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We're OK - November, 2015

What a busy month November turned out to be! 
We left the St. Louis area on Wednesday, 11/4 and headed west to Moore, Oklahoma.  It was a little too far to drive in one day so we found a casino parking lot to stay overnight.  We got off I-40 at exit 1 in Missouri, drove one mile north and parked our rig.  The parking lot was in Kansas but the casino, a short walk across the parking lot, was in Oklahoma - weird.  Casino's often offer rv parking with hook-ups, this one was especially nice because when we went in to register for the night we also signed up for their casino card which entitled us each to one free night at the rv park - such a deal!  They also gave us a two for one buffet coupon!  They must have expected to make their money back on our losses but we fooled them - we won!!  That was a nice way to start our Oklahoma adventure.

We left the casino the next morning and arrived at the Cleveland County Fairground in Norman, Oklahoma in the early afternoon.  We found this campground thru friends we worked with in Arizona last winter (thanks Brenda!). It's no frills but all we needed was a place to park the rig, we spent most of our time working at the house in Moore.

Our first sale from someone just driving by
Joe and Roseanne drove down from Chicago to meet us at "the house" Friday morning (11/6).  Roseanne's stepmother, Linda, passed away in September and we're here to help with clearing out the house and set up for a garage/estate sale.  To say that Linda was a shopaholic is putting it mildly - why buy one of something when you can get get a dozen?  Does anybody really need over 200 Mumu's?  Every room was filled and the furniture was too large for the space.   This turned out to be a bigger project than we imagined.  We all started working, sorting things into donate, sell, or keep piles.  We also tried to sort like items together.  One room was designated as the "doll" room (there were close to 200 of them).  Another room was the "Christmas" room.  There were so many stuffed animals that we just started using the larger bathroom to throw them in to deal with later.

The weather was great so we were able to put stuff outside and we often had people stop by and ask if something was for sale - yes! Absolutely!  Please buy it and come on in the house and see if there is anything else you need.  Oh, and make sure you come to our garage sale on Black Friday!

Joe and Roseanne left on Sunday, 11/8 and the plan was for them to come back the day before Thanksgiving for the garage sale on Black Friday and Saturday.  That gave us almost three weeks to get everything sorted - yikes!  Marty also put many, many items on Craig's List which was a huge help in getting rid of some of the big furniture. 

The best thing that happened while we were working was the day a car pulled up and asked if we were selling the file cabinet that was out on the lawn. As we were talking we mentioned all the dolls we had, enough for a whole room.  The woman said she likes dolls so I brought her into the house to show here what we had.  She offered to help set up the doll room and worked three days doing it!!  She even brought her two teenage girls to help.  Thanks Melinda!!  The doll room was the room I was dreading and I didn't have to do anything, Melinda and her girls took care of it all - what a lucky day it was when they stopped by.

Dolls outside room waiting to be organized
More Dolls in room waiting to be set-up

All set up and ready for buyers!
Thankgiving Dinner Break at Western Sizzlin
We worked hard getting ready for our Black Friday garage sale, it was really hard for just the two of us and we were very happy when Joe, Roseanne and Lil came back down on Wednesday (11/25) to help get it set up and everything priced.  We all worked so hard on Wednesday and even on Thanksgiving (with just a quick trip to a local buffet for our Turkey dinner) and were ready on Friday for our shoppers.  Even though there was an ICE-STORM people still came out in droves.  Shoppers came, saw how good our prices were and called their friends.  There were people who came 2 or 3 times each day.  We even had people come back after the sale on Sunday wanting to buy stuff.  One lady even came back on Tuesday when she saw the garage door open.  She bought more out of the garage but I blocked the door into the house - enough is enough!

Yes, that's ice on those branches!  Ice in November in Oklahoma during our garage sale!

Garage sales are a lot of work to set up but sale days are always fun.  You meet lots of nice people and the days goes fast.  And, if you're lucky, you even make some money.  We sold lots and lots of things, everyone got incredible deals but unfortunately we still had so much to get rid of.  Luckily we met some people who gave us great ideas on donating what was left. 

Here are some photos of some of the items we had for sale:

The "Christmas" room

So much kitchen stuff we ran out of counter space

186 mumu's!  (we sold 21)
My favorite item - a shoe phone (I kept it, I just had to)

Red hats, beach hats, St. Patrick hats, winter hats. . . .

Someone actually bought the yellow one (for her sister!)
Once our sale was over it was time to clear out the house and donate what didn't sell.  We managed to sell all the furniture but still had so much to get rid of.  Luckily, we met a woman who told us about the City Rescue Mission, a 650 bed shelter in Oklahoma City.  She used to work there and said the women there would love the mumu's to sleep in.  We ended up making three trips there - they got all the mumu's and other clothes and shoes.  They also got a lot of bedding and SIX construction size bags of new and like-new stuffed animals.  I'm sure the kids there will be very happy!

During the garage sale another woman told us about an organization that collects purses for homeless women and fills them with personal products to distribute.  Unfortunately, I didn't write down the name of the group.  After much googling (is that a word?) I found a group on Facebook and contacted them.  They were very happy to pick up our four large boxes of purses.  

