Winding down in Rochester…

LOCATION:  Rochester, Minnesota
CAMPGROUND:  Autumn Woods RV Park
WEATHER:  Very nice.  High 83.  Cool evening/night

We spent the morning doing laundry and I cooked up some meals for our daughter Alexis to have on hand.  We worked to finalize the new logo that Alexis’s boyfriend did for us….

I mentioned yesterday that our neighbor here at the RV park is messy…  It just gets worse.  They did laundry and it is hanging out all over, in addition to their garbage.  They just open their door and throw out empty bottles. 

We will be returning to Rochester for just one night for a follow-up visit at Mayo.  We scoped out a county park where we will try to stay next time. 

Then, in the late afternoon, we went to the home of  one of my former coworkers to enjoy a glass of wine on their deck.  It was so relaxing, and with perfect temperatures. 

From there, we joined Alexis and Graham at my very favorite restaurant in Rochester – The Redwood Room.  A lot of new places have opened up, but this is still the best, in my opinion.  It is in the downstairs of a historic building, and is very cozy.  When we were working, especially in winter,  we would walk there after work on a late Friday afternoon, munch on their complimentary French bread dipped in olive oil and parmesan, sip a beer or wine,  listen to a musician, then walk a few blocks to catch our city bus home.  At that hour of the day, we often were the only bus passengers.  The driver played classical music on the radio, and it seemed like we had our own private limo!  At a bargain price!

For our meals, Alexis had a cauliflower curry; Graham ordered a pizza; and George and I shared a chicken/Andouille sausage cajun rice dish.  All washed down with a Malbec.  A very nice evening out! 

Making memories and remembering memories

LOCATION:  Rochester, Minnesota
CAMPGROUND:  Autumn Woods RV Park
WEATHER:  Another beautiful day.  Sunny.  High 83.  Cool at night

We met up with a former co-worker and his wife for lunch and a beer at a new bar/restaurant in town.  It, like many others, has built a large patio area to attract customers who are wary of eating indoors.  It was a lovely day.  They have a great beer selection so George was happy! 

Lots of Facebook photo memories popped up today.  This was from 6 years ago when we were on our way to Alaska.  We spent a few days in fun Dawson City, Yukon where George flirted with the can-can girls.  He was in heaven there, too!

This memory was from 4 years ago when we did a housesitting assignment in Bangkok, Thailand.  That has been one of our most unique experiences….the cat got really sick (diabetic coma) and we had to rush him to a pet hospital, all with a pretty steep language barrier.  Everything ended well. While the cat recuperated in the pet hospital, we had a lot of free time to explore the city, sometimes in a tuk tuk…

We stopped by our daughter’s apartment to take showers.  The showers here at the RV park are closed.  We could use our own shower in the Airstream, but that would mean emptying it all out, as it serves as our primary storage area …..and wine cellar.  Afterwards, we went back to Trader Joe’s for more shopping.  They were only allowing a certain number of people in the store at one time. 

We have decided to change our route a bit.  When we leave here tomorrow, we are going over to Nelson, Wisconsin along the Mississippi for 3 nights, rather than up North, Minnesota.  It will mean less driving.  We have to come back here next week for a follow-up appointment at Mayo, and it does not make sense to be going so far north, and then to return here.  This will be easier on us. 

DINNER:  Baked potato topped with spaghetti sauce.  Side was fresh broccoli in a cheese sauce. 

BOOK:  “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See.  I have read several of her books.  I think she is a protege of Amy Tan.  It is historical fiction, telling the story of a Chinese woman in the 1700s.  5 stars out of 5. 

Farmers’ Market

LOCATION:  Rochester, Minnesota
CAMPGROUND:  Autumn Woods RV Park
WEATHER:  Really nice.  High low 80s.  Cool at night.  Just about perfect!

We have the messiest neighbors here at the RV park.  They have been here 2 weeks and have spread their “stuff” all over their site.  Last night, it rained pretty hard and everything got soaked.  They live in a motor home (the kind you drive like a bus) and are not pulling a car.  That means that they are pretty much stuck here.  The wife goes to Mayo daily; an Uber picks her up each morning.  Today, George gave the husband a lift to WalMart to buy groceries and to pick up prescriptions.  The guy is a little strange.  He sits outside, sometimes wearing no pants.  One day he wore a dress. 

