Thursday, June 12, 2014

On the Road Again...FINALLY ~ The Americana Kistch and Cutlure Tour

Charlie being towed...
On the road again... FINALLY  
~ The Americana Kitsch and Culture Tour
~ originally posted 21 Jul 2011


Aloha MM's,  
Well, as you know we have been ‘shut-down’ as they say in road talk for the last 5 days. But yesterday!!! – we got Charlie back and we were off again. And not a moment too soon either!  
At first the novelty of having a walk around bathroom and bedroom area was pretty special. But that wore off very fast. Much faster than I thought it would. So, the night before last, I was at the ‘I’m done! Stick a fork in me!’ stage. It wasn’t just us either. I thought Leo would love coming off the road but he was bored to tears! He has been a much more active and happy camper – pun intended – since we got back in Charlie.  
The upside of all of this kerfuffle, was that we got the ‘energy check on aisle 3’ message from the Universe - finally. Nothing like having a transmission – your ability to change gear, get into gear, be in gear, be all geared up – blow. Gee, I don’t think I can hear you Guides… please speak louder. I guess the main electric plug for the whole camper going the day before was probably the ‘quiet word on the side’ they were trying to give me. Hmmm…  
The up side of this is that I absolutely know now that being on the road is the right path for us right now. We had about 3 days of break time – I took a break, Aaron took a break, then WE took a break by having a row (i.e. day deleted due to lack of good vibes) and the day before yesterday we finally set off in the rental car to go and see Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial. And it was EXHILARATING!!! We loved traveling and be out and about again.  
Mt Rushmore ~ Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Lincoln

