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What's New from  2003

August 23 2003
I decided to start a new month even before the end of the month. I have pretty good access to the web at my son's house and I am not sure what I will get from Kansas City on. It has been unbearably hot here. We joke that we might as well have stayed in Phoenix; the temperatures have been about the same only here one can figure in the humidity. Instead of doing anything outside we generally stayed inside and played games with the family.

We will be here until the 29th when we go to Council Bluffs to meet up with our good friends Judy and Cec. On September 2 we will all go to Akron, Iowa, and Cec and I start our bike ride on the 3rd. I plan to do updates on our ride as often as we can. 

I have just added our new articles. Mine is It's a Matter of Perspective. Ron wrote about A Weighty Subject.

New Mystery Picture
Several guessed the right city last month but only one gave us the actual name of the bath house. This month's picture should be fairly easy.  To play from other months please go to our Guess Page.

September 2, 2003
We left Council Bluffs this morning on our way to Akron, Iowa, and the beginning of our bike trip. While looking over the route we realized that we could easily make a little detour and visit our favorite little town of Westside, Iowa, on our way north. If you have been following our travels for a couple of years you might remember that we stopped at the Westside Diner for lunch in September of 2000. Lunch was so good then that we couldn't pass up an opportunity to stop again. Besides we wanted to introduce Judy and Cec to this great diner. Betty, the Westside librarian, has kept in touch over the years so when she heard we were coming she passed along the news that the gals in the diner wanted to fix our favorite pies for us. All we had to do was let them know what flavor. I said that sour cream raisin was my favorite but pecan would be Ron and Judy's choice. Cec likes any flavor.

When we arrived at the diner, we hugged like old friends. Julie and Janet were excited to see us again. Ron ordered the special which was smoked sausage, potatoes and salad. Judy ordered a grilled ham and cheese with potato salad. Cec had grilled chicken breast and potato salad. I ordered another special which was a chicken salad croissant. You'd have thought we hadn't eaten in ages the way we devoured everything on our plate. It was super home cooking. Ron and Judy had their pecan pie for dessert while Cec chose chocolate and I had the sour cream raisin. Everything was yummy.  Everyone should make it a point to visit the gals at the diner.

We drove US 71 to get up to Iowa route 3 then turned west. Akron, Iowa, is a little town at the western edge of Iowa with a wonderful city park. The price was right ---the first six nights are free. 

September 3
We started our trip at 8:45 a.m. from the city park in Akron, Iowa. After getting ready we left Ron and Judy with our motorhomes and started with a climb up hill. Our first day was only 24 miles but it was a bit challenging with lots of rolling hills. The pictures I took just don't show how long and steep some of them were but I know you will take our word for it. The weather was great and really it was a wonderful rode.

After we had gone about 13 miles it was fun to see and hear our motorhomes coming behind us. They both played songs with the musical horns. They went on ahead to the cute town of Le Mars and were already set up in that town's city park campground by the time we rolled into town. Now that we have had showers we will all drive into town (in Judy and Cec's Jeep) to visit the Blue Bunny Ice Cream place and hopefully I can upload this at the Chamber of Commerce in town. Tomorrow we will bike to Cherokee which will be a longer day. We will try to keep you posted. 

September 4
We arrived in Cherokee to find the town under construction but we found the campground okay. Ron and Judy did do a few extra turns to find the campground but were here before us. The city park here is very nice and only $10.00 per night for full hookups. After 38 miles we are little tired and tomorrow we will do our biggest day---46 miles.

Here is what we did yesterday after we had our showers:
The city park in Le Mars was delightful. Even though the campground directory stated that the sites could only accommodate 35 foot RVs we fit in and it was very close to the down town area. 

At the city visitor center which is also the Blue Bunny tour facility, we inquired on a place to eat lunch and were directed to Bob's Drive In which was just across the street. There were tables outside but we decided to eat inside. We had been told that the hot dogs were written up in Gourmet magazine and that we might like to give them a try. The dogs themselves were thick and big and delicious but were topped with their version of coney meat. The topping was really hamburg which has been pressure cooked and drained several times so all the grease is gone. The dogs came with mustard, catsup and onion also. They were very good and we added an order of onion rings which we shared. 

