Friday, October 20, 2006

On the Road Again

Well, it's been 30 days and over 3000 miles since we left Montana, and what a great trip we've had. I tried to create a map showing our route but the length and number of places we visited made it too busy to display. To recap our journey so far, we started in Missoula, spent the first night a Billings, then continued on to Wall, SD, where we visited the one and only Wall Drug; a city-block sized building of every piece of tourist junk you can imagine. We counted 47 signs for Wall Drug between Rapid City and Wall, and although how it got there is an interesting story, it didn't live up to the hype. From there, it was off to Sioux City, Davenport, Iowa, Richmond, Indiana, and Spring Valley, outside of Dayton, Ohio. There we visited with our good friends Kirk and Sue Birmeister, other friends in the area, and attended the retirement of Joe and Susan Berube, who were given a great sendoff by friends and family from all over the country. Then it was off to Brunswick, outside of Cleveland, for a visit with Brenda's mom Gladys, sister Joan, brother Ron; my cousin Jayne Kracker, and our friends Sue and Keith Winn. We enjoyed our visit, but it was time to travel again, this time to Johnstown, PA, my first civil service job. We visited with our good friends Pat and Sue Kiniry and drove around looking at all of the changes (mostly good) that have taken place in the area. We stayed at the campground of a dear friend, Grace Shofstall, a lovely place where we kept our RV during our Johnstown days. She's a remarkable woman of indeterminate age who does almost all of the maintenance and upkeep herself, while managing to find the time to create incredible works of art. A real joy to be around, she had us in tears with her story about being addicted to almonds and telling her doctor that she needed to be admitted to a drug and alcohol rehab center. Her park is lovely, and the trees provided a beautiful setting for our stay. Our timing was great for the fall foliage; the leaves were in their peak colors and the weather cooperated for most of our stay. While there, we visited the Flight 93 memorial, a nicely done temporary location in a rural area outside of Somerset. An amazing number of people find their way on the back roads to reach the spot where the aircraft impacted. There are plans for a suitable memorial that will be built once funding is available; hopefully in the next year or two. If you double click on the picture, you can see an American flag at the crash site in the field behind the monument. Also in the area is the Quecreek Mine memorial, the site where nine miners were rescued from a flooded underground mine after being trapped for three days. It's amazing to stand on the spot where a shaft was dug to the trapped miner's location 248 feet below; how they were able to locate the miners and drill a 30 inch shaft to pull them out one by one was a truly heroic feat. An interesting web site about the rescue can be found at Leaving western Pennsylvania and land of the hated Steelers, we headed south through West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and into Red Bay, Alabama, the home of Tiffin Industries and where our Allegro Bay was manufactured. We had hoped to stay at the factory campground and have some minor service done, but all 193 campsites plus 50 overflow sites were taken, so we decided to continue on south and have the work done at a dealer some time in the future. We spent a few days in Natchez, Mississippi, and are currently in Marksville, Louisiana, parked at the Paragon Casino RV park, where Brenda is working on winning us enough money for a new Marathon Coach (they start at $1.2M). We plan on returning to Natchez this weekend to see the annual Hot-Air Balloon Festival and will let you know how our visit went in the next blog. Until then, thanks for checking in on us, and for all of you that we visited in the last month, thanks so much for the great hospitality and for being such great friends!

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