Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fort Worth

It was another later start although Shadow wanted out at 5:45. We had a good walk outside the rv park. It was a warm 16º. It took us less than an hour to get to Fort Worth and the Stockyards National Historic District, so designated in 1976.
The area covers 125 acres of what was once the largest  livestock  marketing centre in the Southwest. Many of the stockyards' original structures such as the Livestock Exchange Building and Stockyards Hotel remain. The main street, Exchange Avenue, has many unique
restaurants, shops and authentic western saloons. All three of us did some souvenir shopping. A highlight of our visit was a cattle drive demonstration with wranglers on horseback on main street.


We ate lunch at Billy Bob's Texas. The building was built in 1910 as an open air barn. In 1936 the building was enclosed at a cost of $183,500. It was a department store in the 1950s. Billy Bob's Texas opened  in 1981. The 127,000 sq. ft.  entertainment venue can accommodate 6,000. Lunch was very good.

Our day was somewhat spoiled when we returned to the motor home and found a $75 parking ticket on the windshield. My mistake; I had paid $7.00 for one parking spot. We occupied two spots. #*%@!*

We motored south on I 35W to  Burleson and checked in at Mockingbird Hill RV Park where we had made a reservation on line. It was our earliest stop so far,  at 2:45 after driving only 74 km. It was a hot 28º; we were very comfortable with the air conditioning on.



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Lone Star State




 Another beautiful day. We took the shuttle over to the casino and enjoyed a delicious complimentary buffet breakfast. @ $16 each, our total savings at Winstar was $78 including the rv park. And losing does have its advantages. Maureen had earned enough points playing the previous night to get the complimentary $25 and cashed out $20.85 so ended up a winner in the end. Paul not so lucky; he lost $19 of his winnings. I chose to take pictures and walk Shadow.

We left the rv park around 11:00 and drove just a few km to the state line. We stopped at the Texas Welcome Center, picked up some useful literature and continued south to Dallas.
I had been to Dallas so asked Paul  what he wanted to see and do. He had two requests. We drove into downtown Dallas to Truck Yard, a very unique eatery. (Paul  had read about it in The Toronto Star.) Incredible that such a place existed in the heart of downtown Dallas. Paul treated us to a delicious lunch.




Our second stop was in Arlington at the $1.3 billion AT & T Stadium of the NFL Dallas Cowboys. Paul took the self guided tour and found it very interesting. Maureen, Shadow and I chilled out in Harvee Too with the air conditioner on. It was a hot 29º. Trust Paul to find his way into the cheerleaders' locker room!

It was 4:45 when we arrived at Treetops RV Resort, a short distance from the stadium. We got one of the two remaining overnight sites. Whew! Most of the rv park is full timers. Another RVing first: I was given a hospital like  id wrist band to wear when I walked Shadow, "for security." Better than being shot as an intruder!! Don't mess with Texas!
We motored 176 km. Less driving, more sightseeing in the Lone Star State.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"The West Begins Here"

It was another beautiful sunny day to continue our drive south on I 35. We took advantage of  a later start and being very close to the laundromat and did our laundry. I was able to take Shadow on a longer walk at a wellness centre across the road from the rv park. There was a paved pathway around the grounds.


We left the rv park around 10:00 and had a short drive to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.  We were able to get a wheelchair for Maureen. The museum has three galleries. One features  art of the American West including  beautiful paintings and sculptures. Another gallery features American Indian art.  The third gallery, Western Performers features the movie cowboy including Western stars like John Wayne.
There were new exhibits since Jean and I were here in 2012. There is  a lifelike 1950s-era rodeo arena that depicts rodeo history, champions, clothing and other memorabilia. We walked through Prosperity Junction, a replica frontier town.
The grounds and gardens were beautiful ... fountains, miniature waterfalls, numerous sculptures. We spent 2 1/2 hours but could have easily taken more time.

We ate lunch before leaving Oklahoma City. We stopped briefly to see Turner Falls, the highest waterfalls in the state.

We checked into  the Winstar Casino and  RV Park in Thackerville around 4:30 after motoring 216 km. It was a pleasant 20º.  As it was our first time at a Winstar, our first night was complimentary; we saved $30.
Paul made tuna melts while I walked Shadow on a paved walkway around the rv park. After supper we took the shuttle over to the casino which is huge. Maureen and I played the slot machines. While Maureen lost $20, I quit when I was up $5.54 but Paul won  again, another $121 on the slots this time. His Midas touch continues.





Monday, October 16, 2017

Oklahoma


 It was a clear, refreshing 6º when we left the K.O.A. after taking a few pictures. We continued west on I 44  which became a toll highway, the Will Rogers Turnpike when we entered Oklahoma. We stopped at the Oklahoma Welcome Center for a travel guide and some brochures and drove as far as Claremore to visit the Will Rogers Memorial Museum and Birthplace Ranch.