Gutzon Borglum the sculptture

We had a great day seeing these sights. I was really looking forward to seeing Mt Rushmore and remembered it as being quite awe inspiring. I’m not sure what happened on this trip. It was neat… and… cool… but not awe inspiring. What happened? Different perspective on my part? Seen it once… not such an impact the second time around? But no, that can’t be it – I saw Niagara again and was awe struck again.  
Last time I saw Mt Rushmore, was 15 years ago. It was more ‘National Park’ then and less organized or something. You pulled up to a regular car park, like for a bush walk or similar, got out, walked up a bit of a path, shot some great film, oohed and aahed and were generally pretty damn impressed!  
Take Two:  To see the Monument is free but parking is 11.00. So, is it really free? I don’t mind paying to see things. It’s more the sort of ‘truth in advertising’ that gets to me. The big Air museum we went to see in Washington was a Smithsonian. Your tax payers dollars at work – so they are free. However, you HAVE to pay for parking at 15.00. And this was the case here. I’d rather they say – it costs 11.00 per car load to get in. Fair enough. Things have to maintained but I hate bullshit and this always feels like bullshit to me.  
Like going to a museum that is FREE but a donation is recommended. God help you if you don’t pay the ‘donation.’ Now, I know they do this because it then makes it a charitable trust or something and saves a bundle in paperwork and taxes etc but still… I have always had a thing with truth in advertising. It’s manipulative enough as it is without adding bs to it all.  
When I was about 10 years old, in intermediate school, someone from an ad agency came around and talked to us about advertising. He asked us to name 3-5 brands of cigarettes. (Keep in mind, this was back in the dinosaur age when smoking was still all the rage and just about everyone did smoke.) So, most of us could easily name 3-5 brands. He then asked us how we knew those brands. I named Benson and Hedges, Cameo and something else.  
This shows you how well it even works years down the track. I can STILL tell you what my mum smoked (B&H) and she’s been gone about 25 years. My Gran has also been gone about the same time and she always smoked Cameo’s. What he pointed out was that despite the fact that we didn’t smoke cigarettes ourselves (yet or hopefully…) – we all could easily name these products. We could tell him the names of them, the colours on the package, and the type of writing probably. And this was all to do with advertising and branding and subliminal messaging that inundated our senses, day in and day out. 
And you know – he was right. I could.  
And part of me thought – what a crock. From that day forth, I have barely ever paid any mind to advertising.  
This brings me to where I am at with things. I wonder how often we sell ourselves a bill of goods that is pure advertising bullshit but isn’t really the whole story.  
How often do we convince ourselves we are after a certain thing, when in fact, when we question it or have a twin listen to the energy on it – we go… aha…! You know – you are right. Part of me wants a house but the bigger part of me really really wants to stay on the road for quite a bit longer. And this is the true part. It’s the real core part of what’s going on that we are trying to get too, so we can manifest easily.  
If you are trying to go for something that is not the most IMMEDIATE desire – (notice that word) you will find it really Really REALLY hard work.  
Yes, I do want a house down the track. But my IMMEDIATE desire right NOW – is to stay on the road, tour Washington State, come down through the Rocky Mountain States, see my very good friend Lu in New Mexico, and then cut east to the Deep South in the winter.  
I remember Sonia Choquette talking about hearts desires once. She said that she once had a very hard time putting together the energy to write a book, but she knew that in her heart she really wanted to do it. She couldn’t understand why she wasn’t getting on it and more into it.  
A friend of hers said, “Sonia, what do you really want more than any other thing right now - today? “
Sonia was mainlining a quart of caffeine at the time and had toothpicks holding up her eyelids, “Sleep… I want sleep,” she said desperately.
And that was the IMMEDIATE hearts desire. The truth was, she had two small children and a house that was in major renovation. What she needed most and IMMEDIATELY was sleep.  
Don’t discount something like this as silly or inconsequential. Once Sonia had got some rest and felt like a human again, she did indeed go on to write a book – in fact, many wonderful books. But first, she had to SLEEP.  
And so despite having come off the road for 5 days at what was not viewed as a wonderful thing to be happening when it happened. It has turned out to be a clarifier for me.  
I thought I would LOVE being off the road. I did for the first day or so… then I was ready to go again. I am a nomad by nature and a natural gypsy. (That ones for Todd and Dawna) I have the attention span of a gnat.  
I’m Aries/Leo, so I have two speeds – Flat out and stop. And I refresh quickly and have to be off again. I once exasperated my dad on a walk when I was a wee kid. We walked up a long beach I think and I whined and complained all the way up there, I’m tired, my legs hurt, I’m tired etc. We finally got there and I sat down for 5 minutes and then was rearing to go again. I realize I haven’t changed much in 40 odd years. The desire to go, to explore, to see new things, to travel, to move – is like breathing for me. Vital.  
So, while a house is in the future again – right NOW, the desire is to stay on the road.  
The moment you TRULY know what you TRULY want, things just fall into place. Things start to click and slide in effortlessly. Synchronicities abound and you trot from one good set of things to the next. And I’m always aware of this these days. I do worry when nothing is really crystal clear and sharp for me though. And the last few weeks have felt like that… and I hate that. I know I haven’t got a hope in hell of manifesting much if I am being wishy-washy internally.  
When you are not really going with what is in your heart – the energy that is being put out speaks that in volumes. And the Universe says, “Well look guv, when you make up your mind, let us know and we’ll deliver, ta.”  
So… for the first time in a few weeks, I am clear. Thank god! If you have stayed with the blogs all the way through, it is the same feeling I got lying on the acupuncturists table 3 or more months ago, when I said… actually… what I really want to do… is go on the road for a while… (And felt everything go click, click, click as energetically it zinged and felt abSOULutely right for me.) Kapow!! Love those moments!  
So, this is where it’s at. And I am relishing in that feeling. The feeling of freedom! Because once you truly know in your heart what it is that you want to do – you are free. You are not having to ‘decide’ – you are simply doing and being.  
And so it directly relates to us getting the camper back yesterday and being back on the road – and loving it.  
Survivors of the Battle of Little Big Horn 1876 ~ taken in Sep 1948.

Joseph High Eagle ~ Oglala Sioux ~ He fought in Little Big Horn ~ 16 years old in 1876

