Friday, September 21, 2007

Day 25: Behemoths and Amazons...

Still in Mapleton...

Today Brandyn was able to schedule a VIP tour for Deb and me through the Caterpillar Plant Building SS. This is the building where D8 through D11 tractors are assembled. It is one of three in the world where the big cats are built... this is the only one in the US. The other two are in Brazil and (I can't remember)...

Deb and I got to sit in a brand new D10 just on it's way out by rail to a customer somewhere in the world. It was pretty amazing to sit at the helm of a 120,000 pound piece of machinery, even if it was not moving. Deb said she would have been more comfortable with a steering wheel instead of the dual joysticks that control it... I told her it is Caterpillar capitalizing on the current generation of operators... pretty cool.

We could not take pictures while on the tour (bummer) but I did get to take some photos of the very first D10 built in this plant in 1977 (which was later returned for permanent display after it's honorable service).

Here is a photo of Deb and Brando standing next to the D10 (not even near the size of the D11 which we saw in production)... but it is still a monster.

Somehow it looks even bigger when I stand next to it!

Brandyn is explaining the parts that he is responsible for as the Senior Manufacturing Engineer in Building HH...

Inside the drive wheel are all kinds of gears (Sun and Planetary) that allow the 850hp engine to move the 50-ton tractor and push tons of earth at the same time... Brandyn's plant builds the gears.

Brandyn and Deb are standing in front of the blade of the D10 and the plaque that explains the history of the cat.

(I am sorry for the quality and graininess of the photos today... I had the camera set up for low light and forgot to change it).

On the way to the plant, we passed this giant plastic woman in a red bikini... it was in front of a Uniroyal tire... I have no idea what the connection is but it was one of the stranger things we have seen thus far... right up there with the giant frypan and the giant steer and many other giant things we have seen along the way... there is a message here somewhere and we are not even in Texas yet.

Tonight, Grandpa and Grandma are spending date night with the grandsons while mom and dad went to church for some hoedown that they were supposed to teach square dancing at... That should be interesting as I don't think Brandyn knows a thing about square dancing...

More news at eleven.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Day 24: Toilet Water, Dripping Water, Lake Camelot, and Ft Wedgie Pond.

Still in Mapleton...

Today I slept in! It was great!

Then Kaleb and grandpa went to KFC for lunch while Ammon was at school. He wanted to ride in grandmas "sports car" because he wants to be a raceccar driver when he grows up.

After lunch, I installed a new toilet in the downstairs bathroom for Brandyn to replace the one that got broken accidentally. It was kind of a tricky job but I got it finished just fine.

Brandyn came home early from work and Ammon and he rode to the hardware store with me to get a water supply flex hose to finish the job.

While I was fixing the toilet, I noticed that a small drip of water would drop on me about every 30 seconds from a vent in the ceiling. Upon inspection, I discovered that the exhaust for the clothes dryer runs through the ceiling above the bathroom and condensation was collecting in the hard pipe and dripping out of the joint where the flex pipe is connected (that goes to the outside vent).

It did not take long to figure out why the vent register was there in the ceiling (it seemed a little strange that there would be a vent right next to the ceiling fan). The drip obviously started sometime in the past and probably dripped through the ceiling. The past owner cut an inspection hole in the ceiling and then put in the vent to cover it... the good thing is that the condensation no longer drips on the ceiling... the down side is that it now drips on the floor. But it doesn't really harm anything and it would be to hard to reroute the vent pipe so it will have to be for now... unless I think of something else before I leave.

Tonight, after dinner, we took Brandyn's boat out on the lake. It was dark by the time we launched and we had a beautiful cruise around the upper lake. The boys (yes even Hyrum) bailed overboard with their life jackets and were going to swim. In the end, Kaleb was the only one who stayed in the water (the darkness kind of creeped out Ammon and Hyrum thought it was too cold). Kaleb, on the other hand hung onto the handle at the back of the boat and paddled probably a quarter-mile while Brandyn used the electric trolling motor on the front of the sled to take us back to the dock... I think Kaleb could of kicked us all the way on his own... he is not named "Cannonball Kid" for nothing.

While we were out on the lake, I got a call from Uncle Bob informing me that the pond behind Ft Wedgie was almost empty (for the second time). I told him that this happens occasionally when a fern or some other plant in search for water climbs over the edge of the liner on one of the falls and pushes it down just enough to allow a small amount of water to escape... eventually, it drains the pond. It usually is not hard to find because when the weather is dry, you can just look for the wet ground somewhere up or down the edge of the falls... but I just told UB to pull the plug... he has gone above and beyond the call of duty already... He actually jumped in the pond the other day... but that is another story.

