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!
A short post for a long week! We are at Union College, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Maranatha Volunteers International is using volunteers to completely refurbish 34 rooms in Rees Women’s residence; the girls’ dorm. Built in 1958, with an addition in 1965, the rooms are ripe for refreshing! We are only doing a small percentage of the rooms, but there will be more projects in the future to cover the whole building.
I got to the college a few days early, and was privileged to help set up for the project. Director David has basically built a factory in the campus maintenance buildings, to create 68 cabinets, 340 drawers, and 34 bookshelf units. A massive undertaking to be accomplished in three weeks, and done by volunteer labor!
So I feel like I’ve spent every waking hour in the cabinet shop… and that’s not too great an exaggeration! Meanwhile, other teams are tearing apart the dorm rooms- removing built-in desk cabinets and bookshelves, repairing walls, and tuning up A/C units. The walls will be repaired and painted, lighting and electrical fixtures updated, new flooring placed, and then our newly created desk cabinets and new countertops will be installed.
Another group of special people are aiding the cafeteria staff preparing food for this whole team. Cherryl is working in the kitchen to make sure we all have plenty of good food to keep our energy up!
Not sure who this guy with the wild thinning hair is, but I see him in the mirror a lot…
Lots of lumber turning into cabinets!
Some have been stained, and will soon be lacquered.
Jerry, one of the great workers on the cabinet team, said he bleeds too easily- his blood thinners make him bleed whenever he is bumped or scraped… and he did that a lot. So I got him a remedy he could try out…
We decided we should sign one of the cabinets, so if the world (or the dorm) lasts for another several decades, when they refurbish the rooms again they will find our scrawlings and the date… a sort of time capsule.
So I have no pictures of the demolition of the 34 dorm rooms, but the college has had some photographers around, and they put together the following video:
Far from being a prison like the Leavenworth in Kansas, this Leavenworth is a charming little Swiss village hidden in the mountains of northwest Washington. The buildings are all attractively old world styled, and beautiful flowers are everywhere. I could have stayed a month just to try all the inviting restaurants!
A great little art show was one of the first attractions.
Gustav’s won our patronage for lunch, and served up a great feast!
I’m not sure what the extremely tall blue striped spire is… any thoughts?
We met a VERY TALL Knight:
We didn’t ride a horse drawn carriage:
I enjoyed just looking at all the interesting architecture
And the beautiful locale
But best of all, a Father’s Day on the river!
Nearby Wenatchee has a beautiful park on the river, and a sculpture memorial to a legend about the Coyote: It seems a long time ago, some Swallows dammed up the river so the Salmon couldn’t get upstream, and the Indians upstream were starving. So the Coyote disguised himself as a little baby, snuck in among the Swallows, and while they weren’t looking he sabotaged the dam. He then guided the Salmon upstream, and everyone lived happily ever after. Unless of course you were the Salmon eaten by Indians. I’m not convinced it is a true story…
We are now back in Lincoln, Nebraska, where we will be volunteering with Maranatha to remodel some rooms in the girl’s dorm at Union College. That project starts Monday, and should make a substantial improvement in some of the girls’ rooms.
We had a tremendous thunderstorm one evening! Amazing how lightening can flash instantly across the whole sky, every couple of seconds, for hours!
Here is the view from our current motorhome location:
One other fun thing… While in Florida, we decided to upgrade our Jeep. We wanted a bigger four wheel drive vehicle that we can tow behind the motorhome, and can fit 6 people and luggage if needed. We decided a Chevy Suburban would be ideal. I called my buddies at Mile High Car Helper for advice only, since I didn’t think they could help me from Denver. But I was wrong! They arranged for my Jeep to be picked up, and found a beautiful Suburban for us, and had it shipped to Lincoln to meet us!
It looks absolutely brand-new, and is just what we wanted. If you need to buy a car, Rich and Ryan at Mile High Car Helper in Denver can work miracles! Even with all the shipping, I saved thousands over what I had been able to work out without them. Painless and easy.
The paint on our beautiful home is all brown and tan swirls, and makes me think of ice cream… so I’ve been calling it “Fudge Ripple”. Now with the white Suburban, I was afraid we’d have to call it “Vanilla”. But Becky suggested “Marshmallow”… So now I guess we live with Fudge Ripple and Marshmallow. Life is good!
