Planning a trip? Dreaming of travel? Perhaps some of our adventures could inspire yours! Over the last several years we’ve had the distinct pleasure of many cross country journeys traveling though the Lower 48 in tents and our various teardrop campers as well as an amazing Alaska adventure that did not involve a camper. To learn more about our day to day adventures, recent blog posts are below. To learn more about Steve & Karen, click on the About Us link. All Things [email protected] is about using and caring for [email protected] trailers. Every other link is about travel adventures. Enjoy exploring, and leave us comments! We love hearing from you. And if you’d like to follow us, Subscribe by signing up at the bottom of this page.

Wonka Weekend

It was a quick visit with family, just Thursday evening to Saturday morning, but it was packed with satisfying moments. We had a chance for some quiet conversations with Riley & Peyton talking about their upcoming plans and while they were at school, rehearsal, and prep for performance, we had some amazing conversations with Dave and Amy as we all look even further into the future. It was gorgeous weather allowing us to hang outside and take a long walk in a nearby park. We took the opportunity to pass some goodness on to the next generation. Dave is now the proud owner of a Honda EU2000i generator that he will use as part of his emergency backup plan while we will be moving on to a lithium power station. But the real reason for the visit was to watch Peyton & Riley dance. While Peyton played a series of bit parts, we were quite impressed with her roles both as a Squirrel in the Nut Room, and as part of The Chocolate River in their dance company’s rendition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Meanwhile as a graduating senior, Riley did an incredible job starring as Willie Wonka. It was an emotional experience since this weekend is her final opportunity to dance with this company. Tears were welling over not only for family members, but for friends, and fellow dancers and their families after Friday evening’s performance. We were able to cap off the visit with an amazing brunch and visit with the four of them and an opportunity to present the girls with a couple of semi-precious trinkets that Grandpop created in his studio. Now we’re southbound heading to our mountain house even while we dream of visits to come.

Wild Wonderful

West Virginia is along our route today as we trek north for a quick visit to Ohio to watch granddaughters dance this weekend. As always we were marveling at the landscape and this time really delighted in the Redbud trees blooming at the edge of the woods all along I-77. And as always we talked about taking time to explore the state. Just before leaving the state we stopped at the WV Welcome Center at Williamsburg near Parkersburg. Outside we checked out the West Virginia Fallen Worker Memorial We’ve always found welcome centers a great place to begin exploring a region and vow to check one out when we begin an extended visit to The Mountain State.

Giving Thanks

Yes, we’re back at our mountain house having returned in late September. Yes, we are way way behind on our blog posts. Yes, we promise to get caught up on posting all of the great experiences we have had these last several months but we didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to wish all of you an incredible Thanksgiving. We’re celebrating quietly with a bit of an aperitif and a yummy meal as we reflect on the many blessings in our lives not the least of which is you. Thanks for your friendship and encouragement as we wander this amazing country in search of adventures.

Will Rogers

When the hugely popular cowboy philosopher Will Rogers died in a plane crash in the Arctic in 1935, America mourned and his widow donated twenty acres to the state of Oklahoma as a permanent memorial to an incredibly talented Wild West roper, Vaudevillian, Ziegfeld Follies star, writer, and movie star. It’s where Will & Betty had planned to build their retirement home. Since 1938 it’s been the Will Rogers Memorial Museum along Route 66 in Claremore, Oklahoma. Today we delighted in touring this wonderfully inviting and well curated tribute to an incredible life, from his birth and childhood in the Indian Territory that informed his skills and life philosophy, to his career in show business and as a newspaper columnist and radio pundit, to his humanitarian efforts, and fascination with aviation. We were entranced. Though he perished long before either of us was born, we’ve been his fans and cherish the memory of having seen James Whitmore portray him onstage. With this visit we learned so much more about this amazing individual. As a bonus, the museum is a Harvest Hosts site so we’ll get to spend the evening enjoying these grounds that Will & Betty chose for their golden years.

The Orphan Train

Traveling south on US 81, we made our way into Kansas and shortly thereafter noticed signs for the Orphan Train Depot and Museum in Concordia, Kansas. Unfortunately for us the museum buildings were closed but the signs and exhibits on the outside gave us some insight into this bit of American History that we didn’t learn about in history class. Actually our first knowledge of anything of the sort came in the opening chapter of Anne of Green Gables when the orphan Anne arrives by train to live with Matthew and Marilla. Then in August 2019 we visited the Golden Spike Tower at Bailey Yard in North Platte, Nebraska where we watched some video footage on the history of the orphan trains that transported hundreds of thousands of homeless children from overcrowded New York City to foster families on farms and in small towns across the heartland. This museum seeks to tell the stories of individuals who set off from an urban environment and everything they ever knew to a new life in agricultural America. Although there were many complaints about the placement of New York children in rural locations, we were touched by the stories that accompanied the statues scattered about the grounds and the evidence of the dedication of descendants to preserve those stories. While in Concordia we also stopped by the Whole Wall Mural and marveled at the creative way the history of Cloud County is reflected in a 3D mural created from 6,400 bricks. After settling into the Salina KOA for two nights, we treated ourselves to a delicious dinner at Tuscon’s Steakhouse as recommended by our delightful campground hosts. It’s been a great mini-visit to Kansas and we’re looking forward to our next opportunity to explore the state even more.

What’s a Runza? Grand Island, Nebraska

Dear Subscribers, thanks for bearing with us. When we returned home last September we focused our energies on things other than posting travel blogs. Now as we prepare to head out with our [email protected] in the near future, we’re excited about focusing on blog posts from the tail end of our 2021 Summer Ramble. They will appear in correct chronological order of experience date. Thanks for understanding. Looking forward to hearing from you.

