Monday, November 27, 2023

2021-06-19: Visiting the Fort Wayne in Indiana and Finding a Prince in a Cemetery

Hello again everyone. You may recall from my last blog post that we were in Indiana to purchase our motorhome. It was being sold on consignment so there were some things that needed to be taken care of as well as a full cleaning and detailing. After looking it over and getting all the paperwork in order, that afternoon we drove up to Fort Wayne, Indiana to grab dinner and check out the old fort.

It wasn't until now when I started writing this blog that I discovered that this fort is a re-creation of the third and final version of the old Fort Wayne. And that it isn't even in it's original location. The original site of the old fort is in downtown where the city's Fire Station #1 is located. The only remains that exist is an old well with a commemorative plaque on it.

The history of Fort Wayne goes way back to the Miami Tribes in the late 1600's. The area originally known as the village of Kekionga was settled near the confluence of the St Joseph, St Mary's, and the Maumee Rivers. Frenchman Jean Baptiste Bissot began visiting Kekionga in 1702 and later built the original Fort Miami in 1706. It was part of a line of forts and trading posts spanning from Quebec to St Louis.

France ceded the territory to Britain in 1760 after the French and Indian Wars. However a short time later in 1763, during Pontiac's Rebellion, the native tribes regained control of the region and the British abandoned the fort. It wasn't until 1772 that Britain would reestablish a friendship with the tribes and reoccupy the fort.

After the Revolutionary War and the Treaty of Paris in 1783, Britain ceded the area to the newly formed United, American General Anthony Wayne established Fort Wayne in 1794. General Wayne had pushed the tribes out of Ohio to the west and built a new fort to replace Fort Miami. He made a treaty with the Native Americans to end the fighting and promised they would have the lands west of the fort. This is the reason why the region west of Ohio was called Indiana.

A few more photos of the recreated Fort Wayne.

After the fort, we went over to the huge Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne to find a whole bunch of Geocaches hidden there. (GC941RY, GC99RBT, GC977G5, GC977FP, GC977H5, GC941TN, GC93Y7J, GC1HJK1, GC977GR) There are over 67,000 internments at the Lindenwood Cemetery which was established in 1859 and covers 175 acres. Among the permanent residents are politicians, athletes, veterans, and even a notorious bank robber from the Dillinger Gang.

However, there was one headstone that caught my attention. I took the photo and now researching for this blog I find the rest of the story. To long to repost here, but about a child named Prince Kaboo from a small village in West Africa. Captured by a neighboring tribe and held for ransom, he escaped, made his way to a missionary and eventually to America. A fascinating story of faith that I hope you follow these links to the Find-A-Grave website and the GodReports website to read the full story.

So that was the rest of our day today. While they work on the RV this week we're gonna take a road trip to Connecticut and back in search of a haunted cemetery. Join us as we go and see what other interesting places we discover on our adventures.

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course by clicking the "Follow" button to the right. And there's also my main website at AwayWeGo.US for the complete index of my traveling adventures going back to 2005. But also by using one or more of your favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditTwitterGETTRInstagram, and TruthSocial. These all link directly to my profiles. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

2021-06-19: The 2000 American Coach Eagle 40EDF Our New To Us RV Home On Wheels

Well the long awaited day has finally arrived. No longer do we have to squeeze everything into our little Jeep when traveling between jobsite to jobsite. No longer having to buy an air mattress here, a TV there, dishes at another rental only to have to leave them behind because there's no room in the Jeep to take it with us. This morning I took a look at, test drove, and agreed to purchase a 2000 American Eagle 40EDF diesel motorhome from Sullivan RV in Decatur, Indiana.

Over the last year or so, I spent many hours on the internet looking at RV's for sale across the country. I narrowed it down to the American Coach brand of diesel pushers. Compared to the majority of my co-workers with big trucks and 5th wheels, I like the motorhome better. Plus I want to keep the Jeep instead of a huge truck. And the biggest RV trailer the Jeep can pull is only 14 feet long! Not much room for full-timing.

If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of my original blogs archived posts from 7-18-2005, you'll see where I purchased my first gas motorhome brand new. It was nearly $90,000 at that time. When I got rid of it three years later it was only worth $35,000. A tremendous loss!

This time around I wanted to be smart about it. Yes it is 21 years old. The original sticker price back in the year 2000 was $279,000. I bought it for $42,000, letting previous owners take the depreciation this time. After looking at many RV's over the past year this one was about in the middle for the 1998-2004 years. I saw pristine coaches going for as high as $65k to trashed ones down in the $15k-$20k range. This one fit perfectly within the budget that had been saved for the last 6 months. And it's paid for in cash! No payments to worry about.

