Kansas Highlights

by William Mclaughlin May. 04, 2014 2988 views

The night before we left Vicksburg, Mississippi, we had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. Tara liked the way the windows framed Bill's head. She calls this, “Holy Bill!” :P

Mississippi is just across the river from Louisiana at Vicksburg, so when we left town, we didn't have far to go to get to the next state!

The middle of the Mississippi River marks the boundary between the two states.

And within minutes of our departure, we were enjoying Louisiana's beautiful scenery.

This wasn't a swamp … we'd just had a torrential downpour the night before, and every bit of low land was under water.

We turned north and headed into Arkansas, where we planned to camp in three different places. One night just inside Arkansas, two nights in Hot Springs, and three nights outside of Fort Smith. Kansas and Missouri were experiencing yet another cold snap, so we waited it out in warmer climes.

Arkansas had some beautiful scenery, but our stay there wasn't all fun and games. We were in the path of a tornado warning (that means “take cover now!”) one night just after dark. Fortunately the storm moved on without forming a tornado, but it was VERY scary!

We also had some electrical problems in Arkansas. The left brake light on the motorhome stopped working. No wonder … see how much corrosion there was on the connection? Our electrical pigtail gave up the ghost as well. Fortunately we had a spare, which got us through until we could get the main cable fixed.

After six days of bad weather and electrical failures, we were glad to get to Missouri!

Our first stop in Missouri was to get gas. That might not seem like a big deal, but we're always happy to find a station where the pumps are accessible, there isn't a crowd, and the approaches are smooth with no potholes. We realized that there's a part of our regular, everyday life that we'd never shared with our friends and family. For some reason, Mandy LOVES gas stations! She eagerly explores as much as we'll let her, and never seems to tire of the adventure.

I guess a gas station is Mandy's happy place!

We stayed one night in Joplin, Missouri, and the next morning we crossed the state line into Kansas. The day was VERY windy, but fortunately it was a tail wind, and we literally breezed north to our destination!

Bill lived in Kansas for over 30 years, and it's fun to visit old friends when we're there. This is Bill with Jody, who groomed every Westie Bill had for all those years. She started grooming Mandy as a pup, and we always make an appointment for Mandy to get a trim and a bath while we're in town.

We spent a day in Independence, Missouri, visiting two couples who we know from totally different places, and who have no connection to each other, but who live four miles apart. Unfortunately we forgot to take a picture of Barrie and Pat, but we remembered to get a snap of Jo and Rod. We met Rod on Renderosity, and get together with them every time we're back in Kansas.

Rod's favorite new toy is a quad copter. It takes pictures from the air. We not only got a demonstration of the Phantom at work, but he fixed our corroded tail light!

Bill has known Lorna and Jim since he and Jim were stationed together at Fort Lewis, Washington, in 1971. They're some of our favorite people!

Of course most of our time was spent with family. This is Bill's daughter May, and her husband, Todd.

May collects our mail, and one of the items awaiting us when we got to Kansas was a new area rug for the house in Texas! We unrolled it and did an inspection, and Mandy got into the act.

Being at May and Todd's means we can play around on the computers without worrying about how many gigs of data we're using. One day while we were there hanging out, we answered a web survey about regional accents and speech patterns. No surprise … Tara from Seattle and Bill from New York … it's amazing we can talk to each other at all! :)

We spent one afternoon setting up a new trampoline …

… and Bill even spent a minute on it with Liam!

This is Karen and Ed, Todd's parents. Ed is really handy and has lots of tools, so the trampoline project went pretty smoothly! Ed is also a photographer and has a gallery on Renderosity like we do.

All three grandsons are taking a karate class, and we went and watched them work out one evening.

This is Bill's daughter Heather, and her husband, Keith. We split our time between Heather's and May's place.

Our three grandsons … Liam, Cooper, and Xander.

Our two-week visit over, we headed west through Kansas and enjoyed seeing billboards for our favorite college basketball team! (That basketball player is wearing a championship ring on every finger. It's a good team to follow!)

Leaving Kansas marks the beginning of the last leg of our trip. We're in Nebraska now, and will head into Wyoming tomorrow. After a couple days in Wyoming we'll go through Montana, Idaho, and home to Washington. Assuming we're not collapsed in a twitching heap when we get home, we'll do one more blog to let you know we arrived in one piece. :)

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