Monday, September 17, 2018

September 17 - 23, 2018, IL, MO

UMonday, September 17.  It was a nice drive today, heading south through Western Illinois on US 67 and then south on MO 19, once we crossed the Mississippi River at Hannibal.  The sky was all blue for much of the way, then a few puffy clouds. There are signs of fall in the trees and the fields of corn and soybeans are brown and in the process of harvesting.  The highlights of the drive were crossing 'Tom's Creek' twice and the 'Salt River' that actually had lots of water flowing (unlike the trickle of that of Arizona near Tempe).

We checked into Lazy Day RV Park, after a rough detour due to the road being closed at the exit on I70 (fortunately we were warned on their website and on the phone).  I believe this is THE NICEST RV park that I have ever stayed at.  It is clean, well groomed with lots of artistic touches, spacious level RV sites, giant majestic Oak trees, all tree stumps are artistic carvings, few peaty insects, and the staff is very friendly.  After dinner, I actually sat outdoors for over an hour without getting a mosquito bite.

Wednesday, September 19.  Yesterday was 'hang around the campsite day' for me, but Tom had to go to Columbia to buy a couple of tires.  He was hoping the trailer tires would make it back to AZ or at least as far as Joyce's place in Peyton, CO, but they were causing him to worry ever since he discovered the problem when we left Wisconsin.

I spent the morning doing housecleaning and laundry and just enjoying a day without having to go anywhere.  After dinner, we headed on the trail that led down a hill to a lake. The sky was a dark grey and you could hear thunder off in the distance and it started to rain just as we were getting back home, but we did make it all the way down to see the lake, not a house in sight and the water looked cool and clear.

Today was the day to visit Missouri's wine country and we headed to Hermann after having breakfast and walking Frisco.  The drive took us through some beautiful country, with tree covered hills, down into valleys, and then to the Missouri River and the historic town of Hermann, the wine capital of Missouri.  The town of abut 2,500 people was settled by German immigrants and when they realized it wasn't good farm land, they started to grow grapes and produce wine.  There are more than 100 historic buildings that are on the National Historic Register and many of them are businesses and house restaurants, wineries, distilleries and breweries.  There were too many to choose from, so we stopped at the Visitor Center and got a few tips from the friendly lady behind the counter.

We started with a walking tour around the streets and then; sampled cheese and sausage and took the self guided tour at Hermannhof Winery, had a beer at the Tin Mill Brewing Company, a sampling of Vodka and Whiskey at the Black Shire Distillery, had the Best of the Wurst bratwurst, red cabbage and German Potato salad at the Wurst 

House, and topped the day off with wine tasting and a guided tour of the Stone Hill Winery.

The Stone Hill Winery is the oldest Winery in the area (since 1847), it sits on a hillside right in town and produces 300,000 gallons of wine each year, and has earned many awards, including international awards.  I thought their sweet wines were the best and I really liked the sparkling 'Blanc de Blanc'. Our final taste was the Concord and Moscato mixed together and that is what we walked out of there with.

Our tour guide was very informative and easy to listen to. She took us into the cellars where the temperature dropped several degrees and the damp walls were built from local stone and the ceilings were curved brick, all were covered with a black film that was mold and yeast (from pores that escape during the mixing process).  Around 1900, the Winery was producing 1,250,000 gallons of wine a year.  During prohibition, the Winery was used for growing mushrooms and then was re-opened in 1965 as a Winery.

Saturday, September 22.  As I was securing things in the trailer this morning, a bowl slipped out of my hands, knocked the coffee pot into the sink and it broke in many pieces. Fortunately, most of it was in the sink and it didn't make too much of a mess.

Tom and I arrived at the Lake Jacomo Campground in Lee's Summit, MO on Thursday afternoon so we could help Bob and Penny prepare for the Celebration of Life that they are hosting for my brother, Rick, who passed away March 26 of this year.  It was HOT when we arrived and we were both sweaty and a bit irritable after getting set up.  We needed to get a few groceries and a replacement for the coffee pot, so headed off to the nearest Walmart that was out of the coffee pot we wanted, so we drove to the another Walmart and we would be able to have coffee the next morning- I don't function very well without it.

