We haven’t gone anywhere since March of 2020 except for the grocery store or doctors appointments. Sure we live in a beautiful spot with a view of the lake, but to say I have cabin fever is an understatement! We haven’t joined in any of the resort activities or done much of anything, UNTIL NOW! Two COVID shots and two weeks plus later, finally a venture out into the real world!
Punta Gorda is a small town, but I heard about a car show downtown. Not knowing what to expect, I visited on a beautiful sunny Saturday. To my surprise there must have been fifty to sixty cars and a great variety on display. From the expected Mustangs, Corvettes, TriChevys, some Street Rods, T-Birds, a few Exotics, there were a few surprises like a Pacer Wagon, and my personal favorite brand Studebaker.
I love to go to car shows to meet the owners, learn about the car’s history and hopefully see something I never saw before. Today was no exception! I saw for the first time a BMW i8. This hyper-futuristic sports car, with butterfly doors, was only built for six years with a total of 20,000 units. It is both battery and gas powered. An electric motor drives the front wheels and a 1.5 liter inline three cylinder engine powers the rear wheels. WHY DIDN’T I TAKE A PICTURE?
For the second Saturday in a row, we ventured out again. (yeah!) This time to the Punta Gorda’s Downtown Farmer’s Market. According to their website: “Award Winning! Voted the best small market in Florida and the 15th in the USA, we have a large number of vendors offering fruits and vegetables, dried fruits and nuts, Italian bakery, fresh homemade pasta, kitchenware, cupcakes, beef and fresh seafood, fresh citrus, jewelry, candles and soaps, dip mixes, Florida arts and crafts, cheese, French bakery, baguettes and olives, homemade pies, orchids, organic produce, personalized pens, kettle corn, coffee beans and drinks, native and exotic plants, and live music from 8 am – 1 pm.”
While we were downtown we visited Fisherman’s Village, a waterfront shopping, entertainment, and resort complex located alongside Charlotte Harbor. There are over 30 shops and restaurants as well as a resort with 47 timeshare villas and a full service marina.
Now that COVID restrictions are lifting, and I have received both shots, I was finally able to head down to Naples to the Revs Institute before we leave Southwest Florida. They are allowing visitors again, with mask and temperature checks, and I am OK with that! To quote their website: “Revs Institute is more than a car museum – its a place to see society through a different lens. It is an invitation into a working educational institution dedicated to the study, preservation, conservation, and restoration of historically significant automobiles.” For more information check them out at http://www.RevsInstitute.org
There are one hundred and thirteen automobiles on display plus a complete repair shop. The museum is dimly lit so they can put spotlights on the cars, so my pictures aren’t up to my standard, but. . . Here are a few of my favorites: 1958 Porsche Carrera GT Speedster; 1934 Chrysler Airflow CV-8; 1937 Delahaye Type 135 MS Special Roadster; 1938 Maserati 8 CTF Grand Prix; Google’s WAYMO self driving car; my personal favorite, the STUNNING 1962 Ferrari Superamerica Coupe which was the personal car of Enzo Ferrari. (and it’s not red)
We’ve been parked since November of 2019 hoping to replace our Summer 2020 cancelled trip. Since it appeared it would be safe to travel again this summer, we started (re)booking the new trip in October in the most popular destinations and finished making the reservations in March. This is quite possibly the last trip we will make in our coach. (see blog entry GOAT or BLT for details) As such, we are very particular when choosing an RV Resort. It has to be within 300 miles of the last stop, have great reviews and offer more than a place to park like an ocean view, be lakeside, have a patio site, etc.
Here is a post card not FROM the road but OF the road as planned in March. We leave in mid June, so check back often to see the actual photos of each stop as we travel the USA! I tried to make the dots interactive so when you click on a dot it tells you where it is, but Mr. Flip Phone failed. So here it is in rotary dial format: Flagler Beach, FL; Hardeeville, SC; Longs, SC; Suffolk, VA; Newark, MD; Galloway, NJ; Elizabethtown, PA; New Stanton, PA; Cincinnati, OH; Mt Pleasant, IA; Onawa, IA; North Sioux City, SD; Mitchell, SD; Belvidere, SD; Rapid City, SD; Buffalo, WY; Livingston, MT; West Yellowstone, MT; American Falls, ID; Salt Lake City, UT; Richfield, UT; Virgin, UT; Las Vegas, NV; Lake Havasu City, AZ; Flagstaff, AZ; Gallup, NM; Albuquerque, NM; Tucumcari, NM; Sayre, OK; Ardmore, OK; Waco, TX; Kemah, TX; Lafayette, LA; Biloxi, MS; DeFuniak Springs, FL; Alachua, FL; and back to Punta Gorda, FL.
