Saturday began with a beautiful sunrise and pretty good weather. Ken and Harriet left to take care of the judging duties while we made a stop at a hardware stor. When we arrived at the Cattle Congress grounds, the rain had made a mess of the parking area, which consisted of a grassy field with a mud road. Don had no problem with his four-wheel drive truck, but a little red sedan that followed us in got stuck big time. Don managed to push them out but not without covering his clothes, hair, shoes and face with mud spatters.
While Ken and Harriet did their judging, we checked out the exhibits and enjoyed some fair food. The Hall of Breeds was especially interesting with a variety of rabbits, goats, chickens, cattle and horses, but I lso like many of the commercial exhibits. I have no idea the significance of the the floppy-eared dog driving the car was but he sure was cute.
Late Saturday afternoon, we were getting together a light supper (after corn dogs, tenderloins, fries, etc for lunch) when I heard laughter outside. The beautiful maple behind our site had dropped a lot of its leaves due to rain Friday night and winds on Saturday. Fortunately the park staff hadn't had time to clean them up because five or six kids were having a whee of a time raking them up into a pile with their hands! One guy brought a leaf blower over and helped them out but they did most of it.
We have journeyed north this weekend and are delighted that a little color is starting to show. More than a little. This tree is right behind the camper here at George Wyth State Park near Cedar Falls. The forecast was dismal--rain, rain, rain--convincing some of the group to cancel out. But so far, Thursday was good and Friday morning was fine. And any rain is so sorely needed, it's hard to complain.
We are here for Ken and Harriet to judge a BBQ contest at the National Cattle Congress this afternoon. The forecast says a chance of rain mid -afternoon but otherwise okay. I have heard about the Cattle Congress since I moved to Hampton only forty miles away in fifth grade. It was hard for a townie to envision it as a fun exciting place. But it appears on a level with the state fair, so I can see why so many kids were excited to go.
There are some great trails at George Wyth for biking and hiking. Yesterday Harriet and I took a walk in the morning. Spotted along the way: a huge log that was completely hollow, and what I identified on the internet as a chicken in the woods mushroom.
Of course, when camping, we always work hard to stave off starvation. Thursday night, Don grilled some wonderful New York strips and last night we had some of Ken's great brisket. And of course, sides. And desserts. Better go on another walk this morning.
In the last two years, I have learned a lot that I didn't know about baseball, especially high school and junior college. I recently picked up on the fact that fall events in the junior college circuit exist mainly to give four-year college scouts a chance to look over the prospects.
The last two days, thirty junior college teams each played a couple of matchups in Westfield, Indiana near Indianapolis at Grand Park, touted as the largest youth sports complex in the country. There were over 230 college scouts there, according to reports.
I was struck how sometimes technology changes how we do things and sometimes it doesn't. In the morning at the hotel, I needed a sheet of paper to make a fictional map so I could straighten out some issues in the book I'm working on. Remember when every hotel room had stationery, pens, etc in the desk? Not any more. I had to go down to the check-in and beg a piece of printer paper. The clerk said they took everything like that out of the rooms during Covid, and no one ever asked for it, so they hadn't put it back. Understandable. But at the first game that morning, I noticed every one of the thirty or so scouts watching that game had a notebook, legal pad, or clipboard in addition to their video cameras. No one was taking notes on an ipad or phone. They also seemed to have a uniform: shirt with a college logo, shorts or sweatpants, a baseball cap, and usually mirrored sunglasses.
Another interesting thing was that each game lasted two and a half hours, regardless of innings. The scoreboards weren't used so we never knew what the score was. And every pitcher on the roster gets to pitch at least an inning. Other players are switched in and out more often than usual. After the second game, we hightailed it out of there to begin the six-hour drive back home.
A little poetic license there. The dog days are self explanatory. Even though we have avoided the extreme heat this summer that much of the country has dealt with, there have been more than enough unpleasant days, and Labor Day weekend promised more of the same. But so far it's not been too bad. We are here in Kewanee, Illinois because (a) grandson Elliot is home on leave from the Air Force and it's the first time I've seen him in a year (b) granddaughter Sophie is leaving her Kewanee apartment for one in Moline where she not only works but is also pursuing a civil engineering degree, and (c) it's Hog Days in Kewanee.
We are camped at Johnson Sauk Trail Recreation Area north of Kewanee, one of my favorites. However, when I made reservations, there weren't any sites left in the tall pines area, so we are in the western loop. The parking pad is small and there are not as many trees, but we do have shade in the late afternoon.
So Saturday morning, after breakfast, we headed to Kewanee where Andy, Sophie, and Elliot had a U-haul partially loaded to go to Moline. We got a few more boxes loaded and headed out in a caravan. Fortunately. Sophie is only 22 and hasn't accumulated a lot of stuff yet, because her new apartment is a walk up on third floor. The biggest challenge was her sectional and they didn't expect an 80-year-old grandmother to help with that.
Saturday afternoon, we visited the vendors in downtown Kewanee at the Hog Days Celebration. That included pork chop sandwiches and other treats. There was live music, but a little warm for us oldsters.
Sunday, Andy and kids had already planned to make a one day road trip to Indianapolis for the drag race finals or something, so Don and I figured on a recuperation day. We went into town in the late morning for a few groceries and to visit the Model A and T car show. There were only two entries in the show so we didn't spend much time there. However, we did make a stop at the Ryan Round Barn, which is also at Johnson Sauk and one of the largest round barns in the country. I had been there once before several years ago, so it was fun to see it again.
We also stopped for lunch at Cerno's, a bar and grill in Kewanee almost as famous as Good's Furniture. The fifty foot bar was hand carved in Belgium and brought to this country in 1898. They also have great food.
Back to the campsite for much needed naps and to get a fire started for our supper. We had some lovely steaks in the fridge and enjoyed them with asparagus and hash browns. After dishes and clean up, we expected a visit from a Chicago couple who wanted to hear how Don had planned his trip to Alaska. About 6:30, it all came crashing down. We suddenly had no power. Our neighbor, Ray, saw our dilemma and came to help but no remedy worked. We had power at the post but not in the camper. The Chicago couple, Mike and Monica, came by, but even though Mike is an industrial electrician, still no solution. Possibly the new converter put in in May. So, facing a very warm night without AC or refrigeration, we decided to pack up and head home. All plans for the evening and today cancelled, we managed to get the refrigerator and necessities unloaded by 10:30. A big bump in the road.
Some random thoughts about writing, camping, and eating.