Elliot Arrives

Sorry it’s been so long since I have written, but things have been a little crazy here and I didn’t want to write about it until everything was resolved. Our daughter Kat was 10 days late and getting loads of tests at both her birthing center and the hospital when they discovered she was low on amniotic fluid which forced the delivery from the birthing center into a hospital. This was disappointing as she had planned for a completely natural birth, but ultimately she made the best decision.

The next two days were a roller coaster as the hospital tried everything they could to get her labor started. After 30 hours, Kat decided to get a C-section because of the stress the baby was undergoing. When he came out he was a healthy 8lb, 5oz but his lungs didn’t completely inflate which prompted them to move him into the NICU. Kat only got a few seconds to see his face and then they whisked him away, which was really rough again. Under normal circumstances I would have been in the hospital on standby but because of COVID she was only allowed Adrian so we stayed at home waiting for information. Adrian did an excellent job of keeping us posted but it’s hard not to be there when your daughter is going through something like that.

Initial contact
In the NICU

This event started a seven day stint in the Children’s Hospital NICU which was incredibly stressful. First I should say the doctors and nurses did an excellent job, but it is a very busy unit with over 48 beds. They were near capacity and doctors and nurses changed frequently so it was tough getting solid information. Initially he was on a CPAP, catheter, and feeding tube, but one by one they removed those devices. Because of the C-Section Kat was still in the labor unit next door, but because it was two different hospitals she had to go back and forth frequently. She was trying to pump and eventually breastfeed but was required back in her room for tests every three hours. The logistics of it was a nightmare, even more so because we weren’t allowed to visit her in her room but could visit Elliot in Childrens. Two hospitals and two different sets of COVID rules, but we worked through it and on the second day were finally able to hold the baby.

This is a nice hospital but they do charge for parking which can start to add up. Since it is in the city there is really nowhere else to park other than the garage. We would arrive, park (usually at the top of the garage because the truck is so big and then provide ID and get a badge before we could get into the NICU. Totally worth it!
Holding him and not disconnecting all the wires was hard. Snuggles were great though.

Over the next several days we watched the doctors struggle to understand why his sodium levels were low. This can be a pretty serious condition and they ran test after test to rule things out. My daughter was finally checked out of her hospital room which made things a little easier. They were spending most of the day at the NICU though so she could try and breastfeed. Initially they carefully controlled what he ate, so he had to bottle feed, and Kat pumped at the same time. One thing I was grateful for was they had plenty of donated breastmilk so the bottle feeding still gave him the special nutrients. They have done studies that vaccinated mothers are passing anitbodies in the breastmilk which helps with COVID protection.

Lee loves feeding babies
Milk drunk babies are so cute 🙂
One of my favorite things was he had homework everyday lol.
First bath in the NICU

This is my first time dealing with a NICU baby and it was really hard on everyone. The stress is near constant and the limited time to visit made it worse. In order to not overwhelm them we only went every other day (Adrian’s mom took the other days) and usually stayed less than two hours. It was an hour each way to get there and get in the room so each visit was a 4 hour block, but the baby time was pretty limited. No matter when we went there were always other things going on (ie: feedings, tests, etc) so pure baby time was maybe 20 minutes a visit. That time was precious though and again worth the hassle, but obviously it was a way different experience than if they had been allowed to take the baby home right away. And I really hated all the tubes and was incredibly grateful when they finally removed the feeding tube on his cheek. He is a healthy size and weight thank God, but the wires made him feel incredibly fragile. Our best visit was one day when he was super alert and I was reassured that he was looking at us and even tracking Lee’s voice with his head.

I feel you Elliot!!
Some nurses made us wear masks others didn’t. The room was small and kept uncomfortably warm so not wearing one was much better for me.
His Mom sucked two fingers just like this 🙂

Don’t get me wrong I kept all of those feelings to myself while we were there and tried to portray love, support, and confidence that everything would be ok. The last thing Kat and Adrian needed was dealing with my feelings so I waited to fall apart until it was just Lee and I. Finally though they gave him a diuretic and his sodium started to rebound. After 8 days they decided he could go home and follow-up on outpatient and all of us were overjoyed. Now the real transition starts and hopefully we can see him more, although we are almost out of time here. Despite all the challenges I am incredibly grateful to have a beautiful, healthy grandson who by the way has the exact same birthday as my other grandson Oliver. I can see some big joint birthday parties in our future!!!

