As usual Wednesday started with laundry. WAIT!!! It didn’t! The travel week starting September 21 was going to be a bit confusing. To begin with, we left in the middle of the week. I think Mr. Wonderful (MW) was trying to confuse me there. Then we would be making 2-night stops until arriving in Colorado. That’s just a little too fast for me, but we had Navy Dudes and Dudettes to hang with and Air Force Falcons to whup up on. (Well, technically we will not be participating in the smack down, but our energy from the sidelines will surely help.) So, we headed out about 8:20 AM in the the shiny, freshly washed and waxed Brutus, dragging Petunia along behind. Our route was the reverse of the return from Taylorsville Lake a few weeks ago, heading through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky, then up through Corbin. Unfortunately, The Wrigley wasn’t open yet when we passed through, or you know we’d have gotten some of those killer Brussels sprouts! We hit I-75 north then stopped at the Hong Kong Restaurant (buffet style and pretty good) for lunch in Berea, Kentucky. Back on the road, we caught I-64 west at Lexington, passed through Louisville, crossed into Indiana, and turned south at Exit 79 to the Indian-Celina Recreation Area Campground. It had been a beautiful day for a drive, and thanks to crossing back into the Central Time Zone, we arrived pretty early. It was HOT, though…96 degrees IN. MID. SEPTEMBER!!! Thankfully, that would be changing soon, but our afternoon was spent indoors.
Overnight the weather changed, and Thursday morning started with cool air and a brisk, 3.6-mile walk around the park. Another benefit of crossing the time zone is that sunrise is about an hour earlier than at home, so we could get out before 7 AM. Love it! After cleaning up, we headed out to find a spot for me to get some work done later. Then we checked out the part of the park we didn’t walk. (Glad we didn’t plan to walk to the dock on Indian Lake. That would have been a total of 7 miles! I’m not there yet, for sure.) After dropping MW back at Petunia, I opted to head to Ferdinand a couple of exits west on the interstate and parked myself in a corner at Wendy’s to finish some work and do a little writing. I had a sandwich and stayed for a few hours, then picked MW up some supper from Arby’s before heading back. We spent the evening watching a couple of shows before turning in. Oh, and almost forgot…when MW went to take a shower this morning, he was flanked in the stall by TWO…GIANT…SPIDERS. We walked back over so I could see what he was talking about, and I got a pic for you.
Indian-Celina Recreation Area Campground is pretty nice. We actually stayed there on our first ever RV trip in 2018, but arrived and set up during a light rain break in the otherwise pouring weather. At the time, we were high-tailing it for Minnesota, so we were up and back on the road early in the morning. We didn’t check out the park at all, so I never actually reviewed it thoroughly. Located in the Hoosier National Forest, it is really a great place to camp, although could use a little maintenance. There are two separate lakes, Indian and Celina, with boat docks. They only allow electric motors, though, plus kayaks and canoes. In addition to the water activities, there are miles of hiking trails and several picnic areas. Also on the property is the Rickenbaugh house. Jacob and Elizabeth Rickenbaugh, purchased part of the park property and a small cabin in 1856. In 1871, with his tannery business booming, Jacob hired two Belgian stone masons (Frank and John George), to build a large, sandstone home. (The brothers are also responsible for building the abbey at St. Meinrad that we toured on a previous trip through.) Four generations of the Rickenbaugh family made their home in that house, where they lived until 1953. From then until 1968, it was abandoned, then the Forest Service purchased it and the property to build Lake Celina. In 1995, the Friends of the Celina House began efforts to restore the structure. Today you can walk around the home and the family cemetery, and the house is open periodically to visitors. The campground is divided into two loops, North Face and South Slope. Unlike any other campground we’ve been to, each loop is numbered starting with “1”, so you have to know which one your reservation is in. Both loops contain bathhouses that are old, but clean. (Well, there was the spider issue in the showers.) There are a total of 63 sites, some with electricity, and all with picnic tables and fire rings with grill tops. The roads and sites are paved, although they are long overdue for repair. The North Face loop is open year-round with limited amenities, and the other loop closes after hunting season in the fall. One odd thing, the dump station is about 3 miles down the main road from this campground and sits right across the road from the county jail. (Don’t pick up any hitchhikers!) There is a bit of road noise, although it isn’t too bad. Cell signals for both Verizon and AT&T were weak, and we could get a dozen or so over-the-air tv stations. We would definitely go back. For this stay in September 2022, we paid $64.00 for two nights.
