Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bailey's Harbor, WI to Michihistrigan RV Park, MI (August 29, 2012)

Next stop on our journey is the Michihistrigan RV Park on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  It was a 250 mile trip so we departed Bailey's Grove RV park early. The roads were good and had very little traffic, but it still took us nearly 6 hours to get there. No matter, the scenery was great.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bailey's Harbor, Wisconsin (August 23-29, 2012)

Door County, Wisconsin is a popular vacation spot for those living in Wisconsin and Illinois. We chose this destination for the serenity more than anything else. We wanted to be close to the water, but not on it and we wanted a rural environment. We were told there was not much to see or do here, but, obviously, those who told us that prefer cities and amusement parks. After traveling, almost, non-stop for weeks we just wanted to settle in for a while and we chose the right place to do that.

The first few days we stayed close to the RV park only venturing out locally. We did a lot of needed cleaning in and out of the trailer and did some major playing with the furkids. As the weekend approached the whole area became very congested with traffic and the RV park filled to maximum. Lots of weekenders with lots of children. It turned out to be a very noisy weekend.

One of the things Door County is know for is their fish boils. This is quite the event and there are several well known restaurants that provide these each weekend, as well as social/fund raising events at fire stations, churches, schools, etc. We wanted to experience one of these, but to our dismay, there were not any scheduled for this weekend except at the restaurants. The few local restaurants that did provided this fare, however, were all booked up for the weekend. Dang. Guess we'll have to try one on our own when we get settled.

Sunday afternoon saw a calm and quiet come over the RV park as the weekenders headed back to their stationary homes. There were a few hanger-ons that were staying for the remainder of the week for this would be their last chance at an extended stay here since school was starting in the next week. The traffic on the roads went to almost none, too, so we decided to make the best of the next few days.

Monday we all packed up and headed out early to take a road trip around the northern end of the peninsula. I had hoped we would be able to get close to the water so we took all the back roads that paralleled the shoreline. This did not work out so well because most of the land was private and there were homes on, almost, every bit of the shore. There were a few historic  places where we could stop, but for the most part it was all residential.

Out first stop was Bailey Harbor's range light. The story behind this navigational lighting system was interesting. It seemed, however they were falling into disrepair. We did find out later there was an effort going on to restore them to their original condition and make them functional again.

(Click on the image to see it full screen and in High Definition)

Bailey's Harbor Front Range Light

Traveling farther down the road we came upon a fishing company named Hickey Brothers Fisheries. It seemed to be a fairly large family owned company operating next to their home. By the looks of it they fish by trap netting and gill netting. We found out later they are very well known in the area and provide a lot of their fish to the local fish boils.

Hickey Brothers Fisheries

Hickey Brothers Fisheries

Hickey Brothers Fisheries Trap Net Floats

From this point we continued around the peninsula as close to the shore as possible, but due to private land it was next to impossible to see it. Reminds me of a lot of the shore lines on the lakes and oceans back east.

We eventually came upon the small village of Gills Rock. It looked like a fishing village and our observations turned out to be correct. The first thing we saw coming into the village was the Door County Maritime Museum. We stopped to see if they were open, but unfortunately their hours were only on the weekends so we just walked around and took some pictures.

One of their outside exhibits was the "Skipper". It was the first steel-hulled boat to fish out of Gills Rock.  Click on the picture to see its full history.

The Skipper

While walking around the museum grounds we noticed, across a field, an old building called Charlie's Smokehouse. We hopped back into the truck and drove over to find it was a store that sold smoked fish caught from the lake as well as other imported fishes. They smoke it on the premises. We bought two whole smoked whitefish and a container of their spread that Joyce had fallen in love with last week in Two Rivers. What a feast we will have.

Leaving town we came upon a motel with a lighthouse out front. How appropriate. The lighthouse is actually a guest suite. Click on the picture for more information.

Harbor Light Inn, Gills Rock, WI

Continuing on down the coast we went through several other resort/fishing villages: Sister Bay, Fish Creek, and Egg Harbor. With this we decided it was time to return to the RV park so we cut across the peninsula and found we were back there in just under 15 minutes. That was quick.

During our tour we noticed there were several vineyards that offered wine tastings. Having gotten hooked on wine tastings in Sonoma, CA, we decided to try a few of the vineyards. On Tuesday the two of us headed back over to the west coast of the peninsula and stopped at three of the wineries to do some tasting and restock our wine cabinet. It was a fun morning, but it was time to head back to the park and get ready to move out the next morning.

We,thoroughly, enjoyed our stay here. We re-charged our internal batteries, did some maintenance and housekeeping, and explored the peninsula. Would not mind if we returned here someday.

