Wednesday, July 1, 2015

FURTHER PLEASURES OF CAMP REHAB

It's breezy and 70° out here on the point at Camp Rehab. Any and all bloodthirsty flying critters have been grounded. The usual crowd is here -- solidary White Egrets sprinkled across the lily pads like exclamation points, a few Great Blue Herons grunting dissatisfaction with the fishing and repositioning periodically. The Red Headed Woodpecker misses the glut of Shad Flies and is working harder today. Then all eyes skyward...

AIR SHOW

The Sandhill Cranes have been present all week, a group of three with a little one and a couple. Today they all arrived together with trilling, squawking fanfare and commenced to dive, climb, circle and generally show off. They were high, then diving for the treetops, turning tight circles leaving lag behinds to catch up, all the while taunting each other or maybe just celebrating the pure joy of it. The spectators tuned up as well, encouragement or envy, I'm not sure which.

It wasn't much later that the FISHING RODEO began. Well over 150 White Pelicans appeared on the slough swimming in tight formation through the pads. This was Jurassic Park for minnows...




The melee and food fight lasted over an hour. Then the participants lumbered off in a loose string to find a siesta site.

Some spectators were less impressed than I was...

 

 

 

Monday, June 29, 2015

THE PLEASURES OF CAMP REHAB

Here at CAMP REHAB on the shores of the Mississippi, our progress on the Great River Road has slowed. Patty's progess with her knee injury is encouraging; religious icing and heating, combined with the wrap has resulted in no pain and we now believe that this may be a low level strain. To further reduce strain on our impatient patient, frequent outings are planned. If only a short walk to see another beautiful sunset, every diversion is helpful. The family "medical team" has been exceptional and, as you might expect, nearly every geriatric fellow camper has a knee story.



 

Our change of venue to the lagoon side of the campground offers rich rewards in wildlife viewing -- Deer picking their way through the lilly pads on the far side, raucus Sandhill Cranes, Cormorants, the resident Canada Geese, Beaver, Muskrat, ducks aplenty.



 
 


We traveled South to Fulton IL and visited the replica windmill, built in the Netherlands and reassembled here to grind grain along the levee.


 

 

Our volunteer miller and guide was in training so he introduced himself as Miller Lite. He did a great job and, later in the week, dropped by to visit the campground on his daily ride up the Great River Bike trail.


Fulton isn't a big place, but when traffic was slowed on Main Street by the crowd heading for Krumpets restaurant, you know you have found a remarkable place. We toured a little more and returned later for an excellent meal -- Fresh entrees and salads made in small batches all day. It goes without saying that they are a first class bakery and we left burdened with pastry.



Riverwalk and bike trails on both sides of the river.


 

Bluebird, or rather Baltimore Oriole, weather on Saturday encouraged us to sample very short bike rides monitored closely and approved by the "medical Team". Al himself was unalterably opposed and hopes witnesses will attest to such when this report reaches our daughter. The results were encouraging enough that the patient has ammended her regimen to Heat, Ice, Ride, Repeat.

Rain showers theatened on Sunday, so we watched the mass exodus from the campground and visited Mississippi Palisades State Park. After a week at the water line, it was a treat to see the braided channels of the river from the high lookouts. These bluffs and highlands were spared by the glaciers that steamrolled the rest of the state; the cliffs and eroded ravines are lush with hardwoods and ferns.




 

Much of the land and water visible from here (and for miles along the river) belongs to the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.


The Ingersoll Wetlands Learning Center at Sloan Marsh has wonderful facilities for viewing wildlife ,hiking or bike riding. We enjoyed our talk with the River Steward and ached to get out on the marsh, now or later when the wintering Eagles return.

The holiday weekend is coming soon and we have arranged to change sites yet again and stay off the road for the Fourth. There are lots of sights and adventures within an easy commute.

Heat, Ice, Recreate, Repeat...

 

 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Plague Upon Our Silver Home

As if the recent swarm of tornadoes all around us and Patty's trip to the ER were not enough, plague and pestilence have been visited upon us. We have experienced the Asian Ladybug Infestation (picture both of us scurrying around with reversed Duct tape on our hands, hundreds of hapless little aliens wiggling their multiple appendages helplessly.) We have reported on these pages of the horrid Stinkbug invasion and even (shudder) MICE, but lately we have been first excited then enveloped by a cloud of Ephemeroptera.

