About Us

Welcome to our blog of our 2013 trip. We Have been camping since our honeymoon. Each summer we take a trip to a new part of our country. We try to stop at local fairs & festivals, take tours of manufacturing plants, do a little kayaking, and try to get an up close look at how people live! Join us! This Bog runs from our most recent post backwards. At the end of this year,I have left the past years blog. Double click on any picture to get a larger image. These are all low res versions. If you see one you really like, let me know and I'll send you a better image.

Liz & Bruce on the way to Minnesota, last year

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Final Thoughts

We finished up at home on Saturday afternoon, August 14, 2010.
We covered 3623 miles with the trailer, 5177 in the truck. We registered in 14 campgrounds for an average of ~ 2.75 nights per stay. We stayed 3 nights in WalMart lots, and two nights at Carriage's complimentary campground.
We visited two countries, 1 province, & 8 states. Aside from our two destinations, Algonquin, and Oshkosh the places we visited, and the campgrounds where we stayed were all serendipitous. I think we're getting pretty good at letting the wind direct us.

Liz and I have a lot of great memories from this trip, Some of which I've documented in this blog, some of which I did not. The Michigan trip was mostly about fairs, and factories, Last year's was highlighted by our first trip to Oshkosh, this years was cruises. But one common theme runs through all of these trips, the people we meet. From the people in Traverse city sitting on the side of a street, to the veteran we sat next to at a Fri night fish fry last year, to the 30 something woman who came here from Holland a few years ago for an opportunity to farm - and who has created world class Gouda cheese - These are really interesting people, who share a little of their lives with us on our trips. So as long as we are able, we'll keep traveling.

Liz and Bruce

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thur & Fri Aug12 & 13 Almost Home! w/ addenum

Well...... this is it.

We stopped at Liz's mom's house on Thursday afternoon, and had dinner with her family. My dad and Gladys just gave up the snowbird routine, and moved to an assisted loving community in FL.

For those of you who have stuck with us through this trip, we hope you have experienced a sense of why we have come to love these trips. Each one develops a unique "theme" which has never been what we anticipated. We made it from the Cleveland area to Wilkes-Barre Pa today, and just finished dinner at Olive Garden.
We are staying at one of our routine places to park overnight. a WalMart parking lot. Sam Walton started the tradition of letting RV'ers spend a night tin his parking lots. Cracker Barrell does the same. Half a dozen of us here tonight. They are good for times like tonight when we got in about 7:00 PM had dinner and got to the lot at about 8:30. I've got generators in the back of the truck, so we've got power, and we, usually read or something for an hour, and go to bed. We're both reasonably sound sleepers, especially after a day of travel, so we aren't bothered by anything.
Tomorrow morning, we'll make coffee, and be on the road within an hour of getting up, sometimes much less. Just not worth finding a campground, driving to it, getting a site, setting up after dark, and tearing down in around 12 hours.
So thank you for following us, and particularly to those of you who wrote us back, with your comments. We talked about this method of communicating, and decided it has merits for the future simply as a means of documenting what we've done. If our friends enjoy it too - great!
If you have suggestions or comments about our trip don't hesitate to ask us, in person or by email. If you know of other bogs either inexpensive or free, such as this one, please let me know.
I'll wrap this trip up after I'm home.
See you later, maybe on the road!!
Liz and Bruce
We picked up a few participants in the Wal Mart travel club. We ended up with 11 Here's a couple of shots.

Tues, Wed Aug 10,11

We headed for Elkhart Indiana, the home of the RV industry. Two years ago we visited here to do plant tours and try to sort out the differences in 5th Wheels that people use for extended traveling like we've been doing. Last year we visited twice,once for emergency repairs on our trailer due to tour tire blowout, and once again at the end for the final repairs when they had gathered together all of the parts. This year the age of our 5 the wheel had started to wear on us a good bit on this trip, so we decided to spend a day visiting Carriage, the manufacturer we believe builds a trailer that will holdup better under extended use.
The photo left is a possible look at the back of the trailer, door on my left, kitchen on my right. We'd probably move the furniture around or take a piece out, and may opt for lighter wood. Lots of options. We need a new truck to tow it, and this will set us back several pretty pennies. Our unit is 7 years old this year, and while we love the floor plan, we think it's time to to think seriously agbout this.
Maybe next year.
Thursday we head to Liz's moms house, to see her family.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fri - Mon Aug 6-9

