Oct 14, 2022

Temperature 84 Degrees, Abundant Sunshine

Looking Back On Our Summer

The past several weeks have given me a chance to reflect on this past summer and our travels through the mid-part of our country.

The following is a snapshot of sorts of our travels.

We left on April 6th and we returned home on September 26th. We came home a few weeks earlier than expected simply because we had checked off all that we hoped to do.

We covered a total of 7,294.3 miles. To put that in perspective that’s the equivalent of going from New York City to San Francisco, returning back to New York City and then going back out to Kansas City, MO – plus a few more miles! We sure did keep the wheels on Elvira rolling this summer.

We traveled through 15 different states and spent a brief period of time in Canada. We started in central Florida, swung across the Panhandle, headed up through Oklahoma, next was Kansas and Nebraska and then over to Iowa, then west to South Dakota, into Wyoming and North Dakota, stopped briefly in Canada, moved onto Minnesota and Wisconsin, then to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, down through Michigan to Ohio, down to Kentucky, then Tennessee, back through Alabama and finally back home to Florida.

We stayed in 35 different RV Parks.

This was the worse of the worse. This was our site at The International Peace Gardens on the border of North Dakota and Canada. Torrential rain the past week had turned the campground into a swamp. And with the swamp came hordes of hungry mosquitoes. In addition, because of the rain and a severe staff shortage the gardens had not been planted. All in all, this stop was a total waste of time and a big pain in the behind. Which explains why we left two days before we were supposed to.

This was one of our nicer sites. This is our site at Scenic Hills RV Park in Millersburg, Ohio. A nice gravel site that was dead level, good spacing between sites and lots of green grass. This park was in the heart of Amish country and was the reason we had come here. During our time here we learned a great deal about the Amish and their way of life. They are a people who truly live their faith day in and day out.

The only problem with this RV Park is its location. If you are driving or pulling something of substantial size the roads getting to and from here can be challenging. It was while leaving here that we got to test the brakes on Elvira when we came over a blind hill and found a dog standing in the middle of the road. Yup, the brakes work great.

We spent several days mooch docking in the driveway of our good friends Steve and Patti in Green Lake, Wisconsin. They were such gracious hosts and we were truly treated like royalty. As we prepared to depart they extended an invitation to return at any time. That’s an offer we’ll probably take them up on in the future sometime.

We stopped at 18 different roadside attractions.

This is the sculpture entitled Dignity on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River at a rest stop off of Route 90. The 50 foot high stainless steel sculpture depicts an indigenous women in Plains-style dress with a star quilt.

Of course we stopped at Wall Drug Store. Come on now, what would a trip to South Dakota be without a stop at the place that began by handing out glasses of cold water for free to weary travelers.

Advertised as the only Corn Palace it is a place that has to be seen to be believed. And if you go, don’t just snap a picture of the outside but be sure to tour the inside and learn its history and of the many famous celebrities who have performed here.

We visited 45 different museums of all different subjects and sizes.

In terms of unique, hands down it was the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota.

We also had a wonderful time at the real Wizzard of Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas. Forget the one in Florida it is not the real deal but rather a tourist trap.

We visited quite a few auto museums but the Gilmore Car Museum is the best of the best. It is the largest automobile museum in North America. It has over 400 vintage and collector vehicles on a 90 acre campus.

While at the museum we took the time to go for a ride in 1929 Ford Phaeton convertible.

In terms of sheer size there is none bigger than the National Museum of the Air Force. We’re talking about 19 acres of exhibits spread out over four huge hangers. Lace up your walking shoes and take your time because there is so much to see.

This is a memorial in the United States that honors the victims, survivors, rescuers, and all who were affected by the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995. It had to be one of the most sobering museums we visited. There was one exhibit, it was from a building across the street where a meeting was in progress. They were tape recording the proceedings of that meeting the morning of the bombing. You knew what was coming, but even so when you heard on the tape the deafening blast you just froze in horror and disbelief.

We took the time to tour six National Parks.

