Taking a Break in Texas

After Oklahoma City, I felt pretty pooped out.  I wanted to get down to San Antonio and just sit in one place for awhile so we headed straight there.  I did look along the route for anything interesting we might stop and see, but there wasn’t much except this funky little shop called the Cloverleaf.  Once again it was a tough place to fit our rig in but Lee managed and I am glad he did.  The shop is going out of business, and it was nice we got to see it before it closed.  It has an eclectic mix of all kinds of things and personally I have never been in a store like it.  It’s impossible to explain with words so let me just show you.

There was a whole lot of pink!

 

The painted bikes used as a boundary were cool.

 

Fun car

The outside was the most interesting part.  Several sheds just crammed full of all kinds of weird stuff.

Some of the sheds

Sons of Anarchy homage??

This guy was weird

We actually owned one of these we got from Lee’s mom. Kept it for years and thought it was one of a kind. Apparently not 🙂 It’s a ball made of plastic drink cups that are glued together, and each one has a hole in the bottom. In the cavity that’s the center of the ball, there is a wad of Christmas lights and there is a light poked through the hole in each cup. Then there’s a controller box on the cord that gives you a bunch of different chases and patterns in the lights. Very cool looking when it’s hung up and the lights are on.

You see these signs all the time, but in this case it was absolutely needed 🙂

Since there wasn’t much to see along the way, I thought I would try and find us a cool place to stay overnight.  After doing some research I found what looked like a great Corps of Engineers park along a lake outside of Waco.  That seemed perfect and since it was mid week, we pulled in without making a reservation.  The gentleman who checked us in seemed annoyed by that, especially because he had to put our information in the system.  By this point it was super hot and we were looking forward to pulling into our spot.  Initially the site seemed nice, with great views and I was excited about taking Jack down to the lake.

The covered patio was nice

Jack loves sand and I was excited about letting him run along the shore, but someone had left a dead fish laying out and he kept wanting to eat it.

I tried to walk him the other way, but these sites were pretty beat up. There were concrete blocks with rebar laying around and you really had to watch where you stepped.

The worst part was everyplace we walked off the pavement there were an insane amount of burrs and “stickers”.  I understand that there is little they could do about it, but it ruined the experience for Jack and myself.  Oh and did I mention the planes?  When I saw how close it was to the airport I didn’t think much of it, because I figured it would all be small planes.  Nope.  Twice while we were there large planes landed and it was so close to us the RV shook.  It was really loud.  Combine all that and it was by far the worst COE park we have ever stayed in and at $30 a night it wasn’t cheap for water and electric.  The one plus was a beautiful sunset.

The next day we were both pretty cranky and really happy when we arrived at our final destination.  We are staying with friends, which will be nice for the wallet. and as I said happy to be taking a break.  We took the weekend to just chill and then on Monday Lee called several gate guard companies and got put on their waiting lists.  Things are somewhat slow again in the oilfields so we don’t know how long we will have to wait.  I am fine with that because I have several interviews lined up for this week.  Plus with temperatures hitting 100 every day, I am not complaining that we can stay inside our RV and don’t have to work outside.  We need the money, but I am hoping that something will come through on one of these jobs and we won’t have to gate guard at all.

More on that in the next post, but we are here in San Antonio and all is well!

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • 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.

Seeing Oklahoma City with Friends

Occasionally in our travels we have the opportunity to see a new place with people who have lived there.  The absolute best example of that to date was when we got to explore Louisiana with life long residents Pat and Bridget, but there have been several other examples.  So when Sharon said she wanted to “kidnap” us for the afternoon I was all for it.  She wasn’t available until after 1:30pm and we decided to take the morning and see a couple of things.

Our first stop in the morning was the Oklahoma City Memorial.  It was September 12th when we visited, which made the trip particularly poignant.  I vividly remember when this happened and how shocked we all were.  The world has absolutely changed since this tragedy occurred and it was definitely a foreshadowing of what was to come.  In particular the small chairs showing the children were very hard to look at.  We walked the grounds (which was free and a surprising number of people were there) but chose not to go into the museum.    Here are the pictures from our visit.

We were able to park our truck on the road, but no good places to bring a large RV

 

Outside the monument there is a fence with remembrances on it.

 

The view from when you first walk inside. The is another “gate” at the other end.

 

You walk through this “gate”

The chairs show the people who died. They are arranged in rows which correlate to the floor they were on

 

So many

 

We walked over towards the museum and this tree was in the courtyard. It survived the blast and they built around it.

 

I saw this written on the museum wall.

 

The museum looked interesting, but at $15 a person we just didn’t want to spend the money

 

The strangest thing we saw was this pair of wedding shoes. It really made no sense unless a bride came to visit a parent on her wedding day and left them there. We left them untouched as had several others. It felt wrong to pick them up.

