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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Thursday 4-27 On the Road Again



Another windy day!!!

We woke up with overcast skies and the north wind. It was very cold so we decided to take our time getting ready to leave. Once we decided where we were going Larry programmed the GPS and I straightened up the Minnie. We were back on the road around 10:00.

Our first stop was at Watertown, where we visited Terry Redlin Center. Terry Redlin was an American artist popular for panting outdoor themes and wildlife. He was born and raised in Watertown. The center had three floors of over 150 original oil paintings of his on display. The entry fee was free and to help keep the center going they had gift shops on each floor. Each gift shop had prints or canvas reproductions of Terry Redlin art. There were plates, coffee cups, coasters, puzzles, lamps and many other items. We bought a 1000 piece puzzle called Evening Surprise. We walked around the center for a couple of hours and were very impressed. It was a beautiful building with marble staircases. We had a great time.


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The Terry Redlin Center and a statue of Terry Redlin

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Flying Free 1990, the first painting Terry did of the Bald Eagle

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The puzzle we bought Evening Surprise

After leaving the Terry Redlin Center we swung by Walmart to pick up a few things we needed. Then we went to Big Sioux Recreational Area, which is 100 miles from Watertown and close to Sioux Falls. By the time we arrived at the park the sun was out and the wind had gone down. It was 5:00 and we were ready to call it a day. We drove around the park and found a site we wanted to stay in. It was right across the street from the bathrooms. We parked the Minnie and then Larry called to make a reservation for two nights. The gentleman was very nice and said that there wasn’t a problem to have the site for the two nights. Then we plugged the Minnie in. Now we’re settled in for a couple of days.            

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thursday 4-27 Hartford Beach State Park



A cold front

We spent the last four nights at Hartford Beach State Park. It’s a big park with a lake that is over sixteen miles long. The park has two camping loops, one looks over the lake, the one we stayed in is newer but does not look over the lake. There is a day use area with a small beach and a playground. Both camping loops also have playgrounds. There are a few small hiking trails that the host told us about. There is also a disc golf course.

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Hartford Beach State Park

Sunday April 22 2017

When we arrived at Hartford Beach State Park we took over a site from a couple that was leaving. They had a fire and it was still smoking so Larry decided to barbecue hamburgers on an open fire for lunch. After setting up the Minnie we built up the fire so Larry could barbecue. After lunch we walked a couple of the trails. We hiked for about an hour. As we were hiking Larry saw a few deer in the trees. By the time I looked for them they were gone. We walked around the loop and stopped and talked to the host. He has been volunteering here for ten years. On the way back we walked by the disc golf course.


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Camping at Hartford Beach State Park

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Cooking on the open fire

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Solomon Robar Roberts Trading Post (1863-1873)

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Monday April 24, 2017

Today we were woken by wild turkeys walking through our site. I stayed in bed while Larry got up to take pictures. I crawled out of bed about 7:30 and made pancakes for breakfast.  After breakfast Larry and I went for an hour hike that took us to the beach and back. We picked up the trail across the street from our site. The trail took us through trees and up and down hills. At places it was very steep and got our hearts going. When we got to the lower loop we picked up the beach trail and it took us to the day area and the beach. While looking at the lake and beach we heard turkeys but we didn’t see them. After relaxing we continued our hike back along the road. The road was a challenge considering it was a little steep. We had a great hike. When we got back to Flo I took her for a walk. When Flo and I got back we stayed outside for a short time. It was a little cool. When it was time for lunch Larry barbecued the rest of the hamburgers on the gas grill.


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Turkeys                                              Playground at the beach area

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A pelican                                                            Barbecuing hamburgers in the cold

We spent most of the day inside considering it was starting to get cold. The north wind came up and the clouds rolled in. It sprinkled a little. For dinner I made bacon sandwiches and for dessert I baked cookies. We had a great day.

