Life in Kansas City – Downsizing and Family Time

May and June have been busy months as we occupied our time with family and getting the homestead ready to sell.  For those already on the road I’m sure this will bring back memories. For those thinking about, or in the clutches of preparing for a life on the road, my advise is get started as soon as possible. I can’t imagine what it would be like to do this in less than a couple years.  Although the prize of freedom is quit large and certainly is a motivator.

Officially I’ve left our take off date as November 1, 2019. However we got to thinking; does it really make sense to leave as winter is starting? Especially as we want to see family in what would be colder climates before Karen and I crawl off into our winter hibernation in a deep southern state. That date of November 1 will more than likely be adjusted up a little.  Recently Karen and I have began talking at a very conceptual level about what we want to do the first couple months on the road. More on that later for sure.

For two years now, family has gotten together for a three night campout at Pomme de Terre State Park and Lake. Ninety degree weather each day was a bit hard to endure but we found ways to make it work. Such as building a tent city under the best shaded spots. I gave our tent to a nephew once the trip was over. No need for it next year as we will have our fifth wheel by then – and air conditioning!

Start of Tent City

Add on eating area. We also had three other spots full of tents and family.

Setting Jug Lines for Fishing

Ringo Likes the Water

Back at home I’ve been working to over-haul the front yard landscaping. Building curb appeal I’m hoping. Two years ago the front yard grass was re-seeded and this last spring I spent a lot of time controlling weeds to build the yard up.  I cut out all the overgrown bushes and tilled the planting beds. I’ve been driving by my favorite plant store waiting for plants to go on sale and finally scored a 50% off deal for a trunk load of replacement plants. We have 13 planting beds scattered through-out the property and along our wooded walking trail. Those are looking good as well. Most importantly, we have been spending time enjoying the place as much as possible.

I’ve also been painting on various sides of the house over the last couple years and have a contractor coming in to help with the two-story side. Karen has always taken photos around the property, especially when the flowers and trees are in bloom. A couple years ago I started adding to the collection in an attempt to capture the hills behind and in front of the home in photos. Our plan is to print off the best photos for an album which we are going to leave out for potential buyers to view. The scenery changes so much with each season that I’m thinking it would be a good idea to document it.

Hills out back with no leaves on trees.

Zoomed in view from the front yard.

And the purge continues. I gave myself a goal to complete four major tasks before purchasing our truck, preferably by around September. Well the first of four is done as the hot tub was carted off by it’s new owner last Friday.
We have a list of contractors to call, such as our alarm guy to move and repair some connections, carpet guys and such. Contractors should speed things up a bit.  The plan is to finish all the outside work before winter so we only have to spruce the yard up before the house goes on the market. Over this winter we are finishing up the inside stuff. Next month is our first of at least two garage sales and we have been selling off more expensive items on Craigslist.

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Life in Kansas City – Graduations and Last Events

Karen and I are busy enjoying life around our home and with family. I’ll get back to truck discussions soon as I’ve started preparing a post about the Ram truck options, hoping to gather input from others.  We have been mildly busy downsizing, posting more expensive items on Craigslist and considering our first of probably two garage sales. More on that later.

There are life choices that  become our achievements and add to the public welfare or not. We can spend 30 years in a job, doing good for others and improving our community. Unfortunately, most of our role and notoriety goes away, fading into dim memories once we retire from it. I’ve been watching friends leave the workforce and thinking back about those long gone. Attending volunteer meetings, committees and public events that are now becoming part of the past. I think about life’s achievements and what parts are truly long lasting and something to be proud of. I agree with a last piece of advice I received from my Uncle Don – I should have said no to a lot of things and spent time elsewhere. Guess in a way I’m following the advice and moving on. Darn glad Karen is taking the plunge with me. She has a survivor’s personality and is the strength in that category between the two of us. Fearless…

Here is a photo of a group of retired co-workers who were part of my first lessons on the job. I was invited to attend one of their regular luncheons. What a great group of guys. Many retired years ago and now sit around telling war stories. I have no plan to be part of a similar lunch group. It’s the open road for me, never slowing down to leave deep roots in one place. Experiencing the next part of the journey with my wife. This is more important now than going back in time to relish in the accomplishments which meant a lot at the time and little in the future.

