Let the "Houghton 500" Formula II Drag Race begin.
The goal is to drive between 500 to 600 miles each day to accomplish the mission of "Two Weddings and a Solar Field".
Saturday, May 16, 2009
The family is on the road again. Mark is draging the trailer and equipment, the wife and the doggies and the whole nine yards of quilting fabrics...plus plenty of yarn to keep knitting on the daily, Houghton 500, truck racing...
First stop was Mesa Arizona, where we attended the reception of Brittan and Asaka Dopp.
On May 16th, Brittan and his gorgeous bride cut a slice of their cake and decided that it is too good to share. Ha!
It was wonderful to see and visit with everyone even if only for an evening.
On Sunday morning, we set out for Texas to begin our long Midwest journey.
The truck was tired of the trip already and started to act funny in El Paso. It was loosing power and had a hard time. I was worried about breaking down in a town where you can see Mexico across the freeway. It is not the nice part of Mexico if it has any of those. Mark took it slower, about 65 to 70 mph for the rest of the trip, and we managed to make our 600 miles and ended the day in Fort Stockton by dark.
Monday lunch hour found us in Fredericksburg, TX.
It was a nice change to see a clean and orderly town. I got to think about moving to this "hill country" as the people around there call it, but Mark said the hills are missing. You just can't see them from the trees!
Everyting was so green and so many flowers blooming everywhere, it was hard not to love the place.
Driving through Fredericksburg.
Austin is a very pretty little town, but we had no time to enjoy it on account of pressing the Houghton 500 to Houston. We made it before dark and had a BBQ dinner. After all, what else would we eat in Texas?
Confined to the Houston La Quinta Inn for the day, as Mark was testing the future solar field location, Buck spent the day on his quilt watching me making a baby quilt.
Spitz decided to lounge on the Radio City Music Hall carpeting instead on his quilt. Oh well... kids....
Work was done by dinner time and guess what we were so looking forward to eat?
BBQ! Of course!
Who is ready for the next 500?
With a lot of arm twisting, Mark followed my suggestion to take a detour from the original, Houghton 600, planned for Wednesday. I planned to follow small roads to have lunch in Louisiana. That ended up being the highlight of the day.
Roadside diner, homeboy style, Cajun, gourmet, to die cooking...in Mansfield Louisiana!
Now....let's see....how do I eat these guys?
Eat'em like this!
I had blackened, Cajun, smoked, wood fire BBQ chicken and Mark had beef something or other...
The chef gave us a container of crawfish, on the house, and some lessons on how to eat them. We are probably still the talk of Mansfield. "the two white people with crawfish"
The Louisiana country side was green, lush with tall trees and all sorts of greenery climbing on everything. Tall grass and bayou covered the ground everywhere we looked.
Buck got sick from the Cajun cooking and used Mark's ballcap for ejecting the day's food and water intake. The cap prooved to be too small, so the back seat of the truck needed some cleaning.
I was longing to see Texarkana, the birth place of Ross Perot, and since it was so close, we took a small road to go there. These roads delayed the 600 race quite a lot and gave Mark great distress. We had to cancel the original plan of staying in Joplin, MO that night.
Texarkana was not as exciting as I thought it would be, and we had not enough time to explore it. The old town still has nice parts but some areas are very much ran down. Ross should go back to straighten the place out.
The Theatre in Texarkana in the background, center.
We got way low on the milage of the drag race this day and only made it to Little Rock, Arkansas by the evening.
We did our share of BBQ for the trip, or for the year perhaps, so we searched for the Italian section of town. They didn't have one, but we found an incredible, Chicago-Sicilian family owned restaurant, D'Carlo. The owner, grandson of the Godfather from Chicago, explained that they have been in business for many decades and the recepies are original from Grandpa.
We loved it! Great food, good service and a waiter from Bulgaria. Go figure....
Thursday, May 21, we had a long way to go to Fort Madison Iowa.
Driving through north AR, crossing the border of AR and MO at Mammoth Spring, we enjoyed the green country side. I got a lot of knitting in, Buck did a lot of circling in the back seat, Spitz got a lot of sleep and of course Mark had to do the work like always, the driving.
Scenes from Jefferson City, Capital of Missouri.
Shooting scenes from the moving truck window is the trucker's way of collecting memorabilia.
The navigation system we had (GPS) was rather confused as we were approaching the Mississippi River. The watervapor must have clouded the brain of the nagging woman on the GPS, because she had us going in circles in Hannibal in the middle of town. Maybe she was trying to tell us something "You must take some time to see Mark Twain's birthplace!"
We did not have time! The Houghton 500 had to be on schedule and make it to the hotel by sleep time.
