We spent a lot of last week in Little Creek campground on the border of Iowa and Nebraska. A short drive south took us to the Platte River State Park; another very pretty park where we saw a wild turkey and a couple of empty teepees.
The Teepee Village was very picturesque and available for camping… but with it so hot there were no Indian wannabes.
We had to drive the car and motorhome separately for a while, till we got the car set up to be towed. (Is a Suburban a car or a truck? Comments?) As we were driving, I commented to Cherryl following in the car/truck (by hands free cell phone) how beautiful the farmland scenes were. She replied with far less enthusiasm than I obviously had. I was thinking the cornfields rolling over the gentle hills were gorgeous. Later, once the car/truck was being towed behind our Fudge Ripple, she said she could see what I’d been talking about… “The view is much better from the motorhome!” Sitting higher gives a view over the tops of crops and lets you see the shape of the countryside. Maybe even as high as an elephant’s eye! A great way to travel!
Cherryl eyeing Soybeans…
We have learned a lot about Tasseling… it seems that at exactly the right time, thousands of school kids and maybe retired folks work extremely long, hard hours ripping the tassels off of corn plants. While this might sound like vandalism, it is a necessary step in the production of hybrid seed corn. Only certain select cornstalks are allowed to keep their tassels and pollinate the pretty little silks of the growing corn kernels.
Nice scenery for morning walks…
Midweek we made it to our daughter’s home north of Minneapolis. Great to see the family!
Thursday evening the city of Champlin had a “Touch a Truck” event. Tons of the city and county trucks (really, MANY tons!) were on display, and kids were encouraged to climb on them. And not only climb, but honk horns, turn on lights, and even (if you’re a little boy) rub your hands on greasy tractor parts! (guess how we know that!)
Dayna got in the ambulance, but wouldn’t get in the patient’s stretcher…
This was not a “brief” case!
Everything from Ambulance to Zamboni! Hummers, tractors and tracked toys, blades and backhoes, firetrucks and a fireboat, mega mowers and snowblowers, police cars and even police horses! Great fun for all of us kids!
Even more fun than “Truck Touching” was having my other daughter and grandkids come from Washington! Now the whole family is here, except poor Loren who has to work a few more days. He’ll be with us mid next week however…
Breakfast Banana Splits
How cool is that! Build your own Breakfast Banana Split, with many yogurts, granolas, berries, nuts etc… Fantastic!
L’More Chocolate Shop
An afternoon trip to the cute shop where Becky works as a chocolatier. So many awesome delightful chocolates! Rather difficult to get 4 grandkids to decide on what they want now and later… and keep track of all the exotic flavors of truffles! We left with raspberry, elderberry, peach, key lime, peanut butter, peppermint, and apricot truffles! Life is Good!
My buddy Brad said that I’m not too good at this retirement thing… I keep finding work to do! Well, I’m not doing too well finding cooler climates either! We are now right at the edge of Iowa/Nebraska, in an absolutely gorgeous campground. I didn’t know something this pretty existed in this area! But before I get into all that, a brief wrap-up video by Kim at Union College about the Maranatha project we just finished up. (His shot of the final room still didn’t have all the baseboards and light fixtures up…)
Fantastic Car Museum You Can’t See
My good friend in Lincoln, Terry, has told me of his friend’s car collection. It is a VERY private collection, and you have to know someone (like Terry) to get invited to see it. He has told me how amazing this collection is, but as effusive as he could be, he could never describe what an awesome museum this is!! There are hundreds of cars, not in a warehouse, but in a artfully designed environment that rivals any public car museum anywhere. Trust me, I’ve gone to MANY world class car museums, and this is right up there with the best of them. BUT! No photos allowed… So now I have the impossible task of describing all the cool things we saw. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the black 1933 Duesenberg SJ Boattail… a majestic machine that epitomizes elegance and power, while being absolutely HUGE! Second runner up would be the 1934 Packard V12 Boattail. Long and elegant, another huge but sporty convertible. The detailing on both these cars is fantastic. This room of the collection includes many Auburns, a 812 Cord, a Cadillac from around 1914 (I’m not sure of the date) a couple dozen other rare and amazing cars. A Hudson from the ’30s that the owner raced across the country and won!
Another room has a “Hollywood Corner” with famous movie cars… not replicas, but the actual cars used in movies or TV shows. Like the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard, a time-traveling Delorean from Back to the Future, some George Barris cars like the Munster’s cars, the Monkee’s car, and a whole area of Bat Stuff. Like the original Batmobile (another George Barris Car) in it’s own Bat Cave, with lights flashing on fancy equipment. There is a Bat Cycle, a Bat Boat, and mannequins in Batman and Batgirl garb.
Maybe the largest room has Drag racing cars, actual cars that have won famous races. Dragsters, Stock Cars, plenty of Corvettes… I have already gone on too far without any pictures… Wish you could have been there!!
