Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 28 - 31, 2017, MN

Tuesday, August 29.  Monday was Norah and Camille's first day at their new school.  They are so excited and happy to be going there.

Yesterday was a rainy day, so we headed off to do some sightseeing.  I had found a couple of things to see on the Atlas Obscura website.  The little town of Dassel had a historic mushroom shaped building that housed a gas station back in the 1950s - a cute little building at an intersection right in the center of town.

There was also a historic building where Ergot was processed - what in the world is Ergot?  Google informed me that the Universal Laboratories building is on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as the home of the Dassel Area Historical Society. From 1937 to the mid 1970s, Universal Laboratories provided raw ergot from the grain fields of the western US and Canada to pharmaceutical companies. Critical drugs were produced from the ergot, saving countless military and civilian lives. Exhibits present the story of ergot and the local area.  Unfortunately, the history center was closed.

We drove a few more miles to the west to Dawson, to see the World's Largest Ball of Twine - made by only one man.  Again, the museum itself was closed but the ball of twine is housed in a glass building, so we did get to see it.  I can now cross that off of the bucket list.

There was the World's Largest Crow but it was another 70 miles away, so we nixed that idea and headed back toward our campsite, stopping for a yummy burger and beer at Monie's, a local bar with a good selection of craft beers. A nice campfire with plenty of conversation, a cocktail, and a walk with Frisco when we got back to our campsites.

Tom fixed breakfast this morning, omelets loaded with veggies - we wanted a good start because today was 'take the canoe out' day.  We decided to go to Half Moon Lake, a small, quiet lake just to the north of here where motor boats are not allowed.  We had to carry the canoe down a pretty long path to get to the dock, but a friendly gentleman took my end and carried it for me.  The lake was surrounded by cat tails and we did see some wildlife - Great Blue Herons, 2 beautiful Swans just gliding along the smooth water, turtles that sensed us long before we even got close to them, and lots of bubbles and activity in the water.  We had the entire lake to ourselves, just moving along the shoreline and criss crossing here and there to check something out.

I'm not good at selfies but - we did it!

Loading the canoe back up and getting it strapped down was the hard part - mostly because of the mosquitoes.  They have been pesky here, mostly at dusk, but the parking lot by the lake was full of them and they had their share of our blood.

Wednesday, August 30.  There were no plans for today, so we started out with a walk, taking the path through the woods to the lake, along the lake shore beaches, to the boat launch and then back to our campsites, about a 2.3 mile walk.  And then we just hung out, reading or whatever until dinner time.

When we came through Maple Plain on Monday, we had passed O'Massey's Irish Pub, so we decided to go there for dinner.  It's a nice place that served tradition Irish dishes - I chose a Reuben sandwich and Tom had the Shepherd's Pie - both were yummy.  Back st the campsites, we decided to save our remaining firewood for our last night and sat out without a fire.  It got pretty chilly - dipping down in the 50s overnight.

Thursday, August 31.  Today was 'walk around Lake Katrina' day - that is, a 6.2 mile walk around the lake plus getting there from our campsites plus a couple of detours that led to other campsites or views along the way..  It was a beautiful, cool day and we saw only a few other people using the trail, bikers, roller-bladers, roller-skiers, and runners.  I'm sure glad that I decided not to take Frisco - I think he would have petered out.  The last mile was a hard one - hips and ankles were starting to hurt.

Last night's 🔥.

We had spaghetti and meatballs plus Tom's yummy chopped veggie salad for dinner, burned the last of the firewood down to the coals, and had a very interesting conversation of what our futures might look like.  

Friday, August 25, 2017

August 21 - 27, 2017, MN, WI

Thursday, August 24.  This was my week for camping with Charlotte and 10 of my friends at Ft McCoy, the Pine View Campground - a military Campground that is open to the public - a beautiful place with every amenity you could want.  The sites were spacious, open, but yet enough trees and bushes to block the views of your neighbors.  The playgrounds were beautiful, the Trails well groomed and scenic, and the LaCrosse River was clear and fast moving.