Adrian and Elliot
Kat and Elliot

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Waiting on Baby

After Kansas City, we arrived in Minneapolis. Our daughter Kat was due July 7th and we wanted to arrive early just in case. Turned out we all had a lot of waiting to do as her due date came and went. We made the most of the time celebrating her birthday and Lee catching up on lots of RV stuff that he had been putting off. Plus Jack was super happy because the Dakota County Fairgrounds where we stay is one of his favorites. Not only is it a really nice piece of land, but they have a dog friendly policy and there are lots of places we can take him off leash.

We snagged a spot close to the dump station so Lee could use the macerator pump and long hoses and didn’t have to use the blue boy. I was concerned about possible smell, but it is super clean and we never smell anything. And it’s one of the very few spots that have shade trees in what is otherwise a giant open field.

As soon as we arrived we went to see Kat and I was amazed at how big she was. She’s the smallest of my girls at 5’2″ and she is all baby. Her hair is normally a bright color (it changes with her mood), but with the birth coming she cut it short and went back to her natural color which I think was really smart.

All belly

Kat and Adrian (her partner) have been working on getting ready and I was happy to assist by dropping off all the shrink wrapped clothes I have been buying. For several months in our travels I have been buying baby clothes at thrift stores and garage sales and resale shops, and between what I bought and what my older daughter Kyrston sent she should have enough for a year or more. I also finished a cross stitched baby blanket for her and was happy to give that as well.

So many clothes
Really happy with how this turned out but its a good thing babies take 9 months because I am super slow.

So what do you do with a VERY pregnant daughter in July heat? Go out to eat of course. We went to a great place for southern fired chicken one day and another restaurant for her birthday brunch.

One thing I did want to do was find a Jade plant and Kat and I went to a greenhouse where one of her best friends works. Bachman’s had a great selection including some very high end rare plants. One of these was actually a $750 plant which blew me away, but I spent much much less on my super cute jade plant.

Largely though we just gave them their space and Lee and I went about our normal lives. Lee spent hours reorganizing all of our cabinets and storage compartments, and doing a mini purge. I have to say they look absolutely fantastic! He is a master at organization and is always coming up with new ways to make things easier, and make things fit better.

Since we will be here for awhile, I joined the local Farmington, MN Facebook group and Lee and I have been exploring the small town. Turns out there is an excellent ice cream shop with locally made ice cream here and we went to a $1 book sale that one of the locals had.

Another day Lee and I were wandering around and stumbled across a store called Shady Deal. It had all kinds of weird closeouts and lots of mannequins throughout the store. Very strange but they had some unique items I have never seen anywhere else.

And lastly we went to Mall of America. The last time I went was at least 10 years ago but we pass it almost every day and finally decided to stop. Mainly I wanted to check out the indoor amusement park for future trips with Lil Bean (as we are calling the baby) and I was thrilled to see it had a Nickelodeon theme. It also has a fantastic Legacy Toy Store (Lee had to drag me out of there) and an Amazon Prime shop which is full of items that are trending and 4 plus stars on Amazon. Frankly you could spend days in there, but after 8,000 steps I was ready to leave.

So we are just waiting and hopefully the baby will come soon. Unfortunately we have to leave no later than 8/1 because they are having the county fair this year and clear the campground to prepare the grounds. It’s the only downside to staying here, but since we will rarely come in August we are huge fans of staying here when in the area.

There are still 5 or 6 posts Lee needs to write about places he went while we were in Kansas City, but he’ll do those later, none of them really matter in the chronology of our life.

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TWA Museum

When we arrive in a new city I start doing research and often there are pleasant surprises. That was the case when I learned that Kansas City had a TWA Museum. Yes, Lee loves planes and flight museums, but TWA is something special because his father worked for and retired from TWA. He worked third shift as a ground crew member and Lee’s entire childhood was formed in some way because of that job. So even though I don’t care that much about flight museums generally I definitely wanted to visit it with him.

