Monday, December 29, 2008

Being sick sucks

Well, here I sit, can't sleep due to clogged sinuses and continual coughing fits. Started getting a head cold last Tuesday evening. With everyone coming to our house for Christmas I just chose to suck it up and get through the holiday. By the time everyone left our place on Christmas Day I was going down hill fast and went to bed about 8:30pm. Not that it did much good. Have not been able to sleep for more than an hour or so at a time since then. Also, when I lay down my sinuses clog up so bad I can't breath. I've pumped so many medicines down me that my stomach started to revolt last night. Now I just got clogged sinus and a terrible sore throat.

I don't get sick very often and when I do I'm a terrible patient. I think Jo would just as soon go stay with her mom than have to look out for me. Also, during the few times I have been sick with a cold, flu, etc., I've never had them hang on this long. Guess my first thing to do after daylight hits is call the doctor's office and see if I can get in. Being sick really does suck, especially when you are a whiny-ass male who becomes an invalid.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

The gathering of the Stone clan finally arrived. Was up fairly early, at least for me, to help set up. We decided to have everyone eat in the living room instead of splitting folks up between the dining room and the kitchen. This arrangement worked out well.

We wound up with 13 for Christmas dinner. In addition to my parents all three of my older brothers and their wives were there. Of the next generation we only had my oldest son, Alex, and one of his cousins, Jason. All the rest of the "third" generation were at their respective in-laws houses for the day. As has become a tradition since the passing of Jo's dad, her mother also joined us.

We did have several other visitors drop by throughout the day. My Dad's sister came by early to see him and pick up some pictures she was going to take to their brother. Later in the day, after we had eaten, my youngest son, his "girlfriend" and their daughter, Cadence, came over. This way I got to see all three grand daughters over Christmas. We have not had the opportunity to spend as much time with Cadence, who will be two in February, as we have with the other two girls. She is always pretty shy at first but tends to warm up after a while

In the afternoon, about the time most of the family was leaving, Carrie and JJ came by. She wanted to make up for the previous evening and exchange gifts with us and her grandmother. JJ, short for John Jr., is also kind of shy so he and Cadence were fun to watch as they got to know each other.
Everyone seemed to have a good time this Christmas and we look forward to next year, although it will be one of the other brother's turn to have everyone over.

Christmas Eve

Joanne and I spent our first Christmas together 21 years ago. At the time we found it interesting that her family had traditionally celebrated on Christmas Eve while my family usually celebrated on Christmas Day. I took this as a good omen and proposed soon there after. We have now spent 20 married Christmases and this arrangement has worked out well.

This Christmas Eve was a bit quiet and was not what we had planned. Original plan was to have Jo's mom and her niece, Carrie, and her family join us for dinner. At about 5:30pm Carrie calls to say that when she got home from work her two year old, JJ, was ill and they would be unable to come. I hung up the phone about the time Jo was returning from picking up her mom. So we had a very pleasant evening with just the three of us. Dinner and an exchange of gifts. This is also when we open the gifts that had been sent by Jo's brother and sister-in-law from up in Duluth, MN.

Overall an enjoyable evening but less than we expected.

Monday, December 22, 2008

And Christmas Continues

We had our first of the three planned Christmas gatherings. Our middle grand daughter, Aurora, spent the afternoon with us while her mother was at work. In the evening the rest arrived and we had a great lasagna dinner. In addition to Aurora we had her mother, Maegan, our oldest grand daughter, Emma, and her mother Shelley and sister Lily. This is the proud grandpa with Aurora, who will be three in January, and Emma who turned three last July.