Day 1, Monday - we arrived just in time to see the peak of the total Eclipse of the Sun (although we were not in its direct path, we only saw about 85 percent of it) - the last one was in 1918. Charlotte was not interested in it, but she did watch a little of it on TV from Jim and Sue's motorhome.  That's a good thing, because Ben was very concerned about the possibility of damage to her eyes from looking at it.  The eclipse glasses that I bought were just the thing, and everyone was very thankful for them.

Tom helped me get my awning up, just in time for the rain.  Once it let up, the skies cleared, turned a gorgeous shade of pink, and gave us a full, almost double rainbow.  Charlotte got Patty involved and the two of them set up a lemonade stand and she earned $4.36 - quite the entrepreneur!

Tom and I had dinner duty, so he chopped veggies while I heated up meats and beans and we took everything to Jim and Sue's where we gathered for beef and chicken tacos, rice, and black beans for dinner.  After cleanup, the guys hung out there and the gals gathered under my awning before we all headed out on an evening walk.

Day 2, Tuesday. Patty made breakfast this morning, a yummy egg and cheese dish with English Muffins.  We all (except Chris) took a long, 2.2 mile walk along the river, spotted some deer, found the waterfall, played hide and seek with Charlotte, and she and Frisco got their feet wet in the river.

Michael and Donna showed up with their Granddaughter, Lena and she and Charlotte hit it off pretty well, playing house and drawing in my camper.  Tom and I took them to the playground and before we got there, they both got into rolling down the small hill at the beach - both covered in sand but could care less.  

Chris made dinner - crock pot lasagna, salad, and pie - but we also celebrated Jim's birthday with cake and ice cream.  

We gathered around a beautiful campfire, told stories, and laughed a lot. It didn't take long for Charlotte to fall asleep after a long and active day.

Day 3, Wednesday. Charlotte slept in until 9:45 this morning and got up just in time for Jim and Sue's breakfast - an egg and ham dish and fruit.  Then we took our morning walk, this time Charlotte wanted to see the spooky trail that we had discovered yesterday on the bridge by the waterfall.  One path led to some large, pretty life-like creatures - wolves, a bear, and a dinosaur, others to Halloween props.  Some of it was pretty creepy but she had a pretty good defense mechanism in place - and we didn't let her see the real gory stuff.

We found this guy who n the camper this morning.

She and Lena played, either at my camper or their cabin, but I think that all they did at the cabin was watch tv or movies and eat junk.

Checking out the loft of Patty's rental cabin.

Today was Mike's birthday, he would be 70 years old.  Jim and Roger made Old Fashioneds and we toasted to my life partner and a great friend.

Donna made dinner Wednesday nite at their cabin - chili, garlic bread, salad with all the fixins, and watermelon.  On the way back to my camper after dinner, Charlotte started getting cranky and complaining about not having dessert, demanding that she get marshmallows. She and Lena were "she said, but she said" back and forth, so I told her that she had to behave in order to get marshmallows.  She interpreted it that I called her a name and walked away to the edge of our campsite.

As I approached her to resolve the issue, she took off and started to run away from me. For the next 15-20 minutes, she ran - through empty camp sites and open, woodsy areas, along the river, she ran and wouldn't stop when I asked, pleaded or demanded her to - she darted one way, then another, always 20-30 feet ahead me and I couldn't run fast enough to catch her. I couldn't stop because I had to keep her in my sight. I was terrified a couple of times when I couldn't see her (she either tired and sat down or tried to hide from me).

Finally, Tom, who had stayed away because he initially thought that we were playing, realized it wasn't play and came to help me.  He finally was able to catch her and carried her back to the campsite, kicking and screaming the whole way. He just held on to her and she finally settled and I got her in the camper. He was a lifesaver - I was so terrified.  She calmed down, looking at a book, and then we had a long hug and got ready for bed.  We read stories and I talked to her a bit about what happened.  How scared I was that she would get lost, that I loved her and want to keep her safe, that I physically might not have been able to catch her, how scary it would be for her to be lost and that she could never, ever, do that again - with me or anyone else.

