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6/21 through 6/30/2014 -Pikes Peak or Bust

We've had an interesting two weeks since our last post.  We've had a few nice weather days sprinkled in among the very rainy/stormy days. 

I know that Pikes Peak is in Colorado and that we are in Iowa and no, we are not heading back west just yet.  Iowa has a beautiful state park called Pikes Peak and we visited it on Tuesday (6/24).  The weather was fantastic, not too hot and best of all - no gnats or rain!  We drove through the park and looked at the campsites and then parked our car and walked over to the overlook.

We took a hike on a couple of the trails.  The Bridal Veil trail goes downhill (on an easy wooden trail with steps) towards a waterfall.  From there we continued uphill and connected with the East Hickory Trail which took us up back to the parking lot and our truck.  It was soooooo nice to be out getting some exercise - and did I mention there were no gnats!!

Looking northwest over the Mississippi River into Prairie du Chien, WI
Pikes Peak State Park is a beautiful park and we would definitely consider staying there in the future.  Iowa does not charge a daily use fee (unlike Wisconsin and many other states) so their camping fees are very reasonable.
Hummingbird at Pikes Peak State Park

On our way to Pikes Peak we stopped in Luxembourg, IA.  This town is where the Merkes branch of my family started when they came over from Germany and I wanted to check out the local cemetery to see if I recognized any names.  It's a very small country cemetery with the Catholic Church, Holy Trinity, about a block away.  We turned in onto a small dirt lane and parked the car.  We walked through the whole cemetery in about 20 minutes and saw many familiar names. 
My great-grandparents - Thomas Merkes and Catherine Heiderscheit

This headstone is for my dad's first cousin (Helen).  This is the most informative headstone I've ever seen.  It will be very helpful for future genealogists.   I wish we had seen this earlier, it would be great to have all this information on my parent's headstone. 

When we left Pikes Peak State Park we drove north on 52 and wouldn't you know it there was a small riverboat casino.  Marty suggested we stop for a half-hour and try our luck.  I know some people probably don't believe that it was Marty who wanted to stop but it really was.  Lady Luck didn't favor us that day but it was fun and we didn't lose much and it was nice and cool inside - I call that a win.
Another place we've visited recently is Chestnut Mountain Ski Resort.  It's about 6 miles from our
campground and during the off season you can ride the Alpine Slide 2050' down to the banks of the Mississippi and the ski lift returns you to the top.  We haven't tried it yet, we're waiting for visitors to come with us.
View from the top of Chestnut Mountain
Marty goofing around
Since we've been at Blandings Landing for six weeks we occasionally have to move the rig to the dump station and then position it back on the grass at a new site.  We change sites because they cut the grass here every Monday and if we're in one spot too long the grass gets very high under the rig.  The above picture shows you why I get nervous every time we do this.  The rig tilts to the right as Marty drives it off the road and into position.  We haven't broken anything - yet.

On Satuday (6/28) we drove into Elgin for our brother-in-law Jim's retirement "fiesta" party.  It's always nice to see family and this time we saw 6 out of my 7 siblings (sorry Judy, we'll catch you next time). 
What's a fiesta without a pinata?
Waiting for their turn

You're supposed to put your candy in the box not wear it on your head!
I'm writing this on Tuesday (July 1st) and we've had some crazy weather the past few days!  On Sunday night around 10:30  the weather app on my phone alerted us to a tornado warning.  Five minutes later our camp host, Charlotte, was driving thru the campground beeping her horn to warn everyone.  We all met up at the park office which is a concrete building with concrete roof and about 15'x15'.  There were probably about 15-20 people milling around, inside and outside.   We had lots of lightning and thunder and rain but no tornadoes and around 11:00 we all went back to our trailers. 
Tornado, what tornado?  

The wind knocked down this tree near us and another one in the back of the park
On Monday (6/30) we drove into Dubuque to do some laundry and pick up a few grocery items.  When we came out of the store the skies were getting dark and we hurried home to put everything away before the rain came.   And boy did the rain come!  And the winds!  Our power was out from 5:00 Monday night until 12:00 noon on Tuesday.  The river is now closer to us than ever (about 75 feet away).  If it comes any closer we will need to move the rig to a new site here or maybe it's just time to move somewhere else.    I am so glad that the storms have left the area - we definitely do not need any more rain!
This swing set is about 75 feet behind our rig

It's a beautiful day out today and the park crew has done a great job of clearing out the downed trees and branches.  Hopefully the river recedes enough that the families camping this 4th of July weekend can enjoy the playground. 
Lizzie, about 12-13 years ago - so cute!