Henry Little Soldier ~ Hunkpapa Sioux ~ (Henry Sitting Bull, one of Sitting Bull's sons ~ He fought in Little Big Horn. In 1890 he witnessed his fathers assassination by Indian Policeman
This western part of South Dakota always has a special place in my heart, because it is home to the Lakota Great Sioux Nation – a big Native American nation. I connect very strongly with the Oglala Native Americans from Pine Ridge. I’ve had a few lifetimes here and always feel quite at home here.  
The Sioux names you may have heard of are: Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, Black Elk (Oglala Sioux) and Sitting Bull (Hunkpapa Sioux) – all great Sioux leaders from around here. The Sioux make up seven sub-tribes, including the Nakota and the Dakota branches. These are the tribes you most associate with the feathered head dresses, beaded clothes and tepees.  
In Canada, they call the Native American people – First People. Here they call them Indians. Hmmm.  
That alone shows you where the Native American people of the US stand in many ways. Yes, things have improved but go to a reservation like Pine Ridge and weep. It is one of the poorest in the nation and it has such a proud history of great leaders and warriors, medicine men and visionaries. Slowly Native Americans are returning to learn the old ways.  
Aaron was talking to the young guy at the reception desk where we stayed and he is Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota Sioux. He was at school in Rapid City, but returned to the reservation to live with his Grandparents to learn the old ways.  
He says that right now the government controls the reservations and he hopes it stays that way because a lot of his people, given ownership of the land would sell it off in a heart beat. While it belongs to all Sioux, their ancestors are buried here, their spirits are here. There is also another factor – they are also very very poor, so it would be very tempting to cash in the land if it were possible. And you can’t blame them. I think it’s a very tough place to be in. People scoff at the Indian casinos and the money they pull in. Well, go out to Pine Ridge and then come back and talk to me about the Casinos!  
The Native American people have gotten a pretty raw deal here in the States and they are THE first people – how does that work? Hmmm.  
So while Gutzon Borglum was sculpting Mt Rushmore and it IS wonderful – (despite the site now feeling a bit sterilized somehow with the multi story car park building, avenue of flags, gift shops and visitors center etc.) On another mountain not too far away, was another visionary carving up a mountain – a man called Korczak Ziolkowski. Born in Boston to Polish parents, he knew from a really young age that he wanted to be a sculpture. He came out and worked with Borglum on Mt Rushmore and learned a lot of the skills he needed to do with dynamiting and carving on a great mountain face.  
Korczak Ziolkowski
And Rushmore IS impressive. Borglum was another great visionary. Rushmore shows four US Presidents faces, each chosen for different aspects they brought to America. The first face is George Washington, the founding father. Then Thomas Jefferson, for his writing of the Declaration of Independence and the expansion of the US. Teddy Roosevelt brought America into the 20th century, known as the ‘truthbuster,’ he worked for the rights of the common man. The last face is Abraham Lincoln who was considered to be the countries greatest President! All very admirable but where are the FIRST people represented.  
George Washington

Thomas Jefferson

Teddy Roosevelt  

Abraham Lincoln
 And here we come to Korczak. 
He was approached by Native American Chief Henry Standing Bear to build this monument to Native American people in the Sioux Nation in the Black Hills of South Dakota. They picked these hills because they are sacred to the Lakota. Chief Henry Standing Bear of the Lakota wrote to him, saying, "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, too.” 
Chief Luther Henry Standing Bear ~ Brule/Oglala ~ Educator, Lecturer, Performer, Author

Korczak, along with the elders chose Crazy Horse who was a legendary warrior and leader. He was celebrated for his efforts to preserve Native American traditions and ways of life.  ‘He is a hero not only because of his skill in battle, but also because of his character and his loyalty to his people. He is remembered for how he cared for the elderly, the ill, the widowed and the children. His dedication to his personal vision caused him to devote his life to serving his people and to preserving their valued culture.’ 

Korczak depicted Crazy Horse with his left hand pointing in answer to the derisive question asked by a white man, "Where are your lands now?" Crazy Horse replied, "My lands are where my dead lie buried." 
Korczak worked on his own for years. When he first got here, there was nothing there, he had to build a house, sheds, get equipment, then get it up the mountain AND he was down to his last 174 dollars… but he had a dream. (God, I love the dreamers… they make getting out of bed worth it every day!) 
He first of all had to build ladders all the way up the mountain… some quite vertical and it took 741 steps to get up there. He used to have to climb this every day to work on the mountain. He also had an old air compressor generator that he used to blast rock and carve. He had connected this to untold feet of hose he’d joined together, going up the mountain.  

Every day he would have to climb up all those steps to work. He’d get the air compressor going, wait to check it caught properly and start up the ladders. All 563 feet up there… 741 steps – imagine it - sometimes carrying heavy equipment and gear. Then he’d hear, Kaputt, ka…putt… Ka…… putt (as he put it) from the air compressor conking out and he’d think, oh no! and down the ladder he’d go. Crank it up again, wait for 5 minutes to check it would keep working and up he’d go again. One day he thinks he went up and down 9 times! Such dedication!  
Korczak and his wife Ruth
He met his wife Ruth out there who was an artist and a volunteer on the project. Together they had 10 children and Ruth and 7 of the children keep the dream alive still today. Everything is funded by donations, visitors, the gift shop etc. Quite an amazing piece of work! Currently, Crazy Horse’s face is done and the start of the horse. We want to come back every 5 years or so and see how much further they have got.  
Along with this colossal monument on the mountain, there is also a very good Native American museum there and in the summer – Native Dancers. It’s a really terrific place to visit.  
Feather and ribbon dancers in regalia

