Thursday, May 4, 2017

Green, green grass of home...

Home for the remainder of May at Worlds of Fun Village, Kansas City, Missouri 
      It was great sleeping at the rest area near Grainfield, Kansas.  We had the entire picnic loop to ourselves with the semi-trucks parked in the lot behind us.  In fact, it was so cool and so quiet, and we were all still adjusting to the time change, that the dogs let us sleep until nearly 8 a.m.  

Cleaning the road salt from the windshield in Greenfield, Kansas

      We had hoped to get on the road early, but by the time we had walked the dogs, eaten breakfast, cleaned the salt from the windshield, and caught up on email, we didn't get on the road until around 10, and had nearly 340 miles to cover since the wind had delayed us the prior day.  We hoped to reach our campground in Kansas City before rush hour, or by 5 p.m. at the latest, when the office closes.

      It was interesting to watch the change in scenery.  We started out with some snow here and there on the ground on the relatively flat high plain.  Oil pumps and windmills at first dotted the landscape. Gradually we began to see more hills, more trees, dirt roads, farm equipment, grain elevators, cattle,  barns, grain silos and rolls of hay.  Before long, we noticed how green were the fields and trees, and occasional ponds turned into streams and lakes.  The highway cut deep into the limestone and flint hills and the fields are plowed and awaiting their crops.


    Valerie captured a few barn photographs, but with the sun shining there is lots of glare on the windows which interferes with her fun.  Also she was driving and missed photos of the buffalo and hay roll which someone had made into a snowman.  Signs indicated we had entered 'The Bible Belt'.

      We again fought the wind and the occasional construction zone.  The cost of the Kansas Turnpike on I-70 was $7.50 with our five axles.  We had heard there was lots of flooding in Missouri.  As we approached Kansas City, GPS wanted to send us through the city and then north, but we opted to head north on I-435 and cut across east on Highway 152 (Barry Road), to get to our destination, Worlds of Fun Village with the least traffic.

      George washed the windshield for the second time, and together we put up the exterior sun shades.   The Gorilla Tape held for the most part, and we'll need to get a technician out right away to replace our slide covering.  Until then, we're living without our biggest slide-out.  We're a little tired from the trip and will need to head to the store in the morning.  The weather right now is perfect.  But Kansas Citians will tell you if you don't like the weather to wait ten minutes.  We're here for a few weeks, so we'll just wait and see!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Blowin' in the Wind ...

Snow, rain, sunshine, clouds and high winds as we headed across the prairie on I-70 Eastbound
      Wednesday, May 3rd, we hitched up the car at Dakota Ridge RV Park in Golden, Colorado, as the skies spit a mix of rain and snow and temperatures hovered around 37 degrees.  We planned a two-day drive, 629 miles, to Kansas City.

      We filled 81 gallons of diesel at a cost of $201 at the Flying J in Aurora, which was not an easy task, our card not reading at the pump, which was slowwww in the rain and snow flurries!  And then we had to pay an additional $6 as George apparently stopped and started the flow and it wouldn't allow us to charge it on the same card.  Two machines were out of Diet Coke syrup.  Oh well, we probably actually hit the road around 10:30 a.m.

Deer Trail Rest Area on I-70 Eastbound

      George was ready for a break fairly soon after driving through Denver in the rain and snow with construction and traffic tie-ups.  Valerie checked the All-Stays app on her phone and let him know it was over 40 miles to a rest area.  Next thing she knew he was pulling up an exit ramp for a quick driver change.  

      At the next opportunity, Valerie pulled into the Deer Trail Rest Area to check the tires and walk the dogs.  Just as she re-entered the highway, she heard a thumping noise similar to a noise we've heard in the past during extremely windy conditions, which turned out to be the TV antenna mounted on the driver's side roof.  George woke up and checked and he raised it slightly which seemed to affect an improvement.

What's causing that noise?
The ladder and Gorilla Tape to the Rescue
      We drove awhile longer and felt a wind gust and heard a strange sound and continued along the route.  We stopped at the Kansas Welcome Center near Goodland, Kansas.  The winds were intense on the driver's side of the coach and an unfamiliar flapping noise was obvious.  George asked Valerie to run out the front slide on that side and bring it back in while he watched from outside.  Western Kansas has some nice picnic areas where we were able to circle around to get the wind blocked and tried running the slide out and back in without interference from the high winds.


       Valerie went out to take a look and immediately noticed that the guard for the slide topper was completely gone!  George got out the ladder and the Gorilla Tape and went to work securing the fabric to prevent the wind from creating further problems as we drove down the highway.  We waited and worked until the wind diminished and headed back out to make up for the lost time.

There must have been a good bit of snow lately.

      We lost an hour entering Central Time Zone and pulled into the rest area near Grainfield, Kansas just before sundown.  George got the dogs walked, we had dinner and caught up on the news.  Temperature is supposed to drop down to around 35 tonight.  Hopefully we can get an early start and the wind will cooperate tomorrow.

Time to relax and unwind for the night at the rest area in Grainfield, Kansas 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Last Minute Tour of the State Capitol

Colorado's State Capitol Building in Downtown Denver was completed in 1901.
      Our sightseeing agenda was somewhat dampened by the late spring snowstorm and business and family travels, but the snow was all gone by Tuesday morning, and Valerie was looking to get one more sight under our belts before we head out for Kansas City tomorrow.  

The Capitol Rotunda
      A favorite tour of ours when in capital cities is State Capitol Buildings.  Valerie researched and learned we could not easily take the light rail without connecting with a bus, and that parking could be a problem during the week.  She began to look into touring the Denver Mint, only to find it was closed on Monday and Tuesday this week.  So, we printed off a list of parking options and took off for Downtown Denver and the Capitol Building, approximately a 20 minute drive from where we are staying.