Proud Parents – Fantastic Child

Here is a photo of what means the most and perhaps is the only legacy that will give back to our community for years to come. Catherine is her name and graduating with her master’s degree was the game. I have no doubt she is busy right now making a difference in other’s lives and setting a fine example that will be passed along to the next generation. I’m proud she thinks for herself. Together with her husband their future is bright. How wonderful it is to have no fear for your child’s future which someday will be without her mom and me. Even for shorter periods of months and someday when Karen and I make that journey from which no one returns. Smart girl; taking time after she graduated from college with her under-graduate degree (a double major) to find a career path and then moving on to post-graduate study in a field she enjoys. Really like the fact the school loans are paid off as well!  Now try and beat your mom and I by becoming debt free before 55!  Had to throw that lesson in. One never stops being a parent.


Here is a photo of a recent family get together. What jumps out at me the most are those that are not in the photo. Which happens to be the entire generation of family before myself, sisters and brother. Among those in the photo are the faces of nieces, nephews and their friends. It was not that long ago when I and my siblings were part of the children and young adults in a family photo. Those days are no more. What a great group of young family. They are all making a difference in this world for the best. In about 30 years this young group will write their own stories. And those stories will no doubt include thinking back when they were the young ones in the photo and what was the older generation’s part in setting them up to better meet life’s challenges. By the way, they will also oversee how well, or not, we live as old people. Now I wish we had done even more for their future success.

And here are a few photos of what I’ve been up to for perhaps the last time or season. Well, at least while living in this house and perhaps forever. The yard and gardens are looking wonderful this year. This time next year it will all be for sale. It’s odd how when one gets ready to make a major move we think about this being the last time to do something, for good or bad.  For the gardeners out there, who may travel from fantastic place to place in their RV – I hope these photos make you as jealous as I get looking at your photos of mountains and lakes.

 

And above are photos of how life regenerates itself in the form of buildings. Our ancestors stacked the bricks that make up our town. Those buildings they invested so heavily in became in disrepair as if no one ever cared after those fellow citizens moved along on their own next journey. Thank you to the generation who built the national parks, scenic roadways and community we all enjoy today. The building on the left is a revitalized hotel, called the Oaks. Restored to its prior beauty and now houses people 55 years of age and older. And the hotel on the right, which happens to be on the opposite side of the road from the Oaks, is known as the Royal Hotel. If you look closely, a tree is growing from a window. I recall spending time on the top floor, overlooking the city in its café.  A joyful memory from the past which those in the future may now be able to experience. The Royal has been purchased and is to be restored. Well, maybe, in a small way, being on the planning and zoning committee meant something.

If Tom Brokaw really thinks the Great Depression and World War II generation is the “greatest generation” then he is wrong. I don’t mean to be disrespectful and certainly not unthankful. But without much effort I can think of a half-dozen events during the so called greatest generation that were not that great for the next generation. No worries, we have all done it. Fortunately, through experience passed on to our young families there is always a chance to make things better. I have no doubt our daughter, nephew and nieces will make up for our mistakes. When I think hard about it, those millennials are not the creators of problems any more than the baby boomers like myself. Or the “greatest generation” who might have referred to males with long hair as hippies. Need I remind them that judging by the images of Jesus Christ – he also had long hair.

