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.

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. 🤣

Thursday, August 9, 2018

August 6 - 12, 2018, MN

Wednesday, August 8.  Tom and I decided to take a road trip this week, arranged for Ben and his family to watch Frisco, and headed out this morning to southwest Minnesota to visit Pipestone. We checked into our room at the Grandstay Hotel, got organized, did a quick auto tour of Pipestone, then drove on to check out the town of Luverne, about 30 miles south.  On the way there, I learned that nearby is the town of Edgerton, on the Rock River, in Rock County, MN - much the same as the Edgerton in Wisconsin, near my hometown of Stoughton - in Rock County and on the Rock River.

We stopped in at the Howling Dog Saloon and I had a pint of the Take 16 Brewing Company's Country Mile Pale Ale that was quite tasty and Tom's choice was a domestic brew.  The bartender brought us a lighter lager and an IPA to try and I was glad of the choice I made.

After checking out the historic downtown, our next stop was at Sterling's Cafe & Grill, located in a cool looking historic building right on Main Street.  Tom chose beef tips in mushroom sauce and I opted for shrimp scampi - both dishes were yummy.

On our way back to Pipestone, we stopped at the Touch The Sky Tallgrass Prairie, walked a mowed trail and got a good feeling for how immense the prairies once were (covering 400,000 square miles), an ecosystem stretching from Canada south to Texas and the Dakota's east to Indiana - only about 1% remaining today.

 Thursday, August 9.  We decided that we had better get going fairly early this morning, as we were exploring the Pipestone National Monument and it is predicted to be a hot day.  Arriving just in time, we were able to get in on the next ranger-led hike, starting in just a few minutes.  The tour led us to many hidden gems that you would never guess would be found there. We learned that the Pipestone is quarried (mined with a pick axe and hand tools) and is located under several feet of Sioux quartzite, meaning that all of that quartzite has to be removed before they get at the pipestone. The pipestone is softer than the quartzite (the hardest stone in the world), and can be carved into pipes used for sacred ceremonies by the American Indians (they prefer to be called this now, rather than Native Americans).  They are the only ones allowed to harvest it and must apply for a permit to do so.

There were huge outcroppings of the giant red boulders throughout the area that is considered to be a place of peace - it actually gave you a peaceful, calm feeling. Large trees, the Pipestone Creek, and Minnewissa Falls were some of the surprises along the one-mile trail.  When the ranger led hike was finished, we walked along the quarry trail and were able to see some active quarries, although nobody was working them, as they all had standing water, a result of the recent, heavy storms.

The day was still young, so we headed for Blue Mounds State Park, known for their herd of American Bison. Lucky for us, the ranger told me that the Bison where hanging out along the fence by the observation deck, so we headed right there and saw a good sized herd.  We then took the Upper and Lower Cliffline Trails, saw a few little critters, most of which were moving too fast for us to ID. There were several frogs that jumped across the path as we were hiking, one even brushing against my ankle.

We opted for the only Mexican Restaurant in town and had a very good dinner again tonight.

Friday, August 10.  After breakfast and checking out of our hotel, we headed back to the Twin Cities, taking an alternate route.  MN 30 took us straight east, a nice road and we just happened to see a sign for the Jeffers Petroglyphs and headed in that direction.  Again, our timing was just right, as a tour was just starting, although we had to hightail it there to catch up.  We learned that this is another tallgrass prairie land with large outcroppings of the Sioux Quartzite that we had seen back in Pipestone, dotting the land. It is believed to be one of the oldest quartzite formations in Minnesota, deposited as sand 1.6 billion years ago, formed by heat and pressure deep within the earth.  It is considered a sacred place to the American Indians, where their ancestors left carvings in the rocks, back 250 years ago.  

Many of the carvings were of thunderbirds, turtles, deer, bison, and humans. Unfortunately, the angle of the sun has a lot to do with the ability to see the detail, and mid-day is not the best time, but we were able to pick out a few of the estimated 4,000 different carvings as we walked along the boardwalks and roped pathways of the rock beds.

Once again, it paid off to get off the beaten path and we were both feeling thankful that it was an activity that we both enjoy doing.

 We got back to Ben's in time to play with the kids and have his delicious homemade pizza for dinner again. As we were driving home, the sun was setting and it was a huge orange ball in the sky, probably due to the smoke, carried on the wind currents, from huge fires in Manitoba.

Sunday, August 12.  Hanging around the RV Park was about it the last 2 days.  Tom sorted through some paperwork yesterday while I went to a few garage sales.  They were few and far between but I got my fix.  Other than a bit of shopping today, we didn't do much - and it felt good.

