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Altoona, IA to Sioux Falls, SD, time to celebrate a bit

Friday, 8/26/11
Sioux Falls, SD

After another early start for us, 9:30, we headed out for Sioux Falls, SD, on Thursday.  Terri has been a bit nervous about going through the flooded areas along I29, so we decided to go a few extra miles and take I35 north to Albert Lea, MN and then head west on I90 to avoid the flooding.  Boy, it sure seemed like a long day getting here.  Parts of I90 were very rough.  At one point I almost pulled off to look for an alternate route.  We kept on going, though, and soon we were arriving here at Tower Campground.  Including a few stops for breaks and one for diesel, it took us about six hours and 325 miles to get here.  This is an interesting campground.  They have an "old" section and a "new" section.  We are in the "new" section.  This area was/is a mobile home park.  They're in the process of removing the mobile homes and converting the sites over for RV use.  The site we're in, #110, is not too bad.  It seems kinda private with the trees just outside our door.  There are a few campsites to the left of us, but we don't really see them.  Behind us are a couple of buildings and a mobile home.  We're here for two weeks.  Labor Day weekend snuck up on us.  We had planned on staying in a SD state park, but all the sites were reserved well in advance.  That's okay though. Wal Mart, DMV, and other stuff are real convenient to us, and I'm sure we'll be just fine here.  Except for some traffic noise from I29 and an occasional aircraft coming in for a landing at the airport, it's fairly peaceful here.

Today was a big day for us.  After much preparation and anxiety, we have now obtained our South Dakota drivers licenses.  Terri was very nervous about going through this process.  I was too, but I didn't let her know that I was because that would have made it even harder on her.  We checked and double and triple checked our paperwork before leaving.  We had our certified birth certificates, certified marriage certificate, w-2's, residency forms, and our VA drivers licenses.  We even took our vehicle registrations just in case we needed them.  We got through the whole process and are now official South Dakotans!

After that, we decided to make a run up to Madison, SD, to visit our mail forwarding service,, and pick up our mail.  We also wanted to meet Terri Lund, the manager, but she had left for the day to go camping this weekend.  That's okay, though, as we'll be going back again next week.  We got our mail, drove around downtown, and got gas.  Then it was back to Sioux Falls and Wal Mart.  We picked up a few things and headed back to the campground.  Time to celebrate!!!
Both of us have been looking forward to this day for what seems like a long time.  We are finally South Dakotans.  We decided a nice steak dinner was appropriate.  I fired up my $7 grill and cooked a couple of nice ribeyes.
Steak, corn on the cob, and Amish macaroni salad -- what a great meal!!

We feel very blessed to have been able to get out of Virginia before the earthquake this past week and now Hurricane Irene.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who are affected by the hurricane.  Stay safe.
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Steak 'n Shake, Davenport, IA to Altoona, IA

Wednesday, 8/24/11
Altoona, IA

Tuesday we decided to go out to Steak 'n Shake for dinner.  We "discovered" this fine chain of eating establishments a couple of years ago.  We both really like their Frisco Melt.  However, after looking at the menu I decided I wanted to try the Wisconsin Buttery Steakburger.  It was delicious.  Terri went with her usual, the Frisco Melt, and really enjoyed it too. Of course we couldn't go there and pass up the shakes.  We both ordered the same thing, a vanilla/dark chocolate side-by-side combo.  Boy, were they ever gooood!!
Today we left the campground just after nine.  That's the earliest we've ever departed.  I even stopped and dumped the tanks.  About two and a half hours later we arrived at Griff's Valley View RV Park & Campground near Altoona, just northeast of Des Moines, IA.  It's a nice RV park with paved roads.  Many of the sites have concrete pads to park your rig on.  We have 50 amp full hookups.  There's even a pole for my satellite dish.  The campground office is located at the "feed store" down the road from the park.  The park is conveniently located just outside of Des Moines.
Our site, B2
another view
and another view
the road behind our rig
view out back
After we got all set up and settled in, we headed out to get Terri's birth certificate and to check out a couple of campgrounds.  We went to Terrible's Lakeside Casino Resort RV Park in Osceola, IA.  It looks like it would be okay for a night or two.  Many of the site pads have cracked concrete, but it does look like they're trying to repair/replace some of the damaged areas.  We also stopped in at Winterset City Campground and RV Park in Winterset, IA.  We really liked this little campground. It only has about 34 sites, and they were all full or reserved.  There's a Newmar rally taking place there this week, so it's a good thing we decided not to go there with the rig this time.  However, we'll definitely keep it in mind for a future stop. 

