August 6—I drove back across the eastern, desert part of Colorado and drove on to Deerfield, Kansas. I found one of the RV sites that was part of the Passport America club that I am a member of. The campground looked rough and was almost empty. Located out in the middle of hay fields, it was overgrown with grass, weeds and dead trees. The price was right, however, so I pulled in. In a little while, an old beat-up pickup with a senior citizen driving pulled up by my RV. He introduced himself as Dale Unruh, the owner of the park and the person I had talked to earlier on the telephone. I paid for one night. He said he would be back later with his wife Bobbie, who always liked to meet campers at their park.
True to his word, Dale returned later with Bobbie. It turned out they were quite the talkers and we chatted for about an hour. Then they invited me to go to church with them the next morning—they were Methodists. I took them up on the invitation.
August 7—After church, which was a lovely service, Dale and Bobbie took me out to eat
A coop grain elevator in the town of Deerfield. I could see it from the RV.
at a great hamburger place in a small town nearby. They talked about how their town was dying along with the corn crops and trees. Not only had the severe drought damaged the crops, but the Corps of Engineers had diverted the river nearby in order to provide irrigation for some of the farms. The consequences to the town and to their RV park had been bad. The RV park had lost most of a lovely lake, most of their trees and a lot of landscaping. Bootsie--Marty took me out a lot for walks in this park. I got to nose around in bushes and weeds and saw lots of rabbits and squirrels. She wouldn't let me chase them, though, darn it. I don't understand why I can't go out without this darn harness and leash! Oh, well, at least I get to go out! It is awfully hot, though! Even so, I like exploring. We went up one hill and could see all around. Marty took a lot of pictures, but none of me. Huh!!
August 8-20--I include this narrative in my blog for several reasons: one, to help others realize the severity of the prolonged drought
Taking in the View
Bootsie checking out the surrounding area before going outside.
in this part of the country and how it has affected the local farmers and business men. Second, I would up staying two weeks at the RV site, visiting with Dale and Bobbie, who became good friends. I also spent the majority of the time weed-eating the site and helping to clean up around the buildings. I re-painted one of their signs—doing what NOMADs do. I talked about NOMADS at the church and encouraged them to apply for help around the town.
If any of my readers find themselves going through Deerfield, Kansas on US Highway 50, stop in and give my friends a call. Tell them Marty sent you. They are salt of the earth people.
August 20-23—After leaving Deerfield, my next stop was Derby, KS and my cousin Larry Davison and his wife Joyce. What a great visit! Larry's sister, Vesta, (yes, another cousin!) and I went to the same college. I never had gotten to know Larry very well growing up because he is the youngest of “Buster” and Marie's family and I didn't see much of him. I have so enjoyed getting re-acquainted with my cousins on my travels and this visit was no
In the White
I don't know what these flowers are, but they were the only thing blooming in the RV park in the heat and drought.
exception. Larry and Joyce were great hosts. Among many good things, I learned that Joyce is a great cook, especially her homemade pies!!!
I got a wonderful extra bonus when Denise and her grandson also came to visit while I was there. Denise is the widow of cousin Bill, (another brother of Larry's). Bill died last January at their home in England. Denise had flown over to visit Bill's family in the States. What a blessing to be able to see her along with Larry and Joyce!
While I was at Larry and Joyce's and talking about his sister and brothers, I thought about my college days and on a whim, decided to see if I could locate my freshman roommate whom I remembered came from one of the Kansas towns next on my route. Low and behold, with a computer search, I found a phone number I thought might be her and hit pay dirt! Talk about a miracle! How else would I find a Marian Johnson in a town in Kansas!!
August 24-25 —After getting directions from Marian, I found her beautiful yellow house in the countryside near Parsons, Ks. I am still kicking myself
Larry and Joyce
My cousin and his wife who live in Derby, Ks. He is the youngest son of the late "Buster" and Marie Davison.
that I didn't take a picture of it. I did, however, get a picture of Marian who hasn't changed all that much. She still has beautiful eyes and the same sweet smile. The house belonged to her late husband's parents. It is surrounded by corn fields—all dead and dying. Marian said she leases the corn fields to a local farmer. The corn died from the drought and extreme heat of the summer. Days of triple digit temps and no rain devastated the state's agriculture this year. I had seen that as I drove past miles and miles of brown fields.