Door Peninsula Winery

Wonder if these work?
Our first purchase.

Orchard Country Winery

Our second purchase.

Our third and final purchase.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Two Rivers, WI to Bailey's Harbor, WI (August 23, 2012)

Since Bailey's Harbor RV Park had an early check in we departed Scheffel's RV Park at 9:30 AM and arrived a little after 11 AM. That gave us time to set up and start to explore the area. It was a great and relaxing drive through the country and several small towns on the peninsula.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Two Rivers, Wisconsin (August 21-23, 2012)

Our original destination was to be Bailey's Grove Travel Park in Bailey's Harbor, Door County, Wisconsin.  That park must be a popular place for we could not get a reservation for the entire time we wanted to stay so we found another RV park a short distance away where we could stay two nights until Bailey's Grove opened up. We'll do some exploring in this area while we're here.

Glad we did stop here. The next morning we decided to take a hike and explore the Point Beach State Forest located next to the campground.  There was a trail-head leading from the parking area on the road to the beach. It was in very dense forest and even though the temperatures were only in the low 70sF, the humidity was very high so by the time we cleared the forest onto the open area of the shore we were drenched.

While we were walking through the dense forest we, all of a sudden, started to feel a breeze and around the next corner found ourselves in the dunes of the lake. Man, did that feel good. It felt as if the temperature had dropped 15°F. Immediately, Guinness knew we were close to a beach and he started pulling on his lead. He wanted in. We had not been to a beach since we left Oregon and he was eager and ready.

The dunes were wide, almost a 1/4 of a mile from the forest to the water, and it took a while to get there, but once there we all kicked off our shoes/harnesses and sat in the warm sand. I was very surprised at this location for, had I not know we were in a fresh water lake, I would have sworn we were on an ocean beach. Only thing lacking was the salt water smell. Guinness found a stick, more like a small log, and went to work on his retrieving skills. How he loves the water. Even Rosco joined in. Good for you Rosco.

As we collected our things preparing for the return trip to the truck, I noticed a flock of birds coming across the shoreline so I took a picture only to notice there was someone walking this way with several dogs.  We decided to wait a bit and, to our surprise, it was a woman with her two Doodles. When she saw ours we all immediately began talking. Her home was on the beach just on the other side of the park and every morning they walked the length of the park and back. Quite a hike. She was delighted to meet someone with Doodles, too. We talked for a while and parted ways. Good to meet other Doodle parents.

The hike back seemed much longer than the hike in and, as before, the forest was very humid. Guinness and Rosco were OK this time for they were still wet. By the time we got back to the trailer we all needed some water and dry clothes.

Once cleaned up we fed the kids and hopped into the truck for a ride back into Two Rivers to explore the town. It seems to be, mainly, a fishing village. We found a small pub close to the marina and decided to have lunch there. During our conversation with the bartender we found the town claims to be the founder of the ice cream sundae. Will have to look into that claim. We decided to have an appetizer for lunch and he recommended the smoked whitefish dip. Sure. Why not, although Joyce was very hesitant. The order came with a large bowl of dip and a mixture of chips and toast pieces. I watched Joyce as she slowly tried it. Her eyes lit up and said it was the best dip she had ever had. Good. We'll find some more.

After lunch we headed back to the trailer and I played with one of the kids while Joyce groomed the other. Had to get all that sand out.

After a quite dinner we made a fire and sat around it for a while and watched the sun go down. It turned out to be a great day. Looking forward to several more while we are in this area. Tomorrow we get to check into Bailey's Grove Travel Park.

(Click on the image to see it full screen and in High Definition)

Mom, can we have another drink?
AH! Cool breezes and sand.
I see it! I see the water! Hurry up!
Almost there.
OH! OH! I love the beach!
OK. I found you a stick to throw. So throw it! 

Now that's what I'm talking about.
I just might get used to this beach and water thing.
Now this is the dog's life.
Beautiful day on a beautiful beach.

Relaxing after dinner.
A beautiful sunset ending a wonderful day.                  

Racine (Caledonia), Wi to Two Rivers, WI (August 21, 2012)

This part of our journey took a mere two hours. We like those kind of trips.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Racine (Caledonia), Wisconsin (August 19-21, 2012)

Our sole purpose of visiting Racine is to meet up with my 1st cousin who I have not seen in over 60 years. My last recollection of visiting with him and his parents was in the early 50s when we all took a very long trip from Rhode Island to Racine. I, actually, cannot remember meeting with them and my cousin, who is a bit younger, says the same, but it is a good time to renew family ties.

We arrived at the RV park late in the afternoon due to some weather and heavy traffic conditions.We settled in and made a light dinner followed by a walk through the park, some sitting outside, and an early bedtime.

