Wildlife and Winter Woolies!

CAMPGROUND: 2nd night at Wasagaming Campground. See previous review
LOCATION: Riding Mountain National Park, northwest of Winnipeg, Manitoba
WEATHER: Wow – what a change! Yesterday was 95; today’s high was 50. Light rain most of the day.

The Visitor Center had told us that the bison herd inside the park come out mostly at dawn and dusk. Since the days are so long, that would be about 4:00 AM and 10:00 PM. Otherwise, they come out in the rain. Since it was drizzling, this was our chance! On our way to the bison range, we saw a moose along the road. I was so excited! This one looked like a teenager. He quickly hid in the woods. It happened too fast to get a photo. Driving down gravel roads, we saw lots of signs (poop) that the bison had been here, but we didn’t see any actual bison. Finally, we saw a group about a half mile away. We guessed that that would have to suffice. Then, we turned around and wow – there were three right on the road!They are huge! Happy with our sightings, we explored other parts of the park, stopping once in a while for George to try his luck at fishing (no success).Back at the campground, George convinced everyone (but me) that we should move to another site. He didn’t like the slope of the site, or the street light in front of our site, or its distance from the bathroom. Most of the campground’s 750 sites are vacant as the season hasn’t really started yet, so we were free to move. I have to admit that the new site is better. We are nice and level and are next to a shelter.Most of Canada’s parks, national and provincial, offer lovely shelters with picnic tables and wood stoves. The temperature seemed to drop all day and we were quite chilled. So, we pulled out our winter clothes and lit a roaring fire in the shelter’s stove. We were especially happy as this brought back memories of when we first met Tony and Jenny – in a provincial park shelter in Newfoundland in a shelter very much like this one.
DINNER: We ate in the shelter, now toasty from the fire. Tonight was my turn to cook. On the shelter’s stove, George warmed up some meat patties made with a hamburger, chorizo, and sausage blend. We served them with an orzo pasta sauce, garlic bread, and a side of asparagus/onion/mushroom medley.

BOOKS: With these long, summer days, I find myself staying up later, and consequently reading more. Tonight I finished another. This one was written by one of our daughter’s friends, Jeff Briggs, someone she had housesat for in Rochester, Minnesota, and in Seattle, Washington. “Out of the Cold Dark Sea” is a murder mystery that takes place in Seattle. I give it an 8 out of 10. The best part was recognizing some of the landmarks from Seattle that we recently visited.

Manitoba Prairie….and Mountains?

CAMPGROUND: Wasagaming Campground in Riding Mountain National Park. Typical national park – woodsy sites, decent bathrooms, gravel (but not level) sites, picnic tables, and good grills. Water and electricity hookups. $30/night. 3 stars out of 5

LOCATION: Wasagaming, Manitoba. About 150 NW of Winnipeg
WEATHER: Unseasonably hot. High 95. Sunny and windy. Storms are predicted

We enjoyed a slow-paced morning and hit the road at about 10:00. We skirted Winnipeg, driving by some beautiful, new homes in the suburbs. The drive was prairie, and more prairie. Magically, on the horizon, we saw a billboard advertising a craft brewery in an upcoming town. Of course, we had to stop.The owner could not have been more friendly, and chatted with us for a long time. He gave us lots of samples and we bought some cans. There is absolutely NO room in the refrigerator for anything else!!This huge area (Manitoba, Minnesota, North Dakota, Michigan, and Wisconsin) were once all one big lake after the mile-high glaciers melted. Riding Mountain is a karst, like a ridge) is where the soil and rocks were pushed up. We are on a beautiful lake. Later in the summer, this area will be packed with tourists, but it is still prettty quiet.It took a while for George to get the Airstream situated on our site as it is not level at all. After we set up, we all walked to the little town that is also part of the national park. We loaded up on information about things to do in the Visitor Center. DINNER: Tonight was Tony’s turn again. He did pork chops and stir-fried vegetables. I provided an appetizer of steamed asparagus wrapped in thin deli turkey slices. We sat outside at a picnic table for the gourmet meal!

