Thursday, September 30, 2021

Thursday, September 30, 2021, MN

As I was heading out for my walk yesterday morning, I saw a large flock of White Pelicans flying in a southern direction. The migration is a true sign of fall and because of the summer drought, we are seeing the leaves turning colors much sooner. I’m feeling like I need to take a long drive up north to see the colors.

This tree is at the entrance to my parking lot.

The girls schools had their annual fundraiser, Dragon Dash, this week - they get donations for the school, then have to run around a track, doing at least 30-35 laps. I wasn’t able to make it to Norah and Camille’s event but did go and watch Charlotte run her laps on Wednesday. She said she ran 90 laps, but I think she might have miscounted, although she was quite driven at times.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Sunday, September 26, 2021, MN

Since my refrigerator had no fresh produce in it, I decided to find a farmer’s market nearby and headed to Savage to stock up on fruit and veggies. It was a rather small market but there were plenty of choices and lots of late summer goodies available. I spent $25 and came home with 2 ears of sweet corn, a head of cabbage and broccoli, a bunch of radishes, kale, and spinach, 3 tomatoes, 3 onions, a small melon, about 8 Honeycrisp apples, and a large flower bouquet - it seems like a lot for that money.

When I got back home, Frisco and I went for a nice walk on this beautiful fall day. Temps are in the upper 60s and will warm up to a perfect 80 degrees today.  I fixed myself a healthy egg scramble with onion, spinach and cheddar cheese when I got back home.

The fans that I have used all summer have a heavy coat of dust on them, so I took one apart and gave it a much needed cleaning. By the time I finished, I was ready to lay down, do some reading, and take a rest. I no more than laid down and the phone rang and Ben invited me to meet him, Charlotte, Norah, and Yoshi at Minnehaha dog park for a walk. It was sure nice to be on the trails along the Mississippi River again and to just hang out with Ben and the girls.  Yoshi had a blast running around among all of the other dogs and taking frequent dips in the water.  I didn’t let Frisco off the leash, as I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to catch him if we wandered off, and he seemed to be content being on the leash.

I just got a call from my brother, Ron, and he has successfully relocated to Kansas City where he will live at Rita and Denny’s Stadium View Apartments and become their after hour’s maintenance guy. He is feeling good and positive about his life change and I’m wishing the best for him.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Saturday, September 25, 2021, IA, MN

After breakfast and a walk this morning, I loaded up my car and Frisco and I heading back home. It was an easy 3.5 hour uneventful drive and we were back at home by 2:30.  The farther north I drive, the more fall color I saw on the trees off in the distance. The next few weeks might be a good time to take a drive up north.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Wednesday, September 22, 2021, IA

On Sunday, we left Cedar Falls and headed southwest to Griff’s RV Park near Altoona, IA, not much more than 100 miles and a 2-hour drive. The park is very large, with 150+ sites and we are in the older part of the park where the sites are much smaller, gravel with a concrete pad, and among the worker bees.  The newer parts have beautiful lawns, a fountain in a small pond, and much bigger sites - I guess that is where the longer term guests get to stay. We do have a nice grassy area, a horse pasture, and a couple of very nice evergreen trees behind us, so we are good for another week.  The nicely paved Chichaqua Valley Trailhead (20+miles long) is adjacent to the RV park and we have walked it several times.

The Bridges of Madison County was our destination on Tuesday, after breakfast and a walk. It was after 11:00 when we left the RV park and we had a 50 mile drive south to get to St. Charles where the visitor center and the first of the six covered bridges were located.  The Imes Bridge was the first that we saw.  We chatted with a sweet little old lady at the visitor center who shared some great tips about what to see in the area.

From there, we headed west to Winterset and saw the Holliwell and Cutler-Donohoe Bridges, then farther west to the Roseman Bridge (the one that was featured in the 1995 movie, “Bridges of Madison County” with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep.  A side road led us to the Pammel Park Campground (we were not impressed) and the Harmon Tunnel (we were impressed) that was built by a man and his 4 sons in 1925.