It was open on Saturdays so went went first thing in the morning and it was a little hard to find. It is in a building that currently hosts Flight Support, but after a couple of wrong turns we found it.

The Flight support was to the right upon entering and the TW museum was to the left. Once we got inside the signage was good.

The hallway leading up to the museum had lots of cool vintage posters and several pictures and medal cases. That was all free, but the $10 to get into the museum itself was a bargain, especially with the significance it had for Lee. The only thing we didn’t like was we had to be led by a tour guide because the museum is actually in multiple rooms and in order to get to them all you need to go into the working hangar. Makes sense because of the design, but we would have much preferred being allowed to walk around alone.

These beautiful model planes were found in various places and beautifully restored
This was in pristine condition, surprising given its age
One of the coolest things I saw was a complete set of First Class china including little TWA matches and cigarettes.

I should probably mention at this point that when Lee was a teenager his father moved to Florida while Lee stayed with his mother in Columbus. Using his fathers flight pass he flew for free many, many times on TWA and always sat in first class. Back then they didn’t pay much attention to his age and he was able to drink and eat elaborately on these many first class flights. Think Leo DiCapprio in Catch Me If You Can. That was Lee’s flying experience. He was very happy when we found some old menus from First Class because it proved he wasn’t misremembering the experience. Check out these menu items. On todays flight you are lucky if you get pretzels.

As I stated earlier we walked out into the hangar and walked into nearby rooms, which had multiple training stations for crew members and pilots including a complete mockup of an Ambassador Club.

Lee’s favorite part was the full size training cabin and he immediately sat in his favorite seat…1A. He also found a crew jacket on board which his father wore every single day and that made him pretty emotional. It’s funny all the memories old items can bring back.

Lee’s seat
The jacket

All in all it was a great museum, but my absolute favorite part was the gift shop. They had lots of actual TWA items for sale here and the vintage stuff was really cool. Lee’s favorite was one of the flight bags, which he had as a kid, his Dad was very thrifty. I absolutely loved all the TWA gift bags which had tiny travel size stuff in them. Ranging from $2-$5 I bought several and laid them out when I got home to look at them. Don’t ask me why tiny stuff gave me such a thrill but I went crazy over the little TWA stapler!

The bag!
They had jackets for sale but they were pretty pricey so Lee settled for a few shirts instead. Everything was never worn but old.
I really liked this air stewardess scarf but it was a little pricey for me. Probably should have bought it though.
I had to throw away the some of the stuff but I kept the stapler!
The Address book cracked me up
And the flight socks were great

You are either old enough to remember flying as it used to be or you are not, and either way I think the museum was well worth the entrance fee. For us the trip was filled with nostalgia and I am really glad Lee got to experience it.

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June 2021 Budget

I know that many of our readers look forward to this budget updates, but for me it has become a major chore. Since we are no longer pinching every penny our costs have gone way up and I feel vaguely guilty abut that for some reason. I know that is silly, and I also trust that you can separate out what are base costs versus extras, but it still feels like I am justifying myself every month. I have thought about only doing an annual report-out, but I know people would miss these, so I will continue to post, but I am not necessarily going to go through every line item. For those of you who are looking for a lean budget picture I would point you to our Budgets page and years 2017 and 2018.

I did want to add one note about groceries. I am super confused. Lee and I have gone to only eating one meal a day and we are drinking a protein drink for dinner. How we could be on this diet and still spend a thousand dollars is absolutely beyond me, but I do know part of it is waste. We have been buying food like we used to eat and have been really focusing on buying smaller quantities so we will see how it goes in July. The dining out went way up because we are only eating one meal a day and often want to eat out for that. Hoping this will all settle in next month, but its been a major change to our eating habits and I am not surprised it is taking a bit to settle in.

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Plants And A Sound Bar

Written by Lee

At the beginning of June, on one of our days exploring around St. Louis, we ended up at a place called Eckert’s for lunch. It’s a “pick your own” farm, with a country store, restaurant, and a greenhouse. While we were waiting for our table for lunch we were browsing around the store and I ended up in the greenhouse and they had a bunch of herbs in little pots, pretty reasonable priced. I decided I wanted to see if it would be possible to have a little herb garden in the rig. I thought it would be nice to have some color and some fresh herbs to use in cooking. Plus, some of them just smell great.

