RV weekend June 26-28 KC- Birthday Party and Christening

Well as we get ready to head off on our 4th of July RV weekend, I thought it would be good to catch up on last weekends trip to Kansas City Missouri for Vicky's niece's (Rebecca) daughter Isabella 5th Birthday party and her newest daughter Lilian's christening. We used the occasion to take the RV as there is a very good RV park literally across the street from their home in Lee's Summit.
This weekend we took Vicky's mother (Joyce) with us, so she could also stay in the RV. She had wanted to try it out and also Rebecca and her husband Ben's home was very full with other guests.

 We got in kind of later in the day (around 7:30 pm) there is always lots of construction on Hwy 70 across the state of Missouri and that also means several accidents as well held us up.

We just set up the RV quickly and then went for Mexican food. It is hard to stop Vicky from craving Mexican food on a Friday night. the place we ate at was really close by, within 3 miles, and had really good food for just an average looking family style Mexican Restaurant. Casa Mexico

This RV park (Blue Springs RV campground) was really nice. the lots are very big and the park has full gated security. Everything was very clean and tidy. We were at site 14 which I think is the best site, but site 20 was also nice and we might try that one next time.
 I always go out for my early morning walk and check out the whole park, Vicky slept in this weekend! It was full by Saturday afternoon, but Saturday morning there were still some spaces open. 
A storm had come through on Friday and pushed all the hot and humid air out and Friday night- Sunday we actually slept with the windows open and it was chilly. 

 Saturday was the birthday party for Isabella (it was a custom party, so Vicky went as a nurse in her scrubs from the hospital and I went as a patient (pretty appropriate!) When we were not over at Rebecca's house we just relaxed at the RV site

Joyce(Vicky's mom) and Vicky (above)

Rachel (below) who is another of Vicky's nieces, holding Liliana (Great niece) at the Christening

Family Tree's are so confusing to me, but everyone was there and we had a really good time.

Father's Day RV weekend Lake of the Ozarks State Park- June 19-21 2015

Vicky and I took the RV out again this weekend. Continuing our every weekend in June theme to get out with the RV. This weekend Emily and Anthony brought the girls down for the weekend as well.
We stayed by the water at Lake of the Ozark State Park and they stayed in a hotel up in town next to with the shopping malls, swimming pools, and amusement parks.

All pictures this weekend taken with iPhone
 We didn't get away until late on Friday after work so by the time we arrived down at Lake of the Ozarks it was getting dusk and the deer were out in the park
We got the RV in and set up on the first try and just hung out for the evening by ourselves
The kids came down even later on Friday, but on Saturday we all went to Miner Mike's and indoor amusement park where they had a great time

Cali and Alyssa riding the roller coaster

On the Ferris Wheel. There was also a giant Maze they spent almost an hour inside.

Cali (above) and Emily, Vicky, Alyssa (Below) 
 After word there was some shopping (there is a huge outlet mall in Lake Ozark). We left the kids at Miner Mike's and we went back to the RV. Eventually everyone showed up and we went swimming in the Lake, watched movies, played around the Park and made a fire

 The park was completely full with RV and campers all weekend.

We made a great picnic dinner and ate outside- despite it being in the 90's all day on Saturday.

 I got my favorite Dark Chocolate Seafoam for Father's day.

We slept in on Father's day (Sunday) and packed up and got home just before more big rain back home. - It was a great weekend.

Bass River Resort- RV weekend Steelville, MO. June 12-14

Vicky was going to be in Nashville TN for most of the week at the CMT (Country Music Television) awards and then was going to be attending concerts all week from the various Country stars. This has become an annual event for her, her sister Donna, Donna's daughter Rachel, and Vicky childhood friend Sharon. So while the girls went to drool over the country stars I decided that I would take the RV to somewhere equally "redneck" and go down to Bass Resort. Bass Resort sits between the Huzzah and the Courtois Rivers, two of the excellent canoeing, rafting, tubing rivers in Missouri. I know of the resort as it sits at the 11 mile marker of the Ozark Trail and I have hiked through it and even stealth camped in the resort once on an Ozark Trail hike.
This time however I would be mixing with the "locals" and on a popular weekend as well.

