June 2010

June started off as a good month with plenty to do.  On June 3rd I had my hair done, nails and then we did dinner at a nice Italian Restaurant downtown Pittsburgh with Jeff and Lamar (Tim’s brothers).  Lamar treated us for a celebration for Tim’s birthday which I thought was very nice.  We all enjoyed our dinners which makes it even better.

June the 4th was Tim’s 67th Birthday and a long day of driving.  We left Freeport, Pa about 8 AM and headed for the Courtyard by Marriott at New York LaGuardia Airport.  We had dinner and sat in the bar for quite along time to celebrate.  Nice evening for both of us.  We drove to the airport on Saturday morning to meet our daughter & son-in-law and drove to Oceanside New York to check into the Hampton Inns.  At 2 PM we drove to St Anthony’s Church to see our nephew Steven marry Denielle in a beautiful military ceremony.  At 6:30 pm we boarded buses and drove to the Thatched Cottage in Centerport, Ny for a fablous reception.  They had all kinds of cocktails and food.  We then sat down to a beautiful dinner with 7 different choices.  The food was wonderful, the band was just great and met lots of nice people.  Wonderful time and so happy we got to share their special day.  The bride was stunning and the groom could not stop smiling.  So nice to see young people so happy and in love.  God bless ya on your marriage!

Sunday morning we drove Susan and Jerry back to the airport and picked up our oldest granddaughter Emily.  It was great seeing Sue, Jerry, Marie, Jerry and Emily.  We started our long ride back to Pa with Emily.  She is such a delightful girl – very talkative and so happy. 

While in Pennsylvania we took Emily to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium.  It cost us $12 for seniors and $11 for Emily.  Very nice zoo with over 4000 animals representing 475 species on 77 acres.  The zoo is a natural habitat committed to conserviving wildlife and their habitats.  We got to watch polar bears swimming, saw sand tiger sharks, amur tiger, snow leopard, komodo drago, dwarf crocodile, rhinoceros, african lions, giraffes, monkeys, gorillas, kodiak bears, painted dogs etc.  We all enjoyed our day touring the zoo and highly recommend it if you are in the area.

One day we took the Duquesne Incline up to Mt Washington in cable cars that have been used since 1877.  It gave you a great panoramic view of the city.  The incline is 800 ft long, 400 ft elevation, 30 degrees in grade and travels 6 miles per hour with 17 passengers.  Never saw anything like this before so we all enjoyed it.  While on the top we had a nice lunch sitting outside and enjoying the view.  Another great day.

We left Pennsylvania and headed to Bass Lake Fam Camp on Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.  While here we did grocery shopping and laundry but also got to tour the National Museum of the United States Air Force.  It is the worlds largest and oldest military aviation museum with over 300 aircraft and missiles.  We got to see B-2 Stealth Bomber, exhibits from Wright Brothers to stealth tchnology, rare aircraft, cold war gallery, research and development aircraft, hot air balloons, unmanned air vehicles and over 400 aircraft.  The best part was getting to see the Kennedy’s Air Force One by ourselves so we could take our time.  Emily just loved that – all in all it was a great stop.

After two days we departed Dayton and headed to Elkhorn Campground in Frankfort, Kentucky.  This was a pretty nice campground with full hookups, dump, showers, laundry, pool, playground, store, horeshores etc.  While here we got to go swimming and met some really nice people.  Emily made a few friends which pleased her especially in the pool and at night. 

While here we toured Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.  This state park has 1200 acres and has over 53 breeds of horses.  You are able to see them at play and at work.  We did the trolley tour, shows at Hall of Champions, another show with the Parade of Breeds which highlights the unique characterictics of selected breeds.  We toured the Big Barn and Emily got to pet the horse Emily.  It was not a very pretty day – we used the umbrella off and on all day.  We toured the gift shop and then did the American Saddlebred Museum.   While there they had a show judging horses which was quite interesting.  While in the area we took a ride to Frankfort which is the capitol of Kentucky.  We got to see the capitol building and the governor’s mansion.

Left around 10 am and headed to Louisville, Kentucky for a stay at Louisville South KOA located in Shepherdsville.  This was a nice campground plus they gave a discount for military.  While here Emily made another friend whom was also traveling with her grandparents.  They enjoyed playing in the pool and jumping on the jumping pillow. 

