Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hannibal, MO

Neither of us had ever been to the boyhood home of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain. So we made a one-night stop in Hannibal, arriving early enough in the day to spend a few hours touring downtown.

There are statues and place names for Mark Twain all over town.


“…the extensive view up and down the river is…one of the most beautiful on the Mississippi”


We were tempted to take a cruise on the riverboat, but with limited time we decided to save that for another visit. Maybe even a dinner cruise.


This is an interesting birdhouse near the river.


Part of this historic block of buildings is being torn down. Hopefully what remains can be restored.


Parts of the neighborhood show either restoration or great care over the years. We could imagine what it must have been like when Sam Clemens lived just a block away from this downtown main street.


A few vintage cars were parked along the street.



The lighthouse up on the hill is directly above a bronze statue of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, erected in 1926. We decided not to climb the 244 steps to the lighthouse, and I didn’t get close enough for a good picture of the statue.


A ticket to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum was only $9 for seniors, and we had just enough time to go through most of it. Here’s Sam’s family’s home, a modest 2-story which we entered from the rear after going through the nice museum behind the stone wall.  The sign outside reads: “Tom Sawyer’s Fence. Here stood the board fence which Tom Sawyer persuaded his gang to pay him for the privilege of whitewashing. Tom sat by and saw that it was well done.”


To prevent wear and tear, the tour goes through corridors next to the house, with several places to step inside a small viewing area to see into the rooms through plexiglass, but you don’t go far into the house. Still, it’s easy to imagine the Clemens family living in these quarters.


Quotations are in every room. This one says “A man’s experiences of life are a book. There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.” –Mark Twain’s notebook and “The Refuge of the Derelicts”


There were seven children in the family, but only four survived past childhood. This room depicts Sam climbing out the window, a scene later portrayed by Norman Rockwell (see below). The quote is “The things about me and before me made me feel like a boy again—convinced me that I was a boy again, and that I had simply been dreaming an unusually long dream…” –Life on the Mississippi


Across the street is Sam’s father’s law office.


Next door is Becky Thatcher’s nice, big home, which recently underwent a 5-year preservation and restoration. The sign outside reads “This was the home of Becky Thatcher, Tom Sawyer’s first sweetheart in Mark Twain’s book “Tom Sawyer.” Tom thought Becky to be the essence of all that is charming in womanhood.” The home was actually owned by a family named Hawkins, and the daughter Anna Laura Hawkins, born in 1837, was a friend and sweetheart of Sam Clemens and served as the basis for the character Becky Thatcher.


A block away is Huck Finn’s house, but we didn’t have time to visit it this time. While on the tour, we saw a bridal entourage arrive on a trolley to take pictures in the garden of the Clemens home.



Our final visit on the tour was the Mark Twain Museum Gallery.


Don took a ‘ride’ on the Overland Express.


One of the many exhibits here is a gallery of Norman Rockwell paintings related to Samuel Clemens and his writings.


The artist was already famous for his Saturday Evening Post covers when he was chosen to illustrate new editions of the great literary works, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He found out that none of the previous illustrators had ever visited Hannibal. So he went there to get authentic details. Because of this, his illustrations are more true-to-life than those in previous editions.

As an example, there is a preliminary sketch that Rockwell did of Tom climbing out an upstairs window, based on the description in the book.


Upon visiting Hannibal, he discovered there were no shutters and the house had no ‘ell’ to provide the roof seen in the sketch. So he modified the illustration to reflect the details he observed, as below.


These new editions of the two books were published in 1936 and 1940, respectively.

To end our tour, we were delighted by a 40-minute performance by Jim Waddell, who brought to life Mark Twain’s personal recollections of the Civil War.


On the way home after dinner, we drove to Lover’s Leap.


Luckily there’s a sturdy fence to prevent most sane people from taking the leap.


But it was a good place for a bird’s-eye view of Hannibal.


