Tuesday, November 1, 2016

VENAGO CAMPGROUND, KANAPOLIS, KS PART II


On a second day we traveled the part of the loop that took us looking for various locations both historical and unique.

Our first stop was Marquette, KS with its historical buildings…



And the Kansas Motorcycle Museum (donations are welcome at this free museum).

There were a few other museums there, but the day we were there they were all closed. Of course Gary was content to just tour the motorcycle museum with camera in hand.
There were some very unique old motorcycles, some of which obviously weren’t paper trained…




More modern bikes, scooters and dragsters…

A motor cycle that had been ridden around the world…

Side cars, car like bikes and lots more, three rooms full of more



We wandered around the museum for some time snapping photos and reading the information tags on various vehicles.  I never knew motorcycles came in so many shapes and forms.

That day we also went to Mushroom Rock State Park.  The smallest state park in Kansas.  Just 5 acres, with no camping but some unique rock formations that you can “hike around”.  I’m not a sturdy hiker, but I had no trouble walking the trails around these rocks.

There is a public restroom, a shaded bench, and the rocks.  That was about it for that state park, but it would be a good place to take a picnic lunch and enjoy the rocks.
To give you an idea of the size of the Mushroom Rock, Gary is 6’2” in height.




Unfortunately ill mannered vandals had done their handiwork by scratching into the soft stone and defacing it.  While the rocks were still much in their natural state the graffiti was senseless.

Along the route there is a bridge landmark.  It is a bridge to nowhere now.  Simply sitting out in a field and if you aren’t looking for it, you will miss it.  While we saw it.  I wasn’t fast enough with the camera to get its picture.

Coronado Heights is like a small castle sitting on the hill top outside of Lindsbrog, KS. Local lore claims this is the point at which FranciscoVasquez De Coronado  gave up his search for the Seven Cities of Gold  and turned around to go back to Spain.

This area is part of a seven sandstone bluffs of the Dakota range and thought to be the a fore mentioned seven cities of Cibola.  Of course the only gold Coronado found was the golden harvest of the crops in the area and the color of the sandstone.
Indeed in 1915 chain mail from Spanish armor was found in the area.  So maybe he was there.

It was built in 1936 by the WPA.  It is currently under repair, with a promise the washed out road leading up to it will be resurfaced after the repairs are done. 
The road is passable, but is basically a very rough, rutted, one lane road leading up to it.  Still it was definitely worth the ride up just for the view.




We found one very unexpected visitor at the site that day.  I thought these little fellows had gone extinct.  If you look closely in these photos you will see what is commonly called a horned toad or horned lizard.


683-685

All in all this was a relaxing and enjoyable day with spectacular views.


VENAGO COE CAMPGROUND KANAPOLIS, KANSAS-CAMP 13, Part 1

The fun at this campground began on the road leading down to it.  Shortly after we turned onto the main road to go down to the park my eyes fell on these delightful sea creatures.





We loved everything about our stay at this campground.  First of all it was COE, so it was $9 a night, what’s not to like about that.  Our campsite had water and 50 amp electric, but no sewer.  That’s okay the dump station was nearby.

While our campsite D-3, was a bit sloped we’ve got pretty apt at getting the fifth wheel level.  So not a problem.

The camp host was friendly and stopped by to chat with us on and off the six days we stayed there.


Most days we weren’t home because I had picked up the brochure for the Prairie Trail travel route to see many free or near free places.  It took three of our six days just to do the entire loop at our slow, laid back pace. 

Some of the spots were a bit of a challenge to see, but we found them and we were glad we did.

As we did our travels we were also on a photo safari to take photos of abandoned buildings.  Trust me, we found many to snap photos of.

One of our favorites was on the road between Venago campground and Lindsborg. If you zoom in on the photo you will see a buzzard, which Gary didn’t know was there when he took the photo, sitting in the window.  I’m thinking this could be the makings of a great Halloween card.

The area was rich with fodder for my husband’s camera lens.

Our first bit of the Prairie Trail was in the next campground over in the state park that shared an entrance road with the Venago COE campground.
Horse Thief Canyon is a real surprise in this area.  It was after all Kansas, so why would anyone expect to find a canyon?  But there it was.
I would love to boast we did the canyon nature trail hike, but we didn’t.  Just looking at the entrance to the trail, almost straight up I knew my health had not returned well enough to allow me the stamina that hike would take. So we had to be content with taking photos going into the area and what Gary could take by climbing a short way onto the nature trail without me.