Back in town, we walked around the 1876 Courthouse that was under major construction and centered the town square.  The friendly lady that we had spoken with in St Charles suggested that we visit the Montrose Pharmacy that had an old fashioned soda fountain that has been run by Cathy for the last 32 years.  I opted for a cup of  Cheddar Potato Soup and a piece of apple pie.  Tom and I shared an old-time Cherry Coke.  We then drove north on US 169 to the Hogback Bridge before heading back to our home at the campground.  

The bridges were all painted red and the inside walls were covered in graffiti, mostly initials and dates. Surprisingly, we didn’t see many dates earlier than 1995 - I guess people had more respect for property back then and were not interested in defacing the bridges. Several of them were built by the same man out of massive boards and different structural arrangements, designed to withstand the severe winters and be able to carry people and goods across the rivers.  The water levels in the Middle and North Rivers were all pretty low, I don’t believe a canoe or kayak could float down them right now.  We saw all but one of the six bridges.

It was an all afternoon excursion that took us through some beautiful parts of Iowa and was a good way to spend an afternoon.  For years, whenever I passed through the area, I would see the signs and say “some day I will come back and see the bridges” - now I can add them to the list of places that I have been to see. 

While walking on the Chichauqua Trail that runs along the RV Park, we noticed a huge construction site with 3 large cranes and after doing some research, I learned that it is an expansion of Facebook’s Data Storage Center. There are already several large Facebook buildings nearby.

Tom spotted this guy on the concrete trail - haven’t seen a Praying Mantis in a while.

The last few days of my stay were spent taking long walks, doing some shopping, taking naps, and hanging around the campsite.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Saturday, September 18, 2021, IA

We have managed to get at least two miles of walking in each day, but many days more like four.  The last two days have been around Big Woods Lake - such a pretty walk.  We’ve done a bit of shopping - one trip to town for new towels for Tom and one for a few groceries. I was going to pull the grill out of the trunk of my car the other day so we could grill some steaks but the wind was going to have an effect, so I opted to cook them on the stovetop. That turned out to not work very well either because of the fans and the air conditioner running (had an effect on keeping the pan from getting hot enough), so I ended up with a steak that didn’t get nice and brown and was not rare enough for me.  It was fine with Tom but things like that bother me - I expect my steak to be perfectly browned and cooked to the right doneness to give me a rewarding feeling of a yummy steak dinner.

Last night we went to Cedar Falls for some Mexican food and live music. I really like this area and the downtown is really nice with a nice assortment of restaurants and shops. We had a beer and ate our food on an outdoor seating area, then walked to the little park where the music was. There just happened to be a brewery right across the street, so we sat at a table and drank a beef and listened to the music, then walked some of the path along the river.  

Just a couple of photos from downtown Cedar Falls. There are several nice sculptures on the corners and many of these great black and white photo murals on the sides of building.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Tuesday, September 14, 2021 - MN, IA

I was up and had walked Frisco, had coffee, loaded the car and was on the road by 9 am on Sunday morning, heading to Cedar Falls, IA where I would be meeting Tom at the Big Woods Lake County Park and we would spend the next week. We were unable to reserve a site in advance so wanted to get there early to get an available site.  Tom got there before I did and called to say there wasn’t going to be a problem getting a spot. I arrived shortly after he did and we drove around and picked out Site 12 that backed up to the lake, a beautiful spot to call home for the next week.

Yesterday, after our walk, we drove to George Wyth State Park and Blackhawk County Park to check them out, then stopped at a little bar for a beer on our way home.  Today, we went to the Cedar Valley Arboretum and walked the paths, strolled through the gardens, and had the park to ourselves until we were ready to leave. The park is beautiful and the plants were identified well. The topiary was great!

I just love this pretty Water Lily!

We stopped for a Papa Murphy’s pizza on the way home and had a late lunch/early dinner, then picked up some firewood and sat around the campfire for a while. Neither of us could remember the last time we had a campfire.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Saturday, September 11, 2021, MN

Today is the 20th anniversary of the four terrorist attacks against the United States that took the twin towers in New York City, crashed into the Pentagon, and forced Flight 93 that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.  All planes were hijacked and taken control by al-Queda terrorists. 