We toured the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory where they take you right on the factory floor and show you how the baseball bats are made for the big leaguers.  They give everyone free mini-bats and you learn so much about bats.  In the front of the museum/factory they have a 120 ft 68,000 lbs bat which made us look like ants.  We saw a film about the company and then toured the paintings of the Negro Leagues done by artist Kadir Nelson.  The paintings were just amazing – oil paints on canvas and all the features of a person in portion to how we are.  Just amazing – if you ever get the chance to tour these painting take the time to enjoy.

Our favorite tour was of Kentucky Derby Museum located on Central Avenue.  They have two floors of exhibits celebrating Derby themes such as celebritis, the infield, fashion, stories of champion horses, trainers, jockeys, owners and a wonderful look into horse racing.  We saw the movie “The Greatest Race” which is a 360 movie and very imformative.  We had a nice lunch in the cafe with yummy food.  We paid extra for tours but it was well worth the money.  We got to walk thru the grandstands, toured the backside where they hold the horses, saw where the help lived, saw the jockeys locker room and all their gear.  Emily even got to get on the scale they use to weigh the jockey before a race – being only 60 lbs she was happy to jump on.  We saw the area the jockeys relax in, Millionaires’ row, press box, clubhouse which was so interesting.  I have always loved horse racing and wished I had done this years ago.  Churchill Downs was established in 1874 and is America’s most historic thoroughbred racetrack.  It is one mile oval and covers over 166 acres.  The actual twin Edwardian spires were built in 1895 and our a national historic landmark.  The Kentucky Derby is run on the first Saturday of May and is the most popular race in America.  It surprised me that in 2009 they started night racing for the first time.  All in all it was a wonderful day despite the heat.  Highly recommend doing the tours.

We visited the Falls of the Ohio which is a state park located in Clarksville, Indiana on the banks of the Ohio River.  The main feature of the park are the fossil beds.  We enjoyed walking around this area and then went for a pizza on the Ohio River.  Great day was had by all.

Our next stop was the KOA Campground near St Louis, Missouri.  Not to impressed with this KOA – much to expensive with very little in return.  At this stop Emily did not even want to swim in the pool as it was very tiny – she enjoyed the jumping pillow though and we were happy we had lots to do in the area.

Our first stop was Grants Farm which is owned by the Busch family whom owns the Anheuser-Busch Inc.  This estate was once owned by President Ulysses S Grant.  The estate covers over 281 acres and is home to over 1000 animals representing more than 100 different species from 6 continents.  We saw the beautiful Clydesdale Horses, President Grant’s log cabin, collection of antique carriages in the beautiful Bauernhof which is a 19th century farmstead.  While here you can get 2 glasses of beer for free.  This land was purchased by August Busch Sr in 1903 and opened to the public in 1954.  The only charge is $11 to park – and then food and souveniors – otherwise everything is free. 

Across the street from Grants Farm is the Ulysses S Grant National Historic Site called White Haven.  This 10 acre site is free and you get to see a film on the life of the Grant family and the home.   All in all it was a great day.

St Louis Zoo is another great value – paid $11 to park and entrance to the zoo is free.  St Louis definetly is a great place to tour with so much being free.  The zoo has over 18,000 animals with all kinds of shows and talks.  The temp was quite hot the day we went and after about 3 hours I started to feel horrid so we had to leave.  This is one of the best zoos in the country and highly recommend it to everyone. 

St Louis is best known for the Gateway Arch so we paid a visit to this unusual place.  The arch is 630 ft and is our nations tallest man-made monument.  We took the tram ride to the top and were able to see all over St Louis.  We visited the Museum of Westward Expansion which explores the American Indians and the 19th century pioneers who shaped the west.  While here Emily work on a Jr Ranger badge so you really get to see things thru a young persons eyes.

We also did the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower which is 150 feet above the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.  A confluence is the place of meeting or flowing together f two or more rivers.  We were not impressed after going to the top of the arch.  We also visited the Lewis and Clark Corp of Engineers park which had a few interesting tipits.  This area is filled with Lewis and Clark as this is where the journey began.  Another wonderful day.

