Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mighty Howard County Fair, Cresco, Iowa on the Turkey River

Mighty Howard County Fair, Cresco, Iowa

Another detour on our Great River Road trip. We got sidetracked first by the Calhoun Creamery in Churchtown, Iowa. Then on to Cresco for their county fair. Our plan is to stay at the fairgrounds so we drove straight there hoping there would be a space for our rig. Our lucky day, I think.

 We are parked with the carnival folks. Since we are here the day before fair opening we get to watch the midway getting set up. It’s quite the process and they have a system for getting it all up and running in short order. Then after all of their work, they got together a soccer game, about 30 of them and they played until dark.
 No, I didn't go on any of the rides.

 Good place for a cheap breakfast. Egg, sausage and pancake with o.j. for me, Jay had biscuits and gravy and o.j. all for $8!!
Free wi-fi here where I am sitting writing this on the outside patio.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Steamboat Days water ski show, June 20

See, I am wandering. Here are some photos from the water ski show we went to on Saturday afternoon.

 Internet service is not equal in this country so my posts are not in order. I was going to try to keep this chronological, but not only do we not have regular internet service, my thoughts wander. No harm in that though. When there are new experiences everyday it’s hard to keep it all straight.

I had never seen a live water ski show, only on t.v. Remember the show ‘Flipper’? They did some fancy stuff on the water. This was quite the sight, they are an all volunteer group called the Twin Cities River Rats. A lot of families involved, for some of the pyramids it would be a dad or big brother on the bottom with the little sisters climbing up on their shoulders. They were all having a good time. I hope you enjoy the pictures

This jump is on a trailer that they can tow wherever they need to take it. They anchor it in the river with manhole rings.
The jumpers where amazing, flips and twists and landing right every time. There were also barefoot skiers, they either start barefoot, or start on a ski then drop the ski and go until they fall. 

 Spectators on the levee.

 Look at the smiles on those beautiful faces.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mall of America

June 22

Well, we changed our minds again about the Great River Road. I mentioned that a few days ago and we are on it again. After our stint at the Mall of America we slept at a truck stop east of there in South St. Paul. Hmm, a little sketchy, but we didn’t have any trouble and got an early start out of there in the morning headed for Winona, named for an Indian chief’s daughter We-No-Nah, meaning first born daughter.

I need to back track just a little to share a few thoughts about the Mall of America. 

It’s beyond description but I don’t recommend the experience for everyone. I guess it kind of reminds me a being in Las Vegas,  with all of the sensory overload. The sounds, lights, food smells, masses of people, except here there are more children. Many more children. 

There's also a Peep store and LEGO store, great places for masses of little people.

Then there’s Nickelodeon Universe in the center of the work. It has about 20 rides, roller coasters, upside-down things, a water ride, mini-golf and more. Also an aquarium so with all of that there’s going to be gobs of kids. It was fun to see, but not something I would ever go back to.

We did get the iPad fixed at the Apple store, our genius was just that, and super patient with my non-tech brain. 

June 21 Steamboat Days Grand Parade, Winona, Minnesota

Who doesn’t love a parade!?  The Grand Parade for Steamboat Days in Winona, Minnesota was a big one. They had everything, real floats with princesses, 

marching bands,

Monday, June 22, 2015

June 22 thoughts on wandering

I decided to change the name of the blog from Travels with Val and Jay to Wanderings with Val and Jay. It is a better fit for what I will be sharing here, my thoughts on living in a nomadic way, photos of interesting things we have seen, the route we are taking and things like that. So it’s not just about travel.

Keeping with this new format here’s some info:

In case you were wondering, I have been keeping track of a few things while out on the road. Here’s a short list:
We have been out 42 days. 
We have driven, 4,227 miles,
free camped for 23 nights,
avoided tornadoes, hail the size of golfballs, flash flooding and snow,

Saw: Mt. Rushmore,
Crazy Horse Monument,
Badlands of South Dakota,
Bemidji, Minnesota
suffered with 83 mosquito bites, each(ok, guessing on that one)
seen 1 movie, Spy with Melissa McCarthy, (very funny)
Read three books,
finished hand quilting two quilt blocks,
knitted one baby hat,
watched a water ski show on the Mississippi River

and a Grand Parade in Winona, Minnesota.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

June 15, travel with cats

June 15, cats

Travel is hard, must rest in the sunshine.