Even after donating all of the above we still had a garage full to get rid of.  Luckily for us Habitat for Humanity would take all the household knick-knacks and kitchen items.  They picked up over 60 boxes and cleared out the garage - YAY! 


 Everything else went to Goodwill and our work in Moore, OK was done!!  We worked 30 days in a row and it was time for some sightseeing.  We spent our last day in Oklahoma in the city visiting the Oklahoma Memorial site and museum - not fun but important especially with what's going on in the U.S. right now.  It's very sobering to see all the chairs laid out on the lawn representing the people that were killed, especially the small chairs for the 16 day care kids ranging in age from 9 months to 5 years.  How sad!  It's nauseating that American terrorists could do such a horrible thing.  It's even more disturbing that there is still so much hate and distrust in this country. 

We left Oklahoma on Monday, 12/7 and made our way to Summerdale, Alabama (near Mobile)  We'll be here for a month and hope to do lots of exploring in the area (and relaxing)!

October, 2015 - Babies and Baseball

It was good to be back in the midwest especially when the Cubs were doing so well.  Watching them beat the Pirates to make it into the playoffs was incredible and then beating the Cardinals so easily led me (once again) to BELIEVE that this was the year.  Losing to the Mets in four games was painful but I really do believe that we will be in the World Series soon.  They are making all the right moves and the team is so young that they can only get better - right??  We will be in Chicago every October until it does happen. My favorite memory of this year's post-season is when Sue and Matt face-timed me from Wrigley Field for the last out against the Cardinals, it was almost as much fun as being there.

Easton James

Jaiden Joseph
Our month went quickly with visits to see family and friends and all the new babies in our family.  We have five new babies this year; Ava Mae was born in January, Emily Rose was born in February, Easton James was born in June, Jaiden Joseph was born in August, and Annaliese Katherine was born in October.  We traveled the suburbs from Naperville to Lindenhurst and were able to see them all.  It's strange to think that the next time we see them they will all be walking!

Ava Mae

Annaliese Katherine - only 3 weeks old and she's in the Stanley Cup!

Emily Rose
 Of course we didn't just visit babies (as much fun as that was).

Marty and his sister, Amie

Mark on his 15th birthday with his mom and all his aunts

We arrived in Elgin on September 26th planning to stay in Earl's driveway until baseball season was over and then head south.  Unfortunately, Elgin has silly laws about staying in driveways and when Earl got a warning letter we moved to the Paul Woolf Campground a few miles west.  That campground closed on October 31st so, with nowhere else to stay, we headed south. 

Halloween day was spent driving about four hours south, thru the rain to Springfield, IL where we spent two nights at the state fairgrounds campground.  We got the winter rate of $15.00 - Yay!  On Sunday we visited the Abraham Lincoln Museum, the Abraham Lincoln Home and Abraham Lincoln's tomb.  We also walked over to the state capital but had just missed a tour and didn't want to wait an hour for the next one. 

If you've never been to Springfield, IL we highly recommend it.  The museum is amazing and it's just a short walk to his home (the only home he ever owned). The old and new capital are both within walking distance.  We were there on a Sunday and were amazed at how uncrowded it was.

Inside the Illinois Capital Building

We left Springfield on Monday (11/2) and drove about 200 miles west to Dr. Edmund Babler State Park in Missouri (near St. Louis).  We got one last baby fix in on Tuesday as we visited Katie and Emily in their new home.  Katie gave us a quick tour of Forest Park (which is larger than Central Park!)  We walked around and had lunch at the Boat House before heading back to their house for Emily's nap.  

Forest Park Boat House

This bridge shakes when you walk across it - YIKES!

It was nice being back in the midwest visiting family and friends and watching baseball but the weather is changing and it is time to head south.  We are currently in Moore, Oklahoma through the end of November helping my brother and his wife get her recently deceased stepmothers house sorted out and prepped for a garage sale.  The garage sale will on Friday, 11/27 and Saturday, 11/28 - come on down! 

9/14 thru 9/30 - Driveway Sweet Driveway

Our route from Forks, Washington, mostly on I-90 with a slight detour south to visit Yellowstone and then back north to I-90
We left forks by 10:00 on Monday, 9/14 with the intention of spending the night in Yakima, Washington so that we could stop in the morning in Walla-Walla and take a picture ("from Walla Walla, Washington to Kalamazoo" - you'd have to be a Cub fan to understand).   Anyway, once we got on I-90, it seemed silly to go that far out of our way so we just continued on east.  We ended up spending the night at Walmart in Moses lake, Washington (291 miles).