Besides, by the time we get back, the pond will probably be full of leaves and will be in need of draining and cleaning anyway. Thanks again Bob for your concern and help... we owe you and the others that are helping to make this trip possible... you know who you are and we love you!

We are settling down for the evening... the kids are having baths and I am sure grandma is probably reading a bedtime story by now. The "grups" are going to watch a movie, I think.

Tomorrow, Brandyn managed to schedule a private tour of a plant over at Caterpillar. The tours are led by retired Cat guys and I guess it is pretty cool. You can't take any photos so I will just have to tell you about it tomorrow.



Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Day 23: Skillets, Hoovers, and curtain climbers...

Greetings from Mapleton, Illinois...

Today, after a brief tour of the Blanden Art Museum, we got the heck outta Dodge... (I have been waiting the whole trip to say that!)
On the way to Illinois, we saw a sign advertising the largest skillet in Iowa...
We had to check it out... can you figure out why?

Then we decided to check out the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.

It is the smallest of all the Presidential Libraries but was very nicely done and quite interesting.

The entry doors were engraved with the Presidential Seal and were pretty cool.

When we left the library, we walked the grounds of his birthplace home right there on the campus...

There was even the presidential one holer out back of his boyhood cottage...

President Hoover and his wife are also buried on the hill above the library overlooking his home.

At about 6:00 p.m. Central Time, we crossed the Mighty Mississippi into Illinois.

A short while later, Deb caught a shot of the sunset over the very, very, flat Illinois corn fields.

At 7:57 p.m., we rolled into Brandyn and Jennifer's home and were greeted by some very excited grandsons!

We had dinner and grandma got some help with her spelling from Ammon before we all settled down for a good night's sleep... Brandyn set up a waterbed for us and I can't wait!

Miss you all, Goodnight.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Day 22: The Edwards Mansion... McMennamin move over!

Ok... I dropped Deb off at the new Ft Dodge Library for another day of family research.

Then I headed over to the old Ft Dodge Library, which just happens to be "For Sale".

Just out of curiosity, (and a sincere desire to find an adventure in Ft Dodge), I said, "What the heck... I am going to call the Realtor and take a tour." And that is just what I did.

While I was waiting for him to arrive, I took a few shots of the outside...

A monument above the entry says it was a gift from Carnegie (yes, THE Carnegie) to the city of Fort Dodge.

Well it seems that the city decided they needed a new Library (not everyone was happy about that) and sold it to a guy from California a few years ago who bought it with high asperations to restore it for his mother who then decided to die... he lost interest in the project and now it is on the market again.

This is the front entry of the 18,000 square foot building built at the turn-of-the-century.

This is the West Wing on the main floor with the stone fireplace... there is another on the top floor.

There is a "dome" on the top floor that was added sometime in the '30's that prevented the building from being placed on the National Historical Registry. However, the rules have been changed and the building is now eligible, which would give the purchaser many tax credits and incentives that would aid in the restoration.

The realtor said the city is willing to zone this building any way necessary to make the sale. I am thinking this would make a nice winter home, huh? No problem finding rooms for everyone, eh?

Ok... How much? Now the answer everyone has been waiting for... just $62,000.

Yes, you read that right... $62,000 and don't forget those government credits and incentives!

Anybody in for an adventure to save a great building from the wrecking ball? Did I mention it has central air?

After Deb finished at the new library, we went house hunting to take some photos of more of her ancestors homes.

Along the way, we found a few other homes that we wouldn't mind owning...

Deb wants this one...

I want this one next door...

Or this one on the corner.

OK... This is the extra credit question of the day...

What is it? The person with the correct answer will get an all expense paid trip to spend a night in "The Edwards Mansion". Be specific... the partial judges decision will be final... but I have been known to take bribes.

We are now back at the motel... We are doing some laundry and watching "Dirty Jobs" and I am being treated to an Iowan "gully washer" complete with thunder and lightning.

And you were wondering how in the heck is he going to find anything interesting to blog about after five days in Fort Dodge, Iowa?

Tomorrow, after a quick visit of the Blanden Art Museum, we are going to head to Mapleton, Illinois... we should get there around dinner (unless we find something interesting along the way that slows us down).

Let me know what you think about the winter home... no really.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Day 21: Ft Dodge History revealed...

I cannot believe it has been three weeks since we hit the road...

Today we spent the entire day at the Fort Dodge Library... Deb was in the Genealogical Library and I was in the Historical Society Library.

Debra is very happy with the information that she has found to round out the history of her Ft Dodge ancestors... The library was supposed to be closed today but we found a volunteer working that allowed us to come in. She wound up staying over 4 hours for us... while we were there, six other people came in while Deb was there and the volunteer said she has never seen a busier day in the small library.