Today (Saturday) was the Farmers’ Market in Rochester.  When we lived here, we went faithfully each Saturday morning.  Today, we checked out their new venue, with more parking and vendors.  There were so many vegetables to choose from.  It was delightful.  Masks are required all over Rochester, even for outdoor activities like this.  Since we already have a refrigerator full of veg, we just bought some meat and some homemade zucchini bread.  Nice outing!

We bought our Joy decal lettering for the Airstream.  George did the honors….

This Facebook memory popped up from one year ago. We were outside Edmonton, Alberta with my aunt and uncle, visiting the area where my mother grew up. We were searching for their old house down this VERY muddy road. It was so muddy that we could not turn around, and we ended up backing up about 3 miles. What a nightmare! (Now in retrospect, it is kind of funny)

In the evening, George went to a beer club  meeting.  It is a club that he belonged to when we lived here.  Some of the folks make beer, but most are just beer lovers.  Tonight’s meeting was at a farm where the owner has a huge garden and enough bees to make 1 ton of honey!  George said that the theme tonight was mead.  (I stayed home).

DINNER:  As we are swimming in vegetables, we just had veg for dinner….also because George snacked at the beer meeting.  I made a big lettuce salad with the lettuce our former neighbors gave us.  I also made a squash casserole with the squash from our daughter’s CSA.  Easy and good recipe:  Saute sliced squash or zucchini with diced onions or scallions, and garlic or garlic scapes.  Sprinkle on Parmesan or other cheese.  Bake or microwave until cheese sets.  Top/serve with kale pesto – which I recently discovered at Trader Joe’s. 

Enjoying the old ‘hood

LOCATION:  Rochester, MN
CAMPGROUND:  Autumn Woods RV Park
WEATHER:  Pretty nice.  High 83

We did some shopping and found a JOY decal for our Airstream.  Alexis’s boyfriend is also working on a new logo with JOY on it for the blog.  Can’t wait to put it all together!

We stopped by our old neighborhood.  We were amazed at how much the trees have grown.  We checked out our old house, where we lived from 2000 – 2013.  It looks pretty much the same.

Then, we had a happy hour with some neighbors on their driveway, social distancing of course.  One guy is a brewer and filled up George’s growler with one of his Belgian beers.  It was fun to get together with the old crowd.  When we lived here, we often met up on a driveway to chat and sip beer.

DINNER:  In an unsupervised moment the other day, George stopped at our favorite bakery in town. His plan was to have a cup of coffee and a snack; he ended up with a huge, frozen pastie.  So tonight, since it was cooler, we baked the pastie in the oven.  It was a traditional one – with meat and diced potatoes.  We added a LOT of hot sauce to it for flavor.  Side was a caprese salad that I made to use the basil that our daughter had given us from her CSA.  I didn’t have any mozzarella, so I substituted some goat cheese..  All good!

A Day of Recuperation

LOCATION:  Rochester, Minnesota
CAMPGROUND:  Autumn Woods RV Park
WEATHER:  A cold front came through with heavy rain.  High 66.  Everyone is happy!!!

Today was a rather slow day. I spent it resting after my procedure…..nothing to worry about.

Daughter Alexis had the day off so we hung out together.  We picked up lunch at Old Abe’s, a vegan restaurant.  George and I split a non-meat brat sandwich.  It had wasabi and a cucumber/onion sauce.  Quite tasty.  In this photo, George is wearing the t-shirt from the deli in Minneapolis that makes the non-meat products- “The Herbivorous Butcher”.

We have decided to extend our stay here before we go “up North”, giving us a chance to see some friends.  I am also trying to decide our route from here to Montana.  We will have about 4 days to get to the Bozeman area, so we will have some long driving days then. 

DINNER:  Soup (sorry to say, but out of a can) and salad – using some of our daughter’s CSA veg that she picked up today.  She also gave us broccoli, basil,  and scallions.  Really fresh and tasty!

Around Mayo Clinic

CAMPGROUND:  Autumn Woods RV Park
LOCATION:  Rochester, MN
WEATHER:  Still hot.

We did a few more things around Mayo Clinic.  Here is the entrance to the Gonda building, where many offices and procedure rooms are located.

Two Facebook memories popped up today.  This was from 6 years ago when we went to Alaska

And this one was taken a year ago when we were visiting my aunt and uncle in Grande Prairie, Alberta

We visited one of our friends, a former coworker with George.  We got a pizza and salad to go.  So nice talking with old friends.  This friend lives in a section of town behind Mayo’s St. Mary’s Hospital.  A lot of physicians live in that area, so it is referred to as “Pill Hill”.  In addition to neighborhood book stands, where people can grab books, there are some filled with canned goods rather than books.  Such a great idea….