Good Times in Winnipeg

CAMPGROUND: Arrowhead RV Park. See previous review
LOCATION: Just south of Winnipeg, Manitoba
WEATHER: Just about perfect. Sunny. High 76. Cool in AMs and PMs

We slept well in this quiet RV park. The owner works really hard keeping everything nice, while taking care of her 3 children, who are helpers. The office/bathrooms/laundry are on one side of the owners’ house. The school bus comes right into the RV park to pick the children up in the AM and drop them off in the PM.

We took a “power walk” with friends Tony and Jenny near the RV park in a flood control project area, with a beautiful, long hiking trail.

Feeling virtuous from all that exercise, we headed into Winnipeg. Winnipeg used to have a reputation of being a boring, prairie town, but it has certainly changed its image now. A bustling city of 750,000, it has a vibrant downtown, centered around an area called The Forks, where 2 rivers come together. There are lots of shops, restaurants, bars, and outside music venues.

Then, off to one of Winnipeg’s 15 breweries. Tony had researched them, selected the best, and planned our itinerary. This one had a super friendly owner/beer pourer.

We paced ourselves, sharing one sampler board at each place, and had lunch in the 3rd one. We skedaddled out of the city before afternoon rush hour.

The RV park continues to be top-notch. We did laundry and cleaned up in their beautiful bathrooms. They are very “homey”. The owner provides cloth wash clothes and bath mats, and keeps everything immaculate.

DINNER: George grilled rotisserie chicken. I served that with potato salad and a salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, and a few pinches of my oregano that I am hauling around.

BOOK: I finished another: “The Death of Mrs. Westaway” by Ruth Ware. I had selected it as I enjoyed another of her books “The Girl in Cabin 10”. A pretty good detective novel. 8 stars out of 10.

Oh Canada!

CAMPGROUND: Arrowhead RV Park. Friendly, family-owned park, conveniently located near Winnipeg. Trees for shade and level sites. Full hook-ups. $36 USD/night. 5 stars out of 5.
LOCATION: Ils de Chene, Manitoba, about 15 miles south of Winnipeg.
WEATHER: Sunny. High 78, but nice and cool in the evening.

We had an unhurried start to the day in Grand Forks. We took a walk and got caught up with wifi at Burger King for coffee. At most fast food restaurants, like BK and McDonald’s, we see old men sitting around gabbing and drinking coffee. These fast food places have seemingly replaced the old cafes where this small talk used to take place.

We stocked up at a grocery, and then hit the interstate north to the border. We passed huge fields – sugar beets and potatoes, we think. Pretty desolate country.

We have never had issues at the Canadian border before. We typically find the immigration people to be folksy and nice (unlike their US counterparts), only ensuring that we are not bringing guns into Canada. This time, however, we managed to get a grumpy guy. No chit chat with him. We were honest when we told him we had more wine and beer than is allowed. After a lot of blunt questioning, he sent us into the office to pay duty. He seemed very angry. I can’t help but think that part of this gruff manner is due to Trump’s trade policies and the fact that most Canadians do not like Trump at all. We paid the duty and were off. Next stop was the Manitoba Welcome Center, and the ladies there, by contrast, were very, very welcoming.

From the border, we drove about an hour north and found the RV park where our friends Tony and Jenny are camping. We first met them in 2013 when we had just started this life on the road. They are from Nova Scotia, and we met them at a provincial park in Newfoundland. Since that time, we have met each other on the road about 15 times – South Dakota, Michigan, and British Columbia. We have visited each other’s houses in Texas and Nova Scotia, and even met up in Belgium (sans the RVs). This summer they are traveling from Canada’s coast to coast and back- Nova Scotia to Vancouver- Nova Scotia. We will spend about 3 weeks together this summer, from Manitoba to Alberta.

DINNER: When we are with Tony and Jenny, we rotate dinner duty. Tonight was Tony’s turn, and he grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. Sauteed onions and mushrooms were a nice addition.

Minnesota – big state with big things!

