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Monday, July 15, 2024

A Quiet And Relaxing Ending To An Amazing Road Trip

Are your road trips usually quiet and relaxing? Ours usually aren't but sometimes we are surprised by how amazing they can be when they are.

If your road trips involve an RV like ours did, take a look at our list of 10 Items You Should Have On Your RV Camping List before you hit the road.

2022 Cross-Country Road Trip Stop 25

The last two stops of our cross-country road trip were in the beautiful states of Kentucky and Alabama. The stop we made in Kentucky was just a quick stop to get us closer to our last stop to see our cousin in Alabama. We didn't do any sight-seeing in either state and that was fine with us after being on the go non-stop for the past 2 1/2  months! But we took advantage of what these two campgrounds had to offer and had a great time at both.

The first campground of the two was Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park in Dawson Springs, KY. We got to the campground late and discovered our campsite, and the whole section it was supposed to be in, was being renovated. It was dark out but we could see that there was no one camping here. We found a place to park and Soko walked to where he saw a camper in the distance. It was from a fellow camper that we found out that there was an lodge at the entrance to the park and if we went to the lobby we would find out where our campsite was. We found out it was in the Horse Camping area. We expected to see horses all around us and wasn't too sure if that would work for us but we didn't see or hear any when we got to our site. We settled in and relaxed around the campfire Sandie made for us.

The following morning we headed out to the trails to do some hiking in the park . The trailheads were located near the parking lot of the lodge. 

We went into the lodge to check it out. Me and Sandie were happy to see that they had a small gift shop. The boys were happy to see that there was someplace comfortable for them to relax as they waited for us.

We hiked two short 1/4 mile trails, Indian Bluff and Clifty Creek Trail.

We saw some unusual rock formations on these trails.

After the short hikes, we went back to our campsite to have an elk sausage and pierogi lunch. We never had elk sausage but we were curious about it and bought in Colorado where they sold a lot of different meats we never had. The elk sausage turned out to be leaner than a pork sausage and was surprisingly very good!

After lunch we hiked the longest trail of the the day. The Lake Trail was an easy trail with nice views of the lake.


We were on a flat, smooth paved road, walking back to the parking lot where we left the car after our hike, and before I knew it I found myself falling off the edge of it and into the dirt. I landed on my left hand hard and got deeps cuts, that were bleeding badly, on two of the knuckles of my right hand. 

It could have been worse. I could have rolled off the trail of one of the beautiful national parks we hiked in but it was bad because I was going to our see cousin Chrissy the next day and, knowing Chrissy, she was going to take one look at my swollen and bloody knuckles and laugh her head off! But off to Prairie Creek Campground we went. The last stop of our 2 1/2 month cross-country adventure!

2022 Cross Country Road Trip Stop 26

Our cousin Chrissy and her husband Larry arrived a couple of days before us. Chrissy cooked a chili dinner for us and Larry made cornbread to go with it while we set up the RV. The campsite was really nice with a picnic table overlooking Woodruff Lake, one of the Alabama River lakes.
Good To Know: At $26 (+taxes and fees) per night, this campground was a bargain compared to most of the campgrounds we camped in this trip. And it included water, electric and a beautiful view. My cousin's site even had it's own private dock.

After dinner, me, Sandie and Chrissy chatted outside of her RV. (Yes, she laughed at me after hearing the story of me falling!)

The guys fished for bait until it got too dark out to fish anymore.

The only plans we made for day 2 in Alabama was to relax and fish. It was wonderful!

The four of us started day 3 at church. It was Sunday. When we got back to the campground we had a southern brunch of biscuits and sausage gravy, grits and scrambled eggs waiting for us. I noticed, this trip, that Chrissy, who was born and raised in the North, had become a real Southern girl since marrying her "born and raised in the South" hubby!