We found this place much more inspiring than Rushmore as a whole. There are t-shirts that show Native American leaders in front of the Rushmore carving and it says – The Original Founding Fathers. Just so.  
Korczak and Chief Henry Standing Bear
 What I loved most about these monuments though was the sheer size of the dreams these guys had. And that they didn’t quit. They worked on these things for YEARS… Korczak started this in 1948 and it’s still going, 29 years after his death in 1982! What’s interesting about this project is that it is not corporate or government funded. It has been from day one, all funded by donations, visitors and the like. I love these people! They are so inspiring!  
They dreamed big, they didn’t give up; they didn’t let naysayers put them off. They went for their true hearts desire. They knew in their heart and soul what they NEEDED to do and they went and did it. I love that!!!  
And speaking of other people who had a dream and went for it… 
When I last wrote, we had just been to the Front Street Saloon the night before in Ogallala, NE. The next day, we stopped in at a place called Carhenge! What the heck is Carhenge you ask?  
Like Stonehenge but probably less spiritual. Well, the concept is similar in the abstract, if nothing else. In the summer of 1987, 35 family members got together and set about making a monument to the Reinders dad, who once lived on the farm where it stands. In 1982 when the dad died, everyone decided that this would be a great way to honor him, so in 1987 they got to work.  Thirty-eight cars were placed to assume the same proportions as Stonehenge with the circle measuring approximately 96 feet in diameter. Some cars are held upright in pits five feet deep, trunk end down, while those cars which are placed to form the arches have been welded in place. And there are all sorts of cars here. All of them are covered with gray spray paint and the honor of depicting the heel stone goes to a 1962 Caddy. 

What a bloody dag! (As they say in the old country) (Meaning – that is very fun and a bit of a character thing to do.)  
There really is no end to what people can dream… I am fascinated by what people see and build and THEN… how other people think that is equally fascinating and flock to it and are in turn, inspired and dream (one hopes.)  
From there, we crossed over into the western part of the State of South Dakota. This is a fascinating part of the woods and we got to see all sorts of things. One of the most fun things was going to Bear Country, USA – the scene of the infamous trans-mission coming to a halt. But that aside… Bear Country was just gorgeous!  

It’s quite a big area but quite well organized. You get to drive through fairly big enclosures where there are wild animals roaming about. The drive is about 2 miles long and you can take your time, stopping and looking at the animals. The main attraction is the bears but leading up to the bears, you get to see elk, reindeer, mountain lions, big horn sheep, goats, wolves… wow. Now, you’d think, an elk… okay… but really they were amazing to see. They have these HUGE velvety antlers on them and what was nice, was that the animals were wandering around, doing their own thing. We liked that. We oohed and aahed. Quite wonderful. But the best bit was the BEARS. Wowwwww.  
Elk ~ look at their horns

Reindeer ~ Look at THEIR horns. Very velvety.
 Absolutely enchanting.  
We’re not sure how many bears there were but at least 3 dozen, all wandering around, or lying down or splashing and playing in the big pond they had there for them. The bears were big black and golden bears – which I had never seen before. They were quite beautiful. They ambled past the camper, paying us little attention.

One persons van was quite interesting to the bears though. They had a chilly bin (ice chest) on the back, on a wee platform thing. And there must have been food in it at one point, because quite a few bears went up for a bit of a sniff. We were told very emphatically to NOT open our windows. Despite this, the car in front of us (you always get one) had theirs open all the way around until we got to the bears – then we noticed they had them closed. Funny that! Mind you, you’d have to be having an exceptionally bad day to be attacked by an elk.  

The bears though, I’m sure, would have loved to have a good paw through your possessions in the car or camper – especially if they smelt food. So despite having the windows firmly up, the bears were extremely up close and personal. Sometimes only a few feet from the cars and you could see their faces and eyes and expressions. Bears are so humanlike, they were fascinating. I probably loved the bears in the pond the most. They were having a high old time, getting cool and playing. The expressions on their faces! Just gorgeous!  

And this is where Charlie met her demise. We were going too slow and overheated and cooked the gearbox… but hey, the bears were worth it. We weren’t the only camper to suffer on that circuit. Another RV got towed out! And when we came back out from the baby animal’s part, they had driven away – so we should have let ourselves get towed out. Or maybe the tow truck picked them up before we got back! Mind you, they hadn’t dumped half a gallon of transmission oil on the ground… so …  
Leo Ray Jr is highly unimpressed with them hooking up Charlie. His dad got the next shot of him squawking at the camera but it's too blurry. LOL.

