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Monday, June 30, 2014

Amana Colonies / Malcom, Iowa

When we were stationed in Nebraska I had wanted to make a day trip to the Amana just never happened, so when our route had us going right by here I was determined we would stop in. I would have also enjoyed going to Kalona's Amish community. Next time, next much to do so little time. Funny I would say this since all we have is time. However, we are heading to a family reunion so we are working on a bit of a restricted time frame!

It was a little more touristy then I had thought it would be but we still had an enjoyable time exploring the area and making the "colony loop". There is a lot of history in this little community. Along with that history was some great treat shops, there were bakeries, ice cream shops, candy shops, popcorn shops, fudge shops, well, you get the picture, lots of places to make your jeans feel tighter, which has been a BIG issue lately in my this was NOT good when we got some take homes and eat right nows...

 We shared a "crispy" from the bakery!

Who can pass up fresh bread from the bakery? Well, obviously NOT us...and it was good too! We had it with our pasta the night we bought it and as pan toast the next morning. Oh my, it was so tasty!

As we made our way on across 1-80 we passed Malcom, Iowa. Of course we instantly made a detour to at least check it out. VERY small little roadside town. But we stopped! How could we not with a name like Malcom!

Next stop, O M A H A !!!! So excited to see our girl!!! WooHOO!

Friday, June 27, 2014


Two pretty full days and we barely scratched the surface.

Day one was cool and cloudy which was nice, day two sunny and warmer which was nice!

Biking was THE way to go!

 Well, it was on the LakeShore trail. Rush hour traffic was a bit hairy!

We biked the Lake Shore Trail from the Navy Pier to Wrigley Field. Funny thing is the sun was shining at Wrigley and they were getting ready for a game! It was a great ride, I am so glad we had the bikes.

 Go Cubbies!

Then on to the Willis Tower which is more famously known by the name Sears Tower is what brought us back the second day. Our first trip in we were supposed to go up in the tower, which is the tallest building in the Western hemisphere at 1450 feet...but it was cloudy and foggy. We kept checking back in hoping it would clear but it did not. Second trip in and it was pretty nice out so we headed straight for the tower. Well, after searching out parking. Parking is not good in this town. It's expensive and hard to find and then when you do find it they may be full or not take your type vehicle (especially when you have bikes on the back and a surfboard/SUP on the top)

Those clouds were the view!

Since we struck out with getting into the SkyDeck at Willis Tower went ahead and enjoyed some "pie" as they call it here. Deep dish and layered. It was tasty, the crust was not like any other pizza crust I have ever had. It was more like a bakery crust. I think I prefer what I know as "normal" pizza crust and thin and crispy works great for me! My half had artichoke and BACON, MiRV had beef and tomatoes on his half.

There was a Sprinkles stop in there too! So exciting that we finally got to visit them on a "special" day...BOGO! Lemon blueberry was a new flavor for me and it did NOT disappoint! MiRV stuck with chocolate! You know that meant we walked away with a strawberry and a coconut for breakfast tomorrow! I biked a long way today so that should even out right?

 This was a really cool building!

Day two we went straight to the Willis Tower!

Clear skies and very little wait time and we were up, 1653 feet up. The elevator ride was WILD; we traveled 1800 feet per second. It WAS an amazing view and we got a great look at the layout of the city and beyond. They say you can see Indiana and Michigan as well as Wisconsin from the deck. It was neat!

I was sad to find that Buckingham fountain was surrounded by barricades due to the fact there was an international triathlon going on the next day, in fact there were lots of extra fencing and road blockage due to this upcoming event.

The bean or cloud gate was on our list so we found that, it was something and evidently lots of other folks had it on their list cause it was packed!

Since we saw Wrigley we rounded it out by seeing Soldier Field. I didn't know it was "dedicated to the men and women of the Armed Forces" Coolio, huh!

MiRV at Soldier Field

The traffic in Chicago is steady and often times heavy, I am glad I don't have to navigate that everyday as it was a bit unnerving at times. Our two trips in we timed in the less congested time and going back to the RV we did the same and one evening took the alternate scenic route on Lake Shore and saw amazing homes on Lake Michigan and we also found a lighthouse!

The BONUS on our drive NOT on the interstate back to the RV was happening by a lighthouse!

Grosse Point Light Station

And the Bahi temple we also just happened by it as well!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wisconsin DayTrip

We decided to take a break from the big city life of Chicago and head just over the border while we were in Illinois. Destination Sheboygen with stops in Milwaukee and Pleasant Prairie.

First stop was Pleasant Prairie to see the Jelly Belly distribution center. The actual factory is not open for tours but we did pass it on our way (it's actually in Illinois). There is a factory that you can tour in California so we might do that when we make it out west! We arrived and hatted up for our video tour and tram ride...kind of cheesy but very informative and a fun quick stop. We also scored free samples and great "belly flops" for taking home with us at a cheap price.Belly flops are the imperfect jelly belly candies.

 EVERYONE had to wear a hat for the tour!

On towards the north...we passed through Milwaukee to make our intended destination Sheboygan. We will stop in Milwaukee on our way back through. We were in search of surf.

