Visiting Helen Ballard Before We Leave….

About a month ago we had found and visited an old friend of Richs.  Helen and Kenny  Ballard were old family friends from way back.  Kenny and Leo (Richs Dad) had met in the Navy.  I wrote a Blog about finding Helen awhile back.  Kenny had passed away around 1996.  Helen is now 92.  She is a wonderful spry lady with a fabulous mind and so much energy and memories.  We had promised we would be back before we left.  Monday, I called Helen  She said, “I wondered if you were still here.” She still remembered we had come.  So I asked,  What would be a good day this week to come visit.   She said,  “Not Tue.  I go up to New Virginia and quilt at the church all day.  Any other day is fine.”  lol.  So we arranged for Wed. at 11 am.  We would go for lunch.

20160901_142708.jpg  When we got their she was ready and waiting to go.  We took her little car as our little Ranger just doesn’t fit 3 adults very good.  We went to a restaurant in Osceola called “Family Table”.  …..Down Home Cooking…. They had a buffet for 7.99.   The food was so good.  We sat their for almost 2 hours visiting.  Her granddaughters husband had been in for dinner.  When we went to leave we found out he had picked up our tab.   It was so nice of him.   Thank You so much Brett.  Sure didn’t expect that.  We drove back to Helens.  I had brought all my blog books and we looked at them.  She was so excited to see them.  She has always wanted to write things done but never knew where to start.  I think as we get older, we realize the value of all the memories and information me have.  Once we are gone, so are they.     She wanted to show us the back 40, as she calls it.  Helen and Kenny had lived around 5 miles or more away from this property that she lives on now.  Kenny wanted to buy property to build and move to someday.  He found this property.  When Richs dad came to live here, Kenny had already bought this land but had no plans to move here yet. Up the hill in the back 40 he was building a dam to form a pond.  He wanted to make an area for fishing, camping, hunting and just a place where the whole family could come and enjoy and play together.  So these were things Leo seen back in the 80’s when his trailer was here.  Kenny did complete it.  They brought in a trailer  years after Leo left, and built on to it, and thus the “Trouse” was formed… as her granddaughter Julie called it.  Well Kenny died in 1996, so he did enjoy it for awhile. So we got back in the car, Rich opened the locked gate and up the hill we went.


It is such a beautiful green area.  This is all nestled up in the hill side so nobody would ever know its their.  So full of nature, and wildlife, but yet so well maintained.  At the top of the hill, this is what we seen.


The Welcome Bear carved from wood, and the stone statue.  Now I asked Helen about the Stone piece.  I thought maybe they had made it or it meant something special.  It was given to her by her foster son who had gotten it from another family member.  They decided to put it up  here,  cause it needed a home.  It was just an interesting piece.  We followed the path across the dam.  It was so beautiful.  Now can you imagine sitting on that swing, watching the lake and wildlife, or yet watching you family have fun on the boats and swimming.   How many memories has Helen made here…..Amazing….What a Wonderful legacy Kenny and Helen have made for the family…It is something the family will cherish and hand down for generations. 


They have so many family get togethers here.   Plenty of water activities for the kids.  It was freshly mowed….Picture Perfect…..


Also had a kitchen area.  It is such a neat place to cook.  Bigger than home….lol…


It had everything one would need. Several frigs and freezer, Sink, Counters, Work table, and Cook stove and fireplace,  It also had 2 big smokers.  Imagine all the family here in RVs or tents…..all sitting at the tables eating….Wonderful family fun…I walked back toward Helen and Rich and they were just talking.


Mostly about  how Kenny had built all of this.  Her kids don’t let her mow anymore but she still takes care of maintenance.  She mentioned on the way up that she need to get a load of rock on the road.  She still takes care of all the needs.  She has quite a business head on her shoulders yet.  Finally we got back in the car, crossed the dam and back down the road.


Again so beautiful.  It was a cool crisp day, with a slight breeze…maybe in the 60’s….a great day to be out and enjoying nature.   As you see, all of this ground is kept mowed….Helen use to mow but they don’t let her anymore….lol…Helens youngest daughter, Norma and her husband, bought some of this acreage and built a log home up the hill from her.  Norma makes sure it is all mowed.   I noticed there was a zero turn mower up at the lake.  But there’s acres of grass to keep mowed.  Now the funny story about Norma.  Helen and Kenny had a number of kids.  When their youngest, Charlotte was 20 and already had a child, guess who got pregnant….lol…Helen, and here came Norma….We finally had to go, but what a good time we had.  We promised Helen we would come again next year.  We have signed up at the Park again, so if all goes as planned we will be back.  We all enjoyed our visit.  We talked about so many things.  She is about the only one left who really remembers much about Richs dad.  We asked her how Kenny and Leo met.   They met in the service.  They served on the same boat,  USS Tutuila (ARG 4) around 1944-45….not really sure.


It was an internal combustion repair ship.  It was constructed in 1943, by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation.  It served in World War II, traveling in the South Pacific.


