Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day 152: Back to Alabama

September 13, 2014

It depended on which way you looked as to what the weather looked like this morning. One way the sun was coming up bright and shining. The other way there was dark clouds that looked rather bad. Fortunately we were headed in the sunny direction that turned into a partly to mostly cloudy day but no rain. It was a good driving day.

We left the WalMart parking lot at 7:00 and experienced little traffic on this Saturday morning even in Memphis. The roads through Memphis are in need of repair – some as rough as Alaska roads – but otherwise it was a pretty easy drive. We made it back to Blount County about 2:30. We have already seen some friends and family and look forward to seeing many more over the next several days. We missed you guys. We have much work to do to get Fred unloaded, washed, waxed, serviced and ready to go on his next adventure. The Colorado also is in need of a good waxing. It will probably take more then one good washing to get all the crevices clean on both vehicles.

Below are two pictures of how our driveway looked when we arrived. It took a couple of hours on the tractor to make it passable.

SO the great Alaska 2014 Adventure is over. This will be our last daily blog posting until the next adventure. We will post summary information on the trip in a few days when we have time to get that together. Otherwise, thank you all for coming along on this journey and hope you will join us again.

Max and Anne

Day 151: Branson to Trumann, Arkansas

September 12, 2014

It was 55 degrees and drizzling when we got up this morning. Really didn't warm up much during the day and it remained cloudy all day. We enjoyed the cooler weather with less humidity.

Today started the last leg of our adventure. It was a travel day and except for the fact that we were leaving Branson to go see family it would have been a sad morning. We left Branson and drove to Mountain Home, Arkansas to visit our aunt and cousins. It was so great to see them, even for such a short time. They took us out for a yummy lunch and then we had to get back on the road. We are now in Trumann, AR - between Memphis, TN and Jonesboro, AR, and about 6 hours from Blount County. We could have made it all the way today but we would have been after dark arriving and really would like some daylight to check over the house, etc when we first get back. So, if things go as planned, tomorrow will be the end of this great and wonderful summer adventure for 2014.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Day 150: Last Day in Branson

September 11, 2014

Can't type in that date and not remember what happened that September day in 2001 when our world forever changed. I hope you remembered to say a prayer for the families of those who died that day. And always continue to remember our military, police, fire, EMS, EMA and 9-1-1 dispatch personnel. The Rivoli Review provided entertainment tonight for our closing and one of the songs they did was “Freedom Isn't Free.”

Today was a cloudy day with cooler temps and some misty rain at times. We actually enjoyed a break in the humidity. We got email for our friends at Storm Mountain this afternoon and they have 5-6 inches of wet snow. Too bad we aren't still there.

Today started again with devotional at 7:00, followed by breakfast of pancakes, then singing, speaker, business meeting and seminars. It was another good day of fellowship, education and fun. One of our seminars was on disaster rebuilds – we know a lot about that already, and another on full-time RVing. There are some members who have been full-timing 16 years traveling around this country working NOMADS projects. This is a really great group of dedicated people “working to rebuild lives, homes, and facilities with God's love and our hands.” It is an honor to work with them. We have had a great time and made some wonderful new friends.

Tomorrow we head to Arkansas to visit some family and then probably back to Blount County some time Saturday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Day 149: Another Day in Branson

September 10, 2014

This morning it was 81 degrees when Scout got his first walk at about 6:30. Certainly didn't cool off enough last night and the air conditioner had to run a lot during the night. However, shortly after Scout's walk it started raining and by 8:30 it was 75 degrees. That's better. Unfortunately, it did go back up into the mid-80's this afternoon. We still get the Rapid City (Storm Mountain) forecast and they have a winter storm warning for tomorrow. They may get 3 inches of wet heavy snow and will have a low of 28 tomorrow night. Wow – we left a week too early! However, that could be a very damaging snow because the trees still have their leaves and some branches may come down with the weight of the snow. We will be praying for our friends there. Speaking of Storm Mountain, we met some people here that live very close to there and who will be leading a NOMADS work project there in a few weeks. It's fun to meet all these people. Wish it wasn't so far away. We would love to go back with a team and do some more work at Storm Mountain Center.

