Thursday, July 27, 2017

July 24 - 30, 2017, MN

Thursday, July 26.  Four days into the week makes it hard to retrace the events.  Back to Sunday night, I heard from Tom who is currently in Louisiana and learned that he is taking a detour and heading up this way.  I'm excited to see him again , although a bit surprised, and looking forward to hanging out.

I helped out with after school pickup this week, as Jill is out of town on a business trip. On Tuesday, I had dinner with them and since they all needed showers, I read stories to 2 of them while Ben supervised the showers.  It went well and I felt glad to help him have a little less chaotic bedtime.

I became an official Minnesotan on Tuesday when I passed the knowledge test and got my driver's license and new registration and plates on the car. I will have to follow up with the trailer later, as they didn't have the plate with the correct weight limit. The very nice guy at the hardware store drilled a hole and mounted the front plate for me - now that is service - complete with a smile!

Wednesday morning at 5:00 am, I headed to the airport to pick up Patty, who was returning from her Alaskan hiking, camping, and fishing trip.  We went back to my house, took Frisco for his walk, had breakfast and laid down to take a nap.  After showers, we headed over to Ben’s and we all walked down to Terzo for a yummy, slow roasted pork sandwich and some good conversation.

We relaxed a bit and then headed to pick Camille and Norah up from school and let them have some bike riding and snack time out in the garage and driveway.  For the most part, they all had fun and were well behaved, but there are always a few conflicts and I sometimes struggle to get them back on track.

A relaxing walk and some great barbecue was our choice for dinner and, best of all, we could have cocktails and not worry about driving home.  It was a nice evening and I enjoy walking through this neighborhood.  I turned on the tv and it wasn't long and we were both fading out, so we called it a night.

It was another early morning, as Pat had to be at Union Station to catch a train back to Portage where Roger would be picking her up.  I heard from her a little later that she was back at home and that it was an enjoyable ride on the train.

Friday, July 28. My day with Charlotte started out with breakfast, getting her hair brushed, packing a snack and heading to the zoo.  The exhibits that I saw on this visit were different than those I've seen in the past: the Minnesota exhibit with native plants and animals, the tropics area, and the Hawaiian Monk Seal demonstration.  I let her call the shots and we covered a lot of ground, saw lots of stuff, had some lunch, and had a great time.

When we got back to their house, we had a giggle fest on the couch - it doesn't take much to get here laughing - fun, fun, fun!

Sunday, July 30.  I spent the last 2 days with my good friend, Tom, from Mesa. He decided to head north to see Minnesota (and me).  He’s camped about an hour south of here, so he came up here yesterday and we did some dining in my neighborhood (Turtle Bread for breakfast and Old Southern BBQ for dinner) and exploring Fort Snelling.  The fort was built at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers in 1820, built of sandstone (the native tribes had cleared the forest) and was never used for battle, but was used until after World War II.  It was a self guided tour with demonstrations of shooting a cannon, loading and firing a flintlock rifle, and marching on the parade grounds.  Only 4 of the buildings are original, all others were reconstructed after being deserted for several years. There were folks dressed in period costume who told about what it was like during that time in our history.  An interesting and educational visit.

Today, I drove to Owatonna and together we went to Austin to the SPAM Museum - and now, for something completely different!  It is a very nice museum with everything, and I mean everything, there is to know about SPAM, a company that employs a lot of Austin folks and plays a huge role in their economy. 

After lunch at BJ’s (listed as one of the top things to do in Austin), we drove back to Owatonna to the Kaplan’s Woods Parkway and walked a nice, paved path along a small lake.  

As always, we managed to talk and laugh and have a good time.  It was a nice weekend, shared with a good friend!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July 17 - 23, 2017, MN

Wednesday, July 19.  Whew! It is whizzing right by.  I had my much needed and much grateful for dental hygiene appointment on Monday - I LOVE how my teeth feel after a good cleaning.  I am now a patient at The Herzing College Dental Hygeine clinic - an experience much like those that I've had in Mesa at Carrington College.  The procedures are so thorough and all of the hygienists have been so nice.  Unfortunately, I won't be seeing Lorie again as she will graduate next month.

I spent a good part of Tuesday and Wednesday with Camille and Norah - couldn't go to school because of fevers and after getting check by the doctor today, learned that they have summer colds and not anything worse than that.  They've been good in spite of feeling lousy.  Each day, they have wanted to take a ride in black double stroller and that worked out just fine - it gave them what they wanted and me a bit of a workout.

I went to Linden Hills Park last night and watched Charlotte in Soccer practice. - those little ones sure are cute! She's loving it.

This was taken just before Camille fell and scraped her knee - we had to go back home and treat it with 2 bandaids.