CAMPGROUND: Red River Recreation Area. Located almost downtown on the river. Most sites are pull-through. Nice showers and bathrooms. Full hook-ups. Great grill and picnic table. Sites are far apart with lots of grassy areas for privacy. $40. 4 stars out of 5. (Would have rated it a 5 for amenities, but $40 seems a bit high)
LOCATION: East Grand Forks, Minnesota
WEATHER: All over the board. Sun, severe thunderstorms, cool, then hot to 96

We left our WalMart spot in Rochester early, just grabbing a coffee at the Kwik Trip in front of our trailer in the parking lot =:)

Traveling NW through Minneapolis would have been the most direct route, but we would have hit it at morning rush hour. So, we traveled west through farmland, then north to hook up with Interstate 94 way west of The Cities. The farms are really big and farmers are out in the fields with their huge machines.

Some of the fields are still very wet.

Everything seems big here…..the silos are incredible. We passed through several cute farm towns.

About noon, the sky turned black and we watched the thermometer plunge from 80 to 62 in minutes. After the storm, it warmed back up. Then, as we drove north, it kept getting hotter and hotter, topping out at 96.

Hot and tired, we wanted to stop for the day. We drove 444 miles, from SE to NW Minnesota.

A camping app we just installed misdirected us to a little neighborhood in Grand Forks, North Dakota where there was clearly no RV park. Then, I found this campground online and thankfully it was nearby, but across the bridge back into Minnesota in East Grand Forks.

The campground has just been opened for the summer, as it was flooded by the adjacent Red River.

We turned on the A/C, then walked through the park to a lodge-like bar/restaurant overlooking the river. We enjoyed a beer and an artichoke appetizer while the Airstream was cooling off.

DINNER: I am trying to use everything up in the freezer, as I need to defrost it (due to the high humidity we traveled through in the South). So, it was leftover chicken parmesan tonight although the amount of chicken was fairly sparse. I added the last of the sauteed zucchini and onions, so it was quite tasty.

We enjoyed the evening, as it cooled off nicely, and were able to open up all the windows for the night.

Sorry to our Minnesota friends

CAMPGROUND: Wal-Mart parking lot (North store)
LOCATION: Rochester, Minnesota
WEATHER: Beautiful. High 75

After a nice quiet night in the Harvest Host winery parking lot, we watched the sun come up over the winery.We did some chores on the Airstream. George put air in all of the tires, and fixed the refrigerator fan. YAY!We sped through the western part of Illinois. As we approached the Mississippi River, we started seeing lots of flooding. Fields have turned to lakes. There were a lot of houses under water. So sad.Once in Iowa, I started driving. George begged me (unsuccessfully) to stop at several places he thought would be interesting…..Iowa 80 Truck Stop (the world’s largest), Cattle Congress (scary sounding), the Grout Museum (as in ceramic tile grout?), and the John Deere Museum. Nope, I kept on driving.Then, into Minnesota.

Our destination was Rochester, where we lived from 2000-2013, when we retired. As we drove through town, we were amazed at the growth. We had arranged for the replacement meds (the $1600 package that the ranger in the Ohio campground had thrown away) to be sent to our daughter who lives here.We parked in the Wal-Mart parking lot (right under this sign). The manager told us it would be ok, but I was nervous.Then, we met up with our daughter and her boyfriend. They took us around town, then to his parents’ house for a nice dinner. We sat outside in their garden after dinner – I miss these lovely Minnesota summer evenings!We are heading out early tomorrow – in order to make it to Winnipeg in 2 days. So, I must apologize to our Minnesota friends for not getting together. We will be back through here in early September and will spend a week or so here, so hope to see lots of people then.

Traveling our nation’s poor Interstates. Wasn’t Trump going to fix them???

CAMPGROUND: Kickapoo Winery through Harvest Hosts

LOCATION: Near Peoria, Illinois
WEATHER: Mostly sunny. High 74

We were glad we had hooked up last night, as it stormed again during the night. People at the rally waiting until today to pull out will have to do it in the wet grass and mud.