Across the street is a catholic church that has it’s own small memorial.  I thought it was beautiful.  Jesus is facing away from the bombing site and the base of the statue simply says, “And Jesus Wept.”

Each hole in the bricks was for one of the victims. Simple and very moving.

After seeing the memorial we drove to the capital building.  Downtown OKC has surprisingly little traffic and it was pretty easy to pop over and see the capital.  This one was somewhat unique because it had an oil derrick in front of it.  That was the only oil derrick I saw the entire time we were there.  I had a vision in my head of OKC being dusty with tons of oil rigs, but it was actually very green and beautiful.

 

We didn’t go inside because I had to get back and meet a friend for lunch.  A guy I worked with for several years had landed in OKC and since we were Facebook friends I was able to meet him for lunch.  Lee decided he would rather go and visit some other places, and Craig and I had a great time catching up.  We met at a nice lunch place called Hideaway Pizza and for me at least it was like we had just seen each other.  Facebook is great for keeping up with people that way, but it was nice to see him in person.

I finished right when Lee finished the 45th Infantry Museum and came and picked me up.  (I will write a post about that sometime soon. I promise. Probably once we start gate guarding and there’s nothing to blog about and I have nothing to do all day. I also owe a post about remounting our kitchen sink, building the puppy platform in the back of the truck, the Wyoming prison, the Governor’s mansion, the rail depot, the missile silo, and the Cheyenne frontier museum. – Lee)  and Then we went to the Land Run Statue in Bricktown which is a really cool area of OKC.  There are lots of shops made out of the old warehouse district and some great areas along the water.  It reminded me a little bit of Riverwalk in San Antonio, but the best part was the statues.

The federal government had a huge land giveaway and held a race for people to get that land.  If you ever saw the Far and Away movie they do a great job of capturing the event, but this monument was spectacular.  I have never seen anything quite so big and we spent a good hour walking around the area and taking pictures.

These boats were not running but I think taking a canal tour would be fun.

 

This was super cool where the horses stopped and then picked up again across the water. There were even fake horse prints in the cement for detail. Really amazing.

 

The detail was terrific.

 

The walk itself was really pretty with a waterfall, lots of trees, and pretty bridges.

 

That was really special, and we left and went back to meet Sharon.  She had a surprise for me and took me to several of here favorite local thrift stores.  I have been looking for some new jean shorts and we went to three different places.  Lee was a good sport about it and even bought a couple of different sizes of tower fans himself for the rig.

 

 

We stumbled across the grand opening of an Ollies Closeouts..that was fun

The place was packed!!

It was pretty easy to get from one place to the other but there was one weird thing.  MANY of the parking lots had these dividers to stop RV’s from parking in them.  Be careful of that if you come to visit, because I have never seen this before and they were in most of the parking lots we saw.

It wasn’t all thrift stores though.  We stopped at the lake area that is right in the middle of OKC…beautiful spot and we watched people sail with surfboards.

We stopped for fried pie…a local specialty. Sharon knows her audience 🙂  Thrift stores for me and friend pie for Lee!

 

But the best surprise was when she took us to a ranch to see Clydesdales.  I love draft horses and these are owned by Express Employment who coincidentally was our employer at the Beet Harvest.  The barns are free to visit and since it was late, we were the only ones there.  We got to see a feeding which was really special, and the lady working there was super nice and let us spend extra time with the horse.  Loved that and so nice.

Beautiful grounds and training area.

We were all blown away by how much they eat.

 

The horse were smart and would sneak a snack while she was getting out their hay.

It was really fun and we capped the night off with dinner at Red Lobster.  Sharon approaches Shrimp Fest with military precision, and everyone ate too much. I had the gift card Kyrston gave me for my birthday so our meal was only $20 including tip.  We had such a good time we decided to stay one more day and the next evening they treated us to Chinese.  It was lovely seeing them and wonderful experiencing the city through their eyes.  It reminds me a lot of what Columbus was like when I was a kid.

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • 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.

Getting Our Oklahoma State Sticker

Oklahoma was another one of those states that I had never been in at all.  So I was excited to see it, more so because our friends Dan and Sharon were living there.  We met Dan and Sharon last year at our work kamping job and really hit it off.  They were working RVers like us and had been on the road for over 7 years when there daughter had their first grandchild.  For a variety of reasons they decided to take a break from traveling and settled into an RV park in OKC and got regular jobs.  There really aren’t that many RV parks in town but luckily the Council Road RV Park had an opening.  We were just glad to be close to our friends but it turned out to be an ok little park.  Don’t get me wrong it was tight, but we have different standards for RV Parks in cities than we have for the country.  It was also $36 a night with Good Sam discount, but we were happy to pay it to be close to our friends.