My oldest son, Alex, also joined us for dinner and a good visit. Now, we still have two more gatherings/meals at our house this week. It is great when we are able to spread Christmas out over the whole week. This really works well with the young people needing to be able to see all their extended families.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It appears Christmas is about to arrive. We've got the decorations up and the house ready. We'll have three family Christmas gatherings at our house this year. Tomorrow evening, Sunday, we will have two of my grand daughters and their families plus my oldest son for our annual get together with them. The evening of Christmas Eve, Wednesday, we'll have our traditional time with Joanne's family. With her brother and his family living in Minnesota and her sister not speaking to the rest of the family, it will just be Jo's mom and her niece, Carrie, and her family joining us again this year. On Christmas day the Stone clan will be gathering at our house. Since my parents moved to an assisted living center my brother's and I have elected to pass the Christmas setting around and this year is our turn.

Hopefully this finds all who may read this well and in the holiday spirit. Joanne and I want to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Last trip out in the coach for the year

We have been out with our local RV club, the Birds of a Feather, this weekend. This is our final meeting of the year and is our last time out in the coach. We actually are only about ten miles from the house at Twin Fountains RV Park here in Oklahoma City. We came over around noon this past Thursday and got set up in our site. My oldest son, Alex, works just a few blocks from here so he came over Thursday night and went to the Oklahoma County Line bar-b-que restaurant with us for dinner.

Friday morning started off with coffee and donuts with the club members in the clubroom provided by the RV park. Later we ran some errands and made a trip back to the house to pick up some things we forgot. In the afternoon we joined the other club members for a trip to the Oklahoma Firefighters Museum and Memorial here in Oklahoma City. This is a wonderful place that has been put together by retired firefighters from around the state. We have been meaning for some time to make a trip over there but had not gotten around to it. This was a fascinating tour and is highly recommended to anyone visiting the City. They have had to enlarge the museum a couple of times over the years as more fire companies donate their antique equipment. During the evening we all met at a Golden Corral restaurant for dinner. Before this we made a run back to the house to pick up some more stuff we forgot and then picked up Joanne's mother to join us.

Saturday stated with coffee and donuts again and then we pretty much relaxed for the day. In the late afternoon the group all got back together for our traditional end of the year/Thanksgiving dinner. After dinner we had a game of Dirty Santa as our gift exchange. Later we moved into the main part of the building, which had a nice fire place, and most of us watched the Robin Williams movie "RV". A few of the guys sat off to the side and watched the Oklahoma State/Colorado game on television. Another fun weekend with the Birds and a good way to close out the camping year.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another year, another birthday

Well, another year in my life has passed as I celebrated my birthday yesterday. I had received a coupon, via e-mail, for a free gourmet burger at Red Robin. We recently discovered the local Red Robin place when they sponsored an on-line game I've played. After our first visit I had signed up in their customer appreciation club. I have twice been e-mailed coupons for free food, once when I first registered with the site and then for my birthday.

Anyway, this birthday was one of the big ones. I can now claim full senior citizen status as I turned 62. Already signed up for Social Security and received the approval. Am scheduled to receive my first check in January. Not sure if I should feel any different as an official senior citizen since I've been getting the senior citizen discounts for some time. Most places offer the discounts starting at age 55 or 60 but with my gray beard very seldom does any one even ask if I'm eligible, they just give it to me.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Halloween was a little different this year in that we had more trick-or-treaters than usual. With so many churches and schools having activities on this night most of the kids go there instead of canvassing the neighborhoods. We also had visits from two of our grand daughters. First Emma, our oldest, came by with her half-sister, Lily. They are both a joy and we like having them around. Emma was dressed as a butterfly but had grown weary of her large wings by the time she arrived at our house.