Poor Charlie

Leo at the hotel, wrapped up in his blankie, sleeping ~ finally ~ on his dad.

Where our baby went to get fixed, was another truck that had been towing a big caravan and had the same thing happen on a big hill… quite a day for it. Not sure what the Universe was trying to tell them all… but we got our message – loud and clear! (Very costly when you are not listening to previous ‘quiet words.’)  
Warning: Do NOT try this at home folks. Be clear and trust your feelings, your promptings, your intuitions, what you know is RIGHT. Listen to the signs you are getting and trust in your dreams. 
What I saw a lot of in the Black Hills was the work of dreamers. Of people who had visions, who dared to follow their heart, who knew EXACTLY what they were supposed to be doing and went ahead and did it, money or no money, they held their dream and went for it.  
I love those people! They inspire me to dream, to dream big, and to go for the heart energy – always. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Oregon Trail... Just Shoot Me Now ~ The Americana Kitsch and Culture Tour

~ The Americana Kitsch and Culture Tour
~ Originally posted 16 Jul 2011
Dear MM’s,
You know it’s time to come off the road when…
Your RV transmission spits the dummy and dumps oil all over the car park at Bear Country USA.
I am undecided at this point what is energetically going on with this. I am at the shock and a strong Bacardi and Diet Coke stage. The panic has been abated by the alcohol and half a tin of Rescue Remedy lozenges.
Oh shit, oh dear…as my dad would say. 
If anyone wants to jump in with possible energetic causes for this – please feel free.
I do know that transmissions are about being able to move forward, or move full stop. So, somewhere I have not been listening and have been avoiding STOP signs. This is not a good thought for the day/week/month/year…
And ‘weirdly’ enough but not too surprising, the last time I came through this neck of the woods; if you have read the book…you will know that I also had transmission issues. Do I feel like we are not moving forward in our life? Well…honestly—yes. We need to make a decision—pronto! (Later, I realize, it’s more to do with being on a ‘mission’ (transmission)—Thanks twin. And I actually need to go with the damn flow more! And trust that there is enough time, money, energy for whatever we need to be doing.)
And I was just talking to my twin last night too and he has up and RUN away from the life he was living. Sprinted, in fact. No ‘logical’ thoughts, ‘realistic’ reasoning or anything ghastly like that. His heart just said, enough…of the situation he was in and 2 days ago, he got up, packed up his truck in 4.5 hours and hightailed it out of there. Way to go!!!
He doesn’t know how things will work out—just that they will. This is abSOULutely brilliant!
This is the first time I have seen him use his heart energy in over a year. And as we are twins and always do things in unison—I have a feeling I am about to make some sort of leap of faith too. I suspect this might be IT. Trust in the heart energy…
Okay…so this is um…fun…in a weird sort of way. Kind of like being on holiday. Considering we live in a camper, we have spread out amazingly well in the motel room. It already looks like we have lived here for a month! Good grief.
Oh yes, did I mention, that we are now at the motel and the novelty of having a bathroom that’s bigger than an aircraft toilet is rather nice. Leo has had a marvelous time —all NIGHT! Oh, let me look out the window, let me get a drink, the window, mums bed, dads (queen beds but stuck against the wall, so too awkward, we opted for one each) Leo spent all night taking turns as to which bed he would be on.
Ever taken an excited 5 year old on their first trip somewhere… Yes—exactly like that. Under the bed, on the beds, on the window sill, use his toilet, drink some water, window again, food, window, bounce on mums bed. Gee, not sure why mum is turning the light back on and reading again. It’s like 5.00 o’clock in the morning mum? So, I’m awake but not human yet. And of course, Leo is EXHAUSTED, so he is drifting off to sleep on the other bed. No surprises there.
And while it’s weird to be off the road, it kind of goes with the rest of the week really.

NO... And thank God for that...