Initially we thought we would get there on Wednesday, but we ended up making good time and got in Tuesday.  We let Dan and Sharon know and although they were working late they came over to see us for a little bit in the evening.  We also made plans to see Sharon around 1:30pm the next day and have dinner with Dan and Sharon Weds night. For Wednesday morning we had a great plan.  While I was researching OKC I learned about the National Cowboy and Western Heritage museum and then saw that it was free on Wednesdays.   That was a no brainer so we headed over though in the morning.  Jack stayed at home taking a well deserved day off, so we could really take our time and enjoy our free day.

Let me say it would have been well worth the $12.95 fee but we were thrilled to get in for free.  There are multiple rooms and outdoor sculptures and it was really, really nice.  The only downside was their wild west town, Prosperity Junction, was being renovated, but that just makes us want to go back and visit again the next time we pass through OKC.  I’m going to be honest this place was a maze.  I mean we had to really be careful that we didn’t miss anything and several times I ended up  backtracking.  That will tell you how good it was though, because I didn’t want to miss a thing.  As we get into the pictures this isn’t really a good walk through.  I’ll try to keep pictures groups as we saw things, but that may be tough.  This pictures are both Lee’s and mine.  I just picked the best ones.  Enjoy!

Outside was really pretty. Lee noticed that this statue of a cowboy was placed so it faced the setting sun.

The entryway was beautiful

 

With this amazing statue at the end

 

There were numerous galleries named for the people who donated or the subject matter.

 

These looked more like an art museum than what I was expecting

 

This was one of Lee’s favorite paintings

 

Each one had an explanation

 

This room was all dedicated to pottery

 

I loved this quote because when we did glass blowing our instructor said something similar about the glass deciding what it was going to be

 

In numerous places there were stops where kids could draw

 

And some interactive areas like this one that allowed you to touch what the native american art was made from.

 

One of my favorite areas had numerous baby carriers

 

And this gorgeous headdress which was taller than I am

 

They also had modern native american art like these beaded tribute to 9/11. Since that was the day we went to the museum it caught me in my tracks. No matter where we are when we travel on that day we always see a reminder.

 

My favorite room was full of Remington. Including this Number 1 cast

 

It was even signed…gave me chills

 

Remington was also a painter and they had many of his pictures.  This one was called A Cheyenne Buck, 1901,

 

They had sculptures from other people including this one called The Last Drop that I really liked

Lee loved this picture. He said it really spoke to him.

 

(Here’s some of my favorite artwork from the galleries. I liked 87 of them enough to take careful pictures of them so I could use them as desktop wallpaper on my computer, these are just my very most favorites. – Lee)

(They had several rooms of galleries of vintage firearms. A really impressive, well displayed collection. An entire room devoted to just Colt, and another just for Winchester. – Lee)

 

 

And a room full of brands and racks of barbed wire. Pretty impressive if you care about barbed wire. Lee said its invention allowed the creation of the West as we know it.

(This room was very cool. I never knew there were so many types of barbed wire. Rack after rack of samples, each in a nice pull out drawer. Very impressive the effort that went into collecting all of these samples. – Lee)

(The brands were also very cool. There was also a copy of a period stockman’s book, which is essentially a yellow pages of brands, but I didn’t remember to get a picture of that. Brands were a huge deal. Changing them was an art form for rustlers, and in disputes sometimes a cow would be killed and the brand inspected from the backside where the healing rate would be a dead giveaway. And then a short drop and a sudden stop for the guilty man from the nearest tree. The only thing worse than stealing cattle was stealing a horse. A man could live without a gun, or a bedroll, or even water, but a man without a horse was a dead man. – Lee)

 

If I had cattle, this is probably what my brand would be! – Lee

 

 

There were several cowboys as well from the border

 

Hawaii

 

And of course Texas. All of these displays were extremely well done

 

I thought the American Rodeo section was really cool

 

They included a whole wing about women in the rodeo

 

 

By far Lee’s favorite was the section on famous film and television cowboys.  That suit in the front was from The Electric Horseman.

 

It was incredibly well done and included original artifacts from movies and television

 

Lee loved this leather chair used by Walter Brennan.

 

My favorite was Barbara Stanwick. She was a bad ass and one of the earliest portrayals I can remember seeing of a strong woman on TV.

 

Jimmy Stewart’s pistol from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Gene Autry’s pistol and boots

Dale Evans’ boots and hat!

 

The best of course was John Wayne

 

They even had the gun, hat, and eye patch from True Grit and Rooster Cogburn.

 

Lee was REALLY happy!!

 

The saddle and costume from True Grit and Rooster Cogburn. – Lee

 

They had an extensive collection of firearms that were given to John Wayne as gifts. This is a matched set of Colts from The Shootist.

 

Unfortunately we were too early for this exhibit which is coming in November.