It was also the day that Ben was returning to the US from a vacation in Tokyo. He was on a Thai Airways plane that took off that morning and was enroute at the time of the attacks. His flight was diverted from Los Angeles to San Francisco (just where he needed to be). Mike and I were focused on the terrorist attacks and fearful that our son might not make it home safely. Mike spent hours on the phone with the FAA and Thai Airways trying to get information and learned that Ben was on the plane, but he was unable to find out where he would land.  Flights were grounded and being diverted all over the world and many airports had shut down and were being monitored by the military.  His flight was allowed to land at San Francisco, escorted by military fighters that had been scrambled as a precautionary measure.  The passengers didn’t know anything about the attacks until they landed and found the airport deserted as they were escorted out by police and security.  Needless to say, we were elated when we heard that he was safe on US grounds.

This has been another busy week.  I spent Tuesday with the girls and we went to the zoo. It was kind of a bust because we didn’t go in any of the indoor exhibits (except to see the fruit bats) as we wanted to keep our distance from others and there weren’t many animals in the outdoor exhibits. The girls had more fun at the playground than anywhere else at the zoo. All of the concession stands were closed, so no ice cream treats until we stopped at Wendy’s for a Frosty.  They started back to school on Wednesday.

Bob and Penny arrived for a few days vacation on Wednesday and are staying in a downtown hotel.  I picked them up and we went to Mancini’s in St Paul for a delicious Walleye dinner. It sure was nice to see them again!

On Thursday morning, they came over here and saw my apartment and then we walked the 9 Mile Creek trail. After that, I met them at their hotel and we went to the Farmer’s Kitchen Restaurant for some lunch and then walked the trail to the Stone Arch Bridge.  We parted and later that evening they came back to my place and we walked to Willy McCoy’s for dinner. It seems like all we do is eat.

Friday night we met at Ben and Jill’s, ordered dinner from Broder’s, and had some wine and lots of good conversation. It’s been about seven years since they have seen Ben and his family. We had a great visit!

They head back home today and I will spend the day getting ready for my 2-week camping trip with Tom in Iowa.  The summer is coming to an end and he will start his trek back to Arizona after our time together.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Monday, September 6, 2021, MN

My cousin Jo came for a visit on Thursday and stayed until Saturday. Friday was a misty day - not raining, but not dry either, so we didn’t do any outdoor stuff, but went to my favorite consignment store, Turnstyle and the Arc Thrift Store.

Charlotte attended a Camp Innovation at the Bakken Museum this week where the children design and building their own inventions, practice creating thinking skills, and make magic tricks. At the end of the week, they had a Big Show where they could show their families their inventions (had to incorporate electronics). She made a diorama of a bat cave and outside the cave was a moon that lit up. They demonstrated their inventions to many visitors. I know she was nervous but she did well. It was well attended by her parents, sisters, grandparents and cousin Jo.

After the Big Show, we all gathered at their house to have pizza and give Charlotte her gifts. We then had Great Grandma Quinn’s Green Dessert.

Jo left late in the morning yesterday and Frisco and I went for a nice walk around the neighborhood. I took a nap in the afternoon and finally got around the hanging my glass balls in the living room window.

Today, we walked a good stretch of the Nine Mile Creek - such a beautiful place with the paved path going through heavy hardwood forest, tall hills, and the fast moving creek providing the soundtrack. I feel fortunate to have this nearby and I think it will be very nice to walk in the winter.  Today, there was some white debris on the path and I thought it might be paper mache, but later discovered these huge puff balls on the forest floor. Apparently, some kids decided to break them on the pathway. 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Wednesday, September 1, 2021, MN

I spent the day with Camille and Norah and they were not interested in going to a playground, preferring to just stay at home and play with their toys, jump on the trampoline and do crafts with me. We made lots of origami nesting boxes that they decorated with emojis.

I sold my dining room table tonight - to a gal that sure seemed to have an appreciation for the age, quality, and beautiful wood. I’m posting a picture of it, so I will never forget that it came from my good friend Marty and belonged to her Grandmother. It has had a special place in my home for years, there is no longer enough room for it in my small apartment.  

She is an avid canoe paddler and spends a lot of time in the Boundary Waters, so she may also be interested in buying my Loonworks canoe or know of someone who might want it.  Little by little, my load gets lightened.