Motto…..Eternal vigilance is the price of Freedom


It was decommissioned on December 7 1946. Later it was Commissioned again to serve in the Korean War and the Vietnam War.   Eventually it was sold to the Republic of China.  When Kenny and Leo both got out of the Navy, Leo spent time at Kenny and Helens house.  Leo met and married Rose, Richs mom.  They continued their friendship through the years.  When Richs mom passed, he was only 15.  He spent the first summer at Kenny and Helens house.  Her kids were about the same age.  They had chores, as they were all hard workers.  Kenny had a wrecker business, salvage yard, also farmed and had livestock.  So their was always much work to be done.  That was one of the things Helen and Rich talked about, his summer at the farm.  How did he endure it ….lol….He actually enjoyed it.  Another thing she showed us was a picture on canvas.  It was given to her by a family member.  I don’t remember the story, but she was so surprised and excited to show it.


The original picture was taken in 1942 in DesMoines.  It was in an area called Capital Heights, which is now Altoona area.  Helen and Kenny had married sister and brother.  Helen and Kenny are on the left motorcycle and Helen’s brother George and Kenny’s sister are on the other.  Rich said they are both Harleys.  This was just a small snapshot and it was put on this large canvas.  It was bigger than an 11×14, and it turned out marvelous.  Helen said when she seen it, it took her back in time instantly.  She felt like a young girl at that moment of time.  As if she was their.  She had never felt like that before.  What a wonderful gift.  It was an awesome visit.  Now time to head back north to Adventureland…..Octoberfest….coming up….


Helen and Kenny Ballard     1980’s?

Iowa State Capital Tour….

Did you ever drive across Iowa on I 80 through DesMoines and look to the south?  You would see a huge building with 5 domes.  The center dome is the largest and is glimmering and shinning of gold in the sunlight.  This is the Capital of Iowa.  I have known this but it really didn’t make that much of an impression.  A number of local people at the park said we should go visit as it was beautiful.  So after we seen the Luminaria, we went to the Capital.  Driving across the river from down town the view was so stately.  The capital has high on a hill and the street went straight just like Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington DC.


View from Capital to across the river downtown

We parked on the south side in a beautiful park area.  It was full of memorials and monuments of long ago.  It turned out to be a beautiful day.  Their were so many trees on the grounds hiding the capital on our walk to the door.  But the beautiful gold dome was peeking out shinning of brilliant gold in the sun.  This dome is one of the largest gold domes in North America.  It is the only state to have 5 domes and one of 10 states to have a gold dome.  It rises 275 ft. above the Capital grounds with an 80 ft. diameter at the top.  The original 23 karat gilding was $3,500.  The dome was regilded in 1905 at a cost of $8,800, again in 1927, for $16,500, again in 1965 for approximately $80,000.  The last time was 1996 at a cost of $482,000, with a protective layer installed to save it from the elements.


The Capital was originally in Iowa City but was decided to move it to DesMoines.  The original building was started in 1871, dedicated in 1884 and finished in 1886.  It is built with brick and faced with limestone granite and sandstone.  We entered at the basement level that was designated Visitor Entrance.  We went through the Security area and walked down the corridor to the center of the building.  We passed many tables and chairs as the cafeteria is on this floor.  We arrived at the Tour Center.  The tour guide gave us a self guide tour map and explained many things to us.  So off we went to the nearest elevator.  No stairs for us.   We exited the elevator on 1st floor onto the rotunda area.   Amazing.  We walked over to the main dome area and looked up………


Soooo Beautiful.  It is really hard to see the height.  Their is a row of windows near the top and more beautiful gold and lights.  In the center is a flag floating in the blue sky with clouds.


Here is the upper floors of the dome.  We walked up to the 3rd floor.  That is all the public is allowed on their own.  Now this is the rotunda floor.  It is all glass.  It was just restored around 5 years ago to original.  For many, many years it has been open down to the basement floor.


Now we walked down a corridor to the old Supreme Court.


In 2003 they built a new Supreme Court building across the street.


A close up of the beautiful gold Chandelier. We walked to another hallway and found this case full of dolls.


These are dolls whose dresses are modeled after the First ladies.  They are dressed in a copy of their inaugural gowns.


Onward to the huge grand staircase in the back wing.  Huge pillars of different shades of granite.  (See Rich?  tee hee) .  But did we walk the stairs?.   lol.   No….elevator to the right.  We accidently skipped 2nd floor and went to 3rd floor.


We were at the balcony area of the Senate.  Of course, nobody working….lol…Empty….Back out the door, around the balcony area looking down on the Grand stair case and in the distance the 2nd floor rotunda area.


Just look at those tile floors.  The most beautiful designs I’ve ever seen.  All different designs blending together.   The shine was beautiful.

Onward around the balcony to the other side of the 3rd floor to the House of Representatives.