Bass Resort is a huge facility and can have many thousands of people spread over hundreds of acres and 4 distinct camping area. The registration is also the general store and the restaurant where you can get BBQ on Friday and Saturday night as well as Breakfast in the mornings.

Crossing over the Courtois (pronounced Code-a-way) river on the small concrete spillway

 Looking back on the spillway. you need to have your truck and RV straight when you cross this.

My campground I picked the furthest campsite in the park and in one of the family friendly zones. (Quiet time from 11 pm to 6 am) 
 Set up and ready to party- alone!  LOL

A common practice is to take a camping chair and just go sit in the river. you can sit with just your feet in the water or you can wade out and a position the chair so you are sitting waist deep in the water. Of course it helps if alcohol is involved in this practice as well.

I didn't have that much alcohol so I just went and sat in the river for awhile. Eventually the afternoon thunderstorms showed up and I went back to the RV to put my feet up and watch a movie. We need a bigger TV.

Once the storms passed over the temperature dropped and the sky was blue

 After I made hot dogs on the grille and had a hard cider or two I went for an evening walk. I walked all the other campgrounds. the other sites are the "Loud Section" quiet time is not until 2;30 am. The twenty somethings party here until the wee hours of the morning having drunk all day on the river and then drinking all night to get back in the river in the morning. SAFETY FIRST!

It turned into a very pleasant evening
The next morning dawned sunny and hot. I didn't move my truck at all for the weekend. If I needed anything I walked the mile each way to the main building. The main building had wi-fi and with no cell service here it was the only way to check in with the kids and Vicky in Nashville- besides they also had ice cream.

 I found a path so I didn't have to walk on the road and could walk in the woods going to and from the main lodge and my campsite

By after noon it clouded up again for just an hour more of heavy rain

Tonight I had brought Filet Mignon. I had thought that one or maybe both my children might drive down to have dinner, play in the water, or maybe even spend the night, but no one showed up. I cooked both up anyway thinking I would have steak and eggs for breakfast Sunday morning.
Tonight selections a very good white wine from Missouri's Adam Puchta winery. A Vignoles. The great thing about drinking an entire bottle of wine by yourself is that it makes you focus. I temporarily forget about any issues at work or old friends lost, and just concentrate on the moment I am in- until the next morning when the headache reminds me why I don't drink a whole bottle by myself!  LOL

 The perfect steak, with some cheesy pasta salad and a garden salad. yummy....

 After dinner, finishing up the last of the wine, there was lots of cloud watching and sitting out as the light fading into evening and then night. Finally the mosquitos chased me inside.
The next morning I woke to heaving rain. I slept later and when I looked outside everyone was hurrying to breakdown and get packed up. I knew if they just waited for a short time the rain would stop. I made breakfast and lounged around watching a movie and ready a book. After about an hour the rain stopped and the sun came out, so I started to pack everything up.
The heady rain was to be expected since I did hand wash the truck and the RV yesterday afternoon.

On of the best features of this new RV is that the awning will detect when it has too much weight on it (collecting water) and will automatically tilt down to let the water run off. Very clever! 

 All packed up and ready to go. I like to keep the RV like my backpack, just the essentials, not too much extra weight, this makes it quick and easy to set up and break down. 
Next time I will sign up for spending the day doing on of the various float trips on the river. you can do a 6 mile, 13 mile or 20 mile float trip. Don't tell Vicky but they have a country music festival down here later this summer.

Jellystone RV campground, Eureka, MO June 6-7

Well in the midst of finishing all the posts for the TGO Challenge 2015. I had to get the RV unwinterized and ready for the season. We have every weekend in June booked to go somewhere. We don't really have any agenda other than to just through a dart at a map and go where it says. We only had one day this weekend so we decided to go to Jellystone campground. This is an RV park catering to families with small kids, but we thought we would go anyway as it is close to home and also to check it out to bring Cali and Alyssa back for a weekend.