Country home in Hannibal
The "Mighty River" at first site. This was the first time I have set eye on the Mississippi. Wow!
The Acacia trees blooming along the roadsides all the way from Hannibal to Fort Madison gave a beautiful, fragrant smell.
This part of the country is very much like the country side in Hungary, so that saves us a trip to Europe.
We rolled into Fort Madison, Iowa before dark and even had time for dinner in the restaurant by the hotel.
Next morning, May 22, we had a trip to the local laundry facility. I got to read upon the real estate section and was amazed at the low prices of nice homes around. I told Mark, since we are spending two whole days here, we might think about settling in this lovely little town full of ghosts and cemeteries. I even found a home.
"3 bedroom home with full basement, hardwood floors, fireplace and eat-in kitchen. Fenced in backyard and detached 2 car garage. Houghton. ONLY $69,900."
You can't go wrong with this one; it even has our name on it!
As sitting in the laundry, contemplating our new life with the ghosts, a family of extremely strange people came in. Mark said: " Meet the neighbors honey!"
The Mississippi is believed to be the widest, about 1 mile, right here in Fort Madison.
Buck wanted to jump in for a swim in the park by the Fort, along the river. It was a job and a half to hold him back!
Old and beautiful buildings standing along the road by the river, where the boardwalk should be with little caffee houses, book stores, antique shops and other cute things they are not having on this street. Apparently, the people are too busy drinking and waiting for the ghosts to come and visit.
On the other side of the Mississippi, the Temple in Nauvoo, IL was where we found the newly wed, happy and beautiful couple.
Cyrus and Kendra
The "Houghton 500" team
Bea & Stephanie
Visiting the gardens and museum in Nauvoo, we learned about the history of the Mormon Pioneers.
Quilting grandmas from past and present.
Scenes from the garden
In the museum, Mormon Missionaries taught us some of the skills the people in the old days had to possess to be self sufficient. For example, making yarn, weaving, brading rugs, making bread, candle crafting, ginger cookie making and more...
We strolled around dowtown Nauvoo to find something to eat and to window shop.
If you have not fallen in love with a baby girl yet, it is because you have not met Anabel Jo Bergman.
Although, even her stroller has a warning, you cannot help to fall for her precious smile.
Saturday, May 23rd.
The Price resident in Champaign, Illinois, where we all attended the reception for Kendra and Cyrus Fox.
Durk & Valerie Dopp and Kathryn Pearson
Stephanie, Valerie & Mark
Father of the Bride or The Host in his beautiful home, Ray Price.
Later in the evening, Buck and Spitz came over to play with the wedding party on the backyard.
We finished the late night visiting with the Dopps in the La Quinta Inn.
Two weddings and a solar field mission accomplished.
Back in Missouri. St. Louis this time.
I've got to go antiquing today. The first time on this trip, I was allowed to spend two hours and luckily I did not find anything reasonably priced to buy. While in the antique mall, a nice thunder storm came through with a good poor down. No wonder it's so green in MO.
The goal for the day was met and we finished the Formula II in Joplin. We had a fantastic dinner and the service in the restaurant was amazing. The little town is very charming and it has a lot of recent growth. It even has a Mall. They have a Macy's if you can believe that!
I looked at the real estate section again and quickly decided that this is the town we should settle in. It is clean, orderly, the homes are affordable, it has a university and it is mostly WASP community. Perfect place!
Mark said, I could stay behind to set up house and find a job and he will follow when all that's accomplished.
Three more days of the race left.
Driving through Oklahoma was no more pleasurable than staying in Amarillo, TX that night. The first 50 miles of OK freeway cost $17. We were pretty annoyed and left the freeways for the rich and famous. Instead, we rode on Route 66 for free and not wanting to do anything with this part of the country. I will not say anything about Amarillo!
Countdown! Two days left.
In Holbrook, AZ, the truck is acting up again. Mark changed the air filter and everything seemed to be fine.
Flagstaff, AZ. Last night out.
Dinner Time in Flagstaff
May 27, Wednesday. The last leg of the race. Back to CA, drop off the trailer in Bermuda Dunes, have lunch and head up the hill is the plan.
We made it to the Morongo reservation and the truck got really ill this time. The check engine light came on and no more power. We would've been better off breaking down in Joplin! We managed to roll down to Banning. Oh good! After 4800 miles, and lots of pretty, green country sides, Banning ends up being the place to settle? We called AAA to tow the truck back to the desert to the Dodge dealer.
The race is over and no place to go.
Annamarie and Louis came to rescue us from the parking lot of Jack in the Box in Banning and brought us back to Pine Cove.
Today is May 29, the truck is fixed and back in our driveway. We are all back to normal under the circumstances.
All is well that ends well...