Penny picked me up on Friday morning and we set out for Costco and Walmart to get supplies for tomorrow's event.  Later that evening, we had dinner with them and also Rita and Denny at their house.

When I walked Frisco this morning, I noticed a mowed path leading into the woods, so after waking up with coffee and breakfast, we walked that path. It led us to a narrow, wooded path leading in 2 directions. We chose the path that went to the right and it was a nice 1-mile hike that meandered down to the lake and then we took the road back to the campground.

About 30 family members showed up to remember and celebrate Rick's life. His daughter Monica and her husband Loren joined us from Phoenix and she put together a very nice slideshow of photos and had some of his favorite blues music playing in the background. The children of my nieces and neohews, ranging in age from 2 to 10, ran around and played in the yard while the adults mingled and visited.  We feasted on BBQ, beans, salads, and chips for dinner, that was followed by a few people sharing stories, jokes, and toasting Rick with a shot of Irish Whiskey. Once it got dark, we had a huge bonfire and told more stories, goofed-off, and had fun. The crowd had thinned out and all was quiet by about 10:00 and we headed home.

Sunday, September 23. Our plan was to take it easy today and w did a pretty good job of it.  Randy, Julie, and Lanae stopped by on their way but of town for a short visit.  

After they left, we decided to go for a walk and took the path that led to the left today. It turns out that it is called the Prickly Pear Trail and was a 1.5 mile loop.  Since we started before we hit the loop trail, our walk ended up being about 2 miles. We were all getting tired by then, so it ended just in time.

And then Stella, Josh, Barley, and Ron came by for a visit. It was nice because we really didn't get much of a chance to visit yesterday. Those large gatherings are always nice but you only get short snippets of time with everyone.

Monday, September 10, 2018

September 10 - 16, 2018, WI, IL

Monday, September 9.  When I woke us the morning, I got to thinking that this should be the day to go visit my cousin, Donna. She is 87 years old and has had a rough year after breaking her hip, falling and re-breaking her hip, and then developing an infection that has had her down for the last 6 months.  So Jonnie and I went up there and spent a couple of hours with her and had a wonderful visit - lots of reminiscing and discussion about how fortunate we have been in our lives to have such a large circle of family that has stayed connected through the years.

Thursday, September 12.  Whew! It has been a busy week of visiting with friends and family from morning until night.

Tom and I walked the Yahara River Trail on Tuesday morning without getting bit up too bad by mosquitoes. They have been awful here this last week.

    A gnarly tree stum on the Yahara River Trail

I was lucky to be in town for the monthly classmate gathering at Culver's, as Pam calls it 'the 66 girls' meetup.  Nine of us showed up this time (Pam, Jerry, Virginia, Georgia, Pat, Mary, Judy, Bonnie, and me) and we discussed the latest health issues, folks who have died, who has seen or heard from other classmates, who has boyfriends (both Pam and I), who would like to have a boyfriend, and who doesn't want anything to do with them, and just general topics and lots to laugh about.  After that meet-up, I met Doug at the Nauti-Norske for a beer and a good chat. It's always nice to see old friends when I get back to town.

I went back to the campground, picked up Tom and Frisco and we headed to Pat and Tracey's house for Papa Murphy's pizza for dinner and lots of story telling.

On Wednesday morning when I was walking Frisco, I met up with Sue and we walked together, deciding that we were running out of time and just had to get together once more before we part ways until we see each other again in Arizona in February.  So, after Tom and I got our laundry chores out of the way, we headed to their site and sat around talking for a couple of hours.

I went to see Fran after that but she wasn't feeling the greatest, so we had a very brief visit, but I just wouldn't feel right if I didn't get to see her while I was in town, after all she is my oldest living cousin - and I love her!

I really wanted to have Walleye for dinner one more time before leaving the area, so Tom and I went to Banushi's Bar and Grill.  Unfortunately, I had to send my fish back to the kitchen because it was undercooked.  It was very tasty and enjoyable in spite of that.  

As we were leaving the restaurant, I got a text from Dawn and she wanted to get together, so she came out to the campground. I scrounged up some firewood from fire pits at other vacant sites and we had a nice fire, some wine, and lots of great conversation.  The stars were bright and beautiful and we even watched the International Space Center fly across the horizon.

