Monday, July 23, 2018

Back in the Martin Manor RV Park

Arrived back at the Manor a little past noon time and got the necessities unloaded.  It's 87 degrees outside so the minor items can wait until morning or another day.

This was an extremely enjoyable trip, we both had a great while leisurely time.  The scenery from the minor roads had much of the same fields of corn or grain but there were also vista of great beauty.  We also found the cooler temperatures that we were looking for.

This will close our blog for awhile as our next plans for travel will begin on September 11 when we start our adventure to Spain and Portugal.  I will take my laptop with me and the tour bus should have wifi on board so posting shouldn't be too much of a problem.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Breathing home state air

Tonight we are settled into the Big Lake State Park near Mound City, MO.  This is the same park we stayed in on our way back from Idaho last month, nice park.  Last month our site was out in the open sun but tonight's site is under a couple of big cottonwood trees, still need the AC which is working well.

We enjoyed a day of leisure yesterday in a nice comfortable park before heading back south this morning.

On our trek following US Hwy 50 across the continent we found that we really enjoyed being on lesser routes instead of following the Interstate highways.  Driving 60 mph with speed sometimes down to 30 mph through small towns is much more relaxing than battling the semis on the Interstate at 70 mph.  Also we see more of the local scenery.  The little slower speed also helps our fuel economy.

This trip we have deliberately avoided the Interstates as much as we could.  Last Friday from MN to IA we stayed on the east side of the Big Sioux river on US 75 while our GPS kept trying to put us over on I-29.  Today we again followed US 75 most of the way this time in Nebraska to the west of I-29 and the Missouri river.  Again our GPS kept trying to take us over to I-29 but I kept arguing with her and held our course.  Even through the middle of Omaha US 75 is on an expressway and very easy travels through this big city, of course it was Sunday morning so traffic was fairly light.  Tomorrow we will use I-29 from here down to st Joe but there really isn't a good alternative.  Then its US 36 to Macon and US 63 south toward the Manor.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Change of plans

We were all settled into the Stone State Park but after a little while our microwave kept clicking off and on.  I checked the breaker fuse at the post and found that it had worn out and would not keep in the on position.  We didn't have cell phone signal so couldn't call anyone to get it fixed so we unhooked our setup and moved to a nearby KOA, a move of only 6 miles.  Now we have all hookups that are in good working order including a pizza delivery to our camper so Jo didn't have to toil over the stove.

We are here for a day of rest tomorrow and will head back south toward the Manor on Sunday.

Back needing AC

Tonight we are just outside of Sioux City, IA in Stone State Park.  We have electric which is nice since the AC is needed.  We also are in some shade from a couple of big trees and we have an AT&T connection so our WiFi is working.  The one thing we don't have is a Verizon signal for our telephone.  That's hard to believe since we are right along I-29 and just outside the city limits but so be it, we will get our voicemail when we get back to civilization.

One unusual sighting along our route today was this unusual water tower in Pipestone, MN.

Also at Pipestone, MN is the Pipestone National Monument.  This is where many native American tribes mined red stone to carve their peace pipes.  Some still practice that art today and this is where the town got its name.

Another nice feature of today's drive is the wildlife sightings.  We saw deer and turkeys early in the day and several turkeys along the way.  One sighting was a couple of hens with about a half dozen chicks crossing the road right in front of us.  Jo saw a doe with two fawns out in a pasture that I didn't see.  We definitely have left the big tree country.  It has been all croplands with mostly corn and some beans in huge fields.


In our front yard this morning before breakfast

They didn't give me time to zoom in, soon after this snap they were gone.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Our neighbor

This is a picture of our neighbor for the night.  They started to set up this huge tent as we backed in.  We had to only plug our electric cord into the box and this is after three hours of their work to this point.  This all came out of a pickup bed that was packed.  It looks like they plan to spend a month or so with all the things inside.  I hope for their sake that the winds don't blow too strong from the east as that is the direction of their open side.  Their tent is under this blue rain covering.

The rains came

We had plans to dump our holding tanks this morning at the dump station before going on the road.  As we pulled out, there were five RVs waiting in line for that opportunity so we just drove on down the road.  The weather forecast for out destination this evening was for a 100% chance of rain and dumping there was an iffy question without my rain suit.  Not long after we were on the road it was necessary to turn on the wipers, some times with interval settings and some times at full speed and that was the norm all day.

We even just had a protein bar in the truck for lunch while driving as we didn't want to stop and get out to the camper while raining.

We did have a fuel stop and our GWF was taking care of us at that time with only some light sprinkles and the fuel station had overhead protection.  When we made it to our campground the rains had moved on eastward and with the ground wet the skies were dry and we were able to use the dump station here on our way to our campsite.

It's a very nice 72 degrees outside right now and we are enjoying the fresh air with all windows open and the AC off.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Second day without AC

Both yesterday and today has been without air conditioning, by choice.  It's been so nice outside that we have just opened all windows and the door, leaving the screen, and enjoyed the fresh air.  I was a little bit late today in getting them open and it's a tad bit warm inside.  We have been using our folding chairs outside in the shade of these big trees.

