Monday, November 29, 2010

Rockford and Aurora



Campground review - Rock Cut State Park

As we came north for Thanksgiving to visit friends and do some ministry at Rock Church, we became increasingly uncertain of our decision as the weather became colder. Our visit to Rockford meant we had to find a park open nearby during the winter months. Not an easy task, but we settled on Rock Cut State Park in Loves Park. Patsy and I have been to this park several times and even tent-camped here. But the cold weather camping here was a new experience for us.

Nearby attractions - 5 - Close to Rockford, which has a few fun things to do, but no major attractions. 90 minutes from Chicago.

Staff - 7 - Met one Ranger who came on our third day there to collect our fees. Nothing special, nothing to complain about.

Natural surroundings - 8 - Lots of trees, trails and Lake Pierce is right on site. Too cold for us to enjoy it much. We did see wild turkey every morning enjoying the warmth of the bathrooms.

Value - 4 - $25 for a night - but just electric sites. They have water hydrants and dumps, but they were closed for the winter. We thought they should have had an off-season rate, but this is the same rate as their summer season.

Bathrooms - 6 - They were warm showers, after you let them run for awhile.

Roominess - 7 - Sites were decent size. Park was pretty bare and we had lots of room in the adjoining sites to park and store things.

Facility fun - 8 - this state park has lots to do in nice weather, including a great beach. Decent little playgrounds, nice hiking trails, boat rentals, fishing, etc.. Winter, not so much fun.

Cleanliness - 8 - State Park clean.

Facility usefulness - 3 - Would be higher in summer. Winter months you get electrcity and bathrooms.

Overall - 7 - Rock Cut is a nice state park, our hometown park. We did not like their winter policies though.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tooting at Grossology

On our trip to Rockford for Thanksgiving and ministry, we made a quick trip to the Discovery Center there where we joined to get their reciprocal membership to Children's Museums. They had a special Grossology exhibit there and the boys had a blast exploring the gross bodily function interactive displays! Here they enjoy the tooting machine.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Kevin Shutterbug - helping to decorate Howard

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stop-over in the Illinois capital

Sorry, if you want to read this post, please buy our book on Amazon




Campground review - Sundermeier RV Park

As we were traveling from Kansas back to Illinois for some Thanksgiving revelry with our extended family, we crossed the great state of Missouri from Kansas City to Missouri and Interstate 70. While we had some warm weather, we also had some rainy weather. I had planned to stay in New Douglas, Illinois, but the heavy rain convinced us to pull over early at Sundermeier RV Park in Saint Charles, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. A nice but expensive park!

Cleanliness - 8 - Nicely kept up park!

Bathrooms -10 - Best we have seen so far. Lots of nice hot, roomy showers. Very clean and warm.

Facility fun - 5 - Not much in park, but a walking path and public park is right next door.

Facility usefulness - 4 - Hmm, new park so they have nothing but full-hook-ups and small laundry facility.

Nearby attractions - 7 - St. Louis not too far away, and according to their brochures some fun things to do in Saint Charles.

Staff - 8 - Super nice guy helped us get checked in.

Natural surroundings - 3 - No trees on sites, but trees surround the park.Next to Highway 370, train tracks and not far from an airport.

Value - 3 - $65 for a night - full hook-ups.

Roominess - 8 - Nice big sites, huge cement slabs on their pull through sites.

Overall - 6. Tough call on this one. I just thought it was too expensive!

Monday, November 22, 2010

650 feet below the surface

Sunday we visited the Kansas Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas. This museum is designated one of the eight wonders of Kansas. We visited two other of the eight wonders as well, the Oz Museum and CW Parker Carousel Museum.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wichita, Kansas Kidology to Go

Sorry, but this post has been deleted because it is a part of our new book called Napkin Dreams!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kevin Shutterbug - interview with the Kidologist to Go

Kevin Shutterbug interviews me (Marty) before tomorrow's Kidology to Go in Wichita. Looking good!

Campground review - OK Corral RV Park

While traveling through Kansas we wanted an extra cheap place to plug in while visiting the Oz Museum. The OK Corral RV Park in Emmet, Kansas was a nice fit. While definitely not a destination park, please keep in mind this RV Park is still in the beginning stages as you read my review.

Cleanliness - 6 - While it was a newer park, I did pick up a little bit of garbage around my site.

Bathrooms - NA - They have none, first time I have taken a shower in the RV. Not too bad!

Facility fun - 4 - Bring your imagination and energy to run, because this park has no amenities.

Facility usefulness - 4 - Hmm, new park so they have nothing but full-hook-ups and small laundry facility.

Nearby attractions - 4 - Topeka and Manhattan both around an hour away. Oz Museum 15 minutes from here.