Friday morning we headed out around 7:20 AM, continuing west on I-64. At Little Nashville, Illinois, we stopped at the Little Nashville Restaurant in a truck stop just off of the interstate. The food was basic diner and not bad. There were several young men, maybe in their 20s, sitting near us playing a game. On the way out, we asked what it was and they said Pokemon. Really!? I had no idea that adults played that one. Back on the road, we hit I-70 west to St. Louis, passing through that crowded mess as quickly as possible and into Missouri. Not too far west of town we exited on MO-79, heading north. The GPS took us to the north entrance that is nearest to the campground. Unfortunately, that one is closed, so we had to drive down to the south side and drive the 3-1/2 miles up through the park to get to the other side of the gate. We were very happy to finally make it to our site at Cuivre River State Park. The entire day had been grey, but the rain didn’t start until about 1/2 hour before our arrival. Thankfully, it wasn’t heavy as we got Petunia set up. It was, however, chilly with temps in the low 60s. In rushing to get inside before the heavier rain arrived, I backed us up too far to put the slide out without hitting the electric box. (Honest, I’m usually very good about checking for that.) Both ready to be done, we decided to just leave it in rather than move. That makes the inside feel much smaller, but we can still access everything, so that’s okay. We spent the evening watching a bit of tv and listening to the rain, which stopped about 7 PM. When we laid down to read at 9, we thought it was going to be a noisy night. Like last week in Georgia, there were kids running around, playing games, and generally making a lot of noise. Unlike last week, though, about 5 minutes before quiet hours began, a parent hollered for them to get to their campsites and quiet down. It went to crickets quickly thereafter. Awesome!
SIDE NOTE: I just saw a question on one of the forums I follow from someone who was about to purchase their first fifth wheel. He wanted to know how important it was to be able to access the fridge, pantry, bathroom, etc., with the slide(s) in. As someone who has had a slide issue that required replacing a motor, it is VERY important if you plan to travel a lot. We also like having access to enjoy picnics along the way or go to the bathroom in the middle of nowhere, too. Just our two cents. Well, since there are two of us, I guess it really counts as four pennies. *wink, wink*
Saturday started with temps in the high 40s, which made our walk awesome. We got in about 3.5 miles, checking out the rest of our loop, the beach area, and the other two loops. A few sites down from us we saw a sign that a Cub Scout troop is occupying the adjacent group area, and I believe, a good portion of our loop, too. That explains the abundance of kids. Overall, though, it was pretty peaceful most of the time. After getting a little work done, we headed into town to hit the post office, find some food, and do a little grocery shopping. Lunch ended up being the Taormina Sicilian Restaurant. MW had a combo of manicotti and cannelloni in red sauce, which he really liked. I went for the lunch shrimp Alfredo that the waitress said was homemade and fabulous. It ended up being made with a provelone cheese sauce and not traditional parmesan, which was just odd and too cheesy. I wouldn’t get it again. We finished up the shopping and headed back to the park. There I spent the afternoon doing a little writing at the picnic table. Our site sits under large oak trees with acorns that are about an inch across. More than once, the wind kicked up and it felt a little like a bombing raid when they hit the roof.
Cuivre River State Park is really beautiful. Billed as one of Missouri’s largest and most rugged parks, it encompasses over 6,400 acres and Lake Lincoln, offers opportunities for swimming at the beach, boating (electric motor only), kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. The extensive trail network gives hikers, bikers, and horseback riders over 45 miles of trails to explore. There are also picnic areas and pavilions available. Camping opportunities include four hike-in, backcountry sites, a special-use camping area, three group camps, an equestrian campground, and a variety of basic, electric only, and full-hookup sites. During the summer there are also tents already set up on some platform sites for rent. The only noise in the park is vehicles coming and going on the park road and campers. During the week, I bet it is very quiet. Troy is about 20 minutes away for groceries and dining, and the park is only about 45 minutes from downtown St. Louis. Cell signals are moderate in the campground for both Verizon and AT&T, and there are plenty of over-the-air tv channels, too. We would definitely come back. For this visit in September 2022, we paid $52.50 for 2 nights.