This afternoon, I met Craig and Diane - former coworkers in Madison and fellow Mesa residents.  They are visiting their son and daughter here so we met at the Tavern on France for a cocktail and a nice chat.  It felt good to hang out with friends!

Friday, July 21.  Today was my day with Charlotte but I thought it might be nice to have her spend the night last night and it did turn out to be a fun time, except that she wasn't interested in any of the dinner I made for her. Something has really changed because I made the exact same dinner for her last year when we went camping and she devoured it. It turns out that a PB and J was just what she wanted, not shrimp, rice, and broccoli. Imagine that.

We slept in until Eight this morning and had a relaxing start to the day.  She wanted to do cutouts, so I got out all of the art supplies that I had and she proceeded to cut out three birds, her own design and they were really cute.  So, between the two of us, we made about a dozen, followed by a tall tree, nests, and shrubs.  And then it was imaginary stories about birdie adventures. She is quite the kid.

Frisco had to be walked, so we crossed France and went to Weber Park where she had fun playing at the playground and Frisco was able to take care of business and I got my walk in.  Back at home, we added more to the bowl of raspberries that we picked yesterday. She was determined to get every ripe raspberry off those bushes and I think we might have managed that. Her goal was to get lots so she could take them home to her sisters.  That was from the sweet, big sister part of her-the 98.8% of her.

I was expecting a call from my sister, Rita and when it came in, we went to the Sheraton to meet up with them.  They had a family commitment on Denny’s side, so we barely had time to scarf down some lunch and had to head out.  I will see them again, briefly n Sunday morning before they head back to KC.

When I took Charlotte home, I was invited to have a beer and some dinner, so it turned out to be a very nice evening, with an opportunity to chat with both Jill and Ben.

Saturday, July 22. I got myself moving quickly this morning, took Frisco for a walk, and then drove to River Falls, WI to visit with my niece, Stella, Josh, and Barley who are here for a family reunion on her Dad’s side of their family.  We headed for Hoffman Park so their dogs could get some exercise and we could hang out for a while.  I need to remember that there is a nice, small RV park adjacent to the playground and it might be a good place to visit some day (only an hour’s drive from y apartment). It was good to see these guys and I had a nice time and River Falls is a cute little town.  

Stella, Barley, Josh and Ginger and Levi

When I left there, I checked out Kinnikinnic State Park on the shores of the St. Croix River - a beautiful drive to get there, a beautiful park, but no campground.

Sunday, June 23.  Rita, Denny, Aaron, and Olivia joined me and the family at Ben’s house this morning.  They are heading back to KC but wanted to see the family and their home before they headed out.  We had a nice visit and the kids all had fun playing together and showing off their rooms and stuff.

I left right after they did and went home for a quiet afternoon and evening.  After sitting around for a while, I got bored and headed out to the back yard for some garden therapy.  As I was pulling weeds, Elizabeth came out to join me and together we made a lot of progress.  She has some really gorgeous plants and they deserve to be uncovered.  It looks so much nicer now!

Monday, July 10, 2017

July 10 - 16, 2017, WI, MN

Monday, July 10.  What a way to start a new week!  First, the fireworks started around 9:15 and went on until shortly after 10:00 - that had Frisco barking and growling and shaking.  Then after a struggle to get to sleep, I start to hear rain, thunder and lightening around 12:30 - several severe weather alarms go off on my phone, warning of flash flood, frequent and severe lightening, and possible hail - and that continues for a couple of hours and then it lessens but keeps on until 5:30.  That was the time I had my alarm set for, so I could get up and have some coffee with Pat and get a farewell hug to last until we see each other again in a few weeks.  The storms have moved on, we ended up with ove 4 inches of rain, and I shouldn't be bothered with them on my drive north to St. Germain.

I stopped at the Pioneer in Westfield, about an hour north of Stoughton, to have breakfast with my cousin, Jo and Patty. So great to see them both. And then I traveled on to St Germain to Jim and Sue’s house. It's such a nice drive with a mix of pine and hardwood forest, and lakes and rivers everywhere you look.  On my arrival, we all had a glass (maybe 2) of Tribute’s Ghost Lights Amber Beer from the nearby brewery in Eagle River. Mmmmm good!

We had a lovely dinner, went for a walk, and then played 3 rounds of Farkel with each of us winning a game.  Nice!

Tuesday, July 11. Jim had some projects to work on this morning, so Sue and I and Frisco walked the 2.2 mile trail around Shannon Lake.  We got a good scare when we stopped at a little beach area and heard the thundering of feet coming along the path.  Sue immediately thought it was a bear and let out a shout, I turned around and saw a large Collie bounding toward us.  He turned out to be very friendly and his master joined him shortly after and there was absolutely not threat, just a nice guy and his nice dog.

