Sunday, August 31, 2008

Time flys when you're having fun

Boy, time sure gets away from me easily. Every day I tell myself to stop and update the blog with all the happenings..but between working and "playing tourist" time just goes by faster and faster. We spent the last week in Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton. These small towns bisected by the Wisconsin River are a popular destination for many folks in the state.

The Wisconsin River in the Dells is divided into the "Lower Dells" and the "Upper Dells." The areas are separated by a power dam. A traditional boat tour along the "Upper Dells" was highly recommended, and that is the trip we took on Monday.

There were two stops, one at mystic Witches Gulch, the other at "Stand Rock," possibly the most famous site in the Dells. This tour lasted over two hours and was excellent. We glided along observing sandstone rock cliffs on each side that have been formed by water and wind erosion over many many years. Majestic strands of towering pine trees located along the sandstone bluffs add greatly to the scenic wonder of the area. We were told to watch for Eagles but sorry to say never caught a glimpse of one.
At the first stop we walked for a couple of blocks into the Witches Gulch. Named by Indians because they believed the area was "haunted". It certainly was spooky enough to be.

At the second stop we were again allowed to leave the boat to walk through the woods. We stopped at a point where we looked up and marveled at an amazing rock formation called Stand Rock. It is 5 1/2 feet from a nearby bluff, but it stands all alone. On the bluff a remarkable dog awaited us and his master's command to leap from the safety of the bluff across a dangerous abyss onto the safety of the table rock and back. We all looked up in awe as this remarkable dog made his daring leap from the bluff to the Stand Rock, and back to the safety of the bluff. Everyone applauded this wondrous feat. This act commemorates H.H. Bennett's stop-action photo of his son Ashley leaping to Stand Rock in 1888. This picture proved to the photographic world that Mr Bennett had in deed created the stop action camera lens. Before this, subjects in pictures had to stand perfectly still at least 5 minutes while the picture "took". Can you imagine? No wonder our ancestors never smiled in their picture.

The Dells are now famous for being the "Water Park Capital of the World". I don't know if this is true or not but there are certainly a lot of parks. Every..every..every hotel has one. Each trying to "outdo" their neighbor offering more and different water slides and rides. And that doesn't even include the independent water parks like Mt Olympus or Noah's Ark. These were very popular and busy.

One day we went to a near-by Baraboo. This town is the home of the Circus World Museum. The museum has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the US Department of the Interior and is located at the site of the original Ringling Bros Circus winter quarters. We enjoyed three circus shows and walking through the many exhibits. The circus wagons on display were remarkable and the shows were excellent. Clowns, music, acrobatics and song.

We also took one day to drive down to Madison. Madison is the capital of Wisconsin and is uniquely placed with the streets running east and west between two lakes.
They have a pretty impressive capital building right in the middle of town.

While there we continued our search for bicycles and had lunch at Culvers. Culvers is a pretty good chain restaurant here in the mid west. They specialize in butterburgers and yummy ice cream. They also have pretty good BBQ pork ribs.

We bought a bicycle for me at Target in Madison. It is pink..a Schwinn with 7 speeds. So far I've made it around the campground a few times without incident.
We bought Gary a bike at Blain's Farm and Fleet in Baraboo. It is also a Schwinn with 7 speeds too.
And they fit on the rack we've installed on the front of the house. Yippie!! We've been looking for bikes all summer.

On Friday we left the Dells and went south through the Wisconsin countryside. The area was very rural with many many farms along highway 23.

We stopped for the weekend at the Rustic Barn campground near Dubuque Iowa. Gary went to Dubuque a couple of years ago and wanted to go back to show me around. This town of about 60,000 residents is located on the Mississippi River. Unlike many towns in this state they didn't having any problems with flooding from the river in June. They are protected by a dike that did it's job.
Dubuque was very busy this Labor Day weekend. Many folks were visiting and enjoying the parks and the river. We saw many boats and jet skis on the water.

Today we moved about 345 miles from Iowa, through Illinois into Indiana. We're staying at a Thousand Trails Preserve in the middle of corn fields about 30 miles north of Terre Haute. Even though this is a VERY rural area, I have a very good internet signal. That makes it nice to work and update the blog. :)

I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Labor Day. Our prayers go out to those in the path of the hurricane.

Love to you all...stay safe and healthy...see you soon...North Carolina in October is coming day by day....quicker and quicker..

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rainy day in Wisconsin

Today was a gray and rainy day here at Country Road RV Park. I worked this morning and Gary removed the bugs from the front of the house in between sprinkles. Afterward we went over to Wisconsin Dells to Pedro's Mexican restaurant for lunch. Not too bad but I sure do miss NC's Mexican restaurants. My favorite is Taqueria Arandas‎ in Garner. Yummy cheese dip!! I look forward to returning to it when we're back home in October.