Life in Kansas City – Getting Past Another Winter

It’s Super Bowl Sunday 2018 and yet again the Kansas City Chiefs did not make it out of the first round of playoffs.  We are due for a trip to the big game. Len Dawson quarterbacked the Chiefs in Super Bowl one in 1967. The team took the trophy home  in 1970 during Super Bowl four which is the last time we have been to the Super Bowl as a team.  Lenny is still alive and an approachable guy. Team Owner Lamar Hunt was the driving force behind organization of the American Football League in 1959. He founded the Dallas Texans in 1960 and moved the team to Kansas City in 1963. I did not know that until I looked his biography up. Lamar spearheaded the merger negotiations with the National Football League. Hunt’s son owns the team today. If you have ever been to the Chief’s Stadium you know there is little doubt our title as the loudest outdoor stadium in the world is well earned. Opposing teams have a hard time communicating as the crowd noise is just over 142 decibels at the field level. In comparison, the deck of an aircraft carrier has sound levels at 140 decibels while a jet taking off 25 meters away is at 150. I’ve been to games where fans stood for most of the game, making it easier for the fan behind you to beat on the back of your chair. It was disappointing this year for the city. When the Royals recently had a couple years of success it surely was nice to see the citizens of our town come together. I think their behavior shifted for a time because they were proud to be from our town. Weird how that works.

On the work front, we were able to move into new office space.  We had been living in temporary quarters which was a large training center. Our new space has room for expansion. Although our individual workstations are small, the space is better used.  They have added a break area and larger conference table in an open area, centered between our workstations. We tend to work a lot of weird hours and it’s not uncommon for the group to gather around the table in the middle of the night to take a break.  I think the space helps build a team environment and it’s nice to have a change of view which makes us more productive.

Oh, and truly not to be bragging, but I was surprised to receive my divisions Deputy of the Year Award.  I’ll add that to the other two yearly awards hanging from my wall.  It’s a nice feeling to know there is no damage done after I announced I’d be leaving in 2019.  I got to thinking the other day while on what could have been a difficult assignment. One thing about getting older and more experienced at work is things tend to come easier. Been there, done that a hundred times kind of thing. Wish I could leave that feeling of confidence behind in the minds of the younger folks. I’m trying to do my best to get them up to speed, passing along what I know if their willing to listen. Most do listen as senior employees tend to be respected in our profession.  I dreed saying goodbye. But I’m sure that emotion will quickly dissipate as I say hello to a new way of life.

On the home front we finally got out of a very cold January but at least the snowfall has been very light. January is our coldest month with average lows of 18 degrees. Here in a couple weeks we usually have a few warmer days. Gardeners will be wondering if it’s time to till their gardens.

IMG_20171224_071837651_HDR (800x450)

Today Karen and I are planning to walk through our property and finds some downed trees to cut up for the fireplace. We might also be tackling cleaning out a couple spaces in the basement storage as part of our ongoing downsizing. Yesterday I scanned all the 2017 documents which went better than the prior years. I’ve stopped using staples and even paper clips when possible.  Makes the scanning process go so much quicker.  Slowly, I’m figuring out how to receive documents online and moving them directly into a folder on the computer to avoid the scanning process all together. We both have been researching places to sell unique items. This spring or summer we intend to do the garage sale thing at least once.  Karen and I have come to the conclusion that we will maintain a small storage locker for at least the first year after we move.  Our hallway bathroom is 5×10 so we can use that as an example of what will fit in the same size storage space.  Lots of reasoning went into that decision and I might post a blog on that later.  I’m sure our reasons are typical of other’s reasons.

We also paid off the house last month. Yea, seven months ahead of schedule. Will be using the money to save up for a new truck! Now I’ve got to remember to call the County Tax Assessor to have next years tax bill sent to me rather than the mortgage company. Also will need to make the same change with the insurance company. And make sure the mortgage company releases the lean.

On the RV front, I’ve been reading a few of your blogs and envy those relatively warmer climates many are spending the winter in. For several years now I’ve been keeping a list of campground spots you all and others are using in the winter. That should come in handy:)  Recently I also noticed what appears to be a big increase in RV manufacturer’s recall notices.  Here are just a few announcements in the past two months. I follow a couple media sources where recalls are frequently seen. As you may recall from a past blog post, in 2105 Forrest River got themselves in a jam with the National Highway Safely folks. They were or maybe still are facing serious fines for failing to recall products in a timely manner. I’m thinking the entire industry may have been placed on notice.  Maybe this is the first step in forcing needed changes in the quality of production. Time will tell.