As proposed, and we know that ain’t goin’ to happen, that’s thirty seven sites, twenty four states, four and a half months and 7,356 miles. But who is counting, except Kathryn?!
Remember the “good old days” of going for a Sunday drive? We decided to take one with no particular route in mind. We ended up at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, FL. It is a private Catholic university which shares its history with the now closed Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
The center of the university is the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel. The beautiful simplicity is modeled after the chapels in Missionary of Charity houses all over the world. The only adornments on these chapels’ bare walls are a crucifix and the words “I thirst.” (photos by Kathryn)
One of the beautiful things about our eight foot picture window (aka the windshield) in the front of our home, (aka the motor home) is the huge view. Even when parked! Last night, April 12th, just after ten pm, suddenly the dark sky was lit up by what appeared to be a large fireball streaking diagonally across the sky. The gold tail burst into a green ball and then, in just a few seconds it was over, but very impressive nonetheless. Obviously I didn’t get a photo except in my mind. Here is the best I could find on Google.
On the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, thousands of volunteers across the USA, go to each National Cemetery and place a flag in front of every Veteran buried there. It was my honor to join them today at Sarasota National.
After a one year delay due to COVID, we are finally on the road again pursuing the “Greatest Of All Trips” (GOAT) across these United States. See the earlier posts for the itinerary and planned route.
“A person susceptible to “wanderlust” is not so much addicted to movement as committed to transformation.” -Pico Iyer
After we left Punta Gorda for the drive across Florida to Flagler Beach, we hit the summer rains. I mean blinding rain coming down in sheets, but we arrived safely. I can’t believe it. We are finally underway! (Photos 2 and 3 by Kathryn)
The first stop was Flagler Beach, Florida. For us this stop was all about THE VIEW! From sunrise over the ocean to the to the light show at night, the Atlantic Ocean was just steps from our dashboard. (photo 5 by Kathryn)
We did go into town. The photos below are of The Municipal Pier, the public chalkboard outside The Funky Pelican Restaurant, Sally’s Ice Cream, and the “World Famous” Whaam Burger, the first entry in the best hamburger on the trip contest. We gave it a 5 out of 10.
The second stop was Camp Lake Jasper in Hardeeville, South Carolina. The photos below are of the check in building/store, our site backed up to the lake, Lake Jasper, since we are just North of Georgia peaches are available at roadside stands, and dinner for two with a view! (photo 2 and 6 by Kathryn)
The third stop was Willow Tree RV Resort in Longs, South Carolina. The photos below are of our site and of the lake and recreation area. Using this website, I can not put the photos on the blog pages so, photos go here and more details on the trip will be in the posts below. In this case, Third Stop.
One of the greatest things about traveling around the country is you get to see family and friends. Sure we want to see the beauty of America, the sites like Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone, and the experiences like the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, but nothing compares to the visiting. I grew up in a small town Seymour, Connecticut. Our high school class was only one hundred fifty people. Here is a classmate of mine Norma Watt, who lives about an hour away from Longs. Great visit! Thanks for driving up to meet us!! And thanks to our photographer Kathryn.
Our fourth stop was Davis Lakes & Campground in Suffolk, South Carolina. The photos below are the camping areas along the lake, in the field, and under the trees. The last photo is of the swimming recreation area.
We took a ride into Norfolk. The photos are of: Welcome To Norfolk, our tour ship The Victory Rover, a schooner on the Elizabeth River, the ferry which crosses several times a day, The Waterside Building, (restaurants and bars) the USNS Hospital Ship Comfort, the nuclear powered super aircraft carrier the USS Gerald R. Ford, and headed back to port.
Are We there Yet Daddy? (photo by Mommy)
Our fifth stop was Island Resort Campground in Newark, Maryland. We are again backed up to the lake. I am getting very used to a water view!