On Sunday, Father’s Day, we took Emily to  the Lambert-St Louis Airport for her trip back to Charlotte to join her family.  When we got to the airport she really wanted a donut – impossible to find.  We saw the USO and went in and guess what we found.  Donuts and juice for Emily.  Only one of us was allowed to accompy her to the gate so I went down with her.  She was very calm and only cried when she said goodbye to me.  I had tears in my eyes also – we enjoyed having her so.  She is a sweet young lady whom we are very proud of,.  Course I feel that way about all my children and grandchildren.  God has surely blessed us.

Monday morning Tim and I were up early and began our trip westward.  We stopped for the night at Sundowner West KOA in Salina, Ks for the night.  We were very tired as we drove quite far so we were in bed really early that evening.  One thing I noticed driving across this part of Kansas was the rolling hills.  I remember before the areas we drove in were so flat that it was a pleasant surprise.

On Tuesday we left again quite early for a drive into Colorado. Around 2:30 our tire blew on the camper.  Thank goodness for Coachnet as we called them and within 20 minutes someone was changing our tire.  Great investment!  The state police stopped to make sure we were okay.  Colorado is just a beautiful state with so much to see.

We stopped in Strasburg, Colorado and got 3 new tires for the camper and then spent the night at the Denver East KOA.  What a nice campground this was, they even had an ice cream palor so of course we had to get an ice cream.  We took a nice walk all around the campground and then early to bed so we could rise early again tommorow.

This morning we woke early and started our drive around Denver – looks like a really neat cIty that we will visit someday in the future.  We always thought Denver was in the mountains but it sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains.  I read that it is against the law to build any building that would block the 120-mile long view of the mountains from the State Capitol.  Pretty cool.  We will definitly be back to this area to enjoy all that Denver offers.We climbed and climbed crossing the continental divide.  Did you know that the divide is the separation of watersheds?  If a raindrop falls east of the divide it will flow through rivers to the Gulf of Mexico.  If a raindrop falls west of the divide it will make its way to the Colorado River and flow into the Pacific Ocean.  The ride was just beautiful and saw all the towns famous for sking.  We both experienced altitude sickness feeling very tired which was due to the fact reaching high elevations too quickly.  I guess I should of read about this before we started – again today learned alot of new information.  We stopped for the night at Shady Acres Rv Park in Green River, Utah.  It was an okay park for just an overnight stop.  We have everything we need in our camper so only really need to hook into power and water which makes us happy. 

The next morning we started out and saw a sign that said next gas station 100 miles west.  For the next 100 miles we saw nothing but land and more land.  It was a beautiful drive with so many different formations of rock with different colors mixed in.  We stopped for the night at Ely KOA.  Another long day but enjoyed this amazing country.

On the 25th I received a phone call from my sister Sharon with very sad news.  My nephew Richie had died the night before.  He was only 31 years old and my sister Ann and husband are devasted.  My heart goes out to them – the worst thing any parent has to go thru.  Please say a prayer for the family that God will give them strength to find peace with this horrid tragedy.

Our ride today was across Nevada on Hwy 50 which is called the lonelist road in America by Life Magazine.  There are no attractions or points of interest along the 287 miles stretch of road.  It retraces the route of the Pony Express.  The thing that surprised me was we saw no animals at all on this ride.  Our stop was at Fallon Naval Air Station in Fallon, Nevada.  This is the only facility in the Navy where an entire carrier air wing can train together in the strike tactics.  We stayed here 3 nights for some down time but felt like we were breathing dirt.  Really odd experience.  While on base we did hit the exchange and one night went to the movies.  The movie was “MacGruber” and it was just horrid.  We left  after 10 minutes and were just happy that it was free.  The acting was alful and the language was horrid.

Monday morning June 28th we left Fallon and headed towards Reno, Nevada and then into California.  This  is such a beautiful country with so much to see, so many different terrains, trees, flowers, bushes, lakes, oceans, towns, cities etc.  We are surely enjoying our ride thru the west. 

We pulled into Sharpe Army Depot in French Camp California where we will visit with our west coast family.  Stay tuned for July.