I was a bad girl, clawing the furniture, so mommy put blue covers on my toenails.

I'm so tired, I have to sleep in this chair upside-down.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

June 14, Little Falls and St. Joseph

How's this for a big fish? Another quirky oversized roadside attraction, this time anoffering from Minnesota, between Bimidji and Bena. There is a large statue of Paul Bunyan and the Blue Ox in Bemidji but we couldn't get close to that due to reconstruction in the area.
A glimpse of the Mississippi river, finally a break in the trees as we head south from our camp along Sixmile Lake. It was a nice spot, that I failed to take any pictures of. Guess I didn't want to stand still that long to let the mosquitoes feed.

On our way south down County Road 84, and 371, we paused in Little Falls, MN. A charming town with lots of history. Charles Lindbergh was from here and Charles A. Weyerhauser got his start here. We took a walk along the Mississippi River in a lovely park and checked out the dam. After a quick lunch in the big house, we moved on south on 371 with a detour on another part of the Great River Road to St. Joseph, just west of St. Cloud. The scenery has opened up, moving in to the deciduous forest area and more farm land. It’s nice to be out of the trees and be able to see the sky instead of being enveloped by trees.

This is another view of the river at Little Falls, Minnesota. We thought about a picnic here, but, yep, you guessed it, mosquitoes.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Minnesota Nature, June 2015

Itasca State Park in Minnesota is the official headwaters of the Mississippi River. This is very near that point as we entered the park.

This is the actual spot where it all begins.

Many people like to walk across the rocks on the left. I chose not to as I didn't feel like slipping and falling on hard rocks. I don't mind getting wet, but those rocks can do some damage to ankles.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Edinburg birdhouses

General Store

Barber Shop

 Another neat thing about the little town of Edinburg is their birdhouses. I noticed these the first day we drove through town. It wasn't until we were here for a couple of days that I had a chance to investigate them further.

It turns out, each one is a replica of a building in town. I didn't get pictures of them all.
I ran in to the mayor and a friend one morning and they told me a little more about the birdhouses. Seems there is controversy over whether or not birdhouses should have holes so the birds can actually take up residency.  We all know that while birds are nice and necessary to eat some of those mosquitoes, they also can create quite a mess.
Feed & Seed Store

Home Sweet Home

Barber Shop
The houses need some fresh paint and it was suggested that they be sure to cut holes for the birds. That didn't go over too well with some of the people in town, so the birds are out of luck and will have to find their home in the city park.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

anyone remember the game Marco Polo?

In the small town of Edinburg, North Dakota there is this beautiful city park. When we first arrived it was after a heavy rain and no one was in the park. There is a formal French style manicured garden with the carefully pruned shrubs surrounded by groomed flower beds filled with flowers that had not yet shared their colors.

There was all of this well maintained old playground equipment, with some new. We stayed here two days and watched as people slowly cruised the park in golf carts on a Sunday afternoon.

 And then the children showed up, about 6 of them, all around the same age, from 6-10 years old. They ran around shouting Marco - Polo, then spent some time on the swings. Next they were all on this old slide, climbing up the slide of course while some climbed up the ladder. There was a man who came to clean the old equipment, brushing off any stray leaves or grass and another who came to tend to some low hanging branches on the trees.
It was wonderful to see children playing outdoors, and to see the grownups enjoying their park in their own way.
And the gentle reminder that you are responsible for your own actions.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Home base Icelandic State Park, June 3-6

We get landed at Icelandic State Park and Jay and I spend the first hour vacuuming up the bugs. They weren’t mosquitoes, but you didn’t want to squish them because they left a green splotch wherever they were.

This is a beautiful well kept park. There are probably 150 campsites and only 4 groups here and we are two of them. We meet Roxanne the Ranger and she tells us it’s a little early in the season and they also just reopened the main road into the park after having a detour in place for the past 4 years due to construction of a new dam. 

