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Columbus, OH, Schmidt’s, and Serendipity

Sunday 9/9/2012

Alton RV Park

Galloway (Alton), OH

Friday morning, 9/7, started out with us knowing that it was going to be a travel day, but we didn’t know for sure where we were traveling to.  We had a couple of destinations in mind but needed to make a decision on how far we wanted to drive and then make a phone call to check availability.  We decided on a longer travel day of about 200 miles and about 3.5 hours.  I called Spring Valley Campground in Cambridge, OH, and got their answering machine at 9:03AM.  I tried four more times with the last try at 10:20AM.  I never left a message because we needed to make a decision before starting out, and I’ve left messages before with other campgrounds with no return call.  So out of frustration and the urgency of getting on the road some time soon, we decided to try calling Alton RV Park instead.  My call was answered on the first try by Sue.  She was very friendly and very thorough with her questions and information.  She wanted to know the size of our rig, how many slides and their size, number of vehicles, how many people, why we were staying, if we wanted to sit outside, and if we were going to have any company while there.  Normally, some of these questions would be somewhat offensive, but I had done my research and understood why she was asking all these questions.  This big rig friendly RV park is very small with only 35 sites, and she wanted as much information as possible in order to put us in a suitable site.  The following was taken off their website:
“Sue Randall's parents, Warren and Lucille Douce, started renting space in their side yard to RV'ers in 1965.  Their historic 1850's house currently serves as the park office and home of Sue and Jim Randall.  The park is located on one of the oldest roads in the country—the National Road, U.S. Route 40.  This clean, friendly, 3 acre park can accommodate 35 camping units on  level gravel sites with full hook-ups.”
This park is very tight, and if you look at the satellite shot of it on google maps you’ll see what I mean.  I was a bit concerned about the size of the park and my ability to navigate around it.  However, my concerns disappeared after we arrived.  It’s amazing how so many units can fit into such a small area, but it works!  We were greeted by Sharon, the camp host, and she got us all registered and directed into our site.  This little RV park is located just a few miles west of Columbus, OH.  The address is Galloway but it’s really in Alton.  They have full hookups (50 and 30 Amp, water, and sewer) and excellent WIFI.  They do NOT have cable, but with their proximity to Columbus I could get all the major networks, even with the antenna down.  There’s also a clear view for satellite reception. Smile  They’re a bit pricey at $36 per night, but the TV reception and WIFI made up for it.  They offer a dollar per night discount if you pay in cash.  They’re located on U.S. 40, and there is some traffic noise.  We’ll stay there again if we’re in the area.  Reservations are highly recommended!
This is their sign by the road.
Views of the park and our rig from near the sign.
Here’s a shot of the old house/park office.
Another look at our rig and the highway from our door.
Friday night the park was almost, if not completely, full!  Saturday night there were a few empty spots.  We decided to stay two nights since the TV reception was excellent and I wanted to watch the NASCAR races from Richmond both Friday and Saturday nights.
When we were checking in on Friday, Sharon, the camp host, told us about a restaurant in Columbus that we actually already knew of but had forgotten about.  In fact, it’s on my “go to” list.  Serendipity!  Since we were so close, we decided to go to Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Restaurant Saturday afternoon!
This place was featured on Travel Channel’s show Man vs. Food.  Schmidt’s has been in business since 1886.  They produce their own sausages including bratwurst, knockwurst, their own spicy creation called the Bahama Mama, and a slightly milder version of the Bahama Mama.  They offer the German Autobahn Buffet which includes all four types of sausages, sausage stew, German Potato Salad, red cabbage, sauerkraut, baked chicken, and a nice salad bar.
  I opted for the buffet.  This is my first helping.
I didn’t fill my plate very full as I was “sampling” different things to see what I liked.  Of course, there were a few return trips.  Open-mouthed smile  I focused mainly on the sausages, all of which were delicious.  Terri chose the Weiner Schnitzel und Gravy with green beans und spatzel and redskin smashed potatoes.
Of course Terri couldn’t finish her Weiner Schnitzel, so I helped her out with it.  Winking smile  We both really liked our food and will go back if we’re ever in the area again.  This is a view out the window from our table of the brick street.
The restaurant is located in a residential area called “German Village,” and most of the streets and buildings are made out of brick.  The entrance door is located just to the right.  It was interesting watching all the people come and go.  We arrived about 3:30PM, and it was busy, but not so much that we had to wait for a table.
Soon after we were seated, however, the crowds really picked up, and many of the customers were wearing red Ohio State shirts.  It became so busy that they were taking names for the waiting list.  Terri commented to our waitress that there were sure a lot of red shirts in there.  The waitress said that the Ohio State Buckeyes football game had just ended, and quite a few people were coming in from the game.  We did see one “stray” wearing a yellow West Virginia shirt. Surprised smile  We both wondered if Ohio State had played against West Virginia, but we later heard that they actually played the UCF Knights and won.

