Welcome, and thanks for visiting our blog. Follow us as we explore this beautiful country and enjoy life's simple pleasures.


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Wednesday 12/31/2014

W.P. Franklin Lock and Recreation Area

Alva, FL


We’re both doing fine and enjoying ourselves in sunny, warm southwest Florida.

Stay tuned… six month recap will be posted soon… I hope.

Farewell 2014… Welcome 2015


Now we’ve been there… done that!!!

Tuesday 7/1/2014

Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park

Lena, Il

Friday, 6/27, Terri and I packed up, said our “see ya laters” to Rick & Gail, and headed out for another “big” (about 12 miles/20 minutes) trip back to Prairie Pines in Rantoul, IL, for three nights.

We were in site # 1, which is a pull-through site with full hookups and a very clear view of the southern sky for DirecTv.
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This is a view of our “backyard.”

We came back here because the RV park where we were staying was all booked up for the weekend due to a big annual Corvette show in Champaign, IL.  We chose not to attend the show due to the $20 admission price.  But we were able to see a couple of Corvettes at D&W Lake.  Here’s one of them.

Terri had a follow-up appointment with her ophthalmologist Friday afternoon.  Her eye is looking better, but she must continue applying the antibiotic ointment every six hours for two more weeks.  Another doctor visit is scheduled in about ten days.  The shingles are drying up and disappearing, and her forehead is looking much better.

Our travel plan was to leave Prairie Pines Monday morning and meet up with Rick & Gail at the rest area near Paw Paw, IL, and then travel together up to Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park.  Terri and I got a later start than planned due to an early morning thunder storm.  There were more severe thunder storms predicted for later in the afternoon at Lake Le-Aqua-Na, so Rick & Gail decided to go on ahead without us in order to get set up before the storm arrived.

We finally left Prairie Pines about 11 A.M. and travelled for about two hours to the Flying J near La Salle, IL.  Terri said her eye was starting to bother her a bit, but she was okay to continue.  By the time we reached the rest area near Paw Paw, IL, she needed to stop.  At this point she was about a couple hours late on the ointment treatment, so she went ahead and did that and then just rested her eyes for a while.  A little later we decided to take a test drive up the interstate with the car, leaving the rig at the rest area.  She wanted to check to see how her vision was while driving.  We got back and decided it would be best not to continue.  Shabbona Lake State Park is not too far away, so we decided to go see if we could get in there for the night.  I took over the driving chores, and we again left the rig behind at the rest area.  We drove up to Shabbona to check out the campground.  There were plenty of sites available, but most were either too small or too difficult to get into.  So we decided to stay overnight at the rest area and boondock for our first time!

Earlier when Terri was resting her eyes, I was checking out the rest area for a “good” place to park.  There were two spots, one at the north end where we could put our bedroom slide out over the grass, or a spot right next to a handicap parking place that would give us a bit of space on one side.  We decided to park next to the handicap parking.  I quickly moved the rig before someone else parked there!  This is a picture of the “lodge” (restrooms and vending machines) located in front of us.

Shortly after moving, another 5th wheel pulled in right next to us and they headed into the “lodge” for a few minutes.  We were standing outside trying to decide if this was really what we wanted to do.  Just 24 miles south was Hickory Hollow where we have stayed before, but we decided we really didn’t want to backtrack that far… and we didn’t know if Terri could make it, not to mention the quickly approaching storms.   Soon the couple next to us came back out, and he approached us to ask if we were staying overnight.  They were hoping we would so they could safely put their slides out.  After talking with this nice couple from Minnesota, we all decided to stay overnight.  We only put our right side living room slide out which allowed us access to the living room.
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Not long after we got “set up” for the night, a very strong, windy, thunder storm came through.  The photos above were taken after the storm passed through.  Then about 9 P.M. another, even stronger storm passed through knocking out all of the lighting at the rest area for about three hours!  It was VERY dark.  Total rainfall was just under two inches for the day!

Our overnight stay went fine, and we survived the storms, strong wind, and power outage.  The noise from the trucks and traffic didn’t really bother us at all.  Will we boondock again?  Probably not unless we have to.  We aren’t really set up for boon docking… and our floor plan doesn’t work too well either.  But now at least we can say,
“Been there, done that!!”

The next morning (Tuesday, 7/1) Terri’s eye was doing much better.  We were able to make it the rest of the way here to Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park without having to stop along the way.

We’re parked right next to Rick & Gail.  The four of us are looking forward to a fun week!

