Our tour guide explained how long each barrel is stored before bottling.  This display (below) shows how much whiskey is left in each barrel after a number of years due to evaporation i.e., “angels cut” and soaking into the charred wood of the barrel i.e., “devils cut”.

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It was amazing how high the barrels are stacked in the warehouse.

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Notice the Mila Kunis barrel (below) from the recent series of Jim Beam commercials.

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After touring one of the barrel storage facilities our tour guide took us to the “tasting-room”.  A highlight for many of the tour guests, except for the fact the “tasting” is limited to tiny sips of 5 different brands.

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All the Jim Beam brands on display:

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The “tasting” machines automate and limit the amount each of us got to sample the various brands.  We were each given a swipe card loaded with five “tastes”.  You had to insert your card into the machine and press a button to get a “taste”.  Oh well, at least no one was going to get a DUI, right?

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(L to R) Jasmin, Joleen, William, and Stilla sampling the various Jim Beam brands.

After navigating our way back through the gift shop with only a few small souvenirs (and payment for the personalized bottle during the tour) we headed back to the house in Bowling Green with a quick stop at Fort Knox.  We thought we’d check out the Patton Museum but we didn’t get through the gate because Will, Joleen, and Jasmin didn’t have ID cards and we would have to register at the  visitor gate building which looked like a long process and it was getting late.  So we just took pictures of the Gold Depository (←link) and headed on home.

Back at the house, Will & Jasmin bought a pool earlier for Joleen & Dylan so I even took my turn one day getting a sunburn.

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On the last weekend of Will & Jasmin’s visit we had the opportunity to attend a “balloon glow” in Bowling Green.  It was nothing like the Albuquerque Balloon fest or others we’ve visited in the past like in Lake Havasu or Memorial Park in Colorado Springs, but still always cool to see.

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On September 11th, a sad day for many reasons, we drove Will & Jasmin back up to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and said our farewells.

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It was good seeing William & Jasmin again, hopefully again next year.

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On the way back from the Cincinnati airport to Bowling Green we took the long way home (scenic byway) through Lexington.  At the beginning of our trip home we noticed that we would pass by the fairly new attraction “Ark Encounter” a life-sized Noah’s Ark, so we used the opportunity to stop by and check it out.

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Entrance fee was $40 per person and $10 for parking.

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There were several other “expensive” options at Ark Encounter as well.  None of which we took part of.

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We boarded a bus for the short ride to the Ark.

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Life-size Noah’s Ark.  Pretty impressive.

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We toured each floor of Noah’s Ark to view stuffed animal displays and many, many small interpretive rooms where we fought the crowd to look at pictures, dioramas and displays.  My take-away was that it was a little overpriced and most of the interpretive displays too small and cramped for viewing with crowds of people.  It is definitely something to see once, but don’t think we’d go back again.  It was a lot of walking as the ramps inside between each floor extended the entire length of the Ark, then you’d circle each floor just to take another long ramp to the next floor.  View images (here).


I’m finishing up this blog post from Memphis, TN.  We said our farewells and ‘see-ya-laters’ to daughter Joleen & Dylan and hit the road on the 21st.  It was great staying with them for the last two months and we got a lot of renovations done on their new house.  Stilla especially enjoyed the quality time and use of a full kitchen while we were there 🙂  Love ya Joleen & Dylan, til next time!

My iPhoto program is still giving me some grief (it crashed again and I had to rebuild) and I finally broke down and got a new iPhone 6S and am working through how to get new pictures downloaded and saved for the blog.  It seems that I can’t just plug my phone into the laptop anymore and have the pictures download like a digital camera does.  All the pictures I take on my iPhone want to go to iCloud no matter what settings I make, so I have to manually download pictures from iCloud (which is a lengthy and convoluted process) before I can even edit and resize them.  So, I guess what I’m saying is that my next blog post might be awhile.  I have a lot of pictures that we took at Graceland yesterday that I’d like to share… anyway, stay tuned.

Post 1 of 2 – William & Jasmin Visit from Germany (Bowling Green, KY)

Once again, it’s been quite awhile since my last post 🙁  We’re still parked at my youngest daughters house in Bowling Green, KY and as I mentioned in my last post, we had our son William and his girlfriend Jasmin visit from Germany.  They were here for 3 weeks and we stayed very busy – so that’s my primary excuse for not updating the blog.  Let me try to bring you up to date on some of the stuff we’ve been up to since they got here…

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Stilla greets Will & Jasmin at the Cincinnati airport.

On the 22nd of August, Stilla and I drove the Silverado from Bowling Green, KY up to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to pick up Will & Jasmin.  We drove ~220 miles one way to pick them up.  It was a long drive but William found a good deal on their tickets and it would have cost them a lot more to fly into someplace closer to us like Louisville or Nashville.

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Will and Jasmin with a happy Stilla, arriving at the airport.

One of the first places we visited while they were here in Bowling Green, KY was the Lost River Cave.

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We took the Lost River Cave boat tour.  This tour is touted as the “only underground boat tour in the state of Kentucky”.

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View from our seats in the flat-bottom tour boat.

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We all had to duck our heads down for a short stretch to keep from hitting the cave ceiling.  Good thing there weren’t any stalactites hanging down, eh?

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The boat tour was pretty cool along with the associated walking tour of the scenic valley in front of the cave entrance.  I highly recommend it if you’re visiting Bowling Green.  We also visited the National Corvette Museum on another day, but I didn’t take any pictures this time since I already blogged about it in an earlier post when  I visited there with an old Army buddy.

In other non-travel related news: My daughter Joleen and her fiancé Dylan had already scheduled to get the windows replaced on their new home, so we all hung around the house for a couple days to supervise the installers:

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Old bedroom window being replaced.
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View of backyard pool through the empty window frame.
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Bay window being replaced; View of the Coach in front yard.

Will & Jasmin did a lot of running around town to get some shopping done while they were here.  We also checked out a large number of restaurants in the area many evenings.

On one of the weekdays while Joleen & Dylan had to work – I took Will & Jasmin to nearby Mammoth Cave National Park.  Stilla stayed home to watch the house and the dogs since caves aren’t her thing.

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Will & Jasmin wait for the bus to arrive to take us to one of the cave entrances for our tour.
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Walking to the cave entrance for the start of our tour.

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The cave entrance had double doors to keep the climate controlled.
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View downwards over a deep pit.

Our guided-tour took over an hour and it felt like we walked for miles.  We took the “Domes & Dripstones” tour for $15pp.

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View of the non-skid cave floor… not too easy to walk on at times.

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Our fascinating tour ended at a revolving door where we caught the bus back to the Visitors Center.

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It was good to see sunlight again after our tour 🙂

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Mammoth Cave is a “must-see” when visiting Kentucky… maybe I can get Stilla to take one of the shorter tours sometime.

Check back later for Part 2 of 2 on Will & Jasmin’s visit.  We also visited the Jim Beam Distillery and I have a lot more pictures but the laptop has been giving me trouble lately with loading and saving pictures into my iPhoto program.  We’re planning on heading back west soon so we can be at the next Alpine Coach Rally in Pahrump, NV by the 29th.  I’ll post again soon…

 

 

Follow along on our adventures…