Shannon Lake

After a bite to eat and cleaning up, we headed to Sayner along State Highway 155 (the shortest highway in Wisconsin, only 14 miles long) and went to the Vilas County museum and a couple of nice little shops, then back to their house to sit and relax on the porch.

Tonight, we went to Sisters Saloon, a typical up north kind of bar, but with a twist.  The food was gourmet and I ordered an almond crusted Walleye that was served with rice and a tasty side of vegetables.  When we got back home, we played Farkel again because each of us won a game last night and Jim was the lucky one tonight - he won all three games - and he got 2 sets of triplets that scored him 2500 points each time - what a streak of luck that was!

Wednesday, July 12.  I was on the road this morning st about 9:30 after having coffee with Jim and Sue and walking to the end of their road and back.  I had checked online for a place to stop to empty my tanks and learned that the sewage treatment plant in Woodruff had a dump station. I pulled in, paid my $10.00 and was led to the dump station by a staff member.  After she left, I realized it was not very sanitary - dirty water from previous dumps was pooled near the outlet, the lid was broken, so nothing to hold your hoses down, and the available rinse water was not very conveniently located, far enough away, so the outlet itself couldn't be rinsed.  I used it anyway - thankful that I had gloves and I was very careful to rinse well. For any RVer friends who need a dump station up north - don't go there.

I headed west on Hwy 70 toward Spooner and drove through the Chequamagon and Nicollet National Forests - about 110 miles of forest.  When I got to Spooner, I went to the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum where there is a collection of some of Tom MacKenzie’s canoes.  I was able to take Frisco in there with me so I could take my time.  The very first exhibit was one of Tom’s early birchbark canoes - I thought it might be the one that he built for Mike but learned from Karen that it isn't that one.  There are some beauties in there.  

And then there is an entire room, dedicated to Tom and his works - complete with his personal boat and several others, including one that demonstrates the different layers of materials that make them up.  I was filled with emotion and got all teared up seeing the photos and videos, and hearing him in videos that demonstrate the building process and various paddling techniques.  He was a good guy - such a gentle and talented man. I'm so glad to have been a friend.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 1 - 9, 2017, WI

Tuesday, July 4th.  Happy 4th of July, America!

On Saturday morning, with Gypsy in tow, I headed south to Richland Center, traveling along the Mississippi River on US 61.  The worst part was getting through LaCrosse and it's many stop lights through the city. From there, it was the beautiful terrain through the driftless area of Wisconsin and its many bluffs, lush green foliage, and views of the river.  I pulled into “The Land” about 5 hours after departing.

It was great to see Leslie, Chris, Steve and Nancy and a shortly after that, Jane showed up.  Chris left on Sunday and Linda took her place. I got the camper set up and it was Beer Thirty and a good old Supper Club satisfied my thirst.  Jane grilled this huge pork roast that was stuffed with some pear chutney that she made for dinner and we had green beans, and sweet and white potatoes to accompany it.  Good stuff!

The sky was clear and the moon and stars were bright - and there was no rain in the forecast for the next 3 days.  I remember few weekends out there without rain and many with rain the entire weekend - and that is no fun at all.  

Steve and I hiked the 180 acres and I really enjoyed it, again, it's probably been 5 years since I last hiked it with Peter.  The first mile is mostly a wide path cut through the woods, passing a few groomed campsites.  As you get to the western border of the property, you start to climb the ridge and again and the ground gets much more rocky with less grass and more pine trees and hardwoods and a few campsites that were used in our younger days.  On the back side, you cross over into the neighbor's soybean field where it is an easy walk to the edge of the woods where you start to go down toward the campsites again - the most difficult part of the hike, where you move from tree to tree for support on the steep decline.  At one point, I couldn't find Frisco, so we stayed in the same place and just kept calling for him and he eventually showed up.  He must have been having trouble getting over fallen trees and branches and he was getting tired.  We all made it and I felt a great sense of accomplishment.  It felt good just to hike and it doesn't get much better than this beautiful place.

The mowed path.
  Steve and Ajax
The stream.

Jane and Leslie cooking dinner.

While I was relaxing with a cup of coffee this morning, Frisco came up to me and I could hardly stand the smell of him. For the 2nd time this weekend, he had rolled in something dead, excrement, or just something gross and his neck and side was covered in black, smelly, gunk.  Thanks to the stream and my bar of lavender soap, I got him cleaned up and could stand to have him near me again.

Yesterday afternoon when Linda came back from town, she left her keys in the ignition on the accessory position and when she went to roll up her windows in the evening, found her battery dead.  So, after cleaning Frisco up and before hooking Gypsy back up, we read our car manuals and then tried to jump start her car - but it didn't work - after telling Pat about it this evening, he thought that we probably didn't let it charge quite long enough.  She ended up calling AAA and they got her on the road so she could get back to Milwaukee this afternoon.