We returned to our motorhome in the Mark Twain Cave Campground, knowing that there’s a lot more to see in Hannibal (maybe even the Cave?), so we’ll have to plan a return.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Multiple Rallies Over, Back to Normal

The last few days of Escapade, now blurry in my memory as the rally ended on July 5, were fun. Here are a few representative pictures.

Cathie Carr and her cute grandson Gabe.IMG_4197

Judy Rinehimer representing the GeoCachers BOF on The Row.IMG_4204

Bev Webber representing the Boomers BOF on The Row.IMG_4207

Betty Ogden representing the SOLOs BOF on The Row.IMG_4209

Renita and Mark Brackin, fellow bloggers I met in person during the rally, showing their beautiful handmade jewelry at the craft show.IMG_4214

Frank and Gloria King are always fun, and we found a chance to go out for dinner with them.IMG_4223

Norm & Mary Scherer joined our table of Volunteer/Info/Lost-Found staff (including Leslie & W.C. Earnst and Frank & Gloria King) at the Birthday Bash Banquet, celebrating 35 years of the Escapees RV Club.IMG_4228

Catering staff set out dessert; some people visited this table first!IMG_4232

We didn’t have much chance to visit with our friends Nick & Terry Russell, Charles & Chris Yust, and Greg & Jan White. But it was great to see their smiling faces and get hugs from all!IMG_4233

Kay Rivoli is always so photogenic!IMG_4271

Dennis & Jean McEntire seemed happy to be the grand prize winners of an Adventure Caravans MegaRally (like the one we won last year). At least, Jean seemed happy…Dennis seemed to be thinking: Hurry up and take the darn picture! Juanita and Ron Kohn, owners of the tour company, are happy to be granting the prize.IMG_4279

Ms. Kay Peterson still enjoys taking part in Escapades, along with her great grandson Gabe and son-in-law Bud Carr. She gave a rousing speech at one session that had us all thinking she’s taken up a new career as Comedienne! What a wonderful lady!IMG_4284

Kay & Ron Rivoli entertained us with some of their favorite music.IMG_4295

And lots of us enjoyed a little dancing, including Brenda Neil, wearing her prize-winning Chili Cookoff apron, and dancing with Juanita since neither of their husbands wanted to do the Twist. (But they both danced to other music.)IMG_4308

After Escapade ended, we went to Sturgis, SD to gather with some fellow VCRs (Volunteer Club Representatives) for a workshop. But, of course, we had to involve food in the equation. The Mexican restaurant was prepared for us, and the food was pretty good.IMG_4333

Vic & Taree Schrubb, in the center, organized the workshop and we assisted.IMG_4334

We spent a day in training/orienting 4 new VCR couples in the meeting hall at our campground.IMG_4365

Then they were sworn in with their “parent” mentors in support.IMG_4338

Our ‘children’ are Bob & Sue Guthrie. Welcome to the VCR family!IMG_4357

Our next venture was to represent the RV Driving School at the National African American RV Association rally in Sedalia, MO, about 900 miles away. We stopped by our home base Hart Ranch for two nights and saw some friends, then hit the road again, singing the Willie Nelson song…

We’re very familiar with Sedalia, having been there for two Escapades in the past. Our exhibit booth was plenty spacious, since there were fewer than a dozen vendors in a huge room.IMG_4470


I gave two seminars, Driving Your RV Safely and Women: You Can and Should Drive Your RV, and repeated them each, so every day for 4 days I was busy from 10 to 11 am. The seminars were all well-attended, in fact standing room only for 3 of them. But the rest of the time we didn’t have a lot of folks stopping by. We think we planted lots of seeds, however, and hope that some of them take root for future students to schedule lessons.

Now that our ‘rally season’ has come to a 2-month break, Don and I are free to travel on our own. We have a few small maintenance/repair issues to take care of on the motorhome, then we have some nice plans for the rest of the summer. Stay tuned for a report of our short visit yesterday to a place on our bucket list: Hannibal, MO.