A little later Aurora, our second oldest, came by with her cousin Tye. Aurora was dressed as a Pirate in a really neat costume. All the kids were pretty tired out by the time they arrived but were also hopped up on sugar from the candy they had been eating. They did settle down to relax in our entry way for a little bit. Our dog, Buddy Joe, really enjoys when the grand daughters come to visit but he prefers they come one at a time. When we get several together he kind of stands back. Also, we didn't get to see Cadence, the youngest of the three, tonight.
Our grand daughters are Emma Dawn, who turned three this past July; Aurora Marie, she will be three in January; and Cadence Rae, who will be two in February. As stated, they are a joy but also a handful for us older folks.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Home again and woo to our Cowboys

We returned home late this afternoon after driving the 380 miles from Greer's Ferry, Arkansas. The drive was a bit hard in that we hit a bad wind coming out of the north as soon as we hit the Oklahoma state line. Since we were heading due west the wind was hitting us broadside. In a high profile vehicle this is not a good situation to be in. Besides the drive home the visit to Arkansas was outstanding. In addition to having a good visit with our friends, Don & Vicki Leith, we mostly just relaxed and vegetated for four days. This was just what was needed.

Don spent some time working with the tile folks and he did get his tractor out to mow the yard. Vicki spends most of her time cleaning all the odds and ends, trinkets, cookbooks, souvenirs and other stuff that we collect during our lives. Almost everything is covered with insulation from the damage to the house when the tornado hit. She has to take each item and clean it with a damp wash cloth. With box after box of stuff she has a long job ahead of her. She did take time to visit and even brought her cat, Furby, out for some sun.
I did get a chance to watch the Oklahoma State Cowboys play the Texas Longhorns on TV. We could only pick up one local station over our standard antennae, as PBS station at that, so Don let me borrow his coach and his big screen TV with DirectTV. It was a great game but was disappointing when the Longhorns won 28 to 24. Of course, only losing to the number 1 team in the nation by four points is not so bad. Our Cowboys are still 7-1 for the season and 3-1 in the Big Twelve conference. Looking good for an outstanding year for them. GO POKES!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Greer's Ferry, Arkansas

We have been meaning for some time to come over to Arkansas and visit our friends, Don & Vicki Leith. They are another RV couple and have been living out of their 45' motor home for the past three to four years. Last year they bought land on Greer's Ferry Lake and started building their new home. If you have read my past blogs you know that on May 4th of this year, just days before completely moving in, the house was hit by a tornado and nearly destroyed. Since that time they have been in the process of rebuilding. They are getting close but are still taking it one day at a time. Being RVer's they have built the house with their friends in mind and have two RV pads with full hookups. Currently their coach is parked on the one beside their house. We got the one in front of the house.

We left home late Wednesday morning heading east. By late, I mean after 11:00 am. In a car, at highway speeds it would have been about a five hour drive. In the coach, driving an average of 62 mph, it took us a little longer. We had interstate highway from Oklahoma City to Conway, Arkansas and then a good four lane highway from there up to Clinton. At Clinton we had to turn east again and had 22 miles of very narrow and winding mountain roads. Also, by this time it was dark. When it gets dark in the mountains it really gets dark. We finally made it in about 8:00 pm, got parked and hooked up and settled in for our visit. At that point it was too late to go out to eat since any restaurant in the area closed before that time of night. Vicki came to the rescue to fix us a great spaghetti dinner that we had in front of the fireplace in the living room of the house. Although the house is far from being finished they are able to use the kitchen and fireplace. We did have to furnish our own chairs to sit on.

During the day there were workman in and out of the house all day as Don kept tabs on their work. A major part of the house was covered in ceramic tile and it has just been learned that the floor under all this tile is damp from the storm last spring. The past two days the workman have been pulling up and hauling out all that time so the floor can dry out, be treated for mold and then new tile put back down. This has become a major job. The house next door was also hit by the tornado. That house had been damaged by a fire and the folks had gotten it rebuilt not long before the tornado. Most of what was standing had to be knocked down and they are not sure when or if the rebuilding will begin. Here is a picture of the neighbors house.

