Showing posts from August, 2011

Captain's Log - 27 years

Janie wanted me write about our wedding since our anniversary is tomorrow.  Twenty seven years ago on this date I was staying with my Dad and a couple of my brothers in a hotel in Cedar Rapids. I was getting married the next day in a local park so I was trimming my beard. The beard wasn’t going so well. I was thinking it would be easier if I just shaved it off. Janie had never seen me without my beard, having just met me six months ago, but I was pretty sure she wasn’t marrying me for my beard. So off it came. I was going to be clean shaven for the big day. It turned out to be a hot day for September, so it was probably a good thing the beard was gone. The first person I saw as I arrived at the park was Janie’s best friend Trudy. She thought I was one of my brothers, but Janie caught on right away. She was surprised, but the wedding was still on. It was so hot, in fact, that the beer was tapped as soon as it arrived. By the time we walked down the isle, most people had a beer in their ha…

Bear Head Lake State Park

We wanted a stop between International Falls and Two Harbors so in checking things out we found this park deep in the North Woods near Ely MN. It is a beautiful park, pretty secluded and heavily wooded. I would not call it big rig friendly, the campground roads are narrow and the sites though big enough for our 30 ft 5th wheel, it would be hard to find a site for a rig much bigger. There are some bigger sites in the loop that doesn’t have any electric, awesome tent sites. Our site was a challenge to get into but it is very private and we really like it. In the other loop there is a great non reservable site (#66) that I think we would try to get next time.  The Lake is beautiful and large. We hope to get the kayak out tomorrow and do some paddling. Yesterday we walked, worked out and then just vegetated. It was great! Today we are headed into Ely for groceries and dinner. Will check the web for a few things to do. It is overcast today so a good day for doing the tourist thing. Tomorrow…

International Falls

Last Thursday we arrived in International Falls at the very best campsite we have ever had. We squeezed in next to the cabin of our friends the Hjelles. Brady was one of our hockey sons and his family feels like family to us. His Grandpa Bud added a 30 amp service so that we could stay with them right at the cabin. The cabin is about 15 miles west of International Falls right next to the Big Fork River. It was a wonderful 4 days. Brenda (Brady’s mom) had meals planned for every day. Man, did we eat well. It was a real treat. The weather was just about perfect too. We had a couple very light showers at night a couple times but otherwise warm days and cool nights.
We rode our bikes a little on Friday. Saturday we did a 4 hour Kayak trip down the Big Fork while Brady and Paul took the fishing boat down. The Big Fork was a beautiful river for a float trip and the fellas fishing had a good time. When they got back about half an hour later than John and I, Brady came to get me to take some p…

Leaving East Grand Forks

Tomorrow we leave East Grand Forks. This stop has been such a pleasant surprise, we know that we will return in the future. We put about 60 miles on the bikes, John went to a movie (I walk out, will talk about this later) we visited the hockey rink and had beer and appetizers at the Blue Moose most night here, and went to farmer’s market. The weather has been wonderful and we can’t think of a better way to spend a week. 
Our next stop is International Falls MN. One of our hockey sons (Brady) is from the Falls and we really have been wanting to spend some time there. We visited once before but it was too short to do all that the area has to offer. A bonus is that we are going to hook up at the cabin. Brady’s grandfather Bud added a hook up so we could stay right there for free. Free is always good in this lifestyle! Brady is off at school in Columbus OH, at the University of Ohio so we didn’t expect to get to see him but we love his parents, grandparents and brother Bryce so as much as …

Impressive Flood Control Plan

Flood control is something John and I find interesting. We lived in a city, Cedar Rapids IA,  that was ravaged by flood in 2008.  In the 3 years since then we watched as the city  has tried to recover and make a plan for the future. I know that they had a group come here to Grand Forks to look at their flood control measures and why they didn’t learn more and take more of these plans back to CR, I really don’t know. As a tax payer in CR we were very frustrated when we saw the city rebuild its City Hall in the middle of the river, literally, on May’s Island. There was such an opportunity there to change the landscape in a way that may have prevented future flood damage but my opinion is they put their heads in the sand and are sure it will never happen again. Here in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, a different approach was taken. In 1997 this area had a flood that was devastating. It took out neighborhoods and  buildings much like what happened to us in Cedar Rapids, probably worse. I…

Greater Grand Forks

Part of the Greenway is a system of bike trails. In two days we put on almost 35 miles on bike trails here.  Yesterday we did part of the Greenway and then took a trail that took us out to UND. We wanted to see their hockey arena because we had heard so much about it from both Kevin and Brady who lived with us. It definitely is a large and beautiful facility and we can say that without seeing the inside, except for the gift shop. Recently the arena had a fire in a group of speakers and they are repairing the damage before the season so we weren’t actually allowed to go in the arena itself. John has coworkers and friends who graduated from UND and there was some controversy around the building of this rink. Seems the NCAA wants UND to give up the name Fight Sioux and the guy who built this for the U found that ridiculous. He felt that the name was actually a tribute to the mighty Sioux nation and to Sitting Bull so he made sure the logo was emblazoned everywhere at the rink so it would…

Update on Fred

Well, we haven't seen Fred for a couple days which makes us wonder if he finally took off. Either that or he is so traumatized from the travel that he's in seclusion in his little hiding place. We arrived in East Grand Forks MN yesterday and will be here a week so we will still keep an eye out for him.