Day 4, Thursday.  Everyone packed up, said our goodbyes, and headed back home. Charlotte and I got back just in time to put Jill's enchiladas in the oven so they could get Charlotte fed and to open house at her new school where she got to meet her teachers for kindergarten.  I stayed with Norah and Camille, fed them dinner, and played until Ben and Jill got back home.

Sunday, August 27.  Charlotte birthday party with her friends was held this morning at Rainbow Play Systems, a great place for the 15 kids to run, jump, slide, hide, seek, and eat Ben's Chocolate Cream-filled Cupcakes. A fun morning.

Back at home, I finished loading up the trailer and waited - check-in time was 4:00, I had planned to get there by 3:00.  At 2:00, I called the park and they said I could probably get into my site, as they had many cancellations over the weekend due to heavy rains. So I pulled out, drove to Baker Park Reserve, checked in and headed to my site.  Tom was just ahead of me, waiting to fill his fresh water tank.  We had 2 sites reserved and when I got there, I realized that Tom would never fit into one of the two, so I took that one.  But he wasn't going to fit in the other one either, plus it was on a slope and was a muddy mess.  I called the office and was able to switch sites and he fit in there just fine.

 I made shrimp and Tom made a veggie salad for dinner and we sat under my awning, keeping out of the occasional rain, until it was time to say goodnight.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

August 14 - 20, 2017, MN

SWednesday, August 16.  I agreed to help with before and after school pickup with the grandkids this week, as the program is a bit different this week.  The other Grandparents are on vacation and Charlotte is going to YMCA camp. It has made for busy days.

I got the trailer licensed in Minnesota on Monday, after only a 1.5 hour wait.  It's done now and I feel good about another transition to being a resident is behind me.  Another accomplishment this week was to get a library card.  I think I am a Minnesotan.

I'm not sure why I hadn't thought of it before, but last week while I was walking Frisco, I thought that it might make sense to move my stuff into storage over the winter (about $100 a month) compared to paying rent/storage for this apartment at $900 a month.  Makes sense to me.  Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to tell the landlady yet and I know that she has been counting on me to stay through the spring, although our agreement is a month to month rental.

Friday, August 18. I did finally talk to Elizabeth on Thursday and let her know I would be leaving, either October 1 or 15 (15 would be preferred as it would allow me more time to get my stuff packed and moved to a storage unit) and she said she would try to make that happen.

Tom came up on Wednesday morning and we drove to Lake Calhoun to walk the path around the lake, missing a turnoff on the path on the south side of the lake so rather than go the entire distance around, we turned and walked back e same way - about a 3-mile jaunt.  

I had Camille and Norah pickup duty that day, so Tom stayed at my apartment while I hung out with the girls.  And then we headed to McCoy's for a beer and a burger, as I had a coupon for a free burger. It was a yummy burger and a nice, local joint, not far from my apartment.

I had invited Tom for dinner on Thursday night, so we had ribeye steak, sautéed mushrooms, baked potato and salad and shared a bottle of wine. A walk, Farkel, and an old movie topped off the night.

After school this afternoon, I picked Camille and Norah up and brought them to my apartment or a change of pace and they loved it.  Different snacks, dressing up in some of my clothes, some drawing and coloring, and reading a monster book filled the couple of hours and made for a very pleasant afternoon.  I stayed for dinner at their house and we had a yummy homemade pizza.

Sunday, August 20.  Yesterday was my oldest son, Pat's 48th Birthday - boy, does that make me feel old.  We had a nice phone conversation, but I won't be making it to Stoughton for a few weeks but will be sure to celebrate when I get there.

I was up early and headed to Faribault, as Tom and I had plans to go to the Steele County Fair in Owatonna.  We got there around 11:30, found a place to park and started out with a yummy pulled pork sandwich, the stand just happened to be across from the swine buildings - our next stop. We checked out the chickens, ducks, rabbits, cows, goats, horses and even llamas.

The living history museum that we missed last week was open, so we went through all of those cool, old buildings.  When searching for the beer tent, we got turned around and covered most of the grounds once more. But then, a nice, cold beer was very refreshing while listening to some old rock and roll tunes.

I had to get back to feed and walk Frisco, but we kind of thought it might be fun to go back to see the Enduro race and the highlighter band, but then neither of us really felt like doing the 20 mile trip again.  