Our rig has a front living room, which is unusual, and it also has a pretty big front window, which is also unusual. That front area gets really hot, and I had just put in a little lightweight curtain rod and curtain to help cut down on the crazy heat since the summer has been so hot. I had actually been thinking about this specific space in the rig for a while.

The TV is on a lift that goes up and down, but we generally leave it up and so the space between the TV and the window is sort of wasted space, and I thought I could put that to good use. That area usually gets lots of sun, because the front cap is sloped backwards quite a bit. It’s also hard to see in the picture, but because of the shape of the front cap, the window is actually sort of boxed in in the front. The white area on the sides is also at the bottom and top, and as you can see, lots of sun. The idea was that we could get rid of some of the knick-knacks, which have been there since we started full timing, and I could some plants in there. We would also get in the habit of putting the TV down when we aren’t actually watching it, and have the view of the plants and the outside world.

So we got rid of most of the stuff, and I picked out some herbs that I thought we could use, and also a few really interesting plants that I just liked. I bought oregano, lemon thyme, sage, mint, chocolate mint, thai basil, parsley, cilantro, lemongrass, and thyme. I also got a few plants that I thought were cool just to look at.

White Euphorbia, because it is low maintenance and blooms all season.

Spiral rush. Really cool looking plant!
Twisted Celosia Cristata, because it also blooms all season.
I also got whatever the hell this is. I love it, but I don’t know what it’s called. It likes living here though, it’s three times bigger in this picture taken 7/9 than when I bought it 6/6

Of course I had to immediately repot all the plants into slightly larger pots with potting soil, and I had to do a fair amount of running around to find inexpensive, lightweight pots. As with many of Lee’s projects what starts as relatively simple gets more complicated, but I don’t mind because he keeps me involved in the process every step of the way. – Trace

This was my original plan, to put each pot into a basket, but as you can see, it would have looked terrible. The shape of the window ledge makes a gentle curve, and the baskets are way too big. I ended up using one of the baskets to organize the drawer in my couch and it fit perfectly. The other ones we gave to our daughter Kat -Trace

I ended up staggering the pots in the window box in a zig zag pattern to fit as many as I could in there, and then the others I put just outside the box. They get just as much sun. I can also move some of them to the desk if I need to or want to. It looked amazing, smelled good, and I absolutely love having fresh herbs to cook with. So far I have used chives, cilantro, lemon thyme, and oregano in recipes and they worked great – Trace

Then I went all over the city to a bunch of nurseries and other stores trying to find the right watering can. I didn’t want some cheap plastic thing that I would have to hide in a cabinet, I wanted something that could be left out, that would fit in aesthetically. I found the perfect one at an Ace hardware store, and Ikea had a nice little lantern that holds an LED candle we had that goes perfectly with it. I really like the watering can too because it looks decorative – Trace

So that’s all done, now we’ll see how they grow!

The Sound Bar

After the plants I decided to replace our junky stock “stereo” with a sound bar. We don’t use the radio, we only use the stereo as the sound for our PC to watch TV and movies. Removing the stereo and speakers would allow me to have much better sound, and it would also reclaim valuable wasted space.

As always, I am amazed at how much space is wasted in a rig. As you can see in the picture below, there are two storage compartments on either side of the stereo. We use those compartments to store books. They looks small, but they’re surprisingly large. They’re 30″ wide, 18″deep, and 8″ high, so they’re a whopping 2.5 cubic feet each. That’s around 60 paperbacks per cabinet. Hooray more room for books!!! – Trace

That stereo and speakers were eating up a LOT of space. Way back in March 2017 I had to remove the stereo to do some work on it and I was amazed at how much wasted space was back there. At that we considered getting a sound bar, but didn’t. It doesn’t look like it, but when you consider the stereo AND the speakers, it’s a lot. The height and depth is the same as the other cabinets, but the width is a whopping 40″! So an additional 3.3 cubic feet of space, just going to waste.