Tomorrow we arrive in South Dakota.  It'll be a long day of travel -- over five hours.
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Friends, Family, Food, Cruise, Demo...and Lena, IL to Davenport, IA

Davenport, IA

We've had a nice relaxing time at Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park near Lena, IL, the last week and a half.  We visited with friends and family, went out to eat, attended a couple of events, relaxed, and took care of some routine stuff.

On Friday, the 12th, we ventured out to our first "public" laundromat in about 27 years.  We went in to Lena and did the laundry early Friday morning.

Later in the day, we went back in to Lena for a Friday night fish fry at a local restaurant called Mammalena's.  The food was okay, but it wasn't exactly what I wanted.  This fish was broasted, and I actually wanted deep fried beer battered fish.  I guess we'll have to go to Wisconsin for that.

Saturday night, the 13th, we attended the 33rd annual Freeport Cruise Night in downtown Freeport, IL.  Way back in the seventies, before Terri and I were married, we attended the annual Cruise Night event.  However, back then, every Saturday night in the summer was cruise night.  There were all sorts of cars and trucks there this year.  They were expecting at least 500 vehicles for the cruise.  Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate, and it started raining with just over an hour left to go.  I think quite a few cars didn't show up because of the weather.  There was still a lot of vehicles, though, and we enjoyed seeing what was there.  Here are a few examples of what we saw.

Sunday, the 14th, we met our friends Dick and Emily.  Terri and Emily have been best buddies for about thirty years,  ever since they worked together in Freeport.  We always visit with them and usually go out to eat whenever we're in the Freeport area.
We met them at the Lena Drive Inn and had lunch.  Emily had a brat and the rest of us had the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.  The food was great, and the visit was even better.  After we finished lunch, they came out to the park and we sat and visited for a few hours.  It was real nice seeing them again.  We usually get back here yearly, but we didn't make it out here in 2010, so we hadn't seen them for a couple of years.

Monday, the 15th, we went out for brunch with Terri's brother Tracy.  Again, because we didn't come out here in 2010, we also hadn't seen him for a couple of years.  We had a real nice breakfast and visit.  Later, Terri and I ran some errands which included picking up my certified birth certificate and our marriage certificate, and then we just relaxed.

The highlight of the day for Tuesday, the 16th, was another visit with Dick and Emily.  They came out for dinner, and we had hamburgers, hotdogs, and brats that I grilled up.  Terri fixed a real good peach jello salad and heated up a couple of cans of beans.  We also ate some delicious cookie bars that Terri baked.  More good eatin' and visitin'.

Wednesday, the 17th, we made a run in to Terri's brother's house with a cedar chest and dishes.  These were some things that used to belong to Terri's Grandmother.  We couldn't keep them any longer, and her brother wanted them.  Believe it not, we brought that cedar chest out here from Richmond in the basement of our fifth wheel.  All you fulltimers know how jam packed your basements can be.  Imagine how much room we have in there now that the cedar chest is gone.

Thursday, the 18th, we went over to Loves Park, IL, to take care of some business and have lunch.  We also stopped at Rock Cut State Park and a couple of forest preserve campgrounds just to check them out to see if we would want to stay at any of them. 

Friday, the 19th, it was back to the laundromat for more fun.  We saw an interesting sign that said "Don't put your clothes in a washer or dryer that's already being used."  That just seems like common sense to us, but maybe we're missing something... Later, we went over to Terri's brother's house for dinner.  He fixed a delicious lasagna dinner with homemade lemon ice cream for desert.  It was a great meal and a nice time with Tracy.

Saturday's big highlight was grilled burgers for dinner.  Otherwise, just a nice quiet relaxing day. 

During the week, I saw a store with a very amusing name...

Also, this sign is interesting.  I guess it doesn't really apply in the middle of August.  If you can't figure it out, it's a warning sign for a snowmobile crossing.
(click to enlarge image)
Sunday, the 21st, was a fun day for us.  We headed east to the Winnebago County Fair in Pecatonica, IL.  It's been a looooong time since we attended a good county fair demolition derby.  They had over 70 cars participate, and the action was excellent.
This is the "Best Appearing Car" winner
Monday, the 22nd, we had to take our dog Katie to the vet for a blood test.  Emily was a great help in getting all this set up so that her vet and our vet could get this all worked out.  She even came to the vet Monday and helped us out.  Thanks Emily!  Now we have an east coast vet and a midwest vet.  By the way, all is well with Katie.  We just needed to check her levels for her seizure control medication.