Insert Horse Thief Canyon photos.
This canyon also has horse trails you can bring you can bring your own horse to ride.  In fact the state park campground has a horse camp, complete with a corral.  I do not know the rates for the state park, just Venago, but it looked to be a nice park.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

OASIS CAMPGROUND, AMARILLO, TX-CAMP 6



I wrote quite a bit about the Oasis campground in 2009. Obviously some prices have changed, but it is still as well maintained as it was back then.  In fact they had just done some refinishing on the asphalt drives just before we arrived.

Basically it is a big parking lot with wide flat parking spaces and little to no shade.  But the staff is friendly and helpful, the pool is great, has a good playground for the younger travelers, sparkling clean bathrooms that are 4 per building (there are numerous buildings) with the laundry attached.  The laundry is reasonably priced at $1 to wash and $1 to dry with both units running long enough to thoroughly wash and dry your loads on a single dollar.

The only drawback of course was the fact that it was a flat concrete and asphalt parking lot. It was over 100 degrees when we were there and the winds were so strong all the time no one put their awnings out.

Nature did step in and really cool us off one afternoon with a pretty huge storm that came through.  At one point the camper really rocked, but all was good and the running water after the storm disappeared quickly.

We did get permission and one day were the breeze was slightly lower so Gary could fly the quadcopter and take videos of the campground. You can view the video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrcIisWnyrw 

The rate for full hook-ups including wi-fi and cable tv was $35 a night, $150 a week or I think it was $375 for a month, but I am not certain of the monthly rate.  Call to verify if you are headed there.  This campground is open year round. 

Located right off the I-40 highway almost next to the CadillacRanch it is easy on and easy off to go to the campground.  While there is a fuel station just a couple of blocks from the campground they tend to be a little high so we chose to go to the Sam’s Club that was around 5 miles from the campground and save almost $.30 a gallon on diesel. 
Our original plan had been to stay one week at the Oasis seeing the CadillacRanch, Jack Sisemore’s RV Museum, the Amarillo Botanical Garden, and Palo Duro Canyon then to move on to another location to enjoy the sites.

While we never actually got out of our truck and walked out to the cars at the Cadillac Ranch, we did drive by it constantly because it was so close to the campground.  We have been up to the cars in the past and I have previously blogged about them so it wasn’t as if we were missing anything.

The other three locations we did visit and I blogged about each one individually because each was interesting in its own right.  You can read about those by clicking on the hyperlinks in blue on this blog. All were low priced to do or free, and within a short driving distance.
We ended up staying 8 days because Murphy, of Murphy’s Law, seemed to think it was a good time to play tricks on us. 
First he kept the right turn signal from working on the trailer.  We spent a huge amount of time on our departure day working on that to learn that the trailer turn signal was a different fuse on the truck than the one the truck turn signal is on.  Once we determined that the fuse was blown that was a quick fix (so we thought) and we hit the road.
Or at least that was the idea as we pulled out.  Roughly 20 minutes later the tire minder screamed at us just as we were getting on the main expressway to take us back into Oklahoma.  The valve stem on the driver’s side outside rear dually tire on the truck had broken.

Normally Gary would have just changed the tire himself, but it was already 98 degrees on the side of the highway.  I called AAA.  The fellow to change the flat was there in about 30 minutes.  I will say this is the first time that the AAA representative showed up in just a car rather than a tow truck.  Luckily Gary already had our tire changing equipment out and was lowering the spare when he arrived.

He verified our AAA membership had rv coverage before he even started.  Even though the now totally flat tire was on the truck the fact the fifth wheel was attached to the back of the truck would have prevented AAA from paying off had we not had the RV policy, unless we detached the rv from the truck.  Which we do have the rv plus policy. So be aware that you must have an rv policy to get AAA to provide the proper coverage while traveling.   He changed the flat quickly and we were off to find a valve stem.

Because our tires had been purchased at Sam’s Club, albeit the Florida one, using our Oklahoma membership there was no charge for the valve stem replacement in Texas and the job was done quickly. Once again we put what they can metal valve stems on the tires to help cut down valve stem breakage due to the after market addition of the tire minders. The valve stems weren't the brass ones we truly needed ones, but they had some metal in them.

However, by then it was around three in the afternoon, which is the time we usually try to be in our next campground by, so we went the five miles back up the road to the Oasis and back into our exact same spot paying the nightly rate for one more night, rather than getting into Woodward, OK after dark.

Since we had done only the very basic of set-up for the single night stay we left early the next day and other than the turn signal fuse being blown again we had no other problems.

