|Marlo Buchmann - the best volunteer coordinator in the world!|
Our return from the ten week adventure in Costa Rica went smoothly. After recuperating overnight in a hotel near the Tucson airport, Mike Doyle and his friend Julie hauled us back to Kartchner Caverns. Mike and a few of the other volunteers had kept a watchful eye on our RV while we were away - and we were very grateful for their over-watch!
We had originally planned on moving the RV into storage in Tucson while in Costa Rica. Once back from Costa Rica, we planned to head up the west coast to the Pacific Northwest and a later than usual visit to Wisconsin sometime in August. However, two things cropped up to alter our plans. First, we learned that we could store the RV at Kartchner and in return, extend our volunteer commitment for another month. Second, and more importantly, Tom’s son Graham had asked, “Dad…what do you think about a June wedding?” He and his fiancé Caitlin also had asked Tom to write and conduct the ceremony. What father would say no to this? We were thrilled. Plans easily changed. Happily.
|relaxing at the Desert Museaum and Carol, Delia and Chuck on the trail|
|every meal at a Culver's is a happy meal!|
|our tiny Starcraft popup - harder to hookup than our fifth wheel!|
|Nancy, Tom, Carol, Marge|
|Marge, Tom, Peggy|
|with Nancy, Troy, Carol, Marge|
|left to right - Paul, Carol, Frank and friends of Paul and Frank|
|when in Santa Fe don't miss La Choza!|
Crossing into Colorado and gaining on Dillon, we couldn't help but notice white stuff. First on the mountain tops. Then on the roadside. What were we getting ourselves into?
|we drove smack dab into winter|
|Mother's Day out with Chris, Robyn, Cali and Carter|
The cold weather did negatively impact the RV in one critical area. Tire pressure had dropped to below safe driving conditions. Aside from a wimpy battery-operated air pump, we had no way of pumping up the tires, Tom finally relented and purchased a professional grade air compressor. By the time the snows abated on May 12, and with the tires properly inflated, we headed down the east side of the Rockies and out of winter. With a few longer days on the Interstate and a few stops across the wide expanse of Nebraska, on May 14 we pulled into Timberline RV, near Waukee, Iowa, where good friends Patrick and Sue Généreux were work camper volunteers. Recall Patrick and Sue from our days at the Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette? Yes, THAT fun loving couple. Of course dinner out was a must (isn’t it always?).
|Carol, Sue, Patrick|
The Générouxs had their work responsibilities and couldn't come out to play the next day so the next morning we moved a bit further east into Iowa, stopping at Iowa's Best Burger Cafe and Kellogg RV Park, outside of Kellogg. Interesting choice putting the cafe ahead of the RV park. This RV park is a huge draw for folks attending races at the nearby newly remodeled Iowa Speedway. Just our luck we wold be stopping on one of the crazy busy race day weekends. The park would be filling with NASCAR fans. Fortunately we had realized this ahead and were able to secure one of the last sites available (we also tried their 'best burger' and it wasn't all that bad...but we've had better). Note that we're NOT at all NASCAR fans so were thoroughly unimpressed. But had this been a Grand Prix race where race cars turn right and left…well, THAT would have been a different matter! Actually, choosing this RV park was not to drink in the Bud Lite race car ambience (although I do know that the number 43 is Richard Petty's old number). That it put us as close as possible to the NWR Neal Smith Tallgrass Prairie was far more significant.
|Lance, Robyn, Ailish, Carol, Tom|
Since it was early Spring, the prairie had barely gotten started (prairies are best visited in late summer and early Fall after the grasses have flowered). Lance was busy with crews on the prairie (plus the entrance road was under repair) so his wife Robyn offered to walk us around one of the trails. Late that afternoon we met Lance, Robyn and their daughter Ailish for dinner in Des Moines where they introduced us to Â Dông Vietnamese restaurant. By all means if you’re traveling along I-80, be sure to look for Neal Smith Tallgrass Prairie signs and pay it a visit. And if you're in Des Moines and looking for a good Vietnamese restaurant...
From Kellogg we made pretty good time and crossed into Wisconsin by noon the next day. Still too far from our final parking spot in Dale, stopped for an overnight at another familiar place, Blackhawk Park, a Corps of Engineers property along the Mississippi just south of LaCrosse. Our last stop at Blackhawk morphed into a one month volunteer gig so we were very familiar with the park. Nice to see some of the painting we did on one of the restrooms was holding up.
|parked until November|
Some photos along the way...