Winnebago Rally with the MilWits

28 Aug

The Winnebago Rally was fun. But first, let me explain. Rick and I were there as part of a special group called the Mil Wits. This does not stand for funny military people, but rather they are a bunch of mostly old farts like Rick and me who are retired military (or spousal unit), own Winnebagos, and enjoy a good snort and a laugh amongst friends of similar experience. We fit right in!!

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Winnebago County where the rally is held is primarily farmland, and the Rally “Campground” is no exception. It is a lovely rolling field, with gentle hills and vales and holds about 800 RVs, and there are no pesky trees to get in the way of parking. As I said it’s a nice rolling field so one needn’t have the boring set-up procedure of simply dropping the jacks and heading over to the tent for a drink with the guys. No, this set-up involves lumber.

First Place!

First Place!

Winnebago has been holding its national rally here for 40 years or so, and have been steadily improving the grounds. There are now two bath houses and most sites have electricity. 1600 people and two bath houses makes one very happy to have a potty in the RV (we have TWO, because we just do).

Now, if you are paying attention, you have noted the fact that I said we have electricity on site, not water or sewer. Both are self-contained in the coach with practice and care and a certain amount of self-control. The experienced RV’er knows to purchase a “poo poo ticket” or two for the honey wagon to stop over, and the guys have a buddy system for getting fresh water. We linked up all our hoses and filled up the groups’ fresh water tanks “prn”, which is Latin or Greek or Armenian for “as needed”. The system also came in nicely for me. (see below)

The other thing missing at the rally was a swimming pool. It was in the 90’s for the first part of the week, for crying out loud! No pool! At least KOAs usually have a pool for goodness sake!

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So Rick bought me one, which I offered to share, by the way. I think next year every Mil Wit member should bring a pool to the rally so we can have a pool party with cocktails and little hotdogs and do it up in style.

All in all I’d say we had a heck of a good time with this group. Went to the town’s big parade where a lot of WIT groups had state floats, and Mil Wit had a good one, too with straw bales and red, white and blue bunting and Rick and the guys got to fling Tootsie Rolls at small children along the parade route. Of course there were the tractors and town firetrucks, and the mayor and his family, and school bands and cheerleaders and local veterans groups and horses, you get the idea. so sO SO Music Man”, but with a flyover of AT-6 trainer airplanes from WWII. We regressed 4 decades, at least. Man, it was GREAT! And that night we watched the town’s fireworks display from the campground. I love small-town America.

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And speaking of America, I also got to see Jay and the Americans Live in Concert! although I’m not sure about the “Live” part. More like “Still Alive”. Jay looked pretty good as he still wears his hair in a pompadour and the dye job looked good from where I was sitting. The rest of the guys in the band are certainly original members as they looked like most of the audience, i.e. gray and, um, oldish. I was pleased to note that Jay was able to make more of the high notes in “Cara Mia Mine” than he did in the 60’s.

But the best part of a Mil Wit rally is the folks who attend them. Ladies and gents all, who can tell a story like nobody else, and who welcome new members like long lost friends.

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God willing, we’ll all be back in Iowa next year!

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Iowa, Here We Come!

27 Aug

Hello again! Its been a while since I wrote as my Darling gave me this computer with the new Windows 8 on it and I’ve been afraid to touch it. And somehow he disconnected my home computer from the internet. >insert big gusty sigh here.

So here we are, trying it out…and on the road, to boot! We packed up and departed the fixed homestead for the Road Abode about three weeks ago, heading to a Winnebago Rally in Forest Hills, Iowa. Never been to Iowa. Its kinda pretty and full to the gills with agricultural products in the raw. Tons of red-winged blackbirds, too.

We stopped the first night at a new KOA just off I-65, and I do mean “just off”. Our site was beside a lovely silver corrugated work shed with our back end (read “bedroom”) overlooking the Interstate scenic south shoulder. Truckers listen to a lot of country/western music.

The next night we stopped in Granite City, Illinois at another KOA. To get to this one you exit the interstate, take a narrow country road across some railway tracks (keep that in mind), turn onto the junkyard road (yes, folks) and follow the signs. Surprisingly, when we entered the campground it blossomed into a really lovely place with trees and flat sites and full hookups. And trains allllll night lonnngggg.