BOOK:  I finished another Louise Penney novel – “How the Light Gets In”.  5 stars out of 5.  Really enjoy her writing.

Beautiful Rochester and Mayo Clinic

CAMPGROUND:  Autumn Woods RV Park
LOCATION:  Rochester, MN
WEATHER:  Hot (93).  Feel like – 103 (with humidity)

Today was healthcare day.  I had an appointment in the Gonda Building, Mayo’s most recent clnic building.  (You, too can get a building named after you…..if you donate enough money)…joining the Hilton Building, Marriott Building, etc.  The Gondas are in the NetJet business)

Mayo does a suberb job with its aethestics.  Flowers, paintings, sculptures veryone.  They also promote music for the soul.  The baby grand paino is often used by patients and staff who strike up a tune.  This is view of flowers from the the Gonda atrium…

Along with this “Statue of Man” between the lobby and 1st floor

And, the stairway is topped with Chichuly glass art

Mayo “won” the designation of the best hospital in the world in 2019,  and has signs around the campus showing this…

Mayo is super super cautious about Covid.  In BC (Before the coronivirus) times, elevators were always packed with patients and visitors.  Now, they are pretty much empty now, with strips marking 6-foot distances.

They say that corn should be “Knee High by the 4th of July”.  This cornfield in front of our RV park, shows that it surpasses that goal.

DINNER”  Leftover steak in a mashed potato sauce. I made some roux, and browned leftover mashed potatoes in garlic and oil.  Served with leftover black aoili from the restaurant’s lunch the other day.  Served with a salad.

Cautious with Covid

LOCATION:  Rochester, Minnesota
CAMPGROUND:  Autumn Woods RV Park
WEATHER:  Still hot.  High 95

I had two Covid tests this morning at Mayo Clinic, in preparation for a procedure I will have done later this week.  (Nothing to be concerned about).  A swab test to see if I HAVE the virus; a blood test to see if I HAD it unknowingly. It is not surprising that they are EXTREMELY cautious about Covid.  Lots of precautions.  Mayo has had to furlough a lot of its administrative staff during the pandemic, but it was interesting to see how they have been redeployed in new temporary jobs, such as escorting patients like me from place to place, minimizing contact with others. 

The entire city is uber-cautious.  This is the most mask-compliant place we have been.  Not surprisingly, everyone wears masks all of the time.  After we had lunch out today, the City increased its caution by requiring everyone to wear masks at all times, including at restaurants.  You are supposed to leave it on while eating, just lower the mask when you take a bite or sip.  It reminds me of the covered ladies I watched eating while in Dubai.

We had lunch together at one of Rochester’s great new brewpubs.

You call ahead for reservations, and they only reserve a few tables at a time.  Customers have their table for two hours, giving staff time to deep-clean between customers. 

The food was great, and unique.  George had a very rich macaroni and cheese, topped with kimchi of all things. 

Alexis’s boyfriend had the seasonal salad – a soba noodle salad with a lot of veg…

Alexis had a big pile of French fries with the restaurant’s black garlic aioli

I had a (somewhat) boring Caesar”s salad.  No photo…

The decor of the restaurant is nice.  These are their former beer labels…

In the afternoon, I had a dentist appointment.  (So many things to check off while we are here).  They, too, were very conscientious.  The fairly large waiting room had been stripped of its cushy furniture, magazines, kids’ play area, and coffee station and was left with 5 lonely-looking hardback chairs spaced about 15 feet apart from each other.  Only a skeleton staff works daily, reducing the number of patients seen. 

With a clean bill of health (both Covid tests and dentist), we stopped by the British pub next to the neighborhood where we used to live.  This had been our hangout when we lived here.  So convenient – we could walk there from our house.  Normally at 5:00, it would have been packed, but today there were only a few customers.  Mostly take-out.

We hung out at our daughter’s apartment for a bit.  She lives in an older house that has been converted to apartments.  It is conveniently located just a few blocks from  Mayo Clinic’s Methodist Hospital campus where she works, so she can walk to /from her job. 

DINNER:  We took it easy and returned to the Airstream for a light dinner…..leftover Caesar’s salad with chicken and cheese chunks. 

A Trip to the Mississippi!

LOCATION:  2nd night in Rochester, Minnesota
CAMPGROUND:  Autumn Woods RV
WEATHER:  Hot and humid.  95

Today was a road trip to the Mississippi River, about 40 miles away.  We picked up daughter Alexis and headed out.  We drove through lush corn and soybean fields.  Everything looks green, healthy, and rich. 