The turn signal fuse was to become a great mystery that finally got solved when we returned to Oklahoma for various appointments. More on this later.  Jan who wishes we could just continue to travel rather than bopping back to Oklahoma every few weeks but thankful to be healthy in and away from OK


AMARILLO BOTANICAL GARDENS

It had been years since we had gone to any botanical gardens so we thought this might be another way to enjoy nature in our travels.

Their fee rate is pretty basic $5 adults, $4 seniors and children under a certain age free.  Gary and I qualified for the seniors rate but we also had two coupons, given to us by the Oasis Campground that took $1 each off the price.  They are in an Amarillo attractions book and while most of the coupons in the book are good for 2 or more tickets this particular one you needed one coupon per person.  Luckily Gary spotted that before we left the campground and we were able to acquire another coupon. 
For $3 each we thought the gardens were well worth it.  We enjoyed the conservatory with its rainforest atmosphere even more.

The first few gardens were looking pretty wilted in the 100 degree high humidity weather, and one garden needed some serious dead heading of spent flowers.  Later on in one garden area we found someone working who was doing just that.

The walkways in the gardens all lead back upon themselves and intermingle where you can roam easily from one theme to another.  While the main walkways are wheel chair accessible there are a few individual areas that would be extremely hard to navigate in a chair.  Two that come to mind is one with big natural looking paving stones set loosely in gravel and the Japanese Garden which was a series of stair step decks going down to the koi pond.

There are ways for you to view these areas, but not by roaming the individual pathways.

It appears that each area has a different sponsor who follows a certain theme for their section.  There were some new sections under development that looked like they would be interesting to visit in the future.

Pergolas and benches of every sort decorate the gardens, all generally tied into the theme of that particular garden.  There are also nice garden statues scattered among the flowers and grasses.

We particularly like the conservatory with its waterfall, orchids and the one lone South American (Peru I think they said) duck living in the area.  Ricky, the duck, was a donation from a patron along with Lucy.  However, Lucy did not travel well and failed to survive the trip.  So poor old Ricky sits by the waterfall waiting for visitors. 


The day we were there they had a concert scheduled for in the amplitheater in the evening.  It was suppose to be the Sweet Adalines and another similar group.  We considered coming back for the show, once we had cooled off.

Because all the gardens are naturally outside and the conservatory is of rainforest type we got increasingly warmer as the afternoon went on.

So warm that as we were leaving I threatened to go run through the splash park that was right next to Botanical Gardens.  It was one of the nicest splash parks I had ever seen.

Besides all types of water areas to play in they had a big unique playground with swings that slid on a tube from one end to another as a child rode in it.  We considered filming it, but feared somebody might take us for bad people and call the police, so we decided not to film any of the waterpark or adjoining playground.

Gary told me that while I was probably short enough to play on the splash pads I was too old.  Well I fooled him.  Later that day, back at the campground, I convinced him to go on a walk with me.  Then the skies opened up and we both got cooled off very quickly as we sprinted, okay waddled, back to the camper.

The rain storms of the evening caused us to decide to not go to the open air concert that night. 

Next to the splash pad and playground area was the Helium Monument at the Children’s Discovery Center.  A hands on museum.  We did not go into that museum because we had no children with us.  I do know that the same coupon book had discount coupons for the discovery center as well.


If you are traveling with young children this entire area could be a great spot to visit.  Along with the places I already mentioned, including the botanical gardens which periodically has children’s events, there is a very nice picnic area.  You could easily spend an entire day with young folks.


Here is just a small sample of the beauty of the gardens.  Hope you enjoy.









Thursday, August 18, 2016

EL DORADO STATE PARK, EL DORADO KANSAS, BOONDOCK IN WICHITA AND BACK—CAMPS 10, 11, 12


I don’t know what it is about every time we try to head north it is like the truck is terrified to leave the safety of home. 

This time we made it all the way to the gate of the campground before the truck decided it wasn’t going to restart after we stopped to read the check in info on the empty gate host cabin.

It turned out to be an air in the lines problem again and after what seemed like an eternity it finally did start and we were able to move on into the campground and into a fairly shaded pull through campsite one of the camp hosts suggested. 

It had water and 50/30 amp electricity, but no sewer and was $24 a night.  What we weren’t told was there was a $3 fee for each block of time you rented a spot whether it was one night or 14 you paid a $3 registration fee.  They also offer no discounts and of course have a graduating cost depending on what amenities you are getting.  Our rate was $24 a night.