North Dakota farmland, and sky

We had a nice campfire and it was nice enough weather wise and mosquito-wise to sit outside to have dinner. On Thursday and Friday the weather was fine, sunny with a light breeze. Perfect for wandering around rural cemetery’s searching for ancestors. Thursday when we were at the Thingvalla cemetery we spoke with a gentlemen there who was mowing the lawn. We actually ran into a lot of lawn mowers over the two days. Every cemetery here is mowed and tended. Anyway, this guy, his name is Leslie, is very friendly and knows a lot about the area. He has lived here his whole life. We visit with him for close to an hour in this tiny cemetery. I did ask him my 5 questions which helped to promote the conversation, not that it really needed any as he was very chatty.  He likes the smallness of living here and knowing everyone. The drawback to that is that everyone knows you too, and what you’re doing. He has a dog, a couple of cats and some cattle. He likes meat and potatoes for his main meal, he farms and he is grateful for his health. It is interesting to note, he in turn asked us what we were grateful for today. No one else has asked us that.

Crystal Memorial Cemetery

 There had been a beautiful old church on the site, but it burned to the ground in 2011. I figure that Mom and Chuck are getting bored and tired of sitting on a rock in the shade of the statue of Jesus, but before we part ways Leslie invites us to dinner at the cafe in Mountain on Friday. Seeing as how we don’t have any plans to be anywhere, why not? Dinner is actually lunch, thankfully he said to meet there at 11:30, otherwise I think we would have missed him.

Friday we spent several hours with our new friend Leslie. After lunch of Tater Tot hot plate with mixed vegetables and Red Velvet cake for dessert, we get a guided tour of their new community center, learn about the Deuce of August, an annual huge Icelandic festival, visit the oldest Icelandic church in the U.S. and the cemetery next door. One of Chuck’s ancestors is buried he and we took a rubbing of the grave marker. Leslie then takes us to the other newer cemetery in Mountain, just 1/2 mile west and we spend another hour or so visiting , not finding anyone we know here as it’s too new. 

Helen in the Crystal Cemetery
Thingvalla church remnant

Jesus statue that provided shade for Mom and Chuck
 Time to call it a day. I think over the two days we visited about 10 cemeteries. Mom and Chuck were worn out, walking on uneven ground, in the wind and looking at all those headstones. Heck, I was tired too.

Chuck had picked up some steaks in Jamestown for our parting dinner. We got some taters to bake at the local market and had a feast! I’m not much of a red meat eater but those were the best darn steaks I have had in years. The baked potatoes were also the best, not grainy at all. The little town of Hoople is known as Tator Town so they better be good. 

Saturday was the day we part ways and they head west for home. It’s been a good time traveling with them. Good food, good company, doesn’t get much better than that. 

I bid them safe travels and head over to the beach area for a yoga class offered at the park. Roxanne the Ranger is there to let anyone who might show up know that class was cancelled due to the pending thunderstorm. A lady from Cavalier showed up for the class and I mentioned that I teach yoga and if she would like to practice with me we can have a little class anyway. Roxanne helps us find a semi-level grassy spot and I invite her to stay and practice with us. She is happy to do so. Two other young women show up and we have a nice little practice about 45 minutes as the thunder  and lightning looms closer. I have them in savasana on the grass with bugs, twigs and the rain begins. I tell them I usually like to have a 10 minute savasana but due to the circumstances we’ll keep it to a minute. The all sit up and we namaste, then get the hell out of there as the sky opens up and the downpour begins. I pedal the bike as fast as I can back to camp only slightly soaked. 

The rain keeps pouring until about 2, it lets up a little so we decide to pull out. We make it as far as across the main road, Hiway 5, to the Pembina County Museum where we spent about 3 hours doing some genealogy research for Jay and Chuck. We did manage to find obituary notices for a few of the relatives. We then head south to find a new landing spot for the evening. We call Edinburg, ND home for a few nights and rest. 

Did I happen to mention anywhere that there is a lot of farm land around? And a lot of sky?
North Dakota sky, thunderstorm brewing.

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