Meeting Fulltimers Steve and Debbie

Karen and I were excited to spend a couple days with Steve and Debbie from the Down the Road Blog. In late 2014 Karen and I made the decision our future would be in an RV – someday. Doing like most I started surfing the web for ideas. Got lucky and found the class of 2014 whom had attended the RV Dreams Rally together. Debbie calls them the 14teeners or however that’s spelled. For us future-timers meeting those we have followed during their journey is like meeting a rock star.

Really appreciated Steve and Debbie diverting to Kansas City as they made their way up from southern Missouri. As is the custom in our house, we ask out of towners what their interests are. In this case, western stuff, history, breweries, hiking or outdoors and BBQ. Debbie and I communicated via email and then texting as the couple arrived near town. Karen and I came up with some ideas based on what the couple suggested were their interests and then just played it by ear, doing whatever made sense.

They camped at Fleming Park/Blue Springs Lake, south of downtown Kansas City near the sports complexes. This was our second visit to the campground having met out of towners there in the past. It’s a county park. Karen and I drove out to Steve and Debbie’s where we learned several new tricks about picking a spot in a park, towing a fifth wheel, working on-line, nice features to look for in a fifth wheel and a bunch more. As is the case most of the time with those coming to town, Steve wanted to eat at Joe’s Kansas City BBQ. I decided taking them to the original location would be a special treat and give them a chance to see a little of the Kansas side of Kansas City, Missouri. But first we made a stop at our local “famous” brewery which is Boulevard. North of Kansas City is Weston Missouri which has a history of distilling and scattered all around the area are wine vineyards. Most don’t know Missouri is also wine country, given the French influence before the area was part of the United States. Owners of a winery down the street from our home told me wine gets its flavor from the soil which is the reason they picked this area. Here are some photos. Karen says Debbie is very photogenic.

City scape from porch at top of building

We took a tour – beer served before and after!

After dinner, because it was not far away, we drove over to the Plaza Shopping Center. This is the countries first outdoor shopping center. The developer (JC Nichols) was friends with the King of Spain. Kansas City has a sister city in Spain and Nichols modeled the buildings after Spanish buildings. Missouri is called the Show Me State. We are also the Cave State and Kansas City is the City of Fountains. The Plaza is a great place to see fountains although they are spread all over town. Not far from the largest fountain near the Plaza is a Vietnam War memorial. Steve and Debbie are into locating geocaches. We walked down to one at the memorial and then Steve and Debbie bought us ice cream to (more than) replace the calories we burned.

Debbie – Here is a view of the Christmas Lights on the Plaza I told you about.

The world may be coming to an end, the 20 something year old we got to take this photo asked me how to take a picture with my cell phone. Wow

The couple spent the next day on their own touring western/history stuff in nearby Kearney Missouri which is centered around the Frank and Jessie James home. Then they came out to the house for a meal. Really hope we meet again. Karen and I can’t say enough how much we enjoyed our time with the couple. Wish we would have had time to show them around our town of Excelsior Springs Missouri.

As a lore (on my part) to visit the state, Debbie says a new Springfield Missouri museum, located by Bass Pro is now open. I recalled some time ago seeing city blocks cleared away in Springfield to make room. It’s called the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

I meant to post something about the decision to take a social security benefit at age 62 and how I rate fifth wheels. That will have to wait until next time.

 


Forest River fined
by Indiana OSHA for safety violations. Beginning in 2015 they were also in trouble with the Feds for failing to recall trailers when needed. The Cedar Creek is at the top of our list for a new fifth wheel, but violations like these is hurting my opinion of the company. Also, a sales person at another manufacturer, whom I trust, used to work at Forest River and told me a few other facts that were bad to hear such as employees racing around throwing trailers together so they could go home early.


