Wednesday, July 25

If you stay in the Fairgrounds....

The Fair may just come to town. What are the odds? We are actually here for the County Fair, and my kids just happen to have never, I know never been to a Fair. This one even happens to be gate! How do I get so lucky?

We went to the stock car races on Friday night and quickly learned that I DO NOT like the races. Besides the fact that they were excruciatingly LOUD, it's B.O.R.I.N.G. Then my butt revolted against the metal benches. Going home and doing dishes sounded like more fun, and Jewel was right there with me. We left the boys on their own.
Night at the races

Saturday was actually the first day of the Fair, we didn't check it out until Monday, but were treated to a concert by Trent Wellman on the first night, without even leaving our yard. I don't know who he was, but he sounded really good. We also saw some of the beauty pageant winners, and since Jewel has been saying lately she wants to be in a pageant, I asked her if she wanted me to put makeup on her. Of course she wanted to! It was a little tricky getting the mascara on, but she was happy with the results.
All made up

Monday while the boys were swimming Jewel and I decided to check out the Fair to see the animals. First thing we see when we get there is this Wildlife Encounters presentation going on. It ended up being a not for profit organization that takes rescues exotic animals, and they brought a bunch of them with them. We barely sat down to watch the show when I got called up on stage to be a volunteer......I was not volunteering, but I couldn't say no, so I put down my camera and went up. Then they brought out a bear cub, and I was to feed him! It was pretty neat feeding the bear, but I hated being on stage. Then when I got back down the teenage girl next to me said
I hope you don't mind but I took some pictures of you with your camera while you were up there.
Mind? I wanted to adopt her.

Me feeding a bear

They also brought with them a swimming pool full of alligators and for just five dollars they'll take a lovely polaroid of you with the gator after you've caught it. We've got to get the boys for this, so we leave and wander to the kids barn where Jewel loved up on some more baby chicks. If you ask her what her favorite activity is she'll tell you it's "petting baby animals". In fact if you meet her, don't be surprised if she asks you what your favorite activity is...Just so she can tell you hers.

We came back later with the boys and headed straight for the gators. The boys got right in and quickly caught their gators. They were a little hesitant at first because they all scattered to the bottom of the pool which meant they were harder to get to. Jonas went for the only one that didn't have it's mouth taped up, and Jake went for a mid sized one.
First alligators caught
They were ecstatic! They were high for hours after that and immediately want to do it again. Instead we walk around the midway and buy a family pack of tickets for the rides. That family pack got us all on ONE ride. One. One ride that nearly gave me whiplash and almost resulted in tetanus shots for the boys. It was fun, but what a rip off.

The next day is Kids Day so we go a little earlier because Jewel wants to wrestle a gator now, and we want to beat the crowds. That's funny if you've ever been to a small town fair. Beat the crowds, that's about 20 kids. Anyway, Jewel wanted a gator and since I'm paying for the lovely polaroid, all three kids can go in at once, and I'm allowed to take as many pictures as I want, and they'll take their one polaroid. Good deal if you ask me. Jewel catches her gator after just a short time.
He may look tame here, but he was a wiggler. She held on tight though and wouldn't let him go. The boys went for the biggest alligators in the pool.
Gator Jake
The only problem withthat was they were too heavy for them to pick up once they caught them! Gator Jim helped them lift one up so they could get their photo.
Holding the bigger alligator
We watched another one of the animal shows, and this time Jake got called up on stage.
African Serval
To have an African Serval stand on his back.
For another donation the kids had their picture taken with the world's smallest fox, one that not one of us can remember the name of.
World's smallest Fox

We waited an hour and a half to get Jewel's and Jonas' faces painted.
Lizard Face painting
To just go to the pool afterwards and have it all wash off.

Today's the last day of the fair so we'll be going back to use up all the free ride tickets they gave us on Kids Day. What a nice way to enjoy the fair. We can go for just thirty minutes to see something, instead of being there all day really wearing ourselves out. We get to enjoy it a little at a time, that's nice.

Life is good.