Ephemeroptera..Shad Flies...Lake Flies


We saw the first of these 3 inch Mayflies on the ferry ride at Brussels. We looked overboard expecting to see catfish or such languidly sipping them from the surface...They love big water and here, on the three mile wide Mississippi, they are taking advantage of the lull in the tornadoes to get in a little frenzied mating -- using the Airstream for a crash pad.


Locals are amused at my fascination with this very light concentration; Sometimes street sweepers and road graders are employed to clean up the party.


My friend, the resident Redheaded Woodpecker is delighted. He lands in a spindly little Oak sapling at rivers edge and hops through the leafy branches gorging himself.



There are rich rewards as well. Our new neighbor Lois appeared with "extra" rich red home-grown Strawberries ! Best we have had in years.

 

 

 

 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Airstream Life on the Mississippi

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library



Returning to the River after our Moraine View Rally, we passed the afternoon with Mr Lincoln at the beautiful Museum in Springfield. RV parking is convienient, food is available nearby and the exhibits are first rate.

 

As we left at mid-afternoon, we were watching the weather and the time, so we stopped at an absolutely empty Argyle Lake State Park. Sites are level and grassy under well spaced mature trees. We enjoyed a talk with our camp host and left next morning; a peaceful place on a weekday.


We traced North on highway 96 at rivers edge. Several turnouts make this an ideal spot for breakfast with a view.

 

Arriving early at Nauvoo State Park, we took good advice from Ranger Dale. We nestled into site 14, with trees close on either side and a electric pedestal that required an extension and some TLC. Heavy rains and heavy traffic in this small campground had the roads torn up, but we like our spot. Won't be drying out that wet awning for a while...

The park is just across the road from the Historical Restoration area, less than a mile to the center of "town" where you might find a meal at either Grandpa"s (breakfast and lunch) or the Historic Nauvoo Hotel for evening meal.




Thomson Causeway COE Campground


Further North at Thomson Causeway, we just couldn't get much closer to the river. This is typical COE construction -- excellent, even on a Saturday at full capacity. Our site #69 is primo, but the back part of the island with its lilly pads and abundant wildlife is quite rewarding as well.

 

Ominous weather.

Sunset after the storm at Thomson Causeway

In daylight, hundreds of white Pelicans are visible sporting on the far shore and occasionally bringing a formation close to here. The riverboat Twilight, three levels of aqua and white Victorian elegance, proceeded upstream to Dubuque.

This is really one of the most beautiful sites we've ever had, says Patty. The sunsets are spectacular and the wide river swings nearly 120 degrees around us. We even have a resident Baltimore Oriole, our first in years.


We pause here to recount our latest medical adventure, and to, once again, give thanks for the kindness of strangers. A week ago, Patty torqued her knee. We hoped it was minor, but it HURT. We iced and elevated and rested and confused ourselves with Internet searches. Our park host and new friend Dale had been a lifelong athlete (a pitcher) and knew a bit about stretched ligaments.

Stabilize it, he said emphatically. We added Ace bandage and light walking became possible -- with the enticements of Nauvoo, pleasurable.

Enter complacency. It seemed a good idea to forgo wrapping during our travel day. But, in an excess of enthusiasm over our extra-special new site, the unstable joint was grossly insulted. Now it really hurt... on Sunday...at least 50 miles from a major medical center.

Enter more Angels...kids with good advice, young mom with her share of sports injuries and a recommendation, a gentleman who was camping with a nurse...a campsite visit from said nurse, soothing words, detailed referral to the ER...a second for the Orthopedic group she just happens to belong to...specializing in Knees!!

We have just returned from the ER. Patty has a knee immobilizer, a knee brace, a heat pad and an Attitude...