We had daily devotion at 7:00 am and our guest pastor was again very good. We have been blessed with really good speakers. After devotion it was pancake breakfast. They know how to make a good pancake here at the KOA. (And the price is right – $0.00) It was then time for some singing and preaching before we had another business meeting. The remainder of the day was filled with seminars on various topics such as team leadership, vinyl siding installation, writing and publishing a book, home inspections for required repairs, and electrical wiring. Tonight was the pot luck dinner and we took smothered slow-cooker pork chops. All the food was good, so of course we ate too much. There was also entertainment after dinner by “Irish Band” There was some toe tapping, clapping, and a little dancing, People seemed to be having a good time.
Installing vinyl siding is more complicated than it looks.
After dinner entertainment
Tomorrow there is more of the same, except it is supposed to be a little cooler. We sure hope so.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Day 148: NOMADS Meeting in Branson

September 9, 2014

Today was another nice sunny, but hot day in Branson. It didn't cool off much last night. And as an update to yesterday's blog, as to why it's more fun to hike in Alaska. In addition to the decreased heat and humidity, no snakes, poison ivy or spiders, there are NO CHIGGERS. There are LOTS of chiggers in Missouri.

Today, again, started with devotion at 7:00. Today our leader was a pastor who is now the director of the Lakeview Methodist Conference Center in Texas, Matt Idom. He was funny and very good. Funny is helpful at 7:00 am. When our meetings started, we had some speakers who's organization had been recipients of NOMADS work teams and then a business meeting with different board members presenting different topics. That will continue tomorrow. Today was also the silent auction and the live auction. This is a major fun raiser for the NOMADS to help the various organizations where we work. In most circumstances the places we work – camp, church, etc – provide the supplies such as paint, lumber, etc and we give our labor toward their projects. Some in need of our services are also in need of financial assistance to purchase the supplies needed for the work.

The Auction Committee members make silent auction anything but silent as they encourage everyone to continue bidding and “spend your money.” After the silent auction closes they have a live auction conducted by one of the members who is a retired auctioneer. That was a hoot to watch. Hopefully tomorrow they will announce the proceeds from the auctions. It seemed to be going well. Anyway it was a fun afternoon and again we met some more members. For dinner tonight we all went out to dinner at McFarlain's Restaurant. They did an amazingly good job of serving all 317 of us quickly and efficiently. The food was good, too. That's about it for today. Tomorrow we have more business meetings and educational seminars. Not our usual EMA/911/medical seminars so we will tell you more about that tomorrow.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Day 147: Hiking in Branson

September 8, 2014

This morning was a little cloudy with temps in the 60's. The clouds cleared later in the morning and it was a bright sunny day with high of about 84.

We started the morning with a 7:30 devotion with the Bishop of Arkansas bringing the message. As was last evening's service, it was very good. Both of these Bishops are excellent preachers. After the message we again had pancakes for breakfast with the entire group. Don't think we mentioned this before - there are 317 Nomads attending the conference. Today was the day for various sightseeing trips to the surrounding areas. We decided that since this was our only free day left before we get back to Alabama that we needed to get some exercise rather than ride a bus all day. We will be in classes most of the day the next 3 days. We went to the Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area to go hiking. It is “140 acres of wooded hill country that has been set aside to preserve an area of the natural Ozarks that have attracted tourists for many years.” It is a lovely area but we were somewhat disappointed in the lack of good trail markings. At places they were very well marked and at other crossings there was nothing. Fortunately we had a map of sorts and didn't get lost. We did decide that we are ready to go back to Alaska. It is not nearly as much fun hiking with heat, humidity, snakes and poison ivy. Oh, and spiders! Poor Scout got so hot and tired. He was so funny climbing up on a rock with a little bitty puddle on top and trying to lay down in it. He was so pitiful that when we left the park we went to Table Rock Park to the boat launch and let him swim a while. We think he would have been quite content to stay there the rest of the day. Table Rock is a large Corp of Engineers lake. Very nice! If we had found it earlier we might have gone boating today. We will have to remember this lake for future travels. We finally talked Scout into getting back into the truck and went home for showers and dinner. We did make a quick trip to the outlet stores tonight, but did not find anything we wanted to bring home. That's it for today. Tomorrow the seminar classes start. 
Trail down to a (dry) waterfall
Old homestead house in the park
Scout trying to cool off in a little bit of water
Not body surfing - just cooling off.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Day 146: NOMADS in Branson

September 7, 2014

It was 62 degrees this morning with a bright sunny sky when we went to breakfast at 7:30. There is a “convention center” here at the campground, where most of our meetings and meals will take place. It has a kitchen, one large room for about 400 and then some smaller rooms for classes. Breakfast was pancakes – good – and we met a lot of new people. Fun. After breakfast there was a memorial service. 

We then had some free time and went into town and washed the truck, looked around town, and ran some errands. Branson has all sorts of shows/entertainment venues, lots of restaurants, a zip line and outlets. The show venues have all sorts of outside displays to try to entice people inside.