After lunch we took the tour at Blue Bunny and learned a lot about the origin of ice cream and of the Blue Bunny dairy. They are still family owned and produce more ice cream in one location than any other place in the world and they ship to many foreign countries. After the tour we enjoyed ice cream which was a perfect topping to the day.

But several in town suggested that we needed to eat dinner at Archie's. Even though we weren't that hungry we decided to go for it. We arrived just before they opened (5: 30) and stood in line to get in so our expectations were high. The steaks (petite filets) were delicious and Ron's salmon was equally good but it was down hill after that from the artificial flowers and paper napkins to the the salads which were small and very normal, The rolls were cold and a little dry and Ron's vegetables were overcooked (frozen variety). We expected more from $15.95 steaks. On the other hand lunch was very reasonable and camping is only $12.00 per night.

September 5
It was a long tough day today. We actually biked 48.74 miles and most of it was flat with a south easterly wind. We did a lot of pedaling. Ron and Judy found the campground in Pocahontas easily and it is very nice. The sites are large and grassy and the price is right at $11.00 per night for electricity and water. Also the campground is just behind the court house so it is convenient to the shops and restaurants in this lovely and friendly town. A reporter met us just as Cec and I were arriving so she interviewed us while we were hot and tired.

Immediately after our long ride
Here is what we did in Cherokee after our showers:
After showers in Cherokee, we were greeted by a reporter from the local paper. She was very interested in our story and about full time RVing. We had both eaten lunch at home but inquired about where in town we might get a good pasta meal. Both Marci at the Chamber of Commerce and Nancy the reporter suggested the Gasthaus Bar and Grill. It was excellent. I ordered lasagna while Judy, Cec and Ron ordered spaghetti. After dinner we wanted to visit the downtown shops which are open late on Thursdays but with the main street torn up it was difficult. We did wander into the Hallmark shop and a lovely little clothing shop. Construction should be over in October mean while I am sure the local businesses are suffering. I guess that is progress. 

September 6
Leaving Pocahontas on Saturday we discovered the statue of the Indian Princess. 
We arrived in Humbolt on Saturday, September 6 early in the day. Our ride that day was like a ride in the park especially after our long ride on Friday. We only rode 21.68 miles and we had a bit of a tail wind helping us along. We camped at the Joe Shelton park which was very very nice. We have really been impressed at the caliber of the city, county and state parks here in Iowa. For 30 amp electricity the price was $10.00 per night.

After showers in Humbolt we drove around town looking for a place to eat for dinner. We checked out all the shops in town too and even visited the famous Joe Brown park fountain. I am not sure why it is important or historic but to us it was sort of ugly. It is made out of cement and glass bits and pieces and apparently was made by someone in town. What do you think of this fountain?

We decided to eat at the Fireside but upon entering we found it smelled of stale smoke so we drove to the Cedar Room and Gallery (I think). It was a pretty little place but the menu was limited and although it sounded good was just mediocre. They tried hard but they need to have some real home cooking rather than the ready to cook pre cooked variety that they offered. 

What we did  in Pocahontas:
We didn't do much after our ride yesterday. We were really exhausted and hurting so we rested and visited with some of the other campers here at the park. For dinner we wanted to go to the new steak house but it was in a smoky bar so we opted for the local chain Family Table and were quite satisfied with everything we ate and it was probably our cheapest dinner so far. Ron had the special chopped steak dinner which included baked potato, nice fresh cooked vegetables and salad. I had a ruben sandwich and a side salad. Our bill came to a little over $11. Judy and Cec's meal was equally good and inexpensive. 

September 7
We are in a lovely county park in Clarion and our ride today was 35 miles which counted the five miles we had to go out of our way to reach the campground. It is nearly empty and we have large sites. The camping fee here is $12 for 50 amp electricity. Right away we were greeted by Carolyn Lund who is a neighbor to the park. She knew we were coming because the Chamber of Commerce did a story about us coming a while ago. 

Because Carolyn suggested we tour the Heartland Museum Judy and I did just that while Ron and Cec watched football on TV. What a tremendous job these people are doing on this museum. We really enjoyed it. Once inside it looks like a street with different shops.