Staff - 8 - Only met the owner. He was helpful and even helped us get hooked up! Not sure why, but never look a gift horse in ......

Natural surroundings - 3 - No trees in park, next to some fields and a factory of some sort looms up on the skyline about 5 miles away (no smell or noise from factory though).

Value - 8 - $10 for a night for two nights with Passport America card for full hook-ups.

Roominess - 7 - More room than the average RV park, plus there are some open fields with nothing on them right now, which made for some great exploration and relay races for our boys!

Overall - 4

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wizard of Oz Museum

We are sorry, but we have removed this post because it is a part of our new book entitled Napkin Dreams.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pony Express Museum

This post has been removed since it is in our book describing our adventures across America!

Campground review - AOK Campground

We wanted to hit St. Joseph, Missouri to see the Pony Express Museum and the home where Jesse James was killed in. Unfortunately the Jesse James home was closed for the season, though their website never stated this! So we pulled into the AOK Campground later at night and did school in the morning and left, so it was a quick stay. This was a new campground and they look like they are making improvements so check back with them.

Cleanliness - 7 - Newer park, pretty well kept up.

Bathrooms - NA - never saw them.

Facility fun - 6 - Brand new swimming pool which of course was closed and a small playground.

Facility usefulness - 4 - Since this a new RV park they do not have much. No propane.

Nearby attractions - 6 - St. Joseph close by, Kansas City is an hour away.

Staff - 8 - Only met the owner late at night. Nice guy, since they only take cash and we didn't have any, the guy said we could mail the fee to him!

Natural surroundings - 4 - Next to a pond with very few trees, close to Interstate 29. Most of the time this traffic noise puts me to sleep, but this time a couple of trucks woke me up.

Value - 6 - $20 for a night - off season rate..

Roominess - 5 - Another typical RV park.

Overall - 5

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Campground Review - Cottonwood Park

Recently we stayed at Cottonwood RV Park in Bonner Springs, Kansas. We pulled in here rather late at night but did use the facilities quite a bit in the morning.

Cleanliness - 5 - It is getting a bit run down and there are quite a few potholes in the road.

Bathrooms - 5 - The bathrooms were clean, however the showers were not evenly warm. Turned cold quickly. They did have three showers in each bathroom.

Facility fun - 6 - They have a big swimming pool which of course was closed and a walking some walking trails.

Facility usefulness - 7 - Large laundry room, big pull-thru sites but no propane. Dump station was closed for the season (huh?).

Nearby attractions - 7 - Very close to Kansas City metropolitan area and a stone's throw from the Kansas Speedway for you NASCAR fans.

Staff - 8 - Met two staffers. At one point I thought I had lost my cell and one staff member called it for me and gave me and my son a ride back to Howard on his golf cart, which was a thrill for Tanner!

Natural surroundings - 3 - A few trees, close to Interstate 70, but not too close to hear the loud trucks.

Value - 4 - $27 for a night - off season rate..

Roominess - 5 - Average for a RV Park

Overall - 5

Kevin Shutterbug - Cooking in an RV

Another webisode of Kevin Shutterbug! Brought to you by One Way Street.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

CW Parker Carousel Museum

One of the things I hoped for when embarking on our crazy RV adventure was to give ourselves some one of kind experiences and learn a few things along the way. The CW Parker Carousel Museum in Leavenworth, Kansas fit the bill nicely. Not only did we get to learn some new things, like carousels started as training tools for knights in the middle ages, but we got to ride a 100 year old fully restored carousel. This beauty is a real piece of history and surprisingly moves much faster than the modern slow-pokes I have been on. We also got a chance to view, and touch, some amazing pieces of crafted carousel horses that have been beautifully restored as well as two other carousels, one dating to the 1850s. We all enjoyed our trip to the museum and recommend it to your family. Well worth the modest charge.

As a side note the museum is in Leavenworth because CW Parker had a factory and made them there along with other carnival rides and shipped them all over the world!

Kansas McDonalds

So the Kansas McDonalds was more out of necessity than plan! It was a cold, rainy and windy night and after a couple of hours on the road driving through the wind, she needed a break, so we pulled over early and gave up on the idea of cooking dinner that night. We were going to spend the night at a Walmart in Wichita that ended up having a Mickey Ds right inside so it provided the easy dinner. On a side not I guess we won't be going to McDonalds in San Francisco while in California! Gangs, murder, urban plight, teen pregnancy and a host of other issues aside, San Fran has declared war on the Happy Meal! Isaiah 5:20

Fritz Railroad Restaurant

This is a fun little restaurant in Kansas City, Kansas not too far from the rail lines situated there. While it was fun, I did receive a conk on the head when I stood up to receive a phone call on my cell! After that the train kept dumping food before it got to the designated table, which m kids insist was a direct result of my melon getting in the way!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Great Salt Plains

Sorry, if you want to read this psot, please buy our book on Amazon

Since we camped here we will also do a review on the campground.