I got to work tearing it all apart. Carefully, in case something didn’t work and I had to put it all back together. Have to admit I was a little nervous at this point but spoiler it all turns out ok 🙂 – Trace

The speaker covers just pop off. They’re held in place with standard cabinet latches. The trim ring around the stereo comes off and there’s just 4 screws holding it in place. And behind is a MESS of 12v and video and audio wiring.
In order to clean up some of the AV wiring I needed to remove the fireplace (just a trim ring and 4 screws, again) to make sure I was removing the right cables.
Because the stereo was already being used as the amp for our PC sound, I didn’t need to run any new audio cables, just verify which ones were in use. The stereo had three different audio lines, and two of them were not going to be used.
Removing the speakers was just a matter of unscrewing them from this panel, and then tapping out the panel, which was just stapled in.
After everything on the stereo was disconnected, I decided to leave the wiring intact, and just tuck it up into the hole in the ceiling so in the future if I ever wanted to do anything with the outside speakers I could.

I had to get regular 120v power up there, so I just used the holes I had created and followed the same path I used when I installed RGB LED lights into the glass door cabinets way back when we first started.

I also didn’t want to deal with doing the hidden hinges on the new cabinet door, so I just used a “bronze” hinge that matches the rest of the cabinet hardware throughout the rig. This level of detail is what I love about Lee’s projects. He made sure I could open the door no problem and I got to decide if the color was close enough. -Trace

And I was lucky enough that Home Depot had 1/2″ x 8″ poplar stock that was a perfect fit, so I only needed to cut it to length, no ripping required.

Once I got everything in place I tested it to make sure there were no problems before I finished up.

The sound bar came with surface mounting brackets, which was nice, and I needed to put holes in the new door to hide the cables, but that was pretty simple.

With the sound bar mounted and the cables hidden it is starting to look pretty good.
I was able to find a pretty close stain match. The colors appear much closer in person than in the pictures.

I also added three gas lifts because the door was far too heavy to hold up with the sound bar.

A quick trip to Michael’s and Trace found some greenery she really liked and now we have a nice new sound bar, with almost 3 1/2 cubic feet of new storage, and it all looks pretty good! This was my contribution adding the flowers which Lee not only approved up but helped me pick them out and affix them. For those of you who do projects and your partner is not that thrilled I recommend letting them stay involved – Trace

UPDATE: in the month since all of this happened, the plants have really thrived. The sage, basil and lemon thyme had to be replaced because they didn’t survive the transplant, so I got purple basil, and two new lemon plants. I also got rid of the lemongrass and Trace got a nice jade plant instead. We’ve used some of the herbs, and they look, smell and taste great! I’m super happy with it, especially since Lee does all the watering!- Trace

Tracy’s jade plant that replaced the lemongrass

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Another Union Station

The last three cities we have been in ( Nashville, St. Louis, and Kansas City) have all taken their Union Station building and done something really cool with them. Growing up in Columbus, Ohio we didn’t have a Union Station, so its been really neat seeing them when we travel. Update: My Mom sent me a note and apparently we did have a Union Station that is now full of shops. Crazy…I had no idea. In Kansas City they have absolutely made the most of the space, as the building houses several businesses. It’s also has gorgeous architecture and a beautiful fountain on the outside.

World War I memorial tower is in the background
Lee saw the Auschwitz exhibition on a separate visit, but I just wanted to see the planetarium. My grandson is half Jewish and I I don’t think I could get through the exhibit.

The inside is gorgeous with beautiful floors and ceilings. It also houses a Post Office and is a working Amtrak station.

It is a multi level building and in one small section there is a terrific model train exhibit. It is free (donations requested) and really well done. I particularly liked that there was a swipe machine for donations. I have never seen that before but wish more places had them.

Lee loves model trains

There is also a bridge you can walk across and see actual trains. The building is definitely kid friendly and houses a science museum, movie theater, and ice cream shop.

We came for the planetarium though because every day at 4pm they had a Beatles themed laser show. It was only $8 and I thought it would be fun but I have to say it was very disappointing. The show we saw had mostly basic graphics (think Spirograph) and although the music was good, it was kind of boring. Lee said he saw something very similar in 1986 and it was disappointing that they weren’t doing more with the technology that exists today.

