Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Feast in New York

We find ourselves in New York with our rig tucked away in temporary storage in Lawrence, Kansas. We are here to visit our son who lives in Brooklyn. Family and a 50th high school reunion brought us east and a break from the road. The reunion was terrific. So enjoyable to see so many good folks again after so many years. We may have been a room full of senior citizens, ( I prefer my cousins description of our age group as “The Elders” ), but having known all these folks in our youth it was easy to see that youth in the many smiles, facial expressions and voices. We were a particularly good class, our New Canaan High School Class of ’66 and I say bless all of us. But on to New York. The town of New Canaan is a 40 minute or so train ride from Grand Central and I went into the City often growing up. I love the place. We happened upon a street festival last night while going out to dinner. The 90th annual Feast of San Gennaro. San Gennaro is the patron saint of Naples, Italy and the festival was started to honor the thousands of Italian immigrants who began their American life in this Little Italy section of lower Manhattan. Back home in Naples, every September 19th, it is said that ampules of dried blood in the crypt of the saint, liquefy momentarily. It is an annual Miracle. Hey, we all need a few miracles in our life, right? A church official descends into the crypt then comes back out to declare the miracle has occurred again and everyone goes nuts with blind faith. Yahoo! Let’s drink and eat! So it is in NYC. Too bad we had dinner reservations. Sausage, peppers and onions sounded very appetizing.
Couldn't stay around for the meatball eating contest...
A shot of the street with the iconic Empire State Building in the distance.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Rowayton, Connecticut

We have taken a break from our life on the road to fly to Connecticut so that I may attend my 50th high school reunion. Staying with family a couple days prior, in their lovely place on Bell Island in Rowayton. Sure is different from Kansas!
Sun about to break the day at the harbor.
Entrance to Bell Island.
It is a small lump of land closely adjacent to the mainland. It is "dotted", (actually mostly crowded in together), with many magnificent homes, most with nautical themed architecture. Many, many boats, some as large as a few of the houses. It is another testament to the wealth generated by life and work in and around New York City, just 40 miles away. We will be in Connecticut for a week then will spend a few days in Brooklyn at our son's place. Then we will train down to North Carolina to visit our daughter's family where they just moved to a few weeks ago. Grandkid time!! Then it will be back to KS to resume the roam.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Who Would Have Thunk....

Who would have thunk....that a campground in Kansas would be one of our favorites on the trip....Council Grove....a cute town....campground is managed by Corps of Engineers....they manage damns and waterways and do a great job of developing recreational areas in the US.....this campground had large sites along the lake (nice swimming and floating), huge trees, lots of grass....and we were only people in our small area of 20 camp sites!!! great bike riding paths So nice!!! Also went to Tallgrass Prairie Reserve!

Fort Larned KS

Fort Larned.... an army post in the old West...Felt like I was in a John Wayne movie!!! Kept looking for the cavalry!!

La Junta Co

La Junta Colorado.....we said goodbye to the mountain....and to the West...on to the South! La Junta affored access to 2 great National Monuments.....Old Bent Fort and Sand Creek Massacre....first was the last post on the Sante Fe Trail before Sante Fe....Sand Creek Massacre was a very black mark in our treatment of Native Ameicans...very moving...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Great time with Vicki in Southern Colorado....

Great time with Vicki in Southern Colorado....Old friends are great...Love the way years melt away....Went ATVing....something I never wanted to do....but it was fun!!!

Wash Day

Most campgrounds have great laundry facilities...but don't like to use dryer on some things...so.....
Bob feels like he is on a fire escape in NYC!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Wonderful Isolated Camping Treat

We are in Council Grove, Kansas. A town with a rich history of being the last place to stock up on supplies before heading 100's of miles further west in the early 1800's at the start of the settlement of our US West. The town has charm and style. It is hot and humid. The first of this type of weather since we started our journey. We have been so cool and dry for so much of our mountain summer. Yellowstone, Wyoming, Colorado. Local Topeka AM TV news said the low last night was the same as the average daytime high for this time of year. Muggy and with multitudes of insects including clever little flies that are small enough to get in through our screens. But it is OK. We are in a Corp of Army Engineers campground at a site on the reservoir they made here in the early 60's. We arrived Labor Day and the next morning, we were totally alone. Another first in our travels. It has been delightful.
Here are the trees by campsite there that prevent the glare from the early morning sun's stare into our lair.
And here is our setup.
Here is the completely empty campground. So pleasant to enjoy.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Kinsley, Kansas

Without any plan or desire to achieve this, we find we are in the dead middle of the great old USA.
Kinsley, Kansas. We are at the 4 Aces RV camp.

This small agricultural town is not without its family conflicts. Take the bossy sister and ornery brother. Just a few doors from each other on Kinsley's main drag.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado.....a unique place....

Colorado Springs CO

It's catch-up time for Cathy..Colorado Springs....Pikes Peak, Garden of Gods, Olympic Center, and Florissant National Monument.....

The Santa Fe Trail

A historical marker stop outside Dodge City, Kansas. The dark line in the hillside is part of the old trail.

Friday, September 2, 2016

La Junta, Colorado

We are on the way out. Out of Colorado and goodbye to the American West. Beyond the incredible natural grandeur that so often meets the eye out here, there is an accompanying folklore of the settling of "these here parts",  as it might have been said back then. Our road ahead takes us into Kansas. We ride route 50, tracking the Santa Fe Trail. It originated at Franklin, Missouri and was a commerce route in the mid 1880's to Santa Fe and points west.  We stop in La Junta because it provides access to two National Historic Sites. Cathy went to the site of the Salt Creek Massacre yesterday while I played golf. After some days of moderate activity, I needed some muscle movement…It is a Site which commemorates a horrid massacre of Native Americans. There sure was some ugly behavior exhibited by us vs. them as we decided the land was ours back in those 1800’s . Then today we went over to the nearby Bent's Old Fort. The Bent brothers created this entrepreneurial fortress in 1833 to provide food, lodging, care for horses and pack animals, supplies and who knows what else to the growing migration of the lost souls of the time that were wandering west on the Old Santa Fe Trail, looking to find a place to root.
More on Bent's Old Fort to come, with photos. It is a very fine example of how extraordinarily well done some places are within our National Park Service offerings.
But, this Vilia Blog entry is about our current town, La Junta, Colorado, the economic center of this ages old flood plain of the Arkansas River, an area whose deep and rich soils provide for a wealth of produce and fruits. A unique part of The Mountain State...we arrive at high season for the local Rocky Ford Cantaloupe.  Cathy and I agree; it is the finest example of this melon we have had. The combination of getting field ripe sweetness along with the earthy quality this melon has, well, it is exquisite. I stopped at a farm stand and have bought more than we can consume of this melon, plus other harvest goodies. I have done this once again at these farm stands, these temptresses of Natures bounty…. Will I ever learn? 

Back to La Junta. It is Spanish for The Junction. La Junta was an early terminus for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Rail. You changed here for spurs to Denver or Salt Lake City. The place was big time in the later 1800’s. It holds onto some architectural riches of those well-to-do days.  Here is a snapshot of La Junta.
The Old Baptist Church.

The rail history is exhibited by the caboose bank branch.
The Elks have an elk...
The Lodge put up a nice brick structure.

You can try to get a Pepsi...
Or, buy a newspaper...since 1896.
There's the old Draper building.

And Times Square!!! New York!!!

A fine old post office.
And a welcome sculpture...?