Our Kids have been talking about the beauty of Leavenworth for a long time now. The image that came to my mind was this:
By Americasroof – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8727865
But it turns out they were right! (Imagine that!) Leavenworth, Washington is a very charming mountain town that looks transplanted from Switzerland. We had so much fun, and I took so many pictures, that I haven’t had time to get them together for this blog. So here are a few pictures from a walk in a park in Leavenworth. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get the rest of the adventure online…
SAGE Center is an agricultural museum in northern Oregon. We combined a trip to the SAGE center with a visit to Pendleton Mills, where they make the most beautiful woolen goods! Here is a short video with a hint of what goes on there…
More Flight Time
I was privileged to catch a couple more flights: first to Spokane, Washington and then to Lewiston, Idaho with the corporate jets.
I also got a couple flights in Loren’s “new” Cheyenne twin turbine zooming machine! Big, fast and beautiful!
Self-Portrait in the Shiny Spinner:
Bridges over Pasco:
Towing it back to the hanger from the fuel station:
Foxy Flying Wife:
The family had lots of fun putting together a “Family Airline Flight Safety Video”, which will be required viewing prior to any flight!
Working our way to Lincoln, Nebraska, we stopped in Independence. As with so many of the towns we visit, there is a lot of interesting architecture.
There are several denominations of churches within a few blocks… always interesting to see. These two were so close I thought it would be illustrative of how tightly packed the churches were… and then realized it is an addition to an existing, growing church.
A horse drawn history tour:
President Harry Truman lived in this house, and used it as a Summer White House:
A nice “Peace Park” is watched over by this elegant little lady:
After seeing so much traditional architecture, it was slightly surprising to come across this interesting spire:
We were naturally drawn to it… turns out is is a temple for the Community of Christ; which seems to be a “Reformed” LDS denomination. There were lots of cars in the parking lot, so we dared to enter. We were just in time for the last number of a fantastic Choral Concert. Awesome acoustics in the hall were perfect for the beautiful choir.
In a storage area of our campground I spotted an old silver trailer. I knew it wasn’t an Airstream, but thought it might be a Silver Streak or another make I knew as a kid. It turned out to be a Spartan Mansion… Spartan was an aircraft manufacturer in the early 1900’s. J. Paul Getty bought the company around 1935, and with housing shortages in WWII started using aircraft manufacturing techniques to build portable housing. There were a couple of models with palatial names like “Manor” and “Mansion”. While a “Spartan Mansion” may seem like an oxymoron, they were quite nice for their time, and a refurbished 1951 Mansion sold recently for $350,000. Not this one:
After arriving in Lincoln, we parked our “home” at Union College. We love this school, where both our daughters spent some time, so we have volunteered to help Maranatha upgrade the girl’s dorm. The volunteer time starts in about 3 weeks, so we have time to Jet to Washington to see our kids and help Karen close out the school year and inventory her kindergarten classroom.
Karen has been wanting to build a teepee for a while. When finding that several of her kindergarten class didn’t have a clue what a teepee was, she decided to get it done. Here is how you build a teepee in less than 40 seconds:
Show and Tell
Bryan’s second grade class was to have a “Show & Tell” day… and Bryan wanted to bring the lawn mower, because he enjoys mowing the lawn. Since that seemed a bit unwieldy, we decided to document a bit of mowing. The K-2 classes found this great fun:
My son-in-law Loren has bought into a beautiful plane- a Piper Cheyenne. A pressurized turbine twin, it has seats for 7 and looks fast even sitting in its hanger!
Outside the hanger are several helicopters, including an old Bell helicopter that seemed to be meticulously restored. It made me think of the old “Whirlybirds” TV show I saw as a kid. Cool.
Flight to Lewiston, Idaho
Just in case you haven’t been fortunate enough to read it in previous blogs, my son-in-law Loren is an Ophthalmologist working for a great company that flies surgeons and teams to cities all over the northwest. And I bum rides when I can, for the simple pleasure of flying right seat in beautiful Citation Jet III’s. It’s quite a ride! Smooth, quiet, with amazing acceleration. We had moderate icing on the way to Lewiston, Idaho, and rain all the way back. No big deal. Just fast and fun!