We could have stayed here forever enjoying Chrissy and Larry's delicious cooking but it was time to go home. We caught one last sight of Alabama, one of the 17 southern tiered Cotton Belt states...

and then caught sight of this sign and we knew that our adventure had come to an end. 

But we made memories that we won't forget and that lets us relive this road trip over and over again!

Read about the first stop of our cross-country road trip.

Have you ever planned a quiet and relaxing road trip? Did it work out for you or did you find yourself doing a lot more than you wanted to? Please let us know in comments.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Finding Our Roots Moline, Illinois

Have you ever visited a place to find your roots? We traveled to Moline, Illinois to find ours.

Before you go on your amazing journey to find your roots, click here to make sure your car is ready for the road trip.


2022 Cross-Country Road Trip Stop 24

When me and my sister, Sandie, first started to talk about doing a cross-country trip together many years ago, Moline, Illinois was one of the first places we put on our wish to visit list. Moline is the birthplace and childhood home of our Dad. 

Me and Sandie grew up in Brooklyn, NY, where all you see are sidewalks and buildings, so when dad talked about raising chickens as a kid, we pictured him living in a very rural area, although not on a farm. Moline turned out to be a bigger city than we thought it would be.

We were excited for the plans we had in Moline but first we had to check into our campground. We checked and double-checked that we were in the right place as we were the only campers in this big campground.

To add to the eeriness of the place, the bathroom closest to our spot was closed and the open one was not really close. None of us really wanted to go wandering down to it by ourselves to take a shower so the four of us jumped in in the car and made the trip together.

Growing up, neither my dad, grandma or any other relative ever mentioned that John Deere, the green tractor manufacturer, had their headquarters in Moline. I found out on a road trip, when our kids were little, when one of their green trucks went by us and I happened to see Moline, Illinois printed on the side of it. This was exciting news for me and my sisters. It made our dad's hometown a little more interesting! So, when planning this stop, we had to put visiting the factory on our list of things to do. 

The museum was more fun than we even imagined it would be.

The size of the some of the trucks were very impressive. 

Me and Sandie loved the huge store here.

And we loved that we could get all the grandkids shirts with the name of their great-grandpa's hometown on them.

After John Deere, we made our way to the only relative we knew of still in the area. It was a cousin we always knew about but never met before.

My Aunt Agnes has kept in touch with Jeffrey Allen and his wife Karen and was thrilled to tell him that me and Sandie would be in town. We were so glad that they would be around on the one day we could visit. We felt like this was more like the Moline that we had imagined as we drove on the dirt roads in their neighborhood trying to find their house.

We were hoping Jeffrey Allen could tell us something about where my dad and his the family lived and he was hoping we had something to tell him about his mom, my dad's half sister, who left him and his brothers at a young age. I only met her a couple of times and didn't really even have much of a conversation with her but tried to elaborate as best as I could on the few words I had with her so that I could tell him something. He didn't have anything to tell us about my dad's family and didn't even know of us. We told him that we were the children of his Japanese aunt, thinking that might jog his memory because how many American's have a Japanese aunt but, nope, he never knew he had an aunt from Japan. He was very proud of his workshop, though, and him and our husbands spent most of the time in there.

Even though we didn't learn anything new about our roots in Moline, me and Sandie were very happy that we finally had a chance to visit this not so small town. And a fun surprise was finding Bally's Quad Cities Casino on our travels around the city. Of course, we had to spend a couple of hours here before we had to go back to the campground to pack up and get ready to hit the road in the morning.

We feel a great sense of contentment now that we finally got to meet you Moline, Illinois! Maybe we will come visit again one day!

Read about Stop 22 of our cross-country road trip.

Things To Do In And Around Rocky Mountain National Park.

Have you ever gone on a journey to find your roots? Please tell us about your adventure in the comments below!

Monday, June 17, 2024

The Shining Tour At Stanley Hotel In Estes Park, CO


Check out The Shining Tour at Stanley Hotel when you are in the area visiting Rocky Mountain National Park.