Some of the shops aren't complete yet, but it is going to be great. 

We especially enjoyed the Alvina Sellers hat collection. This Clarion lady had a collection of over 5,000 hats when she died earlier this year. We were able to see a tape of her when she was on the Letterman show. What a lady.

Judy with a small sample of hats
Next we entered a large room with a lot of tractors, cars, buggies and a lot of toy cars, trucks and tractors.

If you are ever in Clarion, Iowa, please put this museum on your list of must see things.

September 8
I just noticed that I had my dates screwed up. If you were confused sorry about that.

We just arrived in Beeds Lake State Park in Hampton. We rode 29 miles today and it was fairly easy. Tomorrow will be another big day (43 miles) as we pedal to Waverly. The park here charges $13 for electric and water is nearby. There is also a dump station. It is very pleasant here and nearly empty.

Ron and Judy passing us by on the way to the campground down the road a ways.

Last night in Clarion:
We ate at Breadeaux (Basil Italian Cafe) which is a local chain. What a unique idea they have. Pan pastas are their big thing along with pizzas and sandwiches. Imagine a small pan (about the size of the individual pan pizzas at Pizza Hut) filled with pasta and either veggies or meat then topped with either a white or red sauce and lots of mozzarella cheese. It is then baked until nice and bubbly. Tessa (I think that is how it is spelled), the assistant manager was so friendly and helpful we again felt like we were friends. These Iowa folks are wonderful. She even let me use her modem to upload the last entry on this page. We drove around town after and were really sad that we happened to visit Clarion on a Sunday when most stores were closed. They look charming though. 

In the evening Cheryl Ketelsen, Director of the Chamber of Commerce came out to visit with us. I had written all of the chambers in the towns we would be visiting ahead of time looking for information on places to park the motorhomes and things to do in the area. We had a wonderful visit with Cheryl and told her that we loved her little town. She said that bus loads come to town to have lunch in the tea house or other cafes and shop.

By the way if you don't own an RV and want to visit Clarion check out the Clarion B & B. We met the owners, Sydney and Susan Baker at the museum. They seem like nice folks and their big Victorian house would be a friendly place to stay.

September 9
We just arrived in Waverly after a brutal ride. It was supposed to be long (43 miles) but after we were detoured and realized that the detour would add 12 miles to our trip we nearly died. First of all the winds were out of the south at 25 m.p.h. and 6 miles of the detour put us dead south. That was tough enough but the hills in the detour were killers too. After we did 45 miles we figured we had done what we were originally going to do and with the winds still trying to blow us sideways, we called Ron and had him pick us up. We will go into Waverly now and find a nice place to eat.

What we did in Hampton:
There is a beautiful court house in Hampton and lots of nice shops. We met the Mayor, Pat who happens to also be the Director of the Chamber of Commerce. I tried to upload my entry from yesterday but with their digital phone systems, I didn't get far. I hope I have better luck here in Waverly.

We ate lunch in town instead of dinner. Highly recommended was the Honk In Diner (I think that was it). The menu included a lot of Mexican items and their salsa was very tasty and quite hot which we didn't expect here in Iowa. After visiting some of the shops and the grocery store we came back to the campground and just kind of rested. One thing we have been a little disappointed with is our cell coverage. We both have AT & T and we are lucky to have 1 or 2 bars.  But strangely it switches from A T & T to Roaming and when it does that we have good coverage. It makes for tough communicating.

September 10
I quit. We arrived into Olewein after another 38 miles of hills and trying to bike into terrific winds I said "uncle". I can't imagine another day like this especially when severe thunderstorms are predicted along with the wind. Rain is also in the forecast for Thursday, Friday and Saturday and we simply can't stay around waiting for the weather to clear; we need to head for Texas and our seminars there next week. Cec will finish the last 54 miles herself with Judy pulling their motorhome down the road a bit at a time. I don't feel bad after riding 279 miles in only 8 days for an average of 34 miles per day. If I could have waited out the stormy weather I would have finished. We will start heading south and west tomorrow morning.

