Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sept 1 -Sept 26, 2010 Fall Up North in Minnesota

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 Golf Widows Shop Brainerd Low 55, sunny, gorgeous day. Walk after breakfast. Dick, Jean and Wilson are back. The guys are golfing at The Pines (if Ron can get a tee time) tonight while the gals shop. I see Arlene down by the Pub. They played The Pines yesterday. They have one more round today and then they leave tomorrow. I tell her to look for us at the campfire tonight.

At the State Fair Dick and Jean saw the Cajun guy with the crawfish shirt and jeans shorts who was at the Cajun Fest in Walker. He told them to go to the Cajun music at the State Fair from 1:30 to 2:30. Over there they saw a bunch of the couples who were dancing in Walker. Dick googled “Krew de Walleye” that he saw on a guy’s shirt. There’s a whole contingent of Cajuns up here.

Bob tires to copy Hay Lake pictures to our big memory stick (since they won’t all fit on our 32MB card.) We don’t know why the larger stick won’t accept them. It’s always something with electronics.

I make Banana Sundae Cheeseball. Wayne knocks and says 3:15 tee time at The Pines. He’ll drive and pick Bob and Dick up at 2:30. Ron will meet them there. We have Chicken Pot Pie (5 minutes in the microwave at 60% plus 8 minutes in the convection oven at 350.) Bob leaves at 2:30. I call Brauhaus to make reservations for eleven Saturday night around 5:00. Then I get dressed for shopping, go through email, and read until Gail picks Jean and me and Bonnie up. We’re off to Brainerd.

Christmas Point Store where we all buy food (Bonnie buys food-related “pie crust cover.”) On to Grizzly Bear to eat. Salmon for me, Jean and Bonnie; no salads and sandwiches at “fine dining” like the guys accuse us of. Gail has steak. On to Kohl’s where we have fun shopping. Then we stop at Menard’s for Fire Starters. I find fake Lorna Dunes for $1.29 for my cheeseballs.

Home by 9:00. Guys are at A-Pine in Jenkins. It’s 9:15 p.m. and 64 degrees with 55% humidity. High 77. Best weather of the summer. Bob returns and Gail delivers my share of Tiramisu.

Thursday, September 2, 2010 Rain, Jigsaw Puzzle, Insurance, Ghirardelli Brownies Up at 6:00, couldn’t sleep any longer. Bob got up too. Rained all night (1/4 inch, after ¾ inch two nights ago.) Cloudy most of the day. On-line weather says afternoon storms so we axe fishing (turns out we should have gone; 4:30 or 5:00 before any rain.)

Blair called while I was on-line. Skip and Joyce went to Bemidji. They caught a few fish yesterday. I told her we wouldn’t come out today. We’ll call if we’re fishing tomorrow. I got her pics on email that I took on her camera. We finally have ours on an SD card. Told her I made reservations for 11 for Sat. at The Brauhaus. After breakfast I walk and stretch.

Bob re-starts the jigsaw puzzle (the hard one with autumn leaves on steps in a forest.) We put it away a few weeks ago. So we had pieces already together in the box and manage to get it done by 9:00 p.m. I get on-line to check our banking and credit card issues. All is on schedule. I get on the phone and chat with Shara at our insurance company about a new policy. They are now offering full-time RV insurance. She went to school for it and was very knowledgeable. It will save us some money. I can’t believe our agent, Terry, who we’ve been with since 1982, has a son who is 16 and getting his first car. Wow! Terry was single when we met him in Austin.

I feel good about getting this paperwork off my list. I celebrate my making Ghirardelli Symphony Brownies (after all it helps warm up the RV.) High 67, the sun only made a brief appearance. I take the trash out and take a walk about 5:30. I see Kick, Jean and Wilson coming back in their car. They just wanted to get out-cabin fever. A few seasonal folks came up for the holiday weekend I guess. Jeff yells at me across the bridge and says Marilyn is picking up her new Nissan Cube tonight! It rains so no one is out tonight.

We have leftovers for lunch and dinner. I call Karen H. in Central Texas. She is baking Cowboy Cookies (oatmeal choc chip.) She’s hoping her two grandsons (11 and 13?) come this weekend. She tells me all about her son Kevin’s (and Julie’s) wedding in June in Oregon. Sounded grand.

At 9:00 we watch The Mentalist, a repeat. It’s 10:31 p.m. and sprinkling again.

Friday, September 3, 2010 Laundry, Lodge and The Cube! Up at 7:00. Cloudy, chilly. Rained during the night. Low 51, high only 58. Bob looks on-line at the weather and we blow off fishing.

Stretch, breakfast, pack up six loads of laundry and head to Brainerd. Lots of holiday Up North traffic heading the other way. Under two hours for the laundry. This laundry mat is great; dryers only 18 minutes and everything is dry. Stop at Walgreen’s where we score three aluminum water bottles for $10 and misc. sundries. Eat at The Lodge. My Butternut Squash Soup and grilled vege sandwich were great (with sweet potato fries.) Bob had Cobb Salad (they forgot to bring it and it arrived with no avocado.) I had to hunt up our waitress to pay our bill.

We stop at Secondhand Store and find books and puzzles. Traffic is building up. We have a pit stop in Nisswa where I mail birthday cards. On to Pine River (short tie-up at light in Pequot with holiday traffic.) Stow laundry, read paper. Around 5:30 Marilyn knocks. She brought her new Nissan Cube by! She just got it yesterday and finally took it out of the garage since the sun is out at last.

Marilyn's new Cube!

Jennifer (Seth’s Mom, here for the weekend) and her friend Ryan, with the small travel trailer down on the end, come by to see it too. Marilyn takes us for a spin and lets me drive first. I turn it over to Bob when I realize I don’t have my driver’s license with me. I love the one-to-one steering ratio. It’s the cutest thing. It’s 6:26 p.m. and 58 degrees with 48% humidity.

I walk down to the Pub. Find Jeff, Marilyn (and her Cube), Ron, John, Jennifer, and Ryan. We chat ‘til they all go off to grill dinner. Kevin and his wife and son and grandkids come by. He’s 17th in the Walleye tournament qualifying (top 20 in finals in 6 weeks.) Bob joins us and we all break up around 8:30. We see Gail by Jennifer and John’s fire on our way home.

Saturday, September 4, 2010 The Brauhaus and Wood Tick Musical Theatre Up at 7:00. Very chilly; 53 degrees in the living room. Coffee and turn on heater. Veg out, sunny outside but a chilly wind. Blair calls this morning. We’ll pick her up at the laundry mat in Backus tonight. Her new guests at the lake arrived and everyone is coming to the theatre. After breakfast I walk, take the recycle out, stretch and have a pedicure. We get cleaned up and go to Pequot Lakes for a bowl of soup at Mayson’s (first time they seat us.)

We get a paper at BP and head home to read it. It gets up to 62 degrees. At 3:50 we leave for Backus. The sun is warmer and the wind has died down. Blair’s laundry is still spinning but it’s done by 4:20. Just as she piles in our truck and we drive off, Skip and Joyce turn towards the laundry and he gets out to look for Blair. He can see her truck that she left parked across the street. Bob does a bat turn and we let them know she’s with us.

Off to Akeley to The Brauhaus. Big crowd on Sat. night. Our table for eleven is waiting. Blair introduces Greg and Joan (her St. Louis, MO, Lindberg High School classmate who lives in Minnetaka now) and their friends Carla and Terry (he works with Greg.) They are up ‘til Monday at the lake. They ask lots of questions about our RV lifestyle. Carla and Terry’s daughter lives in Edmund, OK.

Joan points out that The Brauhaus is a southern German restaurant. A northern German restaurant would have more seafood/fish items. I get Beef Rouladen (ru la’den). It is nothing like mine and not as good (IMHO!) The beef is macerated, whole bacon is wrapped inside and the pickles/carrots/mustard are non-existent.

Blair doesn’t like the Potato Dumplings I recommended with her shrimp. Joyce doesn’t like her pan-seared walleye (when in Rome…). Terry and Skip must have like their Swine hocks as they polished them off. Greg’s draft German beer was flat and he ordered another. Bob’s Franzenkanner was warm.

We take our go boxes and still left stuffed. We pause out front for a picture by the barrel. A fat hummingbird on the hanging baskets of flowers out front fascinates us. The guys check out Bob’s 5th wheel hitch. We all meet at Paul Bunyan’s statue in Akeley.

Skip, Joyce, Mel, Frieda, Carla, Terry, Joan, Greg, Blair and Bob

First, half of the group goes to Purple Cow for ice cream. Bob moves our truck closer to Woodtick Theatre and joins them for ice cream. Joyce has a fit over LOL rollover Dog and buys one in Purple Cow ($19.95.) We go in to get a demo. What a hoot! Blair buys one too.

Skip, Frieda, Joyce, Mel, Rita, Blair, Joan, Terry, Greg and Paul Bunyan!

Reet, Bob and Paul

Back across the street for a photo op with Paul Bunyan. Then we walk down to Woodtick (I spy Patsy Cline review across the street.) The antique store is closed; they don’t get it. Lots of folks roaming around in this little town waiting for the pre-show at 7:30 and the show at 8:00. I left the Woodtick dollars Blair gave us on the counsel in the truck. We pay $15.50 each for Row I (behind Mel, Frieda, Greg, Joan, Carla and Terry.) Skip, Joyce and Blair are five rows behind us.

As the show begins Joyce yells out “go Saints” when they mention the Vikings (or Wikings as Lena says.) The guy behind Joyce says “that was brave.” Blair has Joyce play her loon flute when the guy on stage plays his.

Paul plays at Woodtick Theatre in Akeley, MN

My favorites are:

“My Hair Had a Party Last Night” by Trout Fishing in America
“Too Many Holes in Her Head
“Ghost Chicken in the Sky (instead of Ghost Riders.)
Lady Antebellum’s Grammy hit
Paul’s “Halleluiah” (K.T. Oslin did it at the Canadian Olympics)
“I’ll Fly Away”
Minn version of “Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys”

The show is over at 10:10. Skip and Joyce follow us to the laundry mat. Skip rides the rest of the way with Blair. There are patches of fog on the road. We’re home by 11:01. It looks like Kevin is driving out of the RV Park as we drive in. It’s 11:52 p.m. and 43 degrees. A clear night with bright stars.

Sunday, September 5, 2010 Slow, Sunny, Sunday Holiday. Slept in until 8:30. Sunny, cool, 45 degrees. Turn on space heater and enjoy my java. Cuddle with a book (Rudyard’s Kipling’s “Kim.”) Work on NY Time crossword all morning. Finally get it with both of us adding bits.

Breakfast, walk. Ron is out fixin’ Gail’s noisy fan motor on her car. Jean is coming back from the laundry. She’s had a respiratory infection that Dick had and thinks it’s too cool to be out. He’s playing Par 3 Wildwood with their son and grandson. They may do a fire later between Ron and Gail’s and their RV.

I see Diane and Wayne leaving on my way back and mention the fire to her. The other Wayne is down by his big truck by the Pub with their new van, installing a car top carrier. I see Ryan and Darlene packing up. She says they are just moving to a new site. They plan to store “The Little Shit House”, as the sign on their tiny travel trailer says, here.

Home to stretch, finish the crossword; one last pesky corner. Bob goes out to take the curbside wheel off the RV so we can take the hubcap with us to The Cities when we leave here and get it replaced. We put the living room slide in to make it easier. I make the bed and get dressed around 1:30 for crying out loud!

The Bungalow for lunch in Emily, MN. Pork chop dinner special (love the old-fashioned apple sauce.) We walk through the bar to check out the food and drink specials for Thursday night’s Super Bowl rematch; Saints vs. Vikings.

Back to campground. Walk down to talk to Jean about having the fire at our place. Dick is on the way home. We walk to the wood bin but it’s empty! Back to Jean’s. Tell her we’ll see if Ron and Gail have wood. Knock on their door and ask if we can raid their woodpile. Gail says she already sprayed around their place for pests so they’ll have the fire after dinner. We’ll look for their smoke. Darlene comes by and says they’ve moved to Charlie and Kathy’s spot. They’ll leave their rig there until next May.

Jeff comes by with the electric bills. We go back to Jean’s. Dick is home. Tell them Ron and Gail are having the fire. Cindy and Lars are back from his brother’s in northeastern Minn. We head back home until we spy smoke. We’re watching Inspector Lewis on PBS that we missed earlier in the week. It’s 4:50 p.m. and 63 degrees with 46% humidity. High 63, low 45.

Around 6:00 we see smoke at Ron and Gail’s. Grab Banana Split Cheeseball and lawn chairs and head over. Ron, Gail and Wayne are there (Bonnie has a pinched neck and is at home.) Soon Wayne and Diane join us. Gail has popcorn for us all. Dick and Wilson come. Jean follows shortly (she baked peanut butter cookies!) and serves them hot out of the oven. This is some camping! Jennifer joins us-she just had to pet Wilson. John and Ryan are on the way back from golf at The Pines.

Jean suggests Butter Nipples so I go home for Butterscotch Schnapps’ and Bailey’s (fake Bailey’s actually.) Jean brings her glasses to add to mine. I run out of my fake Bailey’s (didn’t like the brand anyway) so Jean gets her new bottle of O’Mara’s. Way better.

Jennifer misses (or never got word about) dinner being ready at their site. She reports that their big plastic covered kitchen-type trash can is missed from outside their RV door. We chat around the fire ‘til 9:00 and head home. Fun evening.

Monday, September 6, 2010 Labor Day at Hay Lake and Five Crowns Up at 7:00, 45 degrees. I walk early and see Wayne taking a walk. I was coming back in around 7:40 and he called out to me. Says he found Jennifer’s missing trash can across the highway in a ditch. Hmmm….either a big raccoon or the Wilson’s Corner bear that was spotted earlier! Yikes.