Today was another full day, starting with a meet-up with Mike's family - Tom, Karen, Sharon, and Becky at the Breakwater in Monona.  Lunch was good and the conversation was even better.  

And then we had dinner at Pat and Tracey's again tonight. Pat grilled steaks and Tom and I picked up a couple of salads and we had a great time.  We could have talked into the night, but tomorrow is an early day for all of us.  We got in some good hugs, as they have to last until next summer. I don't like saying goodbye.

And tomorrow we start our trek back to Arizona, but with lots of stops in between.

Friday, September 14.  Goodbye Wisconsin and Minnesota - until next year. 

A first - we said we were leaving at 9:00 and we DID! Up at 7am, trailer was already hooked up, and we hit the road.  I had a bit of a sinking feeling when I called the Buffalo Shores Campground at our first stop at the rest area near Dubuque and they told me they were pretty full and there were only a few sites left.  Also, Tom did his usual check to see if everything was all right with the trailer and found a bad spot on one of the tires.  I was impressed at how quickly and efficiently he took care of business and exchanged the bad tire with the good spare.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised as he spent his life doing those things.

As we got closer to Davenport, I called the campground again and they had no sites.  We pulled over and looked at the 'Plan B' options and got 1 of the last 2 sites available at the KOA in Rock Island, IL.  It is 85 degrees and this is the last weekend that the pool is open, so it may end up being a good choice. We have a nice, concrete slab site and I didn't notice any insects as we hooked up.

Saturday, September 15.  The last thing I wanted to do this morning was to get up early and I was quite satisfied with a full night of sleep that lasted until 9am this morning.

We took our time and reviewed some of the literature we got from the park and decided to go see the Celtic Games in Centennial Park in Davenport and were glad that we did.  We wandered the grounds and checked out the information booths where you could get ancestry information, watch demonstrations of 'old' crafts such as tin smithing, black smithing, weaving, knitting, chain mail and others.

Competitions were ongoing - and we watched lots of strong men and women dressed in kilts throwing heavy objects over poles that kept getting higher and higher, some competitions were measured for distance like the giant telephone poles that had to be hoisted and thrown end-to-end. Whatever - they all took strength and momentum. The air was filled with the sounds of bagpipes.

We grabbed a couple of Cornish Pasties and a glass of Smithwicks (pronounced Smiddicks), found a shady spot to sit, and watched some hornpipe dancing and Highland fling dancing - it brought back memories of Rene and Bob doing the Highland fling as taught by the Irish Nuns when they went to St. Ann's Elementary School in Stoughton.

Sunday, September 16.  Another sloooow start to the day and when I walked Frisco around 9:30, I realized that this park is almost empty already. That is the way with the KOA Campgrounds.

This afternoon, we headed to Wildcat Den State Park because there was a Buckskinner's Rendezvous going on.  It has been many, many years since I have been to one and it brought back many memories for me: loading and shooting Mike's black powder guns, tomahawk throwing, drinking moonshine, smoking kinnickinic, shopping for primitive tools and jewelry, and wandering around and talking with the buckskinners.

Going back in my history- Mike was a black powder enthusiast for several years, owned a flintlock rifle and a 45 caliber pistol. We did a lot of target shooting, bullet making, cloth cutting, and powder measuring and I must say that I was a pretty good at loading and hitting the targets.

Apparently most of the competitions were done on Friday and Saturday, as today was pretty quiet. We strolled around the encampment and then walked one of the hiking trails. It is a beautiful park with giant old Oak trees that provided lots of shade and a very nice setting for the rendezvous.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

September 3 - 9, 2018, MN, WI

OWe Wednesday, September 5.  Monday was our day to tie up loose ends; pick up last minute grocery items, clean and stash away outdoor things, hook up the truck, and walk around to stay goodbye to folks we have met here.

And then we were on the road Tuesday morning as planned, heading for Lake Arrowhead near Montello, WI for a 3-day stay to hang out with Pat and Roger.  Unfortunately, there has been so much rain (including some good downpours during our drive) that you can't get between here and there without a 45-mile one-way roundabout drive due to bridges being closed or roads washed out. So no visit that evening.

