Westward HO, pt.3

We battled the freeway traffic around and through the western suburbs of Chicago to Hawthorne Woods and the home of niece Renee’ and this is where we will spend the next few days visiting family. They have a very large driveway and parking area next to their home so we were able to park the 5th wheel there. Renee’s husband, Joe, is the mayor of Hawthorne Woods and was able to get us a permit to park there. We also took them up on their invitation to stay with them so we did not have to worry about hook-ups for the RV for a few days. It was a bit of a challenge backing into the drive but we slowly got it done with no problems.

Those who know us are aware how much we enjoy major league baseball. Joe got tickets to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field and the 4 of us made a day of it. Mary and I both have been to games at Wrigley many years ago and it is a favorite park for us. Great day with really nice people.

The following day I played golf with Joe & Renee’ at one of their favorite courses. Mary has an issue with her shoulder and couldn’t play, so she went with another niece, Kismet, to the hospital to meet Kismet’s new granddaughter. That evening we all got together for a fantastic dinner out and we finally met Michelle, Renee’s twin, and her husband, Carl. Beautiful ending to a super day.

Leaving the next day, we couldn’t help but marvel at how awesome are all four girls – Deanna, Kismet, Renee’, and Michelle. We are definitely looking forward to seeing them again as soon as possible.

We left Hawthorne Woods late morning heading west toward Wisconsin and South Dakota. We usually like to drive only 200-225 miles in a day so as not to get too tired out. Some RVers brag about how they drive 400+ miles in a day – not us. We try to plan ahead and with the help of RV trip planning software, we put together a loose route and schedule. This gets us where we are going and also gives us time along the way to “smell the roses”. That being said we pushed our schedule a bit and got to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, quickly so that Mary could renew her driver license. We obtained South Dakota residency when we first came out on the road almost 5 years (5 YEARS?) for tax reasons, and we have to return every 5 years for renewal. I will do mine next spring.

We headed south from Sioux Falls, through Nebraska and were shocked to see the flooding that has turned many farms into small oceans – water as far as you can see in many places. So sad! Farming is a crap-shoot anyway and to have to recoup from all this loss has to be devastating for these farmers. I hope there is some relief available from federal, state and local agencies.

We continued through Nebraska, and on into Kansas, staying in Liberal. We visited the Wizard of OZ museum, complete with Dorothy’s house, museum and gift shop. What might have once been a good idea is now run down and sadly in need of some TLC. The live Dorothy is native American and the museum/gift shop is largely pictures and testimony to the native American past.

The next day saw us stopping in Tucumcari, New Mexico, which is on the original Route 66, the Mother Road. Once again, the town has seen better days but if you use your imagination, the town’s hayday can almost be seen. There is a neat little Route 66 gift shop on the main drag, owned by a nice lady who has been there long enough to know what the town and Route 66 was like before the Interstates took over. She really does have everything you could imagine in the way of Route 66 memorabilia. Most of the other stores are focused on native American items. The town is pretty much dying but there are some there trying to hang on. Sad.

Leaving Tucumcari we headed for Albuquerque and the fabled home of Walter White (Breaking Bad). We didn’t bother driving past the house that was used in the show since the residents there get too much of that already. We did take a drive to the VLA site on the Plains of San Agustin. VLA stands for Very Large Array of radio telescopes. They have 27 huge dishes spread out along a Y shaped track, each arm being 23 miles long. This was a very interesting and impressive stop for us. They show a video of how the V LA was built and used, allow a self guided tour and have a nice gift shop where Mary could buy a hat pin. All in all well worth the drive out to it.

The next day we took the RailRunner train to Santa Fe to see the capitol. Their capitol building is known as the “Round House” and was filled with quite a lot of outstanding local artwork in addition to the government offices. As for Santa Fe itself, it seemed to be largely an expensive place for tourists, with a generous helping of street-people thrown in.

Traveling west from Albuquerque we set or sites on the town of Winslow, Arizona. Yep, the town made famous by the song “Takin’ it easy”. Actually, our objective was Meteor Crater, and we stayed at the Meteor Crater RV park, a few miles west of Winslow. The raised rim of the crater could be seen from the park, only a mile away. Meteor Crater was the destination of the alien in the movie “Starman” so I was anxious to see it. Tourists are permitted to walk around on the rim but not go down into the crater. Totally awe inspiring to see! They had a video which let viewers “fly” down into the crater. Of course they had a nice gift shop.

The next day we drove into Winslow to, of course, “stand on the corner”, take pictures and visit the souvenir shops. At lunchtime, surprisingly there was not much selection for a place to eat, so we walked to the La Posada Inn and were pleasantly surprised. This beautiful hotel was resurrected from an old train station and the owner, an artist, filled it with many of her works. They did a wonderful job and turned it into possibly the best reason to visit Winslow.

Continuing our trek, we spent the night in Wickenburg, Arizona, then on to Rio Bend Golf & RV Resort in El Centro, California, our home for the next 6 months. I will go into our stay at Rio Bend in another post but the next post will detail some of the problems we encountered on the trip from Cape Hatteras to El Centro.

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