Stretch, breakfast, and make my creamy corn in the crock-pot. Pack up everything, call Blair and say we’ll be out in an hour or so. She says Gwen made her some homemade sweetened condensed milk for her coconut cake she is making today. So we stopped to pick it up on our way to the lake. Up North they learn how to make specialty ingredients for when they are snowed in and can’t get to town. After all, cooking is a great way to spend a day when you’re shut inside.

Gwen shows us where a skunk visited and tore up her yard by the steps. Later she said a tree cracked off a few nights ago. We didn’t see it while we were in her yard. I told her the bear/trash can story.

Off to the lake. Blair is feeding her hummers. Bob says he’s not really thirsty. We unload the fishing gear and Bob goes fishing. I chat around the fire pit with everyone (Terry, Greg, Joan, Carla, Skip.) I run over to say hi to Joyce on the porch of cabin 4. Gwen arrives. Blair brings out her laptop after I fill our water bottles from the well. I impress myself by successfully downloading all pics from my Sony Memory Stick with our USB reader onto her Mac!

Dinner is served. Bob comes back in; he caught some fish. “Wind out of the east; fishing is the least.” Joyce’s venison burgers with Cajun seasoning (from their ranch in Ozona, TX) were excellent. Brats, bean casserole, my creamy corn, slaw, fruit salad, Joan’s corn relish and spiced peaches (my favorites), and bread and butter pickles are all outstanding! My Banana Split Cheeseball, Blair’s (Gwen’s recipe) Coconut Cake-to-die-for, Carla’s Apple Spice Cake (never see this great old-timey cake anymore-love it!), and Tiramisu Mascarpone Cheese Chocolate Cake. Way too many desserts!

Gwen, Bob, Skip, Blair, Carla, Joyce and Terry

Joyce lets us try her Pickle Ball rackets and balls. Bob googled pickle ball earlier; you play on a badminton court. Joyce plays all over the country. It’s catching on as a substitute for tennis we learn as we continue to see it at RV Parks.

Joyce gives Bob Pickle Ball Tips

Joyce's Pickle Ball Mascot

After we clean it all up we say goodbyes to all as Greg, Joan, Terry and Carla leave around 3:00. Bob goes out fishing. Gwen, Frieda, Joyce and I go to cabin 4 to play Five Crowns. Blair cleans cabin 1 for the next group (John and a friend flew in from Texas and are driving from The Cities.) We play two games and Gwen heads home. She left her windows open and it’s starting to sprinkle.

A perfect Hay Lake Send-off

Bob stays out ‘til around 5:30 in spite of light rain. So I figure he’s catching fish. And he did. Blair had just joined us and we started a new game when Bob returned. He caught a really nice bass (4 to 5 lbs.) on a buzz bait.

Mel comes over from cabin 3. The guys arrive in cabin 1. Skip greets them and we continue our game. We deal Bob in and I run to the truck to get my cheeseball. Joyce breaks out chicken salad, venison chili, chips, cheese and turkey dogs. I add Ghirardelli Symphony Brownies. What a feast! We play another game and break up around 8:30. Goodbyes all around. We sure had fun with everyone. They plan to leave ahead of schedule tomorrow as Mel is not feeling up to par. Sure hope to see Skip and Joyce in Louisiana or Texas! Home by 9:00. It rains hard around 10:00, 53 degrees.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 Puzzle, Pictures, Insurance and Groceries Up at 7:00, low 49, windy, cloudy. Rained really hard last night. Lars says later he heard 3 inches! After breakfast I walk and stretch.

Bob starts a 1000-piece puzzle. I clean up and get on the laptop. I put all of the rest of the pictures on the big Memory Stick for Blair. I download email, print insurance stuff from our agent and then call her to clarify the details. She’s out and will call back. Blair sent My Hair Had a Party Last Night” and “Ghost Chicken” YouTube links. Around 9:30 Jean knocks and brings us two more tomatoes before they leave for home. How nice. We have leftovers for lunch.

Bob and I leave to go to SuperValu in Pequot. As we leave the RV Park we see someone pull into our site. So we do a bat turn to make sure they’re not looking for us. No, they are visiting Bonnie and Wayne. Wayne has been out in the cold, strapping down their bikes on their ladder rack. They plan to leave on Friday.

We get Ham Hodge-Podge Soup ingredients and find Honeycrisp apples! First time this year. Our insurance agent calls back as we drive to Pequot. We go with the new full-time RV policy. I have a voice message when we get home. She has to send me a form to sign.

We stow groceries and I go for a walk around 6:00 after reading the paper. I chat with Cindy and Lars around their huge fire. They needed it; high 60 degrees. It clears off as the sun sets. It was cold and rainy up north at Lars’ brothers’. Home at 7:00 to watch repeat NCIS, NCIS LA and The Good Wife. It’s 10:10 p.m. and 50 degrees with 63% humidity.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010 Bob’s Lunker Bass at The Lake Chilly, 48 degrees. As I walk I see Wayne and Diane are power washing their roof already on this chilly morning. I stop at Gail’s and we make plans to head to Walker to shop at 8:00 tomorrow morning. They are excited. They put a bid on a home in Breezy Point.

Breakfast, pack up for the lake, make tuna salad, call Blair and say we’ll be out soon. We get there after noon, picking up her mail on the way in. A gorgeous day, high in mid-60’s, sunny and calm. John and John Paul Smith from Allen, TX are still snoozing in cabin 1. They are night fishermen.

We get a few strikes and hits at first. Bob catches a nice one on a buzz bait. We come in around 2:45 and have a picnic in the sun with Blair. Tuna, fruit, cheeseball, and Blair brings Joyce’s Venison Chili and chips. I fill one water jug. Then I try to download pics onto her Mac. Can’t do it. No idea how I did it on Monday. Wasted 1 and ½ hours of a gorgeous day. I hate technology. We did get to hear “My Hair Had a Party Last Night” and a few other Trout Fishing in America tunes that Blair played for us.

Just as we were headed out to fish around 5:00, John Smith and John Michael emerged from cabin 1. We chatted for a bit and they took a walk down the road. Bob catches 21”, 5 ½ lb. bass off the backside of the point by Otter Cove. We put it on a stringer and bring it in so Blair can see it. We put it in the Fish Motel until we’re done fishing. We go back out after a photo op. Little did we know we were done fishing for the day. We never caught another thing!

Another shot of "Bob Holding Fish"

Bob lands a "Nice One"

John and John on the dock were just going out night fishing at 7:15 as we take Bob’s bass to the back of the island to release it. Blair serves Coconut Cake in cabin 3. She googles for the channel for tomorrow’s game but we can’t get it (more failed technology.) She calls on the phone quicker and gets Fox as the answer. I put Fox Vikings Saints in google and get 9/9/10 game on NBC. Go figure! We say farewell and get home just after 9:00. Showers and hit the sack. It’s 10:11 p.m. and 71 degrees in the bedroom, 55 outside I think but I’m not getting up to look.

Thursday, September 9, 2010 Reet and Gail Shop Walker ‘til We Drop Up at 6:45. Bob gives me a shake knowing Gail is picking me up at 8:00. She’s right on time and we head north on this chilly, 48 degree morning. We eat breakfast at Country Corner. Biscuits and gravy for Gail, oatmeal with raisins and cornbread muffin for me.

North to Walker, park on the main drag and go in ships on the lake side of the street. Spend lots of time in Artist’s Mall. I find a white and black tiny cubes bracelet and Christmas presents (fall stove towels for my niece Megan!). On to Up North stores, gift shops, Kitchen store (where I score Wind n’ Willow cheeseball mixes) and Reeds. I try on Merrill Hikers but not comfy. Gail gets a kite for her grandson, Tate. Ron calls while we’re in line at Reeds. He’s on his way home around 2:00.

We cross the street and find Village Café for lunch. We split the special; Turkey, provolone sandwich with cranberry chutney on wonderful Wheatberry bread with tomato basil soup. It’s all excellent, including coffee of the day, Kenya dark roast-very smooth.

As we head home it starts sprinkling. We stop at Pine River Visitor Center where I ask Carol about Joyce’s t-shirt. She left it at home and says she’ll just mail it to her in Louisiana. How nice. I try to call Blair while Gail gets her mail at the post office. The younger John (Smith) answers at the lake. Blair is at the outlet fighting off beavers.

Home by 3:45. Fun day. Bob has a pot of Ham Hodge-Podge Soup cooking. He got a haircut in Pine River today. Wayne and Bonnie packed up all day and are due to leave tomorrow. It’s 5:40 p.m. and 56 degrees with 79% humidity. High 63. I walk in a sprinkle around 6:00 and run into Jeff. He’s reading Wayne and Bonnie’s meter. Lars is chatting with him and leaning on a shovel.

Friday, September 10, 2010 New Haircut for Reet, New Home for Gail and Ron Check email, new bills are at bank site. Voila! I pay Sept. bills. My day starts good. Bob puts lake pics on the small memory stick and deletes the big stick that I couldn’t load on Blair’s Mac.

I knock to say bye to Bonnie and Wayne but they are not home. I leave for my haircut at 11:15. I hate to miss saying farewell. At the salon, Paula and I discuss a new cut and she darkens my color. Love the result. She says she used a medium-spaced sculpting shears and thinned it. She enjoyed her Wisconsin Dells trip in August.

I’m done by 1:30. Call Blair about Carol in Pine River mailing the t-shirt to Joyce. John is just leaver after clearing the beaver damn yesterday so we don’t chat long. I say we’ll try to be out tomorrow if the weather cooperates.

We have a voice message from Tom and Shirley, our Iowa RV friends. They are leaving Indian River, Mich., today and will be home in 2 days. Tom has surgery on his other leg next Tues. They are wondering if we can meet up on our way south.

We stop for a paper at BP. Bonnie and Wayne’s rig is still there when we get back but they are not home yet. Bob and I have leftovers for lunch. He starts a jigsaw puzzle. Ron and Gail knock around 3:00. Big news! The offer on the house in Breezy Point was accepted. Now they just need to sign the deal. Big hug for Gail and congratulations. We have a toast with Killian’s Red and Smirnoff. Horrible gnats chase us inside as we discuss their new home.

They tell us Bonnie and Wayne are staying to finalize a deal on their new home! They may leave tomorrow instead. Off Ron and Gail go to meet their friends at Rafferty’s Pizza (Gail wants a calzone.)

Have a voice message from Blair. She wants us to bring caulk when we come out. I call her back. She talked to Joyce. Her, Skip, Frieda and Mel are all in Waterloo, IA, where Mel is in the hospital. What a mess. My heart goes out to all of them. Skip and Joyce did get to see the Saints game last night.

It’s 6:40 p.m. and 58 degrees with 77% humidity, thunder and rain. High 62, low 53.

Saturday, September 11, 2010 So Long to Bonnie and Wayne Sunny, low 53. Bonnie and Wayne are packing up. We go out to say goodbye early so we won’t get under foot when things are wrapping up. Sounds like their house purchase will work out after all. They’ll be back in a month to finalize the deal.

I go for a walk. A travel trailer leaves the site across from the Pub and pulls into the dump station. On my next round I see him jockeying in front of the bath house to pull up to dump from the opposite side. He must be a first-timer or borrowed the rig from someone.

On my way around I see Dan, Betty’s son, and meet his friend Paul. Up fishing for the weekend. Last night Dan caught a 15-lb. northern. Paul paid him $1.00 for their bet. He says he fishes with a guy for 25 cents per fish. After only a few hours he owed him $3.75. The guy’s daughter came along and ‘lost’ his orange lure. Paul gave her $1.00! Great fishing story.

Betty is in the middle of her cancer treatments. When they put her on the table and raise it up she thinks they’re treating her sore shoulder, bless her heart. I head home to stretch. Bonnie and Wayne are having trouble hitching up to their Big Truck. Bob and I have breakfast while first Gail, then Ron, then Diane and Wayne go over to help out. He finally gets hooked up and we go out to see if we need to move our truck out of the way (we’re on his curbside.) Bob pulls it away a bit. We chat with Diane and Wane. Wayne says the other Wayne’s air bags on the glad-hand hitch were not inflated. After they got hitched up they noticed a flat tire on the 5th wheel streetside. What a bummer. At last they’re off around 11:00 after over an hour just to hitch up.

Our view is greatly improved with their big rig gone! I change Gertrude into her fall outfit and hang Glenda’s new fall wall hanging over the door. Semi-cloudy, very windy. I call Blair and say we won’t be out. Maybe tomorrow on Monday. She lit a smudge pot for the 9th year in a row to commemorate 9/11.

Glenda's Fall quilted wall hanging looks marvelous!

Bob charges our trolling battery. I clean up and watch the Fed-Ex golf. We go to The Bungalow in Emily for lunch. No dinner menu on Saturday (only all day on Sunday.) Great Chicken Sandwich for me. Chicken Salad for Bob. We both enjoy outstanding Tomato Basil Soup.

At Holiday gas station there are five diesel pumps; #1 and #2 off road, #1 and #2 ultra low sulfur and non-taxable dyed. Geesh! We couldn’t figure out how to get what we wanted. I go in for a paper and two cranberry juices (my throat is sore again-bad omen.) The guy says “Yeah, a lot of people have trouble figuring that pump out.” Ya think?

Sunny, windy, high 65. Take a walk around 5:00. Chat with Dan and Paul. They didn’t catch much today at Pine Mountain Lake. They are both insurance agents and sell Medicare Part D. Say they can’t sell other products in the same visit. Both are against new health cares changes.

Home at 6:30. Leftovers. Watch U.S. Open Ladies final at 7:00. Kim Klisters wins. It’s 6:50 and 63 degrees with 42% humidity.

Sunday, September 12, 2010 Titanic Gets a Bath and Campfire at Our Site Woke up on a board at 9:45! Yikes. My sinuses are draining and my throat is sore. I work on Sunday crossword and never get it. Take a walk, chat with Ron who is cleaning golf balls on his picnic table. He found 80 more at the golf course this morning. Gail is working until 2:00.