Today, we drove to Princeton and Montello and we sure did see a lot of flooding.  They were sandbagging along the Fox River in Princeton and all of the buildings on the south side of Main Street had water right up to the back of the buildings. It is so sad!  We were able to meet Pat and.Rog and my cousin, Jo for dinner at the Rendezvous in Montello tonight, we parked at opposite sides of the bridge and walked to the restaurant in between.  The bridge is closed because they are afraid of the structure being weakened by all of the standing water.  We had a nice dinner and fun visit.

    Taken from near Main St in Princeton.

    Highway 22, S

Thursday, September 6.  We hung around the campsite today, taking a long walk, and chatting with Roger during his breaks from work.  His drive to work this morning was 48 miles, the roundabout way from his house.  Since then, another road has been closed which added another 5-6 miles to the route.

I really wanted to spend more time with them and for Tom to see their house, so we headed there this afternoon.  It was a long drive but worth the visit, the walk to the causeway in Packwaukee to see the water damage, to see the damage from the recent storms that took out at least 27 trees on their property, and to have cocktails and a nice dinner with our good friends.

Friday, September 7.  There was no big rush this morning to get on the road, as we only had 70 miles to drive to Stoughton where we will spend the next week.  When we arrived at the park, the office was closed, so we drove around the decide which sites we would prefer.  The maintenance man checked with the owner and we got to have our first choice, site 18.  

As we were setting up, Sue stopped by for a chat.

We had tickets for a show at the historic Opera House to see Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Dave Alvin and what a show it was.  I wasn't real impressed with the openers, John Langley and another John? - not that they weren't talented or good, just that I didn't really like their music.  Their set was an hour and the 'stars' show was 2 hours, a mix of rocking blues, folk, Americana, a bit country, and even a Zydeco number.  We were out until midnight after stopping for a drink at Nauti Norse, a new bar in town.

Sunday, September 9.  The nights have been cool, down in the 50s and the days cool, brisk and some broken clouds.  This morning is bright and sunny with a brisk breeze. I couldn't believe when I reached over to check the time this morning - 10:47. How can that be? I never got up once during the night.  Needless to say, we were shocked and Frisco didn't even bother me to take him out either.

Pat stopped by yesterday morning for a visit and later on, we got a nice walk in along the river.  

Last evening we went to the Opera House again to see Junior Brown.  He is described as a one-man musical hot fusion machine and he plays a unique part-electric, part country steel guitar. He was accompanied by a stand-up bass, a drummer with only a snare drum and cymbals, and his wife on rhythm guitar.  Another great show at this beautiful venue right here in small-town Stoughton!

We invited Pat and Tracey and Jonnie for dinner tonight and I made Mrs. Gumtow's casserole, Tom made one of his chopped salads and we had a nice time. Jim and Sue stopped by for a beer and a chat before dinner.

I started a campfire but we didn't hang around it for too long - the mosquitoes started coming out and it was getting cold. The forecast is for a low of 47 degrees tonight.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

September 1 - 2, 2018, MN

Sunday, September 2. Happy 7th Birthday to my sweet and silly Granddaughter, Charlotte.  This is the first year in many that I haven't celebrated with her in person - and it kind of hurts.  We did have some special times together recently and her gifts were chosen by her this year.  Time is sure flying by.  We were talking with Ben recently and reminded him that in 10 years from now, he will have two 15-year-olds and a 17-year old daughter - he said the thought scared him and that he was trying to prepare himself!

We have been in 'preparing for departure' mode the last few days, doing last minute chores.  We got groceries but now will probably have to get a few more tomorrow since the fresh fruits and many of the veggies have disappeared.  It also seems that we can't keep beer and other cocktail supplies stocked.

I was talking to ur neighbor, Patty,  yesterday and she told me that several of the long-time folks here ar going out for dinner next week and she was asked to invite 'the apple picker and Tom' o join them.  I nhave love narrative have a name, just a reputation. Ha! Ha!

Our destination on Tuesday is the Lake Arrowhead Campground in Montello, it is where Roger works for the summer.  Unfortunately, the area was hit very hard with high winds and storms earlier this week and many trees are down and roads are flooded and closed. Pat and Roger lost 27 trees in their yard - a big part of the reason that they  bought their cabin in the woods. It's been a hard-working summer for them as they just completed restraining their entire log house.