A very popular local product is something I always look forward to when returning to the Freeport area.  Mrs. Mike's Potato Chips is a local favorite, and we just love them.  They're a variation of a kettle cooked chip but better.  Earlier in the week, we stopped by the factory and purchased a five pound box of chips.  By Saturday there was only about a third of a box left.  We stopped in on Saturday and bought another five pounds.  They're delicious and very addictive.

After we got back from the vet, we packed up and headed about two hours southwest to Davenport, IA.  We're staying at a county park in Scott County.  Summit Campground at West Lake Park is a nice little park with water and 30 amp electric available, and it's only $18 per night.  Thanks Jim and Linda for another great campground tip.
Site 112,  West Lake Park

A view down our street

View out back
 We only planned on staying one night, but it was rainy and windy this morning so we decided to stay another night.  Wednesday we're headed off to Osceola to get Terri's certified birth certificate.  Later in the week we'll be "landing" at Tower Campground in Sioux Falls, SD, for a couple of weeks.  Then after that, who knows...

Rantoul, IL to Lena, IL, Our first State Park, Dinner with RV friends

Lena, IL

After getting all packed up and ready to go, we bid our farewells to Jim and Linda and headed out to Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park near Lena, IL. 
This park is located less than 20 miles from our hometown of Freeport.  Many, many years ago I stayed at this park with my parents.  It's a nice quiet park with paved roads and gravel campsites.  Most sites have 30 amp electric with a very limited number of sites with 50 amp.  When we arrived here, I jumped in the Element and drove in to find a site while Terri stayed with the rig at the entrance.  I chose a 30 amp site that backs up to some trees and a water spigot right next to us.  None of the sites have water or sewer.  Here's a photo of our rig...
and another...
and another...
and this is the view out our back window...
After we got all set up, we headed west about 40 miles to Galena to have dinner with our RV friends, Jim and Dee.  The last time we saw them was back in Richmond at the KOA in early June.  We were so glad to see them again.  They've been traveling quite a bit.  They've been to PA, NY, Canada, MI, WI, MN, IA, and now IL.  They have given us great support through our transition, and it's always a treat to see them.  We ate dinner at one of Jim and Dee's favorite places, Culver's.  Thanks to Jim and Dee for a great evening.

It's so nice to get here.  We plan on staying in this area for a little while to see friends and family and to just relax a bit.  The last few days have been hectic while we were trying to get here by the weekend.  We have no intentions whatsoever to travel this far in such a short amount of time on a normal basis.  This was definitely an exception.  Now it's time for some R&R.
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Frankfort, KY to Rantoul, IL, Nice visit with Jim and Linda

Rantoul, IL

After stopping at the dump station (my first experience since helping my Dad many years ago) we left Elkhorn Campground about 11:30.  We were on our way to my homestate of Illinois.  Terri and I were looking forward to our next stop in Rantoul, IL.

Our friends, Jim and Linda Smith,
are staying here, and we wanted visit them.  I also wanted to check out this campground.  Jim and Linda stay here often, so I figured it was the type of place we like, and it is.  We also wanted to meet Emrys, their new to them motorhome.  By the way, it's really nice.

We arrived a bit before 5PM.  We got checked in and setup.  Jim and Linda prepared a wonderfully delicious steak dinner with corn on the cob, cantaloupe, tomatoes, green bean casserole, cucumbers, and bread for us, and Terri made her great butterscotch cookie cakes.  After dinner we sat and talked for a while.  I'm embarrassed to say that I started to dose off a bit.  It had been a long day of driving for me.  We thoroughly enjoy spending time with our RV friends.  Thanks Jim and Linda for a great meal and visit!

Here's a picture of our rig at site #3.

Here's Emrys right next door.  Jim talked to Louise, the campground host, before we got there and had the site right next to them saved for us.  Thanks Jim!!

A view of our street...

Another angle of our rig...

and another angle of Emyrs...

the view out our back window... NICE

and a picture of that great Illinois corn.

Tomorrow we head to northwest Illinois.  We have some more RV friends up there that we want to visit... 
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