One thing I missed on Lacross was telling you about a little trip we made up and down the west branch of the Mississippi in our kayaks We put in at the very end of our campground and paddled north a little bit. We were paddling into a strong breeze and the current. It was a real workout. We made it up to our trailer, but we could not figure out how to anchor me so I could get the camera out and take a piture there. So you'll have to settle for one, distorted, poor very wide angle shot of Liz at our put in point.
We decided we wanted to go back to Madison Wi. We were there last year, and we needed to go back to get some Sprecher's soda, our all time favorite. There were some interesting cheese companies south of there and another brewery that makes soda. To top it off the county park we stayed at last year has Camping World and a Gander Mountain right across the street! So we headed there on Friday. We got there, found the same spot we had last year, and found that the mosquito's were much worse. They swarmed around us and Indy every time we went out. We went to Camping World and Gander, and picked up a few essentials.
Saturday we headed south to Monroe, where there is an old time brewer of beer & quality sodas. We had found the Monroe area made lots of different types of Swiss cheese, so we stopped at a few on our way down. Same basic equipment and process as before. When we got to Minhas brewery we found this sign at the entrance. I assumed from the kind of German sounding name that that the brewery was had a typical Milwaukee immigrant story. Wrong! It was immigrants allright only the current owners are an Indian brother and sister from Canada! They had a few brands of beer they were successfully marketing in Canada, and this facility, then called Huber brewing was thier supplier. When Canada's laws governing who can begin brewing beer stood in the way of the Minhas' plans for growth they came to America bought their supplier, and invested millions of (Canadian) dollars in this plant. It is now the number 2 employer in the community behind mammoth Swiss Colony the big mail order cheese company. Besides continuing to brew beer, they produce a line of sodas under the Blummer name, an old owner of the brewery during prohibition who made "near beer".
Sunday we went to another Lands End outlet to try to find Liz a pair of pool shoes for her water aerobics class. We had seen the two very beautiful lakes that Madison is clustered around last year when we were without our Kayaks. This year, we had them and had to put in. We spent the afternoon Kayaking on the shores of Wisconsin's capital building. Google Map "Madison Wi" to see what I mean.
Sunday night, the mosquito's finally got to us, and rather than stay at Token Creek another night, we made the decision to leave in the morning , drop the trailer at Camping World for the day, and drive in to Milwaukee. We wanted some Sprecher's soda, and needed to eat at a Guy Fieri place. The Comet Cafe turned out to be the place we chose. A fun place obviously for a much younger crowd than us. Somebody out there needs to explain to me what has suddenly become so fashionable about bacon. This place really touted their veggie (and vegan) dishes,and then offers a side of bacon for $.75! Bacon vodka. Slice of bacon as garnish in your beer???? Good food,great wait staff, interesting?? menu. We headed down towards Elkhart and stopped at WalMart in Morris IL for the night. One more state on our map.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Monday- Thurs Aug 2- 5 La Crosse WI