Plans are being made for spending the winter in Apache Junction,  but the places we are considering have not been answering their phones - we can't even get our questions answered.

Today was laundry day and we had so much to do that we took it all to a laundromat in Osseo.  After donating $1.25 in machines that either stole our money or weren't working, plus another $10.00, we were done. I'm not complaining about the cost, just feel they should have been a way to recoup the 'above and beyond' expense.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

August 27 - 31, 2018, MN

Tuesday, August 28.  We went to IKEA today to look at the duvet covers and decided on a pattern that we both liked and then there were none of them available. Bummer!  I'll have to keep an eye on their website and try to get ahold of one whenever we get near another IKEA - maybe Kansas City, since we will be moving pretty regularly until we get back to Arizona.

After IKEA, we went to my storage unit in hopes of picking up a few things to take with us.  Unfortunately, the way the movers loaded the thing, it was impossible to even tell what was in the boxes.  We gave up on the idea, put things back just the way they were and headed back to the trailer.

We saw the Great Horned Owl tonight! While we were walking the path around the eastern loop of the park, I could hear it, pretty close to the path and it sounded just like the one I had heard in the wee hours of the morning a couple of weeks back.  We were standing there looking for it when it flew through the treetops and perched on a branch, not far from where we stood. We could see it and tell that it was an owl, but our view was obstructed by branches. And then he flew right past us through an opening in the trees and we got a good view of it, although it was pretty dark out.  It was a large bird and we were both excited that we got to see it!

Wednesday, August 29.  Today's highlight was a last stop to say goodbye to Ben and the kids.  They have travel plans for the weekend, so I wanted to see them one more time before we head back south. We got there in time to chat with Ben for a bit, then walked to Zen to get Norah and Camille after school. We played in the front yard for a while, then kicked the soccer ball around in the back yard until it was time to get Charlotte at the bus stop.  I played Legos with her and then we hugged them all and headed out.  

Thursday, August 30.  Minnesota State Fair Day!  Before we could do that, we had to take care of some business so Tom could get an exemption for the emissions test that is required to renew his tags on his truck.  He had already printed the form and all he needed was a signature by a policeman verifying that his truck was NOT in Arizona. The person at the police station sent us to the DMV who said they couldn't do it because they were a county office, not a state office. Grrrrrrr! He will have to tackle it tomorrow.

We drove to the Fridley Transit Station, boarded a state fair express bus ($5.00 each), arrived at the fairgrounds in about a half hour, bought our tickets ($9.00 for seniors) and walked through the gate.  The place is huge and the streets were bustling with people.  We went in some of the cattle barns and saw horses, cows, and hogs and watched part of a pleasure class riding competition.

There was no lack of food on a stick from every little slice of the world but we had heard radio dj's talking about the Pronto Pups (hot dog on a stick) and we both wanted to try them. Not bad, they had a very light breading and were brushed with ketchup and/or mustard. We grabbed a couple of beers and ate our Pronto Pups while crowd watching.

The state fair parade included several high school marching bands, a few floats with large farm animals, a polka band, a jazz band, and the fair's royalty.

At the Leinenkugel pavilion we sat in the shade and watched The Next Generation Leahy Family (Mom, Dad, and 9 kids, ages 16-1) doing Irish dance and making music.

The next band was Jimmie Allen, a today's country group that was much louder than it should be and we only lasted through 2 songs.

And then we just strolled around through the International Market and the Minnesota Marketplace.  Tom had a Scotch Egg (a hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage, coated in bread crumbs and fried) and I had a stick of stuffed olives and an ice cream cone before heading back home.  The express bus back to the Fridley station was the way to go, it only took a half hour in rush hour traffic - buses are allowed to drive on the shoulders of the freeways and we just plowed our way through all of the other traffic.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

August 20 - 26, 2018, MN, WI

Monday, August 20.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dear daughter-in-law, Jill and to my 'best mother-in-law ever', Jane Bridge - may she Rest In Peace.  I am so fortunate that my husband's family welcomed me with open arms and became my family - there was never any doubt through the years, we were family in every way.  Also, when Ben chose 

Jill to be his life partner, there was always a connection there - with her, her parents, and her brother Casey who shared a birthday with Mike.  I am very fortunate and appreciative.