It’s been a three night stay at George Clayton Hall County Park, Grand Island, Nebraska, just north of I-80. It’s a first come, first choice campground so we arrived Thursday morning and managed, with the help of the delightful campground host, to snag one of just a few remaining campsites for the weekend before heading into town for omelets at Tommy’s Family Restaurant. Sadly it’s our only stay in Nebraska this trip since we’ve promised to visit family in Texas later this month putting us into a bit of a time crunch. We spent our time enjoying this lovely campground with some great walking trails, hanging out and working on some digital projects, enjoying local food, and learning a bit about the local history. We enjoyed a view from afar of some of the historic buildings at the Stuhr Museum. Despite our relaxed attitude during this short stay, we feel we got a bit of a taste of the area with a Runza, an intriguing blend of seasoned beef, cabbage, and onions baked into a bun, conversations with our Nebraska native neighbors, and the plethora of football fans attired in University of Nebraska scarlet on Saturday morning. When our wanderings bring us around this way again, we’ll be sure to check out more of the offerings in Henry Fonda’s hometown and pay attention to The Walking Tourists with their insight into some great off the beaten path adventures in Nebraska and beyond.

Spirit Mound

In search of more information about the history of this area we visited the headquarter of the Missouri National Recreational River in Yankton, South Dakota and talked with a ranger. Following that conversation we headed half an hour east to Spirit Mound Historic Prairie just north of Vermillion, South Dakota on the Missouri River. This is actually one of the places where Lewis & Clark stood in August 1804. It’s a location of spiritual significance to many Native Americans having diverse meanings in diverse cultures the Mandan, the Lakota, and the Yankton among them. The members of the Corps of Discovery were told of the legend that this natural hill was inhabited by Little People who would kill all persons who approached the peak. Knowing that others had made it to the top and lived to tell about it, we took our chances and embarked on the 1.4 mile hike to the summit where we were rewarded with amazing views of the prairie that is undergoing restoration thanks to the Spirit Mound Trust. We could see the Missouri River nine miles distant and the bluffs on the far bank. Located in a latched box secured by cables to the little seating area on top is a journal that invites visitors to log their visit and their thoughts. We accepted that invitation. Indeed on this beautiful day we can see why the peoples who lived here before the European Americans would consider this a place of contact between the physical and the supernatural world.

Mead Cultural Center

Cottonwood Campground, a COE campground at the foot of Gavins Point Dam between Lewis & Clark Lake and Yankton Lake just a few miles from the town of Yankton in southeastern South Dakota is our home for three nights. It’s just across the Missouri River from Calumet Bluff and the approximate location of the Louis & Clark Corps of Discovery campsite in August 1804, the location where they met the Yankton Sioux, members of the Dakota/Nakota tradition. Our excursion today was to the Mead Cultural Education Center, the home of the Dakota Territorial Museum. We were immediately entranced with the receptionist/docent as well as the fabulous historic Mead Building, which served as the Women’s Quarters for the the first mental health care facility in the Dakota Territory. We started our visit on the first floor first with a great introductory video narrated by Yankton native, Tom Brokaw before heading into the gallery Journeying Forward: Connecting Cultures. Originally built to be a traveling exhibit to celebrate the Louis & Clark Bicentennial, this amazing overview of their entire journey is now a permanent part of the Mead, and well worth the visit. By the time we had thoroughly immersed ourselves in all things Lewis & Clark we had just enough energy to do a quick walk through the remaining exhibits on the first and second floors. It might be well worth a return visit to this area!

South Dakota: Stay & Play

While we are here staying at the Mitchell KOA Journey in Mitchell, South Dakota over the Labor Day weekend, we conversed with several fellow travelers and learned that for most folks, this is just a quick stop along the way either on their way to or from Mount Rushmore. In fact we did something similar on our 2008 Road Trip when we did a quick stop to visit the Corn Palace on our way from Sioux Falls to the Badlands. These days we tend to explore an area a bit more thoroughly and today we thought it appropriate to revisit Mitchell’s premier tourist attraction, The World’s Only Corn Palace, famous for its annually changing corn murals. We enjoyed taking our time, chatting with a volunteer who spoke of her own lifetime of memories of this local institution, and reading some of the bits of history displayed on the walls on the interior. This in fact is the third iteration of Mitchell’s Corn Palace with a history that dates back to 1880. This current building, truly a multipurpose community center, is celebrating its centennial this year with a theme of South Dakota: Stay & Play. Guess that’s what we’re doing this trip with a total of ten nights planned between Watertown, DeSmet, Mitchell, and Yankton. There’s more to do in South Dakota and indeed in Mitchell than we’ll get to do this trip. Guess we need to return yet again!

1956 Chevy

What an unexpected delight! When we headed to Marlin’s Family Restaurant in Mitchell, South Dakota for a Sunday brunch, we never expected to enter a time warp, but suddenly Steve was transported back to childhood with the two-toned green 1956 Chevy Bel Air parked next to us. This pristine vintage car is almost exactly like the one that Steve traveled in from Cincinnati to Yellowstone and Pike’s Peak one summer and from Cincinnati to Florida the next. Then the Chevy moved with the family to their new home in Florida and transported them back for visits with relatives in Ohio over the next couple of summers. Steve’s dad was quite a photographer and documented the aforementioned family trips well but the only photo of the car that we have been able to locate is one extremely out of focus image, just enough to confirm Steve’s and his older brother’s memory of their parents’ green ’56 Chev. When we called Bill he confirmed that theirs had been a 4-door like this one we found online, but Steve is the one who remembered that the location of the gas cap was behind the left tail light. In any case it was an absolute delight to wander around this beautiful example and to be transported back/to hear tales of family adventures in a beloved transport.