Sunday, October 18, 2009

Benton Harbor

Lovely day for a drive. Bright sunshine and blue skies all day long.

Stopped along the way in Iowa to get some caches in Durant and Wilton. It's always fun to crossover the mighty Mississippi River. Then came Illinois. We stopped for lunch at Mindy's in Merkona. I loved the picture on the outside wall by the front door. It shows an old fashioned outdoor family picnic - it was interesting to look at the faces and imagine the relationships.

I-80 was busy, but traffic was only moderate until we got south of the Chicago area. The Interstate by-passes Chicago, but there were construction barrels everywhere even though they weren't working on Sunday. At one point the driver in front of us wanted to change to the right lane, which was full. He kept signaling and slowing down, until he almost stopped right in front of us. He passed up several opportunities to merge over. Traffic was coming up behind us, and he was an accident waiting to happen. Finally he got up the nerve to change lanes, but it was very nerve-wracking!

At last we saw the wonderful Michigan sign - home again! (Almost)

After a brief rest at the Comfort Suites of Benton Harbor, we took a drive to look at Lake Michigan. We drove through a part of Benton Harbor that was very discouraging - a very depressed and depressing area. Many, many houses were boarded up or had broken windows and had obviously been abandoned. The downtown area was an urban nightmare - empty buildings, broken windows, etc. - it looked like downtown Detroit.

When we entered St. Joseph, things changed abruptly. It's a beautiful, clean, viable city, the exact opposite of Benton Harbor! We found two beautiful Lake Michigan beach parks with all of the amenities, including art work, rest rooms, picnic tables, benches, playgrounds, and everything you could ask for. Some of the homes along the lake front were breathtakingly beautiful - shiny and new, and absolutely huge.

It was a disturbing contrast.

We had dinner at the Texas Corral near the motel. When we were in Texarkana we had wanted to find a place we had been to a few years ago - a steak house with barrels of peanuts, and you just toss the shells on the floor. We didn't find it in Texarkana, but we found it tonight in Benton Harbor! It's a great place - the parking lot was full, and people of all ages were enjoying the casual atmosphere - from grandparents to babies. We enjoyed it so much. Our waitress was perky, competent and helpful. This was a very pleasant way to close out our trip.

Tomorrow we plan to drive up US 31 along the lake shore and maybe do some caching in the Manistee area. Tomorrow night we'll be at home in our own beds.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Coralville, Iowa (Iowa City)

Said goodbye to Belleville Kansas - mailed Tom's cards at the Belleville P.O., found the Belleville High Banks Race Track, and headed north to Nebraska. We found one cache at the High Banks, and two more along I-80 in Nebraska.

Belleville High Banks:

Today is college game day, and when we stopped at a rest area just west of Lincoln, everybody walking past was wearing Nebraska red. Those folks were all on the way to their game, and they were in for a bad day. Texas Tech beat them badly.

Spent most of the afternoon driving through Iowa - hooray - back to Big Ten Country!

We found the Iowa v. Wisconsin game on the radio - the Iowa folks were happy today. Iowa won in Madison this afternoon.

Everybody knows that they grow a lot of corn in Iowa, but really, they grow a LOT of corn in Iowa! Acres and acres and then more acres of corn are standing in the fields waiting to be harvested. It's fun to watch the harvesting machine run through the field. Haven't found any caches in Iowa yet, but we'll have plenty of time for that in the morning. We had lunch at The Happy Chef along I-80, and dinner at Perkins in Coralville.

The U of M team was really mismatched with Delaware State today. Justin probably enjoyed the afternoon immensely! I watched the video on the Mgoblue website - it looked almost like our team was on the field alone. I don't know why they schedule games like that. Many players had a chance to play, though, so that's a good thing.

Wolverines Rush to Blowout Win Over Delaware State

Oct. 17, 2009

Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Michigan Stadium)
Score: Michigan 63, Delaware State 6
Record: Michigan (5-2), Delaware State (1-4)
Attendance: 106,304
Next U-M Game: Saturday, Oct. 24 -- vs. Penn State (Michigan Stadium), 3:30 p.m.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan football team scored on seven of its first eight possessions to boast a 49-3 halftime lead and accumulate a program-record 442 yards in the first half alone to beat Delaware State, 63-6, on Saturday (Oct. 24) at Michigan Stadium. Overall, the Maize and Blue amassed a single-game program-record 727 yards in the triumph.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Belleville, Kansas

Our motel in Bartlesville:

The Bartlesville water department has a sense of humor!

