Father’s Day

I don’t know where I was for the first 21 years of my life, but I didn’t really realize until today that Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June was enacted by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966. Before that, it was not widely accepted, even though it was first celebrated in 1910 in Spokane, Washington. I’m glad it came into being, even if it is mostly a Hallmark holiday, because fathers are very special people. Most of us who have had a good father present in our lives tend to see our Father God in the same way, a kind, guiding presence. My own godly father helped me to see God as someone who cared for me, but he also set an example in our home of how a man should treat his wife and his children.

Mother used to tell me when I begged her for a brother, “Why would you want a brother? He would be just like your dad!”  I think I found a husband who is quite a bit like my dad, someone who is capable of doing anything (in my estimation), is very loving and who is a tease. I’m celebrating him today. Happy Father’s Day, LeRoy!

We also have a son and son-in-law who are understanding and supportive of their own children and I appreciate them, too. Thank you, Robert Willis and Tim Pohlman, for helping raise our grandchildren to be the best grandchildren around. Just like on Mother’s Day, I also have to recognize some other people who have loved our grandkids when we weren’t around. Bob Bradford and Scott Meils were instrumental in our two oldest granddaughters becoming remarkable women.

Last weekend we drove the car back to Kansas so LeRoy could see our family doctor about a knee that’s been giving him trouble. A shot seems to have done a lot toward easing his pain and still letting him do everything he needs to do.

Most places we travel, LeRoy is pretty much recognized as the white haired man with the hat, but here at Golden Bell, he is one of two who answer that description and there’s another fellow who also wears hats. One day this week, we ate breakfast with one of the maintenance guys and his little girl, Abigail. While LeRoy was busy talking (imagine that!), Abigail stole his hat. I think she wore it well.

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Food and fun

This past week was the last before camp groups start coming, so the summer staff took off for a three day backpacking trip. They arrived home on Saturday afternoon and last night we had a progressive dinner as sort of a “last hurrah”. Since the permanent staff is almost all new this year, we had never been in some of the houses until now. Our group rotated from salads to appetizers to sides and finally to the entree before we all gathered at the chuckwagon for dessert.

I caught the camp facilities manager-chaplain mid-bite of his custom made ice cream sandwich dipped in melted chocolate chips and sprinkles.

One of the summer staffers followed the same pattern.

I think I heard today that the first church camp starts on the 12th or about then, so our relatively quiet meals at the lodge will be done for a while. It’s amazing how loud the dining hall can be with 200-300 campers! We’re praying for these summer staffers who not only provide all the programming for camps but also do maintenance, housekeeping and anything else that is asked of them.

The RV park was fairly busy this weekend with Frontier Girls, mostly in tents. I haven’t seen the schedule for the coming week yet but I am sure we are on the way to a busy summer. Our co-hosts, new fellow full timers Max and Paula Reser, arrived on the 1st and today is our first real day off since May 15. It feels good–I may even take a nap!

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Well, that’s done

You know how you never want to be the one to put the first scratch or dent on the new vehicle and how bad you feel when it happens? Well, Liberty took that upon herself so we wouldn’t feel guilty.

The day we arrived at Golden Bell, LeRoy was jockeying up and back trying to get around a curve. Our power steering is air-assist and before long, there wasn’t enough air and the brakes locked up. LeRoy pulled the brake set button and got out to check out the situation. Unbeknownst to him, when there isn’t enough air, it doesn’t really “set” and as soon as air built up, the bus started rolling backward and didn’t stop until it ran into the corner of the porch on the one permanent trailer on the property.

dawson damage

An aspen tree was enough to keep it from completely tearing the porch off, but not before this happened.

Liberty hole

Now, before you start feeling sorry for us, I have to tell you that we have so much for which to praise the Lord that we can’t really feel that way. First of all, when Liberty started rolling, LeRoy was standing directly between her and some pretty solid objects. We lost a friend in exactly the same kind of accident two years ago and we are so grateful that LeRoy was able to spring out of the way in time. Also, if it hadn’t been for that aspen tree, the Dawson Mansion (the camp nickname for the vintage trailer) might have been a thing of the past. (I’m not sure there weren’t some people who wouldn’t have missed it!) And then even though the tree was enough to stop it, it wasn’t enough to completely bash in the back. It is fixable and after all, that’s why we carry insurance, isn’t it?

We also found “almost” matching duct tape to cover and weatherproof the hole until it can be fixed.

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The insurance adjuster was here Tuesday and all is in order so we can get the body work done.

And then the storms came.

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Just when one batch of snow melted, the next arrived, for several days and nights. We’ve always enjoyed the chuckwagon dinners that the camp kitchen staff puts on for the summer staff and volunteers, but we’ve never attended one in parkas before!

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Then yesterday when we thought the snow was over, it started to hail and soon the ground was completely white again. Fortunately, it was all small stuff and didn’t seem to leave much if any damage. We’ve come to expect rain just about every afternoon in late summer but this stuff can go away!