Again we went into the balcony area of the House.   and Again…Nobody Home….lol…Now it was time to go back down to the 2nd floor.  We found 4 spiral staircases.  2 by the Senate and 2 by the house.  They were enclosed and somewhat hidden.


How beautiful they were.  All original and extremely sturdy.  Now down to the second floor.  This is actually the main entrance levels to the House and the Senate.


They are situated in each wing on each side of the main rotunda.  We walked into the House and Rich was wanting to get a new Job……Sergeant-At-Arms.   lol.   I think he’d make a good one.  All he needs is a gavel….or a gun?….lol    Now for the very best area of the Capital.   We were blown away.   We opened the door to the Library.  It is situated at the west end facing down town……Beeeeeautiful…..


Breathtaking…..I stood in Awwwwe…..I just looked, taking in all the beauty.  I really don’t think I have ever seen anything like it before.  Look at the tiling of the floors.  The white wrought iron spiral staircase at the other end.  their are 4 stores of balcony’s of books after the main floor.  They are all accessible by 2 spiral staircases.


I was allowed to climb up this spiral staircase just 1 floor to take pictures.  If you look at the first story up, you will see a small corridor of light that is a door to the back area.  This is the access point on each floor to get to all the books on each balcony floor.

20160922_154937.jpgHere you can see the door openings against the back wall of each bookshelf.  This gets you to the other side of the bookshelf.


Finally I had to take another picture  of the floors.   Beautiful, beautiful blending and designs of colors. Finally after probably half hour or more we left the library.  I did talk to the lady librarian.  Their is over 100,000 books.  They still use all the all the different levels of books for research except for the 5th level.  That one is more for storage of books and items not used much anymore.  The ironwork and the flooring are all original.   Again, this room is the most beautiful room I’ve ever seen.  So finally back to the rotunda area on the second floor.


We looked over the side to the main floor….The center piece of glass…..Now elevator to the basement.  We walked back to the Tour Directors area which is right underneath the glass floor.


She pointed out  over on the wall was some pictures and the story of the installation of this floor.  It came in pieces and fit like a puzzle to install.  They had to construct special ramps to roll in the pieces and not damage the floor tiles.  Then also a crane to hold them in place to install.     Some Facts……29 different types of marble use in the Capital…..12 types of wood, most native to Iowa…..24 fireplaces throughout the Capital…..

Now this was an awesome tour.  We just wandered around at our leisure.  I have not included a lot of what we seen.  It is just to much to mention it all.  Their was many places we didn’t go.  Many of the offices were open for viewing.  We didn’t do any of these.  Now this really makes me ashamed.    When was the last time YOU WERE AT YOUR STATE CAPITAL…..Or Have you Ever Been their..…I haven’t been to mine in Illinois since 8th grade.   You don’t appreciate it then.  Nor do you retain many memories.  Illinois has so much history.   We need to spend a day in Springfield Illinois this fall on our return to Texas.  So anyone who reads this……Make plans to visit your State Capital…..You can also visit any State Capital as you travel.   It is free.  It is an education.  We have so much to see and visit in our country not to mention our own states……Take the Time…..Enjoy…..iowa-capitalIowa State Capital ……DesMoines Iowa

“Luminaria” Fabulous

We came back from home and worked Adventureland last Saturday and Sunday.  Its almost over.  I think everybody is ready for it to be.  Wednesday, Rich was watching the news and they had a show going on downtown DesMoines at the Cowles Commons, DesMoines Performing Arts.  It was called a Luminaria.  This one is entitled “Arboria” by Architects-of-Air, Alan Parkinson of  Nottingham England.    Website:


“Arboria” is about a half a football field long when set up.

A Luminarium is a sculpture that people enter, to be immersed in radiant light and color.  Since 1992, the Architects-of-Air’s 22+ luminaria have enchanted over 2 million people in 41 countries around the world.  This is the only one touring in the US.  Their are others touring around the world.

The tickets were only $5, what a deal.  So I ordered them on line.  Thursday morning we woke up with rain.  It finally stopped around 10:30.  We arrived downtown about 10:45 and found a parking deck about a block away.  What we didn’t know was, the whole downtown is connected by sky walks.   How cool that was.


We went from our parking garage straight to the sky walk.  We followed it across the street and through the building to the other side of the block.  Finally across the street in the sky walk and we were in the right building, took the escalator down and outside we went to the “Luminaria”


Being we already had purchased tickets, we were able to go right in.  First thing we did was to take off our shoes and put them in the cubies.  The whole structure was made of vinyl plastic.  We had to stay on the plastic to enter.


Finally we had a short speech from the Volunteer before we entered.  We were allowed to wander around at our own pace.  We could sit down or lay down if wished to enjoy the beauty and sounds.  Be careful of the walls and try to stay on the flat part of the walk as the edges start to lift up.  Parents, please keep your Children with you…….Yes Please……So in we went through the Air locks……….First Impression…………..”BREATHTAKING”……


Each room or area has a dominate color.  The first room was green. ( There’s Rich )


The ceiling was soooooo  beautiful.  It is entitled “Arboria” because of the influence of the geometric shapes and graphic representation of trees.