Nuvi took us on some less-traveled roads north out of Bartlesville and into Kansas. Our day was spent driving through Kansas.

I was expecting flat land and waving fields of wheat, but it's not like that at all. We saw tons of pasture land filled with contented herds of cattle, and even some feed lots jammed with much less contented cattle. It makes no sense to me to pen them up in feed lots when there is pasture land all around. Instead of wheat, we saw field after field of grain sorghum (also called milo), corn and sunflowers. Kansas appears to be a highly agricultural State!

Traffic was light and we made good time. The sky was blue, the clouds were wispy, and it was a perfect day for a drive. We had lunch in Concordia at Heavy's, Home of the Baby Huey Barbecue.

Dick spotted the smoker first, which is like a beacon to him that calls out "eat here, eat here"! Our waitress was a local gal who identified the milo for us, because we didn't have a clue.

Our destination was Belleville, Kansas, which was chosen for obvious reasons...

It seems to be slightly larger than our Belleville, but it also appears to be much less sophisticated. (I never thought I'd be referring to Belleville, Michigan as sophisticated...oh well, everything is relative.)
Dick discovered that their high school mascot is Buffalos, not Tigers.

Since we arrived at the Super 8 relatively early, we decided to hop up to the border of Nebraska and find a couple of caches there so that we wouldn't have to stop and do it in the morning.

We found the Buckley Creek Recreation Area - the most memorable feature was the mud.

We had dinner back in Belleville at the Pizza Hut - yummy.

Found it

10/16/2009 You found North Buckley (Traditional Cache)

After hiking half way across the dam, I spotted the camping facilities and gave myself a mental dope slap. There has to be a way to drive in!! After some exploring, we found the correct route and drove in. Signed the log and left our card then exchanged high fives for adding Nebraska to our list. Now on to Iowa.

Found it 10/16/2009 You found South Buckley (Traditional Cache)

We are over 2000 miles into our current Geoquest. A quick dash over the border brought us here for these caches. Signed the log, left our card and launched our Nebraska coin. Five states down, one to go.

Found it 10/16/2009 You found RCHS Museum (Traditional Cache)

Today was our first day in Kansas, we found some other caches earlier but wanted to leave our coin here. We lived, taught and raised our three kids in Belleville Mi. and made a special effort to start the journeys of our Kansas coin here. Thanks for providing us the perfect place. Signed the log, left our card and our coin.

Found it 10/16/2009 You found Kansas POW Camp (Virtual Cache)

Found today, our first day of caching in Kansas. There was a POW camp in Michigan's UP also. Bad as they might be, I'll bet the winters here were better.

Found it 10/16/2009 You found Hood Park (Traditional Cache)

Very neat little park. we notice they are redoing the ball diamond. We could have dropped our coin here but we want to wait 'till Belleville. Signed the log and left our card. Thanks for the fun.

Found it 10/16/2009 You found Cloud County Museum (Traditional Cache)

We have logged over 2000 miles on our trip so far and after a great lunch break across the street at Heavy's we came over and snagged our first Kansas cache. Thanks for the fun.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bartlesville, OK

We delayed leaving Texarkana for about an hour because of a storm warning. We drove in rain for a little bit, but the rain was going south and we were going north, so eventually we got away from it.

This part of Texas is very down-at-heel. The homes and yards are not kept up, and the small towns are depressing. Driving through small villages such as Hooks, New Boston, DeKalb, Detroit and Blossom I felt so sorry for them and so very lucky to live where we do. As we were passing through one of those places the radio was playing "I come from a long line of losers." It's easy to understand why country songs are so sad and tragic when you see the circumstances that some people live under.

Yes, there is a Detroit, Texas! We couldn't resist taking some pictures...

Paris, Texas looked like a nice big city with all of the amenities - it looked like a place where you could be comfortable living.

