Guardian of the North

  

Home sweet home for the next few weeks. Ellsworth AFB…Guardian of the North. 

Mark joined the USAF in 1979 planning on a 4 year term and hoping to get a career that would take him to any coast after being raised in the Midwest. He also dreamed of receiving training that he could use in the Civilian sector when his 4 years were over. His plan was aircraft maintenance …Uncle Sam had other plans…Missle Maintenance! 

He was stationed for his entire career at Whiteman AFB, MO. smack dab in the middle of the country no where near any coast until he retired in 1995. 

Lots of great things happened at Whiteman AFB. We were blessed with both of our children, made friends for life and actually ” grew up” there.

One of the many great benefits we still are privileged to have after serving our country is to take advantage of staying at Military Fam Camps. They are always nice. We can take advantage of all the amenities on base such as, Commisary etc.. So here we are at Ellsworth AFB a former Minuteman Missle base, now the home of the B1 Bomber. 

The first night here we got in around dinner time. We decided to get a bite of dinner at the “Chow Hall” as we were starved. Walking in and seeing all the young Airmen was surreal. How did we get so old AND these are “babies” who VOLUNTEER to serve our great nation and protect our freedom we often take for granted. My heart hurt for their Moms. I put myself in that position and cannot even imagine how hard it is for them. 

When Mark enlisted way back when we were not fighting a war. Unemployment was high and jobs were tough to come by in Illinois. He joined to get a paycheck and learn a skill. The military kept training for the possibility of using force and things were status quo for most of his career …..that was until 1990 and Desert Storm. Things changed!

Today , jobs are still scarce , but kids today join knowing we are fighting a war. WOW such bravery and selflessness is so humbling. I pray  daily for their protection and when you meet them while having a simple meal puts it in a new perspective. They are so young and doing  so much for each and everyone of us as U.S. Citizens. Please take the time to thank them along with our Veterans when ever you get the chance.

Ellsworth AFB is just outside of Rapid City, S.D. Which is surrounded by great things to see. Traveling in the Mobile Condo gives us a bird’s eye view through the 4’x8′ windshield, but nothing compares to taking in the majesty of the scenery here than on our Harley.  

   

Next stop Mt Rushmore! 

  
 

WHOA!!! What a place. It’s a place that needs to be seen to truly appreciate. To think it took only 14 years to do (they say if weather wasn’t a factor they could have done it between 6-8 years) 90% of it was done using dynamite the other 10% was completed by men hanging in a swing like apparatus using drills! 

The workers were all young guys that were Miners previously hence they used the same skills. The men were not impressed that they were working on what would become a National Monument, they just considered it a job! Below is a picture of what they were paid for whatever job they did  

 
Hard to believe there were only a few injuries and NO fatalities! No OSHA requirements either😉. 

The monument was not completed as it was originally designed.  Below is the model they were using to create the monument. 

   

They stopped work on the monument in October 1941 as World War II was requiring the financial resources that were being used to complete the work. So it remains “unfinished” and still breath taking. So glad we stopped by. 

 

Next stop Crazy Horse!  

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Nebraska ….the good life

  

Traveling through the state of Nebraska from south to northwest was very reminiscent of traveling through Kansas except for the change in altitude. Lots if open green space dotted with cattle. We could see forever.

  
My handsome chauffeur took the “scenic route” instead of the Interstate. We were grateful for a Southeast wind as it pushed us along. He didn’t have to fight the wind as the day before along with the draft from 16 wheelers, because the scenic route is much less traveled.

  
As we climbed our first BIG hill all I could think of as our Mobile Condo made the trek was “I think I can…I think I can”. Our over all weight is 45,000 pounds which includes towing our truck with our Harley in the bed of it. Whew its a LOAD but she made it!
  
Texas is not the only place flooding. The scenic route is a 2 lane highway that followed along the Platte River. Lots of water and flooded fields. Thankfully we didn’t come upon water crossing the roadway, but there was evidence it had been. 

There are plenty of things to keep in mind when we prepare to move. Most of them are second nature now like making sure all cabinets are closed tight, things stowed off of the counters so nothing goes flying and breaks, but we forgot to let air out of our Sleep Number bed. Yep, going up in altitude not only causes bottles to expand our bed did too! Thank goodness it didn’t POP… that would have been NO BUENO! Note to self…deflate bed when traveling.

Our last stop was in Alliance, Nebraska. We had traveled for 5 hours or so and my handsome chauffeur was ready to relax. We did not have any reservations. I got out my trusty phone and used a trusted app we used before to seek lodging for our Mobile Condo and it’s weary driver. As we were driving through the town we saw a HUGE Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad terminal. It is a huge employer for this small blue collar community. Never thinking how many trains would be going through AND how loud their whistles were at ALL hours of the night! So much for the restful night.

As the trains kept me awake I used the time to  research and found that Carhenge was 3 miles from our RV park. Out in the middle of no where!

   
 

Carhenge is a replica of Stonehenge, England’s ancient alignment of stones that chart the phases of the sun and the moon. Created from Vintage automobiles, the dimensions of Carhenge replicate Stonehenge. The cars are primarily from 1950’s and 1960’s. They are planted trunk down and rise 15 to 17 feet wide; the same size as the standing stones of Stonehenge. All 38 of the major stones at Stonehenge are cleverly represented at Carhenge. So cool!

See you later Nebraska…..Next stop Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota !

It’s all about communication 

It took me a LOOOooong time to become a member of the Smart Phone Society. It was quite the process as many of you know 😉. Now I cannot imagine living without it. This technology is crucial to our Nomadic lifestyle. We are able to FaceTime with our family, get the latest picture or video of our growing Grandson, plan our trip, get step by step directions, make reservations and research fun facts on our travels. The list is endless and I am an admitted Addict to this device I lived without for all these years!

