Gra Nomad Wanderings

Monday, May 29, 2006

100th BLOG

What a great way to celebrate the 100th POST - telling you about our fabulous time in Kansas and Missouri.

We returned the Ford Focus to Hertz in Wichita (actually Derby) where Ron and Chari hang out. It served us well for the 2 weeks while we travelled 3,000 miles (4750 km). That's further than across Australia or across USA!

Ken & Corrine Ervin came across to pick us up and take us back to Parsons, Kansas and then to Branson, Missouri. Wow! That Branson is something else! Heaps of shows - lots of 'em country music - and NO SLOT MACHINES! NO GAMBLING! Can you imagine that? Where Las Vegas is flat, Branson is extremely hilly. We saw Shoji Tabuchi, Goldwing Express, Broadway - The Star Spangled Celebration including Merrill Osmond, The World Famous Platters and the and the Duttons! Here's a bit of trivia - the Platters recorded nearly 400 songs, sold over 89 million records, received 230 awards and are recorded in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. We also enjoyed the beautiful unit at at Surrey Resort complete with indoor and outdoor pools and spas as well as a spa in our bedroom! That Robin sure looked after us. On the way home to Parsons (a three hour drive) we called at Ozark and ate at Lamberts Restaurant which is famous for its food and especially for the way they throw you a hot roll when you want one. We ate well! Darn, I didn't take my camera in there!
Back here in Parsons KA, we started practising for Katy Days. This is held on Memorial Day weekend. KATY stands for Missouri Kansas and Texas Railroad. On Saturday we joined heaps of others in the Iron Horse Duathlon, a 5 km run, a 20 mile bike ride and then another 5 km run. Well, as you know, we Keasts don’t run! Isn’t that right Jeremy? We had a good ride, doing the 34 km in 1:14:45 giving us an average of 27.7 kph! Let me assure you, that is quite impressive. Just don’t tell Evan or Blaxland! Hey, we were the fastest tandem in the event! Hence our medals.

We are celebrating knowing Ken and Corrine for 20 years this year! What a great couple. They claim to be in their 80's but that's hard to believe when you see how they operate. They were one of the Servas families we stayed with when we wandered round USA with our 3 young kids back in '86. This is our 3rd visit to Parsons and they've made it out to Oz once. Guess it's their turn to come visit! To Ken and Corrine and their family, to Peggy & their caring church folk at Wesley, to Wayne the eye doctor who organized the cycling, to the friendly people of Parsons.... thanks for your KANSAS hospitality.

Plans are to stick around Parsons for a few more days till Ken takes us over to Wichita on 1st June where we'll spend a week or so with Ron and Chari before flying out of Kansas City for Vancouver - 13 June (yes, just before we get run out of the country by Dept of Immigration.) Hope Brother Bill’s ready for us by then on Vancouver Island.

Did we tell you we're gonna be grandparents? Deb and Brendan are expecting (Sydney Aust. That's where they live, not the name they've chosen!) Bub due in October.... guess we'll still be in Europe at that time. Really keen to get back to Oz and see the family (had to put that in just in case immigration officials are reading this blog!)

Next post will be from Wichita (Derby).

Thanks for those people who've been having a read now and then. Do drop a comment occasionally. It's sure beaut to know who's out there having a read both in Oz and here in USA.

Well that’s it for the 100th blog….. seeya.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Well, I thought I’d escaped but it wasn’t to be. So today it’s Fay’s account of the past nine or so days. Probably it’s appropriate because this part of the trip has been a long time in the planning for me.

We left Denver and headed south to Colorado Springs via the Air Force Academy, Garden of the Gods park and the cliff dwellings at Manitou Springs. The latter was to be the warm up for our explorations in the Four Corners area of the US. (This is the area around where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico meet). We had an excellent day and managed to reach the town of Monte Vista and our Servas hosts Alta and George in time for tea.

They were keen to show us the sand dunes in their part of the world, and it was incredible for us to climb up these enormous dunes which backed onto mountains in land-locked Colorado. They really needed some water nearby but this part of the country is all really dry at present – and it’s a long way to the surf.

From here we have been travelling through the most amazing landscape, filled with amazing ruins of days past. The Four Corners area is filled with the cliff dwellings and pueblos of peoples long gone – like they disappeared from here around 1300AD!! (Although it is believed that the present pueblo people are their descendents). We even managed to attend an archeological group meeting in Durango, thanks to our host Janice, which gave us more insight into the area.

So our past week has been filled with visits to magic places like Mesa Verde, Aztec, Canyon de Chelly, El Morro and Acoma. For me, it has been far better than I ever imagined, and now we know that we really needed about 6 months to appreciate this special area, not just nine days. The building prowess of these ancient people was truly fantastic. A special time was a twilight hike down Canyon de Chelly with a Navajo landowner to see some ancient rock art and listen to old stories while we awaited moonrise.