We got the RV set up at site 22 a nice shady spot and started getting used to where to store eveything.
This park is right next to SIX FLAGS a very famous amusement park in St.Louis. There are several six flags around the US.

The park has lots to offer kids and while we didn't ride the train we did walk around the entire park a few times and take advantage of the "all you can eat" pancake breakfast on Sunday morning.

 you can write Yogi and Boo-boo a letter and you can also get your picture taken with them!
we are such dorks!

TGO Challenge 2015 Day 14- Pennan Inn to Fraserburgh and Montrose

Day 14
Today might seem anti-climactic being just an easy 12 mile walk to the sea, but there is a lot going on today. But I don't want to get ahead of myself, as I told Vicky just enjoy the moment.
We had an excellent Scottish breakfast one more time at the Pennan Inn this morning and then packed up to walk the 12 miles to Fraserburgh.

Vicky puts the pack on for one more time this morning.
At the top of the hill the sign now shows us the way to Fraserburgh and away from 'Ferness"

We got started about 8:30 this morning after breakfast and the B road was quiet for the mile we had to walk it, but then we turned onto the minor roads and we had them all to ourselves.
 The minor road gave way to easy 2 track farm roads for awhile.

Even from the road or track today we could always see the North Sea

No matter what today we always had company along the sides of the road.

While I wished we could have been walking up on the cliff edges the views were still excellent 

 We passed Dundarg Castle and Fort. It looked to be a private residence now, but it was a spectacular setting right on the water with views to both sides and out to sea.

We passed by a Doocot "ornate structure"  in the field just south of Rosehearty

A surprise in a farmers barn yard a group of peacocks and he just couldn't help but show off for us.
Just past a farm called Milltown of Phingask a giant rape seed field.

 Finally coming into Fraserburgh and our finish destination in site the light house

We made sure that we got to the south east side of the light house so we finished on the east coast. 

To make doubly sure we walked down the hill to the wharf and docks of Fraserburgh so we could stand next to the sea for our finish photos

Happy to be finished, I asked Vicky if she wanted to "yo-yo" turn around and start back to the west coast again? Language deleted here for politeness

The final day to the sea and 205 miles overall from the west coast to the east.
So we finished in excellent time. it was around 12:30 pm. We needed to find the bus station to take us to Aberdeen. Fraserburgh being the northern most city on the east coast has no direct service to Montrose, so first it is bus to Aberdeen and then train to Montrose. 

 We found a city bus stop and a bus schedule, we asked the next city bus driver directions to the bus terminal- (it was just 2 blocks away). we walked to the bus terminal and in less than 20 minutes we were on a scheduled bus to Aberdeen. (above) Of course there was time for me to find a bakery and get some donuts and Vicky's celebration Mac and Cheese pie along with a Diet Coke!

We had been to Aberdeen before. Last year we transferred here when we were following our route to Braemar while Vicky rested her knee. We had to take the train from Aviemore to Aberdeen to catch a bus back to Braemar. This year we were leading a charmed life again. We arrived by bus into Aberdeen and in 15 minutes we were on the train to Montrose.(above)
Does Vicky look relaxed? (above). I think so!  It is impossible to tell you how impressed I am with her accomplishment. To put this into perspective she has been working out for general fitness regularly, but that is like saying she runs 3-5 miles per week and someone just asked her to run a full marathon with no prior competition experience. The longest she has been out backpacking is 3 days and now she walked 130 miles last year and 205 this year. 

It was another fantastic train ride down to Montrose

In no time we were walking the city center on the way to the Park Hotel. It was weird yet nice to know how easily we get around in this town, We felt the same way around Glasgow when we arrived two weeks ago.