Cleanliness - 9 - State Parks keep their grounds tidy!

Bathrooms - 5 - The bathrooms were very outdated. The two showers were
hot but difficult to get set. They did have bars of soap!!

Facility fun - 7 - Nice little playground, lots of walking paths and trails.

Facility usefulness - 7 - Dump station but only two full hook-ups. No pull-throughs, no laundry no propane, but the camp hosts do sell ice! Not many stores nearby either so go well-stocked.

Nearby attractions - 5 - While there is not a lot to do nearby, the State Park and Wildlife Refuge offer lots of opportunities for exploration. There is also a fish hatchery nearby.

Staff - 7 - Met two park rangers who were very cordial.

Natural surroundings - 10 - Next to a the river with bluffs on the other side and the lake nearby. Lots of trees.

Value - 7 - $23 for a night for two nights for full hook-ups.

Roominess - 9 - Hardly anyone there, but the sites were quite nice regardless.

Overall - 8

No such thing as wild Buffalo

Sorry, if you want to read this psot, please buy our book on Amazon

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Campground review - Riverside RV Park

Looking for a place to hang low for awhile we found a Passport America campground in Bartelsville, Oklahoma in Riverside Campground.

Cleanliness - 7 - You could tell the owners are trying to keep this place up and improve on it,

Bathrooms - 5 - The bathrooms were clean, but one toilet and shower for men and same for ladies.

Facility fun - 5 - they have a swimming pool and a walking path nearby.

Facility usefulness - 7 - Dump station and lots of pull-throughs full hook-ups with 50 amp service. Laundry but no propane.

Nearby attractions - 5 - There are a few things to do near Bartlesville and Tulsa is less than an hour away.

Staff - 7 - Owner was very chatty.

Natural surroundings - 6 - Next to a small creek, decent amount of trees

Value - 9 - $16 for a night for three night with a Passport America card.

Roominess - 4 - We had plenty of room, but I wouldn't want to be here during peak season.

Overall - 6

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kevin Shutterbug

This is Blake's, er Kevin Shutterbug's, first report from the road! These are sponsored by One Way Street Ministries.


Sorry, but this post has been deleted because it is a part of our new book called Napkin Dreams!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bartlesville and Claremore, Oklahoma

We have spent the last two days quietly recovering from our first Kidology to Go in Locust Grove. After packing up and doing an inventory check and report, we were all tired and ready to just spend some quiet family time together. Sunday afternoon we drove up to Bartlesville (it was on our way and had a Passport America Campground). On the way we stopped in Claremore and visited the Will Rogers Museum. This is a donation based museum ($9 suggested for families) and not only did we learn a little bit more about Will Rogers (did you know that he died in a plan crash in Alaska), they have an entire basement dedicated to kids playing and pretending. Our boys actually had to be given three-minute warning to leave the basement! We all also enjoyed watching oldfootage of Will Rogers doing his roping tricks, and seeing the dioramas of his life.

Then we moved on to Bartlesville where we have visited Keepsake Candle Company, played on an old caboose and found a nifty park to play in. They also have a nice walking path here, along with lots of Buffalo statues brightly painted hanging around town and an interesting piece of architecture called the Price Building
Tomorrow we move on to a state park that we are excited about, before moving onto Kansas!

Super Hero Cam

This is a very cute video Blake made at the Action Figure Museum - made from the perspective of a super hero viewing the museum!

Campground review - Road Runner RV Park

We wanted to stay close to Oklahoma city to visit several things in this city. However there were no Passport America or Happy Camper sites close enough, so we resorted to an internet search and found the Road Runner RV Park with easy access to the several interstates that course through Oklahoma City. So while it wasn't the nicest park, it was very convenient for our purposes.

Cleanliness - 7 - It was clean, although in some places it is getting old and run down.

Bathrooms - 6 - There were lots of showers which were roomy and hot. The boys liked the trough style urinal, but Dad wasn't as impressed. No soap by the sinks - what is it with no soap in RV Park bathrooms???

Facility fun - 1 - Nothing here at the park fun to do.

Facility usefulness - 9 - Dump station and some pull-throughs full hook-ups. nice laundry facility with only $1 to wash or dry.

Nearby attractions - 6 - Right in Oklahoma City and nearby suburbs.

Staff - 8 - Met two staff members who were very helpful and friendly.

Natural surroundings - 3 - Very few trees and close to Interstate 35. Nice grass surrounds the sites.