Now we have a full kitchen with gas stove, convection oven/microwave, and refrigerator with ice maker. One of the advantages I like with having a motorhome instead of a pull behind trailer, is the access to fridge while driving. Well while I'm driving Candy can get something from the fridge, pantry, or even cook something. We don't have to pull over somewhere. Especially in bad weather.

There are two sofa's with both folding out into beds. They also have lots of storage underneath.

Having our own bathroom, and like the kitchen, the convenience of being able to use it on travel days versus having to walk into a hot trailer.

No more air mattresses, hard mattresses, or worn out mattresses. We did take that 21 year old comforter and pillow cases and put them in the storage compartment under the bed. Then added a pillow top for the mattress and new linens and comforter.

No more dirty filthy laundromats. While a stackable would be a little better, still having the washer/dryer combo means Candy no longer has to clean the washers before using the washers.

And finally the two comfy captains chairs up front. Not that I want to anymore, but if I needed to drive 600-700 miles a day it would be a very comfortable seat to do so.

This was a consignment sale, so the dealer is now gonna do a deep cleaning, check everything out, and make a few repairs. That's gonna be done through this week. The one thing I would have done differently is gotten an RV inspector to go through it as well. 

But in the meantime, Candy, her grand-daughter, and I are going on a geocaching road trip to Connecticut and back in the GeoJeep. We'll be back next week to take delivery and begin another chapter in our adventures.

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course by clicking the "Follow" button to the right. And there's also my main website at AwayWeGo.US for the complete index of my traveling adventures going back to 2005. But also by using one or more of your favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditTwitterGETTRInstagram, and TruthSocial. These all link directly to my profiles. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

2021-06-18: Summer Road Trip to Buy Our "New-to-Us" Home and Geocaching Through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana

So here we are on this Day 3 of our 5300+ mile summer road trip from West Texas to Indiana to Connecticut, back to Indiana to Florida and ending in NE Texas. The main reason for this roadtrip is to look at and hopefully purchase our "new-to-us" home-on-wheels. Along the way, we'll be picking up as many new geocaching counties as we can and seeing some of the sites along the way. So hop on board the GeoJeep and let's go see what we can find.

Well we didn't quite make it out of Missouri yesterday. We stayed the night in the town of Sikeston in Scott County. We were going to have dinner at the famous Lambert's, where they throw the fresh rolls out to you. But we weren't up for the long lines and over an hour wait! So we came back this morning to grab the geocache (GC2JC3X) for the county and take some photos.

Driving east on US-60, we crossed over into Mississippi County. We stopped for a quick geocache (GC4KW34) in Bertrand for the county and kept moving.

Further down the road I spotted this roadside historical marker and had to stop for a photo. "Rev. Owen Whitfield with the support of local landowner, Mr. Thad Snow, and 1500 black and white sharecroppers camped here in harsh January weather several days in 1939 to protest the plight of Boot Heel sharecroppers. The event received national attention. Owen and Zella Whitfield met with Pres. Roosevelt and ultimately received his support for the cause. This community has dedicated January 10 as Thad Snow - Owen Whitfield Day."

My next three geocaches were all in one corner of a park. There was a virtual geocache (GC710E) and two earthcaches (GC1A369, GC1A36F). Fort Defiance State Park is right at the corner of Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky as well as the confluence of the Mississippi River and the Ohio River. It is also the lowest elevation point in Illinois.

On November 14, 1803, Lewis and Clark landed here with their Corps of Discovery party. Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to explore and survey the recently purchased Louisiana Territory, their six days here was one of the longest stops made by the expedition. Their stay allowed Captain Meriwether Lewis to teach Captain William Clark how to navigate using a compass and a sextant. Because the 3rd Principal Meridian begins at the mouth of the Ohio River, astronomical observations at this point were crucial.

Above: nearly 175 million tons of goods are shipped via the Mighty Mississippi River each year. Below: Candy and her grand-daughter down at the southernmost point of Illinois and the convergence of the two rivers. The Ohio River is entering from the left. The Mississippi River enters from the right-rear and continues down to the far right.

Our last stop for today was just a few miles away in a town called Cache, Illinois (GCR01C). I can't find out much info on the community of Cache, IL other than it was laid out in January 1904. Found a newspaper article in April 1927 suggesting the town was flooded out. Then a few decades later the Cache River was rerouted to empty into the Mississippi River instead of the Ohio River. Whatever happened to the town, this bridge isn't singing anymore.

While researching the town for this blog, I came across some articles for a cemetery called "Seven Mile Graveyard" located between Cache and Cairo. The Find-A-Grave website had 7 memorials listed, but no photos. I came across another 8 newspaper articles of people that were buried there and added those memorials. Then I came across a more recent article of the cemeteries demise:

Excerpt from the Southern Illinoisan, April 30, 1999:
"The cemetery was incorporated in 1853. In 1878, many people who died in a yellow fever epidemic were buried there. By 1921, the cemetery was overgrown and unkempt. In 1955, the land was purchased and the cemetery was bulldozed and turned into a pasture, a piece of history turned to dust and memory."