This week, due to our every other day travel schedule, we were up and out on Sunday about 7 AM. Ugh! Truth be told, I was ready to leave 30 minutes before MW’s appointed time, so we headed out. Passing through Troy on MO-47, we turned south at Hawk Point and then caught I-70 west. In Independence, Missouri, we stopped for lunch at Culver’s. (If you’ve never tried them, they have terrific burgers and some pretty good custard, too.) After lunch we skirted the south side of Kansas City, crossing into Kansas on I-435, then continuing west on KS-10. We zig-zagged north up through Perry, Kansas, to Perry Lake and Rock Creek Park. We arrived mid-afternoon and were amazed at the thousands of birds circling over the lake…cranes, herons, pelicans, geese, gulls, cormorants, and I’m sure, plenty of others. When looking up, you could see the sun glinting off of thousands of them circling on the currents. It really was amazing. There were also huge swaths floating in the water, too. What a beautiful way to end the day. The only negative was the wind that blew our chain-smoking neighbor’s cigarette smoke right into our rig. Thankfully, the wind was blowing pretty hard, so it passed through quickly. Plus, it was a blessing that it wasn’t cigar smoke. LOL
Monday started with a nice, long walk. The temps dumped into the upper 40s overnight, so it was GREAT! We got in about 3-1/2 miles and something really cool happened along the way: a bald eagle flew right over us, headed towards our campground loop. We watched for him for the rest of the walk, but didn’t catch another glimpse. Later, though, when we headed out to town, we saw him circling high, mixed in with a lot of gulls. Of course, by the time we looped back to get the camera I forgot to bring, he was gone again. We headed over to Perry to drop off some mail and grab lunch at the Perry Bar & Grill. When you search for this place, it shows up as a “dive bar”, which wasn’t far off. The food was pretty good, though, and the portions were large. MW went for the pork tenderloin sandwich special, and I had the Hawaiian burger, which had pineapple, Swiss cheese, and a pretty spicy sauce. Yum! Back at Petunia, we sat outside and enjoyed the afternoon. MW spotted our eagle again, soaring with thousands of other birds. I wonder if he was just plucking one out of the air occasionally as a meal? After a few minutes we spotted a second one up there, too. Amazing! We love it when the weather allows us to open all of the windows and enjoy the fresh air. Later, as we were watching a little tv, we suddenly noticed that the air reeked of pot. Maybe our neighbor switched “brands”.
We REALLY liked Rock Creek. Situated on the southern shore of Perry lake, it was blissfully peaceful. Surrounded by dense forest land, the lake is a haven for birds of all kinds, as well as other wildlife. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many birds (thousands) of so many different types in one area. (There were at least TWO bald eagles!) The small town of Perry is just 15 minutes away, and both Topeka and Kansas City are within driving distance. The lake offers ample opportunities for recreational boating and fishing, and the 29-mile Perry Loop lake trail means you can walk for hours. We just enjoyed sitting outside watching the birds. The campground has 80 large, paved, standard electric (30- or 50-amp) campsites with water, picnic tables, and fire rings, and there are also primitive options. Cell signals were fine for both AT&T and Verizon, and we had plenty of over-the-air tv stations. The one negative was that the only bathhouse was a good walk from our loop, but there were full bathrooms nearby. Both were very clean and well kept. For this stay in September 2022, we paid $40 for 2 nights.
Tuesday morning we left a little early so we would have time for a stop. We skirted the north side of Topeka and continued west on I-70. Depending on which routes you take, the east part of the state still has lots of trees and mostly rolling farmland. At Abilene, we took a little detour to check out the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. We attempted to visit this place in 2020, but they were closed for Covid. Very disappointing! This morning we spent almost 2 hours checking it all out.