On to the next room.  As you look around, you see round tunnels.   People at the other end just standing and staring.  Some even laying down……More color down the tunnels…


You end up in the main room.  Words cannot even explain the feelings that you see.  You have been told that the tunnels are zippered on, and that every everything else was hand glued together.  All the different colors are glued by hand.  Then you look up………


Whoaaaa…………The end of the stripes have a small blue dot.   This picture does not do the colors justice.  This main dome was 33 feet high.  As we stood their, we listened to the music.   It was so soothing and beautiful.  It was soft sounds of piano composition and wildlife sounds originated from the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest by musician Alice Eldridge.  It was as if time stood still.   You wanted to just stand their and look.  Your eyes wandered up….around….down…in circles….People just sat down or layed down to enjoy the experience.  Rich said he wanted to sit down also, but he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to get up……lol….getting old we are….lol…


Traveling on, we took one of the tunnels, and we arrived in the blue room….In front of us a a beautiful blue tree trunk.  It rose up so gracefully to a beautiful ceiling.


This dome was 26 feet high.  ( There’s Rich again )  As you walk, you almost feel unstable…..dream like….


Around the edge of each room are little pockets.  A long slice of color is added.  They said these are little out of the way rooms that you can sit and just take this all in.


They even let wheelchair and people with canes enter.  They wrap the wheels and protect the bottoms of canes.  I thought this was so amazing as I seen this man wander through the tunnels.  He was so amazed and thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere.  They told me they do like to bring the physically and mentally impaired people in on the slower days. It gives them a great calming effect.  I can’t even imagine how they must enjoy it.  It is out of the realm of anything they have ever imagined in their world.   As far as that goes, ours also. Their were a number of Volunteers inside that were helpful with info, and especially one that gave me all her time.  She loved her Volunteer time and was so enthusiastic to help and answer questions.


This is the red room.  Again you can see the geometric influence on the ceiling.  As you walked around, you not only felt a little unstable, but I also felt like things were hazy….dreamy….It was just such an indescribable feeling….


Now all this light you see is just natural light shinning through the plastic.  It was a dreary overcast day, but yet the inside was so bright and vibrant with color. I can’t imagine what it would be like on a sunny day.


The inside was very comfortable in temperature.  It was air conditioned.  You didn’t hear the air blowing, but around the outside little pocket areas, you would find the air ducts and feel the air blowing in.


We are blue lovers, so this is our favorite room.  We probably walked through the tunnels at least twice.  We stood in the rooms and the especially the big dome room for quite awhile, taking it all in.  The looks on peoples faces were amazing to see.  Some were laying on the floor with eyes closed, some eyes open just staring at the ceilings.  People were just looking and turning in amazement.  If i didn’t know better, I felt I had just visited HEAVEN. Could this be what it is like?   Finally Time to Go.   We went out side and sat by the Fountain….


This reflecting pond was also a wading pond, open for the kids to walk through.  It also had some “Dancing Waters”.  lol.   We sat their for along time, just taking it all in.  Looking at the whole sculpture and seeing where we were.  The Big Dome Room….You can see the different colors, the Red Room and all the little pocket rooms around the edge.  I read that it takes around 4 hours to unpack and weight it down, and then only 30 minutes to blow it up.  Taking it down is fast, 90 minutes and ready to roll.  As we sat their, a volunteer who was just relieved was walking by.  We started talking about her job of Volunteering for the Civic Center and all the activities.  Such a Nice Lady.  Then she told us about a food court in the next building over.  We were sure hungry by now.  Back we went into the building and up the escalator to the sky walk.  We walked several blocks to the end and back just to see everything.  The Food Court Building was called the Kaleidoscope.  They had food and shops on 3 floors.  We choose loaded spuds…..


Huge potatoes loaded with butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon…….Hmmmmmm….Bill? Under $15 for 2 with drinks……Finally done and off we went to walk the sky walk again.   Now maybe we are behind the times, or we just came out of the corn fields, but this is magnificent.  You can park your car in the parking garage and walk the sky walk to work.  Where ever that may be.  The whole down town is connected.  Even the Civic Center, and all the Iowa Federal Court system.   In the center of it all is the Kaleidoscope Hub.  Walk to get your lunch and back to work.  Never go outside till you leave the parking garage.  We even seen a sign of a Condo for sale…..Open your door and your at work…….Can’t imagine the price…..I looked at the signs for Sky Walk closing.   I found one that said the doors close from 2 am-6am.   You could go walking anytime, any weather.   Finally we walked back to our parking garage.  We left and drove around the city.  There is remodeling and building everywhere.  New buildings going up with new sky walks attached.  Old buildings being turned into Condos and Office space.   The city is growing and renovating.  Finally we headed back across the river to the east.  Directly across was the Iowa State Capital.  It stood proudly and stately on the hill with Court Street leading straight to it.  It reminded me of Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington DC.  The Iowa Capital has 5 domes total, with the fifth dome in the middle covered in Gold …….It was shinning Brilliantly in the sun.   We stopped and toured it also, but that will be the subject of the next blog.