Meanwhile, next door at the Historical Library, I spent over four hours making copies of Ft Dodge directories dated from 1889 through 1956... over 175 copies. But it was worth it as they told the story of all of Deb's ancestors during those years... where they lived, what they did, and who they lived with.

It was especially fun to find the records of Don and Marcella in 1946 when they lived in a house at 1510 2nd Avenue South where Donna was born and Don was listed as a sales manager for Swaney Home Appliance Company.

The next directory printed in 1954 listed Don's profession as USA and showed them living at 1329 2nd Avenue South, her parent's home (now the convent).

We thought we had a lead on August Zimmerman due to the "GAR" grave marker on his grave, but it did not pan out when we talked to the local expert on the GAR Post. However, Deb did find a disturbing newspaper entry in the August 20, 1876 "Messenger" that detailed the investigation into his tragic suicide that occured on August 12, 1876. Unfortunately, we still know very little about him or his life and what may have led him to this demise other than he was a milk carrier for the local creamery.

Well, this was probably not that interesting for most of you, but it was a great day for Deb. I was glad to be a part of it.

It rained last night and was very hot and humid today! The forecast is for rain tomorrow... we need to go back to the cemetery and take some more photos tomorrow so I hope we get some breaks.

Tuesday we will leave Ft Dodge and start towards Illinois by way of Des Moine...

I found out today that the information that I have had that my grandfather was stationed at Ft Dodge during WWI is false... the Fort did not exist during the war (it was decommissioned after the Civil War). I think the camp where he must have served is Camp Dodge, just north of Des Moine, IA. This is still an active Army Post and is the sight of the largest military museum in Iowa... I want to visit and see if I can get the straight story on my grandfather Tradup.

We miss all of you and wish you were here with us... we are having a great time together... I am glad we decided to take this trip together now rather than waiting for that "rainy day. Thanks to everyone that is making it possible for us to do this... you know who you are and you are great! We love you all!

Goodnight, Scotty and Deb.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Day 20: Churches, Cemeteries, and Lois...

Day three in Fort Dodge...

Ths morning began early with a 9:00 visit to Fort Dodge Ward, Ames Iowa Stake... Now you would think that if you only had one ward for many, many, miles, and you had all the hours of a day to choose from to start the meeting, you would choose sometime after noon... but no... Scotty does not get to sleep in! But, Deb was happy!

After church, we drove to a small cemetery located next to The Old French Church.

Here we found the gravesite of Vernon Rodolph, Grandpa (Donald) Rudolphs little brother who died as an infant.

We then drove to Woolstock to see town that Donald was born and raised near... It is pretty impressive that he travelled the 30 miles from here to Fort Dodge to hang out with a pretty girl named Marcella Emilie Abel.

We then drove to the site where Deb's Grandpa and Grandma Rudolph's homestead and farm used to be... the home and farm is now gone, replaced with a huge field of corn and soybeans.

After, we drove to Cass Cemetery (thank you Garmin GPS) to visit their gravesite. It was a beautiful day.

Finally, I had the opportunity to finally meet Lois Ahrens... Marcella's cousin.

Lois' mother (Lydia) is Marcella's mother's sister (Dora).

We had a wonderful visit that lasted nearly five hours and included a wonderful meal that she prepared for us.

Many stories were told and recorded and she shared many photos and memories. She said that she and Marcella were more like sisters than cousins and she had so many nice things to say about their relationship.

We heard the story about their barbecue sauce and how it came to be marketed as "Cookie's Sauce"... yes it has been bottled and sold in stores all over the country for years...

I photographed the article that was placed in the newspaper when Lois and her husband Dick were interviewed about their infamous barbecue skills. The article featured her recipe for the sauce... and she said that someone copied the recipe and began to market it. Lois said it is an exact copy and to this day she buys it rather than making her own.

Jayson, the good news is that it is not even close to the sauce that has become J Dawg "Special Sauce". The genealogy of "special sauce" is secure... Marcella to Deb to J Dawg! I know from personnal knowledge that Marcella was mopping her sauce onto barbecued chicken long before Lois' recipe was revealed to the world in 1970.

The great news is that the apple does not fall far from the tree when it comes to the love of grilling and barbecuing and a sweet southern style sauce... regardless of the recipe.

As we were leaving, the treasure find of the day was when Lois decided to show us a set of photos that were hanging on the wall in one of the rooms in her beautiful home...

The wedding photos of Deb's great-great-grandparents Kehm (Marcella and Lois' grandparents) were in near perfect condition!

Tomorrow: Court houses and historical museums...