A friend of mine has another friend (is that confusing) who knows a little about snakes so she sent him the photo of Fred so we could figure out what kind of snake he is and here is his answer.

"After a google search, I am sticking to my original opinion. A Racer, and many of the Google pics look enhanced to me, they are not THAT blue, and are often gray like the one in the vehicle. I generally like snakes but I would not want to find a Blue Racer in my car, they are freakishly fast and will bite, harmless but scary. Even the way the snake holds it's body says "racer' to me. They live in open grasslands and hunt by sight, so they hold up their heads to look aroun…

Becoming South Dakotans

We are in South Dakota and today did all our paperwork, licenses, registrations, mail forwarding etc. We are how officially domiciled in South Dakota, our home town is Madison. Madison is a very nice little town, but I doubt we will be here very often. We actually tried to get a site at Lake Herman State Park very near Madison but they only had one site in the lower campground. We checked it and it would be a bear to get into so we have decided to head north. We will be staying at the Red River Recreation Area in East Grand Forks MN, across the river from Grand Forks, ND. They had a lot of flooding earlier this year but there were no cautions on the park and they took my reservation so we will get to see how they are doing. This park was actually created out of a residential area that was devastated in 1997 in a flood. Coming from a city (Cedar Rapids) that experienced a devastating flood, I am impressed that they chose this solution. Cedar Rapids could have made choices like that but…

Fred the Freakin' Freeloading Snake!

John, named our hitchhiking passenger. I had to clean it up a little but that's only because he was really angry at the snake when he came up with the name. Yesterday we tried to wash him out of his hiding place with the hose and guess what, that didn't work either. I even had the camera ready to get a photo of him scampering off.  So I guess he is going with us to South Dakota tomorrow. 

It has been a busy last couple of days, we have been getting together with a few close friends before we leave and a little time with family too. I'm anxious to get on the road, I wonder if Fred feels that way too. 

Happy Trails..............

Name that snake

Yesterday I got a couple photos of our "pet" snake. He likes to peak out and check out the world from the safety of his home in the pump housing of our extended fuel tank. We still have not figured out how to get him out of there. It is really a confined space. So until we figure something out or he finally gets hungry and leaves, he will be going along for the ride. We decided he's been around long enough, he deserves a name. So what do you think we should name him??

I still want him out. I'm ok looking at him from a distance but you won't catch me climbing into the bed of the truck, I'll leave that duty to John. John claims he isn't afraid of the snake (that's my studley guy!) but still has yet to come up with a plan to get him to leave. If we don't figure it out soon the snake will find himself in South Dakota. Maybe he just wants to see the world too?!

Happy trails.......................

Snakes and a Baby

How do you like that for a title. Did it a make you wonder if they were doing a sequel to “Snakes on a Plane”? Well unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, I am not a movie producer. If I was I am not sure that is a movie I would make. So instead I’ll just talk about each separately. Baby first!

My nephew Jordan and wife Rachel gave birth to a beautiful baby boy last Sunday. His name is Kelvin Richard (after Lord Kelvin who developed the Kelvin temperature scale). Jordan is a biochemist so it is a fitting name. Kelvin arrived 5 weeks early but weighed in at 6 lbs 4oz. I think Rachel is glad she didn’t go full term as that would have been a big baby. Jordan weighed 10lbs 9oz  (I think, I’m close any way) when he was born and I think Kelvin was on track to being similar in size. Kelvin is doing great, but he’s still considered a preemie. They are watching him closely and he has had to spend a little time in a Billi-Bed  but he got to go home on Tuesday and that in i…


Thanks to everyone who commented on yesterday's blog. I thought I would clarify a bit. We met some very nice people and I would never want to slight them in any way. It isn't even so much what they thought about us but about discovering where we fit in. RVing is still relatively new to us. We went right from tent camping to full time RVing in a fifth wheel which is quite a jump. That means we never did any group campouts before and don't have those long time friends with whom we share camping memories. For us it is all about the discovery and meeting people along the way. I think we were a little more comfortable in the Escapee's rally last year because we met others who were in our same situation. New to RVing and many who were new to full timing. It is always easier when there are others going through the same kinds of things you are. 

We did learn a lot from the other Excel owners. Learned things to watch for, how to remedy certain issues. We also got to see 2 new ri…