This afternoon we had meetings and then a church service tonight with the Missouri Bishop of the United Methodist Church preaching. Very good message and service. It was a good day.
Get together for new members and first time attendees

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Day 145: Carthage, MO to Branson, MO

September 6, 2014

Today was another travel day – but a short one. It was 62 degrees and raining this morning. We had rain on and off all night. The rain was down to a drizzle by the time we arrived in Branson and we had sprinkles off and on all afternoon.

We are at the KOA in Branson, Mo. The NOMADS have almost the entire park this week. It is a nice park, but the Internet access is limited to one device per site and is very slow. We arrived about 11:00 o'clock and were given a welcome bag and led to our site by someone in a golf cart. The only activity this afternoon was registration and then just visiting with everyone as they arrived. It was great to see our friends Sandy and Roger, who also attend Lester Memorial and to meet other NOMADS from across the country. We look forward to meeting and getting to know others the rest of the week. Tomorrow morning stars with a pancake breakfast and then church. Sorry not pictures today. We will try to get get a few for tomorrow.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Day 144: South Sioux City to Carthage, MO

September 05, 2014

Today was another travel day. We didn't have the outside thermometer set up so don't know the AM temp. However we checked radar when we woke up early thinking we might go ahead and leave. There was a nasty looking storm coming our way so we just slept a little longer and let it pass. We had some pretty strong winds during the night – Fred was rocking at times. We left at 8:15 this morning. We are glad we made that decision because we had no severe weather/winds during our drive to Carthage, Mo. We did have rain but were so blessed that the timing was such that we slipped through breaks in the strong storms.

We stopped in Nebraska City, Nebraska at the Lewis and Clark  Missouri River Basin Visitors Center.  They have a really nice facility with some nice display both inside and out.  Also some trails we would have enjoyed, except it started raining pretty hard while we were there. 

Replica of a lodge house used by people in this area in the 1700's and 1880's. It would house 20-25 people "and maybe a few prized ponies."
Replica of a keelboat/barge used by Lewis and Clark. It was 55' long and could carry 12-15 tons of supplies.

Right now it is 7:20 pm and we are currently under a severe thunderstorm warning. Of course one of us is outside taking pictures of the clouds. We do have our weather radio and it is set for our county – Jasper, Mo. We actually went under the warning while we were programing it. We have been involved with EMA too long. We do watch the weather and try to be prepared. If things start looking too bad we will seek shelter and will not ride it out in Fred. Remember that an automobile is one of the worst places to be in a severe storm. Fred isn't really much better. A RV park was hit by a tornado earlier this year and there were deaths in the park.

OK – the storm is now past us and we got some rain and a little wind (and some pictures) but the strongest area of the storm went north of us. The rain has lowered the temperature which is nice. Earlier we had to have the generator on so we could run the overhead air conditioner. Too hot!

Tomorrow we will move to Branson – about 2 hours away – for our NOMADS meeting. If you are not aware, NOMADS – Nomads On a Mission Active in Divine Service – is part of the United Methodist Church and the national meeting is in Branson this year. This is a group of RVers who travel in their RV's to different areas of the country doing mission projects. Some people say NOMADS stands for Northern Old Men Avoiding Deep Snow since there are a lot of snowbird projects in Florida, south Texas, and Arizona January – March. We are relatively new members and this will be our first national meeting. We will be in Branson thru next Friday. We have already checked out the bakeries online and there appears to be several good doughnut shops. Guess we will be checking those out. More tomorrow.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Day 143: Storm Mountain to South Sioux City, NE

September 04, 2014

It was 54 degrees this morning at Storm Mountain Center, South Dakota – a little cool, requiring a sweat shirt, but a nice start to our day, with a few scattered clouds. We are very glad we stayed the additional day at Storm Mountain for several reasons, but especially because Scott Jenson, the director of the camp, returned home last night from visiting family, so we were able to spend a little time visiting with him this morning. What a pleasure and blessing it has been to get to know all the people at Storm Mountain. It was hard to say goodbye today but we do plan to see them all again. When we pulled back into camp last week after being gone all summer it was almost like being back home. We didn't take many pictures this visit but you can look back in our blog to the end of April and early May for additional information on Storm Mountain.