It was also great to spend time in Ramah in New Mexico with Caroly and George in their self-built adobe house – with an outdoor hot tub.

And now we find ourselves in Roswell, New Mexico, visiting with Tim and Katie Parker. Tim we’ve known from a few years back when he lived in Dubbo. We have managed to stay away from any alien influences here, despite visiting the local UFO museum. Yesterday saw us visiting the Carlsbad Caverns which are truly enormous and beautiful.

So you can see why there has been a delay in adding this blog. This past week has been our busiest since we arrived in the US, with each day filled with exploring this truly magnificent area, seeing incredible things, and learning a little about the past. How lucky can we be?

Thanks Fay. Well done – as usual.
We head to Wichita, Kansas, tomorrow (Thursday), then spend a week or so with Ken and Corrine in Branson, Missouri and also at Parsons, Kansas. Keep your eye on the calendar…the dreaded 14 June is approaching! That’s when we turn into pumpkins! Or maybe the aliens will get us! (Unless we get out of the country in time.) Gra

Monday, May 08, 2006


Not a great photo, but this records our meeting with Geoffrey Pritchard.
Geoff is the eldest son of very good friends of ours, Bob & Wendy. The Pritchard clan reside in Perth (mostly, sorry Simon). We originally met them in Calgary when Bob and I played cricket for University of Calgary!
Wow! Bob has retired! Well at least changed from what he's been doing for about 40 years! Good onya Bob!
We 'd received an email from Geoff telling us that he was going to a conference in Omaha. Hey, how bout that! Our trip from Newton, through Des Moines to Denver was gonna take us straight through Omaha, Nebraska. In fact we've be there about 4 or 5 pm on a Friday arvo! Imagine that.
Well, we arrived at the Information Centre at 4:30 pm and after a short break headed into the city proper. We found the main drag fairly empty and available parking right opposite the Sheraton where Geoff was going to be staying! Just as we were having a look at the parking meter, a bloke calls out to us, you don't have to put money in them now! I told the bloke it was 4:45 pm and the meters were "alive" till 5 pm. He assured me everyone had gone off work by now so don't waste your money. So, we are 25 c richer.
Into the hotel.... pretty flash place... tried to pass myself off as a rich entrepeneur... failed... she picked me for a yobbo Aussie. Wonder if I was wearing that cheap Sydney T shirt? So, she pages Geoff who arrived downstairs in 5 minutes. He had just arrived in his room. What great timing!
We had a good chat with Geoff over a coffee and then showed him our Banana Split in the trunk of the Ford Focus. He was amazed. He is a keen athlete and just recently competed in a triathlon. Cyclist, runner, swimmer, ex Aussie rules umpie... that sort of guy. He has a lovely wife Rachel and 2 gorgeous daughters that will keep him hopping for the rest of his life. (Matilda, named after our campervan and Eliza.) We saw photos of the kids and footage of Geoff and Rachel at Gallipolli taken recently. What a fancy phone/camera thing Geoff.
So, here we are now, having just had the weekend in Denver and ready to head for Monte Vista and then Durango. That's down the SW cnr of Colorado... area called FOUR CORNERS.
Thanks Nancy, and her friend Bob, for looking after us for a couple of days. Good to get a cycle in yesterday on B Split and also to visit WORLD BODYWORKS 2 - an incredible display of the human body currently in Denver.
Better go... big day ahead.

Friday, May 05, 2006


Strange.... I was gonna blog on the re-enactment of the Civil War that we witnessed in Keokuk, Iowa last weekend. You probably wouldn't be interested.
I had a photo of Fay with a bloke (statue) to satisfy people who reckoned they hadn't seen evidence of Fay's presence on the blogsite... Well... the puter didn't like that.
So, I'll just let you know our plans for the next 2 weeks.

Fri 5 May (today) dep Newton/Des Moines, Iowa with rental car (& bike in trunk)

Sat/Sun 6/7 May stay with Servas host (Nancy) in Denver, CO.

Mon/Tues 8/9 May stay with Servas friends at Monte Vista, southern CO

Wed/Th 10/11 May stay with Servas friends at Durango, southern CO

Fri/Sat 12/13 May stay with Servas friends at Gallup or Ramah, New Mexico

Sun-Mon 14/15 M stay with Tim & Katie Parker at Roswell, NM

Tue/Wed/Th 16-18 May return to Wichita to drop off the rental car.

It's going to be good today catching up with Geoff Pritchard, a mate from Perth, Aust. He just happens to be arriving by plane from Chicago, in Omaha, NE today about 4 pm, and we should be driving through there about 5 pm. Do you think we'll meet up?