From there we went to Newton, Iowa where Rick’s home office is, to say howdy and meet some of the people he works with on a daily basis. Nice bunch of folks. He gave everybody a pen.Imprinted with their own company name. I found that mildly amusing, as they get all the rejects from bolloxed orders. I suppose its nice to have one that doesn’t have any mistakes on it. And besides, it was from the Rickster, whom everyone seemed to really like!

Now about that RV park. We drove quite a ways down a little road away from the interstate, wending and winding through the trees, and entered a lovely verdant campground where we signed in for2 nights. “Finally!” thought I. No trucks, no junkyard, no trains running through all night. Our host got in his golf cart and drove us

Right beside I-80.

Had there been a wreck, the trucks would have rolled down the embankment into our living room and probably smashed our liquor cabinet.

But Newton, Iowa is a pretty place to visit although the Maytag Company pulled out a few years ago and left the workers there to starve so they could make more money exploiting Chinese children. Don’t get me started.

Interestingly, I don’t seem to have any photos of this portion of the trip, except for cute puppy and kitty shots.  I know, I know.  “get a life”, eh?

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Warm and surprisingly hefty little snugglewuggums.

A Guy and a Broad Abroad

22 Jun

May 30, 2013

Tallahassee, FL

Well, Folks we made it home in one piece.  The long flight over the Atlantic was surprisingly comfortable, even for long-legged Rick.  We had a hot meal, movies, drinks, a sandwich, (passed on the booze, if you can imagine such a thing), and even got some blogging finished!

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Snorkette Wants to be a Pilot Now

Our flight stopped in Philidelphia where we said goodbye to some fellow Globus friends.   Then we went through US Customs where the helpful and efficient staff did they’re very best to make Rick so angry they could keep him in Philly for a while courtesy of their judicial system.

 They lost, we won and made it to  Atlanta where  we staggered around the airport and got on the wrong hotel shuttle at 1 am British time.  Rick and I love to haul baggage around unnecessarily, evidently.  But kind people pointed us in the right direction and we made it to our bed and passed out cold.

The next morning our sweet children, the “Yoodfellows” (he’s Yood, she’s Goodfellow), Ellie and Juniper delivered our car and kisses and we headed to Tallahassee.

But you know what’s funny?  The Atlanta heat felt sooooooo nice.

Thanks for traveling with us!  Obviously I had a few hiccups getting this out, but why don’t you reread them in order,  in 6 months or so, and we’ll do it all over again!

Penny

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A Perfect Ending to a Perfect Trip

A Guy and a Broad Abroad

22 Jun
Paris and London (390)

Big Ben

London, England

We left Paris as the sun was shining and took the Eurostar fast train through the French countryside and though the Chunnel to majestic London, home of Kate and Wills and other assorted royal folks. My, my, but the Brits do like their warriors. You can’t walk 2 steps without banging into some bronze bloke with a sword…wait, that was France. The English won their wars, so they put up statues of the winners.

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Queen Victoria

We had a nice tour of London on our new bus – had to leave our fancy motor coach and Lorenzo in France, more’s the pity. I gave him a French kiss good-bye. No, not that kind! The double-cheek air buss! He was so darned cute, though. But I digress. The bus ride was fairly inclusive. Got to see Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the Thames, Somerset House, etc. The sun was shining and we were in a nice bus being driven around. Then Rosie had to leave us, and it all got bleak. Never underestimate the power of a top-notch tour guide.

Sans Rosie, most of the group went to dinner and a show. Rick and I got dinner well after everyone else, as someone, not Rosie, miscounted. The appetizer was great, and the teaser I got of dessert held great promise, but everything was so rushed for us two, that we had to bolt our dinners to make it to the theater. Wouldn’t ‘a happened with Rosie at the helm (insert big, hungry sigh here).

The show we saw was “Wicked”. Big fancy London theater, great seats up front and only slightly to the side, orchestra in the pit so all we could see of it was the conductor’s hand (cool). The set was a marvel, the cast was superb (except the male lead was a bit thin, voice-wise), the acting wonderful, and I was supremely bored. “Huh?”, you say. Got me. I guess because the music all sounded like one very long song. Probably should’a seen “Billy Elliot”.

The hotel we are staying at is The Grosvenor, the hotel built to house passengers coming and going from Victoria Station. The doorman wears his top hat and red livery, and actually does open the door all day. Nice chap. The hotel gets a regular refurbish and technological update, but otherwise, you are wandering about Victorian England. And I do mean wandering.

