Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 23 - 29, 2014, WI

Monday, June 23.  I am the proud owner of my third recreational vehicle!  Yay!  After breakfast this morning Pat and Roger followed me and Sue rode with me to Tomahawk where I saw my little Sierra Campfire trailer for the first time.  It is exactly as it was described to me by the salesman, the condition is excellent, the birch wood interior is beautiful, it looks brand new, and it has everything that I need.  I was a little surprised to see that it has a dropped floor (designed to give more ceiling height), so you actually have to step down right after you come through the door.  I think I can adjust but it is probably my least favorite feature.

I signed papers, then backed my car up to the trailer, it was hooked up for me, and I was on the road.  Before I pulled out of the lot, I called my insurance agent to make sure that I was protected.  We stopped at Walmart in Rhinelander to pick up a few essentials.  As I was pulling into a parking stop, I tried to wave a lady past me and she declined.  As soon as I stopped, she was peeking in the windows and asking questions about where she could find one for herself.  I think it is going to be noticed by many and will become a conversation starter.

I decided to go back to Jim and Sue's for the night to make sure everything works and Jim offered to teach me about backing up and connecting the hitch.  We practiced several backing into a site several times and I'm beginning to get the hang of it.  By the time we finished that, I was tired and ready for a break.  


Tuesday, June 24.  I took my time this morning, loading up the few things that I brought along and trying to find space for everything.  I will have to buy some plastic bins and baskets to utilize every possible space.

After a lesson on disconnecting and connecting to the car and one more backing lesson and hugs for my dear friends, I headed down the road with a plan to stop at a KOA near Stevens Point for the night.  I made a stop at a grocery store so I would have dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow, especially some coffee for the morning.  Despite having heavy rain near Wausau, the trip was uneventful.  It did take a lot longer than usual, since I couldn't drive over 60 mph, as dictated by my car manual.  It also seemed like the gas gauge went down more quickly than usual, so I set the trip meter to check my mileage.

It was almost 4:00 when I pulled into the brand new KOA that just opened a month ago.  My site is beautiful with nice shade trees.  Frisco and I took a tour and he seemed to be happy with the choice.  I relaxed, caught up on some phone calls, and had my dinner and a glass of Wollersheim Prairie Fume wine, an enjoyable, quiet evening all by myself - it has been almost 2 months since I left my quiet home in Arizona.

Wednesday, June 25.  It was a quiet night and I went to bed early, probably was asleep by 8:30 - that was a first in a long, long time.  I slept pretty good and Frisco found his sleeping spot too - a small space between the bed and kitchen cabinet.  

I had a nice chat with the owners of the park when I stopped by in the morning for coffee.  They are very nice folks and they are building a beautiful campground.  When I got back, I had some breakfast and then tested the water heater (it started right up and heated quickly).  Then I filled the black and gray tanks so I could see if they worked and all is well there too.  I got everything secured and headed to Stoughton, I'm ready to see Pat and to feel his hug - a year is way too long.

I took several attempts but I was able to get the camper backed into a spot in the front yard with Pat's guidance.  I got it leveled and found that one of the leveling jacks in the back is damaged, so I'll have to make a call to the dealer where I got it.  Everything else seems to be fine and my site is beautiful, under the shade of a large tree with my door facing the front door.

We all had a nice dinner and a great visit tonight.

Friday, June 27.  Today, my dear, sweet, Mom would be turning 92 years old.  She died way too young and I think of her so often.  It is also my nephew, Aaron's birthday, and I wish him a happy day.

I started the day with a walk with Frisco and then discovered that it is city wide garage sales in Stoughton today, so guess how I spent the rest of my morning.  I did find a few things that I need for the trailer, mostly baskets and things for organizing my stuff.  

Pat decided to take a nap and I thought that sounded good too but then I decided that my feet needed some attention, so I gave myself a pedicure.  It's been nice being with this part of my family again.  The pace is certainly slower these days.

Sunday, June 29.  Yesterday, I drove to Mazomanie to be with the Shackelton family who was having a celebration of life for their father, Art.  He and his wife were foster parents to my brothers, Randy and Ron, and they took them in when they had 6 children of their own and they remained a tight knit family all through their lives.  Together, they built a beautiful log home in the shores of the Wisconsin River, a place I always enjoyed visiting.  I have nothing but respect for him and Barb and what they did for my brothers.  I got to see Randy but Ron was unable to make it.  It was nice to see them all.  Frisco had fun running around with about 4 other dogs and he enjoyed the freedom of being off the leash.

Today, we just hung around the house, Pat and I worked in the garden this morning and planted some beans and squash.  We're both hoping that it isn't too late.