Bob and I decide to wash the RV as it’s too windy to fish. He gets out the stuff while I stretch and change clothes. He does the roof. Diane comes home and we chat. Her class reunion was fun yesterday. I invite her to a campfire tonight. Ron brings a 3-lb. coffee can of golf balls over-how nice! I invite him to our campfire. Bob finds a crack on one corner of our A/C cover from hail a few weeks back. Cindy and Lars had damage too.

We break to have a bowl of soup and get back out there to finish the job. Cindy and Lars come down with the same brochure Blair gave us about the chainsaw event. That was nice of her. We invite them to the campfire. Marilyn comes by on her golf cart and we invite her. She finds Bob trying to get a wagon of firewood and helps him use her golf cart instead and gets wood from Betty’s pile.

Bob and Marilyn gather wood

We’re finally done around 4:30 and clean ourselves up. I go down to invite Dick and Jean. They got back this afternoon. Dick went to practice golf. Jean and I chat. Wilson’s been going crazy chasing their sun catcher rays today. I hop over and tell Cindy and Lars the campfire is at our place. Lars gives me an armload of kindling.

We have leftovers. I make trail mix and get out the Butter Nipple glasses. Jean is bringing her Bailey’s. Around 6:00 Bob lights the fire. Cindy and Lars come down with a chair for Cindy as our early smoke signals go up. Soon Ron and Gail come with her Caramel Apple “Salmon Crap” (Ron’s name for cheeseballs) It is very good and so nice of her to bring it. Diane and Wayne bring chairs from next door. We start a back row to stay out of the smoke. I set our smoke alarm off inside the RV when I open the door to get snacks.

The smoke causes everyone to gather

Marilyn and Jamie, then Jeff, arrive. Jean comes with a basket of home-grown tomatoes. How nice, they are Better Boy she says. She also has Bailey’s and her little glasses. Butter Nipples for everyone. We even get Cindy to finally have one. I hopped over to invite Caroline and Curly. Curly is sick; flu or something but she comes and enjoys the Butter Nipples too. Dick arrives at last. Ann and John from across the road join us. They’ve been roofing and Ann enjoys the comfort of our LaFuma.

What a fun night. Wayne, Diane, Dick, Jean and me and Bob are the last to go in around 9:20. It’s 10:00 p.m. and 58 degrees with 52% humidity. High 67, low 52.

Monday, September 13, 2010 Big Northerns at the Lake Restless night hacking with a sore throat and congestion. Sunny, low 48. I finished Kipling’s “Kim.” When I walk I chat with Dick and Jean. They are going kayaking. Wayne and Diane are already gone fishing with their boat.

Bob hunts up a picture hanger and caulk for Blair. I axe two (of a set of three) battery candles Glenda’s friend gave me. The batteries leaked acid and corroded the terminals. I save one that’s not too bad.

We head to the lake after I call Escapees for our mail. We pick up Blair’s mail on our way to the island, arriving around 12:45-late for us! It’s windy when we go out to fish but the far shore is sheltered. We catch two small bass and a few pike before going in for lunch around 3:30. Blair joins us for ham sandwiches.

Bob goes back out after hanging the Dillinger poster in cabin 1. Doug (new guy staying on the hill with two friends) is from Fenton, MO, not far from our old home in Green Mar subdivision there when we were first married. He takes pictures on the dock and one of Blair in the window of cabin 1. He tells her how much he loves it here; the cabins are all different and far apart, there’s so much wooded area. He says he’d love to catch a 20-inch Northern for a picture. They haven’t caught much yet so they made reservations to rent a boat tomorrow at Pine Mountain Lake near Backus. It always amazes us that people give up on Blair’s lake. There are so many lakes up here (MN is the land of 10,000 lakes) and many are famous as great fishing spots. Bob and I prefer the ones no one knows about.

Bob's 32-inch, 5 1/2 lb. Northern

Barely fits in the fish motel

Blair and I download the pictures from our memory stick and view Flixxy’s “Waffly Wedded Wife”. As I look back later on my decision to come to the lake at all today, I realize I should have stayed at home. At least I should have gone out in the boat with Bob and not stayed in the cabin with Blair to breathe my germs on her. But then what happened next would have never happened. Bob comes back quickly from the lilies just off the dock. He’s got a 32-inch, 5 ½ lb. Northern Pike! Blair’s three new guys get to see it and take pictures. They were surprised Bob caught his on a buzz bait as they have been fishing 30 feet deep. Bob goes back out and soon all three of them get in one boat and go out. We see them from the window and dub them “Manny, Moe and Jack.”

Manny, Moe and Jack!

Doug lands his 'dream' Northern

Soon they come back. Doug caught a 36-inch Northern that’s 10 lbs.! (thus exceeding his earlier expectations.) He was so excited. Said he’d never forget it-on a spinner bait, just under the surface near the lilies!

We pack up and leave around 8:00 while it’s still light. What a pretty sunset. Harve called and said the Northern Lights should be visible tonight. I feel too bad to wait up for them. It’s 8:50 p.m. and 58 degrees with 54% humidity. High 67.

Another perfect sunset

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 Under the Weather Woke up on a board hacking again. Rained early morning. Low 50. Good thing Bob didn’t play golf with Dick and the ‘old farts.’ I skip my walk and don’t stretch I feel so bad. Take a shower and feel better.

We go to Super Valu in Pequot. Home to eat roasted chicken. Sun is out now, gorgeous day. Wayne and Diane fished ‘til 2:00 or so. I never did talk to them to see how they did. High 65 degrees.

Bob makes tomato soup and grilled cheese for me. We walk down around 5:00 to the recycle. As we return Dick’s insert that fell out of his chair they invite us to sit out and have some wine. I abstain since I’m on heavy drugs for my cold.) Jeff delivers some firewood. Marilyn and Jamie are back from their grocer’s meeting in The Cities. They are bowling tonight.

Dick and Bob go set up a Thursday afternoon golf game with Ron (the gals are shopping Thursday morning.) We enjoy their nice fire. Jean makes Chai tea for me-how nice! Jean and I catch Gail as she comes home from work and make plans to leave at 7:15 for shopping. Bob and I leave just after 8:00. It sure is cool away from the fire. We stop and chat with Cindy out by her fire. Lars is at his ‘paycheck’ meeting. Home to watch the end of NCIS LA repeat. It’s 9:07 p.m. and 54 degrees with 53% humidity.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 Game Day on Angler’s Isle I slept on the air bed in the living room as I had several major coughing fits during the night. Text message from Blair “How ya felling and are we shopping?” Bob checks Intelicast weather. It’s not looking good. Running around in the rain shopping doesn’t sound good to me so I call Blair and say “How about a game day?” She’s all for it. I say we’ll be out around noon. We don’t make it until 12:45. Dreary, rainy-we left the bedroom vent open all might and it rained early this morning.

Pack up the laptop, dominoes and Ponytail Canasta. Blair greets us in cabin 1. It’s all cozy and warm with fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. She is so sweet. We play ½ game of Mexican Train and break for Bob’s Ham Hodge-Podge Soup and Blair’s ham and roast beef sandwiches. Blair hunted up a wood scrap so bob could tie down and strengthen the partition between the two sleeping areas.

I make coffee and wash up the dishes. We got out both laptops and transferred pictures from all summer to Blair’s Mac. Whew! Glad that’s finally done. But once again it was a bad decision to fool with her keyboard with my cold. We watch “Proper Cup of Coffee” video on-line by Trout Fishing in America.

We resume our game of Mexican Train. I win-maybe they let me because I’m sick. Bob goes out on the dock around 5:00 to toss a line or two as the three guys go out to fish. He catches two keepers and some dinks off the dock while Blair and I play ½ game of Quiddler. She’s winning when bob comes in with cold hands. We start over and deal him in. I win again. Hmmm…..We pack it up and leave around 7:00. Fun, cozy day with Blair at the lake.

We see five deer, four raccoons and a white cat on our trip home. Chilly in the RV. It’s 9:11 p.m. and 51 degrees with 77% humidity, high 62, low 50. I have early shopping date tomorrow. Every few hours tonight I have a coughing fit.

Thursday, September 16, 2010 Shop ‘til We Drop-Gail, Jean and Reet Up at 6:00 a.m. on a board. Hacked all night. Coffee and Blair’s Cinnamon Applesauce for breakfast. Gail and Jean pick me up at 7:15 a.m. I couldn’t see them coming due to the motorhome that moved in streetside yesterday while we were at the lake. There are eerie low clouds hanging under blue skies. It’s very chilly. We stop for breakfast at Country Corner in Backus. Oatmeal, egg and homemade wheat toast is too much for me. All of our breakfasts were too big. Our waitress remembered Gail and I.

On to Walker; the leaves are really changing up here. And it’s sunny, those weird clouds are gone. We have a pit stop at Holiday. I get a Tribune and cough drops. Our big plan to start early went awry as we see a sign on the first shop “September hours-open at 10:00.” Yikes! It’s 8:45. We find the Artist’s Mall open-that same cranky lady is there. I find a cute snowman spoon for a Christmas gift.

Christmas Point store saves us. It’s open at 9:00. We all buy good goodies of course. Jean gets a charge out of a little computer upstairs with a DVD playing of a crackling fire. We do the rest of the stores and stop for lunch at Village Café. Gail and I split the lunch special; turkey sandwich with apricot glaze. Tomato Basil Soup for me and Chicken and Wild Rice for Gail who is nice enough to treat us all.

Time to head home. Ron calls and can’t believe we’re still in Walker at 1:00. Gail has to work at 2:00. The guys have an afternoon tee time at The Preserve. We make it home before the guys leave. Dick comes over to chat and say the tee-time got pushed back (bumped Ron’s employee tee time for a real customer.)

It was sunny in Walker all morning but it’s cloudy here in Pine River. It’s just clearing around 2:30 when the guys head off with Bob driving. He picks up Ron and Dick at their RVs. Poor Gail goes to work. Jean comes by to get me and we go to Nisswa and shop. What a fun time. We have dinner at Billy’s. Walleye for both of us as well as Lobster Bisque. Jean drops me off at home around 6:15. Very fun girls’ day out. I’m tired and feel feverish. Guess I wasn’t ready for a whole day of adventure.

Blair calls and while we’re chatting Gail knocks to say the guys are at Tasty Pizza. Bob is home by 8:30. Says they had a good time. Pitchers of beer may have been involved.

Friday, September 17, 2010 Last Campfire at The Titanic Almost slept around the clock-on a board. Feel better, only hacked a little last night. I even took a walk and stretched after breakfast. I saw jean and invited them to a campfire at our place tonight.

I try to finish the difficult Thursday crossword “SOS on Titanic DahDahDahDitDit”. Couldn’t figure it out. We go to Mayson’s for lunch; excellent Meat and Tomato Pasta Soup! We get propane on the way back at BP. The guy was just coming out to fill another bottle. $24.00. I get a paper and cough drops too. We go into the liquor store where Bob gets Killian’s. I get Butter Nipple fixin’s. The guy asks us if we want to sample some wines! Bad Dog Pinot Noir for Bob and California Oakwood merlot for me. ($5.99 a bottle.) He’s trying to find something affordable to drum up business.

Back home Lars comes by, he’s home from work. Bob invites him to the campfire. We read the paper and I make White Chocolate Amaretto Cheeseball. Diane and Wayne come home. Bob goes out and stops them from putting their boat in our campfire site. I walk over to ask Ron and Gail but they just left. Later I catch them-they went to Salty Dog. Benita and Justin are coming over and they’re going to do a drive-by of their pending new home. They may join us later at the campfire.

Around 5:00 Bob starts the fire. The wood is wet so it’s kind of smoky. We gather up twigs up on the hill. Cindy and Lars see the smoke and come on down. Cindy and I walk down to get kindling and Lars’ axe he splits our big logs. The fire gets going. Soon Wayne and Diane join us. Then Jean arrives with Butter Nipples. Dick is right behind with chairs and wine. Wayne gets his metal poker and a coconut (actually a big rock to put the fire ring on.)

Jeff and Ryan join us (he just arrived in “The Little Shit House.”) Later little Seth joins us. Jeff brings slab wood and amps up our fire. Ron and Gail join us just before 9:00 after a DQ stop. The rain sprinkles several times but we don’t get rained out. We break up at 9:15. It’s 10:08 p.m. and 49 degrees with 37% humidity. High 61, low 49.

Saturday, September 18, 2010 Taste of Pequot and River View Pub Party Up at 7:00 and still on the air bed-3 nights in a row. Only one coughing fit woke me up last night so I’m making progress. Work crossword. Dick walks by with Wilson and we agree to 11:30, they’ll pick us up.

At 11:25 Dick calls and they come by for us. Park in front of Wild Hair and walk through the tents around Pequot’s Visitor Center. Nice arts and crafts but no loitering as the smells from The Taste of Pequot booths beckon. Jean has time to buy cute ‘fish’ socks for Sophie.

We all decide on pulled pork sandwiches with Cole slaw from Timberjack. No free tables so we devour them standing. Bob and I buy legume soup mix at the fudge stand for $6.00. We all walk around the shops in Pequot Lakes. At Celtic Shop Jean buys Irish cover gloves. At Brambleberry we pick out two coffees to share; “Kona Macadamia Nut” for me and “Moose Joose” for them. I get decaf “Nisswa Nice” for me and wild rice. Jean’s going to give me her wild rice casserole recipe.

We walk through funky gift stores and sample jalapeno jams at North Woods décor store. Stop in ice cream place. Jean and Dick split a cone. I wanted coffee but none made. Settle for water as I’m having a coughing fit. Bob decides to save his calories for tonight. Jean says she made German Chocolate Cake. Dick’s nice enough to cruise by the post office so I can mail a card. Home by 3:00.

I make Corn Casserole. We finish tough NY Times crossword. Bob’s on-line (after we stack firewood and bring in the tablecloth from last night.) It’s 4:10 p.m. and 56 degrees with 31% humidity. Really feels like fall. Low 40 this morning.

