"Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It's a journey of discovery - there are moments on mountaintops and moments in deep valleys of despair."
- Rick Warren
Good morning everyone,
Well, we are in the great Southwest! What absolutely gorgeous country this is. This fine country we are blessed to live in (despite what I am sure is a very high frustration level with the current state of our politics) has some seriously breathtaking scenery. Since we have had the privilege of traveling through 80% of this country, we can attest to the richness of our mountains, oceans, deserts, great plains, palm trees, cactus and the like. Heck, in just the last two months we have experienced just about all of it.
Just for grins, get out a map and see where our 6,000 miles of travel have taken us since we left Port Charlotte on August 16. Here's the route (mostly intentional but some unplanned):
Port Charlotte, FL - to St. Mary's, Georgia - to Asheville, NC - to Covington, KY - to Topeka, IN - to Detroit, MI - back to Topeka, IN - to Oregon, OH - to Detroit, MI - to Columbus, OH - to Topeka, IN - to Goshen, IN - back to Oregon, OH - to Detroit, MI - to Goshen, IN - to Davenport, IA - through Des Moines, IA to Kansas City, KS - through Kansas to Colorado Springs, CO - down I-25 through Albuquerque, NM to Casa Blanca, NM.
What do you think? Our last journey will be from Casa Blanca, NM to El Mirage, AZ where we will be until April 15. Whew!!! Both the truck and the trailer will be happy to sit still for a while, I am sure.
Ok, so let me update you on what we've done since you least heard from us. As mentioned above, we headed south to Kansas City. What a nice town!!! Lots to do. We only stayed for two days so we couldn't do everything, but we took in a couple of really interesting museums.
First, we visited the World War I Museum which was absolutely awesome. The quality of this museum would rival anything you'd see in Washington D.C. We gained so much knowledge about that war and the state of politics in the world at that time and were especially fascinated to learn that the war went from the shooting of the Arch Duke Ferdinand into a world war in one week's time. We also learned that the countries involved in this war were led by individuals who were related in some way (all tied to Queen Victoria of England). Can you imagine????? One of the most interesting things that we learned was the origin of the red poppies that are handed out on Memorial Day and Veterans Day as a fundraiser for disabled vets. The story is that the very first battle of this war was fought in Flanders, Belgium in a field where poppies grow every year. This field is the subject of a poem written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae who fought in the Canadian army in this conflict. The poem is quite poignant and is as follows:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
In addition to the great displays and short films they presented, there is an opportunity to climb to the top of the 217-foot tower that serves as the landmark for this museum. It was a rainy, overcast morning so we couldn't get quite the vista we would have otherwise, but the view from up top was impressive nonetheless.
We visited two other museums while in town. The first was a car museum which housed some cool classic cars. There was nothing really remarkable about this museum but Steve and I like to amble passed old, restored vehicles any chance that we get. The last place we visited was the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence, MO (you will recall that Kansas City lies on the border of Missouri and Kansas so you get a two-for-one when you visit this city). Independence acted as the launch point for settlers headed to points west back in the 1800s. Three trails headed out from this point: The Santa Fe Trail, the California Trail, and the Oregon Trail. Lewis & Clark also used this city as the location from which to begin their Corps of Discovery Expedition which took them to the Pacific Ocean via the rivers of the west. As a side note, I recommend a book called "Undaunted Courage" if you are interested in learning more about Lewis & Clark and their contribution to our country's history.
Kansas City is really a cool town and we would have loved to have had the time to explore it further. Hopefully we will pass through this way again in the future. Sadly, however, we left Kansas City and headed west to Colorado Springs. I say "sadly" because, let me tell you, the journey across Kansas is brutal. It's miles and miles of miles and miles. The scenery really doesn't change much and there's a whole lotta nuttin to see. I hope that I am not offending any Kansians out there but hey, it's true. The speed limit on I-70 is 75 mph, but when you are pulling 16,000 pounds of trailer, high speeds are not an option. To pass the time, Steve and I would play a game trying to guess how far away some landmark ahead on the highway would be from where we were. Yes, it was that sad!!!
Anyway, we arrived in Colorado and spent 9 days with our youngest son, Steve Jr., our daughter-in-law, Aime and our newest grandchild - - TYTUS! What a gorgeous little boy he is. We had a great time with them and enjoyed every minute of it. We visited some cool places in Colorado Springs, where I would highly recommend you visit for a summer vacation. There is a TON of stuff to do in this town. Lots of history museums and outdoor activities for every member of the family to enjoy. For my Florida friends, flights from Orlando are $69 on Frontier Airlines.
One of the main things that everyone does when they visit Colorado Springs is to travel to the top of Pikes Peak. This mountain is 14,115 feet tall and will literally take your breath away. The air is quite thin up there but the view is amazing. Driving up, however, is not for the faint of heart. The road is narrow and for the most part offers no shoulder, so riding up in the BAT (Steve's Big A_ _ Truck) was an adventure that I don't care to recreate - EVER (insert swear words here). What's amazing to the two of us is that there is a road race up this mountain every year. We visited the Penrose Heritage Museum to learn about this incredible feat. The drivers who race up this mountain do so at speeds over 100 mph. Let me tell you, this is amazing. There are parts of the road going up Pikes Peak where the grade is so steep, you cannot see the end of the road. All you see is sky (no kidding). Luckily, if you are too nervous to make the drive, there is a cog railway that will take you to the top. Once there, however, don't move too quickly. You will get light-headed and most likely nauseous. Thankfully, there are EMTs present to give you some oxygen if you feel like you will pass out. Despite all the downsides of the journey, however, I highly recommend making the trek to the top.
We also hiked through Garden of the Gods, visited a ghost town, learned about the history of Colorado Springs and had yet another mechanical breakdown. Mostly, we just enjoyed time with our family. Sadly, the only pictures that survived the glitch on Steve's transfer from phone to computer were the pics he took at the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel. This is one seriously-uniquely designed building and quite beautiful on the inside. It houses many different chapels - - Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Buddhist. Services are conducted for each of these religions every week. Check out the pictures Steve took while we visited.
What a nice time we had with this part of our family. Little Tytus is gorgeous (no bias, trust me) and Stevie and Aime have a lovely home. We will be back in April for another visit when Steve and I head north to conquer the Pacific Northwest in 2017. Can't wait to see how much our little guy has changed!
Well, that's it for now. Our next update will cover New Mexico and our arrival into Arizona. Take care guys and know that Steve and I miss you more than you can know.