So sad. Perhaps one day someone can further research local records and discover the location of the cemetery. Maybe even more names of those long forgotten souls can be discovered and added to the Find-A-Grave website. And if just one descendent can make that genealogical connection, even better!

Well we still had about 430 miles of driving to get to Decatur, Indiana by tonight. So the rest of my planned geocaches had to be bypassed. That's NOT something I like doing either. Tomorrow morning we go check out our potential new-to-us home-on-wheels!

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course by clicking the "Follow" button to the right. And there's also my main website at AwayWeGo.US for the complete index of my traveling adventures going back to 2005. But also by using one or more of your favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditTwitterGETTRInstagram, and TruthSocial. These all link directly to my profiles. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

2021-06-17: Summer Road Trip to Buy Our "New-to-Us" Home and Geocaching Through Texas, Arkansas and Missouri

Hello Friends! Well some of our regular readers may recall that the primary reason that we are able to go on so many geocaching roadtrip adventures is because we work in construction. We travel from project to project across the country and had to find short term rentals in each town to live in while there working. My wife has been traveling and working with me for about two years now, though this last solar project we just completed near Fort Stockton, Texas she didn't work on it.

When we arrived in the nearby small town of McCamey at the beginning, the choices for rental accommodations were old rundown houses from the 1940's. My wife took one look and decided she'd stay with her daughter in Killeen, TX for the duration. Now that it has completed, I have three weeks before starting at the next location in North Texas. So what to do but go on a roadtrip to Indiana where I found our "new to us" home to buy! Finally after a year of looking... a wish comes true!

My last day on the project was a Tuesday. I had packed up everything in the Jeep that morning and I made the 5-hour drive to Killeen after work that evening. On Wednesday, Candy and I packed as much as we could into our little 2-door Jeep for us as well as her teenage grand-daughter who rode along with us on this roadtrip adventure.

So we left Central Texas and our first stop wasn't until Texarkana, Arkansas or is it Texas? Or Arkansas? Actually it IS in both! The courthouse sits right on the state line. Now that's a divided court and was a virtual geocache, now archived (GC829D).

After 450 miles of driving, we stopped at a hotel in South Hot Springs, Arkansas for the night. Waking up Thursday morning and checking out, we grabbed a quick geocache (GC1KGXN) right there in the parking lot before hitting the road.

But not before taking a quick drive into the historical Hot Springs National Park and Bathhouse Row. Hot Springs, Arkansas, gets its name from the naturally 143 °F thermal spring waters found here. Flowing out of the ground at almost one million gallons of water each day. Native Americans called this area “the Valley of the Vapors,” and it was said to have been a neutral territory where all tribes could enjoy its healing waters in peace. Spanish and French settlers claimed the area in the mid-1500s. In fact, famous explorer Hernando de Soto was the first European to visit Hot Springs in 1541.

While it is true that President Grant designated Yellowstone as the first "National Park" in 1872, it can also be said that Hot Springs, Arkansas was technically the first national park when President Andrew Jackson designated Hot Springs a "Federal Reservation" in 1832 for public use. Hot Springs didn't officially become a National Park until 1921.

Bathhouse Row has evolved over the years from it's rustic beginnings to the modern spas of today. In the 1830's, Hot Springs earliest facilities were make shift shelters perches over individual springs. Later elaborate Victorian bathhouses flourished along the avenue. But those wooden structures were susceptible to rot and devastating fires. The present mix of Spanish Mission to neoclassical architecture date from 1911 to 1939, the Golden Age of bathing.

Medicinal bathing peaked in 1946 and many of the traditional bathhouses have closed or converted into the modern spas. Traditional bathing remains at the Buckstaff Bathhouse. The National Park Service has landscaped many of the exercise paths that were considered essential to good health. Like earlier visitors, you can still stroll the brick Grand Promenade behind Bathhouse Row or hike mountain trails throughout the National Park.

Walking among the shops there on the row, I spotted an iconic Zoltar fortune teller machine made famous from the 1988 movie "Big" starring Tom Hanks. Hmmm, what should I wish for?

Also spotted this restored antique Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Not sure about those white tires though!

And then there's this statue standing outside of Diablos Tacos and Mezcal restaurant. Still too early for lunch so just took a photo.

While walking down Bathhouse Row, we did find three geocaches and completed an Adventure Lab. Along with what I've already shared with you, they also highlighted Hot Springs history with Babe Ruth and baseball (GC2ZDMJ), the cemetery (GC3JFJ9, GC92RGD), and Al Capone and organized crime in the 1930's.