Tuesday April 25, 2017 

We were planning to leave Hartford Beach State Park today but we postponed it considering the weather station was predicting the temperature to be in the thirties for the next few days and tomorrow it may snow. Larry went online and reserved the site for another two days.

We spent the whole day in the Minnie. The only time we left was to take Flo out. The wind was blowing hard and it was freezing but Flo didn’t care she loved the cold weather. I told her she could stay outside put I was going inside. I put her on her chain, she hates being alone so she barked to come in a few minutes later. One time I stayed outside with her and worked out for fifteen minutes. After dinner I walked around the loop for forty-five minutes to get in my steps. It didn’t get out of the thirties and the wind was out of the north so it made it even colder. We kept warm in the Minnie and read.



Baby, it’s cold outside

Wednesday April 26, 2017

Once again we spent the whole day inside. In the morning we had drizzle and snow but the ground was too warm for the snow to stick. Once again it didn’t get out of the thirties. Today I took Flo out a couple of times but it was too cold to stay out too long. But Flo really didn’t want to go in so I put her on the chain. After she finished her sniffing she decided she wanted to come in. We had another cold day. Tomorrow plan to leave Hartford Beach State Park. LIFE IS GOOD!!!!

Wednesday 4-26 New Atlas

The other day Larry noticed Walmart had the new version of the Rand McNally Road Atlas, on the front they advertised it as being easier to read and having larger maps, sounded good so he threw one in the cart. How do you make a road atlas easier to read? How about removing a bunch of secondary roads, removing scenic drive designations and best of all remove a bunch of towns. Now while they removed towns are not what you would call metropolitan areas many of them are towns where friends of ours live in Texas like: Salado, China Springs, Moody, Aquilla and Gholson, even George W’s town of Crawford has disappeared. Might be a good thing for those who don’t want to be found. I guess we’ll stay with the old atlas.
New Atlas

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sunday 4-23 Going to South Dakota



A fabulous day


We left Minnesota and went to South Dakota, where the weather is suppose to be warmer.

As we were driving we saw a lot of farmfields. When we entered into South Dakota we drove through Big Stone City where there is a small museum. It was closed but we drove around the area that had historic buildings and a big rock with a hook on it. We stopped and I took a picture of, the rock was Paul Bunyan’s boat anchor. On the anchor there was a plaque explaining the legend of Paul Bunyan being mighty in the sport of fishing. It was cool.


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Paul Bunyan’s Boat-Anchor

Next we headed to Hartford Beach State Park. When we arrived there was a sign explaining you must have a reservation even if you are only staying for the day you arrive, you have to call or use the web and you have to pay a fee for making a reservation, if you are not from South Dakota you pay more, you also have to pay a day use fee or purchase a yearly pass. We drove around to find a site, no problem considering no one was there. We saw a couple of men talking and figured one had to be the host. Larry stopped and asked how their park system worked and how to buy an annual park pass. They said you had to call and make a reservation but they could sell you an annual pass. They told us to find a site and one of them would come by. Larry called and made the reservation for two nights. While he was doing this one of the guys came by with the pass. Once that was done we were all set for the next couple of days.


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South Dakota welcome sign

Monday, April 24, 2017

Saturday 4-22 We made it!!!!



I’m so excited

We woke up to another gorgeous day. The sun was shining and the temperature was brisk. Our first stop was in Bemidji at the visitor center, guess what? It was closed. Fortunately they leave some information outside. The visitor center was located in Paul Bunyan Park. It was a great park with an playground. It had a slide where you slid through a log, a swing that was shaped like a raft and a merry-go-round. There were a couple of Indian statues, one was Chief Bemidji. Most important, the original statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox from 1937 are located there. The city has sculptures through out the downtown, some were for sale and others were permanent. We picked up a map of where they were located. We walked around the downtown looking for them and were able to locate most of them. As we were walking we stopped in the Bakery CafĂ©, must be good because it was really busy, we decided on some donuts and  a couple of pastries, they were all delicious. While walking back to the park we saw this cute statue of Linus from Peanuts in front of the Security Bank. When we got back we walked around the park, we saw families playing in the playground, walking around and riding bikes.



