Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Letter 1 Heading NorthEast

Letter 1, Off we go for the Third time!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010

We finished packing, turned off the utilities, locked the doors and headed to Discount Tires to check our tire pressure for safe traveling. Then we challenged Dallas and drove straight through it, stopping at the outlet mall in Allen for a pit stop and a little shopping.

As we approached the Red River, the traffic slowed, then stopped, then inched forward for about five miles and one hour later we passed an accident where a truck had veered off the road, hitting an overpass pillar. It had exploded and burned the bridge. We are so blessed to have not been there the moment it exploded. Later we found the driver have safely escaped the truck before the explosion.

By 5 pm we found Choctaw Casino south of Durant, OK. After a previously prepared meal of roast, potatoes and carrots, Fred headed into the casino for a night of chance in a Texas Hold’em tournament. Well Olivia calls it chance. Fred calls it skill! Olivia stayed in the trailer to start this years blog and managed to stay awake until 8:15. Fred came in about 10 and reported the final table of an 8 table tournament decided unanimously to split the tournament winnings, so they all received over $300. Not bad for a $60 entry fee.

Thursday, March 18 we both slept until 9 am! We were so tired from all the packing and final checklist to leave home. Then we discovered the batteries were all dead. Both the trailer batteries and the car battery. We couldn’t even get into the Suburban as the keys were electronic. We had been so tired we left the car and trailer attached, then ran the heater. Security at the casino gave us a jump start and we were off again. Thank goodness we are not in a hurry, as we stopped about 70 miles down the road at a little Oklahoma state park east of Hugo. By 2 pm we were unhooked and taking a nap.

Friday, March 19 we traveled east to Idabel, then north through the Broken Bow country to Smithville, then across the border into Arkansas to Mena. We found this area to be very pretty cattle country. At first it was rolling hills with hardwood trees, then a mix of hardwood and pines. When the pines started, so did lumbering, but cattle raising continued.

We stopped for a brief visit with Larry Hatch, who had lived in Waxahachie for a few years. We had enjoyed their Waxahachie Christmas parties.

From Mena we drove east to Royal, AR where our niece Donna Kay Maples Richards and her family live. We parked the trailer at a Corps park on Brady Mountain where we also saw smoke from a forest fire, then hurriedly caught up with the Richards before they took a youth group into Little Rock for a concert. We invited them out for hot dogs the next noon, as they were heading to Texas for spring break.

Saturday, March 20 we slept in then prepared for the lunch. Olivia scrounged up some firewood for a brief fire as we watched the weather. Rain and possible snow were in the forecast.
The Richards, Robbie, Donna, Ashley, Kayla and Joshua bounced out of their van. Joshua was excited to explore the trails and fish. The girls met our neighbors and we settled in to eating hotdogs. We enjoyed their visit and they told us they were staying in town tonight and we could all go to church together tomorrow.

After they returned home, in the rain we retraced our steps of yesterday... to the days of yesteryear. How many will follow us as we drove back to Pine Ridge and the days of radio stories.
“I Doggies, Folks!” We were in the “Jot ‘Em Down Store” of Lum and Abner and their museum. And I Doggie, it is included in the National Register of Historic Places.
Their radio show ran for 25 years (1931-1955) and was a “must hear” for most Americans in the days before television.