So much info to share….After that we hunted up an Rv Center and toured Motor Homes.   “We were trying to decide how to spend a half a million if we had it…….”

One Paw’z Pub-2nd Annual Pre-Harvest Throwdown & Cruise In

On Sept 10 2016,  Scotty and Brandy hosted the 2nd Annual Pre-Harvest Throwdown.  Now in McNabb this is a huge affair.  The town is a little farming community on Rt. 89, but surrounded by corn fields.  It is one of the six little towns in Putnam Co., which is also the smallest county in the state of Illinois.  Our little village only has a population of 285 as of the census of 2010.  It is down from 310 in the year 2000.  McNabb has 1 gas station, Jacks Gas, 1 little convenience store attached.  It also boasts of Grassers Hardware and Heating, Morenos on Main Resturant, and a very modern Bank.  On the corner is One Paw’z Pub, our son’s tavern.


This is the 2nd year that Scotty and Brandy have thrown this party.  This year the Village Board agreed to close 2 blocks of Main Street to host the event.


The car club Blood Sweat and Gears were invited.  They showed up with some amazing cars for a Cruise – In. Their was such a nice collection dating from the early 30’s to new.   Over 70 cars were there


This was my favorite.   1969 Camaro SS.  Now in the fall of 1969, I bought a brand new Camaro from the showroom floor  at Imm and Son Chevrolet in Toluca Ill.  It had a 350 and wasn’t an SS or RS, just a basic car.  But it was this maroon color with white seats and black dash and carpeting.  My first and only new car.  You wouldn’t believe what I paid.   The new 70’s had come out, so I was able to purchase it for $500 off sticker price…….Final Cost…..$3,000……Amazing…..I was single at the time.  I remember the gas mileage was awful.  I had it in the shop several times and I think it was only getting around 12 miles to a gallon. Gas was cheap in those days.  It was only 30 cents a gallon.  We had gas wars back then.  All the stations would try to out do each other to lower prices and have the cheapest gas.  I remember the low 20’s.  Rich remembers 21 cents in Chillicothe but 16 cents in Missouri on a trip.  Unfortunately, after we were married, we traded the car for a used pick up truck…..Grrrrrrr….If we only knew then what we know today…..


This was a pretty car.  The gold looking trim paint between the red and purple was a pearl paint that changed colors when you walked by.


This is Brandy’s favorite car.  A practically new Camaro in a beautiful shade of green.


The head lights are awesome looking…..Eyes are looking at You….They are actually covers that are for show.  They take them off to drive…..



A few more of the awesome cars in the Cruise In.


A view down Main St.  This is a site this town rarely ever sees.  A Beautiful Site to see in this little village of only 275.


This is the view from the bank looking at One Paw’z Pub.  You can see the stage set up for the band, the small tractor display with the Grain Elevator in the background.


Now this picture I had to include,  These 3 red Dodges all belong to the Sandberg family.  They are HUGE MOPAR fans.  Far right is John and Trudy Sandberg (parents) Cuda,  middle-Sean(oldest son) Challenger,  in front of flower pot is Ryan (youngest son) Duster.  Tracy, their daughter and husband also had cars down the street on display.  Rich worked for Sandberg Trucking for a number of years on and off.  The kids all are part of the Company now and he still drives for them sometimes when were home.  Ryan’s wife Brandy is also the Mayor of McNabb.  During this time of the Cruise In the Restaurant and One Paw’z Pub were bustling with business.  The bar was full and really had to get through to the back.  Scott and Brandy have recently put in Slot Machines.  They remodeled the apartment on the side and incorporated it into the bar and installed 4 slot machines.


Rich said they were busy all day, sometimes even people waiting to have their chance at the machines.  Scott has also added a patio off the back now.  He is still working on it and more plans for next spring.


At 7pm. the Band was set up and began to play.  The RADIUM CITY REBELS was a 5 piece band that played some awesome music.  Scott backed his semi with trailer across Main St. It made a Great stage for the Band.  All traffic was rerouted through the back streets.


They played till midnight.  It was a beautiful evening.  It was a little chilly but Perfect.

My sister in law, Connie lives in a little hamlet…lol…Mt. Palatine.  Its around 4 miles as the bird flys.  She sat on her back porch and she said it sounded like the band was in her back corn field……


It was a really fun evening.  We seen many friends.  Carol and Jim came by.  Of Course Pam, your always their for a good time.  It was so good to see all of you.  Many more, but my biggest surprise was Lynn and Dale……They were celebrating Birthdays.  but Dale had just proposed to Lynn that day….He was even on his knees I believe…..How Sweet….Congrats to you both…..They are so Happy.  Also with them was a long lost friend from work.  Cindy was a supervisor.  She also went on to a better job.  lol.  It was a great time.