We moved over to La Cross Wi, and the Mississippi River next. We had talked of going up north further and checking out north east WI but we decided to leave that for a future trip to MN, and Liz said she would really like to see the Mississippi and we found a brochure advertising paddlewheel cruises. We found a nice campground on a little island between the main branch and the western branch of the Mississippi. The whole time we were there, I kept saying "I've got to take a picture of this site, and never did. They had the trailers backed in on an angle so our front door opened out on the lawn then the river. The park was clearly within a danger zone for flooding. When we looked at the seasonal trailers they were set up for immediate evacuation, Even the electric boxes were 6-8' above ground on some sites, with ladders next to them! The first night the sunset over the river was beautiful. I shot this while we were sitting at our site.
The next day we went on the paddlewheel boat on a trip up the river. This boat has two paddle wheels for propulsion run hydraulically. I shot the picture for Erin. As we went up the river, there was the usual number of beautiful waterfront houses, with their unique characteristics to accommodate the periodic flooding. The other difference between this tour and the others we've been on, were the boats. They had the normal number of run abouts and water skiers, but they also had houseboats, and barges called "tows". A typical tow has 12-15 barges pushed by a huge tugboat. If this picture does not meet your expectation of barges being towed, it is because many years ago as the number of barges, and the total lengths got longer and longer, towing barges became impossible. The barges at the end would not stay in line, so they reversed the order and began pushing them. The towboats are huge powerful machines, and the barges have grown to over 1000' in length. The cruise went up to lock and dam # 7 and we watched a tow pass thru on our trip. We made a note to go back and see it close up. I went downstairs and noticed that they had a window looking out through the back of the boat and through the paddle wheel. It was interesting, but difficult to get a picture.
I need to use a few words to describe the geology of this area. This is known as the driftless area. It was never covered by any glacier, but they had a tremendous influence on the terrain. When the glaciers up north melted they released massive quantities of melt water. This carved out the Mississippi river valley. You've seen it in the background in all the previous pictures if you've enlarged them. The river is about 600' below the level of the surrounding farms. Because this created some very interesting geologic features they have several fair size drives around the area. So we went on a couple of modified tours. The first took us to Grandad Bluff overlooking La Crosse. This is a spot 600' above the river. In the picture right, you can see Iowa off to your left, Minnesota to your right, and Wisconsin at your feet. In the picture left, you will see the bridge over the Mississippi on your left, the city of La Crosse actually blocks the river, our campground is on the island, then the west branch and the western bluffs. The view was great. We found the land on top to be very much typical farmland. As you travel back towards La Crosse it seemed like we were going to fall of the cliff when we got close to the river. We both commneted on the differences in terrain , and the feel of the communities between the riverfront towns,and the farms above. Even the farms in the broad valley felt different, smaller.
We did head up to Lock # 7, and actually went downriver to lock # 8 as well. There was a tow just entering as we got there. If you're not interested in the details, skip down a little. We ask lots of questions of the guys who are working, and find most people are delighted to describe what they do for a living - with pride! Tows are well over 1000' and the locks are 650' lond necessitating the driver to head his load in, break it apart, then back half of it out. In the photo left, he is just backing out after leaving half. You can see the gates closing. They then close the gates raise the level 6-10' the go through the whole process again.
We usually arn't bashful about asking people about what they're doing and usually find people are delighted to tell of their jobs. These guys were no exception. The guy in the white t-shirt is a lock worker,and the guys in the blue are on the barge, a crew from the deep south by their accents. They said they usually have 10 workers but on this trip they only had 8. This seemed like a pretty good staff until they went to work "locking thru". This involved guiding 13 barges in to a lock with 1-2' of clearance on a side. Once the first 650' of barges got into the lock and it was filled they had to be winched out. I asked the guy who was on the end o fthe last barge how they stopped them. He said he stopped them with just the rope he had in his hands. He allowed that sometimes it was kind of exciting. A crew typically works three weeks on and three weeks off.
This tow is heading up river, with mostly empty barges, and a few filled with something the workers described as slag. It's the rock like stuff in the open barge just behind the dome tops in the center. When they're empty they draw a few feet , when full they draw 9'. These barges typically fill with grain in Duluth MN, or Winona MN a few miles up river.
We dedcided to take another of hte recommended trips down beyond lock 8 into Iowa. La Crosse has a sign on some tanks next to our bridge, that say "Wisconsin's West Coast" Well Liz and I have never thought of Iowa as being anything but landlocked, but we found that they have an "East Coast". This part of Iowa is anything but flat and cornfields. As we started back up the other side of the river, we noticed some nice scenic overlooks and decided to stop at one. We knew that the river traffic was tremendously encouraged at the first dredging of a shipping channel through this section of this flat plain and islands. We also had learned that erosion still is a major problem here. What you see in the photo right is an island creation project going on out in the Mississippi. The Corps of engineers are digging out channels for navigation, and restoring the mud back to create islands for plant and wildlife habitats. This area has become a bird sanctuary, for the spring and the fall fly-overs. In the picture left you can see some of the Wisconsin bluffs and the farms on top of them. Look at a larger image just over the dredging barge for the silos 600' above the river.
On the way out of La Crosse we stopped at an outlet for The Company Store, the place Liz bought the down comforter for our bed about 20 years ago. We bought another one. This plus some outlet shopping at Land's End in Oshkosh is all we've done on this trip. August 5th was our 32nd anniversary, so we celebrated by going out to dinner. On to Madison tomorrow we think.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Friday-Sunday July 29-31 Thorp Wi