Last day of School
The final day of class had lots of fun, food and frivolity!
And now the Friday night sunset that closed the final day of school:
The Corvette below was the personal car of Zora Arkus-Duntov, the “Godfather” of Corvettes, from vision, design and development. While he obviously drove any number of ‘Vettes, this is the only one he ever purchased.
I’m sure the only reason I’m so fond of Corvettes is that we share the same birthday. On my 50th birthday (a few years ago) my good buddy Gary let me drive both his 50th anniversary Corvette convertible, and his 50 year old ‘vette! What a treat!! Thank you Gary! (His looks exactly like the title shot above). That same year we were driving through Bowling Green, Kentucky, where the Corvettes are made, and spent some time in the National Corvette Museum. Since it was the 50 year celebration, there were literally acres of Corvettes parked everywhere; on grass fields as well as paved parking lots surrounding the factory and museum. It’s a really fantastic museum, with more Corvettes, Corvette history and memorabilia than a person can take in. But I tried!
Below is an interesting tidbit about the original Corvette emblem…
This ’53 has been cut away to show you its innards. I won’t show you mine…
Another ’53 as a mosaic, with thousands of tiny shots. I love these.
This one looks a lot like my Uncle Hollis’ Corvette. He stored it at my house one year and I had to keep it exercised occasionally.
Just before Valentine’s day in 2014, at 5:39 in the morning, the ground shook under the largest domed display room in the museum. Then the floor literally dropped out… a huge sinkhole caved in the area supporting 8 cars! Some of the Corvettes fell about 40 feet, as rocks and earth fell all around them. Some were buried so deeply that they were only found by digging exploratory holes in the rubble. The entire sinkhole fit within the perimeter of the display room, with most of the cars around the edges remaining where they were. The cars were eventually hoisted out of the newly formed cavern, and several were restored. Three were so badly mangled that restoration would be impossible, so they are now displayed as they were brought up. Pretty grim! The event made world-wide news, and prompted a lot of jokes too…
The least damaged car was still drivable:
Some folks laugh a bit at Branson, MO… saying that’s where entertainers go out to pasture or whatever. But I’ll admit we find a lot to like here. On a previous trip we saw a group called SIX. All brothers (guess how many!) who have been singing together forever. They are fantastic! So we got front row seats to see them again! They not only sing well, harmonize incredibly, but also make all the band sounds with their mouths. Percussion, horns, crazy sound effects – all done in an awesome fast paced show that… well, I guess you can tell I really liked it! Just before the intermission, one of the SIX, spiky haired Kevin, said he was going to give a CD to someone very special… looked around the front row, and gave it to Cherryl! He then asked our names, and where we were from. We told him we were nomads, and lived in our motorhome. Then during the break we had a nice couple ask us about motorhome living- so we got to meet some new friends! A great concert!
Silver Dollar City
My favorite attraction in Branson is Silver Dollar City, a very cool amusement park themed in the 1880’s. There are world-class roller coasters, other rides for all ages, and lots of old-time shops. Blacksmiths, carpenters, leather workers and more work at their trades and answer questions about how things were done back then. It is very hard to ignore fun things like funnel cakes, pecan rolls and sourdough bread. You might even find some great ice cream… What is most appealing about the place it its wholesome atmosphere… there seems to be just a warm friendly vibe; patriotic and Christian, but definitely not pushy. Very nice.
One machine from the 1880’s surprised me- a device to make dovetail joints…
There are lots of animals in the park too. Here is a Western Mediterranean donkey, said to be probably like the one Mary rode to Bethlehem. This one made this blog because she shares my sister Lori’s birthday. But thankfully that is about all they have in common…
The start of Silver Dollar City is actually Marvel Cave. Indians found it by mistake in the early 1500’s when one of them fell in the opening and was never seen again. When they saw “steam” rising from a cave opening, they decided it was an evil place. They notched the trees all around to warn other Indians to stay away. This accounts for the fact that almost no Indian artifacts were found in the cave, unlike most caves in the area. Starting in the late 1800’s there were tours offered, if you didn’t mind climbing down a long rope, a 70 foot ladder, and then wearing special leather overalls with reinforced rear ends as you scooted down a huge debris field. This would get you to the bottom of the Cathedral Room, which is the largest cavern room in the country. From there you could explore by candlelight, and when done use a pickaxe to hike back to the ladder and rope.
