Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Final Day in Red Bay, Visiting Paducah and Du Quoin, Arrival in Gillette

Since my last blog entry, we have covered a lot of ground and are now in Gillette, WY getting ready for two large RV rallies: FMCA and Escapade.

Before departing Red Bay, AL, we had a great visit with our friends Geoff and Nancy Justiss as we were finishing up our service and they were arriving to start theirs at the Tiffin Service Center. It had been a long time since we’d seen them, and our visit was far too brief.

IMG_3495

After happy hour we drove to a restaurant none of us had been to, in spite of several visits our coaches have both made to the area. Reeves Fish & Steak House, south of Belmont, MS, was a good place for both catfish and steak, but there were a lot of families with children, and the d├ęcor and atmosphere could be improved.

IMG_3497

Our next stop was an overnight visit to Paducah, KY. This brief visit convinced us that we want to go back. Here are a few scenes from this interesting city at the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers.

Originally built in the 1860’s as a Victorian farmhouse, this mansion was transformed into Classical Revival style and renamed Whitehaven. It is the only historic mansion that also serves as a visitor welcome center.

IMG_3593

A series of murals grace the floodwall above the Ohio River in downtown Paducah. The flood wall was built following a devastating flood in 1937 that wasn’t held back by the earthen levee.

IMG_3530

IMG_3585

I’d love to take the time to study the murals and read the plaque under each one.

IMG_3524

IMG_3522

The National Quilt Museum certainly merits exploring.

IMG_3533

And there was a lot more that caught our eye during this windshield tour, so we’ll definitely be back. Besides, Paducah is such a fun word to say!

Don and I attended a Newmar rally in Du Quoin, IL, the first of several rallies that we are doing for RV Driving School this summer. We had an exhibit booth, where we talked with several people about the personalized lessons offered.

IMG_3610

I presented two seminars, one on general RV safety and one geared specifically for women. About 60 people attended each seminar, which was considered a good turnout at this size rally.

IMG_3639

Newmar builds lots of high-end coaches (priced up to the 7-figure range), but we weren’t tempted to trade in our beautiful home on wheels. Still, I was fascinated by this paint job that changes colors, and the brighter the sun, the faster and brighter the changes. Unfortunately, it was cloudy when I took the pictures, so I didn’t capture the rich purple and deeper green shades.

IMG_3619

IMG_3632

IMG_3624

We celebrated our 5th anniversary (sort of, a night early) at an excellent Italian restaurant, Alongi’s, and departed the next day on our actual anniversary June 13 to begin a 4-day drive over 1200 miles to Gillette.

We knew we were getting close when we saw Porter Sculpture Park with the world’s largest bull’s head visible for quite a distance, about 25 miles west of Sioux Falls, SD. And we were seeing fewer trees out here on the great plains.

IMG_3695

Of course, there are always the many, many signs for Wall Drug.

IMG_3702

And the 1880 town, a representation of prairie life with more than 30 historic homes and buildings moved to this area. Notice how long and straight the road is here.

IMG_3705

Finally, after catching our breath at our home base, Hart Ranch Resort in Rapid City, SD…

IMG_3740

…we reached Gillette. After a bit of frustration in being herded into a narrow spot that’s about as far as we could be from the rally seminars and vendors, we were amazed at the number of motorhomes in one place. In fact, since about 2300 rigs are expected, the parking crew had to arrange for about 700-800 to arrive on each of 4 days to keep the incoming traffic somewhat manageable.

It was great to have an early dinner with our friends Dennis & Carol Hill, who stood up for us when we got married, and with whom we’ve shared lots of fun travels and laughs.

IMG_3755

Old Chicago is a nice new sports bar in Gillette.

IMG_3751

Appetizers are 1/2 price 4-6 pm, and each one is a meal.

IMG_3752

Don’s individual pizza was pretty good-sized and tasty, too.

IMG_3753

Later we shared hugs and swapped lies with Carol (sitting in Don’s shade), Joe, Molly, Dennis (at least part of him)…

IMG_3762

…Wallace, Mark, Dortha, Wanda…

IMG_3758

…and Bob (must have been eating some of those wonderful flax-covered appetizers!).

IMG_3760

A beautiful day with blue skies ended with clouds on the horizon, bringing a series of thunderstorms alternating with more beautiful weather. This frequently changing weather is typical of the plains, and we are now equipped with a weather radio to warn us of impending storms.

IMG_3766