Bemidji welcome sign and Paul Bunyan and Babe statues



A couple of the sculptures in downtown Bemidji


I’m sitting on a sculpture and standing with Chief Bemidji


A statue of Linus

Our next stop was Itasca State Park, which is where the Mississippi headwaters are. We stopped at the visitor center where a worker gave us a map and showed us where the headwaters were. Larry asked her what else the park had to offer. She told him that the road through the park is 18 miles longs and there are a lot of hiking trails. We wished we could stay to enjoy the park but the weather is suppose to turn nasty with rain and a little snow. We walked through the museum that explained Itasca State Park was the first Minnesota state park and a lot of it was built by the CCC. It was a nice museum. Then we drove to the area where the headwaters were located. We hiked a short trail to the site. There were rocks you could walk on to cross the Mississippi River or you can walk on a log bridge. I decided to take the log bridge considering it was cold and the water would be freezing. I asked a young boy if the water was cold and he said it was very cold. He had been walking in the river. It was a great experience to be there. When we got back to the Minnie we had lunch and then we drove the rest of the park road. It is a beautiful park with a lot of trees and hike and bike trails.


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Standing at the Mississippi Headwaters

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Walking across the Mississippi River

After four weeks of following the Mississippi River from Baton Rogue, Louisiana we have arrived at where the Mississippi River begins. We have followed the Great River Road through 10 states. When we found something interesting we would stop and see it. We have driven over 3,000 miles. It was been a super adventure.             

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Friday 4-21 Back on the Road



We’re excited


We woke up to sunshine no clouds and the wind was down. It was brisk but gorgeous.

After three days of rain and hanging out at Dakotah Meadows RV Park we were back on the road. I had a great time walking over to the casino to gamble but it’s time to say good-bye. We got up, took showers and got the Minnie ready to go. Before leaving Larry dumped the tanks, filled the fresh water tank and filled the Minnie up with gas.

We drove 300 miles to get to our next destination. On the way we stopped at a rest area to stretch our legs. The rest area had a big statue of Paul Bunyan and a sign about him and another sign about his companion Babe, the Blue Ox. While we were stopped we decided to have lunch. After lunch we continued our adventure. For some reason I couldn’t keep my eyes open the whole day so I did a lot of napping. Occasionally, Larry would wake me up to show me something.



Paul Bunyan and me and the story of Babe the Blue Ox

Since there are no campgrounds open in Minnesota we were forced to stay at another casino, darn. We arrived at the Palace Casino around 4:00. They have fifteen electrical sites for RVs and we were a bit concerned about getting a spot since it was Friday but there was no problem, in fact there was only a couple other RVs with us. The RV sites are free, they only ask you to sign up for a preferred customer card which earns you points as you gamble. I don’t spend enough money for that to benefit me but it doesn’t cost anything. When you register the card they give you $5.00 on the card to gamble with. I gambled for three and a half hours and had a super time.

We had a great day.     

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thursday 4-21 Weather Delay



It’s raining!!!!

Every once in awhile weather impacts our trips and the last three days we have been impacted due to rain. As I mentioned the other day Larry is having difficulties in locating open campgrounds, normally this would not be a huge problems we would simply find other places to park for the night, however, when there is going to be a day or more of rain and it is cold we prefer to find someplace where we can plug into electricity and run our electric heater. When I said that we were having difficulties I really mean it is impossible to find private or public RV parks/campgrounds open here in Minnesota, many will open May 1st.

After searching around Larry finally found a casino on an Indian reservation with an open RV park, it is just a bit south of Minneapolis St Paul, Minnesota. There are almost 4 million people in the cities and surround area. I guess that is how they were able to build this huge casino, the gaming area would rival some of the casinos in Las Vegas. The RV park is nice, OK, better than nice, it is the nicest park we have ever stayed in, they even have an indoor RV wash with catwalks so you can easily wash the tallest parts of your RV. The casino is within easy walking distance but when you check in they give you a phone number to call and a shuttle will pick you up right at your site. Since I really need the exercise I walk back and forth but when it was raining I called them and a few minutes later they showed up, really nice. Of course they will also bring you back.