 We're here!!!!

 And we have the boards...

Unfortunately, there we have NO surf to be had. So very disappointing for MiRV he had so wanted to surf Lake Michigan just as they do in Step into the Liquid one of his favorite surf movies. And just as a side note, the water temperature was balmy 46*. That's pretty chilly cold folks! No matter, he says if there would have been surf he was going in! The town was very quaint and we enjoyed lunch at McDonald's while there. Amazingly, I had the best made quarter pounder with cheese ever. The cheese was actually ON the burger the way it should be, not half on the burger and half on the cardboard, ON the burger, so was the ketchup. It was awesome and the fries were super fresh and hot. It was a clean store too and they were friendly, I was totally impressed! I even sent a note to the owner as I was really pleased with all aspects of the store!And if you haven't been to MickeyDs lately their receipts have BOGO offers on them which make lunch out under $8.00 for us which is a real deal in my book cause they DO have THE best fries!

Before we left the area did take a walk on the lake. Then we started to make our way back to Milwaukee cause there was a Camping World to stop at along with going to the Harley Museum.

Milwaukee is home to Harley Davidson. Harley Davidson is a very recognizable brand known for their bright orange and black colors and bikes that have a very recognizable sound IMO. The museum was fascinating even if you aren't really into motorcycles, which as it happens I am on the fence about. And even if I weren't on the fence I am not sure this would be the brand for me but one cannot deny that they are a leader in the industry and their story is pretty neat!

Wearing orange today you'd think MiRV was a super fan...nah, it was just coincidence!
The number ONE that started it all for Harley Davidson!

 Gas tanks and engines...

It was really fun to wander through the exhibits and see how much the motor bike world has changed. To see how two wheel bikes morphed into two and sometimes three wheeled motorcycles. A fun look at the unique history of this company as well as the motorized two wheeler.

The also had hands on interactive things they had were fun to do too. I found the engine I liked best...a panam I think it what it was called. It seemed a little quieter and smoother then the traditional loud and rumbly ones. It was also the engine predominately used during my birth year, so what's not to like?

After a CHEAP and I do mean cheap dinner at one of the local Mexican restaurants we headed back south. I really enjoyed my pork enchilada's with great rice and beans for $5. The beans were unlike any I have had before, so very flavorful and thicker but still a good consistency, the rice was tasty as well and not orangy in color, it was a brownish color and not sticky. MiRV had something pork too and he said it was fantastic, it also came with rice and beans for $5! We were stuffed as we made our way back to the RV. Another pleasant day out and about discovering America.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wednesday Words - Fodor

You don't have to be rich to travel well.
Eugene Fodor

We are living proof of this.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Go Navy!

We are at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center! It's the only base that does Navy basic training. There were recruits EVERYWHERE. It's a beauty of a base. Love the clock tower and the parade ground is gorgeous.

We are also RIGHT on Lake Michigan. The view in amazing. The campground seems quiet. It's a basic rustic camp (electric only/no bath house) but again the view is amazing!We will be calling this home for a few days before making our way to I-80 and OMAHA!

Panoramic of our view!


Monday, June 23, 2014

Out and About in Indiana!

It was another overnight stop at Camp Wally. Took a bit to find the sweet spot (level) but we did. This is a rural area but we had a plan and places to go so the locale was right for us! 

We set out on a dreary somewhat rainy morning for the RV Hall of Fame...seems to be a theme developing here in our stops! We arrived just as they opened and headed inside after being granted a much welcome military discount!!! After only a few minutes a gentleman approached us to speak with him about RVing and our visit. MiRV agreed and within a few minutes they were rolling tape. Since we were leaving the area we did not see the piece when it aired. However, a quick google search a few days later let me easily find the piece online! It's here! I was supportive by standing beside him at their request! They only needed about 10 seconds worth and I think they got nearly 20 but they used just a snippet!

Anywho, back to the main attraction, the RV museum, some really, really OLD RVs! We've come a long way for sure. However, the same premise is still there, being able to live self contained. It's amazing to see how much has and has not changed. Loved some of the really old ones, they are classic. 

All and all a neat few hours. The building is really nice and I hope they do well with getting themselves out of all that debt they are. What were they thinking when they built it is what I would like to know, but at least they are trying to turn it around and coming up with some good ideas to utilize the space.

The other adventure for the day was touring RV manufacturing factories. I know it's a little geeky but we thought it would be educational for us! So off to Newmar we went. This is a top of the line RV. One we will probably never own unless we found a stellar deal on a used model and then that is still questionable since these things are HUGE and I am advocating smaller. Nonetheless, it was a fun tour. This particular company employs mostly Amish from the local community. It was something to see them at work on the factory floor but an even better site was the hundred or so bikes parked around the facility as that is how they get to work.

Next RV factory tour was Thor. If we ever bought new this company makes the model that is very near the top of my list. However, the frugal girl in me would find it extremely difficult to put out that kind of cash so it's not very likely we will own one new. The tour was very different, the workers had already left for the day, the only employs there were the make ready crew who were working to clean up the last three that came off the production line. 