Around 5:00 we head to the Pub with a cheeseball. Everybody is gathering. Roger and Ellen are here (she tells of deer tick bite and blood poisoning this summer.) Cindy and Lars are by the fire. Marilyn introduces Jerry, Lois, a co-worker and Kay who lives on Norway. Met Mike and Dan, 4-wheel guys. Jean comes with her two German Chocolate Cakes! Ron comes to me after a while and says “You didn’t tell me your “Salmon Shit” was White Chocolate!

Ryan and Darlene, John and Seth, Caroline, Jamie and her grandmother (later she goes to get her little dog around the fire) all join us. Drew, a Pine River musician, entertains us around the fire after our feast. We enjoy fall-off-the-bone ribs, Jean’s hash browns, Caroline’s Pasta Salad (Curly’s feeling better-had the flu-bad year for them as he had a heart attack earlier right here in the RV Park.), we actually have four pasta salads and one is better than the other (I love the hard salami and pencil-round pepperoni), Cindy’s potato salad, Diane’s great Wild Rice, baked beans, Carol’s Cole slaw, Gail’s scalloped Corn, (she comes just as we’re all done eating-got off work early around 7:30.)

We gather around the fire for singing. Drew knew Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Townes Van Zandt (he did Pancho & Lefty), Johnny Cash, and some oldies (This Land is Your Land, Feelin’ Groovy, Ain’t Misbehaving, Almost Heaven West Virginia and Me Upon My Pony on My Boat. I’m in heaven. Feel like I’m jamming back in Austin, TX.

Jamie Cranks up Lady Gaga, Jeff cranks up the fire. Bob and I head home at 10:00. It’s cool away from the fire. It’s 11:02 p.m. and 45 degrees with 50% humidity. High 61, low 40.

Sunday, September 19, 2010 Fall Fishing at the Lake Hacked all night on the air bed; feeling better but my chest is draining. I had 15 minute increments of sleep. Finally got three solid hours from 7:00 to 10:00 a.m. Slow going this morning, stretched but no walk. I see Dick pack up and leave around 10:30. Wilson hops in the front seat. I feel sorry for Jean left all alone.

I make chicken salad and pack a lunch then we head to the lake. I call Blair as we go out 44. No answer on the land line or cell. She must be at the laundry mat (or could be out in the canoe.) The mystery is over when we get to the gate. It’s locked but of course we have our key. I get the camera out and take shots of the changing colors.

We park by cabin 1, being careful to miss the flag pole. We load up the boat and head out. It’s weird for Blair not to be here to see us off. It’s fairly warm, overcast but we can see blue sky in the north. High 58, low 43. We didn’t get the frost last night that they predicted.

Bob catches several pike on a buzz bait and a couple of small bass. And one northern on a beetle spin saves me from being skunked. Two guys fishing on the dock in the cove by the ramp are the only other signs of life on the lake except for two loud loons in the same cove. They are actually screaming so loud those guys’ dog started barking at them.

We see Blair drive in around 2:45. At 3:15 we take a lunch break. She was in Backus at the laundry and Godfrey’s as well as a yard sale. She suggests pizza and pops a great Swann’s Florencia in the oven. We sit out by the fire barrel in the sun. The sky has cleared and the lake is calm as glass. Just as the pizza is done, Ann from across the lake arrives in her boat with her black dog. Blair’s pizza is delayed. At last they shove off but she returns in 15 minutes as she left her tie-downs at Blair’s dock and had to come back for them. Bob spies an eagle in the big pine by the dock.

Bob donates his 35-year hammer to Blair. He goes out fishing while Blair unloads her laundry. I take pictures and make tea. Blair and I download pictures off my camera; finally get it to auto-download. Then we deal out the Quiddler. Blair is ahead when Bob returns. We help him unload as he tells us he caught six nice bass.

We deal him in and start Quiddler over. Bob wins but we all get table stakes (Almond Joy and Butterfingers-me too in spite of dealing four hands for three players!) We hit the road at 8:30. It’s 9:40 pm. and 50 degrees with 50% humidity.

Monday, September 20, 2010 Housecleaning on a Rainy Day My Nyquil worked; I slept through the night on a full board. Housecleaning time today. Bob tackles the shower with ½ vinegar and ½ water that works well to take the hard spots off. Yeah! I make Ritz PB cookies with M & M’s. Then I clean myself up and take the trash out. I take a plate of cookies down to Jean so she can share them with her sister, Kay, who comes tomorrow. She invites me in for Chai tea and a chat. She tells her story of losing her brand new Samsung phone (one week old) yesterday at the laundry in Brainerd. Yikes! She drove back down there and found it. Someone found it on the parking lot and turned it in. By then she had called her service provider to lock her service. Just glad she got it back.

It’s 5:07 p.m. and 54 degrees with 85% humidity. High 54, low 45. I work on mail, we have leftovers and watch Inspector Lewis and the premier of Castle.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 Groceries and Val’s Soup Woke up at 8:30 in my own bed, no coughing all night (with a little help from my Nyquil.) I see Gail driving by and hop out to see if Ron’s ear surgery went okay. They made two passes and did stitches for repair. All is well. He went to work (after Tylenol with codeine!) Gail left the Chainsaw schedule at Jean’s since they are thinking about going.

After breakfast I take the recycle out and go for a walk. I run into Jean doing sheets at the laundry mat. She says to stop by for the schedule Gail gave her. She still plans a campfire tonight after 6:30.

Bob and I do respective chores; he tightens faucets and I do paperwork. We go to Timberjack for lunch. Tomato Basil Soup and fried Cheese Curds for me-oh bad, you can tell I’ve been sick. He has 1/3 rack of ribs special. On to SuperValu where I buy two bags of Honeycrisp apples thinking they were $1.99/bag. Turns out to be per pound. They are still a good price but I end up with $19.00 worth of apples!

Home to cook Val’s Unforgettable Hamburger Soup mix we got at Taste of Pequot. I also make chicken salad for tomorrow. I start to make Crispy Thingies while I’m on a roll but we got ground turkey instead of turkey sausage.

Bob cleans the inside, the nerf bars and the wheels of the truck. Diane and Wayne are doing the final two sides of their RV. Ron stops with his bandaged ear. Says he’s feeling okay but fell asleep while mowing the greens at the golf course while on codeine! He says they got their house!

I show Tony’s Seasoning to Diane as we discuss fajitas (she tried to make them one time.) We eat our soup, read the paper and Bob sets the recorder for two NICS premiers tonight. Around 6:45 we see flames under Jean’s RV in the firepit. So we gather our chairs and head over. We meet Kay, her sister (an assistant director of nursing half way between Bemidji and International Falls Minnesota-WAY UP NORTH!) Jean breaks out Butter Nipples and introduces Kay to them. She also brings out warm oatmeal cookies. Ron and Gail join us by the fire. We break up just before 9:00. It’s 8:55 p.m. and 53 degrees with 61% humidity.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 Blair Catches Creeping Crud Slept through the night with no coughing, in my own bed for the first time in a week-without Nyquil! Up at 7:30 to find a text from Blair from 4:15 this morning! She caught my cold; can’t sleep or breathe. I cannot tell you how bad I feel. I never should have gone out there. I text her back so I don’t wake her and ask what we can bring. When she answers I call her. Her cell has a weak signal and I lose her and call her on the land line (later I learn she had to get up to answer the land line-bummer!) I tell her we’ll be out later.

We get ready and go to our last breakfast at Cottage Café in Pine River. The blueberry pancakes are still great. We order Turkey Noodle soup to go for Blair. Back home I had packed up cough drops, throat lozenges, cough capsules, Kleenex and Honey Crisp Apples. The road on the way out is finally dry; it hasn’t rained in three whole days. So Bob’s clean truck doesn’t get too filthy.

Blair is up and in cabin 3 looking for a space heater that’s gone missing. She gives us a grab bag of presents. So sweet since she’s so sick. Two great blue and black socks (coozies) for our new aluminum water bottles fit perfectly and will keep our hands from getting cold. A cinnamon candle since she knows how I love the smell. Cute “Don’t Postpone Chocolate” notepad. A Hay Lake t-shirt (my size I’m sure, not Bob’s). A pocket screwdriver for Bob. It’s Christmas in September!

We pack up the boat and send her off for a nap (after we fill the gas can.) We troll out to the lilies by the docks. Bob catches a big northern. It’s sunny, partly cloudy with a chilly wind. He catches a 5 lb. bass on the back side of the island with a big, long, floating crankbait. We fish until 2:30 then come in for lunch. Blair joins us in cabin 1 but stays in the recliner. Said she enjoyed her mystery meat soup (turkey noodle we tell her) and then she had a nap. She sounds horrible and I feel so bad. Harve calls, then Gwen-she was hoping for a game day but no dice with Blair sick.

Doug and his two buddies from Missouri showed their pictures to their wives when they got home and now they all want to come! Another group of Hay Lake Regulars is born! We have Val’s hamburger soup and leave the rest for Blair. I made Grog coffee and we enjoyed Blair’s Toffee Pecans made with toffee glaze from Fleet Farm (a taste of Texas!) I tried her Kretcher’s Cranberry Nut Muffins-excellent!

We went back out to fish and she went off for another nap. We caught enough to keep it interesting. It’s completely cloudy now but warmer. Weird low clouds look like blankets. We find a hotspot at the end of the day out from Otter Cove. My new job is fish locator! I get one to chase my buzz bait and swipe at it; Bob throws his big crankbait in and catches my bass! At last we run out of daylight and head in just after 7:00. It’s sad to unload the boat for the last time. Blair must be catching some much-needed rest. We hate to sneak off. I leave her a note on the table in cabin 1 as we quietly leave around 7:30. We get home just after 8:00 and see no wildlife on the way. Our last late-night drive home to River View. Snacks, showers and hit the sack. It’s 8:50 p.m. and 54 degrees with 62% humidity. High 58, low 42.

Thursday, September 23, 2010 Rainy Laundry Day in Brainerd Drizzly all day. I walk in a slight drizzle. Low 51. Pack up 4 loads of laundry and head to Brainerd by 11:30. Go to Road/Trailers southeast of the water tower on 13th Street. They don’t have our Dexter wheel hubs. We stop in Walgreen’s for a paper and contact solution. On to the laundry as rain comes down. An anal old guy in there refolds a towel his poor wife just folded. Done quickly then have lunch at The Lodge. Special for Bob-pulled pork sandwich; grilled vege wrap and mushroom barley soup for me. We split sweet potato fries.

I have a text from Blair; she just got up. I call her and find she slept off and on. She sounds a little cheerier. Schwann’s guy comes so we ring off. We get fuel at Fleet Farm where Bob also finds the ‘perfect’ jacket. We drive home in a harder rain. I have a text message from my brother Mike in Texas. The Ranger’s magic number is 4!

We’re stowing laundry and groceries when Ron knocks. They’re going to DQ so we join them. Mini Blizzards for us. They have dinner. Bonnie and Wayne’s loan deal on their house fell through.

Back home to watch recorded NCIS and have Val’s Hamburger Soup. It’s flooding in southern MN. We may have to change our travel plans. It’s 10:45 p.m. and 53 degrees with 85% humidity. High 58.

Friday, September 24, 2010 6th Annual National Chainsaw Sculpting Invitational, Goodbye Hay Lake and Underdog’s Cloudy, drizzly. There’s a knock on the door just before 9:00 a.m. Diane and Wayne came to say goodbye. They are leaving for Belle Plain, down by The Cities, for the weekend to see there daughter Therese. They hope to meet up in Texas this winter.

I check email; have replies from Blair-no chainsaw event for her, still feeling too puny. And hear from Charlie and Kathy, she’s jealous of Bob’s Northern. And a note from Mike who just returned from Missouri (Bennett Springs fly fishing with Travis and a visit in St. Charles with Mom and Dad.)

I take out the recycle but it’s too cold and wet for a walk. I see Dick arrive as I send email. Later Jean says her sister left at 8:00 a.m. and was home by 11:00 with a stop for groceries!

It’s 12:30 by the time we leave for the Chainsaw Sculpting and only 49 degrees. The wind is blowing hard. Not to self: Don’t wear black velour pants and stand down-wind at a carving event—sawdust galore! We see ‘fake’ chainsaw event just past Backus but zoom by to downtown Hackensack for the real deal. We park by the tennis courts near Lucette (Paul Bunyan’s girlfriend.) There’s a crowd of about 100. Six competitors are set up in booths including a couple from Eldon, MO-Tim and Karen Barker. I liked her one-sided bench with a squirrel holding an acorn the best!

At 1:30 each competitor has one and one half hours in the speed carving event. We watched for 20 minutes. It’s freezing so we ducked inside Sweets Café. I get the second biggest bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins and a huge buckwheat pancake. Bob has taco salad. Lots of people ducked in here to get warm. The gal making radio announcements for the event is set up inside by the front door.

We go back out into the cold at 2:30 and are amazed at the transformation of the 8-foot tall 2 ½-foot diameter tree stumps they started with. They are now works of art. They can only use the chainsaws for 1 ½ hours. There are five to ten different sizes and varieties of saws-all Stihl! The competitors have fashioned a log cabin and pine tree, a bear cub peaking out of a hollow tree stump, the gal’s squirrel bench, a bear, and an eagle.

Each artist is also working all day (9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.) on a master art piece to be auctioned off Sunday. The highest price realized at the auction wins the competition. They are all very talented and work really hard. This event is quite physical. It’s 3:15 and not time for the rail-splitting competition until 4:00 so we browse the shops in Hackensack.

At 4:00 we take a seat in the bleachers for the Pro-Am Rail Splitting. Eight-foot logs are to be split into six pieces with an axe by hand. The winner has a time of 3 minutes and 57 seconds. Second place is over 7 minutes.