Overall it was an OK trip and definitely a decent way to beat the heat but I wouldn’t rush back. The kids science center (which we did not go in) seemed pretty cool, so it might be worth going back for that. Lee also found the Auschwitz exhibit very impactful, but I am not going to review that here.

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First Time at Worlds of Fun

When Lee was looking for a place to stay in Kansas City, once again we ran into trouble finding places to stay near the city that weren’t booked. Ultimately he chose staying at the campground owned by Worlds of Fun Amusement Park and it turned out to be really nice, although expensive. It was so nice in fact that I would put it right up there with the favorite places we have stayed and even thought about going back and doing a joint vacation with the grandkids when they’re old enough, since they have really nice cabins as well.

Beautiful deep sites with nice tree dividers for privacy
And who doesn’t love having a roller coaster in their back yard. We could hear the kids screams from a pleasant distance away.

I like our site because there was a giant hill behind us where I could walk Jack and watch the roller coasters every day. Well, I say everyday but the park was actually closed on Tues and Weds. And it closed at 7pm every night which was nice as well. It was a weird year because of COVID and the hours and rules were kind of all over the place. For example the campground offers a special 5 day pass to the park(s) for only $75, but when I went to buy it I was told it needed to be purchased in advance. I also found out later that I could have bought a food pass online which was actually a terrific deal and would have definitely been worth it. The people that work at the campground don’t seem to understand all the park rules, so again I would ask in advance and research online before booking.

Ultimately I ended up buying a two day pass for $60, which was still a really good deal. This included both the water and the amusement parks, but the water park was only available by reservation because of COVID. Again, things were weird and if you do decide to come I would make sure I got solid information about going to the parks at the time of booking my campground. That being said it was a great park and reminded me of the Kings Island of my youth. I ended up taking a Monday off and spending most of the day there and had a lot of fun.

Lee talked about going with me, but he was on the fence , and then an accident happened. He hit his toe on the bottom slide piece of our closet and severely bruised it. Initially we thought it was broken, but when he got an X Ray it was just a really bad sprain, but as you can see from the picture he wasn’t up for walking anywhere. And really I didn’t mind. Going to theme parks by yourself can be really fun, because you can do whatever you want.

YIKES…and yes it hurt as bad as it looked.

I ended up getting really lucky the day I went because it was overcast and the temperature was in the low 80s instead of the high 90’s the rest of the week. I chose not to go to the water park, but I did walk through and see everything. I think this would be a huge benefit for the grandkids, because they had lots of kid areas and the park is within walking distance.

The amusement park was divided into multiple sections and each one was a different continent. Although it was on the smaller side, I appreciate that they went to the effort and enjoyed walking through and seeing the different areas. I rode a few rides; two coasters, two water rides, and the cars, but mainly I just walked around and looked at everything. The park was clean and well staffed although throughout the day rides were up and down. I arrived first thing in the morning but many of the rides weren’t actually running yet and whether that was staffing or mechanical issues was unclear. I am guessing a bit of both.

Don’t get me wrong there were MANY more rides than I went on, but I am not as young as I used to be and I wasn’t up for the larger roller coasters. I also have never been a fan of the spinning rides and there were tons of those. It was neat watching them, especially the superman ride that is a giant bungee. I wish I had the guts to go on that one, but nope not happening.

Just to completely solidify my old lady status, I spent a lot of time in the shops. They were all themed based on the continent and I really enjoyed looking at the stuff they had. The cartoon characters are Snoopy so there were cute Snoopy stuff everywhere.

Speaking of Snoopy I loved the little kid amusement park area and really wished Oliver was with me to go on the rides. This area was extremely well done.

One of my favorite things I did all day was attend a dog show. All of the indoor entertainment was cancelled due to COVID, but there was a cute rescue dog show that had dogs taken from shelters and trained. Each dog had a story and since I found a spot in the shade I really enjoyed it.

