Here it is September already - the end of our stay here at Klondike. We enjoyed the last of the club-sponsored meals and gatherings, as well as a happy hour we arranged for all the snowbirds. This may be a new tradition. Started last year, several of us met poolside, bringing beverages and snacks to share. This year we had over thirty folks show up - a great opportunity to say so long till next year to all our Klondike friends.
Being a snowbird is hard work! We spent the next couple of weeks cleaning up and winterizing the fifth wheel we leave on our original site as well as packing up all our stuff on our new site. All yard art was gathered up and stored in the shed, as well as the golf cart - ready for our return next spring.
After last minute get-togethers with our friends and families, it was time to hit the road, with our ultimate destination Mountain View, Arkansas. Our first stop was in Bainbridge, New York. We had participated in a Habitat RV Care-A-Vanner build there last September. The dedication on Lorraine's house was to be the Saturday after we left the area. Local volunteer Noreen offered to meet us and give us a sneak preview of the completed home. Seeing as Bainbridge was on our route, we took Noreen up on her offer and arranged to meet her at the local Tractor Supply, a convenient stop. While there, we filled up the motor home's propane tank - Tractor Supply's propane prices are quite reasonable.
Lorraine and son Garrett's new home is beautiful. We lucked out to see them there - Lorraine was organizing her kitchen cabinets. What knocked our socks off was the awesome textured ceiling throughout. Local volunteer Jim had to have spent hours finishing this off, with special patterns around the ceiling fans and lights. Sure glad Noreen suggested we stop - well worth the short detour.
Our next stop was visiting friend Linda in Fairlawn, Ohio. After we got parked in the local's Sam's Club parking lot (with their permission), we drove over to visit with her. We hadn't seen Linda in a couple of years so it was good to catch up, although we all missed her very-significant other Rich, whom she'd lost earlier this year. Linda has always been quite the walker so when she suggested a walk in one of the many pocket parks, we were glad to stretch our legs. After a great dinner, and a lot of reminiscing, and a short concert Linda put on with her ukulele which she is slowly mastering, we reluctantly said good bye but we made plans to see her next spring.
Two more travel days to Springfield, Illinois, where we stayed at the State Fairgrounds, very convenient to town. Our three short days there made us realize there is still so much more to see there - well worth a return stop. Springfield is where Abraham Lincoln grew up. We kicked off our touring there visiting the Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery.
The Lincoln Tomb is quite impressive - way bigger than we'd imagined. Designed by sculptor Larkin G. Mead, Jr., it was dedicated by President Ulysses S. Grant on October 15, 1874. Since then it has undergone two renovations. The first, undertaken from 1899 to 1901, corrected a failing foundation. After it was completely dismantled, new foundations were placed and an additional fifteen feet added to its height. President Lincoln's remains were then placed in a new vault below the burial chamber's floor. Renovations in 1930 and 1931 created the decorative hallways, circling from the entrance, which lead to the burial chamber.
A few facts about the tomb - the exterior is granite; the obelisk stands 117 feet high. The bronze statue portrays Lincoln holding the Emancipation Proclamation. The statuary groups at the corners represent the major armed services Lincoln commanded during the Civil War - infantry, cavalry, navy, and artillery. These statues were cast in part with metal from sixty-five cannons donated by the U.S. government.
Buried in the tomb are Lincoln, his wife Mary, and three of their four children. Robert Lincoln, per his wife's request, is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. President Lincoln's remains are in a vault ten feet below the floor. The words "Now he belongs to the ages" is inscribed on the wall behind the U.S flag and are said to have been spoken by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton at Lincoln's deathbed. What an honor to be a docent in the Lincoln Tomb.
We will have to return to Oak Ridge Cemetery in the future - there are several interesting looking headstones and monuments located throughout. This is the second most visited cemetery in the country, with Arlington National Cemetery holding the honors as most visited. Audio tours are available.
Next stop was the Lincoln National Historic Site downtown where we joined an 11 am ranger-led tour of their home. This two-story home featured an indoor kitchen which Mary Todd Lincoln insisted on - she loved to cook for her family. One reason for private bedrooms was that it took women then quite a bit of time to get dressed. Our guide suggested we add forty minutes to how long it takes us today to get an idea of the length of time back then. After the tour, we walked around the four block restored area.