So here is Scott and Brandy, early in the evening.  Unfortunately my phone went dead later and my charger also died….lol…Always happens at the worst times……Walmart here I come…..But what a Great Nite for this little town.  It was really loud and booming with music.  I asked several days later.   Did anyone call the Mayor or board and Complain?

…..Nope, Not A One……Maybe better read the Village Board Minutes next meeting…lol….



Labor Day Over….A Week Home

Labor  Day weekend was the last big FLING at the park for the year.  We worked all 3 days.  I worked doubles being it was the only hours you can have now.  Saturday and Sunday was 10 am. – 10 pm.  It was a long day but the weather was beautiful.  The temperature was high 70’s and low 80’s. “A PERFECT WEEKEND.”   On Labor Day Monday, the park was open 10 am – 7 pm.  The park was full of people.  It was the last day of Adventureland Bay.  The water park will be closed for the season, but the Adventureland park it self will be open weekends till the end of September.  We were busy all day and evening.  It was sad on Saturday evening to look out and realize that we wouldn’t be seeing the lights of the “Monster” in the beautiful park anymore.  The sights and sounds of the park are just magical at nite.  The beautiful colors of the twirling rides, and the reflections of the buildings and lights in the lake by …..Dragon……


We will be closing earlier now on weekends and it will still be light. We had decided to take off the following week end and head home for a week.  The one problem was the cat.  Kitty has never road in the pickup.  Also he had no place to stay.  Tammy said he could stay their as it was his house, but she has a big dog “Chaos” and a cat “Charlie”.   But that was what we decided to do.  The nite before we went to Dairy Queen and took him for his first ride.  Kitty was curious, but we thought that was all it was.  When Rich opened the door at Dairy Queen, Kitty ran out the door.   OMG.   I panicked, and ran for him.  He went up by the building and under the picnic tables.  He was near the drive-up but their was a railing up that intimidated him.  He could have went through it but he backed away.  Finally we cornered him under the picnic table.  The next day we took off for our 4 hour drive.


I put his soft harness on.  He again was curious.  He was nervous and kept walking around.  Finally he settled down under Richs feet while he was driving.  Half way into the trip, we decided to stop at a rest stop.  I took him out and hooked up his leash.  I kept walking towards the bushes and fields.  It was really hot and he started panting.   Took him over to the water hydrant and he wanted no part of that.  lol  Finally took him back to the truck, tried to give him some water and he wouldn’t drink.   So we headed on down the road.  …….Poor Kitty…….


He was so tired and exhausted.  I think he was actually dehydrated and exhausted by the time we got home.  I carried him in the house and he ran for the bedroom and went under the bed.  That was the end of him for several hours.  I got his food, water and litter pan all set up and we closed the door  so he could rest alone.  I stayed at Tammys and took her bedroom that night.  He climbed in bed and was much better by morning.  In the morning we were all in the living room and Chaos ran down the hallway.


He is part Lab and Pit Bull.  I was worried about him hurting Kitty.  Tammy ran down the hall as the dog started running and barking.  She SCREAMED…..”Mom, come get Kitty, he just got TWICE THE SIZE that he was……She was worried about the dog and she was afraid Kitty of sink his claws in her dog.   Well poor Kitty just set the dog straight…..He said,  “I am BOSS, this was my house first.  Stay away from me”…..It was really funny.  Later we let her cat up from the basement.


His name is “Charlie”.  He is a beautiful Persian.  Now Charlie was curious and wanted to play, but soon found out, Kitty does NOT PLAY.   He is an OLD MAN.  They had a few scrapes but managed to be respectful.  I kept seeing Charlie staring at him around corners and across the room.  By the time we left, Kitty was walking fairly freely through the house.  I was really amazed.


This is “Dexter”, Tina and Ed and the kids dog.  He is a Golden Doodle who is going on 2 years old.  He is a very loveable and active dog.  He is almost like another “son”  in the house.  lol.


Now Brandy and Scott have 2 house cats.  Both came as strays.  The yellow is “Seymour”, and the gray is “Clyde”.  lol.   Seymour has finally become lovable, but Clyde really likes to hiss at you.  So these are all the animal cousins……..

One day, Tammy went to work and forgot some papers, so Carly and I went to Peoria.  We got to tour the Kindred Hospital and seen where her momma works.   Carly loved that.  Then we went to Steak and Shake.


Tammy said she would know just what she wanted by the pictures and she did.  We had to sit by the window by the Illinois River.  I had gotten some stuffed animals at the park for the kids so we gathered them together to give them out.  Cassidy didn’t make it, as she had went to her friends.