Travel Day, Time with Friends, and a Cat Hair!!!


Thursday 6/26/2014

D & W Lake Camping and RV Park

Champaign, Il

(This quote is from our previous blog post.)

“On Thursday, 6/19, we’ll be packing up and heading out for a new destination.  It will be a fun week of more races, and spending time with some friends we haven’t seen in over a year!”

Our intentions were good… but sometimes things don’t work out as planned!

We did have a travel day on Thursday, 6/19.  It was one of our shorter travel days… no PDD here… of just over 12 miles/20 minutes to D&W Lake Camping and RV Park just north of Champaign, IL.

We have a nice, partially shaded pull-through site, #17, with full hookups and a view of the lake.  There’s WIFI, but it’s too weak for us to use it.  There’s no cable TV, but we’re able to get DirecTV with our dish and local stations with the antenna.
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By coincidence,  our friends Rick and Gail are here too!  They arrived the day before us.  We had been in touch with them, so we knew we were all going to be here at the same time.  We hadn’t seen Rick and Gail since October, 2012, so we were looking forward to spending some time with them.  The four of us had a great “happy hour” Thursday after we got all set up.

And then, our intended plans changed.

  Earlier in the week, Monday, Terri started having some problems with her left eye.  She thought it felt like a cat hair was caught in her eye and she couldn’t get it out.  She tried flushing her eye with eye drops and also water several times throughout the week, but it still felt uncomfortable.  The area around her eye swelled up a la Mr. Magoo,

and then on Thursday night she developed a rash on her forehead and scalp above her left eye.  So Friday we headed off to an ophthalmologist to have her eye checked out.  The doctor was able to find and extract the cat hair!  She said we would not have been able to see or remove it ourselves.  The hair did cause an abrasion to her eye, so an antibiotic ointment was prescribed.  The doctor was also concerned about the rash and referred Terri to a local, affiliated clinic where it was diagnosed to be shingles!!  Antibiotic pills were prescribed for the shingles, and off we went to Walmart for her prescriptions.  With the swelling around the eye, the shingles on her forehead & scalp, and generally just not feeling good, socializing was put on hold.  Her week here has been spent resting/sleeping and healing.

She is recovering nicely, and we were able to have only our second “happy hour” with Rick and Gail yesterday!

Terri’s feeling much better now, and we’re all looking forward to some “funner” times ahead.

Unfortunately my race attendance took a bit of a hit too.  I had to scrap my plans for Friday night, and Saturday night was rained out before the show was completed.  Finally, I was able to get to the races for a full show on Monday night.

Tomorrow, Friday, 6/27, Terri and I are headed back to Prairie Pines in Rantoul for three nights.  We’ll meet back up with Rick and Gail on Monday!

Modoc, SC to Rantoul, IL


Tuesday 6/17/2014

Prairie Pines Campground

Rantoul, Il

We successfully left the Volunteer Village at J. Strom Thurmond Lake on Monday, 6/2/2014.  Some of our fellow volunteers, including George and Laurie, Ruth, Jim, John, and Rufus, came out to see us off.

We’re all packed up and ready to go!

Our first day of travel took us through Atlanta.  Taking the advice of our volunteer friend Jim, we stayed on I-20 West all the way through Atlanta and then took exit 51B for I-285 North around the northwest side of town.  It worked out great with very little traffic (compared to the northeast side of town) and no slow-downs until we got to Marietta, which is actually northwest of Atlanta, and after all of its traffic issues.  Our stopping point for the first night was Harvest Moon RV Park, Adairsville, GA.  We had a nice, level pull-through site with full hookups including cable.  A very nice amenity at this park is FREE laundry.  We took advantage of that and did three loads!
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Tuesday, 6/3, we travelled up to Clarksville RV Park and Campground, Clarksville, TN.
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Once again, we had a nice pull-through site with full hookups, but no cable this time.  However, we could get all the major networks with our antenna.  It’s a nice park, but there’s a scrap metal yard across the street and it’s a bit noisy during the day.  You can see the scrap yard behind this nicely placed sign near the exit of the park.

Our third day of travel, Wednesday, 6/4,  found us landing at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge near Carbondale, IL.  Some volunteer friends from Thurmond Lake are volunteering at Crab Orchard Campground for the fifth year in a row.  Dennis and Mary saved us a nice pull-through full hookup site right next to them.
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Just in front of our site was a beautiful view of Crab Orchard Lake.

