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.