We’re cold and done for the day. We head to the lake. I text Blair as we turn at Godfrey’s. I get a voice message from Jean and call her back. They’re doing happy hour and said to call them later if we’re free.

The fall colors are gorgeous on 87 past Salty Dog as the sun finally breaks through. High only 55 degrees. We get to the lake around 4:30 and there’s no sign of Blair. We bail the boats out as quite a bit of rain water has collected. After 20 minutes she emerges from Cabin 4.

We all go in to stay warm and have one last visit. She sounds better. We tell her about the carving competition and give her the soup we brought and zinc lozenges. She shares apple cider and toffee pecans. The sun stream in and the lake looks incredible. We’re never up here this late in the year. Blake called and has a new Mitchell drill. He got the pole saw fixed reasonably in Bemidji. He’ll be her next Friday.

I remember to give her the key back. We settle our bill. I give her a quick video lesson on her camera. I actually get a cell phone call that comes through at the lake for the first and last time this year. Gail and Ron are wondering where we are. They are heading to Tasty Pizza. We have to pass. Maybe we’ll meet up before we leave.

We sure hate to say farewell to Blair as we reminisce about our fun summer. We have tearful goodbyes. I try to be strong since she feels so poorly. She gives us a hay Lake send-off that makes me feel like she’s getting better.

The sunset it beautiful as we leave-how appropriate! A grouse runs down the road ahead of us. We pull into River View and see no sign of Dick and Jean so I call them. Dick says they are at Underdog’s. They went for Happy Hour and stayed to eat and watch the Twins game. I say we’ll join them.

We find them at a table by the door. The folks next to us want to know about my Hay Lake shirt-is it upper or lower? I say no idea-I’m from Texas and a friend gave it to me. It was nice of Dick and Jean to hang around while we have a bite and catch up a few brews with them. Blue Moon draft for me and New Castle Ale draft for Bob. We split Walleye Divers and have Beef Barley Soup-heaven! Then I switch to Bailey’s and coffee with Dick and Jean. Fun time. Detroit massacres Twins 10-0. Our second massacre today!

We say hi to Wilson waiting patiently in the car. Jean is missing Tom Selleck’s new series premier “Blue Bloods” at 9:00. We watch recorded NCIS LA and crash It’s 11:23 p.m. and very chilly. We can’t believe we pack up tomorrow.

Saturday, September 25, 2010 Packing Up to Head South Woke up at 5:15; got up at 6:00. Couldn’t go back to sleep thinking about Movin’ On Down the Road. I finish reading The Jungle Book. Low was 45 last night, very chilly. The sun doesn’t appear until around noon. It’s too chilly to walk; I just take out the trash and return to stretch. Breakfast, shower then Bob goes outside to hose off the patio, bikes, etc. and put all of the fishing gear down under. I go out to wipe down the lawn chairs and bikes. The dang gnats are terrible.

Jean and Dick are getting ready to head to Cross Lake and Hackensack today. She comes down to give me her Wild Rice recipe-how nice of her to share! She says they’ll try to have a fire tonight.

I go inside and pack up the décor. It echoes in here. Bob finishes checking the fluid and air levels. He cleans up. Around 1:30 I walk over to see if Ron and Gail will join us for a beer at Underdog’s. Poor Gail is sick and just leaving for work. Yikes! Ron is having a beer at his son’s game night tonight so he passes on Underdog’s since he is on antibiotics for his ear surgery. He’s doing okay he says. I give Gail a hug; Ron says he’ll try to join us at the campfire tonight.

Bob and I head to lunch at Underdog’s. Prime Steak Sandwich with Jo-Jo fries for him. Grilled chicken with mushrooms and Swiss cheese for me with a cup of Beef Barley Soup. Very good. College football is on. An older gent comes in and sits at the bar with a Mission, TX, jacket on.

We see a wreck (guy with a truck and trailer on the wrong side of the highway) just before Pequot. We go to the car wash just after SuperValu. Get an early Sunday paper at BP and head home to read it. It’s 3:36 p.m. and 57 degrees with 58% humidity. The high for the day so far. We bring in the bikes. I check email (1950’s White Sport Coat & Pink Carnation from Dick and Danny Kaye’s Court Jester from Blair.) Leftovers.

We see a fire at Dick and Jean’s. Bob takes them our leftover firewood. I take PB Ritz cookies. Hugs for Wilson-he gets his tail in the fire. Jeff and Jamie come by with slab wood. Ron comes back from his son’s Dungeons and Dragons weekend. The chili was too hot-jalapenos and habaneras. Wow! Way up North! Gail comes home from work and joins us around 7:30 in spite of being sick. Ryan and John join us too. They golfed at White Birch. Fun evening. Hate to see it all end.

Sunday, September 26, 2010 Movin’ On Back Down to Faribault, MN-Leaving with the Loons Up at 7:20 a.m., 42 degrees. I walk early and see Ryan and John out packing up to leave. I say farewell. Then go home and back outside to snap a picture of The Titanic with the autumn colors surrounding us. When I come in I have a voice message from Blair. I’m sorry I missed her. It’s too sad to leave.

We have breakfast. As I’m doing the dishes, Jeff knocks and gives us our electric bill (four days short of a month=$65, not too bad considering the temps and me sleeping in the living room for a week with the second heater going.) He brings my blue oven mitt that I left at the Pub Party-how nice! And I write down our email address for Marilyn. She’s working today.

Gail knocks as I finish the dishes. She has a surprise ‘chocolate treat’ and a S’mores recipe book (interesting, and different pumpkin S’more.) How cute. It’s so hard to say good bye. Ron’s at work and doesn’t make it home before we leave at 11:08.

We pack up with no problem. The sun warms things up. It promises to be a gorgeous day. We pull around and stop at Dick and Jean’s. They hop out to say so long. I say bye to Wilson too. Dick gets his camera and takes a picture of us with Big Bertha and The Titanium. I snap a pic of them. We run over and give Gail one more hug by her picnic table. And then we’re off.

Glorious fall colors until Brainerd. We take 15 at St. Cloud to I-94. We stop between Royalton and Rice for fuel and the buffet at Twin Pines. Great Beef Dumplin’ Soup, salad bar (Ramie noodle slaw had the noodles cooked and added peas and sunflower seeds with an olive oil dressing.)

Not too much traffic through The Cities. We see Belle Plain as we go south on I-35 (Wayne and Diane’s daughter lives there.) We stop at a rest area at exit 76 on I-35. Only 20 more miles to our exit #56 at Faribault. Total miles of 201. The guy in the office is very friendly (not the guy I talked to on the phone.) He lets us choose a site (#13.) We’re set up by 4:20. It’s 71 degrees when we get out at the rest area. Yeah! It’s 5:11 p.m. and 66 degrees here at the RV Park.

Bob is scanning for TV channels and cussing. I get a text and pics from Mike of Texas Rangers American West Champs hat. He says he needs a new 2010 hat. Leftovers, walk and crash. While I walk I call Mike and we have a nice chat. He’s glad I’m back in the real world with cell service. I also call Blair and left a voice message. She calls back. I had to put shoes on and go outside to get a signal. The sun went down and I ran back for a coat. Nice chat with her. Her cousin Tom in California gave her an email solution to a friend’s facebook issues. A pop-up Bambi, small slide-in pulls in on our curbside. Can’t believe our Summer Up North is over.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

June 20 - Sept 26, 2010 Summer Up North In Minnesota

Sunday, June 20, 2010, No TV, No US Open, Last Day in Prairie du Chein, WS Up at 6:30. Finished reading latest Owen Perry, "but let that bide." Very tired and draggy. Grateful we don't have to move as we watch all the campers in the "transit" section pack up and leave around us. Bob skips breakfast. I have oatmeal around 9:30. Stretch, shower, lounge.

One of the cute transits next to us

We leave for lunch around 1:30. All sites are empty around us. Three cute little dogs are playing Frisbee down the way-one dominates. We go to Family Restaurant east of 18 in Prairie du Chein. It's not any better than the one closest to us but it's hopping for Father's Day. So-so catfish for me, grilled ham for Bob. We both enjoyed Beef Cabbage Soup. Go boxes. Stop at Holiday Gas. Diesel pump won't work. I go inside for the Sunday Dubuque paper. Gas goes out but can't get the pump to work. We move to diesel pump on the other end. Finally she gives Bob a 10 cents per gallon discount for his troubles.

We're home by 3:00. A big diesel pusher I saw go by with a matching toad out the restaurant window is in the site right next to us curbside. The entire rest of the park is empty! We were hoping to pull out that way. No change now. It's 3:07 p.m. We put the A/C on as it's 77 degrees with 52% humidity. High 80, low 65.

Movin' On to Faribault, MN 2010 we head to Minnesota for the entire summer. This will be our longest stay in one place since we started full-time RVing seven years ago as we end up staying in Pine River until September 26th. It was nice to settle in some place that feels so much like home. This is our third summer over the last six years to call River View RV Park in Pine River, MN, home.We were welcomed back by old friends and made some grand new friends as well. It's 88 degrees with high humidity as we set up camp. Our friends say it's the first time it's been warm this year. They had eight inches of snow the first week of May! The summer turns out to be cooler and rainier than we have experienced in the past up here. But of course there are many perfect days with Minnesota clouds throughout the summer.I'll try to post a pictorial summary of all of our fishing, eating, cycling and general partying. One of the highlights of being up here is to visit our good friend Blair at Hay Lake and see the whole gang up there all summer. So here goes...

Monday, June 21, 2010, Movin' On to Faribault, MN Up at 6:00. Not much to pack up. I read, stretch, have coffee, Crispy Thingies for breakfast. Pack up with no problem and hit the road by 10:45. We thought about waiting around for a half hour to time the drive through Rochester but decided to just go ahead. Good decision. It starts sprinkling as we pull out of the campground onto Hwy K. But it never gets too bad all day.

We follow 35 north on the Great River Road past the 82 bridge to Lansing and we're in new territory. Hwy 35 is good all the way. We make a left turn on 14/61 in LaCrosse. It's an easy turn but we didn't know about the right turn across the River to Minn. Bob figured it out on the fly and we connected with I-90 west towards Rochester. Five miles before that we stop at a rest area for PBJs, trail mix, and cookies; already had an apple in the truck on the way.

Rochester is easy, just a traffic light. Take 14 west to I-35. If we turned south it's a long way to Austin, TX, on I-35! But we go north for only 16 miles, past Owatonna where we went to Cabela's two years ago and looked at Heartland RVs at a dealership there. Now we have our new Titanium. Time flies. On to Faribault, exit 56 south on Western to Camp Faribo RV Resort and Campground, 21851 Bagley Ave., Faribault, MN 55021 (517) 332-8453. We paid $$29.84 with our Good Sam discount for one night. The camp host leads us to a "pull thru" by the playground. In fact, our backyard is the playground!

We set up in a sprinkling rain. The slides all work-Yeah! We had a much better move this time. Head into town. Can only find pizza places. The gas station only has #2 diesel. We finally find Ultra Low Sulpher and fill up. I get a Minnesota Star Tribune and look in the Yellow Pages but find no restaurants. We give up and go to Perkin's near I-35 exit 56. Apricot Glazed Salmon for me. Afterwards I find a voice message from Jeff at River View RV Park in Pine River, our next destination. He has site #8 for us tomorrow. How nice of him to call.

Home to finish unpacking and set up. I download pictures from the reunion and name them until 7:00. It's fun to see them all. The scenery is breathtaking in Lansing. Bob airs up the tires. We watch Lie to Me and The Good Guys. Yes, we have phone and TV channels! But still no Internet connection. You can't have everything. It's 9:20 p.m. and 71 degrees with 61% humidity. High 86, low 69.

Summer Solstice; the sun will be up for 15 hrs 36 min. That's almost 7 hours more than the Winter Solstice.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010, Movin' On Back to Pine River, MN Up at 6:30. It's hard mentally to move again today but I tell myself it's the last time for three months. Stretch, breakfast, pack up without incident. Leave by 9:30; early for us. We're 30 miles south of Minneapolis and want to get through there before the lunchtime traffic around 494 loop. All of the road construction is done now so it is way easier. North on 94 (2 left lanes go to I-94, but it's best to be in the far left lane due to merging traffic on the right.) I-94 is still bouncy. We intend to cross the Mississippi River to 10 at Monticello like last time but a construction sign says 10 is under construction all the way to St. Cloud-choose an alternate route. So we stay on I-94 'til Hwy 15 at St. Cloud (we stop at the rest area before St. Cloud and enjoy a break.) We take 15 around the west side of St. Cloud and see restaurants but they're not too accessible with the RV.

So we continue north on 10 to Rice and eat at Twin Pines where we ate 2years ago. The food is way better. They have the buffet again with 2 soups; beef barley and wild rice chicken. Polish sausage and kraut and ribs on the buffet. Great veges and salad. We get diesel next door. The gal at the checkout says they just had a $0.00 drive off.

We go north on 371 through Brainerd in familiar territory. It's fun to see old haunts. We spy the Paul Bunyan Trail at Nisswa. Arrive in Pine River at 2:30 and back into site #8 (one site between us and Wayne and Diane.) All sites are full but no one is here.

It's 88 degrees with very high humidity as we set up. We turn the A/C on first thing and get the LaFuma's out to sit on our concrete patio as we wait for the RV to cool down. We walk down and knock on Cindy's door. Great to see her. We sit outside at her place and Bob cranks up the patio umbrella for some shade. Lars gets home from work a bit later. Bob gives him a tour of the Titanic.

Soon Gail drives in with Bonnie (our next door neighbor.) Gail comes over to say hi and give us a hug then goes home to put her groceries away. Ron soon comes home (found his lost wallet under the tractor seat at the golf course.) Him and Gail come over ad join us at Lars and Cindy's. Bonnie, then her husband, Wayne, joins us too. They owned an RV Park at Lake of the Ozarks 15 years ago. They have been full-time now for seven years as they sold their RV Park.