I did connect with Pat, Pat, Rita and Bob, learning the news of the family and just plain hearing their voices was nice and gave me a nice, feel good feeling.

Friday, August 3, 2018

August 1 - 5, 2018, MN

Friday, August 3.  Backtracking.  Wednesday was R & R and laundry day and we got off to a later start than usual. Two sets of bedding (we've had guests), towels, and 8 days of clothing made for a 3-load session today and we had to wait for machines to open up. I was puzzled when, for the second time, I had 2 t-shirts come out with a reddish stain around the collars and a tan towel that also had the same colored blotches on it. Was it something in my body chemistry? Something that I put on my skin? Other items don't have it? Is it the water? Is it the laundry soap resting on the item?  I have no answer but I now have a third shirt to replace.  

Later on, while I was cleaning the shower, I noticed a small buildup on the walls of the shower, near the floor - the same color as the stain on my shirts.  Now, I'm beginning to think it might be the water? But why only on the collars with the exception of one towel?  Who knows?  I guess I won't be wearing white shirts any more while I'm here.

We got our chores done, had leftover pizza for dinner, and relaxed outside until dark.

On Thursday morning after another late start, we headed for the Maple Grove Arboretum and walked the trail along Elm Creek for 1.5 miles, then headed back the same way, a total of exactly 3.0 miles when we got to the car.  It was a nice, cool, hike with some interesting scenery along the way.  I love the canopy of trees along the trails here.

After our hike, I headed to the Kohl's store in Rogers to shop for t-shirts to replace those that I have damaged in the laundry.  It took me 2-hours to shop and I walked out of there with 3 items - you  know, you have to look at everything in the store before making a decision. I was very disappointed in the condition of the store; nothing was organized, sale racks were messy, fitting rooms were full of clothes and messy, and there wasn't an employee in sight if you did have a question. I won't return there for a while.

Today, Pat and Roger came to visit and we will be celebrating her 70th birthday this weekend. I'm so happy that they decided to be with us for this occasion!

Sunday, August 5.  Happy Birthday to my dear friend, Pat who is now the same age (number) as me!  She and Roger arrived here on Friday afternoon and we sat around talking until they headed off to check into their hotel, about 20 miles from here.  It's so good to see them!  Later on, we met at the Villa Bar and Grill a few miles north of here.  I ordered the grilled Walleye and it was huge - hanging over the plate and only a dollar more than the cod fish fry - well worth it! It was delicious! Everyone else was happy with their dinners too.

Yesterday was a rainy afternoon and we had to go to Plan B (a movie) instead of Plan A (the Hanover Harvest Festival).  We saw Equalizer 2 with Denzel Washington and it was suspenseful, action-filled, and managed to keep you interested throughout the entire movie.  We topped the afternoon off with a cocktail and dinner at Mama G's.  We said goodbye and they headed back to their hotel.

The night was beautiful so I got a fire going and we tended and watched it for a couple of hours - nothing like good old Campfire therapy.

At 4:45 this morning, I was awakened by the sound of a bird - an owl? I checked to see if I could spot it out the windows and laid there listening for about an hour, then it flew off and I could hear it off in the distance.  Yes, I regretted that I didn't go out outside to see if I could see it.  This morning, I did some research and learned that it was a Great Horned Owl - then I really regretted that I hadn't checked it out. It would have made for the 2nd Great Horned owl that I had seen in my life. 

My first sighting was on Rutland Dunn Town Rd in Stoughton. He was perched on the ground in the middle of the road, then flew right over our truck as he parted.  The wingspan appeared to be as wide as our truck.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

July 30 - 31, 2018, MN

Tuesday, July 31.  We had a full moon eclipse this week but I didn't get to see it. Imagine that - usually in bed before 10:30 and we haven't been hanging outside after dark, not even a Campfire? What's with that?

We went to pick up Charlotte for her campout on Sunday and were invited to join the family for Ben's ribs, Jill's potato salad, and our farm-fresh corn on the cob and cantaloupe that we found at a nearby roadside produce stand.  It was a great time and Charlotte was excited to come with us for a couple of nights.

Yesterday morning, we went to the pool and she met a gal named Nora that she played with, dove for arrows, and started a friendship. Nora's Mom said they would be back the next day around 11ish and CC was excited about that.  The next morning, we went back there and Nora wasn't there, but she became friends with Luna,and they played at the pool, rode their bikes together, and played at the playground.  Charlotte was definitely hoping for more playtime, but it didn't really happen since Luna was here with a large group of people.