Today was 'take care of business' day; I got my Shingrix (the latest, greatest shingles vaccine) shot, and my car got an oil change and tire rotation.  In between, we walked and took it easy.  


Tonight, as it was too cool to sit outside, we binge-watched more of "The Ranch" - we are only on Series 3 of 5.  It keeps our interest.

Thursday, August 23.  We dropped Frisco off at Ben & Jill's yesterday afternoon as he will be spending the weekend with them while we go to Stoughton for Rich Bogen's memorial party.  Ben made tacos for dinner. The girl's were tired after a long day at camp, so they were off to bed right after dinner.

Mike would be celebrating his 71st birthday today and I watched his memorial video and brought back lots of good memories.

It was strange this morning, not having a little dog forcing me to get up and get him up for a walk first thing.  So I did the opposite and sat around in my pjs, sipping on coffee until I felt like getting dressed and moving - kind of a luxury, although I do miss the little guy.  We were finally moving by about 11:00 when Tom and I decided to go for a hike at Springbrook Nature Center where we had attempted to hike last week but learned that dogs weren't allowed.

We walked the outer loop trail and stopped at a few overlooks to observe a Snowy Egret and lots of turtles and Monarch butterflies.  It was a cool day and really enjoyed the light breeze that managed to keep the bugs away.

Back home, we got organized for tomorrow's road trip, then went to Mama G's for dinner. We both ordered the fish and chips and I though the fish was way over-cooked. It was still an enjoyable getaway.

Friday, August 24.  It was pouring out this morning, so we delayed our departure by about half an hour.  When it slowed down, I was loading the car and managed to dump my entire travel mug of coffee into my purse.  Back inside I went and emptied the contents onto towels to dry, dug out another purse to take with me, spread my $$$ on a towel on the seat if the car, and we finally took off around 10:00.  The traffic was awful and then heavy rains slowed us down. Then Tom noticed that the tire pressure warning light was on, so I searched for a Costco and pulled in to have the tires checked. All checked out ok but the light is still on.

The 4-hour (ideal conditions) trip to Stoughton took us 6 hours with potty stops, rain slow downs, and an awful accident near New Lisbon. We had dinner with Pat and Tracey at El Rio Grande, the best Mexican food that we have had since leaving Mesa.

Saturday, August 25.  We are in Stoughton this weekend to attend the Rich Bogen Memorial Party but had some free time this morning, so we walked through some of Stoughton's neighborhoods, drove through Viking Village to choose some possible sites for our next visit, checked out the overflowing banks of the Yahara River (the Madison area got 15" of rain in one day last week), stopped to visit Mom and Dad's and Rocco's graves, and picked up brownies from the bakery.

And then Tom got introduced to my cousins and their extended families from my Aunt Vern's (my mother's sister) side of the family. My sister, Rita and her husband were there, as was Pat and Tracey, and cousins from my Aunt Eleanor and Aunt Virginia's families (also Mom's sisters).  And then there were friends of Dawn and Rich's that I have met through the years.  The 'Memory' table was nicely done, covering Rich's many interests through the years, the food selection was wonderful, and you can't ask for much better company.  Rich was truly loved by so many and will be missed.

   My lovely son Pat and Tracey

We were tired and not hungry at all this evening, took another much needed walk, and relaxed for the rest of the night.

Sunday, August 26.  We met Pat for breakfast at Sugar and Spice, then loaded the car and headed north again.  The drive was uneventful and took us an hour less time to get to Ben's house.  We had a gathering there to celebrate the August, September, and October birthdays - Jill's on 8/20, Mike and Casey in heaven on 8/23, Charlotte on 9/2, Norah and Camille on 10/7, and Dennis on 10/17.  

Chef Ben made pork tacos and rice pilaf for dinner and strawberries with whipped cream for dessert. We played and had a beer and lots of good conversation. And then it was time to say goodnight - a long day for all of us.  I got extra hugs as it won't be long and we will head back south for the winter.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

August 13 - 19, 2018, MN

Thursday, August 16.  Backtracking to Monday morning, I got a text from Ben asking about the beach that Lois and I had taken the girls to back in June. He is on vacation this week and wanted to take them to a nice beach. I had nothing going on that day, so I met them at Lake Ann near Chanhassen. We all played in the water, had snacks, rented a rowboat to check out the shoreline and another beach area, had popsicles and then I headed back home.