We chat in the heat and humidity 'til Ron, Gail, Wayne and Bonnie go to Tuesday Taco night. Bob and I go home to get our bikes out of the living room. We have TV channels! Leftovers for dinner. I put up decor. Jeff knocks around 8:00 when he's done cutting grass just to say hi. Cindy told us his Dad passed away suddenly a few weeks ago. Sounds like his Mom is doing ok. We wave at Jamie as she finishes the grass. It's 10:30 p.m. and 74 degrees with 52% humidity. High 88, low 62. Heavy rain, wind and hail predicted.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010, Laundry, The Bungalow and Cleaning the Rig Slept like a rock. Up at 7:30. Unpack laptop. Very disappointed-no connection. No storms last night like they predicted. Sprinkles this morning. Early morning walk for me. Catch up with Wayne and Diane. They were in Arizona this winter with their daughter.

Breakfast back home, pack up four loads of laundry with bedding. Drive to Emily, MN> Lunch at Bungalow, better than we remembered even. Tasty split pea soup fills us up. I only eat 1/4 of my Rachel on marble rye. Bob takes home 1/2 of his grilled chicken salad.

We get a Minn Star Tribune at the gas station on the corner. Go to laundry mat; the crowd has cleared out since we drove by on the way here. I call Blair while the clothes are drying and apparently chat just a bit too long as all the dryers are finished and Bob's on overload. Blair is thrilled we're here. Doug's family is here for a week beginning Friday.

Home by 2:30 or so. Stow clothes. I go out and clean bugs and road splatter off the RV from our journey here. Bob comes out to clean the inside of the truck. Lars and Cindy come down and we give Cindy a tour of the Titanic as we all rush inside as the raindrops start falling. We chat and Lars asks about our digital picture frame. We explain about SD cards since they may get one for their daughter Amy. They leave us to our work and we finish up as the sun comes out. Read the paper, watch The Suicide Tourist on PBS. It's 9:10 p.m. and 69 degrees with 52% humidity.
Thursday, June 24, 2010, Cycle 19 Miles to Timber Jack Thursday Soup Bar One of the first things we did this week was to cycle 19 miles on the Paul Bunyan Trail. Over the course of this summer we cycle 540 miles (435 of those here around Pine River.) In the fall on our way south we stop in SE Minnesota and cycle some more. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We are thrilled to find that the Paul Bunyan Trail is now completed from Guthrie to Walker (an additional 16.5 miles) so the entire trail is now 116 miles from Crow Wing State Park in Brainerd/Baxter to Cross Lake State Park in Bemidji! We are about smack dab in the center of that 116 miles.

Snapped these pics of a field of white flowers that looked like snow on our first cycle to Nisswa. Good thing I did; they were played out the next time we cycled byWe stop and get family fishing licenses which are $53.00 this year (up $3.00 from two years ago.)

Friday, June 25, 2010, Happy Times at Hay Lake We just have to visit Blair at Hay Lake. The logging she warned us about on the road to the island is not as bad as we feared. Jimmy and Ron are here; Jan and Julie are on the way. And we get to meet Blake's girl friend Kelsey. It's so great to be back.

On our first day fishing at Hay Lake I get this shot of a loon with her babies. We get to watch them grow up all summer.

One of the reasons we love it up here--nothing ever changes. Especially the beauty! As you can see, Bob's flag pole is still standing too!

Blair looks proud sporting here new loon shirt

Blake and Kelsey on the paddle boat

Bob, Doug, Blake and Kelsey relax around the fire

Blair surprises me with this fabric bass plate made in St. Louis. She knows I love to serve my famous cheeseballs on a cute plate.

How many Hay Lake perfect sunset pictures will I take in a whole summer?

Saturday, June 26, 2010 Chores back at the RV Park in Pine River. I redecorated for 4th of July and just had to post this picture of Don and Reva's (our new friends we just met in Indiana who hail from Abilene) handmade salt & pepper holder. Don makes the wooden holders and Reva makes the 'curtains.' You can change the curtains for the seasons or holidays. There is a napkin holder to match!

Don and Reva's salt & pepper holder with 4th of July curtains

Here's the napkin holder with an apple motif.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sept. 27 - Oct 12, 2010 Fall Down South in Minnesota,

Monday, September 27 "New Wireless Card and Two Sets of Golf Clubs" I get up at 6:45. It's Always weird to wake up to lught coming in different windows the first day after a move. The electricity is inclued in the weekly rate so weleft the heater on in the living room last night. It's nice to be 64 degrees in there this morning instead of 48! I enjoyed the sunrise through the streetside windows as I sipped Moose Joose from Brambleberry in Pequot Lakes-thank Dick and Jean!

We never moved the bikes outside yesterday so strething was a challenge after my walk. After breakfast and showeres we hit the road with our laptop, Bob's maps, itinerary and game plan he made while browsing the net in Pine River. It's a good thing as our wireless coard is not working here.

Our first stop is AT&T on Hwy 60 in Faribault-of course there's road construction. Thad, a brand new employee, get's Rashan's help-he's the guru of all things wireless. He would not give up until he proved our wireless card was the culprit. He used his laptop, changed the Sims card, used our laptop (yes, he touched our laptop-you hear that at AT&T in Baxter?!)

We left with a new card that has an extension cord to the USB port (he said we can look at Sierra Wireless on-line for an antenna) and a new 2-year plan. I looked at new phones (my off button is cracked, but decided to wait as there are no great deals at the moment.)

Next it's downtown to Central Ave. to Gran Plaza Mexican Grill Bob had scoped it out on the Web. I have Mochajeta (shrimp, chicken and beef-huge) good, but not as good as El Rodeo in Lampasas.

Fortified from lunch we head north on 21 to I-35 to Bloomington, just south of the 494 loop around The Cities to Show Car. The place is closed up. I dial a number posted on the building and the guy says he'll be there in 15 minutes (he had to pick his kid up at school.) We find restrooms in an archery park nearby and drive back. He's there and calls Eagle about our center caps for the wheels on the RV. The guy looking up the number says it's out of stock but they may have replacements. He takes our phone number and says he'll call us but never does. Hmmm...

We have a voice message from AT&T-forgot to charge us $60.00-Geez! On to Minnetonka, west loop of 494, east on I-394 to Ridgedale and (10,000 used golf clubs.)2nd Swing Simon, one of the owners helps us both find the perfect fit, lie, length and match for our swings. We get to hit them, put tape on the clubheads and he adjusts the lie of the sole of the club. I even get a few swing tips. Calloway irons for Bob; Taylormade irons for me. We;re both very happy. We're out of there at 5:20. Simon directs us to Redstone American Grill further south on Ridgedale. Fine dining, good food, pricey salads. Waldorf Salad on baby spinach for me. Chicken Salad for Bob. We split a great cornbread wedge.

Around 6:00 p.m. we head back. Traffic not too bad by this late. There's a backup at 169 due to the bridges over the Minnesota River that are closed at 101 and 41 due to the flooding. They are diverting 32,000 cars a day to 35W.

We make it home in just under an hour to watch House. I return Glenda's call but have to go outside to get a signal. It's nice to chat with her. It's 9:02 p.m. and 60 degrees with 56% humidity. High 75, low 46.

Tuesday, September 28 "Driving Range, Bernie's Grill, Antiques and HyVee" Low 52. On my walk this morning a passed a bearded guy with a big dog but he wouldn't even acknowledge me even though he is in the motor home on our curbside. Go figure. I see him and his wife packing up and leaving later.

Bob goes out and puts his new clubs in his golf bag. I get a call from Patti. Bernie had his first blacksmithshow last weekend. Jackie Monat in Iowa had a baby girl, Adalyn. After I check email I go put my new irons in my golf bag. I need to axe two clubs since I have a gap wedge now and a five iron is back in my set.

We go woutheast to a golf course/driving range on Straight River. Several holes are under water from the flooding. We get two small buckets of balls (one at a time) and hit them at the driving range. Wow! 15 to 20 years of technology has really improved golf irons! I hit them way farther (Bob too and way higher) that is when I manage to hit the sweet spot. It's a perfect day with a high of 72.

We head downtown and cross the bike trails twice, ending up at Bernie's Grill below the Vintage Ballroom & Hotel. Great food-snippy waitress. Chicken Primavera Pasta for me; spaghetti with meat sauce for Bob and we both get parmesan cheese garlic toast with our entrees. Spend 1 1/2 hours downtown in the antique shop, finding old tees in a box with a scorecard on the box, decals, postcards and Wilson golf coasters.

On to HyVee Grocery, a nice store, out in $81.00 (cheaper than SuperValu!) Home, watch NCIS, Good Wife. It's 8:36 p.m. and 58 degrees with 57% humidity.

Tuesday, September 28 "Cycle 16 Miles Sakatah State Trail" Before cycling we hit Bernie's Grill for breakfast. We split eggs/sausage/hashbrowns/French toast and three "Famous Cheese Blueberry Pancakes." We get our same snooty waitress but she's more attentive today. The pancakes are no where near as good as Cottage Cafe's blueberry pancakes in Pine River.

We stop at AT&T Store where Thad cheerily copies my documents for our rebate. We fill up with diesel at HyVee and then get home to find 15 cents off per gallon coupon stuck in the HyVee receipt from yesterday. Bummer. We load up the bikes on the truck rack (they are finally out of the living room!) as a young guy blows leaves and vacuums them up. It seems pointless as they are falling in droves. We go south on 93 to 39 to 17 to the trail head parking on Cannon Lake. The wind is whipping up whitecaps straight at us. A guy on a racing bike is loading up. We ask him if the trail is open with all the flooding. He only knows the two trails in town have closings due to the flood (that was Plan A for him so he goes to Plan B.)

Bob checks out the high water of Cannon Lake

We take off on Sakatah (Dakota word meaning Singing Hills) Bike Trail going west from Faribault to Morristown. He passes us on our second break. We stop on the bridge over Cannon Lake to snap a picture of the high water. We go a little past Morristown to Maiden Rock West Campground (daily camping); Maiden Rock East is seasonal camping, private, gated sites only. We ride our bikes through and only see two RVs there but of course the place closes soon. We go a little further west then turn around.

I snap a pic of the trail signs with a hunter symbol! Yikes! No wonder the guy at the trealhead parking put a bright neion orange construction vest on before he pedaled off.

Remnants of my cold make breathing difficult. I feel like my lungs are half full of water. I haven't cycled in two months. On the way back I gall 1/4 mile behind until I figure out my rear brake was dragging. I thought I was weak from my cold and not having cycled. Whew, I'm glad I'm not a complete wimp. It is very windy. We stop for cookies one mile from the end of the trail. A dog is barking in a nearby yard and mosquitos mobbed us. There is road construction at the trail head. We got through but missed 39 and stayed on 17. I dug the map out of my bike pack and we took 15 to 18 to 39 to 93 home. Geez! Arriving at 4:00, we devoured pasta leftovers from Bernie's yesterday.

In a burst of energy Bob changes the water filter and finds it rusty red! I clean bugs off the front of the RV and my arms give out. We put the bikes in the 'carport.' High 74 today. It's 5:36 p.m. and 70 degrees with 34% humidity.

Thursday, September 30 "Golf 9 Holes at Straight River, Faribault, MN" We head to lunch at Rock Island Depot, opened by their chef last Spring. The place is booming and we know why. Our hostess asked if we wanted to sit outside and then chuckled as she noted the box elder beetles everywhere. I have the Craisin Raisin Salad, heavenly with grilled chicken, hunks of blue cheese, candied walnuts, cran raisins, homemade poppyseed dressing. I also have a cup of tomato basil soup-Wow! We'll be back. Bob has 1.2 Cajun spicy turkey sandwich, chips and the soup.

On to Straight River Golf Course (whoever named this river had a sense of humor, it's the crookedest river we ever saw.) We had to play the back nine holes as the front has some flooded holes. First we hit a bucket of balls with our new irons. It's fun to play with new clubs. We're both pretty happy with our selections. This is a short, executive course at 1,795 yards for me and 2050 yards for Bob. We're home by 4:00. It's 68 degrees with 22% humidity!

Friday, October 1 "Mall of America" Today we head to Bloomington, MN just east of 35W on 494 loop to take in Mall of America for the first time for both of us. I seem to be more excited than Bob! After much circling we park in garage P3-Indiana and take the walkway to Sears where we consult the directory. We're right by Ruby Tuesday, one of our favorite lunch spots, so we have a salad first thing. Well, right after I take a few pictures of Nickelodeon Theme Park.

At Ruby Tuesday's I ask to change tables in the bar area so we can watch early first day Ryder Cup Matches. It's tied 2 and 2, U.S. and Europe. After our favorite salad bar we're ready to tackle the Mall. It has over 520 stores and is known as the Taj Mahal of the U.S with four stories and four wings-N,S,E and W.

We wander and get our bearings. Bob finds a flyfishing Minnesota shirt for half price but we never find our loon suncatcher. We both hunt for shoes but no dice. I have fun at Nordstrom's Rack hunting for coats and shoes-Nada. The Lego place is being remodeled and will be open in Nov. 2010. What a bummer-everyone told me not to miss that.

We break for beverages. Bob sits by the theme park as I hunt for Caribou Coffee and rejoin him with my java. Then we wander up, down and around. I burn Bob out. He sits by the mini golf mountain and I check out Marshall's and meet him at 5:00. Where has the day gone?

Dinner time so we head down to level 1 to Tucci Benucci (Dick and Jean recommended this Italian place.) Bob has Chicken Penne Rustica and I have Butternut Squash Ravioli with apple cider sauce. Both were excellent. We pass on the wine our friends bragged about since we have a long drive home through The Cities.

We find our way back to our parking space and are on our way home by 6:00. Traffic is heavy on 494 but okay on 35S.

I take sunset pics on the way home. The RV Park is full when we return. Campers are surrounding us now. There is a campfire on our streetside with 8 or 10 people around it. It makes me homesick for Riverview! I have a voice message from Blair. She got my loon mobile card. And she has a campfire going waiting for her dock crew to come.