I visited with Marian for two wonderful days. What fun catching up on 30 years time. What a shame we let each other go for that long! We talked about everything, including what had been going on with each other during the long interim. What a blessing to see her again. I'll try not to let another 30 years go by before our next visit!!!
August 26—Although my NOMAD destination near Branson, Mo was not that far away distance-wise, it was a long drive on narrow back roads, up and down hills, around curves, etc. So I decided
My English cousin-in-law who came to the US to visit relatives.
to take two days to get there and stopped at a Corp. of Engineers camp for the night and rest. The place was on a small lake and very nice. I took pictures of the many trees around the lake and along the nature trail walk. As usual, the camp was exceptionally clean and well kept.
August 27—I arrived at the Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch early this afternoon, apparently “sneaking” in when no one was looking. It appeared I was the last NOMAD to arrive, so I parked and hooked up in one of the RV sites. It wasn't long however, before Jim and Jan, the team leaders were knocking on my door with warm greetings. Later that evening, I met the other members of the team.
August 28—Per tradition, the team gathered to attend church. We went to a lovely Methodist Church in Kimberling City, across the Table Rock Lake from the Ranch. We received a great welcome from the church members and admired the church building, décor and landscaping.
The Ranch is located in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, not far from Branson. It is a Christian-run enterprise and working ranch. There are
The pretty church we attended in Kinberling, MO.
cattle, buffalo and sheep. The boys also learn welding, auto mechanics and agriculture, especially trees. The staff work with teen-aged boys generally aged 13 to 19. There is no time limit on the stay. The boys are graduated when they finish the program, no matter how long it takes them. We toured the Ranch and the area after church.
August 29-September 16—The work varied during this three weeks, but as usual, we did a lot of painting! The first project involved renovating an apartment for new staff that was coming in. The staff at the ranch are not paid a lot, but are furnished with housing and meals. The NOMAD team was also furnished with meals. The women on the team love this, of course, because it means we don't have to cook after working all day.
Several of the women, including me, worked at the ranch thrift shop. I loved that. They get some incredible donations and a lot of them. With three of us working as extra help, we could hardly keep up with the stuff coming in. The store manager put on a sale of summer clothes and I bought bunches. The NOMADs not only
Display of Crosses
This unusual and beautiful display of crosses was on the wall by the entrance into the sanctuary of the Methodist Church in Kimberlling, MO.
were welcome volunteers, but we were some of their best customers while we were there!
Of course, our projects are not all work and no play. Branson is a wonderful place to play! On Sunday, Sept. 4, the group went to see the Sakov show. He is an artist and comedian who immigrated from Russia to the US and became a citizen. The theme of his show is “What a country!” He is very funny and has a great show. The jokes are clean, the costumes are great and he has many patriotic American parts. His paintings were displayed in the theater lobby and they are marvelous.
On Friday, the 9th
, we went to a dinner show featuring the Sons of the Pioneers. Older readers will remember them from the Roy Rogers' movies and TV show. Roy started out as one of the group, then went on to become a famous cowboy movie star. The group sings Western music (not country, but Western) Some of their biggest hits in the 30's, 40's and 50's were “Tumblin Tumbleweeds”, “Cool Water” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky”. Not surprising, most of the audience was over 50!
Other weekend days
Buffalo and Boys
A mama and her calf on the Boys' Ranch. Some of the boys are working in the background.
we roamed around the beautiful Ozark mountains just looking at scenery. One evening a week we played cards or dominoes. I am a great loser at Mexican Train dominoes! I did my clown act twice at dinner with the boys and staff. The boys seemed to appreciate it better the second time. I had to get a whole new outfit and set of jokes for my act, though!!
I really enjoyed working at the ranch. It's in a beautiful location and has a fantastic program. The director told us story after wonderful story about past and present residents. We could even see changes in some of the boys in the short three weeks we were there! I hope to work there again in the future.
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