Off to an early 7:00 start, we started our long day of driving. In Dayton, Ohio, we picked up Interstate 70. We had been warned that it was bumpy, and it truly was. It was so bumpy that our trailer brake connection came loose.

We stopped at a rest stop for lunch, and another Airstream rally trailer happened to be there, too. They are on their way back to Colorado. Then, a 3rd Airstream pulled in, someone not related to the rally. We were quite a spectacle.After Indianapolis, road conditions got a little better on Interstate 74. We gained an hour due to time zone change.

This Harvest Host winery is conveniently just a mile off the interstate. This is about the 15th Harvest Host location where we have camped. Harvest Hosts is a network of wineries, breweries, organic farms, golf courses, and museums that allow RVers to park in their parking lot for one night free. This one has a huge parking lot, so it was easy to get set up. After we quickly set up (really just opening the windows), we went into the winery to have a tasting. We always like to support the Harvest Host owners. This one’s wines weren’t all that great. The guy doing the tasting said that the locals prefer sweet wines, so they have designed most of their wines to cater to those tastes. (The people next to us bought 4 bottles of the sweetest!) We found one dry red wine, and bought a bottle.

DINNER: A leftover casserole with added chicken sausage – a casserole made with green beans, chicken, and a tahini sauce. Sides were cucumbers in yogurt, and a salad.

Swap Meet at Alumapalooza

CAMPGROUND: Airstream factory
LOCATION: Jackson Center, Ohio – between Columbus and Dayton
WEATHER: Mostly sunny. High 80

Another early morning yoga session started our day. Then, we set up a table at the swap meet. Anyone who wants to sell stuff can just grab a table and set up shop. We sold several things – with the bike rack being the main, big thing.Happily we sold about everything! So nice to not have to haul that stuff around. To celebrate our earnings, we headed out to another cute town near us. We had read that they have a gas station that is also a growler filling station. They have a great selection. George liked their artwork outside.Back to the Airstream, and to the public swimming pool for our last showers. We will be boondocking for the next few days, so want to start off clean!

We attended the final sessions at Alumapalooza including a nice farewell dinner. Back at the Airstream, we started getting things set up for an early departure tomorrow morning. We are heading for a Harvest Host winery in Illinois, about 300 miles down the road. We also want to move to the gravel area as more rain is expected tonight.

Best beer bar in Ohio!

CAMPGROUND: Airstream factory
LOCATION: Jackson Center, Ohio – between Columbus and Dayton
WEATHER: Mostly sunny. High 78

We started the day with a yoga session – George happily accompanied me. We do it under a tent on the grass. Since it has been raining some, the grass is tall and wet – we were really communing with nature!

After morning educational sessions (on things like electrical safety and propane), we jumped in the truck for a little day trip. We saw a billboard for “The Best Beer Bar in Ohio” so of course we had to check it out.

It was only about 10 miles from the Airstream factory, and indeed it was very good. Not a brewpub, but a bar that has lots of interesting craft beers from all over. The taps rotate on a daily basis, and we observed them changing one of the brews. We had a nice lunch there. We used their wifi to figure out our next route and to reserve a night at a Harvest Host winery.

We saw shards of glass all around our neighbor’s Airstream. Turns out that their (very big) dog crashed through it while they were gone, trying to check out another dog. Wow! Almost everyone here seems to have dogs.

We have arranged to get George’s medications (to replace the ones that the ranger threw away) sent to our daughter in Rochester, Minnesota. So, we are changing our route slightly to go through there.

Back at Alumapalooza, we attended more sessions and toured some 2020 trailers. Nice! Unfortunately, we did not win any door prizes at today’s drawings. Some of the prizes are really nice.

DINNER: George fired up our grill, and we cooked the red fish throats from his fishing trip at South Padre Island, right before we came here. It was nice to get stuff out of the freezer! Sides were a nice salad, and sauteed onions, summer squash, and zucchini.

After dinner, people congregated in a tent near our trailer. A guy had some sheets of copper and helped people make copper bracelets. We pounded out the copper, sandpapered the pieces into shape, then stuck them in hot coals for anealing – a process to give them a patina. Fun!