Saturday, October 2 "Ryder Cup from Wales" According to the local news, Sept 2010 is Minnesota's wettest on record with an average of 6.46 inches of rain, exceeding 10 inches in many towns. Marshall had 30 inches of rain!

I wake up at 3:00 a.m. and read until 5:00 a.m. then slept on the couch 'til 7:30. The Ryder Cup was rained out yesterday afternoon. The US is leading after the morning matches, 6-4. They don't have time to finish the second matches. They played 6 matches for the first time in history (usually 2 players from each team sit out.!) Europe is up in all six afternoon matches and play is suspended at 7:00 p.m. their time (1:00 p.m. here.)

I call Pleasant Valley Campground in Preston. Galen calls back ad says they have water and electric site only for a week. We clean up and go to Depot Grill for lunch. Grilled Salmon Sandwich for me with sweet potato fries and a heavenly lemon basil mayo on my sandwich-outstanding! Bob has tuna melt and tomato basil/seafood bisque.

We take a drive along Legacy Golf course on our way home, east of the river. The trees are gorgeous with fall colors. We get diesel at HyVee and use our 15 cents per gallon off this time (too bad we only needed 10 gallons.) It's chilly with a high of 53 and a low of 45. Our streetside neighbors are out by the fire all day with big jackets. They had breakfast on the picnic tables around 9:00 and lunch outside as we left for lunch and they are still out there. The gals went shopping and the guys hung big blue tarps between the back of the one motorhome and 5th wheel to block the cold northwest wind.

It's 3:25 p.m. and 53 degrees with 30% humidity. We bring in the bikes around 6:00. A guy around the campfire next door tries to come around the Titanic and find su but we're already inside. I go for a walk in spite of the cold. Lots of the seasonal campers are having fires. Three older couples next to us don't say a word when I wave. Whatever...

Sunday, October 3 "Movin' On to Preston, MN" Ryder Cup is rain delayed until 7:30 a.m. our time, it was supposed to hve started at 3:00 a.m. I'm kind of glad when I get up at 7:00. U.S. is behind in all six matches and we only pull out 1/2 match. Bob says he got up in the middle of the night and found te water not flowing. He turned on the water pump to go on our internal freshwater holding tank. When he gets up at 8:30 he goes outside (with more help than he wanted from the streetside neighbor-Texas Valley snowbirds who wanted to camp here this weekend in MN and found Camp Faribo was the only campground in the area open due to the flooding. Bob gets our hose thawed out between the spigot and our filter ad we're back in business.

Our indoor/outdoor thermometer says the low was 35-that thing must be wrong if our water froze. Although our neighbors say theirs wasn't frozen. They all pack up and leave by 10:30. I see the last couple in the 5th wheel kicking leaves and searching all ove the campsite-maybe they lost keys, or jewelry? They finally leave in their rig.

We pack up while watching the Ryder Cup. U.S. 6 1/2, Europe 12 1/2. We shut it off and leave. Have to get out on 93 out of campground as our steps are sticking out a little. I shove them all the way in and we're off. South on I-35 16 minutes to exit 40, Hwy. 14 around the outer loop of Rochester, south on 52 through Chattfield to one mile north of Preston where we find Valley View RV Park, Hwy 52, Preston, MN 55965. The park is on the side of a hill on the left going south. A sign in the office says choose a site. We walk around and scope out site #40, a pull-thru that is water and electric only. We say hi to a few neighbors, a gal and a dog. One of the co-owners finally comes over. Galen and the other co-owner are working on the new expansion sites.

We set up, meet Caroline next door who's just leaving and will return on Thursday. We're set up by 3:20. Bob only finds three public analog TV stations on the first try. The phone says 911 calls only-Yikes-we're in the middle of nowhere!

Hop in the truck and go back north a few miles to Chatfield to Las Gables Mexican Restaurant; a cute place with great food. Shrimp Chimichanga for Bob. Chicken Soup ad one fish taco for me. Both are great, we'll be back.

South to Preston, west on 16 to Preston Golf and Country Club, 9 holes. I go in and get scorecard. There's a big TV inside and the guys says he'll be open at 7:00 for snacks only but maybe we can see the end of the Ryder Cup.

We drive to Root Trail access and down the main street of Preston. Then we go east off 52 and find The Barn Golf Course, campground and restaurant (we never see the campground actually.) It looks scary to pull The Titanic down this road but Dick and Jean did it.

We check out Hidden Valley campground along the Root River but they have no full hook-ups so we'll stay where we're at. Back home Bob adjusts our antenna and gets ABC, NBC (Ryder Cup-yeah!) and CW. I got a voice message at the restaurant in Chatfield but still no phone service here. We haven't tried the Internet yet. It's 6:34 p.m. and 58 degrees with 21% humidity. High 63 and low 35 (Right, I'm sure) Gorgeous fall colors here along the Watson Creek in our campground.

Monday, October 4 "Golf at Preston Country Club" Good thing I didn't get up at 5:00 a.m. for the Ryder Cup. It was not on NBC. I fumed all morning because they put it on ESPN (found out later at the golf course it wasn't on there either.) I guess you had to get it on-line. Ha! Streaming video is out of the question here.

Bob fired up the laptop, got a roaming area message and it never found a signal. I had a voice message when I turned the phone on this morning but I couldn't access it; it still says "911 only." We have an early morning frost-kind of heavy and a low of 33.

On my walk I take the phone to the top of the hill, happened to look at it down by Watson Creek and way down along the walking trail. Voila! I have "G" and some bars. So I retrieve my voice message. It's Blair and I actually am able to call her back. I lost her twice but at least we got to chat for a bit. I sure miss her.

On top of the hill here I get no signal, but I do meet Galen who is working on 21 new sites. Galen and his wife Brenda co-own the park with Mickey (who I met yesterday) and Tom. They built it from scratch four years ago. He wants to go RVing now that he sees people come through in the lifestyle. A guy in the big brown diesel pusher up top winters in Brownsville, TX one year and Palm Desert the next. They met people here they saw before on the road. Galen says he gets CBS in the office (from some town west of here.) But AT&T is no good; he had to sweith to Verizon in this area. Thus one of the problems with the RV lifestyle. Your cell phone is not going to work everywhere you go. He says there are brown trout in the Watson Creek here on the property.

Back home I stretch and we fool with both TVs and finally get CBS but only on the bedroom TV-go figure. After leftovers for lunch we head to the golf course. Nobody is there and the door is locked. We putt for a few minutes and a guy comes off the course-he's golfing with a buddy. We pay him $13.50 for two of us to walk nine holes (there's a discount for Valley View campers!) He tells us Europe won the Ryder Cup, it was close but not televised. Geez!

It's a hilly course. I love my new irons. Nine holes wipes us out after not playing for so long. I go home and have a foot scrub. It's 5:07 p.m. and 64 degrees with 16% humidity. At 5:00 we go to dinner at the Branding Iron in Preston. It's closed-only on Mondays! So we drive east on 16 to Lanesboro, cute downtown off 250. We park beside Pedal Pusher Cafe-The good for you burger joint. Hearty tomato soup and cod cake sandwich with roasted red peppers on wheat with Gentle Giant's Mustard (local from Das 'something' Haus next door.) Bob has grilled chicken salad. I really wanted to try Grilled Ring Baloney with sauerkraut from the local Hillside Farms.) Many items are grown/produced locally (it's a big Amish area.) They roast their own coffee beans in back. My coffee (organic Guatemalan) was heaven with real cream (skim on top!)I love the Pedal Pusher Cafe t-shirts.

Great decor in the Pedal Pusher Cafe in Lanesboro, MN

We walk around town after we eat-cute shops. The Root River Trail goes right through downtown so we'll be back on our bikes. There's even a nice looking Theatre and free wi-fi access. We get a paper at BP in Lanesboro. It's chilly outside. We get home by 7:00 and it's 54 degrees with 32% humidity.

Love this candy corn decoration downtown

Lanesboro is a quaint town

Tuesday, October 5 "Cycle 20 Miles Root River Trail" We have more frost this morning with a low of 35. But it's sunny and Bob gets an Internet connection. I go out and open the stove vent to make Crispy Thingies for breakfast. I got all the stuff while in Faribault but the electrical connection was so bad in the RV Park that I didn't want to ruin the convection oven. Current is great here since the campground is only four years old. We eat the first batch while thw second batch is baking.

We get the bikes out of the living room and onto the rack on the truck for a ride today. We have to swing back around campground circle to get the bike lock out of 'downunder' storage. And we're off to the trailhead in downtown Preston. We look at the kiosk map and head northeast along the Root River towards Lanesboro. It is gorgeous along the River; it looks about a foot high. We find out later it is one of the premier trout fishing rivers in the country.

The Barn Golf Course from the Root River Trail

We cycle 5.5 miles to Isidours (The Barn Golf Course.) We take a break at a picnic table by the fork in the trail where it splits to Fountain or Lanesboro. We go right to Lanesboro (4.7 miles) past The Barn Resort.

The trail comes out in downtown Lanesboro one block from The Pedal Pusher Cafe. Of course we go straight there. We split a Good Golly Miss Molly 1/2 lb. burger with carmelized onions, mushrooms and brie with new red potatoes and two cups of tomato soup. I rave about the Fair Organic Guatemalan Dark Roast Coffee. Bob buyrs me a pound of the beans on the way out. What a guy! He doesn't even drink coffee.

Waterfall in Lanesboro along Root River Trail, taken right from the bike path

The Root River in southeastern Minnesota

Preston, MN

I stuff it in my paniers (saddle packs for a bike!) and we're off. We decide to head back as it's 2:20. We stop for picture at the waterfall and when we cross the Root River (upper and lower) and Watson Creek. It's uphill against the wind all the way back. Bob asks the guy at the Trail Head Inn in Preston how far it is to Harmony and he says 12.7 miles. Maybe next time. We're home by 4:00. It's 4:31 p.m. and 70 degrees with 16% humidity.

Wednesday, October 6 "Golf 9 Holes Preston Country Club and The Branding Iron" Low 42; no frost today. We head to small IGA downtown Preston-nice store. $69.00 later we're home to stow our grup and ready for golf. First we have lunch at Branding Iron Supper Club on the hill with a great view. It's a huge place with a large lunch crowd at 12:45. All MN license plates in the parking lot except for two worker bees from IA and SD.

View from the window by our table at Branding Iron

Great salad bar ($2.00 to add to the sandwich/lunch special.) Ham and Vege soup is outstanding with little spaetzles in it. I have Yellow Fin Tuna sandwich with homemade tarter sauce and baked potato with Kemps sour cream and chives. Bob had the lunch special chicken sandwich. We both have go boxes. There are two daughters (older than I am) struggling in the tiny restoom with their mother and a wheelchair. Dad is waiting patiently in the dining room.

On to the golf course. The pro is out playing so we putt and tee off on #1. He comes around the clubhouse and says to pay him after we play. Gotta love small towns. It's a perfect golf day. I felt good about my new clubs. I like playing just nine holes. We're home by 3:30. Read paper we got at IGA. It's 3:50 p.m. and 72 degrees with 29% humidity. High 73.

Los Gables has eclectic decor

We have military showeres (since we only have water and electric here for a week.) Then we head to Los Gables in Fountain. As we pull into the parking lot I spy an eagle overhead.

Chicken soup and fish taco for Bob, Mole Rojo dinner for me (chicken in a tasty mole sauce.) Home by 6:15, read paper, nothing on TV. We chatted with Tom, the owner, as we came back. He's not very interested in having us pay our bill.

I snapped a picture of our RV site here on the way back.

Also took this shot of an old barn that is still on the premises. We can see this out of our big back picture window on The Titanic.

Thursday, October 7 "Cycle 27 Miles Preston-Harmony Trail" Sunny, low 39. Pack up Bikes, new batteries in odometer (upper and lower) and they finally start working. We sure hate to cycle miles and not have them record. We chat with a couple about our age on racers at the trail head in Preston. They are having a pre-ride snack and are also cycling to Harmony today. They just moved to LaCross, WS. They love this area. Have never heard of The Paul Bunyan Trail Up North. We take off ahead of them heading south. They overtake us on the first big hill with those racing bike gears.

The trail map syas a 3 to 4 mile section "may be too difficult for casual riders." It's 12.3 miles one way to Harmony. It starts off okay along Camp Creek. There are cows in the fields, trout in the streams-brown and rainbow. Soon we start going uphill. And up and up. After 1 and 1/2 hours we make it to downtown Harmony; left Preston at 1:25. As we roll into town I get off and snap a picture of this dinasaur sculpture with the catchy name.

Terra Legoff!

We hop off and go through "I love Antiques." Nice store, friendly older lady running it. Her daughter lives in Oregon and she sees her once a year. She hates to fly and there's no one to keep her cat. She used to have a rabbit too and that was worse.

I buy 27 old postcards, mostly $1.00 each, a small candy cane pin and gold/white Napier earrings. We park our bikes in front of OTCS (On The Crunchy Side) a restaurant with "the best 20 feet of bar in the county" on their t-shirt. Great food. Chicken/Pasta/Marinara for me. Dorothy Lynch salad dressing (popular up here, like a French dressing. I think I had it somewhere else, maybe Ohio?) "Blacked" Tilapia and vege risotto for Bob. Heaven. Our waitress Lisa promises it's easier going north to Preston on the trail.

We stop in Old Crow Antiques. A gal with a Chihuahua, Rusty, owns the place. She cycled Harmony to Lanesboro yesterday-45 miles. We talk to an older gent who was trout fishing in Neia (a few miles from here) and the Japanese beetles were bugging him to death. He asked if they were a pain on the bike. We haven't encountered them at all.