After our late lunch we were too full for desert, so we got one of the highly recommended Jumbo Cream Puffs to go.  These things are HUGE!!!  Later Saturday night, we cut it in half and enjoyed our treat.
If you’re ever in the Columbus area and you like German food, Schmidt’s is the place to go!!! Smile
We experienced serendipity not once but twice at Alton RV Park.  Because we were unable to get in touch with our first campground choice on Friday, we decided to go to Alton RV Park instead.  This resulted in the nice surprise, as mentioned above, of dining at Schmidt’s.  Also, I was determined to get to our destination of Richmond, VA, by NOT taking the WV Turnpike.  I was planning on heading east to Hagerstown, MD, and then head southeast to Richmond.  However, I’ve been unable to find a place to stay Sunday night along that route.  So we’ve decided to “bite the bullet” and head south to Charleston, WV, and the dreaded WV Turnpike.  The serendipitous part is that if we would have gone to our first campground choice on Friday, we would have another 80 miles and about an hour extra drive time.  Needless to say, we’ve been very happy with our choice of Alton RV Park.
Today, Sunday the 9th, is another travel day.  We’ll be headed to West Virginia for the night.
Smile Open-mouthed smile Smile Open-mouthed smile Smile

Rantoul, IL to Straughn, IN

Friday 9/7/2012

New Lisbon Family Campground

Straughn, IN

Thursday morning, 9/6, we left Prairie Pines Campground in Rantoul, IL, and drove to New Lisbon Family Campground near Straughn, IN, a Passport America park.  It took us just over three hours to go about 180 miles.  We chose this campground because of the convenience of its location from I-70 and the nightly rate of $15.52 with the P.A. discount.  This park has many permanent sites.  After check-in, we were led through a wooded area full of permanents to an open field of pull-through sites situated in the center of the field.  All around the perimeter were more permanent sites, as well as along the pond.  The CG was quiet except for some highway noise from I-70.  The sites are long pull-through sites, but they’re a bit close together.  We had full hook-ups with 30 amp electric.  This was a good place for an overnight stop, and we’ll stop here again if in the area… and if the P.A. discount is still available.
Permanent sites around the perimeter of the field…
and in the woods.
Looks like they’re bussing them in! Rolling on the floor laughing
The pond and beach area.
I-70 truck traffic can be seen beyond the pond in all four pictures.  Here’s a view of our site from the beach…
and a couple other angles.
The sites are close together.
I don’t know why they put us right next to this motorhome, there were a number of empty sites to the west of us.Sad smile  There’s also a playground area, volleyball net, and basketball court…
and restrooms and a laundry room.
Today we hit the road again, heading to Ohio.
Smile Open-mouthed smile Smile Open-mouthed smile Smile

Tracy, Union Dairy, a delay, and a stop in Rantoul

Thursday 9/6/2012

Prairie Pines Campground

Rantoul, Il

Saturday, 9/1, was laundry day.  We got up early and drove to the laundromat in Lena and got that done and behind us.  Then we headed to Freeport for a quick stop at Walmart and back to Mrs. Mike’s for more chips. Open-mouthed smile

Sunday morning, 9/2, we went out for breakfast with Terri’s brother, Tracy, to Family Affair CafĂ© in Freeport.  We hadn’t seen Tracy for just over a year, so it was nice to see him again.  After breakfast, the three of us went to a city park in Freeport called Krape Park for an event called “Art in the Park.”  We walked around and checked out the various arts and crafts that were being offered.
There was quite a bit of jewelry on display.
These coasters were cute.
The bottom row from left to right reads, “1 martini, 2 martini, 3 martini, floor.”   Overall we thought the event was a bit lacking, but it was still nice walking around and spending some time with Tracy.  This is Tracy in the red shirt with his sister, Terri.
They didn’t know I was taking the picture. Winking smile  Afterward, we made a stop at the cemetery and Kmart and then went back to Tracy’s house and visited a while longer.

Earlier Sunday morning I took some pictures of the campground at Lake Le-Aqua-Na with all the campers that were there for Labor Day weekend.  Then late Monday afternoon I tried to take similar pictures for comparison.  Sunday’s pictures are on the left, and Monday’s are on the right.
Anyway, I think there were a lot of weekend warriors out for the weekend.  It wasn’t a very noisy or obnoxious crowd, and they really didn’t bother us.

Labor Day Monday, 9/3, we went to Freeport and met our friends Dick and Emily at The Union Dairy.  It’s actually Alber Ice Cream Parlor now, but everyone still calls it The Union Dairy.  The Union Dairy first started in 1914, and it’s still a good old-fashioned ice cream parlor today.
Dick, Emily, and I had Hot Fudge Sundaes, and Terri had a Turtle Sundae.  I was so excited about my sundae I forgot to take pictures! Disappointed smile
Emily and Dick…
and Terri and Emily.
The ice cream was delicious by the way!

