Time with Family
I noted in an earlier blog that Karen and I decided to spend more time in Missouri, the State we were both born in. Why not take advantage of this full time RV lifestyle to explore areas closer to “home” you never had time to do while working fulltime. I think advice I’ll give others when asked where to take the RV will be – closer to home to see everything you have missed. I was born in the Kansas City Missouri area where I lived for 56 years. Karen was born outside Rolla Missouri (half-way up I 44 between Springfield and St. Louis). At the time her father was in the Army stationed at Fort Leonard Wood which us Army guys refer to as Fort Lost in the Woods. Her family moved from there to Michigan. My mother-in-law hated the heat, and all wanted to be closer to their family.
My ancestors settled in Southwest Missouri having migrated from Eastern Tennessee in the 1800’s. My cousin Kathy and Stepmom Harriet invited me to one cemetery to pay our regards. Located in Jasper County is the Cave Springs Cemetery. An important spot for much of my family to include the Henry side. The nearby schoolhouse was rebuilt after the Civil War as it had been damaged during fighting. Nearby Carthage had been burnt to the ground. The war was different in this area in that it was a heavily contested boarder area. Families fought each other on both sides. It was not uncommon for Bushwackers to pay a family a visit while avoiding Home Guard Militias assembled to protect the town.
Mt. Vernon Missouri – Apple Butter Days at the Cabin and Family Reunion
Before traveling to Carthage from Branson Missouri, I attended our family reunion which has been held since the 1930’s. It is always located at a church the family formed on the Ozark Prairie at nearby Mt. Vernon. Karen and I will be buried there a long time from now, next to six generations of my family. The reunion took a twist during the pandemic as it was continued online. This was the first meeting in person after the covid thing ended. We talked and after next year we may hold the reunion in person every other year and online in between.
We attended the annual Mt. Vernon Apple Butter making days which is a homecoming for many. My sister Mary and I continued the family tradition of conducting living history at an 1850’s cabin, restored by my father and uncle and lived in for a 100-years by shirt-tail cousins. My father would never have allowed us to have skilled artists setup in the yard of the cabin when it is open for display. Well, he in no longer in charge and we moved on to make things more interesting for visitors. This year we had a flint napper, pioneer era broom maker with machine, blacksmith and wood carver all setup on the porch or yard. We had a special visitor as well who had been born in the cabin.
Not Everything was About Family at this Stop in our Travels
We toured the area of Joplin which was once a lead and zinc mining town. An interesting note is that Stephen F. Austin, a founding father of Texas, moved with his family to Missouri from Virginia as his father was in the lead mining business and ore had run out at their claim in Virginia. Karen and I might be among the few Missouri people who now technically call Texas home and have visited Stephen Autin’s hometown in Virginia and purposefully traveled the landmarks in Texas as well. Although Stephen settled in the Southeast corner of Missouri known as the boot hill.
One famous person who did “settle” in Southwest Missouri was George Washington Carver. The national monument in Joplin is a well-done place with a huge museum and walking trail, much of which consists of paths made from a rubber like substance. George Washington Carver is a fascinating man and worth the read if you care to research his accomplishments. During an RV trip we had tried to visit George’s grave in Tuskegee Alabama, but the college grounds were closed because of covid at the time. Geroge’s mom was a slave and purchased at the age of 13 by Moses Carver. I did the math and at the time Moses paid the equivalent of one third the value of his farm to purchase her. Apparently, it was common for slaves to be stolen. George, his mom and sister were stolen. Moses Carver paid to have bounty hunters track them down. Sadly, only George was found and remained separated from his family forever. Moses raised him and taught him the value of education. George developed his love of plants while a child walking trails at the farm. He became a famous inventor and educator and was known for more than his discovery of how to make a living from everything made from a peanut.
We have made Carthage one of two stops near family in south Missouri when in the area. We tend to stay a week or two. This time we spent five weeks. Coachlight RV Park had a reasonable monthly rate and if one decides to stay a day or week later, they will extend the monthly rate of $20 per day with full hookups and a concrete patio. In other words, if you stay a month then you pay far less than the daily or weekly rate even for a day or two extensions. It is very uncommon for RV Parks to do this.
This is a quite park and easy to get to off the interstate. There are no amenities other than it’s a favorite for RV rallies who make use of the meeting hall. The place was fully booked when I called a couple months before arriving. Great – how can I get a monthly spot when they are full. So nice the manager remembered us and said come on out, you may have to move spots, but we will fit you in. There are several large RV Dealerships in the area with the RV Park being next to one. The dealership sometimes uses spots in the park to setup rigs recently purchased. Management gave us one of those spots and never had us move. Nice to slow down and have the mail delivered from Texas and get a couple parts delivered for warranty work on our rig. We were in town for the Carthage Maple Leaf Festival which we stayed clear of because of the crowds. The fall colors were again wonderful this year.
We enjoyed the fellowship with neighbors and our good friends Dean and Cheri (Travels with Bentley Blog) drove over for a visit. The couple are a fine example of the good people you will meet while traveling fulltime in an RV. They are selling their fifth wheel and bought a nearby home. Currently they plan to downsize to a travel trailer as they still enjoy traveling at times. If it were not for our life fulltime in an RV we would not have had the chance to meet people who will surely be among our longtime friends.
When the Leaves Fall – We leave!
That’s our motto. We usually move a couple hundred miles south when fall is ending to enjoy the milder weather and get a chance to see another round of fall colors. Not this time. The RV is in storage, and we took the truck to Michigan. Karen’s mom is not doing very well, and we are staying near her for a few months. The doctors gave my mother-in-law three to six months and three have passed. I have always loved my mother-in-law. I’m thinking she does not hold me to the same standards as others because I can’t recall a single time she was not smiling when we visited and has always made a place in her home for me. We have never had a disagreement.
Found a covered storage spot with electricity in Joplin that has good security for $180 a month. Another reason to stay longer in Carthage was to find the perfect storage place. We took time to drive the route to the storage facility, sign the month-to-month contract and have management show us the easy back-in spot before we moved the RV. I also had two court trials to attend as a result of my old past job in Kansas City. Yet again both trials were postponed. These cases are from 2018 and having to setup near Kansas City or an airport is getting very old.
More on Michigan later. Yup, it has already snowed a little. Karen said she would make things fun on snow days, if you get my drift. Can’t wait for it to snow again.
Today’s RV tip is minor but hopefully something new. Most who live fulltime in an RV give up on their black and grey tank gauges working. We are just happy not to have a sewer clog or smell. On the Vanleigh RV Owners Forum folks have been discussing the issue after a vendor attended a rally during which they offered waste tank cleaning and advice. This includes to stop using black tank treatment which turns everything to a pasty slug. They say, and we all agree, use a lot of water when flushing. They go on to suggest if the waste is suspended in water, it will exit the RV easier and even using two ply toilet paper is not an issue although I’ll not chance that. The vendor, Kleentank.com suggests if you want to use a waste tank treatment then mix Pine-Sol with Calgon Bath Beads. Costs maybe $10 for 50 treatments of the mixture. I’m going to try this the next time we setup the RV. We have always used Happy Camper as a treatment. If you are looking for a side job while on the road, Kleen Tank can set you up as a dealer.