You can probably tell from my more frequent posts of late that we are now at a park where my broadband card at least works. We arrived in Lacrosse WI on Sun. eve. But let me go back and tell you where we were last weekend. We decided we wanted to do some cheese plant tours. Yes, despite spending weeks in Wi last year we did not do a tour of a cheese plant! There was an interesting plant in Thorp, a couple of hours away so we found a county
campground about 10 min so South of there. We called and they weren't making cheese on Fri. because they were having an open house on Sat. OK we could do that.
I was a little concerned about checking into a county campground with no reservation on a weekend, and looking for a site for a rig our size. We love the county parks out here, we're always surprised, never disappointed. So we went straight there. The first four sites he gave us were impossible to get into, but we found one in another part of the park and we were set.
We had a back up dairy, Nasonville over in Marshfield, and went there in the afternoon. We met Kirk, who proved to be the son-in-law of the owner. Nasonville, like most cheese makers in WI is family owned, and operated. As we toured the plant, Kirk introduced us to the owners son, who was driving a tow motor loading a semi, and others in the family. There were still about 50 employees and they run around the clock. They have their own fleet of trucks to pick up milk from local farms.
Curd Production
They test for contaminants, and quality before unloading. The quality of milk, the butterfat, and other ingredients is extremely important to Wisconsin cheesmaking. Back in the late 1800's early 1900's Wisconsin had a very poor reputation for cheese. In Chicago, they refused to buy it because it was so bad. A University of Wisconsin faculty member researched the components of cheese, and the milk it was made form and came up with a tester and a scoring system which he encouraged all WI dairy farmers to adopt. Because they were selling so little cheese a few did out of desperation, and got a tremendous response.
40 # Block for pizza

They quickly adopted a number of standard WI procedures and a license to make and sell WI cheese. In a relatively few years WI was winning awards around the world for their quality. It was a lesson they never forgot, and we heard it everywhere we went.
This relatively small company produces an immense quantity of cheese which they primarily sell to re packagers who shred it for the pizza market on the east coast. When you buy a pizza, you are probably eating Nasonville cheese. They also produce an immense quantity of Feta cheese also for the re packagers. A few years ago they produced one quarter of the US consumption. Here are blocks of Feta settling. The warehouse photo shows the Feta cheese in the white boxes. To give you an idea of the scale of this small little dairy and cheesemaking operation, they bring in one million pounds of milk per day to produce 100,000 lbs of cheese!
As we were leaving Kirk's wife came up with a DVD her uncle made. Kirk had found out Liz was a teacher, and they give this to the teachers who bring their students to the company. They both made this tour very personal, and we were delighted to meet them.
The next day we went to a small Norwegian farm called "Holland's Family Farm" the home of Marieke Gouda cheeses. By co-incidence they were having their 2nd open house Saturday. The story here is pretty typical of farms in WI, even today. Land is very scarce in Holland, so good young farmers come to America and Canada for opportunities. Rolf Penterman and his brother were in Canada looking for farms, and met Marieke there. The brothers later decided to by an abandoned farm in WI, Marieke came to visit them. She and Rolf married (it's a cute story, that's her and her daughter) and she, being the driven person she was, obtained a cheese-making license, and began producing her native dutch cheese -Gouda. She was extremely successful, winning numerous awards immediately. Her husband and his brother are perfectionist farmers. They have world class operation here, milking 750 cows. Marieke uses 10% of their production for her cheeses, the rest is sold to Land of Lakes for butter. This is a classic American story of an immigrant family coming to our country, and creating jobs. The Penterman's employ about 20 people in the cheese and the dairy buisness.
Believe us when we tell you that Calif. cows have nothing on the Pentereman's girls. Talk about pampered! They never graze, being fed only a select diet of their favorite grain, and hay. They have brushes that rotate when a cow stands underneath them, to scratch their backs! Our guide said that she asked Rolf after working there for several months, why she never heard a cow moo there. He told her mooing is a sign of distress. There were many other dairy men in our tour group, and they all concurred, with envy, these young men are doing it right. What a pleasure it was to see this family working hard, contributing, and being successful

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thursday, July 28 Antigo Wi Mepps