Jo and I have spent yesterday and today just relaxing, visiting with Don & Vicki and trying to stay out of the way of the workman. Yesterday Vicki had put on a roast to cook and we had that with all the trimmings last night. Tonight Jo had brats, potato salad, and all the fixings for the brats. Don cooked the brats on his grill. The weather is very crisp here but very clear. This is a picture of the sunset over the lake taken from Don & Vicki's deck. Tomorrow will be more leisure time and then watch the Oklahoma State/Texas game on TV. We'll head west on Sunday morning to return home. Our visit with the Leith's has been great and hopefully we won't wait so long before we get back over here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A visit to the Oklahoma Aquarium

Two more coaches from our rally pulled out this morning. That just leaves two left, my brother and sister-in-law and us. We decided to take a trip over to Jenks, Oklahoma to the Oklahoma Aquarium. We have heard about this place since it was built a few years ago but have never made the trip up here to see it. It was well worth the time.

The aquarium is pretty good size and not only has displays of live fish and other water creatures from Oklahoma but has displays of creatures from other parts of the world. They had something called an alligator snapping turtle. This thing must weight several hundred pounds. It was huge. There was a smaller one swimming around in the tank that was about two feet long and it looked tiny beside the big on. Click on this picture to enlarge it. The picture really does not do it justice.

I really was not sure how well the pictures would come out since I was shooting through very thick glass without using the flash. I was pleasantly surprised when I downloaded them to the computer. On the left is a Clown Fish and the picture on the right is of a big tank of Jelly Fish.

The best part of the aquarium is the shark exhibit. They have a large, glass tunnel that you can walk through with the sharks swimming on both sides of you and over the top. I was surprised at the number of sharks they had in the tank. We really enjoyed the day at the aquarium but the fish were not the only thing there. On the other side of the buildings was a huge collection of fishing gear including rods, lures, and everything you would need to fish. Apparently this is the collection of a local guy who's family donated it all to the aquarium. To the right is Joanne with the World's Largest Fishing Lure. As with all the pictures on the blog just click on anyone of them for an enlarged view.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Monaco America First Ever Mini-Rally

We wrapped up the rally last night with a fantastic catered dinner at the casino. As a matter of fact it seemed like most of our time here was spent eating. I've been unable to report on the rally until now because the RV park here did not have WiFi. They finally got it up and working yesterday. I've been offline all week and, as anyone who knows me will attest, I've been having computer withdrawals.

Although the rally did not officially start until last Sunday evening I came up on Wednesday, October 1. Claremore is just outside of Tulsa and is just over 100 miles from Oklahoma City. Joanne stayed home until the next day so she could accompany her mother to a doctor's appointment. So, that Wednesday evening Buddy Joe and I batched. We did have two other coaches arrive here at Will Rogers Downs Racetrack and Casino on the 1st. One couple from Kansas and my brother and sister-in-law, who live a little ways south of Oklahoma City.

By Sunday afternoon we had a total of seventeen coaches here and ready to party. We did have two couples that had to cancel at the last minute and they were missed. We started off the festivities Sunday night with a big bar-b-que meal provided by the Oklahoma members. Nancy, my sister-in-law, provided the meat with the other four Oklahoma couples providing salad, desserts and drinks. This was a wonderful way to get things started. After dinner we showed the movie The Wild Hogs with Tim Allen.

Each morning we started the day with a coffee get together in our rally building located adjacent to the RV parking area. We also had a couple of seminars during the week and had several sessions of bingo and a washer toss game. Also worked into this was breakfast at the casino and an ice cream social on Monday afternoon. On Monday night we all gathered to watch the movie The Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. At the end someone asked who decided to show a "tear jerker" movie after watching a comedy the night before.

Most of our time during the days were spent visiting, playing games or working on crafts. The ladies did have a gathering in lieu of the Women's Tea that is normally held at our big rallies. We had catered dinners at the casino on Tuesday and Thursday and there were exceptionally good. On Tuesday morning it was decided to have a pot-luck breakfast and we had a big pot-luck dinner on Wednesday night along with a Halloween Party. Again, what this bunch does best is eat. During the Party we did get a visit from Presidential Candidate John McCain.