We left the Center about 9:00 en route for South Sioux City, Nebraska – 444 miles away. That meant we traveled straight across South Dakota and we do mean straight, on I 90 to Sioux Falls, SD then turned south on I 29. There was maybe one curve shortly before we arrived in Sioux Falls - sort of a boring drive. The wind blew all day! Not just a breeze either. From what we have been told that stretch of I 90 is known for strong winds and we fought the winds on the way out in the spring and back across today. At least today part of the time it was a tail wind so our mileage might be a little better. The scenery was primarily flat farm land. We saw huge fields of corn, hay, soy beans and barley. There was also fields of sunflowers but these flowers were not as large as the ones we say saw Montana and North Dakota.
The kind of wind we "enjoyed" all day
Little chapel at one of the South Dakota rest areas
We arrived here at the WalMart in South Sioux City about 7:00 pm – we lost another hour today and we are back on Central Time for the first time in about 4 ½ months. The people here are very nice. After we parked and verified with WalMart that it was OK for us to overnight here we met a lady in the parking lot. She saw us get out of the RV and asked where we were from and welcomed us to their community. “We think it is the best in the world” she said. She shared a little about the community and told us that we were in a very safe area. Very nice!  By the way - she and her husband own an RV too.  Later we went into WalMart to pick up a few items – yes, it always costs us to stay at WalMart – and the employees in the store were also particularly nice and friendly. We were going to tell the manager, but they were so busy tonight that we didn't want to bother anyone to find the manager. We may try to go back in before we leave in the morning to say thanks and compliment the staff. Anyway – we will be on the road a little earlier tomorrow morning and hope to travel approx 432 miles to somewhere around Lamar, Missouri.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Day 142: Last Day at Storm Mountain

September 3, 2014

It was 50 degrees this morning with beautiful clear skies. However, it got hot by early afternoon – 87 degrees. This is the hottest we have seen since last summer. We are ready to go back north. Not really, but maybe Alabama will have an early fall.

So what did we do today? First we had to handle some business issues and make some calls. That means we have to go about a mile to get a fairly reliable cell signal. We still just have Max's phone. We got a little late start working on the projects at the camp but we finished up the edge routing of the lumber for the bunk beds that are to be built. After lunch we sanded those pieces.

This afternoon we worked to get the new tow bar installed and ready for travel tomorrow. Also, we did some cleaning, putting things away for travel. We will have a fairly long travel day tomorrow and hope to be in Nebraska tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Day 141: Hike up to Harney Peak

September 2, 2014

This morning we awoke to a temperature of 45 degrees. Yep. Had to use the furnace again this morning – not for long but still it's September 2nd and we have not had a week that we have not used the furnace at least once. Crazy. Here in South Dakota, with the lows in the 40's for several days now we now are seeing changes in the leaves with some yellows like we were seeing in Alaska and then Canada. Fall is approaching. Of course just a few miles from us there was snow on Labor Day.

We didn't need the furnace for long today because we left at 9:00 to go hiking with Pink, Steve and Ashley. We decided to hike Harney Peak elevation 7,242 feet. Harney Peak is the highest natural point in South Dakota and the highest peak east of the Rockies and west of the Pyrenees Mountains of Europe. There is a castle looking structure at the summit previously used as a fire tower. Round trip hike was a over 7.5 miles. It was a hike with beautiful vistas, views of Little Devil's Tower and Cathedral Spires. Scout got to hike with us because this hike is in Custer State Park and the National Forest. He is one tired puppy tonight. He has hiked that far numerous times, but not this high and this much elevation change. It was such a wonderful day enjoying the natural beauty of this part of the country. Of course, we aren't tired at all. We should all sleep well tonight.


Distant view of the observation tower
Cathedral Spires

Little Devil's Tower
Scout cooling off in the old reservoir on the peak

One view from the top
The group at the top

Great news! The tow bar was delivered today. We will get it all set up tomorrow and then be ready to head toward Branson Thursday morning.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Day 140: Storm Mountain Center

September 1, 2014

This morning was another cool morning requiring the furnace again. Although the forecast was for clouds and rain it was actually partially sunny. However, by lunch we had another nasty thunderstorm with a cold front coming through. Current temp at 8:00 pm is 51 degrees. Guess that means we will be back down in the 40s tonight

Did some cleaning in Fred this morning and then some odd jobs around the camp. Sorry we forgot to take pictures of that. We trimmed out a window that had been omitted when the original work was done. Then after lunch and the nasty storm we worked on getting the lumber ready to build some additional beds. If you followed us back in May when we were here you will remember that we built bunk beds for Allison Hall. They are now replacing some additional beds so we are working on the early stages of those. More work to be done before they are ready for installation. We hope to do some more work on that project tomorrow so we will try to remember to take the camera.

For dinner we went to the new Gas Light Restaurant in Rockerville with Steve and Pink. The food was very good and the company even better and we have leftovers for another meal or two. Tomorrow morning we are going hiking together so we will definitely remember to take the camera and have some pictures for you on tomorrow's blog.