Back home in Kansas, the weather has been much different and sometime recently our daughter’s twins had senior pictures taken outdoors. Ben and Bailey? Seniors? When did that happen?

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This week, our co-hosts will be arriving and I think the volunteer staff will be complete, at least for a while. It has been so much fun welcoming friends from past years as they have pulled in.

Our first weekend of campers is almost over and everything has gone pretty well. Fortunately the frozen pipes LeRoy fought all over the park were thawed by the time everyone arrived, but one family of tent campers did wake up to several inches of snow on their tent earlier in the week. We’re ready to let the summer begin!

 

 

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Out my window

As full time RVers, we tell people that we are weather chasers, not storm chasers. We chase the perfect weather where LeRoy’s “uniform” of shorts and a T-shirt are appropriate attire. But this morning, the view from Liberty’s passenger seat is this.

snow in CO

As we came back from breakfast at the lodge, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a song. Years ago, our friends Lori and Kevin Hoppock sang in a traveling group one summer and they sang a song I’ve never forgotten. The words say “And somewhere it’s snowing. See the soft drifting down, as the snowflakes surrender to the hardening ground. Like the good grace of Jesus that now covers our sin, in the kingdom of heaven, it’s snowing again!”

God’s grace is a limitless subject, one that I’m drawn back to again and again. Like the snow that makes even a simple little campground beautiful, God’s grace takes my faults, imperfections and yes, my sins, and covers them until all He sees is the righteousness of Jesus.

Just my two cents worth for the day. God bless!

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Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day always makes me nostalgic. The roses were a gift from granddaughter Bailey, but I’d love to be able to share them with several women who have impacted my life.

I had a wonderful Christian mother and when I married LeRoy, God blessed me with a Christian mother-in-law. I doubt that I ever realized or even appreciated how much they influenced my life until they were both gone.

Mother told me once that I was a surprise, since my sisters were 8 1/2 and nearly 11 years old when I was born. She quickly told me that I was a nice surprise, although there were probably times when she wasn’t so sure! However, I treasure the many times, especially in the last years of her life, she told me “I sure am glad we had you!” Mother, I’m glad you had me, too.

 

LeRoy lost both his parents by the time he was 8. I would have loved to meet his mother, Jenny. I’m sure she was a wonderful woman. She had waited 12 years to become a mother and was very proud of her son. When LeRoy’s dad died, she remarried and this picture includes his stepfather.

Jenny’s sister, Tressie, had never been married and although she didn’t have much, she shared it with LeRoy and his cousin Raymond. She didn’t think it was “proper” to be called their mother, but she was thrilled to be called “Grandma” by our children! Had she not raised a fine Christian man for me to marry, my life would have been very different.

(Photo quality in earlier years was not what we’d expect today, even from a phone!)

I would also share my roses with the mothers of my grandchildren. Our daughter Heidi is a wonderful mother to 5 of our 6 grandchildren. Only Jordan is missing from this Christmas picture several years ago.

Life is complicated sometimes, and our family is no exception. I won’t go into detail, but we owe a debt of gratitude to Janet Meils, Cheryl Bradford, Lisa Briseno-Willis for their part in our grandchildren’s lives. Without their love and prayers, our relationship with their three children would have been impossible.

In the last couple of years, we’ve also added another “daughter”, when she married our son Robert. Shelly has stepped into the role of stepmom to a grown college student. How difficult is that!

Thank you to all these mothers, past and present, more making my life richer!

Last Sunday, we drove to Manhattan to visit my sister Mary Jo, her husband Ray and their son Bryan who was visiting from Chicago.

This week, tomorrow in fact, we will be headed to Colorado again to volunteer as co-hosts at the same RV park we served last year. See you on the road!

 

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What have we done?

The last few days before we left Yuma, temperatures hovered around the 100 degree point, sometimes above, sometimes below. The day we left, we tried to get an early start to avoid the heat since the generator wasn’t working. Fast forward to yesterday, back at the Landing near Sedgwick, KS. The high for the day was 46 degrees, with rain off and on all day! Today is about the same, dreary and, dare I say cold? Probably not really, but by comparison to Yuma, yes. Western Kansas, right about where we drove on Friday, is having snow and blizzard warnings. What, indeed, were we thinking?

All the way back from Yuma, we tried to avoid winds. We stayed in Tucson two nights instead of one because the forecast for the area between Tucson and Truth or Consequences was for high winds, not favorable conditions for Liberty and her driver. We drove in light to no winds on Wednesday and had a nice visit with LeRoy’s cousin Raymond. A year ago when we were coming back through, he was in the hospital and then transitioned into a nursing home. This year, he is back home in his apartment on his own and he was able to go out to dinner with us for the first time in several visits. Raymond will be 80 on his birthday in August.