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The Mobius Stairway

To get to our room we took the lift to the 2nd floor which is on the 3rd floor, turn right at the end of the hall, go down a set of steps, turn left and proceed up the steps in front of you, turn left, no, turn right and go through the double doors and search for your room in that hallway. Voila! Home. Very British, red and velvety and designed for 4’8” people with no luggage. Never did find a drawer in that room. Quite a nice loo, however!

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Grosvenor Hotel

Next day dawned bright and sunny. Boy, is that a lie. The clouds came in, bringing some of the cruddiest weather they’ve seen this “spring”. (I asked one of our guides if this was just “London weather”, and his reply was, “No. Its bloody awful”). We put on most of our clothing, grabbed the old slickers and proceeded to hie ourselves to Westminster Abbey and thence to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards. Our tour guide was Rob, a very knowledgeable and dry witted Brit who looks so very much like my Dad  that I teared up! I’ll show you when I home. Even the smiley crinkle lines around his eyes were the same. Like most English, his folks emigrated from France to escape religious persecution (Dad said my grandmother’s folks emigrated from France to escape the guillotine…or a highly irritated grocer), and they were farmers (as were ours).

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Rob and me. (my dad was Roy!)

And, dang, he’s so nice and funny! Obviously he and I are related.

So we stayed dry inside the Abbeyl while Rick went to a tea shop, or so he says. He started this trip cathedral-ed out, and hasn’t changed his mind about them. Fine with me. There’s nothing worse than trying to take in a bit of beauty when the love of your life is sighing and kvetching and squirming like a 9 year old who only wants to look at something involving goal posts.

I’m going into this cathedral. Go find a pub or something.”

It works nicely, and has probably saved our marriage.

After that tour we grabbed a bite to eat at Victoria Station, a “croque” I believe. The food, not the station. It’s warm puff pastry with stuff like mushrooms and melty cheese in it. I recommend eating French things when in England, but more on that later. Then we were off with a new guide,Tony, to Windsor Castle. It was now 12C or 54 F with a downpour, and a nice long tour of the castle grounds before going inside. I was already fighting a cold (or a bubonic pneumonia), so this was not in the old game plan. But as God as my witness, I persevered and dragged Rick with me to see Victoria’s doll house (12th scale replica with working plumbing) and thence to the royal apartments. I turned the poor baby loose to go watch people somewhere so I could spend time “absorbing”. Its great if you are into art, but bad if you prefer goalposts.

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Heading to Windsor Castle

Poor Tony lost his voice. Rosie wouldn’t have.

That night it cleared up a bit, so we went to a pub for dinner together and then to the Thames for a boat ride. It was our tour group’s farewell dinner and sweet/sad. We had dinner at an authentic English Pub, The Horse and Trailer or something, and had ‘authentic” fish and chips. Eeewww. The fish was cold yet overcooked, bony, tough and dry; the chips were cold, mealy, and undoubtedly over microwaved, and served alongside were the also “authentic” bouncy canned peas. Laudy, laudy, laudy even the wine was undrinkable. Larry said his was good. He needs a check-up.

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Houses of Parliament
From the River Thames

But we cheered up on the boat ride. The places along the bank were all lit up and although it was still pretty brisk above-deck, it was worth it. Only (small) problem was that it was nice and warm and gently rocking downstairs, so a few folks fell asleep and missed the whole thing. You know who you are.

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Too Much Fun For Ann

But despite the minor food disappointments (and Heaven knows, I could miss a few meals!) The company has been GREAT! I didn’t expect to grow so close to the folks on our tour. And Rosie called us her best group ever. (Thank you, Rosie. No problem)! Really, everyone made an effort to be on time and to look out for one another, to be inclusive. Lots of laughing, lots of talking, lots of fun. Should you go on a tour, may yours be as superb as this one. Remember the name Globus Tours.

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Cute, but Unbelievable Food (and I don’t mean good)

Tomorrow we go our separate ways, most home, some for extended trips, the Simmonseseses and us to Notting Hill, W2, London! to a B&B for two more days.

Ta!

