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Muskegon, MI to Columbus, IN - June 17-26

Our primary reason for visiting Columbus, IN was because Luther and Linda and Brian and Laura Pierson live there, and we haven't seen them since the summer of 2003, when we came to Indiana for HarpCon at nearby Bloomington, IN. As a bonus, Columbus is fairly centrally located to a couple other things we wanted to see - Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and the National Air Force Museum near Dayton, OH.

Sat 6/17 - It helped to get the hooking (car) and unhooking (utilities) done last night. We unplugged the electricity, put in the slide, packed up the satellite dish, and were off at 6:45 am for Indiana to Columbus, where the Piersons moved four years ago. We had previously made reservations for a dinner out with Luther and Linda Pierson at a lovely place out in the country - a nursery/restaurant with beautiful gardens and equally beautiful food, so time was of the essence. We were settled down in Columbus Woods 'n Waters RV Park by mid-afternoon. Linda and Brian drove out to see our home on wheels, and Luther arrived on his motor scooter with Laura a little later. Everyone was duly impressed. We were both were impressed with our dinner and the lovely gardens that evening, as well. We got home late, and very stuffed!

Sun 6/18 - Church services at First Presbyterian in Columbus are at 9 am., so we rose early to get Judy and the harp to the church, where she played for the morning service. It's good to get the most nerve wracking thing out of the way first thing in the morning! Navigating Columbus turned out to be a challenge - we got lost on the way to and from Radio Shack, but did make it to the Pierson Palace in time for food. It was a fun Father's Day, with Luther grilling his famous hamburgers for a house full - we two, Linda's brother Brian and his girlfriend, Linda's dad Tim, and Luther's mom Betty.

Mon 6/19 - The famous Mammoth Cave National Monument is about 150 miles south of Columbus, in Kentucky, and you can't be that close to Mammoth Cave without going there. There are numerous caves in the National Monument, Mammoth being the largest, with over 300 miles of known passages. We took two cave tours, a 2 1/2 hour History Tour in Mammoth Cave itself, and the Great Onyx Tour of a smaller but spectacular nearby cave. The history of the caves is fascinating, and we learned lots and took a bunch of pictures. The tour guide knew everything about the caves, but couldn't get his assistant guide's name straight to save his life - during the tour he called her Lee, Lindsey, Linda, and at least a couple more names during the tour. We decided she answered to anything beginning with the letter "L". Most of Mammoth Cave is dry, and doesn't have the stalactites, drapery, and other formations associated with wet caves, but is nonetheless awesomely beautiful. The cave was mined for saltpeter to make gun powder for the war of 1812. There are remnants of the mining operation still remaining. The Great Onyx tour (no actual onyx in sight, but it made a great name for the cave) required that we tourists carry gas lanterns, as the cave isn't electrified. In many ways, it was more spectacular than Mammoth Cave itself - it's a cave that is still wet, and growing wonderful formations all over the place. After the cave tours, we drove to Bowling Green, KY to a big Camping World outlet to investigate folding bicycles, and bought a pair of seven speed bikes that fold up and store neatly under the RV. It took some doing to stuff those boxes with the unassembled bikes into the Cruiser for the ride back to Columbus!

Tues 6/20 - Al spent the morning assembling bicycles while Judy did the laundry. She washed everything in sight, taking advantage of the RV park's unusually inexpensive washers and dryers - three bucks to wash and dry two large loads. The bicycles looked great - but there was a tiny, but essential, part missing from one of them, so Al spent some time on the phone trying to find a place that either had the part or would trade the bike for one that had all its pieces. Eventually, the manufacturer in CA agreed to mail the part Priority Mail, and free of charge. We took turns riding the one complete bicycle - see pictures! We took the bike over to Pierson's, where everybody took their turn. Judy and Linda then attended Linda's PEO meeting while Al went with Luther and the kids for Putt Putt Golf. We all met for ice cream at the Dairy Queen to put the finishing touch on another great day.

Wed 6/21 - Another big outing today - Luther, Brian and Linda's dad Tim Irwin went with us to the National Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. What an amazing place! There are three enormous hangars with airplanes from the very earliest to the most modern, and from the tiniest to the incredibly enormous! We first took a bus ride to the annex where all the presidential planes are displayed. Just that one segment would have made a great trip. But then we spent until closing time exploring the rest of the museum. This is a place you can't begin to absorb in just one visit - our feet wore clear out. The only bummer of the day was losing the cell phone - but cell phones can be replaced. We had two new gastronomic experiences on the way home - supper at a Steak 'n Shake, and then our first visit to a Graeter's ice cream and candy store. Judy had a huge scoop of Black Raspberry Chip ice cream and pronounced it incredible!