All in all it was a good day, but by far my biggest complaint was how long the lines were. It was a Monday and there weren’t that many people there, but because of COVID they didn’t put multiple families in the same car. On the water rides in particular this caused huge delays as 8 person rafts would only have 2-3 people. They also don’t have single rider lines and their fast pass was an additional $45 which was too much. Between being bumped for Fast Pass holders and cars not being filled the lines got longer as the day wore on. I waited over an hour for the last water ride which was 3x the time it would normally take based on where I started in line. I did my part though and joined in with some kids near me so I went taken up a whole car by myself.

It’s not really fair to judge the park based on that kind of stuff though because of COVID. I am just really glad I went early on a Monday and didn’t try to go on the weekend. Overall I would like to go back, when things are back to normal.

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First Time in Kansas City

For those of you who don’t travel much, towns definitely have their own vibe. For the individual this is largely subjective, and the criteria for a “good” vibe vary wildly. One of the reasons Lee and I like the way we travel is we try hard to spend enough time in a place to get a good feel for the vibe. Grocery stores, local radio, and traffic patterns are simple ways for us to determine if we like a city. Also there are two kinds of likes. Places that are nice to visit and places we would actually want to live in. The second category is MUCH smaller and only a few places have struck that note with us. I am happy to say Kansas City has made the list!!

So how did they get on the list for us? First and foremost people are nice here. Right from the beginning we noticed a distinct lack of rudeness that unfortunately is the default for many places we have been. In general people also drive pretty courteously, which is a big deal for Lee in particular as he is running us around when we are visiting a city. The town also has its own distinct look and feel which is really important to us. We visit tons of places that look like “anywhere USA” and Kansas City has managed to be friendly, have services, and still maintain a unique look and feel. It’s helped by the fact that there are many districts in the city and all of these have their own personality.

It’s a great combination of history, arts, and sports which is rare to find in a city this size. It even has it’s own ballet company and beautiful orchestra hall for additional culture.

Kauffman Center

Both the Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Royals are based here and have a beautiful area right outside of town for their stadiums. When we travel I love seeing football stadiums and Lee and I were able to get up close one Sunday and take some pictures.

We even got to see the training field!!

During our visit we have at least driven through all of the different districts, but my favorite by fair is the Power and Light district. It has really cool architecture and the lighting fixtures all look like old electrical fixtures.

One of the great things about the city is people are living in all the districts, even the ones that are more run down. It’s a vital city and there are shops, grocery stores, and gas stations to support it. One of my favorite areas was City Market which is a huge open air market that has specialty shops for many different ethnicities. It is a culturally mixed town and very LGBTQ friendly as well and we saw all kinds of folks hanging out together wherever we went. Lee picked up some very inexpensive bulk middle eastern spices that he liked so much he went back a second time for more.

My main disappointment with the city during our visit was food. That’s probably because I don’t really like BBQ, but Lee had it a few times from different places and loved it. We did go to an old family owned steak place and it was OK, but not as good as many other places I have been. There are lots of choices though and many are locally owned which is great.

There are lots of great locally owned shops including Prospero Books, a used book store. We love going to book stores when we are visiting a new town and this one was really cool. It was three floors and the decorations were great.

Speaking of books, the outside of the downtown library parking garage is a wall of giant books that I absolutely loved.

And finally did I mention this is the city of fountains?? There are over 100 of them throughout the city and we stopped and saw several.

My absolute favorite though was a memorial to local firefighters who had lost their life in the line of duty and the memorial recognized those men from the 1890’s until present day. It was made using fire hose nozzles and was extremely well done.

All in all it is a really cool town and as I said I really like the vibe. We spent two weeks in KC and there was plenty to do which you will hear about in upcoming posts.

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National Museum of Transportation

This post was written by Lee. When we arrive at a new place I will take our list and write “All you Lee” next to the places I don’t really care about and Lee will visit them on one of my work days. This was one of those places – Tracy

One of the places I wanted to see was the National Museum Transportation, which is out of town a little bit, but not far off the Interstate, which makes it not a bad drive. As you can see in the pictures below, the parking lot is huge and has plenty of room for big rigs.

The museum itself is in several different buildings, and spread out over a pretty large area. It’s mostly train related, with a handful of cars and smaller exhibits. This is a GREAT place for little kids.