By the mid 1900’s stairs had been installed, and a better exit built, and tourism soared. To entertain people as they waited in line, shows were put on. Then more exhibits, and more shows, and it expanded over the decades into what is now Silver Dollar City. So really, SDC is the waiting room for cave tours!
The cave is visited by heading down 500 or so stairs, into the Cathedral room. This room is about 20 stories high; a room so vast that the Statue of Liberty could stand upright (If she could get down the stairs). Then, through the Serpentine passage, and down to a long waterfall into an underground lake. From there you climb a little bit, and get on a train to take you out the back of the cave and back up top.
Except. When a lady in the tour ahead of you has a medical problem at the very bottom, your tour has to wait partway through, watch the emergency people go past you, and eventually have your tour cut short and reverse direction. So no train to the top… lots of climbing up stairs! We never did hear about the lady at the bottom. Hope she’s not still there!
By the mid- 1880’s, Thomas Edison was a prolific inventor, and frankly, was doing very well for himself. He came to Fort Myers, Florida, not only for relaxation but for a tropical location for his research. He was an avid botanist, and was seeking (among many other things) to find plants that could be a source for rubber. He tested over 17,000 plants, and finally settled on Goldenrod. Who would have guessed it?
Anyway, he purchased some riverfront property, and built it into a beautiful estate. The only existing structure was enlarged to become the caretaker’s house and garages. He built a pier extending almost a quarter mile into the river to a spot deep enough for ships bringing building supplies. A beautiful two story home was built, a large lab building, and even a pool and pool house. Not surprisingly, the estate had electric power, supplied by his own generators. He was hoping to electrify all of Fort Myers, but that didn’t happen for another decade.
Here is the caretaker’s house and the garages:
The remains of the pier; used first for supplies, then sports boating:
The main house:
The “Midnight Garden”, originally featuring flowers that looked best at night:
Even some original wicker furniture from Edison’s time:
Henry Ford was one of Edison’s employees as a young man. Later on they became strong friends, and Ford often visited Edison in his Florida estate. The owner of the house closest to Edison’s property decided to sell, and he knew Henry Ford was a friend and frequent visitor of Edison. He told Ford he’d really like to sell only to him, so the friends could be close. Ford bought not only the house, but all the furnishings, ready to move in. Edison would spend a few months a year in his southern estate, but Ford usually only came down a couple of weeks, mostly around Edison’s birthday.
Ford’s estate had been named “The Mangoes” for the huge number of very fruitful mango trees, but there were plenty of oranges and other “exotic” fruit trees. The properties have beautiful views of the river, and plenty of Palm Trees and flowers. An astounding variety of orchids grace the property.
Ford tried a few times to start automobile companies before he got it right… he left one of them, the Henry Ford Company, after only three months, because he didn’t like where the company was headed. After he left, it was restructured, and renamed “Cadillac”. The first Cadillac was a 10 hp car, pretty much a Henry Ford design.
Edison’s large lab has been moved to Ford’s Museum of American Innovation, but a “smaller” lab is still here:
The museum is fabulous. Thomas Edison was going deaf as he grew older, but still insisted on listening to and approving all music to be recorded and sold on his phonographs. He found if he could bite the wooden frame holding the phonograph, he could hear the music. It made me think of my favorite deaf jazz singer! (Love you Mandy!)
Of course the Model T is what made Henry Ford famous: he literally changed the world with this car! This particular car was a gift from Ford to Edison.
Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone liked to go camping and explore the Everglades. They built a “Motorhome” on a Ford Model T. It had a tank for water, and a few drawers for supplies, and when the drawers were removed there might have been a bit of space inside! Notice the stove and picnic basket beside the motorhome:
Speaking of motorhomes… that brings me to:
Our Next Chapter…
We have sold our beautiful boat, GRACE. We had an awesome time living on the water, but it was causing the dollars to flee my retirement account too rapidly. We decided it was time to change the adventure a bit… So our next nomadic home has wheels! We have now moved aboard a big ole’ motorhome. Quite different from Henry’s Model T.