Nebraska - Optimist State

The whole last week has been a mishmash of things. We have done all sorts of bits and pieces and been back in the dreaded Mid-West. I cannot even begin to describe how boring it is. The people are nice but the energy is as flat as a pancake. Despite this, we manage to find a few things to do, but honestly—(current circumstances and all) if I never see it again—THANK GOD!
We left Memphis, TN, with not a CLUE as to where we needed to go next—most disconcerting and it was worrying me…a lot… We headed to Western Kentucky knowing that at least we like Kentucky. I need SIGNS for god’s sake and I felt like I hadn’t had a one. I don’t want to have to work things out with my head! Imagine the stupid mistakes that would be made!
And this was what was worrying me partly. I hadn’t had ANY bloody signs. And I did not want to make a head decision. Also, the fact that I had had no signs was really worrying. Was I off path somewhere? Had I taken a wrong turn? What now? Where now? In my mind, Tennessee was the last stop on this trip and we’d left the State with nary a clue of what or where to go next… Eek.
So, going on a wing and a prayer, we toddled up into Kentucky—going with the feeling, that at least, we KNEW we loved Kentucky and the Kentuckians. Our first stop over the border was in a little Podunk town, which the name escapes me now. But the entertainment factor was HUGE and reminds us of how much we love the Kentuckians.  They are the nicest people.
We stopped in for lunch at a wee diner called Patty Sues Diner, circa 1972. First of all, you get the smoking or non-smoking section?! We were a bit nonplussed about that. I couldn’t really fathom that any restaurant these days would have a smoking section. And I loved the smoking ‘section.’ The whole place reeked of smoke. Ugh. I never get this concept—it’s not like cigarette smoke knows the rules and stops at the non-smoking section. I thought this might be a one off, middle of nowhere type thing. But we struck it again in Missouri at a family chain place called Joes Crab Shack. It was bizarre.
So, despite the weird ‘non’ smoking section we opted for, we did stay because we were starving.  Everyone was very friendly and it gave us a warm thrill to be back in that lovely Kentuckian energy. No matter who walked through the door or out it, people acknowledged you and said hello. The older men all wore suspenders and trucker caps. You get the picture.
So, the conversation at a couple of tables over kind of went with it all.
There were 3 people talking at the table and it was almost impossible to not hear them. Americans voices carry. At first we thought they were talking about some family member, as they seemed to have all the details and knew everything that was going on with the situation. 
And all said in VERY thick Kentuckian hill accents. Think—hillbilly accent.
One person said. “Weeeell, eyeee haaaave aan o-pinnnn-ion; you knooow whaaaaat, in marrr o-pinnnn-ion…”
Boy, we sure do love the Southern accents and the hill accents are quite the deal. I have a friend Jim Bird the Third who was from the Kentuckian Eastern Hills – gen-u-ine hillbilly. It took him YEARS to tone down his accent. He got hell for it when he worked in oil engineering. And most of them are Texans—so that gives you some idea of the hill accent!
I then voted them, best in category for the most innovative use of ‘drug’ I have ever heard. Here you didn’t need to worry about illegal substances. Here you had to worry about illegal speech!
They were talking about what the mother had done and the brouhaha surrounding it.  And you MUST say this in the thickest hill accent you can manage:
‘She done drug three of her work mates into it.”
LOL. We sat there in pop eyed wonder at this. :-) Good grief! What’s even funnier about this whole thing is that we thought it must be a local thing. Hot gossip around the place. But no, it’s some case in Florida —they don’t even KNOW the people?? Good lord!
So that amused us for the rest of the afternoon as we headed north. Worth the price of the sandwich alone!

The next day we went into Louisville, KY to go to the Louisville Slugger Museum. Not Ali…but the baseball bats. This was fun. There is a HUGE 120 foot tall bat outside the factory and we went on a wee tour of the factory, where they show you how they make the famous baseball bats. This company started out making things like butter churns. It was started by J.F. Hillerich back in 1855. In 1884, his son Bud snuck off one day to watch a baseball game. The bat broke and Bud convinced the player to come down to his dads shop and get a bat personally made for him. His dad was not very impressed and really just wanted to make the stair railings, porch columns and the butter churns.

But it caught on with the players and his dad slowly came around. The bats were originally called the ‘Falls City Slugger’ until Bud took over his dads company in 1894 and changed the name to the now famous ‘Louisville Slugger.’ The bats are made from one piece of wood, usually white ash or maple and there is still a surprising amount of hand work done with them. Each logo is burned into the wood by hand still. Some of the famous players are contracted to Louisville Slugger and they have about 120 bats a year made for them. Each bat made to specific specifications for that player, weight, height etc and with their own signature burned onto the bat.
Aaron with Mickey Mantle bat
Signatures of some of the greats in baseball. Their signatures are all burnt onto the bats. It's an interesting process to see. A lot of hand work is done.

