Adventure at Lowe’s

I drove a little over 7 hours on Tuesday, September 4th, on my way to Abby’s house in Thornville, Ohio. I had intended to stop in Bloomington, Illinois at a Walmart for the night. I drove right past Bloomington. I was feeling good and the driving was going well. Then I was all of a sudden  pooped and needed to potty. No Walmart in site for miles. Google Map kept wanting me to go back and not forward to find a Walmart. Finally Google instructed me to get off 74 and head to Walmart. Of course, it took me down all sorts of po-dunk two lane roads where there was no room for cars to pass me. On their way home from work I am sure they had choice words for me. AT LAST … Walmart.

Oh my, the area had a regulation against overnight parking. I was close to 36 so I headed east in to Hendricks County, Indiana, the birthplace of my two dear children. (See Mike, I do know where you were born. Spoon!!)

Just a short way down the road in Avon, Indiana, was a Lowe’s. Thank you Christine for telling me that Lowe’s and Home Depot often allowed overnight parking. The manager was so sweet and told me which area of the parking lot in which to park. At last………

This is not the actual store. I forgot to take a picture.

It was so stinking hot!! I sweated my way through both sides of two pillow cases. Eddie, feeling relief that we were stopped, wanted only to snuggle. Sweaty and hairy.

You get the picture!!!!

5:45A and what do my sleepy ears hear???

Not the real truck.

YEP, a huge honking semi parked next to me warming up his engine right next to my bedroom window. I got up and fed the cats and decided to try to sleep a bit longer.

7A I start hearing some really weird noises. Next to the Lowe’s parking lot was a body shop, but I thought surely they couldn’t be THAT loud. So, I get up, get dressed, take my medication and grab a water bottle.

To my surprise my section of the parking lot was cordoned off and they were ripping up the asphalt to repave the parking lot.

Not the actual equipment, but you get the idea. Lots of men and machines.

I bet they were a tad surprised to see this sweaty old gal come out of the trailer. As I neared my driver’s side door a truck pulled up and pointed out the direction for my exit. I tried not to run over men that didn’t see or hear me coming. I get to the exit only to find cones blocking my way. The same truck appeared and the man got out and moved the cones and then came over and said have a nice day and a safe trip. I would love to have heard their conversations.

It Ends Where It Began

Coralville Dam in Coralville, Iowa at the Army Corps of Engineers facility

This a view of Hank and Henrietta from the Visitors’ Center taken April 2018 on the day I checked in for volunteering.

This is Hank and Henrietta waiting patiently as I turn in my shirts and keys on September 4th.

This is Henrietta in April on our contractor pad site at Linder Point.

Hank and Henrietta in September ready to leave for the trek East.

This will be Bear’s first ride in Henrietta. Eddie hid as soon as I started packing and pulled in the slide. Bear didn’t know what was coming a followed me all around very curious about what was happening.

I am ready for the next adventure. I enjoyed my time in Iowa and will miss my new friends, but it is time to move on. I have decided that four months in one place is toooo long for this wandering girl.

Visitor Center

These are views from the Visitor Center.

These are inside the Visitor Center. The VC has a short movie about the building of the dam and the effects of the two floods in uncovering the Denovian Fossil Field. The fossil field is a big attraction.

My desk is above left. Above right is the view from the door. The theater is through the door in the back. There are a lot of stuffed animals! There is a touching table with pelts and bones, and a touching table of fossils taken from the gorge and other Iowa quarries. To the left is a picture of my friend Ranger Pat.

This is a video of the spillway during the 1993 flood on You Tube from an individual. I can’t locate the Corps video shown in the VC. Perhaps it is a government secret!!

Fossil Field videos on You Tube.                               

These are pictures of fossils in the VC.

These are two examples of crinoids from the Devonian era.

Crinoids are marine animals. The name comes from the Greek word krinon, “a lily”, and eidos, “form”. They live in both shallow water and in depths as great as 30,000 feet. Those crinoids which in their adult form are attached to the sea bottom by a stalk are commonly called sea lilies. The unstalked forms are called feather stars or comatulids. (Wikipedia)

In the center (of the picture on the left) is the dorsal plate of a Dunkleoteus. Dunkleosteus is a fish that existed during the Late Devonian period, about 358–382 million years ago. The name Dunkleosteus combines the Greek osteus, meaning “bone”, and Dunkle, in honor of David Dunkle of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. This fossil is from one that was probably 5 feet in length. They got as big as school buses and could dislocate their jaws to eat things larger than themselves.