Welcome to the Ocean City, Maryland Boardwalk. It’s 2.45 miles of a wooden boardwalk along the beach, lined with arcades, skee ball, a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, and more places to eat than is humanly possible. And then there is the giant wheel, bumper cars, a one hundred year old carousel, a second ferris wheel next to a roller coaster and a giant sling shot that shoots you straight up into the wild blue younder! (photo 3 by Kathryn)
Our good friends Kitty and Rich used to come to Ocean City all the time. They told us, “You have to go to Thrasher’s for the hand cut french fries!” They were right! Yum!! (photos by Kathryn)
Ocean City has many, many, Kandy Kitchen stores and they sell my most favorite treat in the world chocolate covered Oreo cookies. One of Kathryn’s most favorite treats in the world are Dippin’ Dots. They are like little tiny ice cream balls created by flash freezing ice cream with liquid nitrogen. They are much harder to find, but we did! (photos by Kathryn)
Our last night in Ocean City was dinner from Longboard Cafe’ and the next entry into the best hamburger on the trip contest. They describe their burgers as “voted #1 Best Burgers in MD 2 years running, and hand pattied 8oz, custom blend of chuck, brisket & short rib from Rosedale Farms, MD. More expensive but worth it. Served on fresh, daily baked buns.”
Kathryn chose The Longboard: Spicy-sweet bacon, provolone, horseradish crema, lettuce, red onion, medium fried egg $14.50. (with no bun of course) She gave it a 7 our of 10.
Paul chose The Mushroom, Onion & Blue: Red wine & balsamic mushroom saute’, caramelized onions, swiss cheese, super chunky blue cheese dressing, extra napkins. $13.50. I gave it a 8 out of 10.
All aboard the Cape May Lewes Ferry. It traverses the seventeen miles of the Delaware Bay. That’s us in photo 4. Hey, my roof is dirty! (Photos 2, 3 and 6 by Kathryn)
Our sixth stop was Shady Pines RV Resort in Galloway, New Jersey. As you can tell from photo 1, there is a different definition of “resort” if you are located anywhere near the Jersey Shore. This stop was all about visiting family and friends as shown in the photos below: Daughter Linda and Grandson Luke came to visit for lunch, we visited and had dinner with our good friends Chuck and Penny, next night with good friends Joanne and Jim, we toured the new development Daughter Donna is managing – The Cottages of Compass Point, and the big family celebration for the Fourth of July! (photo 6 by grandson Scotty)
Our seventh stop was the KOA Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania just outside Hersey. The good thing about a KOA is you know what you are going to get. Clean, well kept, pool, store, even a free mini golf course.
While Usher was at the groomer, we ventured into the nearby town of Lititz. Famous for the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery and the Wilbur Chocolate Store, home of The Wilbur Bud, which was THE ORIGINAL that Hersey copied and called a Kiss?!
The rolling hills of Central Pennsylvania are beautiful fields of corn, hay, and fresh air! No, we were not in the motor home. Good thing because our height is twelve foot eight inches.
Hersey is world famous for chocolate of course, but there is also a giant amusement park, water park, Hersey Hotel, and Botanical Gardens. Downtown Hersey is lined with lights that look like Hersey Kisses. The Hotel is too massive to get in even two pictures. On the hill overlooking the amusement park, you can actually hear the screams of delight from the riders on the coasters. If you look carefully at the last photo below of the wooden coaster, you might even see the cars full of screaming riders zipping by!
The last day in Elizabethtown was the best! A visit from Son Bill and Granddaughter Katlyn!!
Our eighth stop was Fox Den Acres Campground in New Stanton, Pennsylvania. Just an overnight to get off the Pennsylvania Turnpike for the night. In the right photo below, we are in the first row, second site in from the right. Exciting huh?
Our ninth stop was FMCA Campground in Cincinnati, Ohio. Carla and Mel were already there! And we were joined by Barbara and Jerry. We all spend the winter at Creekside RV Resort in Punta Gorda, Florida.
Our tenth stop was D&W Lake Camping and RV Park in Champaign, Illinois. They wisely call this a park and not a resort as they offer few amenities on property. Their description is correct, “located near all amenities in the Chapaign area.” It’s all about being around the lake, surrounded by fields of Soybeans.
A short drive to the South is the town of Arthur, the largest and oldest Amish community in Illinois with about 4,000 Amish residents, founded in the 1860’s. Although you are surrounded by corn, most is seed, feed, or hybrid corn and not for sale, thus the HUGE silos everywhere. But, we did find some sweet corn for dinner that was on the stalk yesterday!