It's supposed to be a bit on the rainy side tomorrow both here and where we are headed (Big Stone Lake near Ortonville, MN) but only a 10% chance in the morning while we buckle up to head south.  We have been spoiled with this beautiful weather and are afraid that we are headed back into the heat and humidity.

Big Stone Lake is on the Little Minnesota River along the Minnesota border with South Dakota.  Our Friday night campground is on the Big Sioux River in Iowa again across the river from South Dakota in North Sioux City, IA.

Following our river theme for this trip our next night is in Big Lake State Park near Mound City, MO near the Missouri River and then on to the Martin Manor also near the Missouri River.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Beautiful Day

Starting this morning at 49 degrees and now at 2:00 it's 71 with clear blue skies.  We took a drive today with our first stop at the headwaters of the Mississippi.  Here are our pictures:

This is the Mississippi at its first road crossing still inside the park, not quite a mile wide. 
 This is where the Mississippi begins flowing out of lake Itaska
 This post describes the origin and total length of the Mississippi
 here is a link to the site web cam  lake Itasca headwaters cam
 Not a dry crossing but with bare feet lots of folks have crossed on these stones.
 a surprise find in the grass along the path
Jo caught me standing in the middle of the Mississippi on the log bridge just below the rocks

We continued our route on a circular drive around Lake Itaska in the park on what they call the Wilderness Drive.  It is a one way route around the lake with a 20 mph speed limit.  This was a beautiful drive lined with big trees.

Jo took this one of the tree tops and the blue sky

About half way around we passed between Elk Lake and Itaska Lake

Here is Elk Lake
 the outflow of Elk Lake into Itaska Lake

That poses the question, Does the Mississippi River begin as pictured above at the outflow of Itaska Lake or perhaps somewhere above Elk Lake?

At the end of our drive we were back at the State Park Lodge and just had to stop in for Lunch, again so delicious.


We had dinner last evening at the Lodge restaurant here in the park.  The walleye pike was super delicious.  Jo topped hers off with a piece of strawberry rhubarb pie ala mode, yummy.

Paul Bunyan

Story has it that Minnesota's 10,000 lakes were formed when Paul's and Babe's footprints filled with water.  Here is a picture (by TripAdvisor) of the statue in Bemidji.  I have taken this same picture in the past but don't have the time or my external backup hard drive to hunt for it.

This statue was installed in 1937 as you can see on the sign between them.  I can tell you just how long ago that was, it was a very good year.  For a scale to help with determining the size of these images there is another picture taken from this same angle with a man on a bicycle riding between Babe's front legs.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Land of 10,000 Lakes

We have moved now from the corn fields of southern MN into the Paul Bunyan timber.  I have been told that Thursday of this week will be Paul Bunyan Day so we are right on time except that is the day we plan to leave this area and head back south.

Our route today was a little longer than usual for us because the river doesn't flow in a straight line.  We even crossed the river three or four times and the bridges kept getting shorter each time.  The last crossing was just before we entered the park for our stay here and it was little more than a pipe culvert.  The state park is nice with lots of shade trees and the undergrowth cleared out so the breezes can flow.  At least this time we have 50 amp electric service which is good.  No water hookup but our fresh water tank is over 3/4 full so we are okay.

We have two days here to explore and that will probably include a trip back to Bemidji for a nice lunch and a picture of Paul and his blue Ox Babe.  We also must visit the origin of the Great River for another picture opportunity.  We have been here on another trip some time ago but it would take hours to search all our photos to find the pics we took then.  I should have set up a better file identification system.

We have been wishing for cooler weather than what we left and I believe we have found it.  Sometime during the night last night I was pulling up extra covers.  We had gone to bed with only a sheet and what I call a sheet blanket, just a heavier sheet.  We had a coverlet quilt thrown to the foot of the bed that I pulled up.  Tonight the forecast is for a low of 49 degrees here so I think it might be wise to plug in our electric heater on low.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

onward toward our goal

After a very nice day of rest we are back on the track of the Mighty Mississippi.  Since we took a detour from the river road in order to have a few creature comforts it took us a while to get back to the riverbanks.  That included a road construction detour that took us about a half hour longer than planned.  Then we jumped back across the river at Red Wing, MN into Wisconsin for a few miles before crossing back into MN.  A big part of today was going into, out of, and around Minneapolis/St Paul.  The Mississippi river meanders through the middle of this metropolitan area.  With that accomplished we are back on track and near St Cloud, MN with our campground for tonight.

Tomorrows trip will be a bit longer than most of our days.  If we took the quickest route from point A to point B it would only take a couple of hours but our plan is to follow the river so it will be about a 5 hour drive.  That's okay as we will then stay put for a few days to enjoy the Lake Itaska and Bemidji, MN area.  Perhaps take a picture again of Paul Bunyan and Babe his blue Ox.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

It's a great day at the KOA

That's what you hear when you make a phone call to any KOA.  That sure is the case with us today.  While the outside temperatures aren't really excessive, only in the low 80s we are just grateful for the amenities that make our lives easier like today's lunch was some soup heated in the microwave.  As I said yesterday we are just getting too old to enjoy doing without such niceties.