View of the Senate from the third floor gallery.

Lots and lots of brass adorns the staircases and other fixtures.

      Without too much difficulty, we located a metered space that was actually marked handicapped and free with our temporary permit.  We walked a few blocks, our belongings were screened at security, and we signed up for an hour-long guided tour by a delightful and knowledgeable volunteer named Trish.  Free tours are available for walk-in groups of less than 10 people starting on the hour between 10-3 Monday through Friday. We had a small group of five, which was a really good size, both for hearing the tour guide and getting around the structure.

Photo of the old stairway up into the Rotunda is no longer in use.
The stairway we actually climbed.

      We learned a lot of the history of Colorado, it's prominent and key figures, much information about the Denver area, as well as the construction of the state's beautiful Capitol.  Legislature was in session, and we observed the House of Representatives electronically voting on bills, but the Senate was apparently on lunch break or in recess during our visit.  Here's a link if you're interested further information or photographs:

A glimpse of the original stained glass from the back side on the stairs.

      It's a bit of a climb up into the rotunda, but well worth the spectacular views of the city and Rocky Mountains in the distance from the circular outdoor walkway.  On our way out, we stopped on the 13th stair of the West Wing which is marked with the official location of the 'Mile High,' after which Denver is nicknamed.  Tired and hungry and wanting to get ahead of rush hour traffic, we headed home to our two little Shelties.

Looking west from the Rotunda, the City and County Building with the Rockies in the background.

The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception undergoing renovations to the east.

State Flag and rock back from the moon

      Rain is predicted for tomorrow and it's turned a little colder again.  George discovered the replacement windshield wiper we purchased at Camping World is the incorrect part, so he did his best to repair the failing one until we can return it for the one we need.  We have our audio book all ready to play to help pass the time on the road.  We'll plan on driving two days to arrive in Kansas City.

Official Mile High Marker on the 13th step of the West Wing

Colorful car ride home.  
      Whatever the dogs do when we're away, it apparently tuckered out our little Zara.  At least the bed should be nice and warm for us.    Look out, Kansas City -- Here we come!

Good-night, Princess Zara!

Almost Good-bye to Golden

Flame juggler/cliff diver at Casa Bonita in Lakewood, Colorado

      Monday, May 2, with temperatures in the 40's overnight and climbing steadily into the 50's, the snow was nearly melted by mid-morning.  George hurried over to the Subaru dealership in nearby Lakewood to get the warning indicators checked out.  Apparently some 'gunk' had built up in the engine which was flushed and the car is now good to go again.  Customer service even sent him home with some beautiful carnations for Valerie.

      Valerie accompanied George on his next run to Camping World, conveniently located just a few miles from the Dakota Ridge RV Park where we have been staying, for a replacement windshield wiper blade for the Monaco.  We bit the bullet and paid the $63 nightly rate (even with our Good Sam discount) to extend one night while we wait on completion of an embroidery project we dropped off late last week.

       George has been craving a Smash Burger ever since he saw one when we arrived, so we stopped for a late lunch and shared a barbecue bacon cheese since we anticipated dinner out. 

      Valerie's daughter had recommended a place, also in Lakewood, Casa Bonita,  It turned out to be a fascinating place with a 30' waterfall, cliff divers, musicians, a gift shop and an arcade.  There are a couple of 'Gringo' items on the menu, but Mexican was the primary fare, served with complimentary sopaipillas and fresh honey.

      They require everyone over 2 years of age to purchase a meal, so of course, we over ate.  There are no to go boxes, probably since many of the menu items are all you can eat, but they did provide some foil so Valerie could take home nearly half her fajitas.  

      The restaurant was beautifully decorated and it was nice that we visited on a Monday when the long interior lines were almost empty.  The shows alternated every fifteen minutes or so, and we were entertained in a delightful atmosphere while we dined.  

      Hard to believe we will be back on the road day after tomorrow.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Thawing and Getting Out

Dakota Ridge RV Park in Golden, Colorado
      We awakened to blue skies and a chilly 31 degrees in Golden, Colorado this morning.  George walked the dogs and slipped on a frozen spot, but fortunately did not injure himself.  The sun came out and temperatures began to climb.  The trees suffered the weight of the heavy snowfall, and lots of icicles hung from various parts of RVs around the park.

Heavy snow wreaked havoc on the trees.

      Mid-morning Valerie noticed the electrical power was out.  We scrambled around and finally figured out the culprit -- the battery cut-off button near the entry door must have been accidentally bumped when bringing in the dogs at some point.  Shortly after 1 p.m. we checked above the slide-outs and decided after nearly 44 long and all too cozy hours, we could finally deploy our four slide-outs and have a lot more room to spread out.

Icicles everywhere!

      The car required some scraping, and we did suffer a small leak once the slides were put out, apparently from the heavy snow melting off the roof.  But, with temperatures reaching the mid 50's, it didn't take long for most of the snow to melt away.

Going, going......

       We took off for a dinner meeting with instructor, Asher Haun, and his wife, Sylvia.  Asher has done a great job teaching for the RV Driving School for several years in nearby Fort Collins.  We enjoyed great conversation and dinner at Outback Steakhouse in Longmont.  

      The plan was to stop in Boulder approximately ten miles away to exchange some items with Valerie's daughter.  We didn't get far out of Longmont until the 'Check Engine' light came on in the Subaru along with the flashing 'Cruise' light.  George stopped and checked the gas cap and added some oil, but the indicators persisted.  Looks like we will need to get the car in for service before we head out.

Downtown Denver

      Current temperature is at 46, so it doesn't look like we'll need to be concerned about water freezing.  We can rest comfortably tonight. 

After dinner with Sylvia and Asher Haun in Longmont