Jackie Robinson - First black player in Major League Baseball ~ Go and see the movie 42. Fantastic.
 At the end of the tour, you get a small Louisville slugger bat to take with you, which is very fun. You can even get your own bat personalized there!
This was fun and then we had the odious task of finding an RV park for the night. Over the river to Indiana we went—that counts right for a State visit! Anyway, we found a RV park over the river and I have to say, I was feeling pretty low on it. I had hoped that Louisville would be THE place that we had been looking for in Kentucky but it didn’t grab me at all. I found it industrial and really busy. Damn.
So, feeling terribly ugh with it all, I hunkered down on the computer for a bit—then wondered where Aaron had gone. I finally went outside the camper and there he was talking to some lovely people Dawna and Todd Spencer! We ended up spending the evening with them and their kids and it was soooo nice! That made me feel better and what really put the icing on the cake, (just when I thought the damn Guides had gone to the Bahamas —again!) What topped it was that Dawna was born in South Carolina, brought up in Kentucky and Todd LOVED Seattle.
Well hot dang! I realized in a blinding flash of inspiration that I had shrunk my dreams and slit their throat. And thus, you got the, ‘I have a dream’ blog! This bolstered me and I felt that we WERE on the right track. I just had to expand my dreams again and stick with them.
So off we set for Washington State, coming up through the Mid-West and into the Wild West part of the States.
I have never seen so much corn in my life! Well, there was one other time—that was the LAST time I went across the Mid-West! Good grief!

There are acres and acres and acres........ of the damn stuff, all across the Mid-West
 We rolled into St Louis, Missouri and omigod… I had truly forgotten just how steamy the Mid-West can get. The Mississippi River was extremely full. There is a statue of a man on the River Front car park and it’s mostly underwater! You can just see his head and part of his arm. Wow…

St Louis Arch

Paddle Steamer on the Mississippi
So with the river this full and the heat up in the 90’s—it was like sucking in water. I could literally barely breathe. This is not very fun.
What we were doing there was seeing the St Louis Arch or the Gateway Arch. It’s very impressive as you head towards St Louis. A massive steel arch that sits on the river front and is the ‘gateway’ to the Mid-West. As we were walking up there, we got talking to Don and Larry who were truck drivers from Utah. We kept talking as we staggered up the zillions of steps to the monument. We went into the monument museum, which thankfully is very air conditioned and underground. We got tickets to go up to the top of the arch and it’s on some strange system, so it was going to take a bit. I was gasping for air, so I sat down and the guys went off to see the exhibits. Later, I saw the photos and, of course…they looked fun.
It was extremely disorganized and finally after what felt like HOURS, we finally got to go up to the arch. What an utterly creepy experience. The Arch is not very wide, so they take you up there in these capsules. Imagine putting 5 kitchen chairs in the tightest semi circle you can get, with everyone’s knees touching, and some people having to bow forward because it’s not tall enough for their heads. Then they shut the door. Four claustrophobic minutes later, you are at the top.

These were the tiny capsules they squeezed us into. Ugh.
Okay, you think, I’m at the top now, it’ll be much better. It’s not.
If anything, it’s almost weirder. You get off the capsules and you are on the observation platform, which goes up a bit of a steep incline and it’s very narrow. It’s also very small, the windows are like slits and yes, you get to see St Louis 630ft below. But after only a few minutes, we’re all done. It’s very weird and very creepy. Other people are flicking nervous glances and smiling bravely – they are done too. We come back down in the creepy capsules and all heave a sigh of relief when we get back to the bottom.

On top of the arch bit at the top.

We exit there and stagger back to the camper. I am gasping for air, it’s horrible.

Notice the statue holding the hat. Well, normally you can see the whole statue. That's how swollen with water the Mississippi was
We gladly leave there and get on the road. We stop twice to try and find a restaurant to eat in and just crossing the car park is like a mountain trek in the Himalayas at extreme altitude. The humidity has to be about 110%. It’s awful.

The next day, we hit Kansas… And I threatened to call this blog, ‘We’re not in Kansas anymore…thank god.’  
In Kansas, we did find an Air Combat Museum to go to in Topeka and it’s pretty cool…but so damn HOT. We give up seeing another Civil Rights attraction I had found and push on. Our energy is wilting with the heat. We are in the nineties here, all the way through. Translation—about 35 degrees Celsius on average. Whew.

