A Grand Opening

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They’ve been waiting almost 10 years for this in Springfield, Missouri. The Grand Opening of the Wonders of Wildlife attraction next to the Pro Bass Shop. Johnny Morris is the big man in town and owner of Bass Pro shops and Tracker Boats and several other attractions in the area. He spent millions on this new attraction. 2 former presidents Carter and Bush, Nascar drivers and other celebrities attended the Grand Gala.

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We attended the first day it was open to the general public. In places, they are still working on the displays.

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There are thousands of specimens. The focus is on wildlife conservation.

The Aquarium is an attraction on its own.

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It took us over 3 hours to go through everything including the aquarium. Everything was very well done. Only complaint was that it was too dark in some places. Making it not only hard to see where you are going, but also to get photos.

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This guy looks happy to see us

10 Days in the Wilderness

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Well, the price was right. And it looked like it was close to our next destination at the Branson KOA for the Newmar Fulltimers Rally. Let’s just say it’s ‘rustic’.

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Since it is a National Forest, we get half off with our America the Beautiful Senior Pass otherwise known as the ‘geezer pass’.

We are staying at the Cobb Ridge Campground in the Mark Twain National Forest. The 10 day stay proved to be a little ambitious for our comfort. We’ve never stayed at any campground where there wasn’t at least a dump station. The draw here is the Chadwick ATV and motorcycle trails that go straight through the campground. Having neither of these, we seem somewhat out of place.

The campground is laid out funny and our very, very long pull through site 20 is actually 2 sites end to end – 20 & 21. Some pull through sites are actually 3 end to end sites. Don’t know what you do if you’re in the middle and want to leave.

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Very loooong sites

We checked with the camp host to see about how we should park – they didn’t care. There’s 50 amp on some sites, water spigot nearby, no sewer and no dump. Some pit and some flush toilets, but hot showers available. There are signs to look out for bears. Yikes. But we saw very little wildlife, except for a bazillion insects.

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We didn’t even see a squirrel, much less a bear.

18 months

September 18 marks 18 months on the road.

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What a year and a half it’s been. In our personal life, we welcomed 2 beautiful granddaughters to our family.

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Violet

We spent 30% of our time in or around Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Durham – visiting family.

Having a home on wheels has allowed us to be mobile and at the right place at the right time for some family events. Beside the birth of our granddaughters, we could help when our older daughter had surgery, sold her house and prepared to move to a new one. We were in Cincy for two big birthdays when Tom’s one aunt turned 80 and another turned 90! And we where able to make sure his dad attended both events.

The worst part about this lifestyle is being away from family and friends.

We’ve run the numbers . . .

We’ve put almost 19,000 miles on the motorhome staying in 19 states and spending roughly $6500 on diesel with an average 7.5 MPG.

If you add groceries and eating out together, that’s our largest expense at over $15,000. (That’s $14/day apiece) Campground fees came in at $13,000. (An average of $24/night)

We’ve put up our jacks and moved 106 times.

We spent about half the time in private campgrounds and 20% in state parks.

The most unusual place we had our motorhome was the underground cave storage near Lexington last winter.

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Our least favorite place we stayed was

  • Heartland Resort in Greenfield, Indiana. Dirty, old, unfriendly and cramped.

Our favorite places were

  • Jack Pine in the UP of Michigan which was rustic and had a bar and restaurant.

  • Ocean Breeze in Jensen Beach, Florida for its beachy feel and access to bars and restaurants, intercoastal waterway and ocean.

  • Cherry Hill Campground in College Park, Maryland for amenities and proximity to Washington, DC.

  • Americamps in Ashland, Virginia for free breakfast every morning and dinner once a week.

  • Cumberland Gap National Park $10/night and free firewood at your site.

We attended several Newmar Rallies 2 Internationals, 1 Fulltimers, 1 Super Show in Tampa and 1 Region 6 rally in Indianapolis. And our wonderful Grand Circle Newmar Caravan last fall.

We also attended our first FMCA International Rally in Indianapolis.

Yesterday, we visited Wilson Creek National Battlefield, our 50th National Park System site.

This is our 195th post to our blog.

What’s next? We move next week to Branson and the Newmar Fulltimer Rally and then Sedalia for the International Rally. We will travel with fellow Newmar owners to Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta and perhaps on to California. Then back east *way back east* through Cincinnati and Indianapolis and Thanksgiving in Durham followed by to wintering in Florida.

The Newmar Rallies are in South Dakota next year, so we will probably head that way in June 2018.

So yes, we’re already planning for 2018.

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Beer touring and tasting

Seems like the thing to do when in St Louis.

We visited the Anheuser Busch brewery last year, but there’s free beer involved so we decided it was worth another visit.

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The weather has been perfect while we are in the St Louis area and today was no different.

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The tour includes a stop at the elaborate Clydesdales stables.

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They also take you through the aging area and the historic brew house.

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Then we were lucky enough to see the Dalmatian and Chief out in the paddock. Our tour guide told us Chief is a TV star. He was the Clydesdale that jumped the fence in the Budweiser commercial starring the little Golden Retriever puppy.

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Chief

We had a very nice lunch at the Biergarten enjoying our free beer.

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And we quite possibly found our next RV

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