Randy called to see if I wanted to join him for lunch so we met Pam and Ron at Sunrise (the food isn't the best) and we had a nice visit.  After lunch, we drove around some of our old neighborhoods in Stoughton and went out to the cemetery to pay our respects to Mom, Dad, and our brother, Rocco.  When we got back to Pat's house, we had a FaceTime conversation with Ben and the kids.  I miss being around them and it's only been a week.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

June 16 - 22. 2014, MN, WI

Wednesday, June 18.  It has been a bit strange, hanging out in an empty house, sleeping on sir beds, a kitchen with no countertops or sinks (fetching water and doing dishes in the bathroom sink), trying to keep the dogs off of the floors (they were refinished and need time to cure), and entertaining the little ones.  This is what breakfast feeding time looks like.

We have found some time to explore the neighborhood and it is very convenient that Lake Harriet is just a block and a half away - it's about a mile long, so the walk around it is about 3 miles.  We also discovered a very nice playground about 6 blocks away.  There are also some nice little commercial enclaves with interesting restaurants, caf├ęs, and shops.

Thursday, June 19.  I had contacted Bruce and Janna (RVing friends that we met in Port Aransas, TX who live in Stillwater) to see if we could connect while I was nearby and Bruce offered to cook dinner for us tonight.  Before we went there, we did some sightseeing in downtown Minneapolis.   At the Stone Arch Bridge, we walked across the Mississippi River and saw St. Anthony's Falls and the beautiful views of the downtown buildings.  Wouldn't you know, my phone was full and I was unable to take any photos.  Connie wanted to see the Basillica of St. Mary, a beautiful Catholic Church that was built around 1907.

We then headed to Stillwater and had some time, so we stopped at No Neck Tony's bar and ordered a Bloody Mary - they came with a salad bar - a skewer with 2 different kinds of olives, a picked mushroom, a square of cheese, salami, beef stick, Pepperoncini and then there was a stick of beef jerky and a pretzel too.  WOW!  It was a meal itself.

We got to Janna and Bruce's house and had a wonderful evening of conversation, laughter, and a delicious dinner.

Friday, June 20.  I took Connie to the airport in St. Cloud tonight and getting there was a bit of a challenge.  Traffic was terrible, we needed gas and a bite to eat, we were concerned about being late for her flight, there were several detours along the way, and then it seemed like the GPS was leading us astray because we never saw a sign for the airport.  After stopping to ask a couple of people for directions, we finally found the airport and Connie made it back home to Arizona safely.  I so appreciate her willingness to join me on this trip and to help out with the family too.  We had a great time and found out that were good traveling companions.  Thanks, Connie!

Sunday, June 22.  I took off from Ben's around 8:00 yesterday morning and headed for Eagle River, WI where I met up with Pat and Roger at Jim and Sue's cabin.  What a beutiful setting, nestled in the north woods.  The drive was easy, the weather was nice, and the scenery was a reminder of  travels through Wisconsin with Mike in the past.  It was a great reunion with old friends and when we had our first toast, I couldn't help shedding a tear for missing Mike in the group.  We sat around the kitchen table catching up on the time since we last saw each other (April or May) and old times, had a delicious dinner and lots of laughs too.  

Today, after eating Pats delicious breakfast casserole, we headed up to Bond Falls, just across the border into Michigan.  Sue told us that the last time she was here, the mosquitos were thick, so we were prepared but they weren't bad at all.  She also said that when she had seen the falls in the past, there were 3 separate falls going down the hill.  Here is what they looked like today.  Gorgeous!  We walked the path and stairs all of the way to the top where the water stood still.

  Great friends!

After that, we were all a bit hungry, so we went to have a bite to eat at a bar on Twin Lake.  The Bloody 
Mary bar sounded good so we placed our order and were served a glass of ice with Vodka, a cheese stick, a beef stick straw, 2 shrimps, and a slider.  Then you could add your choice of condiments and tomato juice from the bar.  It was a meal in itself.

We went back to the cabin, got the dogs, and then headed out to Jim and Sue's favorite walking trail.  We didn't get too far because the deer flies were thick and buzzing around our ears so we turned back.

Monday, June 9, 2014

June 9 - 15, 2014 - SF to MN Roadtrip

Monday, June 9.  Since Ben and Jill had to meet the movers this morning (scheduled between 10 and 1 but they didn't show up until 2:00), Connie and I had kid duty all day.  We even packed the twins into the stroller and walked the coastal trail until the pavement ended, a good walk with beautiful views of the coast.  The 'last time I'll experience' thoughts keep coming to mind as my stay here is winding down.  

We did well until about 4:00 after Charlotte did not nap and was into everything, Norah had a fever and was not feeling well, and it was getting close to dinner time.  Jill came over and relieved us for a while and checked on Norah, but had to go back to the apartment for final preps.  The movers finished their job and left at 8:00.

