Sunday, April 12, 2009

HokieEscape's Home

Heh fellow travelers,
Yeahhhhhhhhhhh! We're home! Oh how we loved our trip, and how quickly it passed! We had such a good time, and can't believe it's over.
Our visit in Evansville with Jan's Mom was wonderful, but Saturday we were off for the last two legs home.
Southeast Indiana is beautiful with it's rolling countryside, and when we first saw those redbuds bloomin' after all that arid countryside, we just had to stop and get a good look:

How nice to see spring. Later, I couldn't help but jump out and take a picture of beautiful weeds! Yep, these beauties are roadside flowers in SE Indiana.

Both Southern Indiana, and Kentucky have some wonderful camping areas. In Indiana, the Hoozier National Forest has multiple campgrounds around lakes that are just lovely. Kentucky's Daniel Boone National Forest is another similar area that's worth exploring. Both have multiple caves too that are interesting.
As wonderful as all the Western Mountains were, there was no prettier sight to us than our first sight of the Appalachian chain of Eastern KY and West Virginia. And then, our own Allegheny Mountains:

What a wonderful sight when we crossed the New River (actually the 2nd oldest geologically, in the world - only the Nile is older) which means were are close to home, since we live in what is called The New River Valley

And then, there was home! There's no place like home!
After 4058 miles, our Frontier and HokieEscape are resting

But not for me. Tomorrow is back to work!
How could the time have passed so quickly?
But we were blessed by all our experiences and all our memories. Thanks for sharing it with us!
"The heart of every problem is the problem of the heart, and ONLY God's Spirit and God's Word can change and control the heart" Wiersbe

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mizzou to Indiana

Today started in Colombia, Missouri, pointed at St Louis. I couldn't help but compare the lay of land and scenery of most all of Missouri, with Central Virginia. Nice rolling land, no real hills, but not flat. When we entered into Illinois, then it got Eastern Virginia flat! Could have been either place taking pictures.
Our big event was stopping at the Arch in St Louis. What a thrill. Designed in 1947, it was constructed for the World's Fair in the 60's. It is not what I imagined at all.

Right down on the Missouri River waterfront, it is an amazing piece of engineering.
Speaking of amazing piece of engineering!!!

I love my wife!

OK, back to the story. Made of steel with a stainless steel covering, it is really up there! 600+ feet, with an observation platform inside at the top of the arch. How in the world do you get up there???? Glad you asked! They created this amazing little "capsule tram". Eight of these tied together on North and South sides, running every 10 minutes.

Five persons/capsule. It is tight, and no place for someone who's claustrophobic! Kind of a cross between an elevator and a carnival ride : - )
Once to the top, there are viewing ports on both sides.
As you can see, it's 630 feet to the ground. You lean over on the carpeted area under the window, and look down. Yes, it does feel like it begins to "tilt"......yikes!

Nice view of the mighty Missouri below,
and points west.
This is the symbol of St Louis being the Gateway to the West during the western expansion of the United States in the 1800's. They have a great movie about the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804-06:

The other side has a great view of the city of St Louis, and notably, the old capital building. Notable to any Virginian, because it looks just like the Virginia Capital Building, designed by none other than Mr. Thomas Jefferson himself:

The Museum of Westward Expansion was very enjoyable as well.
The only thing NOT enjoyable is the traffic trying to get into and out of the city : - (
But, worth the effort.
We've arrived at Mom Hoppel's place in the country outside Evansville, IN, and are bedded down for a couple of days. Will pick up again on Saturday, for the last two legs to good ole Blacksburg, VA!
"The heart of every problem is the problem of the heart, and ONLY God's Spirit and God's Word can change and control the heart" Wiersbe

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Kansas to Missouri

Heh all,
Well, today was what we refer to as an Earl Hoppel day. Earl was my Jan's Dad. He was a self employed Upholsterer with 6 kids (Jan is by far the best of the bunch), who every year, when Jan was a kid, emptied out his delivery step van, equiped it with bunks, and took the whole family on a wild ride. As Jan was growing up, they left Evansville, Indiana and went all over the US for 3 weeks each time. They went to Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, up into the North East, down South. You name it, he probably took them there. Well, he'd spend all his time out "there", then he'd turn toward home and "high tail it"! That meant LONG days driving. Jan always got sick and threw up! I'm glad she's over that now : - )

So, we left Wakenny, KS, and headed East, hoping to get somewhere between Kansas City and St. Lewis. We're in Colombia, home to the University of Missouri.