A little farther to the South is the town of Mattoon, Illinois home of THE ORIGINAL Burger King. No, not the whopper company in Miami, but a small hamburger stand founded in 1954 who wisely trademarked the name. After a long legal battle, the little guy won! The Whopper company cannot have a franchisee within twenty miles of Mattoon. Their hamburger is the third entry in the best burger on the trip contest. I gave it a 7 which moves it into second place, ahead of the Longboard Cafe rated 8 and the “World Famous” Whaam Burger rated 5. To be honest, the fries are the awesome part of the meal! (photo 4 by Kathryn)
We enjoyed our visit to Arthur so much we returned for a second visit. This time to visit Green Meadows Farms for our Amish Buggy Ride! The owner Merrill answered our many questions, mostly with one word answers, as he is very humble by nature. We were not allowed to take his picture but there is a close up of our horse Ted. (photo 6) I captured the visit with the photos below. If you look closely at photo 4, (photo by Merrill) you can see all of us us in the buggy, but it is a little dark.
Our eleventh stop on GOAT Tour 2021 was Crossroads RV Park in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa for an overnight. This is our third new state on the trip. Our state map of where we have stayed will really start to fill from here on. It’s more of a glorified rest area than park.
Stop twelve was On-Ur-Wa RV Park in Onawa, Iowa for the night. No news here just a stop after a long day’s drive.
Our thirteenth stop was the KOA in North Sioux City, South Dakota. It’s a KOA. It’s all about children enjoying their stay.
Stop fourteen was the KOA in Mitchell, South Dakota. All photos on this Post Cards Page are a sample of what we discovered at this current stop. For more details about each stop, check out the blog post titled X Stop. As it turns out, not all KOAs are the same. Of course there was a pool, playground, horseshoes, mini golf, (Kathryn won by one stroke) cabins, etc., but this one also had “The largest wind turbine at a KOA in North America!” And six storm shelters to hide in in case of tornado.
People come to Mitchell to visit The World’s Only Corn Palace. There are 325,000 colorful ears of corn painstakingly sliced and nailed into place to create giant murals on the exterior of the building. There are also permanent corn murals on the inside. The palace itself serves as an exhibit hall (it was a large gift shop while we were there) and a basketball venue for the local high schools and colleges. Usher found the visit very interesting!
Kathryn and I are not so much on the major tourist attractions and museums. We prefer to find the out of the way discoveries no one knows about. In this case the St. Peters Rock Grotto in the nearby town of Farmer.
Another thing we were told about Farmer was, it was destroyed in the forties by tornado and fire. Only two houses were left and the town never rebuilt. I couldn’t verify the history of Farmer, but according to the current census, the town’s population is ten people, five female and five male. While we were there we saw three children playing in a yard. I guess that would be thirty per cent of the population? The photos are of Main Street and one of the surviving homes.
Our other discovery near Mitchell was the Fatima Family Shrine in nearby Alexandria, South Dakota. It is a beautiful sanctuary just off I-90 that few have heard of. Four chapels with statues of the Holy Family, Jesus and the angel as he appeared to the children are set in backdrops of stained glass with fifteen golden stars representing the mysteries of the Rosary. There is a convent, many other statues, and St. Mary of Mercy Church on the property. (Photos 3 and 4 by Kathryn)
Our last night in Mitchell was a luncheon entry into the best hamburger on the trip contestant, at the Depot Pub & Grill, the former Mitchell train station.
Kathryn chose the Raspberry Popper Burger, a burger patty topped with sliced jalapeños, Pepper Jack cheese and smothered in raspberry sauce. Lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle served on the side. $13.99. Her rating 9 out of 10. (left photo)
Paul chose the Swiss Connection, a burger patty topped with sauteed mushrooms, Swiss cheese, French fried onions, and horseradish aioli. $14.99. His rating 10 out of 10. (right photo)
The fries were fabulous, nicely seasoned, crispy on the outside, but they are not in the contest. The burgers were juicy and delicious. When the grease runs down your arm and you need extra napkins, you know the flavor is all in there! Congrats Depot Pub & Grill. You are in first place! (photos by Kathryn)
On the way to Belvidere, South Dakota we discovered the fifty foot tall Dignity Sculpture, located in the Chamberlain Rest Area. This sculpture is a stunning combination of innovation and history. Representing the rich Native American culture of South Dakota, the fifty foot woman gracefully wears a quilt featuring 128 stainless steel blue diamond shapes designed to flutter in the wind. During the day, her star quilt – a representation of respect, honor and admiration in Native American culture – glitters in the sun with pieces that change color depending on the amount of light. At night, LED lights cause the diamonds to shine in the night sky, creating a peaceful glow easily visible from Interstate 90. Great photo Kathryn!