The four of us went out to dinner at nearby Giant City Lodge located in Giant City State Park.
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The inside of the lodge is beautiful!
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The dining room, one of three, was huge.

They get quite busy on weekends and holidays, but this particular night there was no waiting.  We all chose the chicken dinner served family style.  All the food was delicious!  Unfortunately I was so focused on the food I forgot to take pictures.  After dinner we headed back to the campground and played cards.  It was really nice seeing Dennis and Mary again.  Hopefully we’ll see them again this spring.

Thursday, 6/5, was our fourth and final day of travel for a couple of weeks.  We’re staying at Prairie Pines Campground in Rantoul, IL, north of Champaign.  Our friends Jim and Linda stay here every summer.  Unfortunately Linda is dealing with some health issues and they’re still down in Florida, but they’re planning to head up this way in July.  We really hope we can stop back here and visit them.  We have a nice, full hookup, pull-through site under some nice shade trees.  We’re able to get our DirecTv signal and networks with our antenna, but the WIFI here is very weak forcing us to use our Verizon data plan.

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Friday, 6/6, was our 33rd wedding anniversary!
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We went to Red Lobster in Champaign for lunch.  Again, I forgot to take pictures!  I guess I’m out of practice.

On Monday, 6/9, we drove up to Kankakee River State Park to visit some more volunteer friends from Thurmond Lake.  Rich and Jacquie are camp hosting at Kankakee for the summer before they head back south.  We had a real nice visit, went out for lunch, and then played cards.  It was a great afternoon catching up with our friends.  Once again, we were having so much fun, I forgot to take pictures!  These pics were taken the day they left Lake Thurmond to head north.
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We’re staying here for a couple of weeks so that I can attend some of the local short track dirt racing events in the area.

On Thursday, 6/19, we’ll be packing up and heading out for a new destination.  It will be a fun week of more races, and spending time with some friends we haven’t seen in over a year!

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Travel Time!


Sunday 6/1/2014

Volunteer Village

J. Strom Thurmond Lake

Modoc, SC

It’s time to head north for our summer “vacation” in Illinois, Wisconsin, and maybe Minnesota and/or Michigan.  We’re looking forward to seeing family, friends, RV friends, and workamper friends.  There’s also sightseeing, bike riding, kayaking, hiking, and several car race events that I want to attend!  September will find us in the Richmond, VA, area for annual doctor visits, and then we’ll head south again for the winter.

We’ve really enjoyed the last eight months here at Thurmond Lake.  We enjoyed spending time with Paul and Marti while they were here…


and hope to see them again soon.  We hated to see them go, but understand that new grand babies are a good reason to leave.

George and Laurie arrived a few weeks ago…


and, again, we’ve enjoyed spending time with them too.  We really hate that we’re leaving and won’t be able to spend the summer with them, but we’re confident that our paths will cross again.
The group of volunteers that has been here with us at the Volunteer Village has been great.  We had great times working, eating, and playing games together.  We’ve made many great friends and look forward to seeing them in the future.

Volunteering here at Thurmond Lake has obviously been wonderful for us!  Our primary task, just like our previous time here, was to count the funds collected at boat ramps, day use areas, and “honor pay” campgrounds.  In addition to funds counting we became involved with the development and presentation of the Water Safety Program in area schools.  Both of us were a little nervous/apprehensive about getting up in front of a group of kids to make the presentation, but after that first day we truly understood how rewarding it is to spread the message of water safety!  We could never have done it without the support and guidance of our fellow presenters Paul & Marti, Bill & Carrol, and Jim & Linda, and also Rangers Dave, Jay, Ken, Chrissy, Heather, David, and Terry.  Paul & Marti and Bill & Carrol were scheduled to leave before our busiest month of May, so Jim & Linda and Terri & I worked together to get through several days with multiple presentations to hundreds of kids.  It made for some long days, but was VERY rewarding and we enjoyed every minute of it!  Terri and I could never have done it without the help of Jim & Linda!

Mike, Linda, Terri, and Jim

Also a quick “thanks” to George & Laurie for tagging along with us on the last day and helping out.

Everyone with the Corps has been great to work with.  We really appreciate the opportunity to serve and look forward to returning.  “Thank you” USACE for the great times we’ve had and allowing us to help out!

It’s bittersweet to leave our wonderful site here at the Volunteer Village - it’s just so beautiful here! – but it’s time to hit the road.
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Tomorrow (Monday) we leave to head north.