It'll be a bit sad because we'll be saying farewell to Bryan and Marcia & son Michael.... not to mention Ulysses, Felix, Boo, Tiko and Cricket (dogs and cats.) We have had a great time of catching up with these beautiful people. They are very special because God sent them into our lives 32 years ago when they came out to Australia to teach in Bowral for 2 years. They have numerous Christian books adorning their shelves and Fay and I have been helping ourselves to some enrichment. Just to name but a few:

  • Experiencing God by Blackaby & King
  • In His Steps by Charles Sheldon
  • Twelve Extraordinary Women
  • Jesus Freaks - dc talk
  • Am I Not Still God - Kathy Troccoli
  • Quest for Love - Elisabeth Elliott
  • Living Above the Level of Mediocrity - Swindoll

And on and on the list goes. If you want to read a good Christian resource book on a topic, you could do a lot worse than asking Bryan and Marcia. Email me and I'll flip it on to them -(

Thanks B&M for EVERYTHING. We shall miss you heaps. Let's keep in touch. Now it's your turn to come our way!

And to close... a couple of verses from Colossians 3:1-2

So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ - that's where the action is. See things from His perspective.

PS The Union beat the Confederates again this year! Just in case you were interested.

PPS Maybe you've got a GREAT READ to share.... click on comments and tell us.

PPPS Made it to Denver as per schedule. Little Ford Focus went well... 30+ mpg!

Thursday, May 04, 2006










1 Newton IA

2 Newton IA

3 Newton IA Bryan Marcia Thayer

4 still Newton IA

5 Collect rental car in Des Moines IA

6 drop off rental car in Denver

7 stay with Servas friends

8 take Autodr. to Phoenix, Four Corners



11 arr Phoenix AR

12 get car rental from Phoenix for a week







19 return rental to Wichita

20 … arrive Parsons

21 to Branson MO with Ervins

22 Branson MO

23 Branson MO

24 return to Parsons KS with Ervins

25 trip to the Lake & back - Ervins

26 Parsons KS

27 KATY days Parsons

28 KATY days Parsons

29 still in Parsons?

30 still in Parsons?

31 still in Parsons?

1 June with Ken to Wichita (Derby)



4 Derby or ? with Ron and Chari Roots






10 to Kansas City MO

11 Kansas City MO

12 Kansas City

13 Flight KC to Vanc. or Seattle



16 maybe hang out in Nanaimo?


18 who knows where this week?

19 yet to be determined

20 maybe LA?








28 stay in Corvallis OR with Servas host

29 stay in Corvallis with Servas host

30 North West Tandem rally Corvallis, OR

1 NWTR Corvallis, OR

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Yes.... we have VISA PROBLEMS! Big visa problems.
We were incorrectly assured that we would not need a visa when coming to USA. We got one for Brazil and will get one for China. (Couldn't get the China one in Sydney as it was too early to get one seeing we don't expect to get to China till Oct or Nov).
So, as we flew into Miami, they asked us to complete a visa waiver form. Seemed like a good idea. We completed that. When we arrived, the official stamped our VW form (visa waiver) 14 June.... which is 3 months after we arrived. I guessed (incorrectly) that it would be easy to have that extended. Wrong!
So, here we are with friends (Bryan and Marcia) in Newton, Iowa. What a blessing to be with friends at a time like this.
WE HAVE TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY BY 14 JUNE IF NOT BEFORE! It's that simple. We have already booked into the BIKE ACROSS KANSAS with good friends from Wichita, Kansas. We'd been planning this event for years! Now, it looks like it's out the window. BAK goes from 10-17 June.
I have spent 4 hours this morning on the phone to embassies, Dept of Immigration, Dept of State and just about everyone else. I HATE TALKING TO ANSWERING MACHINES! If you want to speak to so-and-so, press 1, if your enquiry is regarding a visa application and your application has been sent in - press 2... etc... Isn't it a pity that our modern world has resorted to such an impersonal way to HELP people.
So... to all our friends here in USA and those in Oz.... looks like things will be curtailed somewhat. How, we don't know.... I just had to write this stuff down. It is crazy!
There are some folk who think (believe) that all we need to do is drive to Canadian border, go over and re-enter US. Well... acording to US Immigration, that won't work. I even want to know if we did that after 14 June, how long would we have to stay in Canada before we could enter on a new VW program. I CAN'T FIND THAT OUT! Can you believe that? I CAN'T FIND THAT OUT! If you find out, let me know.
I'll keep you updated as news comes to hand... but right now.... the main thing seems to be that we will have to withdraw from the Bike Across Kansas ride. That will cost us $60 US per couple I believe to withdraw at this point. We'll have to make that decision in the next day or so.
What a stuff up! You'd think I was a jolly t............!
I just pray that God's name will be glorified through all this.
Sorry.... no pictures allowed! (Just kidding!)