The rest area sits high on a hill with a panoramic view overlooking the Missouri River. Rest areas in South Dakota have concrete spires stacked to look like tee-pees. (Photo 2 by Kathryn)
Stop fifteen was the KOA in Belvidere, South Dakota for two nights. Kathryn calls this campground, “The Little Motorhome On the Prairie.” There is not much to report other than the location near the Badlands is great and the pizza, made fresh on property, was awesome.
We drove the Badlands Loop Scenic Byway, SD 240. It is thirty one miles of just amazing scenery! Yes that sign in the last photo says, when you enter the next part of the trail, beware of rattlesnakes. (photo 2 and six by Kathryn)
To try and get a size perspective, the photo on the left is our car and the photo on the right shows people who have hiked up into the Pinnacles.
We drove the byway from East to West so it ends in Wall, home of the South Dakota famous Wall Drug. They advertise for hundreds of miles Free Ice Water and Coffee Five Cents. The stores there have every possible touristy thing you never knew you needed. Here’s our stash!
Rapid City is known for it’s proximity to The Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, The Crazy Horse Memorial, Needles Highway, Black Hills gold jewelry, and more. Here are four things we discovered, we wouldn’t drive here to see, but are glad we found. Complete details on each are posted in the Sixteenth Stop blog.
The City of the President’s Walk in downtown Rapid City. There are 43 life-size bronze statues honoring our nation’s past 43 presidents. Shown are Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy and Washington. Ironic isn’t it? Washington ends up in front of Starbucks!
Also located downtown, in Memorial Park, is an excellent memorial to those who endured The Berlin Wall. The display and plaques explain the history behind the building and tearing down of the wall. There are two large sections of the actual wall as well as two tank traps.
Not far outside the city is the Chapel In the Hills. This unique “Stavkirke,” built in 1969 is an exact replica of the famous Burgundy Stave Church in Norway, built in the 12th century. Also on the property is a prayer/meditation walk, a “Stabbur” and an authentic log cabin museum.
Kathryn has loved and wanted a piece of Black Hills Gold jewelry for a long time. Not just any piece of jewelry, like from QVC, but the real thing made in the Black Hills. We took the Landstrom’s Mount Rushmore Black Hills Gold Factory Tour to see how this intricate and beautiful jewelry is made. Of course there is an opportunity to purchase at the end of the tour. Happy Birthday honey. Mission accomplished. In photo two, you can see the cowboy hat awarded to Miss Rodeo every year, adorned with a custom made Landstrom’s crown worth $10,000. In photo three you can see the showroom cases reflected in the bottom of the shot. Photos by Kathryn.
And of course we went to the Crazy Horse Memorial a mountain monument under construction on privately held land in the Black Hills. It will depict the Oglala Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse, riding a horse and pointing to his tribal land. Photo four shows the hole to get the equipment needed to continue the carving on the other side of the mountain. The last photo is the plaster replica of what the monument will look like when completed.
One of the entry points to the Visitors Center and Indian Museum of North America is thru The Nature Gates, decorated with the silhouettes of 219 animals past and present indigenous to South Dakota.
At night the Memorial presents a multimedia laser light show, “Legends In Light.” The side of the mountain becomes a giant screen as lasers shoot across the night sky. I use a camera for photos which means flash photography, so photo courtesy of the Foundation.
Driving The Needles Highway, SD 87, is a stunning fourteen mile drive thru pine and spruce forests, meadows surrounded by birch and aspen, and rugged granite mountains. It passes Sylvan Lake and is most famous for Needles Eye and Iron Creek Tunnels. The last photo is by Kathryn.
You could take a thousand photos of Mount Rushmore and still not convey the feeling you get when you look up at this memorial. If you are not inspired, there is something wrong with you. We wisely went late in the day to avoid the larger crowds, the heat, (it’s been over one hundred degrees) and to be there for the nightly program and lighting of the mountain. (photo 1 and 5 by Kathryn)
As planned, our itinerary did not include Devils Tower, Wyoming. But, since it is only 107 miles to the West, time to strap on the hiking boots and go explore! The Tower Trail is a 1.3 mile paved walkway, with benches to rest, and interpretative plaques, as the trail circles the base. Nice job National Park Service. Some 5,000 climbers come every year to climb on the massive columns. The trail has many prayer cloths, left by those who practice Native American religions.
The Red Beds Trail is a 2.8 mile more traditional trail of rocks and roots, that goes thru the fields as well as up to the lower parts of the mountain, below the Tower Trail. It feels like you are in an old western movie, but in color not black and white.