Every time we go to a Presidential Library, I end up walking away with a completely different picture of the man and the woman beside him. That was no different with Ike’s. Dwight D. Eisenhower was born on October 14, 1890 in Denison, Texas, the third of seven boys of David and Ida Eisenhower. My previous impressions of Ike were mostly pulled from photos during the war years. It was a serious time, and he seemed to be a strong, solid, serious man. I was surprised by the many photos that seemed to show a handsome, fun-loving, and maybe a little mischievous young man. Here are a few other things I found interesting: 1) He was originally named David Dwight Eisenhower, but his mother reversed it when he was a few months old. It was confusing having two Davids in the house. She also didn’t like nicknames such as Dave or Junior (not appropriate since his Dad had a different middle name) and felt that Dwight couldn’t be shortened. Ironic that she lived long enough to see the entire world come to know him simply as Ike. 2) Before his first birthday the family relocated to Abilene, Kansas. Ike loved his adopted hometown and maintained close relationships with several of his childhood friends through his entire life. He once said “The proudest thing that I can claim is that I am from Abilene.” 3) He won a competitive appointment to West Point Class of 1915. Nicknamed “The Class the Stars Fell On”, it included two 5-star (Ike and Bradley), two 4-star, seven 3-star, twenty-four 2-star, and twenty-five 1-star generals. 4) Although an excellent football player until benched by a knee injury, Ike was never too interested in his studies and was quite often in trouble during his school years. Later, though, when he attended the Army’s Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth (the same school my friend Shawn teaches at now), he buckled down and finished first in his class.
5) As a young Lieutenant, he served alongside George S. Patton under General Pershing in the “Punitive Expedition” that we learned about while visiting New Mexico. 6) He met Mamie Geneva Doud, a charming, confident, well-heeled young lady, while stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. There was instant attraction on both sides, and they were married the next summer. 7) Although from an affluent family, Mamie was quite thrifty and was known to pull furnishings from the base dump. 8) Ike researched information for A Guide to the American Battle Fields in Europe by the American Battle Monuments Commission. While the first version was based on official records, he walked all of the battlefields for the second version, giving him a clearer picture of the tactics used and geography than almost any other American officer. That would come in handy later. 9) The couple had two children, Doud (Icky) Dwight and John Sheldon Doud. Sadly, Doud died of scarlet fever that became meningitis when he was only 3 years old. John, born the next year, would follow in his Dad’s footsteps with a competitive appointment to West Point and a full military career. 10) After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Eisenhower received a call to report to Washington. Upon entering the War Department offices, Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall asked him, “What should be our general line of action?” Having just arrived with very little intel other than news reports and no staff, Ike’s response was “Give me a few hours.” (That has to be my favorite quote!) Then he parked himself at a typewriter and (remember no internet) proceeded to map our our initial strategy…focusing on the Philippines. 11) One of our most revered military leaders, Eisenhower never saw active combat. Despite that, he possessed a unique set of skills and knowledge related to planning, logistics, mediation, history, and the European terrain and battlefields. 12) I’ve heard of counter-espionage, but was not aware that, in addition to false radio traffic, inflatable tanks, vehicles, and planes were used to trick the Germans. 13) After supervising the demobilization of our forces, Ike returned to Washington and became the U. S. Army Chief of Staff.
14) He served as President of Columbia University for 5 years. 15) He was approached by both Republicans and Democrats to run for President in 1948. President Truman, the incumbent, even offered to be his Vice President if he chose the Democrats. It took supporters a couple more years to convince him, and in 1952, he ran on the Republican ticket with Nixon as his VP. Still very popular at the end of his two terms, many said that, were he able to run again, Kennedy would never have been President. 16) The only house Ike and Mamie ever owned is in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and is a part of the National Park Service. 17) Camp David is named for the Eisenhower’s only grandson. 18) NASA was created on his watch after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, the first man-made satellite to orbit the earth. 19) In addition to his military efforts to keep us from speaking German, he changed the life of every American in another way…the Eisenhower Interstate System, as they call it in Kansas. The largest public works program in history constructed 41,000 miles of roadway to help us travel this wonderful country. 20) Ike was a painter in his later years and left more than 200 canvases. Although his work was displayed in a New York art gallery, he didn’t think he was that good and once told a reporter “They would have burned this sh*t a long time ago if I weren’t the president of the United States. 21) Dwight D. Eisenhower died on March 28, 1969 of congestive heart failure. Mamie said, “When Ike died, the light went out of my life.” It would be 10 years before they were, once again, side by side.