What we did in Waverly
We didn't do much since we didn't finish biking until late and by the time we got showers it was almost closing time for all the shops, but the town looks great. I would like to come back. Waverly is a college town (Wartburg) and there are a lot of big beautiful Victorian houses in town. We were told that the best eating place here in town is the East Bremer Diner and after eating there we would highly recommend it. In fact we all felt that it was the best restaurant we have eaten at since the Westside Diner. It was big and very clean and the menu was large enough to be very interesting and offered salads, sandwiches, pizzas and full dinners. Everything we ordered was wonderful. Judy and Ron ordered pork loin sandwich which was huge and tasty. Cec had home made chicken noodle soup and even the noodles were home made. She said it was very good. The rolls were big and fresh and each entree or sandwich comes with a salad which is served family style so you can have as much as you like. All of the dressings are home made and delicious. I had a marinated grilled chicken salad which was one of the best I have ever had. For dessert we could not refuse the warm apple dumpling which was served with caramel syrup and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Wow!! What a place. 

September 11
I couldn't find a modem yesterday so will upload both days now. Olewein was a bit of a disappointment. It was so unlike the other towns we had gone through in that it seemed depressed and run down and it was a good sized town too. We are now south and west of Iowa City and will move every day until we get to Las Cruces or someplace near there. We want to be there so we will be close to Anthony, Texas, for our seminars on Saturday and Sunday. I won't be updating every day from now on. 

September 13
Cec finished the bike trip yesterday and Judy took a picture of her with the front tire of her bike in the Mississippi River near Guttenberg. What a gal. She said that the last big day was terrible. Forty miles with worse winds and bigger, steeper hills than we had had before. Two big hills had a seven percent grade. She was glad that I chose not to continue. She is a better athlete than I am. We are proud of her.
I will be writing a little more about the trip in my next Thoughts from Barb column. It wasn't what I expected it would be.

We are making great time and are in Pratt, Kansas, if you are following us on a map. We zipped out of Iowa on I-80 (boring and full of trucks as usual) and turned south on U.S. Route 181 in Nebraska. We spent last night in Hastings and continued on this morning. At Pratt we turned west on U.S. Route 54 and are at a small campground here. Route 54 angles beautifully across Oklahoma and Texas and cuts across New Mexico too. We will be in Tucumcari tomorrow then Las Cruces on Monday. It was cold this morning when we were leaving Hastings so it is time to head south. 

September 16
We arrived in Las Cruces yesterday early in the day after an easy drive on U.S. 54. The roads were good and there was very little traffic. We are staying in one of the nicest campgrounds we have ever stayed at. Hacienda RV Resort has huge sites with nice privacy fences and greenery here and there. The individual shower rooms (we never use them) are like those in a hotel room complete with hair dryer. And breakfast and instant on phones are included in the daily rate which is $32. We will stay here until Friday when we move to American RV and Marine in Anthony, Texas.

September 17
We spent the afternoon yesterday at Historic Old Mesilla which is very near our campground here in Las Cruces. What was once the largest town between San Diego and San Antonio it is now a nice collection of buildings surrounding the square. These old buildings house art galleries and shops of all sorts and many restaurants. How could we refuse? It had been a while since we had a great Mexican dinner. We looked at all the menus and decided on La Posta and thoroughly enjoyed every bite. They must know what they are doing because they have been serving food there since 1939.

Speaking of good restaurants we neglected to mention our wonderful dining experience way back when we were in Kansas City (the end of August). We wanted to take my son and his family to some special place for dinner and they suggested Buca di Beppo and made reservations requesting the kitchen table. We had no idea what that meant.

James, Jim, Sue and Kristopher near the entrance which was below the street level.

The kitchen table and our view. It was very interesting.

Everything is served family style. 
It was fun to be right in the center of all the action in the kitchen by sitting at that special table. We ordered two entrees and loved every bite. We were happy to learn that this chain is in Arizona and very near us. We will visit once in a while but we will make sure we take some big eaters with us so they can help. Look for one near you and ask for the kitchen table. 

September 23
We are back in Gold Canyon and busy moving back in the house. It is good to be home for a while.

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