Okay, so I have been somewhat delinquent in getting our final summer trip up, and now we’re into November! Mea culpa! For those younger people who might not understand that Latin phrase, it means “through my fault”… today, the typical hipster phrase would be “My bad”. We will pick up this month’s blog in Colorado. We stayed at St. Vrain State Park in Longmont to visit our dear friends “Colonel Crusty” Cunis and His Lovely Bride Elaine. Unfortunately, due to the Chinese virus, we were unable to enjoy an Army-sponsored dinner this year (Navy won the last Army-Navy Game). Next year, Crusty! Go Navy… Beat Army!
St. Vrain is a favorite campground; we have been there about 6 times. This year we encountered something different… Mutton Mowers. Instead of contracting out to a landscaping/lawn maintenance company to keep the weeds in check, the state park folks hired Emily McMurtrey’s goats from Mutton Mowers https://www.facebook.com/MuttonMowers/. I met Emily when I was on a walk, and learned about her goats. She sets up electrified fences around their grazing areas to protect them from coyotes and loose dogs. Emily and many of her family ranch friends were affected by the recent fires in Colorado, and if you’re a goat and other livestock fan, you can join me in sending a donation to the Colorado Fire Relief for Livestock GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/mutton-mowers-winter-fund…
On the way east from the Denver area, we stopped for lunch in Deer Trail, CO, home of the world’s first rodeo. We parked across from this home down a side street, and were shocked by the sign in the window… “A..hole’s Neighbor”! We couldn’t understand how someone could display such a nasty sign; it must have been a very serious feud…
… but then, we drove around the corner and what did we find, but “A..hole’s Garage”…. only in small town America could you find this kind of marketing! And from the cars out front, it looks like he isn’t doing much business…
Our next stop for the night was Oakley, Kansas… this is corn country. The corn was as high as, well… an elephant’s eye. (If you’re under 40, that might not mean much to you…) We took two long walks down this country road looking for a Starbucks or Panera, and didn’t see a soul until a guy in a pickup truck pulled alongside and said, “Saw y’all about a half hour ago… you turned around just as you got to my farm… you should have stopped in… I coulda used some help with my fencing.” I replied, “Well, sir, you shoulda put a sign on your barn door…”
Have you ever seen a feeding frenzy? We don’t go out to eat a lot, but when we do, it will be for food that we don’t make at home, like these delicious ribs at Jack Stack BBQ. Here is a Happy Medium.
Many of you know about the Always and Furever Midwest Animal Sanctuary in Spring Hill, Kansas. This shelter rescues aging dogs (and now also cats) from “kill shelters”. They are given a loving home where they can sleep on couches in a living room setting. Jennifer Dulski started the sanctuary in 2017 and has saved over 500 dogs. It was featured in a recent charity event that Suzanne sponsored. Donations are always appreciated. See their web site at https://alwaysandfurever.love/our-story/
Eastward to Tuscumbia, Alabama… we met our dear friends Judson and Donna Jo Emens and several of their friends for a delicious down home Southern dinner at our campground. The caramel cake was a unique dessert that I immediately fell in love with!
Suzanne has a weekly radio show, and one day one of the callers said, “You are in Tuscumbia; if you are coming through Huntsville, please stop so we can have lunch!” Well, it just so happened that we were passing through there in two days! We had a delightful German meal with Melitta Thorn. One of the best aspects of our summer trips in the coach is the ability to meet fun and interesting people along the way.
Moving farther east, we passed through Knoxville, Tennessee, where we went on a hike to this beautiful waterfall.
The penultimate stop on our trip was in the Boone/Banner Elk/West Jefferson, North Carolina, area. We were visiting our Villages friends Bill and Gayle Hancock, and Bob and Jessica Hunter, who both have summer homes there. (Unfortunately, our staff photographer failed miserably in getting any photos of us together… sigh.) Hiking opportunities abound along the Blue Ridge Parkway, so we were able to get out for some enjoyable, but challenging, hikes.
We savored our last night before returning home, and enjoyed a nice campfire under the stars. I was a Boy Scout, so knew how to build a fire, but had to struggle with a dull axe – I had forgotten to bring a sharpening stone along… “Note to self….”
We arrived back in Hilton Head and immediately met with our dear friends and neighbors Tony and Irene Vouvalides. They had been taking care of our house while we were away. Tony mentioned that he had saved a few bottles of wine we left behind in our cooler for us. What a guy! Here is Tony and the detritus of one of the wine parties… (He was kidding, of course, having saved up these corks to retaliate … on the night before we departed, we had dinner at their house, and I had surreptitiously dumped a pile of Hershey’s kisses detritus in his recliner…. we share that addiction!)
Irene is an amazing gourmet cook, and we have enjoyed several fabulous dinners already since arriving home. Here are Irene and Kayla Truppi with the best baked Ziti on the planet…
So, wrapping up this edition of the blog, here is My Lovely Bride and our fur babies, Rudy and Nellie, at rest… we had a wonderful four month trip out west, but the old adage is true… there is no place like home.