The next morning we took it easy as my cousin would be coming to visit us mid-afternoon. We had decided to cook some burgers on the grill and try to catch up on too many years apart. We had been in touch through email for quite a few years and we shared a lot of information on our ancestral past. His dad and my dad were half brothers and had remained in touch over the many years, as he did with his sisters.

When Buzz arrived it was like we had grown up together. Hugs and tears for the years apart. We sat and talked, and laughed, and wondered how our parents survived way back then. Our snacks, dinner, drinks, and good family discussions came to an end too early though. Some how I knew we would not meet again in person. Sad to think of things like that.

After his departure we cleaned up and watched a movie. We did not want to leave early tomorrow. because the rush hour traffic was bad around here. Tomorrow we head to Door County, Wisconsin. Heard good things about that place.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Minneapolis, MN to Racine, WI (August 18-19, 2012)

Our journey to Racine was too long, at least for us, to drive in one day so we overnighted at a KOA in Oakdale, Wisconsin. The trip started out with heavy traffic then it became much lighter once we were out of the Minneapolis-St.Paul metro area. The KOA in Oakdale was just off the interstate so we were able to get a good start the next morning.

Our destination was the Yogi Bear Jellystone Resort in Caledonia, WI. Caledonia is just a bit north of Racine, which was where we wanted to go, but this was as close as we could get. No problem. We would only be here two nights. The purpose of this destination is a family matter.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Minneapolis, Minnesota (August 15-18, 2012)

Our stay here will be brief. It is, basically, a stop over on our way to Racine, Wisconsin. We arrived early in the afternoon and since the park was tucked away in the woods we just laid back for the rest of the day.

Our next day here was devoted to phone calls, grocery shopping, some grooming of the kids, and housework. We did not do any sight seeing. We will do that tomorrow when we go to the Mall of America.

Our last full day we headed to the Mall of America to see the "biggest mall" in America. And it was. The standout feature of this mall was the indoor amusement park. We were very impressed. As for the shopping ? Same as most other malls. Many of the stores had more than one location in another part of the mall. There were some different stores we had not seen, but only a handful.

Deciding we did not want to walk the entire place we found a restaurant, Dick's Last Resort, and had lunch. We had not been to one of these, although we had seen them before. As soon as we sat down the bartender started being very snarky to us. Seeing that we were about to get up and leave he quietly explained that was what the place was about. He then went easy on us since we were his only customers. We did enjoy the place and would, probably, go back if we found another one on our travels. The next time we will fire back.

Once we left the mall we drove around a bit, but the traffic was to heavy and we headed back to the RV park and spent the rest of the day with the kids, have some snacks, and and a few cocktails in front of the campfire before dinner. Tomorrow we will head to Racine, Wisconsin.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Camp Ripley, Little Falls, MN to Minneapolis, MN (August 15, 2012)

Just 128 miles, but took us over 3 hours due to traffic and construction around the city. Just going to cool it for the rest of the afternoon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Camp Ripley RV Park (Little Falls), Minnesota (August 12-15, 2012)

What a beautiful RV park. It is tucked away on a Minnesota National Guard facility right on the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The sites are not crowded together and they have fire rings! This will be the first time we will be able to make a campfire since we left our daughter's home back in March. Yippee!

We chose this park to be away from civilization as much as we could and then decompress. The past several weeks have been hard for us and we felt we were wearing down, Hopefully, this stay will recharge our internal batteries and we will be able to continue on with more energy.

We did not venture out very much during our stay here. We did, however, take one ride through some of the local towns to see what they had to offer. To our surprise this very rural area is very busy. We rode through the towns of Little Falls, Brainerd, Staples, Hewitt, Long Prairie, and several more in between. Beautiful area, very clean and organized towns. We surmised this area has a lot of summer time activities, hence, the traffic. Regardless, we enjoyed the sights and the people.

We did a lot of walking on the trails and back roads that run along the Mississippi. Even found a place for Guinness and Rosco to swim a bit. Had to be careful, though. This was an eddy and we had to make sure they did not venture out very far for the river, even this far up was flowing very fast. Even though they were on rope leads,  I was still concerned about the current. They loved it.

Our second full day we did absolutely nothing but play, walk, read, and planned. We came to the decision to return to Savannah sometime in late October. Hopefully, that would give us time to see and visit the rest of the places on our list without rushing, although, that list is pretty long. We think we can do it.

Tomorrow we head out to Minneapolis, Minnesota. We are not big fans of big cities, but we both wanted to visit the Mall of America. Have to see what the fuss is all about.