Our first stop was Lake City, MN – birthplace of water-skiing!  The story goes that two Norwegian settlers here, enjoying snow skiing, figured out a way to modify the skiis to use on the water. 

Lake City is a small town with a large marina.  You can see the sailboats in the background.

The road travels south following the Mississippi.  The views were beautiful with lots of boaters out today on Lake Pepin, part of the Mississippi.

In Wabasha, we crossed over to Wisconsin. 

Our destination was Nelson’s Creamery, one of our favorite places to go when we are in the area. 

The front part is a cheese shop, wine and beer shop, and ice cream stand.  People were lined up out the door to buy their famous ice cream.

We avoided the crowds and slipped in the back door where the bistro is.

It really has a nice vibe.  It is small, intimate, and nicely decorated.  In the winter, they light a big fire in the fireplace.

Lunch was a hummus platter for Alexis….

And a salad/sandwich combo for us.  George and Alexis shared a bottle of an excellent South African sauvignon blanc (good South African wines are hard to find here).  They could embibe as I am the designated driver for a few days, in preparation for some labwork.

Then, back across the bridge to Minnesota.  We stopped at Slippery’s Bar and Grill for a photo op.  This is where the Walter Matthau/Jack Lemmon movie “Grumpy Old Men” was filmed.

Back at the RV park, I prepared dinner for Alexis and her boyfriend.  I got Joy all fancied up…

DINNER:  Tacos.  I made ours with chicken and vegan Alexis had hers with fake steak.  Side was lettuce salad.  I used a lot of the veg that Alexis gave me from her CSA to which she belongs. 

George grilled the meat (and vegan “meat” for the tacos.

Here is the recipe that some people requested for the soba salad I made the other day.  You can substitute a lot of different veg in this…..

Soba (Asian buckwheat noodles) Salad

3-4 oz soba (one of the banded bundles is 3 oz)
2 c frozen edamame
2-3 Tablespoons soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp sugar
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
Diced scallions
Diced red onions
I added diced scapes and chives, although the recipe didn’t call for them
1 packet miso soup mix mixed with 1 Tablespoon water (or you can use regular miso.  I like the soup mix as it makes just the right amount, and you are not left with a big package of miso). 
Diced red bell pepper

Boil soba about 4 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cool water.  Drain again
Cook edamame – I did in microwave using package directions.  Drain, rinse with cool water.  Drain again

Mix together everything else.  Add chilled soba and edamame

Recipe said you can add blanched spinach if you want.  I didn’t



Back home in Rochester!

LOCATION:  Rochester, Minnesota – our (previous) home town!  In southeast Minnesota
CAMPGROUND:  Autumn Woods RV Park.  This is about the 5th time we have stayed here.  Was previously one of our favorites, but it has gone downhill.  Trash at our site.  Full hook-ups and paved, level site.  Nice laundry room.  Poor wifi.  Showers and toilets are closed (supposedly due to Covid-19, but I think it is because they don’t have staff to clean them).  At $50 night, rating goes down to 3 out of 5.
WEATHER:  Hot.  95.  We are hot; the locals are sweltering!
DRIVE:  One hour

We didn’t dawdle at Myre-Big Island State Park this morning…we left fairly early for Rochester.  It was an easy drive, but parts of the Interstate were closed due to construction, and we had to take detours. 

After we got set up at the RV park, we contacted our daughter who lives here to make plans for the day.  We visited her and her boyfriend at their apartment, did laundry, went shopping together, and hung out.  Nice!

Then, in the evening, we took a traditional July 4th picnic to the home of our daughter’s boyfriend’s parents.  They live in a beautiful, older neighborhood of Rochester with lots of big, shady trees.  Their garden is full of vegetables and flowers.

George fired up the grill and we made hamburgers (vegan) and brats (the real thing). 

We had a nice dinner.  They made potato salad and some delicious guacamole.  I made a cold soba noodle salad.  (Comment if you would like the recipe). 

We sat outside on their driveway surrounded by beautiful flowers, distanced apart, for a lovely meal and conversation.  Not surprisingly, Rochester folks seem to be more vigilant about Covid-19 than any other place we have been. 

Our daughter is off the next few days, so we will enjoy being with her.  We want to see old friends and neighbors while we are here.  We also have Mayo appointments, dentist appointments, and the all-important beauty shop appointment with my former hairdresser.