We survived the very busy day and had a quiet moment to eat a salad that I picked up from the restaurant.  I felt bad for Ben and Jill when they didn't get back home until 9 and still had to organize some stuff.

Tuesday, June 10, SF to Reno, NV.  My family was up and out the door by 7:00 this morning, heading out in an airport shuttle with themselves, 3 car seats, 5 large suitcases, and 3 backpacks.  Jill's cold is better, Ben's is worse, and little Norah started to be sick and had a fever.  I sure hope that their trip isn't too miserable.  I went to pick up Ruby from the dog sitter and my stuff from the apartment and then Connie and I had a nice breakfast.  

We then set out to do some sight seeing around SF, since it had been a long time since Connie was there.  Our first stop was to see Lombard Street and I managed to take a few wrong turns and go the long way, we made it and enjoyed it.  We then headed to pick Frisco up at Pet Camp - I also took a wrong turn and barely made it there in time to avoid being charged an additional day.  Golden Gate Park was next on the list before we drove along Ocean Beach and then we headed out of town north, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

The destination for day one was Reno, NV and we got there without problems.  The dogs were good, sleeping most of the time.

Wednesday, June 11, Reno, NV to Salt Lake City, UT.  Day 2 was uneventful and a full day of driving, basically from La Quinta to La Quinta, with stops for food, coffee, and potty breaks.  The power plug for my GPS broke and I have been unable to find a replacement - checked at several truck stops, bought one, but it wouldn't stay on so I took it back.  I then went to Plan B and bought a mounting bracket for my iphone and used the Motion X GPS App.  It works great and is accurate.  Have I ever said how much I love my iPhone?

Before going to our motel in Salt Lake City, we drove to Park City so we could see what it's like.  It is a beautiful town that reminded me a lot of the Swiss Alps.  No wonder all of the rich people like it there.

Thursday, June 12, Salt Lake City, UT to Bozeman, MT.  What a gorgeous drive we had today.  We headed north out of Salt Lake City, then cut east to Jackson Hole, WY and it is just that - a hole (a valley that is between mountain ranges).  A stop along the way was necessary because of the snow that remains on the ground in the higher elevations.  I didn't feel the need to touch it but I did take a photo.  

The town square was so cute, we just had to park the car and walk around it, stopping to take photos at the elk antler arches on each corner of the beautiful little park.  Before leaving, we stopped at the Brooklyn deli to grab sandwiches for a picnic lunch in Yellowstone National Park.

The drive north took us through Grand Teton National Park - what majestic views, surrounded by gorgeous mountains and fast moving waterways.  There were many places to stop and see sights along the way but it was going to be a full day and we didn't expect to reach our destination until 9 or 10 pm, so we only stopped for lunch on the top of a mountain at a spot overlooking a lake and at Old Faithful.  I was unable to walk the boardwalk, because of the dogs, so I stayed back and Connie wandered around and sat up close to see the eruption.  

We did get to see some wildlife along the way - buffalo, elk, deer, antelope, and prairie dogs and we pulled over where people were standing with their cameras and learned from a little boy that they were watching a bear and a wolf.  The bear had been in the road and hit his daddy's car, then went into the woods and down a hill, so we weren't able to see it.  The best reward was as we were leaving the park and spotted a Momma Elk and her baby nursing.  Here's the photo but it's not the greatest.

By the time we got out of the park, it was another 30 mile drive to our motel near Bozeman.  At that point, it was 9:30 and we were exhausted - Connie had to drive through road construction in the dark.  We stopped at a grocery store for something light to eat and were happy to see our motel and ready for a good nights sleep.

Friday, June 13, Bozeman, MT to Rapid City, SD.   Once again, the sights along the way were beautiful.  At one point, in Wyoming, we were surprised when we were pelted by hail that lasted for a good 5 minutes.  I haven't seen any of that stuff in a long, long time.  We did have a bit of rain during the later part of the drive.

Outside of Gillette, we took a detour to see the Devil's Tower.  I was unable to take the trail around the monument because of the dogs but I got good views from the parking lot and remembered it from a family trip back in 1982 - can you believe it looks the same?

We got checked into our motel, only to learn that the WIFI doesn't work with Apple products - Grrrrrrrr!  I don't like being disconnected.  We walked a short distance to the Colonial House Restaurant and Bar for a delicious dinner and a cocktail.  Another good day on this road trip.

Saturday, June 14, Rapid City, Deadwood, Sturgis, SD.  We heard thunder, saw lightening, and had pouring rain throughout the night and the threat was for rain most of the day, but some clearing in the middle of the day.  Lucky for us, it turned out to be clear when eye got to Mt. Rushmore, although there was a cold wind blowing.  The cost to park a car for a while is a bit high - $11.00, so we passed our parking tag off to another couple that were going there the next day.