We left Oshkosh keeping our wheels mostly free of mud and went to Antigo Wi. The home of Mepps fishing lures. It wasn't far, but we wanted to be there for a scheduled (yes we do have to schedule a few things) tour. We never know what we're going to get with these factory tours. Sometimes they are very organized, offered only on certain days at certain times. This one was listed in my website guide as 3:30 PM M-Th. So we wanted to be there promptly. We are sensitive to the fact the companies that give tours are at least incurring some cost,and at most (preferably) taking a person off the manufacturing floor and asking them to be our tour guide. It usually happens this way with small companies. When we approached we saw this sign!
So a word about MEPPS to explain their need for squirrel tails.
MEPPS spinning lures started out in France. art Sheldon ran a sport shop in Atigo WI, and sold a lot of them. When he started having a hard time clearing cusotms etc, he went to France, and after a period of time bought the company. MEPPS is an acronym for Method of Precsion manufacturing roughly translated.
My connection with them goes back to my Boy Scout days, when we went on a cross Michigan canoe trip with my troop. We were told by the canoe rental place we had to come with certain sizes of MEPPS spinners. I did, and don't really remember how many fish two guys in an Aluminum canoe managed to catch, but I had a few in my tackle box when we went to Canada a few years later, and boy did they work! They are a spinning lure with the metal "blade or spinner portion stamped into an unusual shape. This causes a unique movement that is very attractive to fish. After Art bought the company, he was out using his lures one day and met a boy who had a long stringer full of nice size fish. He had modified his MEPPS spinners with a little piece of Squirrel fur around the hooks. Art tried it, and the resulting success has provided MEPPS with the requirement for 300,000 tails per year.
The company is still very small, with 50 assembly employees in the US, using plastic and metal components provided by their French sister company. We got a tour from one of the assemblers, who left her seat at the table and walked us throughthe plant. They are all women, and Liz likened it to making jewlery, lots of little shiny little pieces of metal and plastic, all being put together in a attractive string. Then comes the tail part. They have tried synthetic hair and the fur of every animal, and one that gives MEPPS lures their characteristic spin is squirrel tails. Wisconsin youth used to hunt squirrel, as the stew made from the meat is quite tasty. However video games are cutting into teenage boys hunting time even in the wilds of upper Wisconsin, so MEPPS is actively looking for all of the squirrel tails they can get. They pay up to $.16 ea. per washed and properly packed tails.
It was a great tour, we had a pretty good campsite, and we started planning where to go in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mon-Wed July 26-28 Oshkosh!!!