Tuesday, 9/4, was supposed to be a travel day.  Unfortunately, though, that didn’t happen.  When I was checking the air pressures, I had a problem with one of the valve stems.  I thought it came apart, but actually it just stuck open.  All I knew at the time was all the air came rushing out.  I called Good Sam Road Service, and they said that Alber Towing would be out in 1.5 hours.  By the way, that is the same Alber that owns The Union Dairy!  One of their trucks arrived at almost the exact expected time.  Just before his arrival the driver called me to verify which campground I was in.  I started to explain how to get there, and he said he was familiar with the park.  He also told me his in-laws are camp hosts there.  Another “small world” moment!  When he arrived I informed him of the situation.  He didn’t have any valve stems with him, so he grabbed his phone and made a phone call.  I assumed he was calling one of the other tow truck drivers to see if they had any.  Shortly after that, his father-in-law, the camp host, drove up with a replacement valve stem and the tool to install it.  By the time all this was taken care of, I was ready to call it a day and start all over Wednesday, which is what we did.  During this whole process, we discovered that the tire changing tools that came with the truck were inadequate in removing the center cap.  Later on Tuesday, Leroy, the camp host, drove over to our site and handed me a tool that he fabricated for me to use to remove the center cap.  Not only that, he wouldn’t let me pay him for the replacement valve!  “THANKS LEROY!”

Since we didn’t leave as planned, we decided to go to Freeport to visit our favorite local city park and make a stop for some dinner.  Krape Park is a beautiful landmark in Freeport.
Interesting note, Krape Park is a palindrome (Krape Park spelled backwards is Krape Park).  The park has a wonderful band shell.  Terri’s father was the conductor of the Freeport Concert Band for decades, and Terri’s mom played the bass drum in the band.  We spent many Summer Sunday nights here listening to the great music, and then we would go to The Union Dairy for ice cream after the concert. Smile
This is the old fire truck and fire pole that I remember playing on as a child.
There’s a merry-go-round too…
and a waterfall.
The Yellow Creek runs through the park.  The park has a duck pond, picnic shelters, mini-golf, walking paths, playground equipment, tennis courts, and ball fields.
After our walk down “memory lane” through the park we went to The Garden Deli.
Terri had a sandwich called “Turkey Lurkey,” which was turkey and provolone…
and I had a sandwich called “Love at First Bite,” which was ham, pepperoni, and provolone.
It’s supposed to be Swiss, but they were out of it, so I settled for the provolone!  Of course, we had to have some Mrs. Mike’s Potato Chips with our sandwiches.  This sandwich shop has been in business for over 25 years.  They’ve changed locations, but the food is still as good as we remember it.

Here’s a couple of mind boggling conundrums in the Freeport area. The first is the “New Laundry” on the west end of town. This place has been in business for over FIVE YEARS!
How long does it have to be there before it's not “New” anymore???
And this sign has been here for over a year now too. It’s located just west of Freeport.
“WORLD FAMOUS”… really??? Do you think they know about this in London or Moscow or Paris? Do they sit around thinking, “Boy, that sure was good fish in Freeport!”  I don’t think so. I don't know smile

Finally, Wednesday, 9/5, we were on our way out of Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park.  We got a later start than planned… of course.  There were two major delays.  First I couldn’t remove one of the X-Chocks
Bal 28010 Chock x Chock Tire Locking
from between the tires.  I pulled and pulled on the wrench to no avail.  I decided to let some air out of one of the tires, but it still wouldn’t budge even after releasing about 30 pounds.  Then I came up with the solution!  I extended the left rear jack, and by raising the trailer up it relieved the pressure on the chock allowing me to remove it.  Then, of course, I had to get the air compressor out and fill the tire back up.  The other problem I had was at the dump station.  No, Paul, I did NOT have an unwanted spill! Winking smile  Instead, part of the sewage hose storage compartment started to come apart.  It was an easy fix using a screw driver, but still a delay.

We finally arrived at Prairie Pines Campground in Rantoul, IL, about 5PM.  We stayed here last year also.  Besides the fact that it’s a really nice campground, we’re here to see our friends Jim and Linda.  We met them at our first RV-Dreams Rally in South Carolina.  They’re in their 12th year of full-timing, and they have no intentions of getting off the road anytime soon.  We had a couple of pizzas delivered from Monical's Pizza.  A deep dish sausage pizza…
and a thin crust sausage pizza.
The pizzas were excellent, and we enjoyed each other’s company for a few hours.  We also had some delicious “secret recipe” chocolate cake Linda had baked.  It was really nice visiting Jim and Linda again.
Hopefully we’ll see them again some time real soon.

Here are a couple pictures of our site, #29, at Prairie Pines.
The view out our back window.
We’re only staying at Prairie Pines one night.  Stay tuned to find out where we go next.
Smile  Open-mouthed smile  Smile  Open-mouthed smile  Smile