Value - 6 - $31 for a night.

Overall - 5

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Braum Family Farm Tour

During our stay in Oklahoma, we just couldn’t pass up the Family Friendly Free-bee of a tour of the Braum Family Farm. Braum’s is a semi-local business that makes some of the best ice cream I have ever eaten. But they only have restaurants within 300 miles of the farm, so they can deliver their products fresh and have their drivers back home in one day. This tour is probably one of the best tours we have taken yet. Make sure you call ahead of time so they can give you the best tour time.
When you arrive at the visitor’s entrance, they will show you a short film explaining the whole farm and factory that produces their yummy ice cream, milk, dairy products and baked goods. Then you get to ride in the tour bus that has a fun black and white spotted “cow” paint job. My boys were struck speechless when they heard the bus start to make mooing sounds. It’s just that kind of a fun place. The farm isn’t really open for tours, but you get to see most of that on the film and they do point out the interesting buildings of the farm on the bus ride. Finally, you arrive at the factory where they make the really important stuff….the ice cream!

The factory is built with an upper level that runs the entire length of the building. All the way through they have windows looking down over the factory floor. As we walked through the window lined hallway and were shown all the different parts of the factory, we were greeted with friendly waves from the employees below. It was so fun to watch them make the ice cream bars that were being covered in chocolate, the Birthday Cake ice cream, and the huge vats of cottage cheese. We even got to peek into the lab where they test the quality of their milk and other products. And our tour guide was so friendly. She made sure that the boys saw all the really interesting parts and understood what they were seeing.
After that, it was back in the bus and we returned to the visitor’s entrance. But, don’t make the mistake of not going back into the building, because there is more inside. They make sure that everyone gets an ice cream bar before they leave, and our guide also made sure that each of the boys got their own Braum’s magnet, stickers and post cards. The boys give the Braum’s tour 5 thumbs up and were even more excited when we decided to stop at a Braum’s for lunch and a gallon of their farm fresh milk. They all agree that Braum’s has the best tasting milk they have ever had. So, I guess you could say we give it 5 milk mustaches up.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cowboy Museum

We are sorry, but we have removed this post because it is a part of our new book entitled Napkin Dreams.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Action Figure Museum

Only in America could you have an entire museum dedicated to action figures. With over 15,000 toys for boys (OK and some girls too), the Action Figure Museum was a virtual paradise for the gentleman in our home. One section is a diorama with somewhere around a thousand action figures set up in an imaginary bedroom. They have a section dedicated to some of our favs including Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Tron.

Our youngest sons loved the dress up area where they could pretend to be Darth Vader, Spider Man or Batman. While the guys in our house loved this place, it was a bit pricey, so mom "sat out" this amazing museum in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma! Can you believe she skipped seeing the Lone Ranger on a Tauntaun, The Thing cradling Nemo or a Giant T-Rex munching on C3PO! I am not sure I'll ever quite understand girls!!

Other highlights included a Dr. Laura doll, some original Star Wars figures (just like the ones I had), Indiana Jones cereal, a super hero underwear collection and Bat Man Hamburger Helper!

Homemade bridge at Red Rock Canyon Park

Blake and Tanner "built" a bridge across this little creek with a fallen tree. Blake crossed it but fell in and got soaked. Dad had to prove it could be done without a dousing. What a man!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial

Sorry, but this post has been deleted because it is a part of our new book called Napkin Dreams!


50 McDonalds - Oklahoma

We hit our third McDonalds in our nationwide quest for the perfect Mickey D's Happy meal toy! This time the little boys got a toy from the new movie Megamind. This McDonalds in Oklahoma City had a Modern-Deco, with orange and creme colored booths and chairs. Hmm, fries tasted the same, delicious!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Campground review - Red Rock Canyon State Park

Cleanliness - 7 - For a State Park it was average. There was a bit of construction going on.

Bathrooms - 5 - There were nice new bathrooms which charged for showers. However there were older, run down bathrooms with a free shower. You had to hold the button down or the shower would turn off though!

Facility fun - 9 - They have a pool that was closed for the season and some interesting trails. Our boys mostly liked playing on the red hills and the small creek running by our campsite. There is also a small pond for fishing and some great walls for rappelling, if you are into that sort of thing.

Facility usefulness - 6 - Dump station and some pull-throughs, very few full hook-ups. No propane, but not unusual for a State Park

Nearby attractions - 4 - About an hour from Oklahoma City and 45 minutes to the west from some Route 66 museums.

Staff - 8 - They were nice, although they only take cash or check!

Natural surroundings - 9 - Gorgeous red canyon walls, lots of trees and The California Trail runs through the middle of the park.

Value - 8 - $25 for a night.

Overall - 7
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