 

(There was also an excellent gallery of military history, uniforms and firearms from the period, including a beautiful 10 barrel Gatling gun. Invented in 1861 by a doctor after seeing hundreds of Union soldiers march through Indianapolis. Dr. Gatling was convinced that such a weapon would significantly reduce the number of soldiers needed for warfare, and thus save lives. The average soldier at the time using existing technology could fire one to two rounds per minute. The Gatling gun could fire 200 rounds per minute. After the Civil War, when brass cartridges replaced paper ones, the gun continued to be improved and eventually could fire 3000 rounds per minute before other companies took over and left Gatling in the dust. Needless to say, it did NOT reduce casualties. One of my few complaints about the entire museum is that this gun is displayed in a case against a wall, and you can’t walk all the way around it. Genuine Gatling guns are incredibly rare (they typically bring half a million at auction) and this is really excellent specimen, and as such you should be able to see it as close as the glass will allow, and from all sides.  – Lee)

We also missed the pioneer village which was under construction. Good reason to go back!

 

I did make Lee take these pictures though

 

 

That was all just one wing.  The other side had multiple meeting rooms, a movie theater that plays an old, free western once a day, a wonderful reading area, dining hall, and their prize winning art room.  Every year they pick and award winners and I was glad to see modern artists get celebrated.  Some of those were really good.

This was my favorite painting of the day.

 

Farmer teaching his daughter to shoot.

And they had wonderful outside gardens as well with huge sculptures.  It was pretty hot when we walked outside so we kept it short, but really nice.

Finally we went into the gift shop.  This had some really pricey items, but lots of nice stuff too.  It was beautifully done and I got a great Oklahoma shirt for $20 which I thought was reasonably priced.  We absolutely loved it and I said if I lived there I would probably become an annual member.  Definitely would like to go back again and absolutely recommend it if you are passing through OKC.

This is what our map looks like now and I am really happy that we were able to fill in so many stickers.  We have officially visited all the states in the west now, although as you can see we have several back east to get.

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • 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.

Kansas State Sticker and Finally after Five Years… the Giant Ball of Twine

We have actually driven through some of Kansas before this trip, but because we didn’t stop and do anything Kansas specific we still needed to earn our sticker.  I knew we weren’t going to spend a ton of time in Kansas, but we decided to take a route that was off the interstate to allow for a few interesting stops.  The first thing Lee and I did was check our Roadside America app and see what was available along any of the numerous routes we could take.  Once we planned our stops we let the GPS lead us.  Since Kansas’ highway system is laid out in a grid, there really are numerous ways we could have gone.

The first stop was the small cabin where the creator of Home on the Range “the Kansas State song” lived.  He actually wrote the song when he was living in a hole in the ground, but built the cabin the next year. To get there we had to drive down a long gravel road and I’ll be honest I was pretty nervous.  You couldn’t see the site from the road before committing to the turn. (This picture is what you see as you approach the site. Not much info to go on. The turn is just after that small frame sign on the right, and the little gravel area you see just before the sign doesn’t go anywhere, and isn’t big enough to turn around. – Lee) 

Thankfully the road was fine and the turnaround was pretty great.  It was a well-maintained site in the middle of nowhere that has a pretty interesting story.  And best of all the driveway was a loop and we got in and out just fine. (In the picture below you can see the entire area, with the highway and entrance on the right, and the cabin and house area on the left in the upper left corner. . – Lee)

 

(In the second picture you can see the area with the loop. We could only see the modern buildings from the road, and I thought they might be someone’s house, and I figure worst case scenario I could turn around at their driveway. As it turned out, there was ample space to drive around that loop. The modern buildings were the home and garage/barn of the couple who lived there.  – Lee)

The only signpost at the road

 

The reason the site was in such a remote location was the couple turned down several offers to relocate the cabin and instead donated the proceeds from renting the farmland upon their death to the maintenance of the location.  They believed strongly that historical locations should be free and instead of cashing in, lived frugally their entire lives and had the location made into an historical site upon their deaths. I’m not sure I would have made the same choice (mainly because the cabin is in such a remote location) but I certainly admire it.

The cabin itself was very small and there was nothing particularly special about it.  It was a nice opportunity for Jack to get outside a bit though and we also enjoy getting off the beaten path.  I definitely would not recommend going out of your way, but if you are passing by (which is highly unlikely), its worth a quick stop.

 

After the Home on the Range stop we were headed towards our main goal, but along the way, just a few miles farther down the road, was yet another cool thing to stop and see! Back in 1950, for their 50th anniversary the Boy Scouts of America decided to put miniature statues of liberty all over the country. There are over 200, and of those 25 are in Kansas alone. Since it’s incredibly easy to stop at, we decided to grab a few pictures. As you can see, the spur road is plenty wide and long enough for LOTS of big rigs.

 

Jack with his best majestic face

And finally, on to the big event! More than five years ago our love of the quirky roadside attraction started with Fork in the Road.  We stumbled across it on one of our early camping trips and I absolutely loved it.