Rollin’ On TV Series has a number of interesting and well-done videos.

Bees and BBQ

I had trouble figuring out how to start this blog post. It’s about family and a hobby. I sat around thinking, “how the heck should I start this.” Finally decided just to jump in. No reason to make a literary work of everything. I hope you find it a little more interesting than a couple future posts I’ve been contemplating which are taking a social security benefit at age 62 and my system for evaluating fifth wheels.

We traveled to our daughter Catherine’s home for BBQ. Her husband John is one of those (us) people who researches the heck out of everything. He purchased a very heavy Green Egg grill to smoke meat. Catherine has been a vegetarian forever. We did our part in trying to eat all the meat and keep it out of her fridge. Of particular interest was a wire hanging out of John’s BBQ smoker. It’s attached to a meter that sends signals to his phone telling him important data such as temperature. It even has an alarm to wake him up at night to let him know he is about to ruin our meal by sleeping when he should be adding charcoal to the grill. Speaking (writing) of charcoal John says Missouri is the leader in production of the best chunk wood charcoal that being manufactured by Rockwood.

John's Smoker_LI (800x448)

John’s Big Green Egg smoker with wire for temperature monitoring

Regarding BBQ, Karen has been perfecting her recipe for BBQ wings and pulled pork using her Instant Pot. It’s wonderful!

Switching topics now to honeybees, not that honey is a great ingredient for BBQ sauce. The start of fall weather marks the time we extract honey from our beehives. This year was special as my sister Mary and friend Russ were visiting and gave a helping hand.  They really seemed to enjoy the process while I thought I was glad they liked it because it’s one of the more labor-intensive parts of the process. Briefly the process is; nectar is gathered by the bees and in this case stored within separate boxes known as supers which are above their living quarters known as brood boxes. After the bees reduce the moisture content of the nectar, which has been mixed with enzymes they produce, it becomes honey. The bees secrete wax which they cap over the honey.  Each of these boxes contain nine or ten frames on which there is comb the bees stored and caped the honey on. We remove frames and cut off the wax with a hot knife. We place the frames containing now exposed honey in an extractor. The extractor spins thereby using centrifugal force, throwing the honey to the sides of the extractor. Then we open a gate at the bottom of the extractor. The honey gushes out into a series of filters on top of buckets. Later, the honey is bottled from the buckets and enjoyed by all.

Here are photos for those more inclined to learn that way:

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Run – There are Bees!

Honey in frames in super (314x800)

Frames in super (honey) boxes

Honey on frame (385x800)

Mark gorged with honey holding frame to place in extractor

Frame in extractor (425x800)

Frames are placed in extractor which has a handle to spin the contents

Honey from extractor 2 (440x800)

Open gate at bottom of extractor and honey strains through filters – And dog wonders if he will get some!

Regarding bees:  They seem to be one of natures several varmints folks can be afraid of. A number of people have come out to our beehives to get over that fear. Personally, 70,000 bees in a managed beehive or even a large swarm don’t even get my heart beat up. Now, throw in a snake and I’m running for cover.

For those afraid of bees there is not much I can write to get you over that. But… here are a few points to keep in mind when you run into them. Foraging honey bees have no interest in stinging you. Stinging occurs when they get swatted by you trying to brush them away such as when they get stuck in your hair.  Certain times of year, when nectar flow from flowers is low, they also tend to be more protective of their hives so stay away. Bees flying well above your head from a hive are no issue. Our bees tend to gain altitude about 20 feet from the hive at which time they are overhead. When I mow the grass in front of their hives I drive the mower slow. That way the bees have a chance to maneuver around me as they want to avoid contact.  When bees swarm, in that big black cloud so many are worried about, they are at their most docile state. Before leaving the hive to swarm they gorge on honey which has a side benefit of them not wanting to sting anyone..