Mark and I took great pains deciding which carriers were best for us. We purposely chose to have 2 different carriers, as in our previous travels we found that many times one of us would not have service. All bases covered we thought. 

Most of the plans these days give unlimited text and talk but limits are set on data. I love to gab and text. I am clueless when it comes to knowing exactly what 5Gb means or provides me. To me that sounds like a whole bunch.

We found out the hard way that roaming is not only for the Buffalo on the range! All of our Apps were using roaming features while we were driving. RUTRO! Mark got a text telling him he has depleted his data quota for the rest of the month (they will gladly add more data for a fee). Yikes, this is how we get and use Internet. No worries, we still have data on my plan, BUT I don’t have Hot Spot capability, AND no service while driving across Nebraska! “Oooooh No Mr. Bill” …. We could not use Google Maps, use our campground app to find the phone number to check reservations etc….. Talk about feeling “trapped” 😄😄😄. We are SOoo dependent on technology. 

I often thank God that He decided to have me live on this century. I CANNOT imagine going across this beautiful vast country in a covered wagon or on horseback. Being so dependent on data and suddenly without out it was my version of traveling in a Covered Wagon!

Oh wait we have a map! So I put on my Navigator’s cap and help my handsome chauffeur out. Who needs Siri and Google maps??? Quickly found out that my map reading skills need honing. We missed a turn and headed east instead of west for a bit. Thankfully we are not on  trip ….it’s a JOURNEY! We have nothing but time! 

Our traveling Gaurdian Angel knew that we needed help. Just like when you are looking for something and keep going to the same spot thinking it will magically appear (aka insanity), my handsome chauffeur takes my phone and tries the app that we need to contact our new home for the week. VIOLA the app pops up even though my phone clearly shows we have no data! He makes his call, hangs up. We try it again immediately and NO SERVICE AVAILABLE pops up! Whoa!! We are in awe and so thankful for this “God Wink”. There ARE angels among us!😇😇😇

We made it safely to Ellsworth AFB. S.D. without any further assists from technology. Thankful they provide free WiFi (even though it’s spotty). Whew technology….We will make it!

Sidebar….I was able to get data and service after I turned off my phone to reboot it. Who knew it was that simple? May need that little trick in the future!

Enjoying the JOURNEY

We cannot even attempt to count how many times we crossed the state of Kansas via I70 through the 33 years we have been married. It always seemed like such a DRAG! I realized this time out, in the past we were on a “trip” trying to get from point A to point B and back in a short period of time. This trip is not on any time schedule …..we are on a JOURNEY which is vastly different than a trip! 

The view from our vantage point sitting up so high and looking through a 4′ x 8′ windshield is amazing and a bit scary at times due to crazy drivers, but all in all pretty beautiful. 

Kansas does its part in using its beauty and natural resources of wind to harness energy with loads of HUGE windmills. They are so massive and in my opinion sort of “regal” 

     While the wind was creating energy for the state of Kansas it was playing havoc with our ride! We were being blown around quite a bit which my handsome and calm personal chauffeur handled like a pro! 

Kansas also has plenty of “Texas Tea” being produced  

  

These were seen popping up along the highway. We were doing our fair share of using gas while fighting the wind so it was nice to see there was more oil being produced. Not sure of our mpg as we have never filled up an empty gas tank in our Mobile Condo. We are enjoying our JOURNEY and that pesky detail of what we are getting MPG would put a wet blanket on our parade! We just put $100-$150 in at a time and stay in our little “happy place”. The fact that we are probably only getting 6-7mpg would be a buzz kill for sure and remove the Joy from our Journey 😀

We ended our first leg in Alma, Nebraska. A quaint little town with a small RV park run by the city.  

 Google maps most likely is not tracking the time based on driving a RV, fighting wind and traveling 65mph instead of the 75/85mph that people were driving past us. YES, we are now “those people” we used to hate being behind when we were on a trip! Our JOURNEY took us 6 1/2 hours ….but ……

We immediately made friends with 2 retired gentlemen in the campground that fish by day and camp at night through the summer. Lucky for us they were having a fish fry of freshly caught Walleye and Catfish. Yummo! Great way to end the day. Oh and the Blackhawks won…an added bonus. 

So much more of Nebraska to see…stay tuned!

One Year Under Our Belt

Our dream of the Nomad lifestyle came to life in the summer of 2014. After selling our home of 19 years and giving away lots of our stuff we began the adventure of our lives.

The first year we traveled north to see family in Illinois & Michigan. Next stop Tennessee to be near our kids for the fall. Chasing a warmer climate and sunshine on our minds took us to Gulf Shores, AL and Niceville, FL to finish out 2014 & begin 2015. 

Spring was spent with our Grandson (aka love of our life)  

 his parents in TN. We were blessed with a visit from our daughter in San Fran and Mark’s parents too while in TN. 

May took us “home” to Kansas. Crawford & Cheri joined us on this trip which was so much fun.

All our travels the first year of our “Shake Down Cruise” kept us close to familiar people and or surroundings. We made life long friends along the way too. We learned so much about our “Mobile Condo” and ourselves this past year. We had challenges, yet over came them with lots of help from seasoned travelers asking them tons questions and gleaning knowledge. 

Today we start another adventure. We have never been to the Northwest quadrant of the U.S.A. So off we GO! Looking forward to seeing the beautiful country that we live in, meeting new friends and connecting with old friends too! 

This is our story as We Be Winging It! Join us…Hop on and enjoy the ride!