 

Since then when we talked about seeing the quirky and unusual we always short hand our description by saying giant Fork in the Road or Worlds Largest Ball of String.  Unfortunately the largest balls of string aren’t that easy to find.  Yes, there are several of them, and it never really mattered to me which one we saw, but they all seem to be in out of the way places.  So when I saw that there was The Worlds Largest Ball of Sisal Twine in Cawker City, Kansas I was willing to go out of my way to see it!  Thankfully Lee agreed.  Luckily the attraction was right downtown and we were able to park right on the street.  Look I know it’s totally goofy, but it felt like a victory to us and was more than worth the side trip. (As you can see in the picture, plenty of on street parking, just take up as many of those spaces as you need. – Lee)

Jack wasn’t that impressed but what does he know 🙂

 

It’s a really nice story

 

While I was checking it out Lee left and went back to the rig where he pulled out a bundle of sisal twine!! Who has this in their rig…well us of course..and since it was the approved kind I was able to add it to the bundle.

 

Any other kind of string they remove, but I had the right stuff!!

A little older and a little wiser but we made it!

 

 

The best part of getting off the beaten track was when we discovered this great state campground near the ball of twine.  Glen Elder State Park was really special.  We had a fantastic site that backed up to a beautiful view of the lake and I was completely surprised in the morning when a flight of five pelicans went by.  Pelicans in Kansas who knew! Jack absolutely loved it and even though it was humid and we only had 30 amp (so could only use one AC) it was lovely.

Great site!!!

 

View from our back window

 

The grass was great and Jack had a wonderful time playing in it.

 

One interesting thing was the lake levels were super high. As you can see this site was under water and the grill was actually in the water.

 

It looked like the levels had been high all season. Must have been from that flooding early in the spring.

 

If you look right in the middle of the picture you can just see the pelicans. What a wonderful early morning site.

Really a great park and we took our time in the morning heading out.  I only had one thing left that I wanted to do along our route in Texas and that was to see the original Pizza Hut. I have a real sentimental attachment to Pizza Hut from my childhood so when I learned they had started in Wichita and there was a small museum I wanted to stop.  Thankfully Lee was game and we headed to the Wichita State University campus.  As usual I looked at the satellite image and was pleased to see there was a huge stadium and parking lot across the street.

Unfortunately using satellite images isn’t perfect because it turned out that the parking lot was near full with student parking.  That was not something I counted on, but Lee found a way to make it work, although unfortunately I couldn’t recommend the stop for bigger rigs.  We just got really lucky finding several spots together we could use. In the picture below you can see us parked in a lot that just happened to have an outside row that was mostly empty.

Getting in was easy, getting out was a little trickier.

In the below image you can see the lot we were in and the route we took to get out. It was a little close with cars in all those rows, but we managed.

We had some trouble finding it at first. The signage wasn’t that great

 

This is the original brick building which the university relocated. The original founders were students and the university thought it would send a good message to students

 

The original Pepsi sign!

 

The story is that two brothers borrowed some money and opened a small Pizza place.  They ran the shop and went to school at the same time which was an amazing feat.  Ultimately they sold the concept for $300M …wow.  Lee was disappointed because it no longer looked like a pizza shop on the inside, but I really liked it. In all fairness you have to be a huge fan of Pizza Hut to make it worth it, but because I am it was.

This rolling pin that was actually used gave me chills. Weird right lol

 

I loved all the memorabilia. The shoes were from a commercial where you could push the button and order a pizza

 

I remembered these

 

The brothers didn’t know much about making pizza they just figured it out

 

An original setup

 

Remember these lamps

 

And Pizza Pete !!!!!

 

This was fun, push a button and you could see a commercial

 

I remember these too

 

Again I only recommend it if you are a huge fan and be prepared to not find parking if you do go. So that was it for us in Kansas and we pushed through to Oklahoma City.  We were meeting friends and were excited to get there, plus there was a huge list of things we wanted to see in OKC.

Oh and one last note.  Jack has turned into a bit of a truck stop Lothario.  We always go into the truck lanes and many truck drivers have small dogs.  Jack is constantly “chatting up” these little pups which is pretty cute to watch.

He was particularly interested in this Maltese 🙂

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • 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.

 

A Very Special Military Museum

We visited one last place in Nebraska before we left, and it was very special.  Lee loves military museums, so I call them out to him as we travel.  We don’t always have the time to see them as we travel, but the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles looked like a quick stop off off of I-80 and was completely free.  I will say the parking lot was a bit of a challenge, so proceed with caution, but if you can get in the museum was a hidden gem.  First of all, the museum was started by Vietnam vets and the gentlemen working there were all veterans.  Personally I love that, and whenever we run across museums that are manned by people with experience the place gets extra bonus points from me.  It also had an outstanding gift shop (another huge point in it’s favor), with lots of unique items.  This one had tons of models of military vehicles which are not something you see very often nowadays.  Sure you can buy them online, but it was nice to see them in person.