I spent most of the week keeping our records straight, collecting 2009 membership dues and applications and money for the Spring 2009 rally in Goshen, Indiana. Although I had served as Treasurer of a small RV club in the past I really did not realize how big a job this would become when I was asked to serve in this position with Monaco America. It is an honor to serve but does take a lot of time keeping all the monies straight. At a regular rally we also normally keep an information/registration desk up and running. Since there were only a few of us I took on that job also.

Most of our members unhooked and pulled out this morning. We are down to four coaches and two of them will leave tomorrow. We'll stay here until Sunday before heading home. While we are in the area we want to go over to the town of Jenks and visit the Oklahoma Aquarium. We have been pretty busy with the rally so have not done much sightseeing, although some of our members were able to work that in. We did get to check out the Blue Whale in the town of Catoosa on old Route 66. This has been an attraction for many years but I don't ever seem to have my camera with me when driving by it. This is one of the attractions on the website of odd and unusual attractions that are not in the guide books. We also had some fun at the antique car and car parts swap meet that was held here at the RV Park last weekend. There were many nice cars to look over that were here for sale. Although they were very nice I did resist the temptation to buy one.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again

Well, today's the day. I'm leaving around noon to head to the big city of Claremore, Oklahoma, for the First Ever Monaco America Mini-Rally. Joanne is helping her mom with some doctor's appointments through tomorrow and will join me tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime Buddy Joe and I will be batching tonight.

Actually we were originally scheduled to be in Lodi, California for a full blown Monaco America rally but the clubs board, of which I am a member by virtue of being the club Treasurer, decided to cancel that rally due to lack of applications. (To break even on a full blown rally we need to have a minimum of 100 coaches.) That left us without a fall rally to attend. Our club Wagon Master, the person responsible for putting the rallies together, decided we needed to do something so he set up a last minute mini-rally. We are not expecting near as many coaches as a full blown rally would draw but we do have people coming in from all parts of the country, including California and Florida. Should be a fun time for all.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Back on the road-At least for a short time

We are back out in our coach if only just for a few days. After sitting home since July 31 it was time to get moving. We left yesterday and headed south to Sulphur, Oklahoma. This is the weekend that our local RV club, the Birds of a Feather, have their monthly meet. The actual meetings are scheduled for Friday and Saturday but, like several of our members, we like to come in early. That is the benefit of being retired and not having set schedules.

We were the only ones to come in on Wednesday, which was kind of surprising. Two other coaches arrived this morning. Ten are scheduled for the get together. Joanne got up early this morning to go shopping. She said since we were this far south she wanted to go to Gainsville, Texas, just south of the Oklahoma state line, to the Outlet Mall. Her favorite store, Bonworths, is located in that Mall.

We'll be here until Sunday before returning home. After that we'll not be back out on the road until the first of October when we head to a Monaco America rally in Claremore, Oklahoma.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Northern Exposure--Day 60--Home

Our adventure came to an end today. After our evening in Mitchell, South Dakota, on Tuesday we headed south, spending Wednesday night at a small RV park on a lake just south of Salina, Kansas. Although that made Wednesday's drive rather long by our standards, about 425 miles, that put us relatively close to home.

Everything seemed fine at the house but the heat and humidity will take some getting used to. We spent the afternoon unloading the coach but finally got too hot and decided we'd finish tomorrow. The coach and car will also get a well needed bath since they are both covered with dust. After two months, 2800 miles and nine states it seemed time to return to Oklahoma to check out the house.

Now, it's time to start planning our next adventure.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Northern Exposure--Day 58

Our latest adventure has continued as we have moved on to another state. This morning we left Grand Forks and headed south to Mitchell, South Dakota. In laying out our route for our return to Oklahoma we are still seeking out places and things that one or the other of us have never seen. Although Joanne had been through Mitchell some years ago with her parents I had never been here to see the Corn Palace. The first Corn Palace was built in 1892. As the people became aware that a larger building was needed the original building was replaced in 1905. That second building was replaced in 1919 with the current structure. The building houses a theater stage, a basketball court and arena seating. Each year the Corn Palace is redecorated sporting a new theme. The decorative materials for the Corn Palace are all native corn, grasses and grains of South Dakota. The new theme is selected each year by the Corn Palace Committee. The exterior of the building is not the only part that is decorated. There are numerous murals inside. This building is used for live shows and the local schools play their home basketball games there.