All this walking generated an appetite. We enjoyed corn dogs and fries at the iconic Route 66 Cozy Dog Drive-in, with a stop afterwards for frozen custard at Culver's, our favorite Midwest fast food restaurant.
Last stop for the day was the very impressive Abraham Lincoln Museum where we spent nearly three hours; picture taking was not permitted. The museum layout is similar to a wheel. The hub of this 'wheel' is the Plaza, from which the different theaters and galleries are accessed. First stop was Ghosts of the Library - a holographic presentation explaining the importance of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library next door and its role in preserving Lincoln's history as well as all Illinoisans. Next we went to the Union Theater and watched a state-of-the-art multimedia presentation viewing what Lincoln may have seen through his eyes. The artist attempted to capture the sorrow, hope, vision, resolve and forgiveness in Lincoln's eyes.
The next gallery was Journey One: The Pre-Presidential Years. We followed a path through the display of Lincoln's childhood and his early years. Journey Two: The White House Years picked up where the first gallery left off, all the way through his assassination in Ford's Theater and his burials. Lincoln had twelve funerals across the U.S. His funeral train covered 1,700 miles in fifteen days. More people saw him as a dead president than as a live candidate.
We made it back to the fairgrounds in time for the weekly Farmers' Market where we picked up some fresh garden tomatoes, cucumbers and a loaf of wonderful homemade bread. Supper that night was a fresh tomato sandwich on the bread we'd bought. When we return to Springfield, we'll have to time our visit to catch the market again and hopefully the same bread vendor.
Next stop was West Plains, Missouri, where we stayed at Chipmunk Crossing RV Park just south of town run by some of the friendliest owners we've met. Our sole reason for stopping here overnight was to be able to get together with Dan and Jane. We'd been emailing for over ten years - this was the first opportunity to finally meet in person. We arranged to meet for breakfast the next morning at the Ozark Cafe - the food was great, especially the homemade raisin bread (we shared a loaf to go) but spending time with the both of them was the best part. We hope to see them again later this year. And did we think to take any pictures - no......
Dan had to head off in one direction and Jane to work. She and Dan own JB's Health Mart - Jane gave us a quick tour of the store where we managed to find some items we had to have, plus she surprised us by filling up our bag with a variety of goodies - it was like Christmas.
Time to get the wheels rolling for Mountain View, Arkansas. We mentioned how friendly the RV park owners were - the owner wasn't going to let us leave without giving us hugs , and directions on the best way to get to Mountain View from there. For those who have been to Mountain View, you know there is no road to get there that isn't twisty, curvy, narrow, winding and hilly. And the route we went on was no exception. It is hard to believe that this was the best of the many roads leading to Mountain View - sure don't want to see those others! The safety latches on our residential fridge's freezer had recently broken. We thought Velcro would hold the drawer shut but the road had other plans. Lucille finally pulled out the trusty roll of duct tape and slapped several pieces to hold it in place - not pretty but it did the trick. We eventually replaced the latches while in Mountain View.
Shortly after we got set up at Ozark RV Park, we went in search of Karen and Galen who were volunteering at the Ozark Folk Center's fiddle festival. We bought season tickets for the Folk Center while there and enjoyed the evening concert, which featured several talented fiddle players.
It was good to see Karen and Galen again and get re-introduced to all our friends here. This is yet another place that is like coming home.
The rest of September was spent playing our dulcimers, learning new tunes, enjoying the evening concerts at the Folk Center, the weekly potlucks at the RV park, the Sunday morning services at the park's Picking Shed with Pastor Joe, and eating out at several of the local favorite places. A must-stop is the Valero gas station on Fridays for their all-you-can-eat catfish or chicken fingers buffet or their beans and hushpuppies.
One last note: Last year at our site in Otis we were always finding field mice trying to make our home theirs. While driving to Mountain View, Larry noticed a new rattle. While he never found the reason for the rattle, he did find where hungry mice thought that the insulation on the wires made a good meal. Fortunately, the wires never shorted together and have since been covered.