The picture on the right is a recreation of the Dunkleosteus with a diorama in the back. This picture is courtesy of the Vienna Museum of Natural History.

Below are pictures from the beach. These were taken in May. Nice clean beach!!

The beach setup is me. My dear friends Sharon and Mark gave me this beach roll years ago on one on my visit with them in North Carolina. It is awesome!

The other two are distant and far views of the dam gate. It is in this building that the flow to the Iowa River is monitored.

I really enjoyed my time here. I wish the Visitor Center had been busier, but I met some VERY interesting people. It is nice to volunteer 20 hours a week and receive a full hook-up site in exchange. Free electricity made it much easier to run the AC during the unseasonably HOT days.

USACE Volunteering

Coralville Dam May 1, 2018 to September 4, 2018

Here I am at the desk in the Visitors’ Center. This picture was taken in August. It took me that long to remember to have someone take my picture.

The Visitor Center and The Depot Express both had a polo shirt as the required shirt for work. Not my favorite type of shirt and not a cool one to wear for a gal that sweats a lot!!

On the left is April and the right is the site all decked out in August. Notice the difference in the trees. Once it got hot I was in the shade almost all day. The other contractors and volunteers had WOW sites, so I had to do something!

This is the view from the Visitor Center when I first checked in with the USACE (United States Army Corps of Engineers.)


I miss my Akron, Houston, Red Rock, and Strawn friends.

Barb Collier, Pam Perdue, Kim Morckel, Bev Vaughn and I were a quilting group in Akron. The first year we made a different quilt block each month while we chatted. I chose to use fabric that represented the month of the block. This was about three years ago.

This is the group at Barb’s house August 2017.

I split these block in to three lap quilts. I gave one to Rachel, Michael and Gretchen. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of each one when they were done. I used different fabrics for the blocks on each of the quilts.

Gretchen received her quilt last Thursday. I do not quilt as fast as Barb (or as neatly) but I finally finished the quilt. Gretchen was kind enough to pose with the quilt and send me the picture.

Molly photo bombed in the bottom right corner. You can see the January, April, May and June blocks.

The Depot Express

On Tuesday, May 15th I began a part time job at The Depot Express in Coralville. It is a gas station/convenience store that is locally owned with 9 stores. It is only an 8 minute drive.

The Depot Express

The first two days I was trained by Jo, great gal, on the food side of the store.

Great selfie of me in the bathroom with my COOL hairnet!

We made burgers and other hot sandwiches, deep fried a lot of appetizers, and made pizza. I made at least 20 pizzas in two days. I am good at making them, BUT….my slices are not as even as they should be!! Ask for a big slice when you stop in the store.

Carnival of Mathematics 137 | Blog on math blogs

On Thursday I started my training on the register and front of the store with Jenn. Another sweet gal.

My nemesis…..

Displays & Shelving - Pan-Oston

There are at least 15 different types of Marlboro cigarettes. Then there are about a zillion other brands. The prices in this clip art picture are WAY off. I think the average pack is at least $6. Then there is the chew and the snuff and the cigars and the vapor products. My head was spinning. Luckily the customers were very kind in pointing out where their brand was located.

Knocked Out Smiley | Symbols & Emoticons


I had to get a post office box because I could not receive mail at the dam since it is a government facility. My mail usually goes to Rachel and Nate’s in Texas as their address is my official address.

Rachel screens my mail (don’t send anything to her address that you don’t want her to see) and forwards or scans.


Today I had letters to mail and stopped in at the post office. I had two letters from friends, a piece of junk mail and two packages. I can’t express my excitement!!! REALLY!!! Thank you Barb and Jeannine for the cards! Thank you Rachel for sending Henrietta her official Texas license plate ( the other Henrietta never became an official Texan). She says thank you to you Rachel and a huge thank you to Sharon who sent decorations for Henrietta. I will take a picture once they are up.

My address is P O Box 881 North Liberty, Iowa 52317.

Coralville Dam

United States Army Corps. of Engineers (USACE)

I am now a volunteer for a branch of the Department of Defense. I had to be fingerprinted!! I volunteer 20 hours a week in the Visitor Center. I work Friday 12 to 4, and Saturday and Sunday 10 to 6.