Thurs 6/22 - Off to Verizon to get a new cell phone - Al spent some time reloading and configuring the new phone (thank heaven for the phonebook backup we made just two days before), while Judy and Linda went off for a girls' afternoon, featuring Judy's first ever pedicure. A very pampering experience - see the results in the pictures! Judy says Linda has prettier feet, but didn't take a picture of her toes. In the evening we enjoyed a drive to Franklin, IN, where we ate at a very busy pizza place, formerly a historic hotel. We waited eons for our pizza, but it was really good. A drenching rain storm chased us off their patio, and when the rain didn't abate, we slogged out to the car and drove back to Columbus. We love thunder storms, so we had a great time, rain not withstanding. We got the news today that Tammy Stampfli, our Reedsport preacher, will be leaving for Napa, CA, before the end of July. We won't be back from our meanderings before she leaves, so we'll have to visit her in Napa on our way to or from San Jose in August. You can't get away from us that easily, Tammy!

Fri 6/23 - We spent a lazy morning recovering from the activities of the last four days. But by mid afternoon, we were ready to face the public again - we went on a goose chase! Linda's concrete goose (they're all the rage in Indiana - people have them as yard ornaments, and dress them up for the holidays) got broken some time ago, and Judy decided a new goose would be a perfect present for Linda's b-day on the 27th. We finally tracked one down in Gnaw Bone - yes, there really is a town named Gnaw Bone! The goose was already painted and ready to be dressed (see picture). In the evening we all attended the annual Pops Concert on the steps of the Columbus Library. More than a thousand were gathered for the event, and the Indianapolis Symphony gave a great performance, with Uncle Sam - on stilts - making an appearance at the end. It was a real home town type celebration, and reminded us of the Boston Pops concerts they have every Fourth of July (no fireworks this year, though). This year Indiana went on Daylight Savings Time for the first time in a jillion years, and it wasn't even dusk when the event was over - we think that surprised a lot of people.

Sat 6/24 - The Piersons just discovered there is an annual "Covered Bridge Festival" in Moscow, in progress this weekend. Yes, there is also a Moscow in Indiana! None of us had any idea where Moscow was, but we found it, and had a great time wandering the many booths, watching some delightful little girls performing their dance numbers, and eating yummy stuff. One booth featured fresh fish sandwiches (three big fillets of fish on a huge bun for 3 bucks) and pork tenderloin sandwiches (a fried pork tenderloin the size of a dinner plate dwarfing a huge bun for 4 bucks). Judy broke her pork in two, shared some with Linda, and still had enough left over for another sandwich tomorrow! The town of Moscow is in Amish country, where many still adhere to the simple life. We bought some bread from an Amish vendor, and on the way home we stopped at a store where the wonderful Amish-made furniture is sold. Judy fell in love with the lovely bent wood rockers there, but we don't have room for any more furniture in the RV. We all dined that evening with Luther's mom, Betty, and also with Betty Boop - see picture - and came to the end of another great day.

Sun 6/25 - This was our last day in Columbus, so we made it a full one. Church with the Piersons at the nine am service, then we all had lunch at a nearby Cracker Barrel. In the afternoon Judy did the laundry again - why can't those clothes just STAY clean??! Then Luther rode his bike out to the RV park (15 miles) for a visit, prior to serving food at the church's VBS kick-off dinner in town. We all gathered at Pierson's for a bike ride that evening. Judy and Al both survived the gentle 2 1/2 mile trip along some of Columbus' nice bike paths, but decided they would both benefit from padded seat covers for their new bikes! After hugs and good-byes all around, we headed back to the RV to get ready for morning departure.

Mon 6/26 - We left the RV park at 9:15 in the morning for a two-day jaunt to Wisconsin, where we plan to visit the home of Frank Lloyd Wright and spend a day at The House on the Rock. Back to Central time today - we'll lose the hour we gained arriving in Indiana.

Al's Highlight - Luther made it quite clear that the only acceptable highlight of our long week in Columbus would be the visiting with the Pierson Family. Having had that decision made for us, all that remains is to pick a runner-up. I'll have to go with the Great Onyx Cave tour - I suspected that a tour where you had to carry your own lights would be somehow inferior to one where the cave had been professionally illuminated. Truth is that our lantern-lit cave was much better lit than Mammoth Cave itself. And being a "live" cave, the formations were much more spectacular, even if on a smaller scale. Even so, the caves and all the other stuff wasn't nearly as special as seeing the Piersons again - it seems like we just picked up where we left off 3 years ago. Except, of course, Brian and Laura are 3 years taller and smarter. We're blessed to be a part of their extended family. And we'll have to stop again whenever we're anywhere nearby. Luther says so.

Judy's Highlight - Well, the whole week was full of highlights - we packed more into it than seemed humanly possible. But I loved the outdoor concert by the Indianapolis Symphony. The atmosphere was festive, the music was magnificent, and the concert was free - what more could you ask for?

Click here to see a slideshow of some of our pictures from this leg of the trip.

Stay tuned . . .