We stop in an Amish consignment shop. I find the cutest quilted wall hangings that hold pictures. I wanted it for postcards. They had no year-round colors, only holiday themes. I found a "We survived the Harmony Trail" magnet. We stop at the Visitor Center to use the restrooms.

Harmony Hobos!

And I stop to take a picture of the carved Hobo figures that are stationed just as you enter town on the trail. One of the locals wanted to commemorate the importance of the railroads to Harmony and the man hobos who came through on the trains.

It really looks like fall at Camp Creek

And we're off, it is mostly downhill and a lot more fun on the north. The wind picks up a little but it's a gorgeous day and beautiful countryside. Later the thermometer in the RV says it got to 76 for a high but we only saw 67 in Harmony. We spy nutria, three pheasants, eagles, turkey vultures, a squirrel that ran under our bike wheels, and cows. We take the fork into Preston for 2.5 additional miles to the trail's end near Main Street on our way back.

Love this sign along the trail near Camp Creek

The bedroom Fantastic Fan vent is stuck open part way. Hmmm....

We're home by 6:00, cover our bikes on the truck rack and crash with the paper from BP. Two 'newbies' are in the campground (first ones this week and quite a few cars are back in the seasonal slots.) It's 6:35 p.m. and 64 degrees with 22% humidity.

Gertrude decides it's time for fall!

Friday, October 8 "Golf on an "Aug-tober" Day in Preston, MN" I couldn't sleep last night so I read Jane Austen's"Persuasion" 'til 2:00 a.m. I call Independence, IA, and get the phone number for the city RV Park from Parks and Recreation. It's the same number as before but he says to talk to Bonnie and I did! She was very nice. $15.00/night ($14 if 60 years old-next year!) We stayed there in 2004 and it was $80/week with full hook-ups and cable-go figure. I send and email to the Monat cousins In Jessup, Independence and Traer, IA, saying we'll be there Sunday through Tuesday.

Bob takes the bikes off the truck rack and puts them in the garage. I add up all of our cycling miles so Bob can reset the odometer after our new batteries. That's always a challenge to set that small electronic device. We have 4,139 total miles on our Raleigh hybrid bikes!

We go to Branding Iron; grilled cod special for both of us with soup and salad bar for $7.95. BP for paper, then on to Preston Country Club. The pro says it might be slow today. He asked how we liked having the course to ourselves all week. He's from Canada so doesn't think trout fishing is all that great here.

Our round is quick, no one ahead of us slowing us down. Some of my bad habits slip back in. But I drove well. It is really warm; 20 degrees above normal. High 84, low 41. We pay Galen in the office $190 for the week.

Back home it's still early after we read the paper so I get out buckets and clean the RV windows. An older gent in a motorhome across from us comes over and says "you can do ours next." I couldn't get any of them to say hi or wave all day. They get together and meet once a month, October is their last month. He stayed in Bandera, TX, a few years in the winter, also Apache Junction. His wife comes out ready to go eat and barely says hi.

I crash but the RV looks good. We snack on a beer and Old Dutch Dill Potato chips. Thanks a lot Blair for one more thing in life I have to resist. It's 8:00 p.m. and 65 degrees. The Fantastic Fan vent won't close again. Maybe the batteries in the remote are dead. It's a battery kind of week for us.

Saturday, October 9 "Generations Antique Mall, Harmony, MN" Around 8:30 this morning Jim Monat calls, Bob's cousin from Traer, Iowa. We hope we can gettogether while we're in Independence.

Around 10;30 we head to Harmony. Just north of town we find Generations Antique Mall, an Amish place. They have great 'smalls' that we look for. I find a golf planter, a new address book for my purse, and three books. On to downtown. On the Crunchy Side is full, not one free table so we walk to Quarter/Quarter Restaurant, sparse but elegant decor. The food is great. We split an appetizer of Crab Cakes. I have Chicken Currry Salad on Potato Rolls with a salad. Pulled Pork for Bob.

We walk to IGA and buy more of those large red grapes. I chat with the check-out gal who asks if we've tried the grapes. She never saw them before and didn't know hwere they came from.

We couldn't find the other antique place at 3rd and 4th northwest. We go to the car wash to brush and wash the truck then on to Preston for diesel and and early Sunday Tribune. (I'll miss the Tribune when we move to Iowa.) We're home by 3:30 and it's 87 degrees, low 48 with 16% humidity. It's 90 degrees inside the RV since we had it closed up while we were gone.

Before we left Preston I just had to get a picture of their combination Tourism Center and Liquor Store!

Around 6:00 I pack up the interior decor, we bring the bikes in and strap them down for our move tomorrow. The RV Park is crowded this weekend. All the sites by Watson Creek are full with lots of kids and adults circling in golf carts. When we got here last Sunday it was deserted. I was thinking "This will be a long week!" It sure went fast.

Sunday, October 10 "Moving On to Independence, IA" I wake up at 4:30, get up at 5:30 since I couldln't go back to sleep and read until 8:30. Low 47, sunny, no wind. I walk to take the trash out before we pack up. Japanese Beetles are everywhere. No one else is leaving so we're the only ones at the dump station at the top of the hill. This is our first dump station use with our new RV (more on that in a few months in Arkansas!) We made 7 days on our grey water holding tank with 'marine' showers daily after golf and cycling. No problem with the black water.

We pulled out of the campground at 11:27 and head south to 16 west to 63 south at Spring Valley (nice golf course there.) A motorcycle is turning right as we turn left on the County Road. So we didn't see the 'Road Closed-Detour" sign. Bob makes a last minute bat turn (not easy with a 37-foot fifth wheel behind us) and we go south 4 miles to County Road 66 instead, then east 9 miles to a stop sign we think is 281. We pull in a gravel parking lot between the post office and a gas station and use our own restroom facilities. Then we go south again and finally are able to determine we are in fact on 281. We continue south to US 20 east past Jessup to Hwy 50 in Independence. They have a new Wal-Mart since our last visit here. Our trip is a total of 130 miles today.

We find our old haunt, Independence Park & Recreation RV Park & Campground, 301 8th Street SE, Independence, IA 50644 (319)-440-0472. Bonnie the new camp host is in the first site. She takes our $45 for 3 nights for site #24 (she lost her voice-some allergy she thinks.) We back in on opposite side from last time. We don't see the young pyromaniacs that set the woods on fire behind us last time. The utilities in this site are tricky; electric and water are in back curbside! The sewer is up front. We jockey and just barely reach the electric. We set up quickly though by 3:15.

Here we are in site #24 at Independence RV Park with the fall colors just peeking through

We have a voice message from Jim and Nancy Monat, Bob's cousins nearby in Traer, IA. I call them back and we agree to meet tonight at The Homestead (one exit west on US 20). Ted and Cindy, more IA cousins from right here in Independence will join us. I call Pat and Dan, the Jessup, IA, cousins but they are tied up with Vicki, another cousin, visiting from AZ so they probably won't join us tonight. Maybe we can get some golf in Monday or Tuesday.

High of 89, seems really hot here as we set up the RV. I try to get out some plates and they fly out of the cabinet and hit the floor. The Corelle shatters and the cute travel trailer plate Megan gave me is history. Bummer. I get out the vacuum and clean up the shards. Vacuum the whole place while I'm at it. Bob gets out his shop vacuum and sucks up the Japanese beetles we brought with us as we put the slides in and out. I make a snack plate of veges, fruit, cheese and crackers to tide us over until dinner.

We have 'real' showers since we have sewer hook-ups here. What a luxury-all the water we want AND 100 cable channels. Civilization!

Around 6:00 Jim and Nancy pull up. It's great to see them. We give them the grand tour of The Titanic. A few minutes later Ted and Cindy arrive and they get the grand tour. Then around 6:30 we head to The Homestead (we ride with Jim and Nancy.) We pile in a big wooden booth. The place seems to be out of everything we order. No salmon so I have Italian Grilled Chicken Salad. Bob has pork-wrapped pork loin.

We have fun chatting with everyone. At 8:15 they close the place down. We say farewell to Ted and Cindy (poor souls have to work tomorrow.) We ride back to the RV Park with Jim and Nancy. They don't come in a sthey want to visit Vicki at Angie's (she leaves Wed. or Thurs.) It sure was nice of all of them to get together with us on short notice. I was so busy talking I didn't take a single picture. It's 9:55 p.m. and 64 degrees with 44% humidity.

Monday, October 11 "Bill's Smokehouse and Golf at Three Elms" I slept the sleep of the dead until 8:45. Low 54, high 78. Gorgeous fall day. After breakfast I walk downtown to Casey's for The Des Moines Register. I saw the house on the corner the lady was painting in 2004 when we were here; she had Cat Stevens blasting on the boom box while she painted. My RV life is weird. There's a big brown and black diesel pusher by the shower house in the RV Park with Iowa plates. I wonder if it's the same gal who shared baked goods with us last time. They live about 15 miles from here.

Back home I get on-line and pay bills. My broadband e-bill is still not posted on our bank site-maybe next month. It sure makes it harder to pay (when you have a slow Internet connection.)

Bob and I both walk downtown and end up eating at Bill's Smokehouse (we ate here with Dave and Jean from Olewein, IA, last time.) Baked Tilapia with baked potato and Sicilian veges for me. Tilipia sandwich and cheeseburger chowder for Bob. On the way home I snap some pictures as we walk across the bridge over the Wapsipinican River.

Bridge over Wapsipinican River, Independence, IA

We head to the golf course (9-hole Three Elms along US 20). I play the red tees at 5092; Bob plays the blue tees at 5960 yards. I start out terible with my same old bad habit from last time. But I figured it out (smaller grips on my new ladies irons are causing me to break down my wrist) I hit the 6-iron of my life to an elevated green with water in back-15 feet from the pin! There's hope. It is a nice course and easier to walk, flatter, than Preston. We start at 3:05 and are done by 4:45. Wish Pat could have played with us.

I have a voice message from Pat inviting us for ribs tomorrow. I call her back and say I'll bring baked beans. It's 5:29 p.m. and 78 degrees with 19% humidity.

Tuesday, October 12 "Golf Re-match at Three Elms and BBQ Ribs at Pat and Dan's" I'm up at 7:15. After coffee I walk to Fareway (we loved this grocery when we were hear before and now there's one out here by Wal-Mart.) It only takes seven minutes to walk over there so it's not open yet (opens at 8:00 a.m.) I circle the parking lot a few time for a bit more exercise and get in at last. I need an onion for my baked beans tonight and candy corn to decorate my Ritz PB Cookies.

I snap some pictures on the bridge over the Wapsipinican. The fall colors are great. Back home I make RV BBQ Beans in the crock pot. And I make Crispy Thingies for breakfast. Then I get on-line. Our wireless card bill came to the bank site today. Voila! I'm able to set up an autopay so I had to cancel my manual pay yesterday. I guess our billing cycle moved up a week when we bought a new device and started a new 2-year contract in Fairbault.

We head to the golf course around 11:15. We putt while two couples in carts tee off ahead of us. I hit my new irons well today and completely lost my beautiful drives of yesterday. That's golf. It was fun though. It's very warm, 80 degrees right now with 22% humidity at 2:55 after a low of 52 this morning. We stop at Fareway for fruit but find no Holiday red grapes from California. It's 85 inside the RV when we return. We have leftovers, take out the trash and I iron an outfit for tonight.

Huge black clouds move in around 4:30. It rains and we close up the RV. I pack up the crockpot and we head to Pat and Dan's around 5:00. We take US 20 west of Independence to exit 245 (V65) south to 1st Street, 240th west to 1st Street, Spring Creek south to Fox Rd. A heavenly aroma is coming from Pat's new cooker full of ribs. We follow the aroma and knock at the walkout patio door. Pat greets us and I plug in my crockpot. She has two big tables set downstairs for our feast.

We head up to the kitchen where I slice salami and cheese. Julie comes in looking so grown up. I can't believe she's a senior. Soon Angie and Vicki arrive. It's nice to see Angie again and to meet Vicki at last. I've heard so much about her from Jim and Nancy after their wintering in Arizona.

Soon Jackie and Adam arrive with little two-week old Adalyn (named for Adam and Jacquelyn). What a doll! She sleeps peacefully as I hold her. Vicki snaps a picture. Dan comes home and says there was lots of rain in Raymond where he was trying to work.

Rita gets to hold Adalyn-only two weeks old-how precious!

Duncan, Pat and Dan's little dog, and Mabel, Jackie and Adam's little dapple dachsund, join our group. And Megan arrives too. We all go downstairs where Adam cuts up the ribs. He has connections for golf clubs and calls the to try to locate a gap wedge for Bob. How nice of him.

Mabel and Duncan

We all chow down on ribs, pork loin, bisquits with Pat's homemade strawberry jelly, potato salad, slaw, and my beans. Not to mention wine and Angie's Scotch Bars. She had those at the reunion! (Rice Krispies, PB, something else, 1/2 butterscotch chips, 1/2 chocolate chips melted and spread on top. Yummm!

Bob, Rita, Adalyn, Jackie and Adam

Julie, Dan, Megan, Pat, Adalyn, Jackie, Mabel and Adam

Vicki and Bob

Buttons galore!

After we eat Pat spread's her gramma's button collection out on the pool table. Fantastic! Pat remembers helping her mount them on the cards and growing tired of it when she was a young girl. Pat finds some old real photo postcards but she doesn't know who is on them. Vicki models Italian sunglasses!

Vicki and Pat

What a fun evening. The whole gang leaves by 9:00. Vicki rides back in on "Sparky", her red stick-horse with a pistol handle from her childhood. Angie's is white and Toni had a yellow one. What a hoot.

Giddy-up Sparky

Bob and I chat with Pat and Dan about golf and solving the world's problems. We hit the road at 10:00. It's nice of them to always make us feel so at home when we're here. It's cool outside; at 11:11 p.m. it's 60 degrees after a high of 80. The Rangers win game 5 and clinch their division. Yee Haw! I text my brother Mike in Dallas and he texts back saying "It only took him 39 years to get them this far!"