     They love the new hammock.

     Charlotte and Luna

About 4:00, she started saying she was ready to go home and we headed there around 6:00 after having pizza for dinner.

Lucky for me, I was able to get a great haircut from Jill, although I felt bad about taking up time in her very busy schedule.  I learned that I have damaged my hair (I was aware of that, but not sure of the cause) by blow drying it too much. It's too bad, because that is my habit and it never really had an effect in the past because my hair was always kept pretty short.

Monday, July 23, 2018

July 23 - 29, 2018, MN

Friday, July 27.  Another week? How can it be? Before going to pick Camille up on Tuesday, we went to the Elm Creek Preserve and did about a 3-mile out and about hike. Another beautiful hiking spot within just a few miles of 'home'.  Then, in the afternoon after running a few errands, I headed for Ben's house to pick up a very excited Camille for her 2-night stay with us.  The day was warm with an expected cool down coming over the next 2 days, so we headed straight for the pool after dinner. It was already starting to cool down (and I am a true hot-weather pool fan), but we managed to swim and play for about an hour. We checked that activity off the list.

    There's a burglar trying to enter the historic Pierre Bottineau house. Shame on him!

Wednesday's weather was iffy all day long with bits of rain, wind, and clearing. We headed to the Elm Creek Nature Center and Camille enjoyed seeing the amphibians (we had just read a book about them) and was very curious about the taxidermy. She kept asking, "is this real? Is it really real? Is it Dead? Is it a statue?" I gave her as little information as I could to satisfy her curiosity and didn't encourage further explanation and that must have satisfied her.  We tried to walk the nature path but the bugs were awful.

    Camille's photography.

    Camille's photography.

Thursday morning after breakfast, we headed to the town center and saw a kid's music group called Kid Power and it was a fun, lively, interactive group. Camille was a bit shy but she said that she liked it.  Back at the KOA, we played on the playground, had some lunch, and then it was nap time.  When she woke up, we headed back to her home.

And Tom and I went to Old Southern BBQ for food and beer. Kidless again until Sunday!

Saturday, July 28.  The cool morning on Friday helped us decide to go for a hike, this time at Fish Lake. It was a beautiful walk, about 4-miles completely around the lake with nice, cool pathways and decent views. The only drawback was a mile-long stretch that ran parallel to the freeway. Another beautiful hike!

    Oh No! A true sign that fall is not far away when the Sumac starts to turn colors!

This morning, I had to satisfy my itch to go to a few garage sales.  They were pretty slim picking, but I did find a good deal on some dolls for the girls to play with.  

When I got back home, Tom and I headed to Rogers to get some groceries in preparation for Charlotte's upcoming visit - there must be plenty of healthy snacks around to keep her happy and content.


Monday, July 16, 2018

July 16 - 22, 2018, MN

Sunday, July 15.  On Friday evening, we went to dinner at Fiesta Cancun Bar and Grill in downtown Maple Grove. It was a celebration of our 9 months together.  Unfortunately, I can only say that dinner was ok - every entree was flavorless and we kept adding sauces and seasonings to perk it up a bit.  The servings were generous and ingredients were fresh but nothing had any flavor.  I kept thinking that the food was designed for midwesterners brought up on bland food - not me - I wanted some spice! Needless to say, I will never return.  I also wanted to leave comments on their website but there was no option for that. Also, reviews on Yelp were all favorable, so I thought mine would just be overlooked anyway. 

Ben and the family were tent camping at Baker Park this weekend so we drove over

there on Saturday morning and hung out for a while. We walked to the beach but Tom and I didn't bring suits so couldn't venture in the water and we had Frisco with us and he wasn't allowed on the beach, so we had to sit back from the beach with him.  According to Ben, their first attempt improved after the first night and they plan to do it again.

Sunday was wash and wax day for my Toyota, it was badly needed and looks so nice now.

  This guy crawled through our site this afternoon.

Thursday, July 19.  The trouble with a gap in days between writing is having to reconstruct the previous day's events.  This week, my focus has been on medical - my annual Medicare checkup was on Tuesday and I had a good, thorough discussion with my new doctor on my medications, questions, and concerns. All is good and no follow-up is needed except for getting the new 2-part shingles vaccination, Zoster Shingrix that is out on the market. Apparently, it is in high demand and they were out of it. She said it is supposed to be 90+% effective and I will definitely be following up on that - I do not want to get the dreaded shingles.