I'll have to repent! Kansas is not all level fields! The western part is "slightly" rolling (Eastern NC is Flat, Kansas is not Flat!), but as you get to the central area, it looks like "Dancing with Wolves" was filmed there. Not uninteresting at all! We loved to see the old windmills:

Some like this one, provided water for the livestock that surrounded them.

Others, were lying dormant, like this one, surrounded by a ranshacked ruin of a house and barns. We saw many like this. I have to wonder: Who settled this land? How many generations lived there? What ever happened to those people? Why has it been left to fall in with no care? What were these people like?

Quess, I'll never know, but it does make you wonder.

Of course, these days, the old windmills are being replaced by a different sort of windmill. We saw a few "farms" of these
slightly larger variety!

A need for gas, and an exit that had NONE close by, caused us to ride 3 miles into a little Western Kansas town, called Alma.

There are no large cities out West, but I'm sure lots of little town's like this. This is small town Americana for sure.

I dropped Jan off at the Antique Store, while I got gas. She had a ball! As I was going pick her up, I clicked this picture of a cute little house on Main Street. It could have been taken in a little town in South Carolina, and you'd never have known the difference!

One of the curious things we saw, and I'm sure some Midwesterner among you can explain, was the burning of the fields. Large acreage scorched, I'm sure for a good agricultural reason.

Something about getting the nitrogen back into the ground I suppose!

We stopped for lunch in Topeka, and I couldn't help but take these pictures of a fellow traveler. He's pulling a little more than we are! I checked the end for a kitchen sink, but couldn't find one..

YES! The car and the boat, are both connected to, and towed by, the RV!!!!!!

Look at this. The front of my truck is about 18" or so from the front of his RV, and the back is not quite as far back as his. You could put our truck AND Escape inside this dude! Wow!

Staying in a nice Good Sam's Park in Colombia, ready to head toward Evansville, Indiana tomorrow, hopefully to spend a couple of days with Jan's mom.

"The heart of every problem is the problem of the heart, and ONLY God's Spirit and God's Word can change and control the heart" Wiersbe

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Colorado to Kansas

Well fellow sojourners,
We got the great opportunity this AM to visit some dear friends in Colorado Springs. David and Renee Lyons are with the Navigators (David's one of their International Directors). Their 12 year old son Ian has been battling for a year now, a very rare cancer. The doctors have done all they can do, so Ian is home recovering from his latest bout, and waiting for what we feel will be a miraculous healing. It was so wonderful to visit and pray with this wonderful family who, as David said, is being severely stretched. Being with them made our day!

Afterwards we stopped by the headquarters of Focus on the Family. Nice campus just a mile or so from the Lyons:

That little hill behind the buildings is Pike's Peak! We have been supporters of Focus on the Family for years, so it was a special treat to see where they "live".
Then, with our faces turned toward the East, we let down onto the plains of Eastern Colorado, and off we head to Kansas.
75 mph and a straight road, and surprisingly, not a lot of traffic, we get to
Yep, flat is the word, although it's not TOTALLY flat! Totally flat is Eastern North Carolina! Pretty farm land, with house's spread far apart:

Jim Sarver told us that when you get to Kansas, you can see a "whole train"! You see in our neck of the woods, you'd never see a whole train. Part of it would be around the bend, in the trees, etc. but out here....Well, here she is! Can you see her? She IS the horizon:
(click to enlarge)

Well, here we are in Wakenney, Kansas, right off I-70, all hooked up and ready for bed. You'll notice the similarity of the background to all the other pictures tonight. Yep, Kansas looks like
Kansas : - ) We're gonna try and get past Kansas City tomorrow, Lord willing.

"The heart of every problem is the problem of the heart, and ONLY God's Spirit and God's Word can change and control the heart" Wiersbe

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pikes Peak

Heh Blogging Buddies,

Today we headed over to Manitou Springs, and a trip up Pike's Peak via the Cog Railroad (show you what that is later).

