Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas

First stop (after Brown Sheep Yarn of course) McConnell Air Force Base. We checked into the FamCamp on base to spend a few days in the Wichita Kansas area. After having been involved with the B-47 event we wanted to meet Myrna Fair. Myrna lost her husband, Captain Bill Faulconer in the 1962 plane crash. She had been unable to make the trips to Montana, so Montana came to her! She and husband, Bud met us for dinner at Longhorn Steak House. And what a fun time we had!

We said good bye to our new friends, Myrna and Bud, and spent the next morning at the Kansas Aviation Museum in Wichita. We took pictures of a B-47 at the museum and another of a B-47 positioned behind a KC-135 simulating the in-flight refueling position.

From Wichita we travelled to the eastern side of Kansas, beyond Coffeyville to near Bartlett, home of Jeanne and Hershel Eck (Keith’s Cousin Jeanne) and their wonderful family! We tried not to be ‘underfoot’ so we stayed at a county campground about 20 minutes away (Idle Hour Campground near Altamont, Kansas), but we did spend two evenings with the clan, some music, memories and lots of good food! Joanette and the youngest son, Dakota, played ‘football’ at the table, with the iconic triangular folded paper football! Those two had fun while listening to the family play and sing!

On to Tulsa, where we are familiar with the Army COE campgrounds on Keystone Lake. Our trusted Brush Creek campground was closed so we stayed at Washington Irving South. From here we drove to Edmond, OK (north of OKC) to visit Aunt Maxine, her daughter Sarah and Granddaughter Ashley and Great grandsons, Levi and Rowan. It was a great visit, an afternoon we will cherish. Before leaving central Oklahoma we headed to Summit View Cemetery in Guthrie where generations of Keith’s maternal relatives are buried.

Sarah, Ashley and Aunt Maxine
Chief Posing Next to Keith’s Mom Doris’ Headstone in Guthrie, Oklahoma

We were able to have dinner with Keith’s step-siblings, the children of his step-mom Janet Gaddis Joiner, Danny, Ericka and Avery, Robyn, Amy and Aaron and Laura and Samantha. There were a couple of teenagers missing, Sydney and Aiden (Friday Night/High School Homecoming weekend) and Robbie and Jacob (Football — Bixby Spartans)! No pictures to be had – we have got to improve on that skill!

We only had two nights at Washington Irving South but needed to spend another day in the area, so we moved to Lake Sahoma a City of Sapulpa campground on a cute little reservoir. From here we travelled to Beggs Oklahoma for an Invitational Marching Band competition. Joanette’s first ever, and Keith’s second! Needless to say, the band we were there supporting came in 1st in the competition! Keith’s junior high friend Harley Thomas had a big part in making the band program at Broken Bow High School the success that it is today, and that tradition has been carried on by his son, Harley Jr, the current band instructor and his wife Kim. They were very impressive! Our pictures, with no sound, do not do justice to the event, the band, or their talent.

Broken Bow Marching Band Champions!

On to Prattsville, Arkansas to spend not nearly enough time with Keith’s cousin Charissa and her family. Charissa is Aunt Maxine’s oldest daughter, she is married to Mark Bennings and has daughter Shannon, son-in-law, Timmy and grandson Cannon Culp. Charissa’s family was getting back from a few days down on the gulf coast when we arrived, so we didn’t stay nearly as long as we should have, or wish we could have!

Keith and Charissa in her beautiful Kitchen!

Our parting comment was that we would be back next time for three weeks! What a beautiful area, just a little southwest of Little Rock, very rural, green, yet close to some great exploring. We had a blast watching Mark and Timmy load up Timmy’s race cars in the car hauler.

Bennings Heating and Air Conditioning, owned by Mark and Charissa, is the main sponsor of Timmy Culp’s #8 race car. Timmy was the 2019 Comp Cams Super Dirt Series Champion! Even little Cannon Culp has a race car!

From Prattsville, Arkansas we head to Louisiana. #1 reason, to see Keith’s dad’s headstone, which we didn’t get to see in place last year due to a hurricane. This year’s hurricane, Ida, happened, caused flooding and property loss, which was still evident, but everything had dried up before we arrived. The headstone is beautiful! We are thankful that there was no damage to Keith’s dad and grandparents headstones. A large oak tree was blown over by Ida and surely there were many stones damaged or destroyed.

We were able to have a short visit with cousins Arlette Elston and Wesley Williamson. It was definitely nice to see them. The day before we went to Loranger, we had checked in at Chicot State Park on Chicot Bayou, just a bit south west of Alexandria. We got up early, traveled to Loranger, and when we got back friends Harley and Kerry had checked into a cabin they rented for two days there at Chicot State Park. So, cool, these cabins, are built out over the lake, on stilts, each has a screened in porch, and are definitely large enough to live in! From the deck we watched a little alligator, who apparently knows where to come for a free meal!

The Joiners sign, a gift from Harley and Kerry, the little alligator lurking in the water and the four of us (taken at Avery Island)

After an evening of hot dogs, with chili, sauerkraut, onions and chips, we got a good nights rest and in the morning headed to Avery Island, in Southern Louisiana, the home of Tabasco factory owned for an awful lot of years by the McIlhenney Family! This is a tour extraordinairre! Chief spent some time with the ladies from the gift shop, they had a kennel for him, in the back, air conditioned and he was well taken care of! We went on the self guided tour, reading about the history of the island, and the natural salt mine that is instrumental in the curing process of the peppers.

On to the Jungle Gardens on Avery Island. What a beautiful place. You drive through, but there are lots of places to stop, walk and take pictures. We quickly figured out we were not alone, and caution was the word of the day!

There’s always that one guy!
Louisiana is Enchanting

We were going to head to the Houston area and visit Keith’s cousin Lorene, but sadly, Lorene’s in laws were stricken by covid and tragically the both passed the same day. We instead, went to Corsicana Texas and spend two days with old Navy friends, Jim and Karen Pelzel. We had a great spot on Lake Halbert and went to the Russell Stover Candy Factory and to the Corsicana Air Show!

Down to Waco to see Uncle Leland and Aunt Barbara and another great few days at Airport Park Army Corps of Engineers Campground on Waco Lake. We enjoyed Barbara and Leland’s company as always and Keith and Leland did some strumming and singing! Keith and I had a nice five mile bike ride along the Brazos River, sadly the Bridge across the Brazos (Famous for the Cattledrives of the Chisholm Trail) was closed for repairs!

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