If you are making this trip in your RV, read this post before you start packing - 10 Items You Should Have On Your Camping List.

My daughter, Lisa, called us as we were driving from Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO to Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, CO. I had given her a copy of our itinerary before we left on our cross-country road trip. She knew exactly where we were and was excited to tell us that Stanley Hotel was in Estes Park and had The Shining Tour if we had time to do it. Yes! We would love to do it. Me and my sister Sandie got on our phones and ordered tickets for the four of us for that very night!

We got to LaVern M. Johnson State Park early. This is where we would be staying for the next three days. We ate a quick dinner and headed out to the iconic Stanley Hotel.

The Shining Tour was just introduced 3 weeks earlier and we were very excited to be one of the first 
to go on it. We started the tour waiting for our guide in a room filled with The Shining artifacts.

The first thing we found out was that the movie wasn't filmed inside the hotel although the exterior shots of The Shining's Overlook Hotel was that of the Stanley Hotel. So almost everything we saw on the tour was replicated, one of them being this maze.

The coolest thing we learned on our tour was that Stephen King got the inspiration for his film when he was a hotel guest at Stanley Hotel. He checked in on the last day of the season and was actually the only guest. While he was there, he went to the bar and met Grady, the bartender, who told him stories of spirits living in the hotel. That night Stephen King had a nightmare about his son, Owen, running down the hotel halls and getting chased by and tangled in a fire hose. The next morning he had The Shining written in his head in the five minutes it took him to smoke a cigarette on the balcony of Room 217, the most asked for room of people wanting to stay at the hotel.

It was a little disappointing to find out that The Shining was not filmed here, but the hotel has it's own history of ghostly activity and is amazing anyway. We learned about some of the regularly appearing spirits of the hotel, one of them being Cassy, the ghost dog that haunts The Lodge. The guide told us that Cassy brings newspapers to guests and leaves them outside their door and then picks her favorite guest to sleep with. I would not want to be that guest. Then, if that story was not creepy enough, our guide told us he was bringing us to the cemetery where she is buried. Thanks, but no thanks. But my choices were to just go with the group or walk around in the dark by myself. So I didn't really have a choice. I heard rustling in the bushes behind the gravestones or was it just my imagination.

Part of the tour took us to the Caretaker's Cottage. It was built in 1909 and recently renovated. 

We listened to stories about the family that lived here and then had a chance to walk through the rooms.

Then it was time to head upstairs where we toured the three rooms dedicated to the movie, one of them being The Shining Suite. It's here that you can see the re-created bathroom where one of the scariest scenes of the movie occurred. 

The twins bedroom was another room we found upstairs.

We saw one of the actual axes used in the movie in one of the rooms.

And a portrait of Stephen King himself. Wait a minute! He looks kind of familiar! (Soko's real name is Stephen. Hmm...)

The scariest part of the tour for me was when our guide took us to an abandoned building that once housed workers that were helping to build the hotel. We walked in and sat down in the front room where a replica of this famous door stood. "Here's Johnny!" (JT's real name is John. Yikes...)

From here we walked down a very dark hallway into a back room. Our guide asked, a couple of times, if any of us felt a cool breeze on us, meaning that a ghost was passing by. I didn't but I was very on edge thinking that I possibly would feel it. 

None of us felt that cool breeze but on our way back to the campground we were looking at the pictures we took at Stanley Hotel and I almost had a heart attack when I saw this one!

All of us were positive that there was no one standing next to my brother-in-law JT in that back room but this picture tells a different story!! It definitely looks like something or someone was staring right at him!! A ghostly gorilla or a ghost in a gorilla mask! And was it trying to pat him on the shoulder?! Me and Sandie were screaming in the back seat of the car when we saw it! What do you think?

Read all about what else we did in this area.

Have you been to Stanley Hotel? Did you do The Shining or any of the other tours? Please tell us about your tour in comments!