The rain is suppose to be gone tomorrow and we plan to return to our journey of following the Mississippi River to it’s beginning, we have less than 300 miles to go. The next couple of mornings are suppose to be in the 30’s, hope the rain doesn’t return since it does not appear we will be able to find camping with power. Life is Good!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Monday 4-17 National Eagle Center



Sunny Day


We woke up to sunshine and wind. The wind kept the temperature down and it was a beautiful day.

Today we left Wisconsin and went to Minnesota. We didn’t stay long in Wisconsin, lots of things are closed on Mondays and some things don’t open until May or June.

This morning I didn’t want to get out of bed, finally crawled out about 8:15. I made breakfast and then I put things away and got the Minnie ready to go. Before leaving we walked over to Walmart and then to Dollar Tree, we finally were ready to get on the road at 9:45 am, very late for us.

The first stop in Minnesota was at the visitor center to get a map and other information about Minnesota. We went back to the Minnie so we could figure out where to go and while we were sitting there we saw a tugboat heading to the lock. The lock was not far away so we started up the Minnie and headed that direction. We weren’t sure if we would be there in time. It wasn’t too far but the tugboat was going fast since it didn’t have a load. We made it there just in time. It didn’t take long for the tugboat get through the lock but it was fun watching it. The lock and dam at this location was #7. There are only six more locks on the Mississippi.


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The tugboat going through Lock and Dam #7

The next stop was in Wabasha, Minnesota to visit the National Eagle Center. We got there at noon and found a place to park the Minnie. They have a 72 hour parking area under a bridge, it was perfect for us. Once we parked Larry and I walked over to the National Eagle Center. There were a lot of kids there, I guess they were off because of Easter. Larry asked the ladies that were working the desk when their next presentation was. They said at 1:00 so we went back to the Minnie and had lunch. When we got back one of the ladies asked where we ate. Larry said at Ruth’s Kitchen. She looked confused and we explained we had a RV and we went back there. She understood now so she laughed. We walked around and looked at the exhibits and read about eagles. There was an enclosed area where they had four eagles (a Golden Eagle and three Bald Eagles) and each eagle was named. When it was time for the presentation we headed towards the room. By the time it began the room was almost full. The lady that did the presentation did a very good job. During one part of the presentation she had a boy volunteer to go up in front and wear an eagle costume. As she explained the parts of the eagle body she added the parts to the volunteer (she added eyes, beak and feet). She also had the kids go to the front to see what type of bird they were by their wing span. She had a board with different colors on it and each child spread their arms. If you were yellow you were a duck, if you were gray you were a loon, if you were blue you were a turkey and if you filled the board you were an eagle. The kids had a great time doing this. A handler came in with one of the bald eagles named Angel to see if she would eat a rat she had for her, guess she must have been nervous. After the presentation we all went to the viewing area and looked at the eagles. As we walked around looking at the displays we saw some gorgeous carvings done of animals in the wild by Jim Ramsdell. We had a super time at the National Eagle Center.


National Eagle Center

National Eagle Center

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Cravings by Jim Ramsdell                                                              The Golden Eagle, Donald

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The Presenter                                                                                        Handler with Angel


When we got back we took Flo for a walk and then decided where to go next. It was a little after 2:00 and Larry wanted to have the tire rotated and he found a Discount Tire in Woodbury so off we went. They told us that they would be finished with rotating the tires at 5:30 and we could visit some of the shops in the area while we waited but we just hung out in the Minnie and kept Flo company. They had us in and out by 5:30. After leaving Discount Tire we walked over to Culver’s to have dinner and then we drove over to Cabela’s. Most Cabela’s have RV parking and allow you to stay overnight.