I spent the afternoon at the dental hygienist yesterday at the Herzing Dental College Clinic - the only reason the appointments take the afternoon is that a student is doing the work under supervision of an instructor.  They are thorough checkups including cancer screening of the neck and jaws, blood pressure and pulse check, reviews of health history and a cleaning/polishing/fluoride treatment - all for $18 and well worth the 3-hour commitment.

After my appointment, I headed to Ben's house to pick up Norah for a 2-night sleepover. She was excited and had all of her stuff ready and packed. It was after 6:00 when we got back home, so we only had a short time to play at the playground after dinner, but it was fun.  Even though her eyes kept closing, she still wanted to return to the playground before bedtime.  After a shower and stories, she drifted off to sleep.

Today, we had planned to go see an interactive musical show for kids at the town center, but the rainy weather changed that plan.  The bandshell is right next to the library, so we picked up a bunch of books and a couple of movies and headed back home.  We did a walkabout (she rode her bike) in between rain showers. Now, it is cold and gloomy outside and she is napping.

Saturday, July 21.  It was another rainy day for Norah's visit so I took her to the $$$$ store and let her choose a couple of toys - her picks were a play cell phone and a mermaid doll. Since she has been asking for a Campfire, we bought a pack of wood on the way home and got one started while the rain took a break. That interest lasted a very short time, so we napped and then got ready to take her back home. 

Ben made pizza for us for dinner and the girls glared at videos (their Friday night routine) while we had dinner. Unfortunately, Ben had to return to work but Jill, Tom, and I sat and talked for a while before we headed back home.

This morning, we mapped out a route for a hike at Fish Lake Regional Park here in Maple Grove.  We had a very nice 3.5 mile hike along a paved trail that wound around the lake, then out toward the Medicine Lake Trail. It was a beautiful 80 degree day with bright blue skies contrasted with small, fluffy, white clouds, a nice canopy of trees, and good breezes.  Best of all - NO bugs!

On the way home, Tom's curiosity got the best of him and we followed the sign that we see most every day that led to the Hindu Temple of Minnesota.  We were surprised to see this beautiful building and manicured lawns tucked back off the road at a dead end.  Several people in bright colored traditional clothing appeared to be attending an event.

Sunday, July 22.  After a slow start to the day and a good breakfast, we decided to go for a drive and do some exploring.  Tom mapped out a route to the north and we headed out for abut a 60 mile drive. We did discover some pretty cool things:  the small town of Rogers, just 5 miles away has great shopping opportunist - a Cub Food, a local liquor store and a Super Target.   If we go there, we can avoid the traffic and congestion around the huge collection of shops on the east side of Maple Grove.

We checked out Diamond Lake and then traveled north along the Mississippi River, pulling in to an overlook at Cloquet Island Park, although the trees and brush were too tall and thick to even see the river.  We walked down a few flights of stairs to get to a path along the river, and followed that as far as we could, then another one that led up a hill and back to the parking lot.

Before heading back home, we stopped at the Nature Center at Elm Creek Park Reserve.  The facilities were very nice and the trails look like a great place to hike. We also got information on their camping options for Ben and the family.

Monday, July 9, 2018

July 9 - 15, 2018, MN

Thursday, July 12.  Most of the week has been very typical for us, except for an early morning visit to the lab for blood work in preparation for my upcoming annual checkup and a little bit of shopping therapy.

Last night, Tom and I went to the Maple Grove Town Green to see a Billy Joel Tribute band.  We were unsure of what to expect so got there a few minutes after the band started and were unable to find a seat on the lawn where we could actually see the band.  There was no problem with hearing them. It was a beautiful night for a concert in the park. We left a few minutes early in order to avoid the traffic rush after the show - good thing, as it started to pour down rain just after we got to the car.

This morning, in spite of the temps being near 90 degrees and high humidity, we headed to the Crow-Hassan Park Reserve, about 11 miles north of here.  The reserve is part of the Three Rivers Park District, an area that covers 27,000 acres of parks and trails with 25 different areas for recreation.  We hiked about 3 miles along unpaved trails and roughly mowed paths through forest and prairie lands.  The flies and mosquitoes were thick when we first started out, so we both doused ourselves and our clothes with 100% DEET - I know, it's nasty stuff but it is effective and allowed us to finish the hike.  Neither of us could wait to get in the shower when we got back home - we were hot, sweaty, and covered with insect repellant.  Frisco was a trooper but I know it tired him out - the humidity must really affect him - I've never seen him pant as much as he did on this hike. Perhaps it was a bit too long for him.