Mahoney State Park
So after leaving this hidden car museum (no external signage at all) we headed out of town. We stopped for the night at a park near the border of Nebraska and Iowa, and felt it was so beautiful we’d stay a while… Plenty to do nearby, and the park itself has a zip line course, pool and waterpark, driving range and miniature golf, lake with small boats, and two campgrounds. The only drawback is that we thought Lincoln was hot… this place has been scorching! Temps in the high 90’s or as high as 102 for a while. Glad our “home” has good air conditioning!
The Scoundrel of Dagger Gulch
A theater in the park presents corny old-style melodramas during the summer. Great fun, with people (kids) throwing popcorn at the villain and booing and cheering as should be done at any proper melodrama. We were told ahead that in addition to throwing popcorn, we were free to throw wadded up currency… and a surprising amount of that was hurled onstage! The actors would sometimes stop mid-line and grab for it, sometimes race others for it, sometimes stepping on it and sliding it within reach… it was a hilarious addition to an already crazy play.
Guess which one was the villain!
Sass Memorial Iris Garden
Hans, Jacob and Henry Sass worked over 5 decades doing Iris hybridization. In the ’30s and ’40s they introduced many new colors of Iris and developed Iris that did well in the harsh conditions of the prairie. Unfortunately, Iris are not blooming now, but the garden was still pretty.
Strategic Air Command
When I was a kid, the Strategic Air Command was the top of the heap of military excellence. Always ready, amazingly powerful, it was an icon of American ability. The SAC was headquartered in Omaha, so it’s only fitting that they have a huge museum here.
When you enter the building, you are at “eye level” with an SR71, one of the most amazing aircraft ever produced. Created by men with slide rules in the ’60’s, it still holds many speed and altitude records. I’ve been told by some of the very few who got to fly them, that they flew far faster and higher that the Air Force has ever admitted.
The leading edges look sharp enough to shave with, if you could figure out how to hold it…
Inside a B24 Mitchell Bomber like Jimmy Doolittle took on his famous raid of Tokyo after Pearl Harbor.
One of my favorites is the B36… a huge bomber created just at the end of the propeller age and start of the Jet age. Six huge “pusher” props, with 4 jet engines outboard on the wings, to aid in take off. Called the “Peacemaker”, it never flew in wartime, but is an amazing airplane. There are so many planes in the picture below you might have a hard time finding the B36, but the cockpit is to our left, three props are visible behind the wing, and two jets further outboard. Far too big of a plane to get in one little picture!
The XF-85 “Goblin” was an attempt to have a fighter escort for the B36 bomber… that rode inside the bomber and was dropped out when defense was needed. The part about flying it back into the bomber was too tricky, however, so the project was abandoned.
I had a toy CH-21B helicopter like the one in the picture below. It was very big, and had motorized rotors that would spin and make it very difficult to play with!
Another noteworthy plane is the U2, which caused no end of trouble when Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Russia and convicted of spying… this is not his U2; I think the Russians still have what’s left of his.
One evening we had a nice visit from Angie, one of the hygienists in my former dental practice. She teaches dental hygiene in Iowa, and was kind enough to come visit us in our wheeled home (and bring cookies!) Really fun to catch up with her! And really negligent of me not to take a picture!
The Durham Museum
The Union Pacific Railroad built what may be their flagship station in Omaha. This Union Station was opened in 1931, as one of the country’s first art deco stations. Since the UP stopped passenger train service a few decades ago, the station has been restored to its original splendor and is now the Durham Museum. Great exhibits on history of the area and the nation, trains you can walk through, model trains, a whole section on the Trans-Mississippi Exposition… I walked and read till I thought my feet would fall off.
There are many sculptures of folks waiting for trains, buying tickets, or moving luggage. If you get close to them, you can listen to their conversations!
I had to include this young guy, because he is named “Hollis” after a famous influential local. Or after one of my favorite Uncles…
A Rauch & Lang electric car – “The Car of the Elect”. (I won’t even try to guess what that was all about!) With a 70 mile range, it was a great car for elite city dwellers. The truck is a 1932 Douglas; built in Omaha, Douglas produced very sturdy trucks and no passenger vehicles.
Big tall gas pumps like this one had a large glass cylinder that would fill with fuel, then you could watch it drain down into your tank. An early way to make sure you were getting an honest measurement! (Note the 16 cents per gallon sign, with a huge percentage being taxes!)
I really enjoyed the exhibit on the Trans-Mississippi Exposition. In 1898, hundreds of buildings were erected with a large lagoon in the center. It was an era when people were hungry for new experiences and knowledge. The buildings were lit with electric lights, and at dusk thousands would gather to watch the buildings come ablaze with light one at a time, creating a light show of a sort. Many had never seen electric light- none had seen that many lights! Some of the things that lots of people saw for the first time:
Electric Incandescent Lights
Electric Horseless Carriage
It’s fun to imagine how amazing this Expo would have been!