Tuesday morning we woke up to temps in the low 40's (did I mention we stayed in a parking lot and had no hookups, brrrrrr!). In the middle of the night Marty woke up to the refrigerator beeping because the propane tank was empty, then in the morning when he went outside there was a beeping sound - oh no!  He came in to tell me and we also discovered that we had water on the floor in the bathroom - wow, what a morning.  We cleaned up the water and did what every smart couple does when they have problems to deal with, we went to Starbucks for breakfast.  While there we looked up RV dealers on our route so we could have them look at the rig.  On our walk back to the rig we had the brilliant idea of calling the place we bought the rig and asking them if they had any ideas what the beeping could be.  They did - it was the alarm telling us we weren't level (duh, another lesson learned).  Fun morning :)

We continued our drive on I-90 and made it as far as Clinton, Montana which is just east of Missoula for a total of 315 miles. We ended up spending two nights at Ekstrom's Stage Station RV Park which is a quiet campground with a nice restaurant.  There are lots of things to do in and near Missoula and we spent all of Wednesday exploring the area.  First stop was a used book store I had heard about and have wanted to visit.  It was in Alberton and probably had about 150,000 used books.  I love books and book stores but lately have had a hard time buying any because I download anything I want to read from the library - cheaper and we don't have the weight of the books in our rig. I never thought I would prefer an E-Reader but I do. We browsed for a bit and then headed to our next stop, the Missoula History Museum.

Alberton Bookstore in what was originally a grocery store
So many books, so little time

After spending the summer at the Forks Timber Museum we have a new perspective when we visit museums. We spent a few hours here; they have a main museum building and about 8 buildings outside to explore (school, church, train depot, etc...).  We actually spent more time there than we should have because we had one more stop on our agenda - "The Sweet Palace" in Philipsburg.  This is an old-fashioned candy store and was recommended to us by Linda and Joe.  The store closes at 5:00 and it was already 3:40 and we had about 80 miles to go.  It's a good thing the speed limit in Montana is 75mph - I've never seen Marty drive so fast!  We made it there with 10 minutes to spare.  It was well worth the drive, we stocked up on fudge and candy and headed back to our campsite. No pictures, we were too busy picking out candy!

Hmmmm, museum ideas - get ready Linda :)

We headed out on Thursday morning to spend a few days at Yellowstone and Grand Teton.  We drove about 230 miles to our next destination, Yellowstone Holiday RV Campground & Marina.  This campground is 13 miles from the west entrance to Yellowstone and was one of the less expensive campgrounds in the area ($37.50 per night).  That's more than we like to spend but a few nights in Walmart parking lots helps average us out to about $20.00 per night.  We stayed here for four nights to have time to explore Yellowstone.

We spent Friday and Sunday exclusively in Yellowstone and on Saturday we drove thru Yellowstone down to Grand Teton National Park.  It was cloudy on Friday but the weather on Saturday and Sunday was perfect - 70's and sunny.  Driving in the park is an adventure, you have to watch out for buffalo and they definitely have the right of way!  The parks were crowded considering that it was almost the end of September, I don't think it would be much fun in the summer when it's about 5-6 times more crowded (according to a park ranger).  It is a beautiful area and well worth seeing!
Rush hour in Yellowstone

Why did the bison cross the road?

This is our truck (with us in it) that he's eye-balling!

Majestic creatures

You must stay at least 25 yards away from all bison

Rocky Mountain Elk

"Little" Bighorn Sheep

Moose in Grand Teton National Park
Besides all the wildlife there is some amazing scenery,

Jackson Lake in Grand Tetons National Park
Kepler Cascades in Yellowstone National Park

Grand Teton National Park - Infrared

Jenny Lake in Grand Teton

The most famous geyser in Yellowstone - Old Faithful

Steam vents were everywhere

Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone
The "Grand Canyon" of Yellowstone
After our three full days at Yellowstone it was time to hit the road.  We left our campground on
Monday morning (9/21) and headed north to I-90.  We spent the next two nights in Walmart parking lots (Gillette, Wyoming - 331 miles and Mitchell, South Dakota - 446 miles). Wednesday night was spent in a small campground off I-90 near Rochester, Minnesota (320 miles).  Thursday night was spent in the RV General parking lot in Huntley (299 miles) where we are having some work done on the rig. They looked at it Friday and have ordered parts which will be installed before we head out to our next destination.
A good diet is important while travelling
We met Sue and Earl at the Elgin house on Friday night and got settled into our favorite driveway. Two years ago it took Marty about 45 minutes to back into the driveway, this year it only took 5-7 minutes.  We only had to stop traffic once.  With our slides open we have about 1/2" between the house and our rig!  He did an amazing parking job.

The closer we got to Chicago the more excited I was; I had tickets for Saturday and Sunday to see the Cubs. I've been a Cub fan for over 40 years (wow, I'm old!) and it's been hard just following them second hand. They have had an incredible season and I can't wait to watch them in the playoffs! Oh, and did I mention they are the THIRD best team in baseball!  Unfortunately the two better teams are in their division so one of the teams will not make the playoffs (sorry Pirate fans).

Wearing our favorite player's jerseys

Go Cubs!!!
They ended up losing on Saturday and winning on Sunday (Jake Arrieta was pitching, of course they won).  There was no better place to spend the weekend - thanks Sue!

Now that we are all settled into our driveway we can catch up with doctors and dentists appointments. We also need to go thru our rig and storage locker to see what we can get rid of. There are also a few new babies in the family to meet and friends to catch up with.  It should be a busy month.