Saturday, August 23, 2008

August 23, 2008

Hi Everyone,
We spent four days in Montana after coming back from Calgary. In Billings, Montana, we spent a couple of days at the first and oldest KOA campground in the United States. It was nice. See photo on side.
We left there and stopped to see the Little Bighorn Battlefield where Custer and his soldiers met their demise. It was a clash of cultures in 1876, when the Lakota, Cheyenne, Sioux, and Arapaho Indian tribes decided they weren't going to take it any more. Custer and his 41 men took to the hill and, get this, they shot their horses to use as cover. When you think about it, 1876 really wasn't that long ago. As with all war time memorials, you walk away feeling sadness and wondering how it could have been different. See Statement of Sitting Bull below and a picture of the actual hill.
We are now in Rapid City, South Dakota, where we will hang around for a month. We promised ourselves that this year's trip would not be as hectic as last year's trip. And, so far, it hasn't. But, Jerry really needs some time to stop driving. We have put on 10,000 miles so far this year. This is the part of the trip where we had planned to just sit back and relax for close to a month. So just when the gas prices go down, we have decided to stop driving!
There is lots to see in and around the Black Hills here in Rapid City and we are going to take our time absorbing it all. It seems that every time either of us has been here, we were constrained by the vacation time we were taking to see the place. This time, we have no constraints and it feels wonderful. The last time Jerry and I were here was in 1979 when we toured half the United States on a motorcycle.
At some point, though, Jerry will fly out of here to go speak in Atlanta. As we mentioned once before, we have decided not to drive there due to the cost of fuel. So Chanti and I will be alone for a few days.
As we see the various sites, we will tell you about them. Have a great Labor Day Weekend.
We are dug in for the holiday weekend, Jerry and Mary

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

August 19, 2008

Hi Everyone,

It feels good to get back to the states, but we have to say, Calgary (Alberta, Canada) is a beautiful city. It is clean, hilly, lots of trees, open spaces, and sprawling (like LA) with a center of tall buildings down town (again, like LA). We went there to attend the Toastmasters International Convention and heard 10 top speeches from around the world, each speaker competing to become the World Champion of Public Speaking 2008. Little did we know that we would be privileged to see and hear the first woman ever in 77 years to win the contest, and also, to see only the second woman ever to be installed as President of Toastmasters International. In addition, the third runner up in the contest was also a woman. It was a very exciting day. There were over 2,000 people at the convention and 1,200 at the evening dinner. (See our picture taken at the dinner to the right.)

We also took a day trip to Banff, about an hour away from Calgary. Once again, we rented a small compact, but Enterprise gave us a Dodge Ram extended cab, which made the drive to Banff more enjoyable. Banff is a beautiful tourist town and we would love to go back there some day. We understand Banff is a great place for honeymooners.

We are now outside of Townsend, Montana. Tomorrow we will move to Billings, Montana to the first/oldest KOA campground on our way to Rapid City, South Dakota on Friday.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August 13, 2008

Hi Everyone,
This past weekend, we attended Mary's 50th high school reunion in Cold Spring, MN, where she grew up. If you plan on attending any high school reunion, please tell the committee the following: First, the 1"x 1" high school class picture with your name in 6-point font under it on the name badge just doesn't cut it. With the lighting on dim and our 68-year old eyes trying not to be too obvious as we strain to read their names -- while slowly moving our heads embarrassingly close to their chest to stare at the badge -- only to end up by saying, "I'm sorry, but you will have to tell me your name," could use some improvement. Second, when creating the name badges for the women, put their high school names in big print (not just their married names) on the badges. Not being able to see the tiny name on the badge, I never knew if I was talking to a classmate or the spouse of a classmate. Third, put the high school name of the woman on the spouse's name badge with a cross reference to the classmate. Fourth, every reunion should make sure they have a microphone system, especially for the senior citizens at the back of the room.
I'm not criticizing the organizers of the class reunion because they did a fantastic job. For me, though, it started out slowly as I just saw a room full of old people and didn't recognize anyone -- not even my friends, Nancy and Fran (see picture below), with whom I went on to three more years of nursing after high school. What a riot!
Also, we were able to visit with relatives both in Cold Spring and Mary's son and his friends in Fargo -- which were enjoyable. See picture below of the twins of Mary's niece, Ashley and her husband, Neil.
Tomorrow we enter into Canada on our way to Calgary to attend the International Toastmasters Convention and hear the top ten speakers from around the world compete for Toastmaster of the Year 2008. We will have no cell coverage until Monday.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

August 7, 2008

Greetings from Iowa!
The Winnebago facility is located in Iowa. Jerry thought it would be a good idea to get our Winnebago Vectra coach checked out by the manufacturer at its service place. That was on Monday. It is now Thursday and they think our coach will be done by noon tomorrow. (It's a long story and we won't go into that right now.)
Last year, after we returned from our 4-month RV trip and after telling everyone about the places we saw, the friends we met along the way and the fun we had, our friend, Walt, asked: "So, now, tell me about the horror stories." Well, this week may qualify as one. We spent last night at Motel 8 (a far cry from our coach), walked this morning with all our stuff (laptops, books, clothes, dog etc.) six blocks from the motel back to the repair facility today only to be told that they are not finished and we have to spend another night in the motel. So we walked back again to the motel where we are now. (Small town, no shuttle.)
The good thing about Iowa is the weather and seeing the high fields of corn. (See pictures below.) It's been fascinating checking out the corn fields in the various states. Without a doubt, Iowa's corn fields are more dense, greener, and taller than any other place we have seen. Did you know that 85% of all food you put into your mouth has corn or a by-product of corn in it? Jerry and Mary

Sunday, August 3, 2008

August 3, 2008

Hi Everyone,

Last year we swore we would never come back to the Chicago area -- lots of freeways (many needing repair), all the trucks crossing the USA passing through (oh, maybe not all of them), lots of regular traffic, and concrete. That's just getting into Chicago. Actually, down town Chicago is beautiful. But, we couldn't get this close to a life long-friend without stopping to see her. Her name is Mary, too. Mary and Mary have been friends since the '70s. They have spent hours discussing all the current issues of the world, especially as they related to their various stages in life -- from raising children, health issues, careers, the children and their lives, the grandkids and their personalities and activities, and now retirement styles. With Jerry's mother now gone, it's like my friend, Mary, said: "We've moved up to the top of the line." Our grandparents and parents are now gone, and we are now the "old folks" in our family trees. So we know what our parents meant when they said: "I sure don't feel old." Until next time, live the life 'ya love. Jerry and Mary