Penny

A Guy and a Broad Abroad

22 Jun
Paris and London (85)

Napoleon’s Tomb (I Think)

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Champs Elysee

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European Truck Stops Serving French and Italian Cuisine and Wine

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A Touch of Sunshine Over the Seine

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Statue of Joan of Arc in the Cathedral of Notre Dame

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Notre Dame Cathedral

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Inside the Cathedral

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Amazing, Still

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I’m Thinking of Redecorating

A Guy and a Broad Abroad

22 Jun

May 26, 2013

Paris

Paris and London (81)

Well-Known Paris Landmark

Bonjours, Mes Amis!

Ah, Paris (ou Paree!) C’est ce bonne et belle. OK, I’m done. Anywho, Paris truly is one of the most beautiful cities just as they say. It would have been nice to experience it in the sunshine and warmth of spring, but somehow we have managed to drag winter out big time here in Europe. We left May in Lugano, and haven’t come across it since.

The coach ride from Lucerne was pretty mostly, although the weather prevented us from seeing a lot of vistas. We passed the vineyards of Burgundy and the yellow mustard fields of Dijon, hit snow flurries at the higher elevations, and had lunch at our favorite truck stop, the Auto Grill. They’re sort of different from the plazas on the US turnpikes – no fast food. I can get used to baguettes with good cheese and fresh veggies, and cappuccino! And wine, but only if you buy a hot meal. I guess there’s a law in France that cold food doesn’t rate their wine.

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Fields of Mustard

Speaking of wine, Rick and I prefer the darker reds of Spain and Italy. French wine is overrated as far as we’re concerned. Just as well, because we haven’t been drinking the French wine like it was water as we did in the south of Europe!

We had dinner the first night in a quaint French restaurant near Notre Dame Cathedral, where the dining rooms were very um, “cozy”, not to overstate it. One couldn’t overeat. There wasn’t enough room.

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Cheers!

The toilets were upstairs, and it behooved us to go before the wine was served. Dang, I didn’t

get a picture of the stairway. It was a helix designed for 18th century Frenchmen, who I can tell you, were significantly smaller than 21st century Americans. (As the guys from “Top Gear” say, a Ford pickup truck can carry up to two tons of cargo, or one American). Rude.

We have done Paris up right. Notre Dame was incredible. A service began while we were there, with acolytes swinging censors, the organ booming and a tenor and soprano singing. I had tears in my eyes when we left, and I’m Jewish!!! Then we saw the Arche de Triomphe, Napoleon’s Tomb, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysee, and all the rest of it, all lit up to beat the band! Beautiful. Real touristy stuff, but even he French like it.

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Arche de Triomphe at Sunset

Next day we awoke to 54 degrees F and wind, so of course we went to Versailles to tour the gardens. If someone had offered me a light I’d have used it to set my hair on fire. Carole especially loved it because she could picture it all with kings and folks strolling through the place and canoodling behind the roses. I just saw the absence of flowers, non-spraying fountains, construction equipment, and pigeons. And my breath. But she loved it, so it was fun. It got better when they turned the music on and we all lined up to go into the palace itself to see Louis’ and Marie’s bedrooms, sitting rooms, the Hall of Mirrors, etc. with 5000 of our closest friends. It was so thick with humanity a lady passed out and needed emergency services. That was kind of cool. Oh, and everything was gold and ornate and to be expected from the people who gave us escargot and croissants.

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Gardens of Versaille

But the best part of Paris was the Moulin Rouge. THE Moulin Rouge. Even the food was good. No wonder it’s been around for 100 years. Check out the paintings of Toulouse Lautrec. It’s still the same! We were very close to the stage (Thank you , Rosie! No problem!) which we all liked because the girls have cute little titties and beautiful bodies, the boys have lovely tushes, the costumes were gorgeous, everyone sang and danced and kicked and it was just wonderful! There was a ventriloquist and comedic acrobats, too. All in all, The Moulin Rouge is the Ed Sullivan Show live and in full color. Go see it! Take the kids!

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Guess

See you in London!

Penny

A Guy and a Broad Abroad

9 Jun

Here are a few more shots from Switzerland, primarily.  Sorry they’re not in any kind of order.  I’m hungry.

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Shopping in Lucerne

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Audrey on a building

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Lake Lucerne “cottage”

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On Mt. Pilatus

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A bit of color in the snow on Mt. Pilatus

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Way too much fun!

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Cog railway car on the ascent

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Maree and George in their normal state

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Yodeling, anyone?

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Too beautiful!

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Nice to visit, but he wouldn’t want to live there!

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View of Lake Como, Italy from our coach. (Where’s George Clooney?)