From there, we headed along the Spearfish Canyon Byway to Deadwood, parked the car and wandered the streets.  We stopped at Kevin Costner's Diamond Lil restaurant for a delicious lunch and a beer.  Again, we lucked out and had rain only while we were eating our lunch.

On to Sturgis, we only stopped at an antique shop to browse around and had an interesting conversation with the owner.  She really disliked the town ( the locals are great but the rally people, those who have all of the money, were awful.  She was only planning to keep her shop open a while longer before getting away from there.

Sunday, June 15, Rapid City, SD to Minneapolis, MN.  Although I made a reservation for an overnight stay in Mitchell, SD, we headed straight on to Ben's house.  It was a long, eleven hour day but it did include a couple of sight seeing stops along the way. 

Our first was to take a quick stroll through Wall Drug.  You just can't go by that town without stopping. It seems like nothing has changed since 1982 when I was there last.   Our next detour was through the Badlands and we made some stops at some of the lookout areas.  I always feel like I'm in a strange movie set when I see that strange landscape.  It is beautiful and incredible.  

The other sight that we just couldn't pass up was the Corn Palace in Mitchell. It was a bit disappointing, as it was under construction, so only one of the outside walls was decorated.  We could still check it off the list.

And then we pushed on to find Ben and Jill's new house.  I had entered the address in the GPS as North instead of South and we went about 10 miles out of our way.  We finally made it and I am so happy that they got such a nice house and neighborhood to live in.  Yes, there is work to be done but the results will be rewarding in the years to come.

We will be sticking around here until Friday evening when Connie will fly back to Mesa and I will head to Tomahawk on Saturday morning to get my little trailer.  I am so excited!

June 2-8, 2014, SF

Tuesday, June 3.  Jill has been off this week so we are getting lots of things in order in preparation for the big day.  Our walking and sitting spaces in the apartment are getting smaller and smaller because of the boxes taking up space on the floor.  Frisco is now aware that something is going on and he is feeling a little insecure.  He is so good with all of the children and they find him entertaining too.  When I ask the twins where Frisco is, they look in his direction.

Camille got her first tooth yesterday, and Norah is working on her second.  They are both trying to go from sitting to crawling positions but aren't very good at it yet - meaning that they are doing nose dives just about every time.  They are also starting to clap and do "gimme fives".

Friday, June 6.  Oh boy, we are getting close now.  Today marks both Ben and Jill's last days at their jobs here in SF.  Jill has been off this week but has come down with some nasty virus that has really got her feeling bad.  It is a good thing that she hasn't had to work but today she does and is feeling worse than she has earlier in the week.  Now, let's hope that the rest of us can fight it off.  I've been taking Emergen-C, hoping that will boost my immune system and prevent me from picking it up.

Yesterday, I organized my stuff, so that I am randy to move on.  I still have to get the stuff for the dogs organized but that is a last minute thing, since I can't load anything in the car yet because it will be used to transport all of us and luggage to the hotel on Sunday.  The next few days are going to be busy ones.

Saturday, June 7.  Today and tomorrow are the big push days to finish getting everything packed.  What remains are to plan clothing for the next couple of weeks, stuff that has to go with them to Minneapolis, finish packing the kitchen and the basement.  I will do my best to keep the kids fed and occupied so Ben and Jill can take care of business.

We packed and packed and packed today.  One more day of it before it all gets loaded on a big truck and heads down the highway.  I'm tired and my bones are aching.

Sunday, June 8.  Whew!  This morning I headed out to drop Frisco at Dog Camp and to pick Connie up at the airport in Oakland.  When we got back to the house, the kids were all asleep so we went down the street to the Garden Cafe for some sandwiches.  From that point on, Connie and I have been on the move.  

When the twins woke up, we gave them bottles, tucked them in the stroller and headed to the Seal Rock Inn where we will be spending the next 2 nights.  We have 2 rooms - one for Connie and I and all of the "stuff", the other room is for Ben, Jill, and the kids - with Charlotte in a twin sized "big girl" bed for the first time.

Jill brought Charlotte over when she got up from her nap and Connie and I took over - nonstop until everyone was in bed.  It wasn't easy getting CC down, as she was so excited about meeting Connie and staying in a hotel and all of this in preparation for moving to Minneapolis.  Ben and Jill were working at the apartment until 10:00.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June 1, 2014 - SF

Happy Birthday to my granddaughter Savana who turns 21.  It's hard to believe that 18 years have passed since I first met that cute and talkative little girl.  It was a slooooow day around here, we all were feeling a little under the weather although none of us were hung over.  Ben fixed a big breakfast and we all just hung out and took things slow.  Later on, Charlotte and I went to Trader Joe's for groceries.  She is such a good and helpful shopper.

They all went to yet another birthday party this afternoon and I had a nap and a nice walk with the dogs.  Yes, I really did enjoy the quiet and solitude!