In some southern states Africanized bees have made homes. They are a different creature and tend to be more protective of their hives. Wish I could tell you more about Africanized bees but I have no experience with them. I can tell you this, when a bee stings they sometimes put out a pheromone that smells like a banana. Beekeepers use smoke to mask the pheromone. If you do get stung and smell bananas the bees have marked you as a threat. On another note, it takes about 20 seconds for a bee to inject all of their venom into you. More precisely, they sting and their stinger, attached to the venom sack, is left behind which kills the bee. Don’t grab the “stinger” with your fingers because by doing so you are squeezing venom into your -whatever got stung place. Use something with an edge similar to a credit card to brush the stinger off.  If you are in Kansas City within the next two years I’d be happy to let you play with my bees to get over that fear!

Honey bear (800x448).jpg

Final Product

Debbie and Steve of the Down the Road Blog are heading to Kansas City tomorrow on their path through Missouri. According to their blog she is afraid of bees. This jar of honey is for you guys!

Life in Kansas City – A Laundry List of Ideas

It’s been nearly a month since I’ve posted anything on the blog. It has been busy at work and I’ve been spending most of my RV research time looking into electronics and evaluating the 2018 trailer models. I’ll most likely write about that later.  I keep a list of ideas that may be worthy of a blog post as the ideas come up. Thought I’d take a quick moment to write about a few and hope at least one area is of interest to others:

  • Missouri celebrates 100 years of state parks: On April 9, 1917, a state park fund was created to buy land in Missouri. Parks are funded by a one-tenth-cent sales tax passed by voters in August 1984, with monies generated split evenly between state parks and soil and water conservation efforts. The tax has since been reapproved by voters three times. I found a wonderful PBS video that highlights a century of Missouri State Parks for those interesting. Click Here for Video.
  • Spectrum RV of Australia is entering the US fifth wheel market. They claim to have a European look and build trailers to withstand the rough Australian roads. Their USA website is not complete. Here is what I believe to be a link to their Australian site. These trailers have an interesting interior. I played around converting Australian currency rates to US dollars and believe the MSRP’s on three fifth wheel models are somewhere around 100K (US)  and below when sold in Australia. According to Spectrum they have imported American RV’s and modified them. They claim “Australian roads demand better suspensions.” They reinforce the chassis, the outriggers are doubled in strength to support the walls. They dismantle the nose and strengthen the pin box area and add steel reinforcing to prevent cracking and breakage.
  • Still researching trucks. A favorite YouTube Channel is Big Truck Big RV. I’ve been reading early information suggesting the 2018 Ram dually one ton will have a tow capacity of 30,000 pounds and is rated higher in torque than even the all-new 2017 Ford F350. Not for sure yet, but on some of the truck forums there is talk Ram will have a complete new design for their heavy-duty truck in 2020 – but who really knows for sure! We are hoping to find a slightly used and more affordable 2016/2017 Ford Lariat or Ram Laramie. I’m not sure it is legal to cut and past an interesting poll found in the Keystone Montana fifth wheel owners forum so I’ll just mention a few results comparing 3500/350 one-ton dually trucks. 846 people responded to the poll. Of the total, 70 pull with a Chevy/GMC, 75 with a Ford and 177 with a Ram truck. The remaining pull with a variety of trucks. Check out the link above for more.
  • I had been wondering if checking out live web cams would be a good way to find interesting places to tour. Earthcam.com is an excellent place to spy on a few areas. Here is an interesting one at Seaside Height, New Jersey that includes audio. The Silver Lake Sand Dunes in Michigan is where we have thought about workcamping. I’m thinking the Old Faithful Geyser is most interesting.
  • After reading a few blogs where folks were traveling with a theme in mind, such as following the Louis and Clark Expedition, I found another that might be worth a trip. Route 66 in Missouri starts in St. Louis and runs down I-44. My grandfather recalled when the road where I-44 is now located was dirt. Then the feds decommissioned it. Missouri is the first State to recognize it as a historical landmark and put up signs on the route with Springfield Missouri being the first to install the signs.  RV dealerships are banding together to provide RV repair service along Route 66.