Friday, July 20

Nebraska, tastes a lot like Iowa

Nebraska is so lovely this time of year. I think what attracts me most to the midwest is the sheer vastness of green. Growing up mostly in deserts, I never seem to get enough of bright green rolling hills of grass, especially with little black cows dotted all over the countryside.
Nebraska landscapes
I have this picture set as my desktop. Doesn't it kind of remind you of the original Windows background?

Anyway, it's a good time to be in Nebraska, and we couldn't have picked a better place to be right now. Joey's work is with a company he enjoys working for, and it's less than two miles away. He's not using his welder on this job so someone else picks him up in the morning, brings him back for lunch, and then back to work and home again. This means I get the truck everyday, but of course, I don't even need it here. The campground isn't the most ideal:
Nebraska campground w/ pool
But having multiple playgrounds and a swimming pool as our front yard, leaves little room to complain. Our backyard is also the fairgrounds which hosts car races every friday night. Last week we watched them from our campspot:
Watching the Races
We talked about going inside to watch tonight, so we'll see.

We bought a family pass to the pool, so the boys are able to come and go as they please, but Jewel has to wait for me to take her. If she could swim without floaties she'd be able to go with the boys, until then I'm forced to go and lounge around poolside, leaving all chores behind, while absorbing the sun and getting a deep dark healthy tan. Meanwhile, the bus needs a good scrubbing. But hey, I'm tan!

Even the local Museum is in walking distance. It is, however, like most small town museums, pretty boring. Jake thought it was awesome, though, but I'm sure it's only beacuse they got free access to this old caboose:
Old caboose
He obviously wasn't thrilled to be sitting in an old school desk:
So happy to be at a desk

Lately Jewel's been wanting me to take pictures of her. Here she is on the porch of the old school house where she does her common "only one pose, and hold it for five minutes."
Jewel pink dress
I'll take what I can get. Even if it includes her jumping in front of my camera while I'm trying to get a shot of the park.
Further proof that the best things come unexpectedly.

Friday, July 6

Lake McConaughy

We couldn't have asked for a better place to go and hang while we wait for our next job to "come to us". We found Lake McConaughy by looking at the Road Atlas for the nearest big body of water, with little tents around it. Lake McConaughy fit the bill, and then Joey remembered the mechanic in Ogallala from last year, when the bus broke down while he was picking it up after just buying it, telling him about this exact lake. The guy couldn't say enough good things about it, and Joey had always wanted to check it out, so we were very excited to get there. We've seen plenty of midwestern lakes, but we never expected to find what we did. It was Hawaii in the middle of Nebraska! We couldn't believe the white sand beaches, and so much of it, it was say the least. We first see the lake while going over the dam.
Lake McConaughy
Lake McConaughy is on the left, while Lake Ogallala is on the right. The later lake was formed when all the dirt was dug up to build the dam, and is now a quiet little fishing lake with camping and lots of shade trees. This being our first time we went for the grand daddy lake, Big Mac.
Lake Maconaughy
We pulled in on Sunday afternoon, and after checking out both campgrounds with electricity we found our perfect spot, overlooking the land and the lake.
Lake McConaughy (165)
Most visitors to the lake camp right on the beach
Lake McConaughy Beachside
Or under trees between the road and the beach, but the bus was way too heavy to even attempt it, plus the fridge stopped working on propane so we have to have electricty to run it, and with the heat, the A/C sure was nice. Not that we were ever in the bus anyway, but the campground also had a playground so every night the kids enjoyed the rare opportunity of playing with the dozens of other kids, so the RV park was worth it.

At the beach we enjoyed watching the many windsurfers,
Lake McConaughy windsurfing
kitesurfers and even a parasailer being pulled by a Jeep.
Lake McConaughy Truck Parasailing

The next day I had to go into Ogallala for groceries, and to do laundry. Joey called the recruiter for one of the companies he works for but she's out until after the Fourth and according to her assistant the nearest job for him is in Wisconsin. So since it is a holiday week, and he most likely won't get sent anywhere right away we go ahead and pay for the whole week. Nothing but sand, sun and itty bitty surf..oh yeah.
Lake McConaughy
After four days of sun in Flaming Gorge and six days on Big Mac you'd think we'd all be fried to a crisp, but nope, not one sunburn. Some days we would hike our tent down to the beach so we would get a break from the sun, and one day, from the flies. The boys would also rotate wearing their "surf" shirts. We rarely used sunscreen (just noses, cheeks & shoulders) and often avoided the sun until after 3 pm.
Lake McConaughy Boys