If you’d never had electricity, how cool would this fan have seemed!
Ever ridden in an ostrich-drawn carriage? (Notice that it’s a Studebaker!)
Next week we will move a bit farther north… maybe we will find some cooler weather!
Another week has passed, and we have wrapped up the Maranatha project redoing 34 rooms in Rees Hall, the girls’ dorm at Union College. We have spent the last three weeks ripping out the desks/dressers and bookshelves out of the rooms, as well as light fixtures, electrical outlets and more. We were simultaneously turning big piles of beautiful wood into beautiful andstrong cabinets and bookcases. So we manufactured 68 of the cabinets, involving a total of 340 drawers, and 68 bookcases. Solid oak face frames and drawer fronts not only look great, but should last forever.
I could show you hundreds of pictures, taken by the Maranatha team leaders, and some more that I shot, but I’ll spare you that.
Here is one of the best rooms pre-renovation.
And here is what it looks like with new flooring and cabinets… OK, my picture with the lap drawers in and the baseboard placed is not uploading… hopefully soon!
Here are a few shots of work in the shop:
Parts started multiplying and taking up lots of space!
Units had to be moved a lot just to find spots for new ones to be stained and lacquered.
Then all the finished furniture had to be taken across campus and up to the third and fourth floors! Thankfully they used a SkyJack to lift them all up and through a window opening. Here is a load of drawers being sent up.
Of course there was a ton of cleaning to be done… Here’s Kathy going above and beyond by vacuuming a part of the shop… note the spot in the lower left that she hasn’t gotten to yet!
Obviously, the most important job of all was feeding all 100+ volunteers! Cherryl worked in the cafeteria to aid the otherwise small summertime kitchen crew giving us wonderful food. Really!
There is supposed to be a nice picture of Cherryl in the kitchen here, but it’s not uploading either! ARGGG!
To close out the week, I’ll show you a few more pictures of the campus:
Our “home” is just beyond the tennis courts…
This is a nice little water feature outside the Krueger Science building:
We are still hard at work in the cabinet shop, making lots more sawdust and some other stuff too. Ok, all the desk cabinets are finished, and are being installed, and we are working hard to get drawers finished and bookcases built.
In case you can’t read it, the bucket of sawdust and scraps says “Desiccated Coconut”
Here are some of our cabinets being installed in the dorm rooms. New flooring has been placed, some of it still covered with masking for protection from work in the closet area.
The bookcases we are creating now will be stained to match the lower cabinets, and hung on the wall above them.
Here are some of the beat up old drawers that we are replacing! Think it’s time??
I’ve seen a bit of wildlife on my early morning runs around nearby Holmes Lake. Lots of Tri-color Blackbirds, a Meadowlark, and other nice birds, but one critter stopped me in my tracks! A cute little skunk was walking across the trail. As he leisurely ambled away, it dawned on me that I could take a picture with my phone, so here is proof of a peacable skunk encounter.
Here are better shots of early morning Holmes Lake…
Becky, Kevin and our grandkids Dayna and Peter drove down from Minnesota to spend a little time with us. Kevin worked a couple of days in the cabinet shop with us. Kevin even let us celebrate his birthday with him! Six flavors of iced bundt cakes… fantastic!
To celebrate the 4th of July, the shop shut down a couple of hours early, and we went to the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. I told the gal at the ticket booth I’m not from Lincoln and I’m not a child, but she let me but a ticket anyway.
They are rebuilding this zoo, and it was a nice zoo to start with. There is a very clever area where kids can climb in a structure that surrounds a monkey cage, so it looks and feels like they are really in with the monkeys. They have a giraffe feeding area that is set up for little ones to be at giraffe mouth level. Kids can buy lettuce, and then have great fun when the giraffe reaches out with an enormously long tongue and eagerly grabs and gobbles. Lots of gobbling and giggling!
The tiger cage has a jeep bisected by the glass of the enclosure. If you’re lucky, the tiger will sit in the passenger seat and you can sit by him in the driver’s position. We didn’t get that photo, but did get some of our grandkids and their cousins.
A couple of rescued Bald Eagles were being fed. Magnificent birds! I couldn’t get them to move fully out of the shadows and this guy looks ticked at me for asking!
We saw a Lemur,
A camel who looks like he could use a dentist,
and someone else with teeth I’d rather not work on…
And odd birds,
(I had to cut this guy in half because a cage wire was in the way!)
And what would a zoo be without Peacocks?
And a Parrot or two.
Of course the cutest animals in the zoo were the grandkids and their cousins…
That evening we had a very special cake… decorated by Dayna and cousin Charlotte, it was very surprising when sliced! Once again, Becky has created a great fun desert!