Time to get back on the highway heading north. Since I've already gotten the geocached counties along the way from previous trips, I tried to make up some time and skipped a lot of the geocaches I had picked out. Got back to I-30 into Little Rock to US-67 towards the northwest.

When we get to the town of Walnut Ridge, I make a right turn onto US-412 eastbound. It didn't take long before I thought it was a big mistake. CONSTRUCTION TRAFFIC!! My next target cache was still over 40 miles. While waiting for the lane to open back up to proceed, I thought I'd check the nearby geocaches. What do I see but a new geocache hidden on my birthday (June 11), published on the 13th, and STILL yet to be found four days later! I guess it was just waiting for us to pass by! I knew exactly what it was just from name "Dollar Skirt" (GC9CMGQ). Found and stamped the blank log sheet! WOHOO a First-to-Find! Thanks for construction traffic!

Then we crossed over into Dunklin County, Missouri and made a quick roadside geocaching stop for the county (GC3ABN5). Next door in Pemiscot County we found a very large geocache with a LOT of favorite points (GC1REX7) to complete the "heal" of Missouri.

Also in the town of Hayti was this restored one-room schoolhouse. The Hayti school building was built in 1874 and was used until 1895. There was a geocache there too but we couldn't find it, as well as several previous geocachers too. It has since been archived.

Jumping onto I-55 northbound a few miles into New Madrid County, we soon exit into the town of New Madrid, Missouri. There were three geocaches on my to-do list in town to be found. The first one was at the Byrne-Howard Cemetery (GC2M4Q4). The cemetery was established in 1833 with the burial of Morgan Byrne. He was joined by his wife Jane just two years later. This small cemetery has acquired 29 permanent residents between 1933 and 1947.

We also stopped by the Hunter-Dawson State Historical Site (GC47ZVN). William and Amanda Hunter owned a successful dry goods business in New Madrid as well as a floating store selling goods up and down the Mississippi River. They built their antebellum mansion with Georgian, Greek Revival and Italianate features popular during the period. The mansion took nearly a year to build and was completed in May of 1860. Unfortunately William died in 1859 before the house was completed.

In 1874 Ella, the Hunter's youngest daughter, married William Dawson. Upon Amanda's death in 1876 Ella and William moved into the mansion. Dawson served three terms in the Missouri State Legislature. In 1884 he was elected to the US House of Representatives. In addition, he served on the planning committee of the 1898 World's Fair in Chicago.

The home did suffer damage during the Great Flood of 1937. (There is a spot in the house where you can see the water mark on the wall.) Descendants of the Hunter family occupied the home until 1958. In 1966 it was purchased by the city of New Madrid. A year later the city donated the site to the state to use as a state historic site. The home now stands as a testimony to the grand lifestyle of the successful businessman prior to the Civil War.

Speaking of the Civil War, while the Union troops occupied New Madrid, the Confederates controlled passage of the Mississippi River just around the bend upstream on a large island in the middle of the river. This prevented supplies from reaching New Madrid or any Union troops further south. In March of 1862, Colonel Josiah Bissell, commanding the "Engineer Regiment of the West," surveyed land north and east of New Madrid. Bissell found swamps and bottomland inundated with early spring floodwaters and suggested to Brigadier General John Pope cutting a canal from north of the island going west into New Madrid allowing steamboats and other ships to bypass the Confederate forces. Pictured below is a submergible saw used to cut down trees below the waterline allowing boats to maneuver through the thick swamps.

Island #10 in the Mississippi River

Backing up a bit for earlier history, New Madrid was the first American town in Missouri. Founded in 1789 by George Morgan, Princeton graduate and Indian trader, on the site of Francois and Joseph Le Sieur's trading settlement. Named for Madrid, Spain, the town was to be an American colony. Morgan was promised 15 million acres by the Spanish ambassador, eager to stop U.S. expansion with large land grants. In 1800, Spain traded the territory back to France in the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso. After trying to regain control of Saint-Domingue (the present Haiti), where a slave rebellion was underway, Napoleon gave up on his North American colonies, agreeing to sell this territory to the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

And finally, the New Madrid Earthquake (GC1DRVR), made up of a series of monstrous and lessor shocks, which began December 16, 1811, and continued for over a year. One of the great earthquakes of the world because of severity and length it caused little loss of life in a thinly settled region. Some of the shocks were felt as far of 1100 miles.

So that's it for today. Tomorrow we see a little more of Missouri before getting into Illinois and Indiana.

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course by clicking the "Follow" button to the right. And there's also my main website at AwayWeGo.US for the complete index of my traveling adventures going back to 2005. But also by using one or more of your favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditTwitterGETTRInstagram, and TruthSocial. These all link directly to my profiles. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.