Greetings from a soggy evening in West Des Moines, IA…

Been raining here for the last hour.  Nice slow drizzle so no complaints, except it is a bit humid out…

Just got back from a nice long weekend at Starved Rock State Park in Utica, IL.  Basically we hopped on I-80 and drove east for 5 hours.  Was an easy drive for John with occasionally having to deal with slow trucks chugging up some hills…  yes there are hills in Iowa.. everyone says how flat it is here, but I-80 is a bit hilly east of Des Moines…

We arrived at the Starved Rock campground on Thursday afternoon and left by 8:30am this morning.  Was nice to get out of the park, use the dump station and on the road before most of the park headed out.  Seems like a majority of the campers were in tents.  Would not be my choice of sleeping arrangements on a wet rainy weekend.

Thursday and Friday we had nice sunny weather.  We drove around the area and checked out some museums.  First stop was to the LaSalle Country Historical Museum in downtown Utica.  Was not a big museum, but they had some nice artifacts like a carriage President Lincoln rode in to a debate and a piece of an airplane Charles Lindbergh crashed in while delivering mail a year before his non-stop trip to Paris.  We had a nice older lady give us an audio tour while checking things out.  Then we walked over to their one room school house and checked it out.  Having all grades of children in a single class room must have kept the teacher busy…


The old school house

Bernie and Mike arrived on Thursday evening and dined out at Duffy’s in downtown.  It was an old building that had a somewhat irish theme going for it.  Enjoyed their $12.95 country ribs special.  They were smothered in a rich bbq sauce and delish…

On Friday we went over to the Starved Rock Lock and Dam visitors center.  They had several nautical themed displays explaining how the I&M cannel and Illinois River were used over the years.  We did not see any barges go through the lock… but was still neat to see the locks… John kept reciting his “I want a boat” mantra while looking at the river.

Doug and Mike from the St. Louis area arrived and was able to spent some time catching up with them.  Last time our paths crossed was our spring trip to St. Louis.

On Saturday it rained most of the day.  This was part of Hurricane Isaac that came north. Was more of just a slow thunderstorm – lots of slow drizzly rain with little rain or stormy weather.  I took a shower about 30 minutes after John did and the water flowed for a minute and stopped.  I doubled checked to make sure the RV’s water pump was on – it was.  Not good – the water pump went bad.  We ended up taking an hour drive north (Bernied and Mike came along) to Rick’s RV Center to purchase a replacement one.  The new pump cost $275 plus tax, not cheap but we were glad they had the exact model we needed.  John blamed me for burning out the old pump because I don’t turn it off immediately after use.  Did not take John long to install it – it was basically plug and play with the wiring and water connections.  So was finally able to get my shower in that evening.

That evening we all dined out at Skoog’s Pub and Grill in Utica.  Our first choice was Cajun Connection but they had a line out the door and we were not in the mood to wait.  Skoog’s was a bit hit or miss.  I had fried chicken and it was yummy.  John had icelandic cod and he said it was the worst fish he had ever eaten.  Was burned to a crisp on the bottom and had burnt taste throughout….  He was too polite to complain and screw up the timing of everyone else’s meal – poor John.

Sunday morning John woke up at 5:30am to the sound of the refrigerator alarm going off – meaning it had lost electrical power and the LP system did not automatically kick in.  John checked everything out and determined that our portion of the campground did not have any power.  He spent a half hour coaxing the refrigerator to work with LP – it’s getting temperamental in it’s old age – no unlike John.

The worst part about not having electricity is not being able to run the air conditioner in the sticky humid weather.  We had enough battery power to shower, run lights and ceiling fans with.  John did break down and run the generator for a bit in the afternoon to operate the air conditioner and charge the house batteries.

All six of our group went to the Starved Rock Lodge for brunch at 10:30am.  They had a selection of breakfast, salad bar, lunch and dessert items.  Had a yummy slice of pork loin stuffed with dressing and cranberries that was tasty.  My favorite item was a noodle casserole with mushrooms.  After brunch I went on a hike for several hours with Doug and his dog.  We went on the trail system that starts at the Starved Rock visitors center and goes up and up to different scenic decks overlooking the Illinois River.  The trail is mostly wooden boardwalks with stairs and cement sidewalks.  The trails were quite busy – probably at least 200 people spread out all over them.  It was quite humid out – so I was a sticky we mess by the time we were done…


View of the lock and dam from overlook


Doug and his doggie..


Pretty rock formations


Looking down into a valley...


More pretty rock formations....

The power to the RV was restored shortly after I returned from the hike.  Make John happy and I could cool and dry off in the AC.  Happy happy, joy, joy, joy….

The drive back today was uneventful except for a buzzer that likes to go off every now and then.  John believes there is a sensor going bad on the engine, or the gauge attached to the sensor.  We need to take it over to the local Freightliner dealer one of these days to have it checked out.

Anyway – it was really nice to get away from the apartment building for a few days and spend time with friends.  So far none of the tennants have reported anything – so maybe this will be our first trip where nothing went wrong in our absence.  Then again the day is not over with yet…

Not much else going on – need to pay some bills online, do more laundry and get prepared for work in the morning.

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