I apologize that my pictures I post don't have a cute 5 year old wearing a Smoky Bear hat like my sister's pictures do.

Tomorrow we head back to the riverbanks and then northerly.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Slight change in plans

It was a very scenic route today.  Some of the route in Iowa got away from the river and was up on some high mountain ridge tops where we had vistas overlooking large valleys with big barns spotting across the view and huge fields of corn.  I didn't expect that in Iowa.  Then we crossed the Mississippi at Prairie Du Chien and got back to following the river bank up through that part of Wisconsin.

From a overlook site while still on the Iowa side of the river

When we got to La Crosse, WI we stopped in the Safelight Autoglass shop and had the windshield damage repaired.  The technician warned me that it might be a bit too much for a repair but he would try before a replacement was needed.  It took about 30 minutes and he declared that the operation was a success and the patient would survive, "the beast" was back in business.  Our windshield now looks like new, it couldn't have worked out better.

We then headed to our scheduled campground for tonight and tomorrow night.  It was a MN State Park just a few miles NW of La Crosse.  We checked into the office and drove to our campsite which was deeply embedded in a heavy forested area.  We then discovered that there weren't any hookups so we were going to have to live off of our propane and batteries for two days without television, microwave, internet, or air conditioner.  The good news is that the weather forecast was for highs in the 80s which is right where it was at that time.  We got setup, opened all windows, opened the door leaving only the screen door, but it was still hot and muggy inside.  With all the trees and underbrush there wasn't any breeze and it just wasn't going to be comfortable for two OLD folks.

Using my cell phone I found a KOA about 40 miles west of there and not really that far off of our planned trip forward.  We are now setup in that KOA with full hookups including cable TV however not many channels on that.  Having AC, internet, and water will make our layover rest day tomorrow much more comfortable for these two OLD folks.


This according to Google


Being Invaded

Looking out our windows this morning and don't like what I see.  This first pic is out our back window looking at the side of our back slide-out.  I've got to get these things off before we pull the slide in so they don't come inside.

And this is looking out our door window.  There are swarms of these same insects in the air around us and a bunch of them down on the water surface of the creek.

Another thing you can see in this picture is the RR track that is only about 30 yards from our site.  This is an active track with trains quite often throughout the night.  Fortunately there are no at-grade crossings near by so it is just the rumble of the wheels without any whistle toots.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

What the internet can do

Along today's drive as we passed a large semi truck a rock apparently flew from it's tires and chipped a star in our windshield just below and to the left of my drivers field of view.

I did a search for mobile glass repair along tomorrows route and found a "Safelight" facility in La Crosse, WI right along our planned route.  If we get it repaired quickly the likelihood of it spreading and causing a complete windshield replacement is prevented.

On line, I made an appointment for tomorrow afternoon for the repair and also filed a claim with our insurance so there will be no charge to us for this repair.  Because the appointment is a bit later in the afternoon than our original schedule we will have a bit later departure in the morning, Jo says, not a problem.

I have already put the coordinates for the shop in Ms Navi's database so she will stop us at the correct location.  Now I can sleep better tonight.

Corn Country

Today's travels have mostly been in Iowa, tonight we are near Bellevue, IA between Davenport and Dubuque right on the banks of the Mississippi.  The campground is named Spruce Creek Campground and our campsite is backed up to the banks of that creek.  The water in that creek at this location must be just backup from the river as there isn't any noticeable flow.  Leaves on the surface seem to not be moving toward the river.  Anyway this is a real nice County park campground with electric connection to run the AC and we are right under the shade of some large trees.  There isn't any television signal and my AT&T internet connection is iffy but the campground wifi is working just fine.  Here are a few pictures of this campsite.

Our site with the creek right behind us
 Spruce Creek from our site toward the river
 a footbridge over Spruce Creek to the river
 The marina harbor with the river in the background

As to the corn country comment we definitely are there.  Farm fields that we have passed today are probably 80% to 90% corn.  Once in awhile there might be a bean crop but corn is the king here.

Great River Road

Here is a connection to the website for this total drive.

We are following the pilot's wheel signs.  There are actually segments of roads with this designation on both sides of the river.  We will jump back and forth according to my routing software choice.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Begin Great River Road to the North

I'm calling this trip the title of this post, "Great River Road to the North" as that is what we will follow all the way to the beginning of the Mississippi River.  A trip now planned for next spring will be called the "Great River Road to the South" when we will go back to Louisiana, MO but that time we will turn south and follow the Mighty Mississippi to it's delta into the gulf.

Today was a short trip so we didn't leave the Manor until around 10:30 this morning.  We had lunch at a scenic overlook along Missouri Rte 79 between Louisiana, MO and Hannibal, MO.  These shots of the river are from that overlook.

That stretch of MO 79 was one of my choices of designation as "National Scenic Byway" before I left MoDOT and on this one I was successful.  It is extremely scenic.  One other route that I tried to get designated was MO 19 from Salem, MO to Winona, MO but on that one the people along the route wouldn't have anything to do with it.

Tonight we are in Wakonda State Park which is just off of US 61 near La Grange, MO and not too far from the river.