Everyone else couldn't get enough of the sand, and while I loved the feel of it under my feet on the beach, with it's soft and warm crystals, stepping on even one granual while barefoot in the bus would drive me batty!
Lake McConaughy

I dealt with it by laying around some more.
Lake McConaughy
And taking pictures of flowers hugging themselves.
Lake McConaughy Flower

Once while taking pictures on the beach I saw a baby bird emerge from the sand. It's like it came out of an old sand castle. I yelled for Jewel and she chased that sucker around the beach until she finally caught it. I didn't want to miss a second of it so I didn't get any photos or video of the actual hunt, but I did capture the love afterwards.
Lake McConaughy Baby Bird
I think it was a seagull chick, whichg was another cool thing seeing seagulls in Nebraska, by the way. Lake Ogallala also had pelicans!

Almost every night we were treated to private fireworks displays, so we were expecting big things on the Fourth. There were some fireworks, but not the show I was expecting. We were also so burned out by the fourth that it was the one day we didn't even make it to the water. We tried visiting the Visitors Center so I could find out where all this white sand came from, but it had burned down, so I still don't know. I was also surprised by how quiet the lake was. This is the perfect party place. Then we find out why. Alcohol was banned last year, because it was too much of a party place. Worked out perfect for us.

I asked Jake for one picture, that's it, so he gave it to me.
Lake McConaughy

Jonas didn't, but I took it anyway.
Lake McConaughy

Often my pictures are a one shot chance, and I got lucky to get two such great pics. It does help to have two such great looking kids. Some day they'll thank me...I just know it.

When the surf was down, they had to make their own waves.
Lake McConaughy
And sometimes we just took in the beauty and serenity.
Lake McConaughy

Friday morning before we left I drove to the nearby (seven miles) trailer park so I could borrow their wi-fi and by the time I got back Joey had talked to the recruiter, Judy, and she listed off a hand full of jobs to Joey and told him he could take his pick. We left after a lunch of sandy burgers, to take a Nebraska byway called "Sandhills Journey". I may just learn where this sand came from!

In case you didn't get enough pictures, you can check out my slideshow here.

Sunday, July 1

Nebraska, we're back

It's time to get serious about finding a job so we had to leave Flaming Gorge. If they'd have had electricity we would have set up our satellite and probably stuck around until they kicked us out, but they didn't, so we had to move on and leave their sunsets behind.
Flaming Gorge sunset

The town of Rock Springs, closest to the north, looks like a big dirt pit so we decide to check out Green River, WY, just to the west. It's not much better, but it'll do. As soon as we park I check for wi-fi and lo and behold, I've got a signal. Knowing that, we head to the river for some water play, and I'll attack the Internets later.
Green River, WY
Only to find when we get back, the signal is gone. We tried for almost two hours to set up our satellite but even though we got a good signal (72) it would not connect to the NOC. I called up HughesNet and they said they're sending out a service tech, no longer than 3-5 days, it's most likely something with my modem. Now we're in the most expensive RV park we've ever been in, Tex's Travel Camp, it's over 100 degrees outside, the river is too gross for me to play in, and I have no Internet! Get me the hell outta here. Since it's now the weekend there's really no point in job hunting anyway but by the conversations Joey's had with fellow welders and a Super from his old company we pretty much know he can work in NE or ND, and they both sound like good options for me, so we decide to head that way. Chris, your jinx worked, I'm heading back your way!

Saturday we drove all day until we stop for the night just over the border in Nebraska, where we find a Cabela's campground. I didn't know Cabela's had campgrounds! And what a nice one. The kids played at the playground while we enjoyed the cool night breeze, and a leisurly stroll thru the boats while the salespeople were away. We got up early to go check out the store in the morning and ended up waiting almost an hour while the saleslady tried her damndest to find Jonas the Rainbow Trout oversized pillow that he desperately needed. In the end she couldn't find one, so he happily made do with a cute small sunfish, and I some fudge (which I hid from everyone).
Cabela's Headquarters

We're off to go look for a large body of water to chill in until Joey actually goes to work.
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