On Monday we headed for Wisconsin and the worlds largest fly-in airshow at Oshkosh. This is something you have to experience if you are a pilot or have any interest in airplanes, flying or the military. It is enormous, and this year it had a special challenge. the area had received over 10" of rain in the days leading up to the convention!
It is said by all that Oshkosh is not as much about planes as it is about the people that love them. This year proved that. Normally 10-15,000 planes fly- in and park alongside Wittman airport, whose control tower is the world's busiest during this week. Most of these people camp under the wings of their planes. There is additional space, greater than half mile square for people who come with their camping equipment. This year it was all soggy, and muddy.
We had heard there could be problems before we got there, but because our internet connection was non-existent we headed there anyway. On the way I got a connection and we read what was happening there. The organization that runs the airshow, EAA uses hundreds of volunteers to handle the tremendous crowds. They went to work and were finding places all over the city for people to park their big motor-homes and fifth wheels. These places were provided bus service, porta-potties and security. We arrived counting on the volunteers to handle the crush of people. they did. There is such a tremendous "can-do' attitude among people in this community it is infectious.
We were checked in and sent to a large field still on Wittman's camping grounds but clearly never used for camping . It was high and dry, but the "roads" to get there were muddy and soft. The volunteers were incredible. We were passed from one to another as we moved from check in to our area. We passed motor homes and trailers nearly up to their axles in mud. These belonged to volunteers who had parked there in the weeks before and thought their unit would be OK. We managed to get a spot and got very little mud on our rig.
We wanted to be there by Mon night because my favorite band growing up, Chicago, was performing. We were, the crowd was huge, and they were fabulous, playing all of my old favorites - and two encores! This event was special, because the DC-3 turned 75 this year. They had the world's largest collection of DC-3's and derivatives such as military, assembled since they've stopped flying. You can see one landing in the background, as Chicago plays in the foreground. Liz managed to get us great seats right next to an old Ford Tri motor. It's hard to photograph anywhere here and not have a plane be in the picture.
On Tuesday morning we went walking around. There is so much to see and do that even with the 100,000 people or so that are there, it rarely seems crowded. Some people even manage to sneak in a catnap (note the airplane book he is holding.)There is an excellent bus system that picks you up from the campground, and takes you to the entry gate, or Bus central. In Bus central you can pick up a bus to the museum, which we did, and went to a talk by Dick Rutan, the pilot of Voyager, the only plane to go around the world non stop on a single load of fuel. His talk was about much more than recapping the adventures he and Jeana Yeager experienced flying around the world. It was about his brother, Bert, the designer of the plane, the difficulties raising money for the venture, the volunteers who helped build the craft, and the government involvement - and the lack thereof that made the whole thing possible. He continued to make the point, that our country is the only place that a couple of home builders could assemble a team of other flying bugs and put a plane into the air to do the seeming impossible. He also noted ,with some disappointment, that the record they set remains unchallenged. Despite the fact we all knew the story, and the obvious outcome, he kept us on the edge of our seats during some harrowing times.
EAA has a special exhibit in the museum for the Rutan's and their contribution to the aerospace community. In it are replicas of Voyager (the original hangs in the Smithsonian) and Space ship One, among other significant milestone aircraft Bert has designed. The latter is the craft Bert is designing and Richard Branson is funding, to be the first totally private venture to take man to outer space.Both Rutans, & Branson were at Oshkosh last year with Virgin Galactic, the space launch vehicle.
EAA was honoring veterans this year, and we attended a talk by Hal Weakley a B-17 pilot during WWll. Hal flew countless missions in this bomber, and EAA honored him a few years back by painting their restored B-17 in his colors. Attendees at Oshkosh waited for hours to take rides in this plane. Hal told stories of his days piloting, but we were all enthralled with his takes of being shot down and his times in France behind enemy lines. He told of the French underground and how they helped him to get out. Hal told with emotion of his hearing that a man who had hid him in his attic had passed away last year. He returned hte letters the man had sent him after the war. The family returned to Hal the silver bracelet Hal had given him for saving his life. After both of these talks, Liz and I said"That was worth the price of admission."
People come to Oshkosh with a wide variety of camping equipment, means of transportation to get around the huge grounds, and purposes for attending. The one thing in common is an interest in flight. Camping equipment is as expensive as a million dollar motor home to the tents underneath the wings of the plane you flew in with. Intergrounds transport is everything from bicycles, motorcycles to motorized skateboards. Note in the photo's I'm standing in the same corner, waiting for the bus when these guys drive by. When we pulled in, one of the volunteers made a joke about the kayaks we had on top of the truck not going to be to useful today," We've already started to dry out!"
One thing you can expect is to have an interesting plane in the air at all times. Promptly at 7:00 the ultralights go up. They sound like mosquitos. From about 3:00 every day until dark there is an airshow. Different theme every day, but there are almost always warbirds, restored vintage airplanes from our military. These are almost always privately owned and the pride and joy of some dentist or shop owner from somewhere far afield. I ususally just sit outside the trailer, with my camera, listen to EAA radio for the comment from the flight line and watch. Unbelievable.
Last year we never made it to the seaplane base, a separate area at Oshkosh where people who own seaplanes gather. This year we took the bus over to a deligtful little bay offLake Winnabago and saw seaplanes of every description. In keeping with the seaplane BASE theme even their 1st aid station looked like it came from MASH.
There is something to do for everyone at Oshkosh- regardless of how much interest you have in flight. There are the usual static displays of aircraft, too numerous to mention, a full assortment of current modern day fighters in the airshows and on the ground, squadrons of Air NG and Air Force staff there to explain what they do to protect our country, and various display in the hangers from organizatioons like the National Park Service who this year brought a demonstration "Wright Flyer" that a person could lay down just like Orrville, and look at a virtual image of himself taking off just like in 1903.
Their is something about these special people and their convention, to which they graciously invite 500,000 others like us, that renews our spirit. There is no envy of equipment or of position. We sat down at a table a to eat a Johnsenville Brat, with a couple. They struck up a conversation and we found out they were a Southwest pilot and his wife who flew out in his small Cessna. They were on an extended trip as well, but can't pick up as many souvenirs as we can. We went to a talk given by a pilot for Airforce One, who at one point said perfectly seriously, "It flies just like a conventional 747-200, How many of you have some time on one?" Dozens of hands went up. When we were listening to Col. Weakley, half a dozen Tuskegee Airmen were sitting in the row in front of us.
We should feel like outsiders, but instead we end up feeling like we have just been invited into a family gathering, and everybody is welcoming us. It is truly the spirit of America.