Today was prep day for next week's camping trip with Charlotte and some of my best friends at Ft. McCoy, WI.  It didn't help that I slept in until 9:30 (huh? A total surprise) but I managed to get through my to do list and as I write this, I am showered and ready to head out by 7:30 or so in the morning.  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

August 7 - 13, 2017, MN

Monday, August 7.  I dropped Frisco off at Ben's and headed back home to finish packing. Tom picked me up around 10:00 and we hit the road, heading for Duluth, stopping along the way for some sightseeing at historic markers and overlooks.  When we got to Duluth, we were headed toward the harbor when we spotted the Bent Paddle Brewing Company, took a detour but found a locked door - closed on Monday's.  We were both hungry, but we decided to head north along the coast and see what we came across.  The drive along Lake Superior was beautiful.

This is at an overlook on the St Croix River, looking south toward Stillwater.

Duluth from a scenic overlook.

In Two Rivers, we stopped for dinner at the Blackwoods Bar and Grill for something to eat and drink.  I had Walleye and Wild Rice and it was yummy. From there, we headed out to see the Split Rock Lighthouse, a historic tugboat, and the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad.  And then we tried to find a place to spend the night.  I was hoping for a cabin but after many calls, learned that there were no vacancies and we ended up at a very clean and nice Super 8 back in Duluth.

We both agreed that a drink would be nice, so we found a little sports bar just a couple of blocks away. It was loud in there with the music blasting and lively conversations with a bunch of guys at one of the tables, but we settled in at the bar and ordered a drink. It wasn't long and this young guy named Corwin approached us and announced that the Glen Campbell song that was playing was for us, compliments of him. We didn't quite get it - do we look that old? After that, he grabbed his beer and came to sit by us - telling us that he thought we might not like the loud stuff that they had been playing. So he picked another from our era - "What a Day For a Daydream" by the Lovin Spoonful - I could relate to that one, since that was the caption noted for me in the "Candid Comments" page of my senior high school yearbook.  We got some good tips on where to go in Duluth from this young native, talked about winters in Duluth, suggestions for local breweries and eateries, and then he headed back to hang with his friends. Nice guy but kind of a strange experience.  The next morning, we learned that Glen Campbell had passed away - a couple of strange coincidences with someone I've never met before.

Tuesday, August 8.  On Corwin's recommendation, we headed off to Jay Cooke State Park this morning, a beautiful piece of land along the St Louis River with fast moving white water and cliffs that were mostly hidden along the hiking paths. We learned that the park was named for the person who donated the land and that it was built by the CCC back in 1939 and included a swinging bridge over the river and the River Inn.  The view from the bridge was gorgeous, kind of reminding me of Glacier National Park where the color of the rocks and stones were variations of grays. We hiked the river trail, climbed the rocks to get a view of the waterfalls, and then hiked one of the paths through the woods.

After our hike, we stopped at the Streetcar Kitchen and Pub in Carlton for a delicious lunch and a beer and watched the local cop directing traffic to allow these huge, long trucks and trailers to get by.  On our way out of town, we could see that they were loading these huge pipes off of train cars and hauling them away.  There was lots of activity in that little town.   After lunch, it was almost 3:00, so we decided to make another night of it and we headed toward Brainerd.  I got on the phone to see if we might find a cabin for the night, but again, there was no vacancy anywhere - most of the resorts rent only by the week or more.  We passed the Country Meadows Inn in McGregor, did a u-turn and went in and learned that they had a room for the night and the Fireside Restaurant and Pub were right next door. Perfect.  

Wednesday, August 9.  After having a nice breakfast at a little roadside diner in Aitkin, our destination was the Charles Lindbergh State Park, just south of Brainerd.  We were having some rain now and then and after paying the daily fee to get in the park, we kind of regretted that we didn't just drive through.  The few buildings were run down and dilapidated, the mosquitos were prolific, and the rain had picked up so we didn't even see the boyhood home.  We drove down the road a short distance and came upon the Charles Weyerhaeuser Museum in Little Falls and went through that instead.