At the top of our list was The Badlands National Park. It is so hard to describe it, you just have to see it for yourself. Words like stark, awesome, rugged, dramatic come easily to mind. We consider ourselves so fortunate to have been able to visit this area.

Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. The approach is through the avenue of flags. You see them in the distance but nothing can prepare you for that moment when you first step onto the Grand View Terrace and come face to face with the four presidential figures. It literally took my breath away. We were so honored to have been able to visit this Memorial. I was surprised to discover that the memorial was never completed. Once we were involved in WW II no further funds were set aside for the memorial so all work stopped at that point in time.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. What stunning natural beauty. Since it is best viewed from the water this was also one of two cruises we took.

Also on our list were three state parks.

We had a wonderful two weeks at Custer State Park. There were the begging burros, bison aplenty, a visit to the just opened Bison Center, and fun traveling Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road and the Scenic Loop Road. We visited here in May and what to my wondering eye did I see one day but snow softly falling to the ground. Thankfully, it didn’t last long nor did it stick. But snow in May?

We visited two historical villages.

Our first stop was the Amana Colonies. Here we took a walking tour of one village, a van tour of the entire colonies, we saw a parade and had a delightful time watching the Maypole Dancers.

We also made a stop at Sauder Village. It was amazing to learn what one man accomplished in his lifetime despite the major setbacks and difficulties that he encountered along the way. As for the village itself, what started as a small historical village has now grown to be recognized as Ohio’s largest living history destination that now includes not only the historical village but a bakery, restaurant, Inn, campground, exhibit hall and retail shops.

We attended 1 Musical.

This was the Grand Ole Opry on steroids’. Their web site says it best: The Medora Musical is the rootin’-tootinest, boot-scootinest show in all the Midwest. There’s no other show quite like it. It’s an ode to patriotism, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Great American West! And it is indeed! It was an action packed evening of entertainment that thrilled us to no end.

Also on the docket was the Ohio Renaissance Festival.

This was my first time at the Festival and I must say it was a hoot. I absolutely enjoyed myself and look forward to one day going again.

In terms of sheer fun I must confess it was my

walk across the headwaters of the Mississippi River. I can now say I’ve both crossed the mighty Mississippi and I’ve also been on a riverboat cruise on the river down in New Orleans. That covers both ends of the river.

Not to be forgotten was the Dayton Aviation Trail

That resulted in my collecting my very own Wilbear Wright Bear. He now sits proudly on the shelf in our living room

As for T-shirts, I collected 30 new T-Shirts.

My collection is now at a respectable 86 T-shirts total.

But the overwhelming highlight of this trip was the time we were able to spend with my son Paul and his wife Brittany, as well as the time we were able to spend with a number of old friends we hadn’t seen in years. But even better were the new friends we made this summer.

Truly, two of God’s beautiful people – Dan and Betty – who I now count as our dear friends. What an awesome time we had with them.

They were the ones who introduced us to the game of Rummikub which has now taken the place of Mexican Train in our house. I’m coming for you Dan!

Well, that in part was the summer that was. We had a blast from the time we left until the time we returned home. How much did it cost us? Forget it! Way too much but it was worth every penny that we spend. COVID, then cancer, we just had to go. Life is too short and too precious so you have to live to the fullest the days that God gives you. We returned home knowing that we are as we continue to say two of the most blessed people on the face of the earth.

Thanks again for spending some time with us.  It’s always great to be able to share our story with family and friends. Comments? Feel free to share them with me. And always remember, cherish every moment of every day that God gives you and live those moments to the fullest. 

Our continuing mission remains the same: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before.


  1. Bill, this is a wonderful, wonderful recap. From the parks to the museums to the T-shirts. What a blast you and Barb had! You really put the miles on Elvira! This post makes me want to go, go, go! You inspire me to continue to make the most of each day – including spending time with those we love and hold dear – like you and Barb. You don’t know how many times we mention you and Barb – for one reason or another! I gave Dan your message about Rummikub, and his reply was, “Bring it On!” Soon our 2022 travel season will be over, too. I see the break in travel as time to rest, be with family, save up money and plan out future travels. Which I hope will include you and Barb! Enjoy your Florida winter!


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