We were on campsite 2 in the Quail Run campground.  Right on the corner of the road and a very easy to access campsite. Fairly level with a gravel drive, no real pad to mention, just a gravel curved pull-thru that you park on. It seemed to be very firm, and when we had rain it didn’t create a problem so all was good.

The site is a bit unusual in one way.  This is an older campground with the state of Kansas slowly adding more and more 50 amp sites, but to avoid having to re-wire everything they are putting the 50 amp boxes on the passenger side of the trailer, opposite the driver side lower amp electric box and the water hook-up.  So you end up with your water on one side of the camper and the 50 amp electric on the other no matter which way you come into the pull thru.  


This means you may need either a longer hose or a longer extension cord for your electric depending on which way you pull in.  Luckily we were able to park just right on the pad and not have a problem with either. Folks whose utilities hook up in different locations on their rig than ours may have a bit of a problem.
We have a good view of the lake from our campsite.


While getting into the campsite and setting up we saw Canadian Geese and deer.  This felt so much better than those in town parking lot campgrounds for relaxing.

Another thing that seems a bit different here is all the undeveloped land between campsites that is apparently being use for prairie hay production.  They had recently mowed and from the way it looked the balers should have been coming soon.  I like the idea that the grounds were producing a useful product that didn’t detract from the natural beauty of the place.

Our first day at the campground we started trying to pull in NBC on our over the air antenna because the Olympic opening ceremonies were scheduled to start in two days.  The opening/closing ceremonies are some of our favorite parts of the Olympics. This was the first we had try to use the already installed but partially broken antenna on the camper since we started traveling in May.  TV simply isn’t that big a priority with us.
After much discussion when we realized that due to some problems with the antenna NBC would only come in badly pixalated we decided it was time to break down and get an antenna.  The one for the camper has some damage to it and the rotator doesn’t work well.

Instead of buying and wiring in a regular camper one we chose one that mounts on the camper window at Wal-mart.  Gary installed it that night.

We were thrilled.  It has a better picture than our satellite system had on the farm, is very thin and compact and Gary didn’t have to get on the roof to install it.  A major win in our book.

At this particular location we could not get ABC with it, but we could with the camper system.  Since the Olympics are on NBC, which was super clear it was a great investment for $60.  A new one for the camper would have cost far more and then would have only been wired for the bedroom (why do they do that?)

We could have found a sports bar to watch the Olympics opening ceremonies at, and then again for the closing and the events we want to watch in between, but we would have spent far more on food doing so.  Plus now we have an antenna for when we do want to watch tv, which we don’t do very often anyway.

I will admit there are a few shows like NCIS I do miss, but without Tony…maybe not as much.  If Abby ever leaves they have lost me as a viewer.

We had planned on going to Cowtown and a historic museum on our second day there but woke to thunderstorms and cooler temps.  Since both the museums have a lot of outdoor displays and the forecast was for storms all day we opted to hang around the camper and catch up on blog posts, video editing and other chores.  Then to enjoy the Olympic opening ceremonies.  Leaving the museums for another day.

We did visit Cowtown the next day, but decided to save the museum for another trip since we had decided to move on earlier than originally planned.

So the day we visited Cowtown we drove around and took a photo of a couple of sculptures that caught our eye. 


While at El Dorado we were alone most of the time, even with the weekend the park didn’t fill completely up.  When we boomeranged back due to truck problems we were literally the only ones other than the camp hosts there on that Tuesday night.

We originally tried to leave on Monday, but once again had a valve stem break so we went to Meineke, in Wichita to get the brass valve stems we had been looking for all along and finally found at Oreilly’s in a small Kansas town.  Unfortunately, by the time we found out from Sam’s Club, who couldn’t/wouldn’t install the stems that it was Meineke we needed to go to they were closed. 

So we boondocked overnight, with permission in Sam’s parking lot.  Even though it was August it wasn’t too bad that night until the rains hit and we had to close the windows,

Naturally, while Meineke was checking the tires they found we had a rear seal going out.  So we went ahead and had them fix that, verifying the work would be warrantied, this turned out to be very important about a week later.

10 valve stems and the rear end work turned out to be a two day job and that is why we ended up back at El Dorado campground  back in site 2 on Tuesday night. We didn't even disconnect and then took the trailer in Wednesday for its part of the valve stem work and we finally got on the road headed further north thinking our worries were over. 

As I mentioned before we were the only people there, but there was abundant wildlife and Gary got some great photos and video.



All in all our stay there was comfortable and pleasant.