(Click on the image to see it full screen and in High Definition) 

The Mighty Mississippi

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sioux Falls, SD to Camp Ripley RV Park (Little Falls), Minnesota

Heading north toward Fargo, ND on I-29 can be a bit boring. The entire distance is flat prairie and almost all of it is farm land not to mention miles and mile of straight road. If it hadn't been for Joyce's Ipad with some old radio comedy shows on I would have fallen asleep. We had decided to stay one night in North Dakota for the same reason we stayed in Iowa. Our destination is in mid-Minnesota and we would have driven through North Dakota in less than a day.

We had made reservations for one night at the Dakota Magic Casino. They have an RV park with very inexpensive rates. We had stayed at casino parks before and enjoyed them. This one was no different. After a good dinner, Joyce dropped some dimes in the one-armed bandits while I people watched. We then had a few drinks before the 1 minute walk back to our trailer. Feeling comfortable, we sat outside with the kids for a short bit. The temperature was a chilly and breezy 56°F. What a welcome that was.

Into bed early because we wanted an early start in the morning. Good sleeping that night for us all.

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 The next morning we awoke to RAIN! We had not experienced any rain since we were at Yellowstone National Park back in early July. Again, a welcomed event. We were on the road by 8:30 AM.

It took us a little over an hour to reach Fargo, ND. This is where we left the Interstate and picked U.S. Highway 10 east. The drive to Camp Ripley was beautiful and relaxing. We arrived a little after 2 PM and checked in, set up, and started to plan the next few days here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sioux Falls, South Dakota (August 9-11, 2012)

We arrived at the RV park early so we all jumped into the truck to ride around a bit. Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota and it accounts for nearly 1/3 of the state's population. The RV park had given us a list of things to see and do so we drove by several and prioritized the next day's stops. Now back to our home on wheels.

We pulled into the park and noticed there were dozens and dozens of motorcycles setting up camp. Not sure what was going on so we asked one group and found they all were heading to the Sturgis annual rally. The rally started on the 6th and went through to the 12th. They said to expect many more tomorrow night. Of course, Guinness and Rosco had to check out the bikes on our after dinner walk and before we headed back to our trailer they had made many, many biker friends.

The next day, our only full day here, we headed out early for there was a lot to see and do. Guinness and Rosco, surprisingly, did not want to spend any more time in the truck and opted to stay home and watch cartoons.

Our first stop was Falls Park on the Big Sioux River. It being in the center of the city and close to downtown, there were many visitors. It was a beautiful park and would have loved to spend a lot more time there. Next on our list was the Sculpture Walk. This is an outside art exhibit were artists place their sculptures on the city's streets for one year. We found this to be a great way to see the city and enjoy the product of these artists.

Our next stop was to be St. Joseph's Cathederal. We were told by the RV park's staff it was an awe inspiring place. We had driven by it yesterday afternoon and decided we wanted to tour the inside, but, as our luck would have it, the tours were not operating that day due to scheduled maintenace. Darn. Well, back to the RV park to have lunch and walk the kids.

Once fed and walked we saddled up for the rest of the afternoon's exploring. As we were leaving the RV park the truck suddenly lost power. It was still running, but would not accelrate over 5 MPH. OK. Turn around an limp back to the trailer. At least we had not been on the road or in the city. I believed it was the fuel filter for this had happened once before when I went too long before changing it. I asked the office staff if there was an auto parts stores close by and, to my surprise, there was, right next door. It was a truck parts and repair center so I was sure they would have the part. After a short walk there I secured the part and went back to the truck. Changing the filter in this truck is not difficult. It just takes some time. Once I changed it the baby started humming its sweet song to me again. I was concerned we may had gotten some bad fuel somewhere for I had changed the filter in Colorado Springs. It should have lasted a lot longer than that. Tomorrow morning, before we leave, I'll go back to the parts store and purchase another one, just in case.

That did it for the rest of the day. By the time I cleaned up it was too late to go back into town. So....we set up the chairs, broke out some snacks and adult beverages, brought out the kids with some toys, and cooled our heels for the rest of the afternoon. That was great for Guinness and Rosco for a new set of potential biker friends were starting to roll in for the evening.

After dinner and our meet-and-greet walk with the current biker crowd we retired to the trailer to get ready for our departure in the morning. We, also, took this time to discuss the rest of our journey around the country.

We had come a long way since we left Savannah back in late November of last year. Being constanly on the go was starting to take its toll on all of us, but we were not ready to give up. We still had places to visit and sights to see and experiences to experience, but we needed to rethinnk how long we were going to be on the road. We make that decision soon.

Tomorrow we'll head through North Dakota, making a one-night stop, and on into Minnisota where we will stay for several days. Wish we had more time to spend here. Maybe one day we'll make it back.

(Click on the image to see it full screen and in High Definition)