They had fun.  Carly is far left, Austin, and then Miley.  Around their necks, you can see a stuffed snake.  I got Cameron a huge snake.  He has wanted to buy a real Python in an aquarium for his room.  I told him if he ever did that, I wouldn’t go in the house again.  So “Here is your snake”……..The only one I allow.


He is a hard one to get a nice picture, but I managed to get this one uptown.  He’s doing what he does best…..driving….lol…Rich had his own agenda of fixing things.   Theirs always things to fix when we go home.  He also goes through the garage putting tools and things BACK WHERE THEY BELONG….Hmmmmm….Now why is that…..I also got a Biker Bear for Scott for the Bar.


He was so big.  I looked at him for a long time, hanging in one of the games.   Finally I bought him.


He was so BIG, he had to sit in the passenger seat with Rich.  I sat in the back and held him up.


So here he is in his new home.  “One Paw’z Pub”…..McNabb, Illinois.   He’s going to be nothing but a BARFLY….lol…That weekend was also “ONE PAW’Z PUB’s”Pre Harvest Hoe Down.  Scott and the local Car Club had the Main Street blocked off.  He had a Band staged on his flat bed truck trailer.  Around 70 cars showed up for the Car Show.   Some Beauty’s’  That will be the next blog.   We left to go back on Wed. so we could have 2 days off before the weekend.  Groceries were needed and laundry to do.   And ya know we don’t have to move fast anymore, so 2 days to rest up is Wonderful.   I went back to Tammy’s that morning as we have been staying at Scotts, and put Kitty’s harness on and carried him to the car.  He was such a trooper all the way home.  I think he now realized it was ok.  He slept, although his space was not to big, but he didn’t get upset or anything.  He was fine.  We were all glad to get home.  Kitty walked in just like he was glad to be home from his vacation.   So Poor Kitty at 16 is still learning new things.  He learned how to ride in a pick up.  He learned how to live in his old house for 8 days with a dog and cat that had invaded his house.


This is his new thing to learn.   How to go outside in a pen and not wander.  Now this is a problem.  He doesn’t understand yet.  He walks in circles and thinks he should be out under the motorhome……Not a Good Place for Him……



Visiting Friends…Present & Past….

This week we had arranged to head south to Excelsior Springs.  It is right by Kansas City about 2 1/2 hours south.  Our good friends from Eastgate Cici and Larry, live their.  We decided to head down on Tue. return on Thur.  Larry had therapy that day on his new knee replacement.  Not knowing how tired that would make him, we arranged to arrive around 4 pm and go out for supper.  On the way, we stopped at Winterset.  I wanted to buy a copy of the movie Bridges of Madison County.  Now we can watch it before we go exploring at the bridges.  They had copies at John Wayne’s Museum.  Back on the highway south, we past the exits of New Virginia and St. Marys.  We decided to drive the back roads on the way back and see if we could find where Rich’s dad use to live.


We arrived in Excelsior Springs around 4 and found their house.   It was sure good to see them.  We went out to eat, and had a great time.  Not the greatest picture….lol…but it is what it is.    The next morning Cici cooked a wonderful full breakfast with eggs, bacon, potatoes, biscuits and orange juice.  Larry took Rich to shoot their pistols at an indoor shooting range.  Rich wants to get his card for carrying, so he really enjoyed that.   Cici and I went to a Great second hand store.   I haven’t found a good one since we left Harlingen.  We shopped at Texas Thrift.  lol. ….. cheap skates we are……This one was really nice.  I found 3 blouses….Not bad….spent $11.  Found another store and returned home.  They boys had a great time.  Supper that nite was at Applebee’s.

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Shopping at Lionel’s Western Wear in Weslaco after a style show last winter……

We have been friends of theirs for 2 winters now.  They pulled into Eastgate about a day after we did that first winter.  We hit it off right away.  When we go places together they always drive.  That’s what happens when you have a little Ford Ranger….lol….We’ve had so much fun with them.  Cici is a nut…..and Larry can crack you up with his jokes also.  Never dull…

.Larry and Cici

We had such a good visit.  We talked about family, about Eastgate of course, past and plans for this fall.  The next morning we packed up our little plastic bag of clothes and toiletries…lol…(HyVee)  and headed back towards home.