Sunday, March 21 it rained most of the night, but fortunately no snow like at home. We were warm and toasty in our comfortable home away from home.
We met Donna & Robby at church, then drove into Little Rock to see the Clinton Library.
Fred sat in the President’s chair in the cabinet room. He said it didn’t fit or feel right. A ten year old girl tried it next and said it felt “juuust” right and she might just be president some day.
We enjoyed looking at the Presidential gifts
and the timelines of the Clinton’s years in the White House along with the documents.
Olivia was impressed with the table setting of the state dinner. Note the plates have the White House in the center
more gifts
and then the millennium Christmas Tree made of hand blown glass.
And we saw the replica of the Oval office.
The icing on the cake was the special display called, “Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection”. She served as America’s ambassador to the United Nations (1993-97) and then as the first woman to occupy the position of the U.S. Secretary of State (1997-2001). Shortly after becoming a diplomat,
Albright discovered the power of jewelry to convey a foreign policy message. Before long, she began selecting appropriate pins to wear to particular meetings, visually expressing her high hopes, determination, impatience, or warm feelings.
The brooches soon became her diplomatic signature.
The Albright collection consisted of pins that Secretary Albright wore before, during and after her years of public service. They include examples of fine art, but most are of the costume variety. Many are by anonymous designers and were selected for the signals they send and the spirit they convey. Sometimes demure and understated, sometimes outlandish and outspoken, these pins were used as gentle implements of statecraft. Their stories and messages reflect the Secretary’s sense of humor and her humanity, and are shared here for the first time in a public museum setting.
Olivia took lots of pictures, but only included a few here.
Next to the Presidential Library is the University of Arkansas’s Clinton School of Public Service housed in the old train station.
Next we drove past the Central High School where history was made, and is still an active High school with 2400 students. It also houses the Historical site and the national park service offers guided tours of the interior by reservation. We were satisfied to take a picture and head back to the trailer.
Monday, March 22 we left Mount Brady campground and headed north on the famous Arkansas Highway 7. The pear and
tulip trees were in full bloom along with daffodils and forsythia.. It is hard to catch those pictures when going down the road, but Olivia kept trying. We stopped in Russellville to check out the batteries in the trailer and decided to obtain two new ones.
North of Russellville the road follows the top of a ridge for about 30 miles and
we started noticing trees without their tops. They were just devastated for miles and miles.
Later we found that in the winter of 2009 they had a terrific ice storm that topped the trees in a large area across northern Arkansas southern Missouri.
A little further on this highway we saw the “Cliff House” overlooking the Arkansas Grand Canyon, where Olivia, Lillian, Muddie and Cecil stayed one summer on a trip to Branson.
By this time we were high enough and far enough north to see the remnants of a 10” snow three days ago along with the topped trees. It was getting late and we realized we couldn’t make it to Branson so we stopped south of Harrison in a Passport America RV spot. It had a lot to be desired, but it did have electricity. As we were setting up, the slide would not work. When the button was pushed it didn’t make a sound, nor did it move. The camp owner was nice to look up a RV service place in town.

Tuesday, March 23 we drove into the RV service place and the young man checked all the electrical and the gears and determined the slide was not getting any juice. We were afraid it was the motor. Sure enough he found the new batteries were not connected correctly. Just a $40 lesson learned. Always check everything before leaving when batteries are bought! Actually we did check the light in the trailer, but the circuit for the slide is separate and we didn’t know to check it. We were very glad it wasn’t the motor!

So on we go to Branson and a corps park east of town. We were the only ones in this nice park! After setting up we ventured off to the exciting town of Branson. We drove the strip reading all the signs.
It looked like we were in the Pacific with the “Lost” airplane, but no!
here was the Titanic, were we in the Atlantic? But
here was Hollywood and King Kong in New York City! WOW! Anything to get your money.
Downtown we visited Dicks 5 & 10 cent store with 500,000 items and we believe it. Olivia hadn’t seen that many embroidery floss packages or buttons in a long time, along with everything Walmart has and then some.
We couldn’t resist the Bee store across the street in honor of our Waxahachie friends, the Stroopes.

Personal message to Lillian Harrington,
“Happy Birthday Granny!” she is 90 years young April 5.

We are actually in Missouri, so we will close this letter and pick up with another in a week or so called Missouri.
We hope you are enjoying our third blog, but if you don’t want to follow us this year please email Olivia at and let us know.

For comments: email or we love to hear if you have also traveled this way or wish to or news from home or your family