After the tour, we walked next door to The Hitching Post for lunch…basic diner food that’s fresh and made daily. MW had the Hot Roast Beef sandwich, and I had 1/2 of the Country Fried Steak dinner. Mine was TWO nice-sized steaks that came with two sides, a salad, and a roll, which left me with an entire meal’s worth of leftovers…an incredible deal at about $11. After lunch, we still had about 3 hours to get to our final destination, so hit the interstate again, still heading west. At Ellis, we did a laundromat drive-by, planning ahead for upcoming chores. (It was clean but very small with only a few machines. I’ll probably end up driving to Hays.) We continued west just a little further, exiting at Ogallah and turning south on KS-147. Near the end of our route, we were to turn on CC Road. Sam (GPS) decided that mean’t Country Club Road, so we were looking for a golf course in the middle of the open grassland. Didn’t find one. The last part of the drive was about 5 miles of gravel road west over to Cedar Bluff State Park. By the time we were set up, it was after 4 PM, so kicking back was in order. Later I did a bit of writing. There were only two other campers in our loop, so it was a very quiet night. I had to take some time to look at the stars when I woke up in the middle of the night. It was so beautiful! We were also awakened at least twice in the night by coyotes. I love that.
Wednesday started with a much-needed walk, although we kept it to a little less than an hour because I was feeling a little off. The highlights were a beautiful sunrise and fox scat in the road. Then, after a quick clean-up, I headed out to find a laundromat. Because there were only a few machines at Ellis, I decided to head on over to Hays, Kansas, where I found a pretty nice facility at the 27th & Hall Laundromat. They had lots of machines, and the place was empty when I arrived, although there was one woman sitting out in her car. Well, I thought it was empty. I went about starting washers, all the while listening to music on my iPhone, and of course, singing along. After everything was started, I walked around the corner to sit at one of the tables and almost tripped over a girl in a chair backed up out of sight. I guess she got a free concert, but I’m not that good anymore! Poor thing! After finishing up, I headed over to Freddy’s Frozen Custard to grab a Chicago Dog for lunch and park myself to get some work done. (Freddy’s is a chain, and they are usually clean with upbeat staff and oldies music. I was surprised that this one was a mess in the dining room and fountain area and had cranky staff and weird pop music playing. Not good.) I worked for a few hours, then picked up some Lomatos Pizza for MW and fueled up Brutus on the way back to camp.
Cedar Bluff State Park was excellent, but pretty remote. The sites were very large…you could have parked another truck and a boat in our pull-through with our rig there! This park is divided into two sections, one each on the north and south shores. The 350-acre north shore has a lot of amenities, but it is a long way between the two, and we did not explore there. The 500-acre south shore is much less developed, but very peaceful and dark at night…loved it! Activity centers around the lake, and they say they have two boat ramps. However, we found three, but only one useable. There are several picnic areas along the water, some of which are covered, and several swing sets scattered around. There are also two bathhouses, two vault toilets, and seven primitive shelters. The campsites are divided into three sections with 37 50/30/20-amp electric and water sites (17 in Prickly Pear; 20 in Pronghorn), 12 primitive sites in Crooked Arrow, and quite a few primitive sites backed right up to the water in an unnamed area. AT&T & Verizon coverage was moderate, and we pulled in a few over-the-air tv stations. We would definitely stay again, but families would most likely want to check out the other side of the lake. For this stay in September 2022, we paid $48.75 for 2 nights, which included a discount for having the Kansas State Parks Annual Pass.
Well, time to wrap this one up. Next up…Go Navy! Beat Air Force!! See you on the path!
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