Well – that’s a long list of a few research projects I’ve been into over the past few months. On the family side, I spent some time learning how to throw a Frisbee. There is way more to it than what I recalled there being. I received a quick lesson from my son-in-law John. He carried out a backpack full of different colored Frisbees with each disc serving a specific purpose such as long, medium and short-range shots. Some curve in a particular direction when thrown. I’m just wanting a disc that goes in the basket when thrown! John tells me this is a sport one can get a lot of exercise out of. His instruction included several grips and throwing positions. After looking at the photos I got to wondering if he just wanted me to look like a clown when I did it.

All jokes aside, I’m thinking with all the Frisbee golf parks popping up in the country, this might be an excellent hobby for a mobile lifestyle. Three discs may be all one needs. That does not take up much RV storage space.

John’s a good guy and it’s darn nice to have him in the family. I know his own father is proud of him as well. John is somewhat of a jokester however. Karen and I gave his parents a trail camera to guard their home one Christmas. John got ahold of the camera’s disc and added a few scenes his folks might have found alarming when they returned home from a trip. I had nothing to do with it other than maybe egging him along.

How would you like to come back to those images on your trail camera!

 

 

 

Trip to Independence Missouri and Visit with Full-timers

Independence Missouri is a rather large suburb of Kansas City with a population of 117,000. A couple weeks ago we were looking for a day trip. Karen had never been to the square at Independence. So off we went. What a wonderful day it would turn out to be.

Jackson County Court House – On the Square

Upon arrival in the area I wanted to show Karen the Latter Day Saints Church which is a magnificent building nestled in the heart of Independence. Most people are familiar with the Mormon journey to Utah and that Joseph Smith founded the church in New York.

If you’re not from Kansas City, you may not know the history behind the Mormon journey in that Missouri played a role; all be it not a very proud part. I’ll mention a couple other famous New Yorkers that made a trip to Missouri a little later in this post.

Joseph Smith and his followers moved to Missouri, and later Illinois. The larger part of them went on to Utah with Brigham Young leading. They were met with hatred in Missouri. As I understand it, in 1831 Smith declared the righteous would gather in Independence Missouri to greet the second coming of Christ. Thousands of followers moved to Missouri and the start of a bloody Mormon War would begin. The Missouri governor, believe it or not, issued an extermination order to expel Smith’s followers. The order literally legalized the killing of these settlers. The conflict was proceeded by eviction of the Mormons from Jackson County for which Independence is the county seat.  The order was issued after a clash between Missouri Militia and Mormons north of Kansas City, just miles from Karen’s and my home.  Then Governor Lilburn Boggs declared the Mormons had committed open defiance of the law and were at war with the people of Missouri. They were treated as enemies and driven from the State to Illinois. During the Mormon War Joseph Smith was briefly imprisoned in nearby Liberty Missouri. The jail site is now one of the church’s historic locations and open to the public. As I wrote earlier, this is not a proud part of my State’s history.

Karen was fascinated by the seemingly dozens of smaller churches of varying faiths scattered around the historic Mormon Church area in Independence. She and I had also previously visited a cemetery near where a Mormon battle was fought. Interesting enough, not to tour the Mormon gravesite and monument but to find the resting place of Bloody Bill Anderson. He was a Confederate bushwhacker during the Civil War who was killed, beheaded, dragged through the square in Richmond Missouri and buried in the worst place at the time – which was the Mormon Cemetery – in an unmarked grave. Bad day for Bill to say the least. Of course, the grave was marked by the time we found it. Legend has it Jesse James’ brother Frank marked it and a funeral service was put on by their fellow bushwhacker, Cole Younger, of nearby Lees’ Summit Missouri. At one time, the James and Younger brothers had been at least brief members of Quantrill’s Raiders. Admittedly I might have the order of occurrence wrong in that it may have been Cole that marked the grave and Frank that held the funeral. I digress…

One stop on that weekend was to be the Harry Truman Presidential Library in Independence. But first we found a fantastic pizza restaurant on the square. Figures the name of the establishment is Square Pizza.  Some may find it square that I took a photo of our food, a square pizza with the best ingredients.