After we entered Oklahoma, things began to look a little brighter. There are no lowland swamps or standing water, and that makes a big difference. Oklahoma has a varied terrain - pastureland, rolling hills, and larger hills in the distance. It's quite pretty. What a change from northeastern Texas and Louisiana.

It was a surprise to find ourselves on the Choctaw Turnpike through the Choctaw Nation. Oklahoma is divided into several different Native American Nations - it's like experiencing the Old West in the 21st century.

Our route took us through the Choctaw, Creek, and Cherokee Nations. The Creek Nation signs all said "Muscogee (Creek) Nation". We saw several casinos in these areas but they're very small and humble looking compared to Turtle Creek or Leelanau Sands.

The lunch stop was at Braum's in Henryetta. We thought it was a unique Henryetta kind of a place, but we saw several more along the highway this afternoon.

Nuvi had us by-pass Tulsa, so we didn't see much of it, but they have a great NPR station. Our destination for today is Bartlesville, and it seems like a lovely city. We have enjoyed being here.

We picked up our Oklahoma caches in Bartlesville before we checked in to the Fairfield Inn.
Found it 10/15/2009 You found My Island Travel Bug Resort (Traditional Cache)
To celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, we designed a coin. Our first goal was to find a cache in each of Michigan's 83 counties and to launch a coin in each new county we added to our list. After we completed that quest in the fall of '07, we have set as our next goal to cache all 50 states and launch a coin named after each one we add. We are on our fall expedition to find a cache and launch a coin in Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa. We drove over 1400 miles to get here and appreciate being able to find a cache where we can begin the travels of our Oklahoma coin. Signed the log, left our card and coin and picked up a bug.
Went to the Rib Crib for dinner - yummy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Texarkana, Texas

Left the motel during rush hour in Memphis. Back over the Mississippi into Arkansas. Luckily, the only weather issue we had this morning was a dense fog - thankfully no rain. We drove south through Arkansas, heading for Louisiana to add that state to our total. Stopped for lunch at a truck stop, "Country Fare" in Prescott, Arkansas.

It seemed so fitting to me that, as we drove south through this southern state, Diane Rehm was interviewing Ralph Stanley on NPR. He has been singing Old Time Mountain music since the 40s. It was so enjoyable, given our surroundings, to hear his soft accent and his sweet mountain music as we passed the cotton fields. He was just delightful. Stanley's music was featured in the movie "O Brother Where Art Thou?".

We arrived in Louisiana with hope and excitement about adding a new state. The first cache was right at the state line.

Dick had chosen 4 or 5 others that we wanted to find before heading to Texas. We did find 4 caches, but our hope and excitement was dimmed by the dismal, hopeless nature of the things we saw around us. Northwest Louisiana is not exactly tourist country. It was made even sadder by the recent heavy rainfall - there was standing water and mud everywhere. A big storm must have gone through there lately, too. Trees were uprooted, and there were fallen trees along the roadside. What a sad place.

Entering Texas, things began to look up a bit - things looked more prosperous and livable.

We went past a huge factory, the International Paper Company. There were huge piles of Texas-type pulp wood stretching for about a quarter of a mile along the road. The strangest thing was that there were sprinklers sitting on top of the piles, keeping them wet. It seemed a bit unnecessary considering all of the rain we've seen this week. I tried to google a reason for keeping it wet. I discovered that it's called "wet storage" but I'm not sure why it is done. I think it has something to do with bark removal - at least it's somehow necessary for the pulping process.

Hooray! We arrived at our motel, and we have earned a free night - doesn't get any better. Dinner at Carino's. Today, although we had fog, traffic, mist, orange barrels, red mud, huge construction sites and detours, it was far better than yesterday. Overall, it was a good day, except for finding that Louisiana looks like a third world country.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Memories of today: road construction of all sorts -

closed ramps to the interstate right where you need to go,

cold rain,

torn up bridges,

two lane traffic on a six lane highway because the other side was all torn up,

huge piles of dirt,

heavy splashing and mist,

piles of broken concrete,

deluge of rain so loud we couldn't hear the CD,

a truck stopped dead in the right lane with no flares, cones, or orange triangles,

more kinds of construction equipment than you can shake a stick at,

more rain, hard rain,

and miles and miles of orange barrels.

Now, picture all of this in a driving, pelting, heavy rain.