12 galleries  house the world's largest collection of Rogers' memorabilia. It traces Rogers' life from Cherokee cowboy to the world's #1 movie star, radio personality, political commentator  and newspaper columnist. There is also a movie theatre where we watched part of a 1/2 hour movie of his life. It was all very interesting and worth the price of admission, $5.00 each.
We ate lunch and motored the remaining distance to the state capital, Oklahoma City. We stopped at a Flying J for gas @ $2.05 / gal,  checked in at Twin Fountains RV Resort and went grocery shopping at a Walmart. It was 5:45 when we returned to the rv park. It reached a pleasant 20º. We travelled 465 km.
Paul and Maureen bought me a gift, Will Rogers Says ..., a collection of his sayings. So to quote Oklahoma's favourite native son: Columbus discovered a new World, but the old Tin Lizzie has made us discover America. A prelude to RVing.
Twin Fountains gets my 5 star rating. Jean and I stayed here on our trip to Texas.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Missouri: The Cave State

We had periods of heavy rain overnight but no storms.  It was overcast and there was a strong NW wind when  we left the campground at 8:00 and drove a short distance on Rte. 66 to I 55.  Traffic was light; we made good time in spite of the wind and motored 490 km into Missouri.
Missouri has 13 caves open for  public tours. With over 6,000 known caves, Missouri is often called the Cave State.
We stopped at a Love's travel center near Rolla, had lunch and  filled up both the gas and propane tanks. The farther west we drove, the sunnier it became.
We stopped near Springfield  at Fantastic Caverns. The caves were discovered in 1862 by an Ozarks farmer, actually  his dog. The first exploration took place 5 years later by 12 women from Springfield.  We took a one hour  motorized tour of the cave in a tram pulled by a jeep. We went 1/2 mile into the cave to a depth of 150 feet. The tour was very interesting. The flood lit limestone  rock formations were impressive.

We had a  15 minute drive to the Springfield Rte. 66 K.O.A.
The campground was very busy; we were fortunate to get one of the few remaining sites with full hookups, Wi-Fi and cable t.v.




 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Route 66 and the Land of Lincoln

We had showers during the night but I was able to walk Shadow
early, shortly after 5:00 before heavier bands of rain came through. There was quite a crowd at breakfast as several rigs had come into the rv park on Friday. The food was delicious. We checked out, used the dumping station and returned the car to Enterprise after Paul topped up the gas tank. We left Joliet at 9:50 under threatening skies and motored south on I 55. We left the showers behind but remained under a severe weather warning.


I 55 parallels historic Route 66 in several areas. We left the interstate at Dwight and stopped at the Rte. 66 Visitor Center, originally a Texaco gas station. It had many interesting artifacts.

 






We ate lunch at a rest area and continued on to Springfield, the state capital of Illinois.    Abraham Lincoln lived there from 1837 until he won the Presidency  in 1861.


  We stopped at the Lincoln Depot, originally named the Great Western Depot  and renamed as it was from there that Lincoln left. With his assassination in 1865, the depot was the last place he ever set foot in alive. We visited the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, a four-square  block area with several homes and outdoor exhibits. The Visitor Center had several  interesting museum exhibits, a gift shop and theatre.
We took a 1/2 hour guided tour of the Lincoln home with authentic furnishings throughout. Our guide shared many interesting anecdotes about Lincoln and his family.




Before leaving Springfield around 4:00, we stopped for a few groceries at Walmart and drove a short distance to Chatham where we checked into Double J Campground and RV Park on Route 66. Jean and I stayed here in 2015 on our abbreviated Rte. 66 trip. It was a very hot 30º; we needed the air conditioning.
We motored 278 km. I bbqed chicken wings for supper as we remained under a severe t. storm warning with tornado warnings in counties to the north of us.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Chicago




We were all up early and ready for a full day of sightseeing. We enjoyed a complimentary hot/cold buffet breakfast (scrambled eggs, sausage, cereals, yogurt, fresh fruit, etc. etc.) at the hotel. I walked Shadow, let her off leash for some serious exercising and we were on our way by 8:00. It was mostly cloudy.
Traffic was heavy but moving, Unfortunately Rhonda misdirected us and it was several kms and precious time before we/I  realized we were well going off course... more than one Millennium Park in Chicago??? Once re-programmed, were back on course and arrived at the park and underground parking garage. With some help from friendly locals, we found the closest Big Bus pick-up stop for our Hop On Hop Off  Classic Big Loop tour. It included 14 stops. The guide was excellent, very entertaining and most knowwledgeable. We must live right. To quote Paul, "the weather was spectacular." Not a cloud in sight. We rode up top, of course. We got off at The River Walk and ate a delicious lunch at O'Brien's Café.


We had a short walk to Wendella's Boat Tours we were took the 90 minute Signature Lake and River Tour which highlighted the architecture seen from the Chicago River. The boat was full. We had another excellent guide who knew so much about Chicago's  social and political history.  We passed through the Chicago lock into Lake Michigan. The four foot difference in water level is controlled by simply opening the lock gates partially to let  the water fill or empty the lock.  The views of Navy Pier, the 26 mile skyline were most impressive.

We finished the tour on the Big Bus, returned to Millennium Park, paid the $29 (ouch!) parking and drove back to Joliet through rush hour traffic. We stopped at Papa Saverio's Pizzeria, bought a Hawaiian pizza and arrived back at the rv park shortly before 7:00. Shadow had spent a very long 11 hours alone, We found her stretched out on the dashboard. She was VERY happy to see us. She was fine and more importantly, so was Harvee Too.