And now I'm back in Stoughton for a few days.  It's always good to be with Pat and Tracey and Savana and her girlfriend will be with us tonight.

Wednesday, July 5.  I'm feeling right at home again with Gypsy parked in Pat and Tracey’s driveway. Had to run the AC as it is hot and humid.  Savana and her girlfriend are spending the night and it was nice to get to see her again and meet Erica. Tracey made beans and rice for dinner and that was pretty tasty.

I gave Gypsy a bath this morning and Pat did all of the roof cleaning so I didn't even have to get on the ladder.  It is really dimpled up there but no leaks.  I heard from the 2 repair shops last week and they can't locate the material for the roof. The manufacturer won't return their calls and that didn't surprise me in the least. They quit making them back in 2010.  So today, I sent some more photos and will see what the insurance adjusters have to say.

I went for a ride with Pat to Madison as he had to go look at a repair job on the east side. It gave us a perfect opportunity to drive around the neighborhood where we lived when he was growing up and then we took the back country roads back to Stoughton.  It brought back lots of memories.

  East Washington Ave bridge over the Yahara River

Son Number One

The Capital from East Washington Ave

Saturday, July 8.  Thursday was my day to go to Monona for a visit with Tom and Karen for a few hours - and a great visit it was!  When I left there, I was going to drive past Mom and Dad’s house but was kind of pulled toward Monona Bait and Tackle for a Babcock Hall Ice cream cone before I did it. Yum! Yum! And while I was sitting there enjoying my ice cream cone and looking out at the lake, I called to see if Louie was home. She and Dave and just got home, so I stopped to chat with them for a while before heading back to Stoughton.

Pat and I went to a few garage sales on Friday morning and I bought a booster car seat for the days that Charlotte hangs out with me, a few cute outfits for the kids, and a replacement microwave for my apartment (the existing one is old and the clock/timer doesn't work).  I also picked up some groceries for a salad to take to Kate and Adam’s party on Saturday.

I just couldn't miss out on a good old Wisconsin Friday night fish fry and an opportunity for a great Old Fashioned, so I met up with Pat and Roger and Gary and Susie at the Owl’s Nest in Poynette, a good halfway mark for all of us.  I ordered the walleye and it was so worth the extra money.  The company and conversation was great too!

A party was held at East Side Park today to celebrate the marriage of Kate (my cousin, Dawn’s youngest daughter) and Adam that took place last October in Antigua and the birth of their son, Henry in March.  I got to see lots of cousins and their families all in one place, drank some great home brewed beer - a Krolsch, a brown, and an IPA (not my favorite), and had lots of good summery picnic foods.  The day was beautiful, mid 70s with low humidity - just a perfect day to hang out in a park.  Oh, and it was a park that I played in as a child - just a few blocks from our home. Back then, it had a splash pool to help you keep cool in the summer and I also remember doing arts and crafts there as part of a summer program.

So tonight, as I was feeding Frisco, I added a bit of leftover walleye to his dog food, left the remaining chunk on the counter and went to my car to get something.  I went to put the container back in the fridge and realized it was empty. The little sh!? ate the Walleye that I was going to share with Pat at dinner tonight.

We took a drive to Gibbs Lake tonight so Pat could check it out to see if it's a spot that he could launch his kayak and fish.  It was only about 12 miles from here along beautiful  rural roads framed with tall stalks of corn. It's a beautiful park and the lake looks clear and nice.  We walked around a little but I had in flip flops and it was the time of day that the mosquitoes were starting to attack.


I just had to take a photo of this gnarly old oak tree at Gibbs Lake Park

Sunday, June 9.  My last day in Stoughton for this trip.  Pat went fishing early this morning, so I slept in and had my coffee in the trailer.  The temps were nice last night, so I was able to turn off the AC and sleep with the windows open - it was so nice that I slept through the whole night.

It was still comfortable for my walk with Frisco and I did the circle along the farmstead on the southern border of Stoughton, then around the cemetery and back home - quiet, peaceful, and green, green green.

I gave the camper a good cleanup since it will be going back in storage when I get back to Minneapolis.  A thorough cleaning took me about 40 minutes - I love it!

I wanted to treat Pat and Tracey to a dinner of their choice and Smoky Jon’s BBQ won out. We placed our order and then Pat and I drove to Madison to pick it up - the ribs and brisket was just as good as I remembered - what a treat.

I'm settled in for tonight as the Stoughton Junior Fair’s annual fireworks will be starting shortly and I know that Frisco isn't going to like it, otherwise I would be sitting in the front yard watching them.