The patient speaks, impatiently

Fine mess I got myself into!!!
Last Tues when I was putting the stabilizers down on the camper I seemed to have torked (medical term)�� my knee.
I did this while in the squatting position ... and the stabilizer was stuck. Sooo in an attempt to STABILIZE PATTY using my right knee so I could get more tork (like that non word) I JERKED it loose ..... Hmmmm another interesting term . When I stood up I immediately knew I had hurt my knee. Ahhhh not to worry...park ranger (x baseball player) said ICE, ELEVATE, WRAP and REST.
I did this for 4 days, hardly any swelling and not much pain. ��
We moved on Sat. and I did not wrap since it was feeling OK and I was in the car.
Bad idea. I was in mega pain Sat night and could not put any pressure on my leg ��
Sunday, back to my routine and less pain when wrapped.
Ortho nurse in campground told me to go to ER this morning and here I am.
Nothing broken but they immobilized my knee and all should be fine in FOUR TO SIX WEEKS!!!!
I ask you....should I say I got this water skiing or playing volleyball or sliding into home plate??? Much better story.
I bet this will make the Christmas �� letter!
Love ya,
Hop Along Patty


Our little Riverside paradise has also acquired an attitude; it's blowing 25 mph gusting to 30 with a little spritz of rain. When we returned from our little medical adventure, the river turtle was just finishing her nest in the grass. She exited under the trailer, over the riprap and safely back to the water. Let's hope the little ones fare as well. The trailer is well battened down, but still rockin.

Stay tuned for further reports from Camp Rehab....along the Great River Road.

 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Old Nauvoo

Nauvoo is a Hebrew word meaning beautiful place, a name given to this gentle bend of the Mississippi by Joseph Smith. Here he gathered his persecuted Saints and built a town that rivaled Chicago in the mid 1800's. The town was prosperous and, by most accounts, beautiful. The temple, facing West across the River, was nearly completed when the Prophet was murdered; further persecution forced The Later Day Saints to abandon their homes and begin the epic trek West to the Great Salt Lake.

In the last few decades, the Saints came back to rebuild the Temple and do Williamsburg-quality restorations of many of the homes. On these mild June days, it is a serene, green place, neat brick buildings spaced on the four acre lots that formed the city, lush grass and shade trees in the spaces between. On the remaining stone roads, huge tour buses pass horse drawn wagons, herds of young people on trips, and family cars on pilgrimage, but nothing disturbs the sense of tranquility.


The beautiful visitor center is the place to start. There you will meet your first "missionary" ,one of hundreds, young and older who serve here. They interpret the exhibits, show the movies, greet you in each restored building, drive the horse or oxen and form the casts in each of several variety stage shows, musicals and pageants presented daily.

It is worth mentioning that all this -- carriage rides, entertainments, tours of each building -- absolutely FREE. The warm exchanges you will surely have with these folks are free also, but priceless.




This is one of several sculptures in the lush green Women's Garden, commemerating in part the Relief Society, the oldest and largest woman's organization in the world.





Fresh faces of young missionaries who put on Broadway-quality entertainment in venues all over the grounds.






When we found so much to learn here, we extended our time, twice. We attended the "Sunset on the Mississippi" variety show three times! Patty found opportunities to speak with the young performing missionaries as they worked all around the site and predictably began to call them "my kids." We bonded with the older missionaries as they toured us through exhibits and took us on ox carts, and cheered even more enthusiastically when we spotted them in the cast of a theatrical.


Most of the senior missionary staff serve 18 months -- two summers, one winter -- at their own expense, usually half a continent from home. When Patty repeatedly heard reports of 30+ grandchildren left to their own devices , she wondered if this wasn't excessive.
Some missionaries, like this pair of oxen, are on permanent duty .


There are many quiet moments walking among the buildings, watching the river and its bird life . This is a corner of the Joseph Smith Sr. home and cemetery .


The most touching moment of the week was the walk along the Trail of Hope at sunset.

Panels with quotations from diaries of the Saints line this path to the landing where they started the trek West.

Young missionaries narrate some stations as small groups move respectfully, by lamplight, toward the Mississippi.

We were fortunate to be with two young missionary friends, Faith and Tanner, whose character and quiet testimony is the fruit of the of all the suffering and sacrifice of the exodus.

There is still much more to see and learn here. We expect to return, perhaps with friends, perhaps for the large pageants in the full sun of July, but more likely again in this serene green time in June.