I forgot to tell all the 5th wheel Escapees, to watch out when you check into a campground. You may not have this trouble with regular campers, I don't know. But, when I checked in last night, I wrote down that we have a 5th wheel (check the box type of thing). So, the guy asks me, "Do you have any "sliders"? I answered him, "Well, that seems like a pretty personal question to be asking since you don't know me, but Yes, TWO! I usually slide out of bed first, then my wife!" : - )

OK, so off to Pikes Peak, and as we are inching up the mountain, after we cleared the tree line, we look up the side of the mountain and see the tracks, where we're going (you'll have to click on picture to enlarge to see):

Then in just a few minutes, we could see the tracks much clearer, as the snow plow engine had just gone before us:

Off to the side, the conductor turned our attention to a large gold mine, first mined in the late 1800's, still mined today. They take out, I believe he said, about 2 million a week today (I wanted to get out and pick up a few scraps):

At the top, I got a picture of the ruins of the first mountain top station, constructed in 1873, the observation tower, and the howling wind and blowing snow:

Well, here we are at the top, taking the obligatory, "We're at the top" picture:

When we got there, the conductor told us the wind chill was -25degrees. And when I went to take these next pictures (Jan went back to the warmth of the train), I didn't leave my hands out for too long. Thank goodness for the Hokie Sweatshirt with hood! Here's looking NE with our train in the fore ground:

Looking South toward New Mexico, with the weather station:

And finally, East toward Colorado Springs, and beyond, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia. I can almost see home : - )

Here's the view from the front of the train, where the engineer sits. It's only one track, so the guy changes ends going up/down. You can see the cog track in the middle of the tracks. The train was made in Switzerland, where they do such things:

Going down, I wanted to get one last picture of the prettiest view of the whole trip:

The background ain't too bad either!

Tonight we enjoyed hosting one of our Escapee friends, Edgar and Lisa from North of Denver. They drove down to check out our HokieEscape. Since they have never "camper" camped, it was fun showing them all the systems, and of course, the specialness of the Escape. We spent about an hour and a half, checking her out:

Great fun meeting you Edgar and Lisa, hope we get to meet again sometime.

Tomorrow, we set our eyes on Blacksburg, and tackle those flat lands of Kansas!!!

"The heart of every problem is the problem of the heart, and ONLY God's Spirit and God's Word can change and control the heart" Wiersbe

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Montrose - US50 to Colorado Springs

Hello Vicarious Travelers,
Well, we left snowy Montrose early this AM with vision's of sunshine dancing in our heads. It did clear pretty good before we got to this beautiful lake at Curecanti Nat's Rec Area:
That boathouse bound by the ice really looked neat to me.
The sun really shone as we reached Monarch Pass (elev 11,312 feet), unfortunately, not early enough to help much with the snow covered roads:

Take a look out of our back rear and notice the extremely LOW shoulders!!!! Jan did much better this time, she was only sitting on my right knee:-)
Actually to take some of these pictures, she was hanging out the window, and I was hanging onto her ankles (no, not really), but it was 13 degrees, and I was glad the camera was wrapped around her frozen pinkies!

Unfortunately, I was not kidding about the roads being snow covered. We took our time however, and HokieEscape tracked beautifully.

The views along US50 are just breath taking.

We saw this old abandoned mine, probably gold or silver as we were going down (I remember because Jan was saying, "keep your eyes on the road, you can look at the picture!). It is quite lovely :-)

Once we got down into the valleys, and along RT24, we looked back to the mountains we had just come from and they were awesome!
Those last two are going to be Jan Paintings before too long!

We just have to stand back in awe, and say over and over, "there's just no way we can capture this!" And it's true, you have to come experience it yourself!

Four and a half hours of driving over those snow covered roads, seemed like 7 hours, so we were SOOOOOOOOOO glad to stop in Florissant, CO, at the Coffee House (right on 24), what a treat! Great food, beautiful surroundings, and as I look at this picture again, I must say, what a beautiful wife! My treasure (along with the 11 grandkids we share).
Tomorrow, Pike's Peak! The Cog Railway....

"The heart of every problem is the problem of the heart, and ONLY God's Spirit and God's Word can change and control the heart" Wiersbe