That’s alot of batteries- Tracy

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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St. Louis Art Museum in Forest Park

One of the coolest parts of St. Louis is Forest Park. It is twice the size of central park and was where the 1904 World’s Fair was held. The park is so huge it contains a zoo, several museums, planetarium, golf course, sports fields, tennis courts, and wooded trails. We actually needed a map not to get lost in it and if it wasn’t so hot that day we definitely would have spent some time just walking around. Parking can be a challenge, but we got there early and found a spot.

After doing some research, we decided to go to the art museum and heat was the major factor. I have heard lots of great things about the Zoo and the history museum had some interest as well, but overall the art museum was our pick. When we arrived I was glad we did, because the Art museum is on a hill with beautiful views of the grounds and some fountains. There is also a giant statue of St. Louis that was very pretty.

Gorgeous building
Its not a great picture of the fountains, but they were huge and very pretty. Reminded me of Versailles.

Inside was also gorgeous with marble floors and columns and of course it was a maze. I understand the benefit of having smaller galleries to allow people to look at the art in a less crowded space, but I spend a ton of my time in art museums making sure we don’t miss anything. We spent several hours walking through the space and I am still not sure I saw it all.

I am not particularly educated in fine arts and it is a ton of work to go through every picture and name the artist, so I am not going to do that. What I will do is share the pieces of art that spoke to me personally but please keep in mind this is only a fraction of what this museum has to offer. I clocked over 8,000 steps walking through the museum though and we looked at a lot of art. In general I would say they had a terrific collection of Dutch Masters which I enjoyed and I really liked the Polynesian art section which was somewhat unusual.

This is one of their most famous pictures “Sadak in Search of The Waters of Oblivion” by John Martin in 1812. Lee almost got a T-Shirt with the picture, but went with one that said “Art Still Has Truth Take Refuge There”.
I looked at this picture for a long time. What struck me was the moustache on the young woman’s face. Two reasons, first most women get waxed in todays world and secondly it shows the amount of detail by the artist.
This picture caught my attention because it was in a room full of ornate and elaborate art and I was struck by its simplicity.
I also loved this picture of three sisters. Since I have three girls it reminded me of them.
This was a fantastically detailed still art piece. It looked like you could drink from the glass.
They had some great African American art as well which I always like to see

Paintings aside I really love sculpture and there was tons from all over the world.

This camel amazed me because it was very old and huge. I was surprised it survived.
This cool helmet isn’t a sculpture but I mentally put it in that category. The museum has a decent selection of armor.

Along with the sculptures there was a huge wing of modern art. As I have stated before that is not my favorite, but they had some cool pieces and a large section of art furniture as well.

This box installation was really interesting. If you look closely you can see Lee on the other side.
This sculpture made out of drawers was super cool. The picture doesn’t do it justice

As I mentioned before the Polynesian art area was really special. It’s just not something you see much of and they had an extensive collection.

On one of the floors there was a nice little courtyard and we stepped outside and sat for a minute. Art overload is definitely a thing and I sat by the waterfall and just enjoyed the quiet for a minute.

Another unusual section was full of Jewish art. This is also something I have rarely seen, but the collection was very nice.

Another thing I have never seen before (and would have missed if it wasn’t for Lee) was was a giant moving panorama. Unrolled it’s 348 feet long and the museum carefully rolls the panel to change the display section once a quarter. Very neat although I wish we could have actually seen the back section, but it was walled off. A glass room to see the mechanism would have been neat.

The only portion of the museum I found somewhat disappointing was the sculpture area. To be fair we did that last and I was pretty tired by then, but for me it was just ok. The exception was a giant “wheel “installation that was below ground. We had seen it through windows in the basement of the museum and it was even neater seeing it from the outside.

And just to show art is different for everyone, here are some of Lee’s favorites.

At the end , we spent some time in the gift store and I ended up getting a collapsible vase. I wasn’t sure if it would work, but turns out it works beautifully and it’s perfect for the RV lifestyle!! I miss having fresh flowers because I didn’t want to take up space for a vase, but this one collapses flat when emptied and takes up no room at all. Highly recommend if you see one on your travels.

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.