Harry Truman became President with the death of Franklin Roosevelt. It’s fun for us to know in the 1948 election, when Truman was elected President, he stayed the night at the Elms Hotel located down the hill from our home. He is known as an Independence Missouri native but was born in Lamar Missouri. Also of interest is that Lamar is the same town Wyatt Earp’s family had moved to from California and Wyatt would become the town’s Constable. Lamar is located a couple hours south of Kansas City.  I digress…

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Truman Library in Independence to me is learning about the total gutting and rebuilding of the White House interior while Truman was in office. The museum had  a collection of photos taken during the re-construction. Truman decided to keep the exterior of the White House in place for historical reasons.

Also of interest was an exact model of the Oval Office set in the time Truman occupied it. I wandered around looking at old photos of Truman in his office, comparing it to the furnishings in the mockup. I must say they got it exactly right to the smallest detail. They even got the book titles correct on the shelves.  It was fascinating to see the President’s reading interests. Several artifacts are from the White House.

One sign told the story of how Truman would work out of the Independence Library nearly every day. He was known to answer the phone if someone was not around to answer it for him, informing the caller that he was the real Harry S. Truman. The museum is like a walk through two generations of American history and includes important displays of Truman’s presidential and personal life with exhibits of Americana spread throughout its two floors. Harry, Bess and daughter are buried in the manicured courtyard.

I’ve known people in my life who met the Trumans. Apparently, his door was open to visitors and he was often seen walking the sidewalks of Independence with a City Police Sargent. Truman was raised as a Master Mason in the same Masonic Lodge I attended in nearby Belton Missouri. An older lodge brother recalled when they built the new Lodge he met Truman at his office (to solicit a donation).  Truman pulled out his checkbook. Truman said one of the greatest achievement of his life was being the Master of the Missouri Masonic Grand Lodge. My lodge brother told me before he left Truman’s office he had a brief talk with the President. The brother had been on a ship at the end of World War II destined for the invasion of the Japanese homeland. He thanked the President for ending the war, by dropping the bomb, thereby saving his life. Truman said he had rarely been thanked by someone personally for that.

I should also point out during the summer, entrance to the library is free to those that served in the military. There is an RV campsite down the road which we did not have a chance to tour.

Karen and I were able to meet up with full-time RVers Fred and Bonnie from New York. They had started a recent trip in St. Louis Missouri and are now following the foot/boat/RV steps of the Louis and Clark Expedition. You can catch a two-part blog post of their visit in Kansas City at HappiLeeRVing.

We had a wonderful time visiting after dinner in Kearney Missouri. The couple had lots of advice and experiences to share. At times Karen would drift into conversation with Bonnie while Fred and I talked about something else. Fred says do this fulltime RV thing before you’re too old to handle the physical part. Bonnie was talking to Karen about clothing at the same time so I did not catch that. I think it had something to do with Fred keeping too many jackets. We talked about trip planning, this trips theme of following Louis and Clark, decision to stick with an RV gas/electric refrigerator, and attending the RV Dreams Rally.

The couple agreed there is much more to see in the Kansas City area than they had imagined. Fred likes to plan stops weeks in advance. When asked how they can force themselves to leave an interesting area before they saw everything, Fred said their attitude is “they will catch it next time.” We talked about planning for stops, how long they stay and how far between moves. We even talked briefly about an exit strategy should they ever want to come off the road.  The couple really seemed happy! That was a joy to see. We finished coffee and headed over to visit Jesse James’ grave where the price of admission was only having to put up with a history lesson by yours truly.

I’ve been busy going over a couple future blog posts in my head. Stay tuned for a few ideas on hobbies while on the road. And a list of items we plan to equip our RV with. Heads up – I’m not sure if it’s the same at your local Walmart but ours has 50% off on Weber Q 1200 grills. I suppose because it’s the end of the season.