We finally made it to New Virginia, St. Mary’s exits.  We turned off on the one he thought he remembered.  Now Rich’s dad, Leo lived out here for a short time in the late 70’s.  Leo had served in the Military, and made a good friend, Kenneth Ballard.  When they would come home on leave the family’s would  get together.  Never the less, they were close friends.  Leo married Rich’s mom Rose,  and Helen and Kenny new all the kids.  After Rich’s mom died, when he was 15,he spent the summer at Ballard’s.  They lived in the country and had livestock, salvage yard, sold used cars, wrecker business,  and farmed also.  Kenny was always busy.  Helen and Kenny had a number of kids, even a foster son,  and she was always busy with the duties of a wife, mother, and the household.  She was always taking care of kids.  Her kids, neighbor kids, or many other family members kids.  They were very hard working people and the kids all grow up the same.  They were always a Happy Couple, Helen with a wonderful laugh, and Kenny was a jokester.   Leo and Kenny remained friends all those years until Leo had another marital trouble.  He went to live at Helen and Kenny’s around the late 70’s.  He then bought a used mobile trailer and installed it on some acreage that Kenny let him use.  Helen and Kenny had bought the property for retirement some day.  After the trailer was set up, his present wife Dorothy came back, and they tried to make it work.  But to know avail, it just wasn’t to be.   Dorothy went back to her daughters, and Leo eventually moved to McNabb to be close to all the kids.  After Leo passed in 1991, Helen and Kenny even came to Chillicothe for his funeral services.  It seems like after that everyone really drifted apart.  We know Kenny had died in 1995, but we really don’t know how or when we knew that.   Finally at least 3 years ago, something really strange happened.   By that time Connie, Rich’s younger sister had moved into Leo’s house.  A neighbor of hers gave her a letter that arrived at her house.  I don’t remember why it went their.  It was from Helen Ballard.  It contained some family pictures from years ago and a very sweet letter.  We were all amazed   One of them was a photo of their mother and dad.  I was always going to write her and thank her.   But of Course……Do we?…..Another moment of procrastination………….So now here we are today………….Searching to see if anyone is alive of the Ballard family or even around.

So here we go….driving the back roads….some blacktop…mostly gravel…..We couldn’t find Helen and Kenny Ballard’s house so off to try to find the property where his dads trailer was.   We turned down this gravel road and down near the bottom, their was a lane to the right.  He said turn here.   Now I am driving.   So I crept slowly, ever so slowly down this small lane and he says….“This isn’t it”…..I look in the rear view…..”Ohhhhh Shitttt”….Another car pulled into the lane……….we’re busted….no way to go but to the yard and turn around.   I pulled to the side and let the car park.   Rich got out….A lady got out…..They Talked….Thank Goodness they shook hands…..Whew….Were Ok….So I watched them talk for at least 10 min.  then she made a phone call.   hmmmmm …calling for info right?……..Finally Rich came back to the car with her…..He introduced me to Helen’s Granddaughter,  Julie…….Ohhhh My…..of all the drives we pulled into, we chose hers.  Ironically she usually doesn’t get off work that early…..Coincidence?  When I told her how my heart skipped a beat when I seen her car in the rear view, she said “Imagine how I felt.  I didn’t know what I was walking into”.   Ohhh yaaaa.   She said her grandmother is very much alive.  She tried calling her and she wasn’t home.  She is 91, drives, quilts at the church, member of a garden club and never stops.  Julie know exactly who Rich was.  Her grandma and grandpa had talked about Leo and his family through the years and she had know Leo when she was a child.  After a nice little visit and exchanging of phone numbers, she gave Rich directions.  Grandma Helen now lives on the property that Leo had put the trailer on.   In the early 90’s Helen and Kenny brought in a different trailer and built on to it…..Julie says they call it the “trouse”   lol  I found that very funny.

So on we went.  Turned out we were miles away.   Finally turned down the gravel road and found the gravel lane.   Yes this is it.


Now this is what was on the one lane bridge heading to the house…….‘Caution Trolls” On the top of the pole is a troll….lol…Yes this has to be the Ballard’s.   We drove up to the house.


Nobody Home.  This is the Trouse…..We walked around a little and then got back in the truck.  Going back over the bridge Rich said,  Look, theirs something down their.


Hahahaha…..A Troll…..Now we gotta go back and take a picture of the Troll on top the fruit cellar.


We took the picture, wondering what the story was…..Gotta be good….Like I said, Kenny was a Jokester in his day. Finally we drove back down the lane and almost to the end and low and behold, in turns a car.   It is Helen….She was so shocked.  We turned around “AGAIN”   Another Coincidence?……We visited with her for several hours.


I asked her about the Trolls……The Hat Explains it All…..”Its a Ballard Thing   (You Wouldn’t Understand)”…..This was a gift from a family member, made especially for her.  so, some things never change.  What a great family.  So in talking with Helen, she has a mind of a 60 year old, a sparkle in her eye.  so much energy for her age.  Her memory is fabulous.  She has a wonderful laughter, that is so full of life and young sounding.  Truly a woman to admire.   Most of her family still lives near with the youngest daughter living just up the hill from her.  We talked a lot about the past that was so interesting.  Finally we had to say Goodbye.   She was so glad and excited that we came by.  With all those “COINCEDENCES”  of timing, we would have never been able to see her.  But we do plan in visiting again before we leave the end of the month.  We are actually less than an hour from her house…..Amazing I think….


Rich Bergen and Helen Ballard

So the end of another day in Iowa…..What a few days its been….Visited our Very Good Friends and Finding some of Rich’s dads past

……..Its Like Stepping Back In Time……

……..Reality Check…..

Labor Day Weekend Ahead……Work 3 Days