In addition to touring the Corn Palace we also hit the many gift shops that have located in the area. Here Joanne stops to visit with Zeke outside Zack & Zeke's shop.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Northern Exposure--Day 57

Since the city of Grand Forks did not offer much in the way of sightseeing we decided to take a drive down Interstate 29 to Fargo, a distance of about 70 miles. We were headed to Bonanzaville USA, a park operated by the county historical society. They have acquired many historic buildings from around the area and moved them to a site adjacent to the county fair grounds. Although we have been to other similar parks this one was one of the best. They have done a great job of restoring these buildings and furnishing them with period pieces. To the right is St. John's Lutheran Church which was chartered in 1898. Another building they have is the original Cass County Courthouse. The interior has been completely restored. A good example of how they have acquired period equipment and furnishings is the interior of a dry goods store.

In addition to the old buildings there are very large collections of restored vehicles and farm equipment. One large building held well over 100 restored tractors and another held other restored farm equipment. One building held a large collection of restored, vintage cars and trucks. The picture is of a 1935, left hand drive Rolls Royce that came from the Lord Mayor of Manchester, England.

Following our tour of Bananzaville we stopped off to see the Fargo Walk of Fame. This was started by a local music store owner who started getting celebrities to put their hand and foot prints in concrete squares, similar to Graman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. He originally had these in the sidewalk outside of his music store but as the collection grew it was moved to a plaza outside the Fargo Visitor's Center. Pictured here are panels by two Oklahoma boys, Toby Keith and Conway Twitty.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Northern Exposure--Day 55

Our time in Duluth has come to an end and it is time to move on. The plan was to leave out around 9:00 AM and head west toward North Dakota but that did not happen. As has previously been mentioned, we were parked in a working boat yard, which was very fascinating to me. Yesterday, the owner mentioned that first thing Saturday morning they would be pulling one of the Vista boats out of the water for repairs. The Vista Fleet are the boats that are used for the harbor tours. The Vista Queen can hold about 40 passengers for a tour. Well, we just had to hang around long enough to watch them take her out of the water. Once they got her up and ashore they were able to work on one of her screws that had a bearing going bad.

Eventually, we did get on the road and headed west. Since we had been across most of the western part of the state on previous trips to Minnesota we did not plan to stop to see any of the sites, except for one. On our list from the website we looked for "The Big Fish" in Bena. This is adjacent to a supper club of the same name. The fish is actually a building that originally housed a hot dog stand. While we were stopped we visited with a couple of girls that were part of a group who were crossing the country, via bicycle, on US Highway 2, going from New Hampshire to Vancouver, Washington. These two were stopped at their "chase vehicle". In all there were twelve of them plus a guy driving a van with a trailer with all their personal gear.

Our last stop before leaving Minnesota was in East Grand Forks, right on the state line with North Dakota. In a tourist guide we saw that the Cabela's store had a large statue of two moose fighting was in front of the store. (Cabela's is a chain of huge sporting goods stores throughout the northern part of the country.) Since I had never been in a Cabela's we decided to check it out. On the back wall was the greatest display of trophy animals. We also saw a bar and grill, named The Blue Moose, nearby. We had to stop to take pictures of the blue moose on the lawn.

We finally crossed the Red River of the North and drove into North Dakota. We drove through Grand Forks and out west of town to the Grand Forks Air Force Base where we set up camp in the base campground. This is an old Cold War base that was mainly used as the support base for the many missile silos that were scattered over the Dakota's, Wyoming and Montana. This base now is home to an Air Force refueling squadron. We did attempt to do some sightseeing around Grand Forks but there was not really anything to see in this small, military town.