Two VERY different companies, very different in many ways, from insulation to wiring, to work environment. Eye opening for sure and as I said educational for sure. As we left the area which was highly concentrated with Amish we noticed quilt wall murals and quilt gardens that was our BONUS for the day! The gardens were a lovely site. My favorite was the schoolhouse, partly because they had a viewing platform to really be able to see the artistry.

 Didn't quite get the whole "square" in the picture...

 Barn quilt!
 The School House - my favorite!!

Aren't the neat? I loved them. It was fun to find them. Love the idea. And even though it was VERY, very, VERY tempting we did NOT stop in at the local bakery or ice cream parlor that touted home made ice cream on the sign for treats. It was not easy but we drove on by.  


Oh, and it's off to Chicago tomorrow!!!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Niagara Falls

What can I say...not exactly what I was here's what I can say.

Parking – unbelievable
American View – ehhhh
Lights on the falls at night – neat!
Canadian View – SPECTACULAR
Number of tourist – UNBELIEVABLE
Paying .50 to re-enter the U.S.A – surprising
Prices for food on the Canadian side – HIGH

We arrived in the park and I was so glad we did NOT drive the RV, it is crazy filled with people roaming around every where and no one staying in the crosswalks. Hundreds of cars vying for very little state park parking spots. Then add in the huge tour buses trying to navigate the streets to drop off and pick up tourist, it was just really not a place to be in an RV. Since the park parking was full we found a private parking garage and popped up $10 to get a spot. All was well until we “bump” the top of the garage, Yes, we have the surf board and SUP on top and even though we made it under the entry bar that height did not apply to the entire garage. Just another great memory as we pull over in an “open” area to swap it around and cinch in down a bit tighter and make our way to a spot. Ahhhh the joys of traveling with stuff!

We made our way to the falls and really couldn’t see much so we headed to Canada and really saw the falls. It was definitely spectacular and amazing and unreal to think of the amount of water you are watching. It’s not like at an amusement park, they are not recycling the water to make this happen, this is water flowing in an amazing way. Another of God’s amazing creations we are privileged to be able to enjoy up close and personal!

The bridge we crossed on foot to get into ONTARIO, Canada! That's another province for us bytheway and I was cheesy and ask for a passport stamp as we entered! She didn't want to but she did. AND make sure to have 50 cents in American money to cross back over to the USA! That's your free tip for the day!!!

Canadian side...

 My MiRV!!


Canada definitely has the view...and BONUS-double rainbow. Nearly every time you looked at the falls throughout the afternoon there were rainbows on and off. Once in a while there were double rainbows, it was pretty amazing! Very beautiful and powerful to see.

We decided to stay on the Canadian side to see the falls after dark. They light the falls, who knew? It’s a view to be seen. The clear lights make them even more brilliant. Then they sequence through red, blue, purple, yellow and maybe a few other colors and it’s really neat to see.

Oh, and finally I see a moose…
As we left to re-enter the USA I had an inkling of dread in light of our other recent border crossing adventures! However, it was a piece of cake and other then the surprise of needing .50 cents it was smooth sailing!

Leaving the area was again a traffic challenge (think wrong road, toll bridge, long way around to get where we were going!) so I was glad when we finally made our way back to our spot at Wal-Mart in Batavia which was a great quiet, level spot!


Friday, June 20, 2014

Hall of Fame x2

As we left Massachusetts, MiRV sees a sign for the Basketball Hall of Fame…I know right away we are getting off. I am googling as fast as I can to make sure they can accommodate us. Looks like it’s a go for taking in this venue in Springfield, MA.

We make our way off the interstate, find a closed ramp, re negotiate, end up on the wrong end of the parking lot, visit with security where we are re-directed to park in the “longer vehicle” area which is far from RV friendly. Think narrow one way tree lined street…yeah…but we park as close to the curb as we can without scratching the rig and head in.

FREE for military, yep, I like it already.

It was neat to see though had it not been pretty much on our route it would not be a destination stop for me AND I like basketball!

 I'm thinking a job in the NBA will not work out...

The hand dryers in the bathroom were kind of cool!!!

Next stop Baseball Hall of Fame Cooperstown, NY!

We park the rig at Wal-Mart in Herkimer, then make our way to Cooperstown. It’s a winding country road and I am again glad we left the rig and ventured off in the CRV. The drive was scenic and along a lake, very rural too but not my type of RV driving! 

Upon arrival it’s obvious the entire town supports the BBHoF, it’s a theme throughout and pretty neat. I would make this a destination if you are a baseball fan at all. The venue is very well done and extremely historic. I enjoyed it very much. Baseball is definitely a part of our American history.

Batter up!


 Go Red Birds!!!!

Did I mention FREE for military? Yep, again! Thank you for honoring not only the active duty but also retirees and dependents with your complimentary admission BBHoF! We enjoyed our visit with you!!!

 There were some outdoor sculptures that were neat to see, too!

BONUS: There was a lighthouse down by the lake...

And they had their own "field of dreams"


Awesome day of hall of faming! 
Good night! It's been a long day and so far Campground Wally isn't the quietest...