Upon arriving we took Flo for a walk and then we walked through Cabela’s. It was a lot smaller than the one in Kyle, Texas but it still had great wildlife displays. When we got back to Flo I continued walking for another half hour to get my steps in. Larry spent the evening trying to figure out what to do in Minnesota. He is finding that a lot of things don’t open until May, even most of the campgrounds are closed. I guess we’re a bit early to be this far north. We had a great day.        

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sunday 4-16 Happy Easter



Happy Easter

Remember a couple days ago I mentioned while we were in Dubuque we visited St.Luke’s United Methodist Church and rode on the Fenelon Place Elevator, I thought I would follow-up with a bit of information about them.

St. Luke’s United Methodist Church congregation was founded in 1833 and is Iowa’s earliest congregation. The congregation built the first church in Iowa in 1834 for $255. The present church building was finished in 1897. Between 1999 and 2002, St. Luke’s spent $1 million restoring the eight Tiffany windows in the sanctuary, renovating the Tower and making the building more accessible. Each Tiffany window represents a part of the church’s history and their people. The church was gorgeous.

In 1882, Dubuque was an hour and a half town- at noon everything shut down for an hour and a half and everyone went home for lunch. Mr. J.K. Graves, a former mayor, State Senator, promoter of mines and a banker lived on top of the bluffs and worked at the bottom. It took him a half hour by horse and buggy to get home and another half hour to get back to the bank. He liked to take a half hour for lunch and a half hour for a nap but he couldn’t because of the long buggy ride. He hired a local engineer to design and build a one man cable car just like the ones he saw in the Alps, this solved his problem. The neighbors started showing up and asking him for a ride so he decided to open it up to the public. In 1884 it burned down and Mr. Graves rebuilt it and started to charge five cents for a ride. Then in 1893 it burned down again. It was during a recession and Mr. Graves couldn’t afford to rebuild it, ten of his neighbors banded together and formed the Fenelon Place Elevator Company. Mr. Graves gave them the right away for the elevator. They traveled to Chicago to look for new ideas for the elevator. They rebuilt the elevator system where it wouldn’t burn down everytime the elevator house burned. In 1997, the cable cars were completely rebuilt. After 84 years the original gears drive was replaced by a modern gear box with a DC motor. It was a cool elevator.

Today we left Iowa and went to Wisconsin. We decided to go to The House on the Rock. We had visited it before almost thirty years ago. We bought tickets for all three tours. It’s an amazing house. It took us three hours to complete the tours. We walked up and down ramps and stairs. There is so much to see that you certainly miss stuff. There were musical displays throughout the house. They gave you four tokens per person to play the musical displays. If you run out of tokens there are machines where you can buy more. The whole house was full of things that Ale Jordon collected. He designed the house as a tourist attraction. The tours take you through rooms with gun collections, dolls, doll houses, organs, ships, carousels and many more items. You walked through city streets, different circus displays, knights fighting with dragons, items from England and other places around the world. There is a giant carrousel in the middle of the house, it is the largest carousel in the world . Some interesting facts about the carrousel are it has 269 different carousel animals, 182 chandeliers, and is lit with over 20,000 lights. It’s amazing to watch it going around and there so much to see on it. As we were leaving we walked through the gift shop and bought some fudge. We had a great time.


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Welcome to Wisconsin Sign

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Larry and I at The House on the Rock

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                  The Chinese Garden                                                                      Musical display

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Testing Yourself (Brain Dead)                                                                    One of the organs        

When we got back to the Minnie we had lunch and then we continued on to La Crosse. We parked in the city park by the Mississippi River. We were there for an hour or so. We walked Flo and then we walked around and took pictures of the statues in the park. It was busy with people skate boarding, roller blading, walking the riverwalk, sitting on benches looking at the river and laying on blankets in the grass. It was a beautiful spring day in the park.


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Fudge from The House on the Rock

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Statues in La Crosse River Park

The last stop was at The Home Depot in La Crosse for the night. We had a spectacular Easter.