Tuesday was laundry day and a good day for hanging out in the pool in the afternoon. In the evening, we went to Maynard's Grill in Rogers for dinner - a nice and easy-to-get-to place where we both enjoyed a beer and good food.

As we walked around the park today night, we ran into Patty and Dennis and stopped to talk with them.  The apple tree next to the road was so tempting to me that I reached over, picked an apple, and ate it.  Later that night, my phone rang and the caller was Joyce, the owner of the KOA. She told me that she saw me pick the apple and later saw some kids picking apples, and thought that I set the example. She asked me not to pick any more. The next morning, I was teased by some of the long-timers here, as they had all heard of the incident. How embarrassing! 

Wednesday was my birthday shopping day with the girls, since I won't be here for their actual birthdays his year. I decided to take them shopping to choose their own gifts - an outfit, shoes, and a toy. I started with Norah and Camille and I was a little surprised that they were quick to decide on leggings and a top at Old Navy and then we went to Target where they chose an accessory pack for their American Girl dolls as their toy, followed by lunch as we sat in the car in the parking lot at the shoe store.  Once they were revitalized with food, we shopped for shoes and they both chose the same shoe, Norah's are a half size smaller than Camille's, so they will have to be labeled in some way to tell the difference. They will find a way.

After dropping them off at home, Charlotte and I headed out. We started at the shoe store and then her priority was the toy department at Target where she opted for a Barbie doll set. Her decision-making process took a bit longer than Norah and Camille did.  She also wanted to get her clothes at Target, so that made it easy.  They are all growing up so much, it makes doing things easier.  Plus, their parents are doing a great job of teaching them good manners and to be well behaved.  It sure makes it nice and fun to be around them.

This morning, well, it was almost afternoon (it takes us a while to get going), Tom and I headed out to Henry's Woods for a walk, only about 3 miles north of the KOA where we are staying.  We had spotted the parking lot on our way home from dinner the other night.  The history is that the woods was once part of a 2,000 acre Big Woods that once covered much of Minnesota and Wisconsin (the area that Little House on the Prairie was based on), that is now reduced to only 50 acres, due to farming and development.  The Henry family designated this as a nature preserve that is open to the public and is part of the Rogers Park System.  Our walk was only about a mile and that was taking 2 loops through the woods, but it was pleasant and cool and enjoyable.

    The last remaining building on the Henry farm.

On our way home, we stopped at a roadside farm stand and bough sweet corn, cucumber, onion, and cantaloupe.  Next to that was a BBQ stand that was getting quite a bit of traffic, so we got pork and beef sandwiches to take home with us for lunch/dinner tonight. Mmmmmmm good!

Sunday, August 19. Happy 49th Birthday to my first son, Patrick Michael Bridge!  I remember a hot, humid day back in 1969, spent mostly in labor at St Mary's Hospital in Madison, excited with anticipation. We were so happy to meet our cute little 5 pound 11 ounce baby boy and then the challenges of being parents began for us, basically just kids ourselves - Mike was 22 and I was 21 years old. But all worked well through the years and we have a son who is intelligent, responsible, kind and caring - and actively includes me in his life - you can't ask for much more than that in this world.

While walking around the park this week, Tom stopped to chat with a young guy and learned about a good hiking spot, the Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley, so we headed there this morning.  After parking, Tom got a map for us and we headed down the trail, only to learn that dogs are not welcome there, except on the bike trail that runs parallel to the road.  I went inside to find out if they could recommend another spot and learned about the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, which turned out to be a good choice.

We walked the trails along the Mississippi River and Frisco got to walk into the water along the shore, cool down, and get a drink of water.  He is so funny in that he rarely drinks water that I offer him as we hike, but he gets his fill when he's near a lake or stream.  We had a nice, 2-mile hike along the river, through some pretty dense forest, and also through a prairie full of goldenrod, daisies, coneflowers, spurge, and grasses.  We might just have to return, as you can walk across the dam to access trails on the other side of the river.

    Is it Bigfoot?  Hardly - it's a photoshop trick. 🤣