Finally, the place was massive.  It didn’t look so big when we entered, but it is a huge warehouse full of vehicles and the yard out front is covered with them as well.  It’s impossible to really convey the size and diversity with this post, but I will give it a try.  I am sure Lee will jump in and add to this which will help. I honestly didn’t think I would get him to leave 🙂

(The museum was started as a non profit in 1986 by four veterans, with the goal of preserving historic military vehicles. They began taking their vehicles to Veteran’s Day celebrations and parades and letting veterans ride in them and even drive them. The response was so gratifying and overwhelming that they continued to comb the midwest for vehicles to restore and preserve. Many of the vehicles were obtained from farmers who used them in the 40’s and 50’s when tractors were in short supply. They would drive and repair them until they couldn’t keep them going any longer and then park them as windbreaks and leave them to rust away. Heartland has given new life to these old machines, and today there are over 60! They have an incredibly extensive library of hundreds of technical manuals from manufacturers to achieve  accurate restorations. They also focus on getting the paint schemes correct and preserving original insignia and accessories. – Lee)

(This stop was originally supposed to be a visit to the “Fall of Saigon” memorial that they have, and is pictured below, but it turned out to not just be a quirky roadside statue, but an entire museum. The funny thing is we were so amazed by the museum that we somehow completely missed the Saigon memorial. We’ll have to stop by another time to see it in person. Here’s a picture of the event that inspired the memorial, and their memorial of it. – Lee)

The iconic image from the actual event.

The thing we set out to see, but never did!

(In the picture below you can see the museum is right off the interstate, so very easy to get to. – Lee)

The parking lot is to the side and the odd triangle shape. For us we could park along the side but it was tight turning around.

(In this picture you can get a better idea of the odd parking lot. If there aren’t many cars in the lot you can get turned around and park along the top line of the parking lot, or you can just do what I did, and pull straight in then back up along that top line. – Lee) 

When you walked around to the front you saw how big it was

 

With tons of vehicles lines up in the front facing the freeway.

 

We started inside with the gift shop and signed their register book.

 

One of many interesting models for sale

Once you walked through the doors there were so many vehicles.  I found it very interesting even though military vehicles isn’t really my thing.  Lee was really into it. Here is a sample of some of the ones that we found the most interesting.

This is an Airborne scooter, designed to be dropped by parachute along with paratroopers. It also had a rear pintle allowing it to pull a small trailer.

 

This snow wagon was designed to rescue downed fliers in the Arctic and more importantly, and Norden bomb sights in downed aircraft. The Norden was highly classified and its secrets were fiercely protected. Fewer than 300 of these were produced and fewer than 20 exist today. The front tires could be replaced with the skis you see mounted on the side.

 

This is a 1982 General Dynamics prototype, one of only three in existence. It would eventually become the HumVee.

 

A 1944 Kuebel Wagen, ambulance version. The Porsche designed German version of the Jeep.

 

1943 Schwimm Wagen, an amphibious vehicle. Very rare.

 

 

 

They even had several helicopters in the building which was amazing.  My favorite was a small MASH helicopter in the back and the beginning of a MASH area they were creating…still and all.

The still is to the right of the sign.

 

This was in beautiful condition.

 

The Huey, the most famous helicopter in the world.

The best vehicle was an M3 Bradley that you could crawl into.  Wow those spaces were tight, but it was very interesting.  I don’t know that I have even been inside a tank before. I was able to crawl through once but then clambered out in the front.  For me it was tough with the claustrophobia and I can’t even imagine being in there with 3 other people.

One of the seats.

 

Entrance

 

The driving was interesting. Pretty standard.

 

Interspersed throughout the areas were other small exhibits.  They had one on military food for example.  It was all a bit haphazard, but obviously done with love.  Here are a couple of my favorites.

I thought this small ship model was interesting. Used to teach people the different ships.

 

And I very much appreciated this sign in one of the corners. If you have never looked up the cost of war I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with those numbers.  Not being political.  It’s important that we know what things cost, in money and lives.

 

When we were finished inside I stopped and talked to the volunteers and told them we went all over the country looking at museums and they should be really proud of what they had built here.  I meant it and if you are passing by I highly recommend a stop.  It is a donation fee and we left $10.  It was totally worth that and more.  After we finished the inside I went and got the dog and together we all checked out the outside.  Lots of huge vehicles including several tanks and Jack enjoyed the exercise.

1989 Hellfire Missile Launcher

 

Bradley M2

 

M60-A1 Battle Tank. 105mm Main gun.

 

Sherman tank

 

WWII Ambhibious “Duck” supply ferry.