We watched the weather for Thursday and hoped we could avoid the high winds that were forecast by leaving early and being flexible about our route. For the most part, the winds were behind us or at least not broadside, but it required constant vigilance. While LeRoy was busy with passing another big motor home, I looked to my right and saw the passenger of that vehicle taking our picture! How cool is that!

We had thought we’d make it to Dalhart, TX but decided to stop at Tucumcari, NM instead. We’ve stayed at Cactus RV Park there before. The owners are very nice and fortunately they still had space available when we arrived. Everyone else seemed to have the same idea because we had to sit in the turn lane of the road waiting while several other rigs checked in ahead of us. Friday morning, the winds had died down and we had nice driving conditions until somewhere in south central Kansas. Even then, the wind wasn’t bad and the roads were dry. We got back to the Landing after buying the cheapest diesel of the trip ($2.339) at Goddard.

We’ll be sitting still for two weeks, but our social calendar is beginning to fill up already, as it always does when we are back here for any period of time. We always love catching up with friends here.

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Announcing…

The suspense is over for us. Announcing the latest in the Liberty story:

The story starts April 3 when we took Liberty to Algodones, Mexico for a facelift at Navarros Paint and Body Shop.

They had done a couple other rigs that we had seen and we could tell they did a good job. We had been checking prices for quite a while because the blue paint had deteriorated pretty badly. It appeared to us that the only clear coat was on the graphics and the rest of the paint had seen better days. Near the roof, it was down to primer. Navarros had a much better price than other shops we had talked to so we chose them. Brian Reeve, who was married to LeRoy’s cousin Beverly prior to her passing a few years back, has a house in Yuma where he winters and he and his new wife Joyce invited us to stay with them. For a month!

Jose, the owner of the paint shop, told us four weeks initially. He told us we were welcome to come to the shop any time, so we made several trips each week to visit Liberty and check on progress.

The workers did a great job of removing the paint, even using who knows how many razor blades to get to the bottom of it. What you see on the ground are paint slivers.

After the paint was all removed and the body work done in a few places, they moved into the paint building to mask and begin adding layers.

We were so excited the day we arrived to find color!

We were sad to know that the mural would be going away and the shop really didn’t want to remove it, but it was time. We have lots of pictures of it. Dick and Debbie Bell, the original converters of Liberty, had the scene painted from their own back yard with a few small additions, so it was truly theirs, not ours.

Another change was the Liberty name on the front. It was done in silverleaf, I think, and due to a few bird hits, it was beginning to chip off.

We’re not sure yet in just what way, but the name will return. She’ll always be Liberty to us! (Our son says, still Liberty, just with a new wardrobe!)

Friday afternoon, LeRoy said “Well, we probably aren’t going to get the bus back tomorrow, since it’s almost quitting time and we haven’t had a call.” We were resigning ourselves to another few days when Jose called to say that Liberty would be ready at 10 a.m. Saturday morning! LeRoy jockeyed the bus out of the paint building, out of the lot and onto the street lined with vehicles that couldn’t be moved and we were ready to go!

One of our concerns from the beginning had been getting the bus back OUT of the little town. The drive through the border crossing into Mexico was a straight shot, with only one very tight right turn, so LeRoy managed that just fine. Jose kept assuring us that it would be no problem to get out, even though I estimate the turn at 60 degrees or less, with traffic barriers, fences and cones along the edge. See the man with a crutch? The car behind him is where LeRoy had to put our 40-foot Liberty!About the time the butterflies in my stomach started flying in formation, I was reminded that the Lord brought us through the Needles tunnels in South Dakota, he could surely do this.  I got out to help guide him and he only had to do two up-and-backs before he made it through. What an excellent bus driver I have!

We had been warned to drive toward the lane with the orange cones, since the others were narrow enough that some drivers have had to bring their rigs back to fix gouges. Fortunately, even the lane with the cones was open for business, so we pulled up for inspection. LeRoy had to open every bay and the gentleman went inside by himself to inspect all the possible hiding places for contraband or people, but after a thorough inspection, we passed and were able to drive out. That sign says “Welcome to California” and I heaved a sigh of relief.

While we got out without a scratch, we didn’t get off scot free. On the way in April 3, a speed bump broke off a cast iron manifold downpipe just in front of the muffler. Boy, did we make an entrance! No one missed our arrival! A friend from the Kansas City area shipped us another one and after we got back to Brian’s place and LeRoy reattached the eagle side emblems, he put on him “get greasy” clothes and climbed under the bus.

If you’ve been reading this blog long, you’ve seen similar pictures lots of time, but this time it isn’t a generator repair. The picture below is the broken part and the result of the replacement was amazing. Quiet! Well, as quiet as a bus gets, anyway.

While he was doing the repairs, I worked on changing the interior to reflect the new Liberty.

So look for us on the road. I don’t think you’ll have any trouble seeing us!

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