Heading back home, I t was a nice drive on the Great River Road along the Mississippi and it eventually got us to St. Cloud and then back to Minneapolis.  It was a great road trip and we learned that we really travel well and have a lot of fun together - a very nice time!

Sunday, August 13.  Nothing to write about on Thursday - I never even left the apartment except to get some fresh produce.

My Friday with Charlotte was a good day - we started by playing with her new Barbies, a gift to recognize her last day at Montessori school. Later on, we met her maternal Granny at the Arboretum for a morning of exploring the various gardens, kid stuff, and getting through the maze, followed by some lunch at Potbelly.  I picked Camille and Norah up after school, we rode bikes and played for a while before going to Cafe Luce for pizza and a beer.  I had planned to hang out after the kids went to bed, but that didn't happen - we were all pretty tired and ready for some down time.

I'm taller than you are, Granny!

I packed a bag and headed to Faribault to meet up with Tom on Saturday.  The Blue Collar BBQ and Arts festival was going on downtown and I didn't want to drive back to the city after having some beers.  Also, there were a couple of events going on in Owatonna on Sunday. I didn't realize that the Tilt-a-Whirl was manufactured in Faribault and also had an F-town Nut Brown Ale that was yummy! It seems like a very nice town and the people are proud of it, as seen at this festival.

The first 2 bands that we saw were great, JoyAnn Parker had a very nice voice, the band was talented, and the tunes were lively rock and blues. The next act, Son of a Bueller described their music was 80s music with a twist - and that it was - two of the guitarists played miniature, kid sized instruments and the lead female singer played an accordion.  It was very entertaining!  

We went back to Tom's trailer to walk and feed Frisco, then went back to the festival to hear the last 2 bands.  Well, we were both disappointed with Tim Mahoney, the local Guy who made it to The Voice, but lost out - it was a solo act and the style of music didn't interest either of us - today's country that doesn't sound country, no rocking beat, and was kind of boring.  So...we walked around the downtown area, to a local park and across a walking bridge that stretched over the Straight River where we chatted with some locals for a little while.  It was another hour before the headliner band was to start, so instead of sticking around, we went back to the campground and had a campfire. 

Today, we considered the Pirate Fest in Owatonna that took place at a park along the Straight River.  When we got there, it had started to rain so we just checked it out from the parking lot, we learned that it was mostly for kids and we decided it probably wasn't worth the $10 admission and didn't go in.  We went to the Village of Yesteryear instead and even though it was closed today, it was very entertaining.  A collection of old buildings from this area, they all had a description placard on them describing where they actually came from.  

We noticed a lot of RVs parks at the fairgrounds that is adjacent to the historic village and so we walked over there to check it out and discovered that they were most likely there for the Steele County Fair that begins later next week.  There were RVs everywhere.  The El Patron restaurant was just across the street so we stopped for a bite to eat and a beverage before heading back to his trailer.  Another nice day!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August 1 - 6, 2017, MN

ITuesday, August 1.  Shopping - my activities of the last 2 days - for shoes, for groceries, for wine, and a Costco run.  My groceries cost me nothing because my landlady gave me a $75 gift card for Trader Joe’s - it was a thank you for taking care of her cats while she was on vacation and for the work I have done in the garden.  Very nice!

I met Ben and Charlotte at the playground for her soccer lesson and game. Her skills have improved but she sure wasn't focused on the task at hand.  Her mind was on getting back home for the National Night Out block party in her neighborhood.

Thursday, August 3.  Brrrrr! We barely made it above 60 degrees today - what a surprise! It feels like October.

I had an initial appointment with a doctor yesterday, to establish a relationship and I really liked Dr. Jodi Milburn and her assistant at Park Nicollet. We had a nice conversation, she was patient and encouraging, will issue my pr scriptions, and will review the records that I requested to be sent from Mesa and if there are no issues, I will see her for my first wellness checkup next summer.

Tom joined me for dinner last night and I made spaghetti and meatballs at his request.  I knew that he doesn't get much home cooking, so I offered to fix whatever he's been hungry for and it felt good to have the sauce simmering in the slow cooker and making the house smell really good.  I have done very little cooking since getting here and sometimes, I really miss it.