We wave at the Wizard of OZ museum as we drive on through. Inertia is setting in. Through the endless corn fields, and up into Nebraska. And oh gosh, more corn—fabulous. We stay in Lincoln, NE for the night and are so tired, that we manage to find a RV Park that is not only ‘Ye olde Freeway Park’ but “Ye Olde TRI-Freeway Park.’ It defies logic. We just can’t understand while anyone would put a RV Park right on the bloody freeway!

After a while, the corn became a blur...

On the up side, it’s so hot, that we have to run the AC flat tack all night—this drowns out the freeway noise.
Nebraska…surely to god there is even LESS to see in Nebraska. But it surprises us.

This was an amazing sight. We were driving down a freeway and I said to Aaron, 'I could be mistaken, but I think that's a B-17.' Sure enough, it was!! Amazing! Doing summer tours. How cool.

It feels like the longest drive across a State—some 500 something miles… Long.
But we stop at North Platte at a Trading Post that has a miniature Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. That was kind of fun. You start to realize that out here, it was the wild wild west. 


Look at the beadwork on this regalia.

A miniature of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show

From there, we arrived in the wee town of Ogalalla, NE, an old original cowboy and western town.  Up until 1885, the town was booming! Cattle were driven here on the big Texas cattle drives. And the town itself was home to saloons, saloon girls, bordellos and cowboys! Many a gunfight was to be had here in the saloons and streets. Up on a small hill just outside the town centre, is a small cemetery called Boot Hill. Here there are cowboys buried with their boots on—hence the name. Some of them are unnamed. Quite a few have died from gunshots wounds. Really wild wild west.

We pull in about 6.15 and park in a decent wee RV Park, with no freeway noise. Wow. We are told that the Front Street show at The Crystal Palace starts at 7.30 but be there at 7.15 for the shoot out, out front! Aaron dons his cowboy hat and off we go.    

Front Street is a small section of ‘old town.’ All the facades on the buildings look like they came right out of the old West. There’s a saloon, an eating house, jail, general store and a couple of other buildings. At 7.15, there’s a gun fight out the front, complete with some racy dance hall girls! What fun! That starts the evening’s entertainment. After the gun fight, we all troop inside for the rest of the show, through the swinging bat doors and into The Crystal Palace. Up on stage is the piano player, the walls have red flocked wallpaper on them, and the bar looks pretty original.

Our players are local high school students and every year for about 47 years now; this show has been put on here at Front Street. It tells the story of the cowboys that came through with stock on the cattle drive and the Oregon Trail Wagon trains filled with New World hopefuls going the other way.  They did a very funny skit where the kids in the kids in the back of the wagon are doing the 'are we there yet/I'm hungry/I have to go to the bathroom/are we there yet' routine. It gives new meaning to 'road trips.' Imagine coming across these prairies with kids. Just shoot me now!
There are parts of the Oregon Trail and prairies where you can still see the wagon ruts…
I can’t imagine how these people did this. It’s excruciatingly boring in a RV. And they probably didn’t even have the corn to amuse them. How on earth did they not go insane in a wagon? And the wagons are tiny. Really tiny. I had imagined them to be much bigger. But if you sat people either side, say, on plank benches, you might get 4 or 5 people on either side. Not very big. Along with this very uncomfortable ride, they also had to contend with heat, cold, Native Americans, wild animals… I wonder how many people went insane?

Anyway, we have a lot of fun at the show. Almost a bit of old Vaudeville in there, which I love. The kids are very talented and we get a good potted history of the West and the Prairies without having to do an ‘interpretative exhibit’—nothing is called a museum anymore… They dance, they sing, they tell awful but funny jokes. They involve the audience. We have a great time! We also get talking to Mark Irvin who owns over 20,000 records and who is a music man who contracts copyright songs out to people. What an interesting job! Don’t people do cool things?

So far on this trip—we have met a balloon maker/stilt man, a Duck Master, and now a Music person! Wow. And what interests me about these people is that you NEVER seem to meet them in everyday life. But someone has to have the fun jobs and I always like to meet the people who do.
Imagine being at a BBQ… “So, what do you do for a job?”
“I’m a Duck Master.”
Blank look from the other person and thinking that this guy was taking the Mickey. (This means in Kiwi-speak—having someone on)
“Oh yes, and er, what does a Duck Master do?”
Again, it’s the fun part of life. The part we are SUPPOSED to be living. The part I think I forgot to do as we did our own personal Oregon Trail across the flatlands. I was on a mission!!! I realize now that the best thing I can do, is STOP, kick back, get back into the flow, and trust I am looked after—always. And to let go of the reins…and to trust the dream will be at the other side of the trail.