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!"