Last week I talked about Frank Lloyd Wright’s design principles for his Usonian Houses. Our motorhome mimics these concepts in some ways:
He loved long horizontal lines. The motorhome is very linear, and all the air conditioners and antennae are hidden from view so the lines remain clean. The entryway is rather tight, making you slightly uncomfortable and compelling you to go farther in. When you round the corner and see the living area, it is much wider and far more open, almost making you say “Wow!” This is where you are supposed to relax and feel like staying. This is both the living and dining areas, with the kitchen right opposite. The kitchen area is small, but at least the cook is close to others in the living area. The home has most of the furniture built in, so there’s little room for rearranging it! There is lots of indirect lighting, and the attempt is to let the nature outside be the focus. The bedroom is smallish (but still has room for a King Sized bed). Does that sound like my description of Wright’s design? Yes, because I almost copied it from last week’s blog!
Ok, our new home differs significantly from a Usonian House, starting with the fact that it has wheels! It has a large diesel engine to push it around, so the view always changes. We actually have a bath and a half, which is more than Wright put in the Florida house. It drives beautifully, and gets pretty good mileage for a house!
So the months of research into portable housing has finally culminated in a 2017 Newmar Dutch Star. Maybe I’ll put up a page about it like I did about Grace, in case folks have questions. Like the boat, it sometimes feels VERY LARGE, like when you back into a tight spot… and sometimes it feels SO SMALL, when you try to fit everything you own inside!
We get Library Cards!
When our dear friend Giny asked how nomads get library cards, we replied that we still had our cards from Colorado, and would use them till they found out we don’t live there anymore. But we got to thinking… what if they did find out (don’t tell!) – we could have our library cards revoked! So we stopped by the library in Green Cove Springs, where our mailing address is, and got shiny new Floridian library cards! Of course we can only use them for eBooks and Audiobooks, but that is a great asset. We also got to pose as Astronaut and Space Alien, and had the librarian take our picture. What a day!
Chasing the Next Horizon
From now on, we will be searching for our next horizon on land… we hope you will follow us there!
For ages I’ve heard jokes about the tallest mountain in Florida – Mount Dora. Sitting in view of 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado, we’d laugh at the something like 500 foot Mount Dora. So when we were driving along and saw the turnoff for this famous mountain, we had to take it!
With an elevation of 184 feet above sea level, Mount Dora is hardly nosebleed inducing. In fact, it’s hardly a hill. This is the name of a town. There is no mountain or hill in sight. But cease your laughter, because there is a taller place in Florida – Britton Hill, with an elevation of 345 feet! It almost doesn’t count, because it is just a couple inches south of Alabama. If the guy drawing the dotted line between the two states hiccuped, the hill might have been in Alabama. From our intensive internet searching, this intersection is the highest point in Mount Dora:
We’ve had a great time in Manatee Hammock, but it was time to head a little farther south. So we left this beautiful, natural campsite…
The morning we were leaving, a little lizard climbed the tree right outside our window and watched us eat breakfast. He must have liked what he saw, because he did some showing off for us, puffing out his brilliantly colored throat !
Cypress Trail RV Resort
We’ve moved to a fancy RV spot just south of Fort Myers, Florida. The “campsites” are paved, the grass is neatly trimmed, and there are a few billion dollars’ worth of RV’s here. The sites are sold like condos… most owned by folks who spend the winter here in their RV and then head back north when it gets this hot. We will head north next week, without buying a spot here! It really is beautiful, with lots of flowers, gorgeous skies, plenty of birds, a few rabbits, and I even saw an armadillo! The Nine-Banded armadillos, like so many people, aren’t from here, but have moved in to stay.
I put together a very short little overview of the Resort:
I have had quite a few folks ask about some of my photography, especially if they’d seen the prints in my former Dental Office. I had a lot of pictures printed on metal, which makes them look really great. So I have finally put together a Photo Website! It is a work in progress, and hopefully will have more photos added frequently – both new pix and some from the archives. Feel free to check it out at www.McArthurArts.com