The Park Hotel is actually the true finish point. You are not completely done until you are checked into Challenge Control. This year we didn't arrive as someone that stuck it out and persevered but as Challengers that had successfully completed the walk. Even though I was perfectly happy with the walk and vacation we had last year, I felt good about legitimately signing out and I am sure Vicky did as well- Hopefully we will get to hear from Vicky this year, if she puts into words her feelings about the challenge- I will be sure to post that! 
Challenge Control and the Challenge is a close knit group. It is impossible to know everyone, but it is amazing how many people do know each other and come back year and year for the event. 
 (Above) Gayle who helped me so much this year was doing the check out along with Sue and of course Roger Smith (the real father of the event)
Vicky (above) takes advantage of the tea and cakes offered at Challenge Control

After resting and taking in the atmosphere we walked just across the street to the Link Hotel. This has become our usual hotel ( the Park is always sold out) but I think we like the Link better

This year we got one of the brand new rooms in the new wing. A huge suite to relax in. We are going to be here for two and half days as we don't leave to start home until Saturday afternoon 

 Once we had cleaned up and rested it was time for the TGO dinner party. There is a dinner on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights but the Thursday night dinner is always the biggest and rowdiest and it so entertaining. Just before dinner everyone is in the Park Hotel Bar and if you notice all have their TGO T-Shirts on, So did Vicky and I as like most this is the only clean cloths you have!
(Above)- Alan Sloman in his T-shirt and (Below) John- on left- and Norma- pink vest- Keohane.
Both Alan and John were making their 20th crossings this year and would get special awards tonight during the banquet.
Below in red jacket- Bob Cartwright from Backpackinglight.co.uk and the Outdoors Station fame. Bob's podcast's of the challenge have helped me learn about the challenge and route ideas. Later in the evening Vicky and I would get a chance to chat with Bob and his wife Rose.

 The meal and the evening where extremely fun with many speeches and awards. 

Some of the highlights include the gentleman that owns Lochallater Lodge who always comes in full Scottish formal dress. The food was also very good. We missed another chance to try the Haggis again.

The speech by Humphrey Weightman (13 crossings) is always a highlight for me as he speaks many languages has great stories and is a great MC as he introduces all the challenge classes by year and the Challengers by country. 

 There is so many people to thank for helping make something like this possible. Planning this trip from the USA, 4300 miles away is a bit of a challenge in itself. While we loved the scenery and everything we experienced (we would expatriate to Scotland in a second) it is the people that make this event so much fun. After all with the Scottish rites of way you could walk across Scotland anytime you wished following any of these routes, but I have to agree that it is the unique nature of the people and the event that makes this so much fun. So people to thank:
This year since my route was so much different than the normal route just through the highlands, I could not have done it without the assistance of Gayle Faulkner and Louise Evans. Louise actually living in Forress, both provided lots of information and whether they realize it or not, lots of help in planning. Louise for putting up with us and walking with us on day 2 and 3. And I know both are big role models for Vicky. With help in navigation I do also have to thank Route Buddy Software, Neil and Jannion. The GPS really helped this year and the software worked great. To all our friends from last year that we found on the trip or talked to before our afterward - Peter Molenaar, Jayme Morgan, John and Norma Koehane, Emma Warbrick, Phil Lambert, Victor and Nicola Slawski, who we missed thanking last year, but I won't miss this year. Mick Blackburn, Wilhelm Fox, Andy Walker, Andy Howell, Toby and Vicky Grace, Mike Gillespie, Jeremy Burrows and Greg Lindstrom
A special thanks to Jim Anderson and his friend Anne. I can not remember when I have had a better time with another couple than we spent with Jim and Anne in Dornie before the Challenge began and then with Jim at the Thursday night dinner. Thank you.
And finally a huge thank you to Alan Sloman, who without his encouragement and good cheer I don't think Vicky would have considered trying again!

Vicky and Alan

For anyone I missed and I am sure I did and will be embarrassed when I remember- thank you.
I will make a travel post of getting there and getting home soon and I hope to have a video ( I shot 30 minutes of video on the trip) and have it done before long and just maybe I will have a post of Vicky's thoughts on the challenge

Support Our National Parks - Preserve - Protect - Enjoy