 

 

(Jack was happy to be outside, but didn’t seem to care much about all the hardware of war. He’s a lover, not a fighter. – Lee)

Next up we see Kansas and we get that state sticker.  We are definitely on a roll!

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • 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.

 

Getting our Nebraska State Sticker

Nebraska is one of the very few states that I have never been in.  I never visited it for work, and we haven’t even driven through it.  I was excited about visiting it, even though every time someone mentioned Nebraska the most common comment was a dismissive “corn,”  Well let me say I loved the state.  It has rolling hills, lots of farms, and yes there is corn, but there are cattle and other crops as well.  As a Midwesterner I love these “bread basket” states and I find the scenery soothing.

So what does it take for us to earn our state sticker??  We have higher standards than lots of folks we know, but for us it’s consistently been we need to stay one night and see at least one state specific thing.  State specific is where I get into trouble, because many things are in multiple states.   It’s a bit of a judgement call for sure and I’ll talk about that as we go along. I will say it doesn’t have to be anything grandiose, it just has to be unique to the state.

We got up early in the morning but I had another phone interview so we got a bit of a late start.  This interview was with a different company and it also went really well.  They told me it takes between 30-35 days to on board a person in the position I was applying for, and it was good to get a rough time frame for reference.  Lee’s been very patient with these interviews, especially since he likes to get an early start, but by keeping it to 300 mile days we are still getting into our campgrounds at a decent time.

As we were traveling I was checking Roadside America, but there wasn’t much worth stopping for.  Then we saw a sign that stated there was an historic Pony Express post.  It wasn’t in Roadside America so we didn’t have any information about it, but Lee decided to follow the signs and give it a try.  I really appreciate his willingness to explore while we have the rig attached, as this is not something we would have been comfortable doing even a couple of years ago.  Turns out this stop was fantastic.  The cabin was surrounded by a gorgeous park and Jack absolutely loved rolling in the lush, green grass.  Because dogs weren’t allowed inside the building we took turns, and Jack got twice the fun playing outside.  It was a small cabin, but really great, and we were both fascinated by the stop and the history.

Great little cabin, perfectly preserved

 

Loved the sign

 

This puppy was happy to stay outside and be good while his people went inside. One of us had to stay with Jack.

The grounds were beautiful and there was a very nice restroom in the park as well.

 

 

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about the Pony Express, but I learned that it really was only in existence for 1-1/2 years.  The telegraph replaced the riders and the company went bankrupt.  That amazed me since the mythology looms so large.  The following sign sums up the story.

(In addition to being a fun and cool little stop, the entire town is very nice, and the streets are wide. There’s plenty of room all the way around the park to park your rig. – Lee)

The inside was basically half gift shop and a small exhibit area, but it was very cool.  We have been really good about not spending too much money as we travel, but we both went a little crazy here.  I got a shirt and Lee bought a super cool tote bag and a book.  It was just that kind of place and we were happy to support it. (I do not think that amounts to “going crazy”. – Lee)

Small corner of the cabin. Was well done.

 

Very cool saddle

 

Is it just me or does Jack Keeley (upper left) and Johnny Fry (bottom second from left) look like the same guy. Twins separated at birth?? And check out Buffalo Bill Cody (bottom far right) he was a handsome guy!

 

My t-shirt has the ad on the back stating orphans preferred.

We all really enjoyed the stop, especially because it was unexpected, and we continued on down the highway.  I wasn’t sure that it really qualified as a Nebraska specific thing though and was fretting a little when out of the corner of my eye I saw a fast food restaurant called Runza.  This caught my attention because in our travels I had never even heard of Runza, but it was clearly a chain.  Thank heavens for the internet, because after a quick search I discovered it was a Nebraska-centric restaurant known for their Runza sandwiches.  I asked Lee if he was up for trying one and he said sure so I found a location off the highway with a big parking lot.

Jack is sad in the truck! No worries it was plenty cool as it was an overcast day.

Once we got inside we learned more about the history which is a terrific story.  After WWII, there weren’t many jobs and Sally started a food cart selling sandwiches made from a family recipe.  Ground meat, onions, and cabbage in homemade buns were super popular and a big hit.  Over time she and her family expanded and now they are all over Nebraska and even have a couple in Kansas.

There were some really unique things about the menu.  First they had mini shakes for $1, which were delicious and the perfect size.  Next if you can’t decide between onion rings or fries you can order a combination for the same price called frings.  Loved that!!  Finally Lee got the sandwich and said it was delicious!!  It was like shepherds pie in a bun and he was a big fan!!

Frings…it has a couple more onion rings but I ate them lol

 

Haven’t seen that face in awhile 🙂

 

Look who was excited when we came out. Can you stand the cuteness!!