Picture 18 wheelers splashing and kicking up mist, while still going 70 mph.

Picture drivers speeding through this veritable fog of rain and mist with no lights on, and not signaling lane changes.

Thank goodness for Nuvi and for Dick, the demon driver!

Did you know:

1. To get from Indianapolis to Memphis you go through Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas before you get to Tennessee? (The Nuvi route)

2. On that route, you cross the Mississippi River twice?

3. That there are fields and fields of cotton in southern Missouri? It looked to me that the cotton was ready to be picked - although it was hard to see anything clearly through the downpour.

4. That there is a town in Missouri named Braggadocio?

5. That Tops BBQ, ("The Best BBQ in Memphis Since 1952") is NOT the best BBQ in Memphis?

We could barely see the welcoming Comfort Inn sign...

Monday, October 12, 2009


Uneventful drive through Michigan. Stopped in Niles for lunch at a very interesting place called the Riverfront Cafe.
Then on into Indiana. One of the places we drove through is I spent the rest of the afternoon with this song in my head:
Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you to
Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego baby why dont we go

Off the Florida keys
Theres a place called Kokomo
Thats where you wanna go to get away from it all
Of course our Kokomo was not THAT Kokomo!

Arrived in Indianapolis before 5 p.m., so Dick was able to find one cache before dinner and two after dinner.

We ate at Grindstone Charlie's, just around the corner from the motel.

Returned to the Comfort Inn tired but happy.

We had a great talk with Jana on the cell. Her car is back in the shop, but other than that things are good.

After our conversation, she sent me this video spoof - "Kosovo"!

Good night.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Road Trip

Dick and I are taking a short road trip next week to add six more States to our geocaching total. We hope to add Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa

We're leaving tomorrow, Monday, Oct. 12, and plan to be home on or before Oct. 21. We sold our Delaware State tickets to our friend Justin (Wolverine Warriors). I'm hoping we can hear the game on the radio or maybe even watch it on TV.

We're almost all packed up, and we're looking forward to it. You just have to love a road trip!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Night Game

Minor's Two Scores Not Enough in U-M Loss at No. 12 Iowa

Oct. 10, 2009

Site: Iowa City, Iowa (Kinnick Stadium)
Score: #12 Iowa 30, Michigan 28
Record: Michigan (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten), Iowa (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten)
Attendance: 70,585 (sellout)
Next U-M Game: Saturday, Oct. 17 -- vs. Delaware State (Michigan Stadium), 12:01 p.m.

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa (No. 12 AP/No. 14 USA Today) remained unbeaten and eked out a 30-28 victory over the University of Michigan football team on Saturday night (Oct. 10) at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes extended the nation's second-longest winning streak to 10 games before a sold-out homecoming crowd against the Wolverines.

The game went too late for me, so I went to bed and missed the winning interception at the end. At least I feel well rested :)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Blue Saturday

Oct. 3, 2009

Site: East Lansing, Mich. (Spartan Stadium)
Score: Michigan State 26, #22 Michigan 20 (OT)
Records: U-M (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten), Michigan State (2-3, 1-1 Big Ten)
Next U-M Game: Saturday, Oct. 10 -- at Iowa (Iowa City, Iowa), 7 p.m. CDT

Football Drops Overtime Thriller at Michigan State

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The University of Michigan football team (No.22 AP/No. 20 USA Today) completed a 14-point comeback to force overtime on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 3), but a U-M interception and subsequent Spartan touchdown in extra time led to a 26-20 Michigan State victory in Spartan Stadium. MSU maintains possession of the Paul Bunyan Trophy for consecutive seasons for the first time since 1967.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Home Again

Packed up this morning , turned in the keys, and headed for T.C. by way of Rochester Hills to visit with Doug and Odette.

They took us to Rochester Mills Beer Company for lunch. It was in the old Western Knitting Mills building, which has a fascinating history. Our lunch was terrific, and we had a nice visit - it's always fun to catch up on all of the latest family stories.

Our drive home was uneventful, thank goodness. We made stops for beverages, and at Kingsley for groceries, and got home before seven. The furnace was slow to heat things up, but other than that, everything here was in fine shape. Dick had the car all unloaded by 7 p.m.

We had a great month in Ann Arbor.