This is my spot. Not a great picture. I am with three other families that are volunteers or contract workers. We have a special place to camp.

My first weekend went very well.

This is part of my view while working. Directly across the water is where you put in boats and then to the right of it is the beach. The dam is to the left of the boat ramp. The Devonian Fossil Field is on the other side of the dam and to the right.

Strawn, Texas to Coralville, Iowa

After a sad goodbye to Gary, Diana, MY courtyard chicks, and the rest of the animals we left Strawn on April 23rd and drove over to McClain’s RV in Fort Worth. This is where I bought the new Henrietta. I am going to call her Henrietta instead of Henrietta II. I do not want her to think she is second in or to anything. At McClain’s they checked out a few issues with Henrietta. Two were quick fixes, but the awning (which does not go in or out) needed replaced (thank goodness this is a warranty item). Unfortunately it would be two weeks for the new awning to arrive.

So, off we (Hank, Henrietta, Hannah, Eddie and I — in case you didn’t know –BB is no longer part of the expedition and will be greatly missed) went on our 950 mile trek to Coralville.

Lots of first on this trip: no BB, new Henrietta, Eddie rode in Henrietta (he was VERY relieved to not be riding in Hank, not sure what he has against Hank other than he is the only other male on the expedition), heading North, Henrietta’s first time in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, and our first time camping out in a Walmart parking lot.

I took this from the front of Walmart. Yep, it is crooked. This was our first Walmart and we were all alone. I had a hard time sleeping because it was TOO QUIET!!! No animal sounds, no people or vehicle sounds. Creepy.

We spent three more nights in Walmart parking lots along the way. At the others we always had the company of semis and other trailers. I was surprised that other than the semis starting in the morning it was quiet even though the Walmarts were all 24 hour stores.

In one Walmart parking lot I had several people stop and chat with me. They either saw me walking to Henrietta from the store or passing by her door. The most interesting was the couple that had been married 50 some years. They were in the parking lot in their truck to park by the street and watch traffic. Did I mention this was in Kansas? Hey Nate, what is up with the people in Kansas? Well, I should not be so judgmental as Gary, Chuck and I sat in the courtyard several times watching my baby chicks as they grew and ventured out from their mama.


Oklahoma and Kansas were just as uninhabited along route 35 as Texas and several times I drove 20 minutes off the highway just to find a Walmart. I thought the scarcity of Walmart would be behind me once I left Strawn.

No driving problems along the way. I stopped in Hiawatha, Iowa (30 minutes North of Coralville) at a KZ RV dealer to have them look at and order the new awning. Ketlesen RV was a nice place.

Then on to the dam!


Since the December in Houston my truck has been covered with pollen on and off. Not just a thin layer, but a lot. No sense washing poor Hank. He is covered the next day. The tonneau cover shows it the most. It is a light green and makes me want to sneeze when I see it.

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I am sure I look even more ridiculous.
Stacey Kalkowski's Art Journal: Pollen Spores and Asteroids

Pollen is a fine to coarse powdery substance comprising pollen grains which are male microgametophytes of seed plants, which produce male gametes (sperm cells). Pollen grains have a hard coat made of sporopollenin that protects the gametophytes during the process of their movement from the stamens to the pistil of flowering plants, or from the male cone to the female cone of coniferous plants. If pollen lands on a compatible pistil or female cone, it germinates, producing a pollen tube that transfers the sperm to the ovule containing the female gametophyte. Individual pollen grains are small enough to require magnification to see detail. The study of pollen is called palynology and is highly useful in paleoecology, paleontology, archaeology, and forensics. (Wikipedia)

I found this very interesting.

Our pollen levels are on a scale of 12. Low is 0-2.4, Low-Medium is 2.5-4.8, Medium is 4.9-7.2, High-Medium is 7.3-9.6, and High is 9.7-12.0. These levels take into account how much pollen the allergy sufferer is likely to be exposed to for that given period.

Pollen counting has been recognized as an important process since the turn of the 20th century. Not only have pollen counts advanced our knowledge of the role plant pollen plays in causing allergy, they have become a powerful tool just like accurate weather forecasts in day-to-day, individual health problem solving. (

Can you tell I have time on my hands? This sneeze is for you!!!

Grab a tissue! Sneezes may be the 'Sharknado' of germs ...