This was definitely a Nebraska specific moment and once we spent the night the thing that earned us our state sticker.  It may seem silly, but I can look at every sticker we have earned and tell you the memory that is associated with it.  Anyways, we spent the night in North Platte at the I-80 campground.  With a Good Sam discount the campground cost $32, and even though it was along the highway it was pretty nice.  The sites were long and has decent separation and the lake itself was pretty.  My only complaint was the dog park was really small, so Jack wasn’t interested in using it.

 

I love when there is enough room at our site that we can put him on a lead outside

The lake was nice. There are more lakes in Nebraska than I expected,.

There is lots of open space to expand the dog park, That would be my one suggestion.

The family running the campground was really nice. They had boats for rent for the lake and other water activities in season.

Next up we head towards Kansas and get off the highway a bit.

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • 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.

 

I-80 Roadside Attractions

As boring as many people said the I-80 route is, I absolutely loved it.  It’s flat, the roads are in good condition, and it’s not super crowded.  There are also a surprising amount of things to see along the way on the Roadside America app, which kept us busy throughout our driving day.  The first couple of attractions were  in Wyoming.

Our first stop was a slight detour from I-80 on 80 service road.  A farmer, Mel Gould,  has spent several years building metal sculptures in his yard and the detail and whimsy was very impressive.  Added bonus it was dog friendly and although Jack wasn’t crazy about all statues he did enjoy getting out and walking awhile.  There is a nice, wide turnaround spot for the RV so it was easy to get in and out of, as you can see.

According to what I read his workshop is underground

This scorpion was really well done

 

I appreciated the visitors welcome sign. I felt a little uncomfortable before I saw that

 

The wind thing was huge

 

I loved how many of the sculptures were named

This little guy was super intricate

The top was spinning but unfortunately the robot wasn’t moving. Still cool

Love seeing this one close up. It is made of a turkey pan and a broom primarily. Inspired!

 

 

Jack really did not like this bear. He kept growling at it.

Next up and right on the border of Nebraska was a large statue of the Virgin Mary.  This was not really around anything else, but was obviously well cared for, Every time we get an opportunity to see something like this, I think of Lee’s Grandma Anna, who was extremely devout and went to mass frequently. If she was alive she would have loved these pictures. (This one is right off the interstate exit, but at the time we visited that exit was closed for construction. And again, as you can see, plenty of room for a big rig to get in and out. The giant letters are the border of Nebraska and Wyoming. – Lee)


(Also, right at the entrance there is an old closed gas station that sits on the border, and half the fuel pumps are in Nebraska, and half are in Wyoming, which is kind of fun. You can see the line in the picture. Plenty of room to getin and out to snap a quick picture. – Lee)

I had Lee position the truck so Mary could bless our travels.

 

Several smaller Mary statues were there as well

 

Very nicely done

Along the outside edge was a series of smaller statues showing the journey of Christ with the cross.  What I liked about these is you could drive to each of them, which is nice for people in wheelchairs.

Our next stop was a small thing that normally we wouldn’t have stopped for, but since it was at a Flying J we got fuel and saw it really quick.  The caterpillar made out of tires (ie: Alice in Wonderland) was actually well done and as a bonus the truck stop had a nice 50’s diner attached.  We had their buffet bar for $12.50 and I thought it was pretty good.  As an FYI we prefer to stop at Pilots and Flying J’s.  We have the Lifetime Good Sam membership and Flying J gas card and that give us 8 cents off the cash price of every gallon of fuel we buy.  Even with the discount their prices aren’t always the cheapest, but they are almost everywhere we travel and their services are pretty consistent.  We only fuel at trucks tops on travel days where we don’t unhitch though because smaller gas stations are waaaay cheaper than truck stops as a general rule.

The tire caterpillar

Very nice display in the diner

 

Loved the booths

 

The buffet was small but good.  Salad stuff and the roast beef was delicious!

Our last stop of the day prior to stopping for the night was at the Fort Cody Trading Post in North Platte, NE.  This was super kitschy and not very well done. although the stuffed two headed calf was a nice specimen.  They did have a nice miniature collection of Buffalo Bills Wild West show and an excellent bookstore with lots of historical western books which Lee loves.

Huge exhibit that took 12 years to make

 

I bought some Nebraska corn to see the difference

 

And I got a cowboy rubber ducky for Oliver. It’s fun looking for grandson things now but I need to watch my budget!

 

After checking out the trading post, we stayed overnight at the I-80 Lakeside Campground.  There were no Passport America parks in the area and the $5 municipal park had no hookups.  Since it was hot and muggy, Lee wanted electric so we paid $30 to stay.  It was surprisingly nice and the people who ran it were great.  Jack loved walking along the lake and my only complaint was the dog park was super tiny.  Fine for an overnight although I would have loved to have tried the municipal park.

 

Next up we finally get that Nebraska State Sticker!!!

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • 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.