From the minute we arrived in Newton Illinois, it was nonstop fun. Having met Mike and BJ in Florida we knew we would enjoy their company and it is always great to be with friends where the 2 year gap since seeing one another just melts away. There was much laughter and fun starting at sun up and continuing well after sun down. Another bonus was the other couple we met in Florida at the same time live only 20 minutes east of Newton. Because they had important doctor visits in Indianapolis on Wednesday, we promised to stay another day so we could make the short trip over to see Steve and Diane on Thursday per their invitation.
On the way Mike and BJ realized that we missed one of the highlights in this area so on the way to Steve and Diane’s we stopped to see Burl Ives tombstone. Born in Newton, his body now lies amongst several family members in a serene and pretty hillside. Burl Ives was a beloved singer, songwriter and actor known to most children for the songs Frosty, the Snowman and Have a Holly Jolly Christmas. In addition he was the voice behind Sam the Snowman in the Christmas classic, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Burl Ives also created a unique style of storytelling in song, resulting in over 100 albums .Although he appeared in a few films and on Broadway, he is most known for his contributions to American Folk Music. His large tombstone featured a fabulous artistic rendition of a more svelte Burl that I am sure he would appreciate. It was also nice to see that fans had left flowers and several Frosty the Snowman figurines nearby.
Upon arrival to Robinson Illinois, the six of us (BJ, Mike, Steve, Diane, Sharon and I) met for lunch at their favorite Chinese Food place in town, Yen Ching Mandarin Restaurant. The place was packed and we soon saw why. The food is fabulous with a more than reasonable price. Yum! After lunch BJ and Diane headed off to Diane's house where we would meet up with them after our trip to The Rousch Brothers airport! Yes, our friend Steve is a pilot who offered to take Sharon, Mike and I up in his Cessna 182 for a little joyride. Are we living right or what? Sharon had been in a small plane before but my only experience was in small American Eagle Airlines propeller driven planes out of Easterwood Airport in College Station, Texas. What a beauty his plane was and it was immediately apparent we were in good hands as Steve proceeded methodically on his pre-flight checklist.
Once Steve finished this initial inspection, Mike and I helped him push the plane out of the hanger. Sharon insisted we pose for pictures then we hopped in for our ride. As our pilot helped us with our seatbelts and head gear, I noticed both Sharon and I were grinning ear to ear. Our pilot then completed his cockpit checklist and communications with the tower and we taxied over to the runway. Before we knew it we were soaring above town marveling at the expanse we were seeing. We passed over the Junior College and Prison next door and over the fields of corn and soybeans and seeing the result of the lack of rain in the area which became more obvious from above. We even flew over that little dive bar called MVP where we saw the hound dog playing pool (I found out Sharon had taken a picture and included it here… too funny). Then we also flew over the Wabash River and followed it downstream for a while.
We also flew over Steve's house, pool and pond then proceeded over to Mike and Bj's house where we were delighted to be able to see our beloved motorhome for the first time from above! I think Mike was delighted as well seeing his gorgeous new cabin nestled in the trees by their pond. Next we followed all along the Wabash River. Words cannot express how awesome this flight was for us. I don't think we will stop smiling for a week!
Steve was amazing as he executed a perfectly smooth landing and we helped him place his “Little Mike” back in the hanger extremely thankful for this incredible day! It was not over, however as we met back at Steve and Diane's beautiful home place for lively conversation, cherry pie, ice cream and coffee. So glad are we that we decided to stop by to see these great people. Sharon got a little sad about having to leave our friends but we vowed to meet up again in Florida this winter so I told her instead of goodbye, it will be see ya later!