After dinner, we walked through the woods that is across from my house.  It takes up about a three square block area and has paths zigzagging throughout.  I have been wanting to check it out, but not really interested in doing it on my own. I have been told by neighbors that it is kind of designated as an off leash dog park and we came across a few of them and all were well behaved. We also came across a couple of boys who were building a teepee and it reminded me of my boys when they were growing up. Also, it was nice to see city boys playing in the woods and not being at home on their devices. Thanks to Tom, I got to see what it's like, but still, I probably won't be walking through there on my own.

Today, I drove to Faribault where Tom is camped for the next few weeks.  Since it was a cold and rainy day, we went in to Owatanna and saw the movie, "Dunkirk", the story of a World War II battle where 300,000 men were rescued from the beach by civilian volunteers and their boats.  It was intense and I sat on pins and needles throughout the movie.  After having a pizza at Reggies  Bar, we set out to find the Sakatah Trail, found it and walked along the beautifully paved woodland trail, a paved hiking, biking, and snowmobile trail that goes all of the way to Mankato.

I love this clump of Willow Trees on the Sakahta Trail

Saturday, August 5.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dear friend , Pat! 

 Well, I was called on to help with school drop-off yesterday and since I spend my Fridays with Charlotte, I didn't see it as a problem.  There was a bit of sibling rivalry on the way to school (Charlotte pulled Camille’s hair and loosened her pony tail), and that resulted in a bit of a meltdown from Camille. She didn't want to get out of the van, but I was able to comfort her and hand her off to the teacher, she gave me a quick hug and went on her way.

Charlotte was wanting to do paper dolls, so that was a good part of our activities for the day, other than a couple of walks with Frisco and a stop at the playground at her new school.  She is definitely maturing and gaining confidence, as the only other kids on the playground were about 6 boys playing together.  There was a time when she would be timid and not want to play there, but she went about doing her own thing and it wasn't an issue at all.

The kid’s imagination just amazes me.  We played Santa Claus - two sisters, she was the oldest and I was the youngest. We faked sleeping, and when she heard a thunk and a bump, she announced that it must be Santa Claus. So she snuck over to peek in his lumpy, bumpy black bag and got caught in there. I had to go rescue her and then we found that Santa had left presents. She even made cards and put them on things like  my sewing box, her toy bird named Coconut, and Frisco’s chew toy.  And we did this over and over and over again.

We also made paper dolls. Again, she was the big sister, age 14 and I was the little one, only 4 years old.  Here’s her doll and a couple of outfits.

This morning we walked to Bruegger’s for breakfast and Jill met us there.  Back at my house, we talked, had more coffee, and played a bit before they left.

This evening, Tom picked me up and we headed for Stillwater, where my friends, Bruce and Janna had invited us to dinner.  After a couple of detours, around the Uptown Art Fair and the new Stillwater bridge, we finally made it.  I was surprised to see the bridge open, as I had come through there just 2 weeks ago and had to cross the river on the old lift bridge.  The bridge is beautiful and the view of it from their patio is very nice.  

It is funny how things go when you only see friends once a year but are able to pick up right where you left off and can spend an entire night telling stories and laughing.  Bruce made snow crab and Janna made Red Lobster's biscuits and dinner was delightful.  Sitting on their patio with a 180 degree view of the river, the bluffs on the Wisconsin side, and the new bridge was relaxing and enjoyable.  Janna and I started yawning and we realized that it was 11:00 and we had just spent 6 hours out there.  What a nice time it was!

Sunday, August 6.  Dang, it was hard to get to sleep last night - the last time I looked at the clock it was 2:30.  So I had a quiet day of just hanging out.  That is, until Tom arrived and I introduced him to a game of Farkel before we went to Red Cow where we met up with Ben and the family so they could meet him.  We had a nice dinner and conversation, although it was a short visit - dependent on the patience and behavior of the little ones.

Back at my place, we went through maps and brochures to come up with a plan for a road trip to see Lake Superior and maybe to the Lake Itaska, the headwaters of the Mississippi.  We decided to leave tomorrow morning, so he headed back to Faribault and I proceeded to gather up what I would need for the trip.