After lunch we rode over to Baraboo. This small town is the home to the Circus World Museum. It is designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior and is located at the site of the original Ringling Bros. Circus winter quarters. We're going to return later in the week if the weather improves. Many of the exhibits are outside and we just didn't want to walk around in the rain.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Tires

Yesterday we left Hinckley Minnesota after 13 days and went up to Carlton to get our new tires. Welll....another ISSUE!!!...Goodyear didn't send the right tires. It appears the factory is not making Marathon tires at this time. So..they very nicely sent different tires instead. Another decision to we buy these Goodyear tires (Titan) and have 3 Titans and 1 Marathon on the house or do we buy 1 Titan to replace the blown tire and end up with 1 Titan, 1 Marathon and 2 Tow-Max.....Not really knowing that the best decision would be...we went ahead and bought the 3 Titans. We just knew we had to get rid of the Tow-Max tires.

So..we're running 3 Titans and 1 Marathon with a Tow-Max spare. We're going to buy 1 more Titan and use the Marathon as the spare and get rid of the Tow-Max completely once we're settled with the warranty company. They have decided they MUST see the blown tire before taking responsibility for them. We think since these tires have a known history of problems and we have blown out 2 in the past month that they should re-reimburse us for all of the tires. Not just for the two that have blown out. Irregardless I feel a little be safer now. I'm still pretty paranoid and watch the tires like a hawk. Every time we stop I'm checking the tires for increased heat or anything that just looks wrong. We're probably going to invest in a tire monitor system for the house next month. Then, at least we'll know when a tire loses pressure and hopefully can avoid more damage to the house. We were lucky this time the damage is pretty slight and Gary will probably fix it himself.

We stayed last night at CheTek River Campground in CheTek Wisconsin. This is a nice park right on the CheTek River. Mostly full of seasonal RVs that are very well maintained. We talked for a while with one of the seasonal RV'ers who used to full-time too. He had a new puppy his granddaughter named Odie. She really like Ellie and wanted to play but Ellie wasn't real interested.

Today we came south to Lake Delton. We're staying at Country Roads Motorhome and RV Park until Monday. We learned about this park from Terry and Nick Russell. Terry and Nick have been full-time RVers for many years. They have published several books and have a bi-monthly magazine about their travels. Check out Nick's blog for some interesting reading.

Well..we're going to check out the town..more later. Love to you all, Deb

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Since Cody

We left Cody and went north through the southeastern corner of Montana. We spent a couple of days in Miles City. Then moved on into North Dakota. We stopped in Bismarck and stayed for over a week at a nice park with a good rate. We enjoyed touring around the area. Bismarck is the capital of North Dakota and is a pretty good size town with much activity. One of the main crops in the area is sunflowers. We saw acres and acres of them.

We spent part of a day at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. Rich in both military and early Native American history, Fort Abraham Lincoln was once an important infantry and cavalry post. It was from this fort that Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh Cavalry rode out on their ill-fated expedition against the Sioux at the Little Big Horn. Portions of the military post, including the Custer House, have been reconstructed.

There are also reconstructed earthlodges that depict the lifestyle of the Mandan Indians, who occupied this site from about 1575-1781.

Next stop was Fargo. Fargo is right on the border of North Dakota and Minnesota with the Red River of the North dividing Fargo from Moorhead. With over 90,000 folks living in Fargo this is definitely the largest city we've been in for about 3 months. We stayed for 2 nights at the city campground. This also was a nice park right on the river.

While there I took a deep breath and bought a new camera at Best Buy. A Canon Rebel Digital SLR. My very first SLR camera. I've always used a point and shoot but really had gotten frustrated with it's limitations. And I had just plain wore out my Olympus. With the new camera I have a lot to learn. I've been reading and have more to read to learn to use even half of the features on it. I'm enjoying the challenge very much.

We left Fargo last Monday. On the way, we had another tire blow out on the house. These Tomax tires have got to go. This one blew a hole in the sidewall bigger than my fist. Fortunately Gary saw debris flying from the tire and got us stopped pretty quick. He changed out the tire for our spare and we went onto the Grand Casino RV Park in Hinckley.

We've had trouble finding a replacement tire. And because we had some slight damage to the wheel well, dealing with the warranty company has been a bit of a challenge. We finally found a tire in Carlton about a hour north of where we're staying and drove up there last Friday. The tire store put the new tire on the wheel and we brought it back to the house. We decided to go ahead and have the same company change out the other 2 tires too. We've gone to Goodyear Marathon tires. No more ToMax tires. They had to order those so we made an appointment to go back up there as soon as our mail arrived here. Then, yesterday Gary was looking at the tire we already had (not on the house yet) and realized that they had given us the wrong tire. It was a D load tire instead of an E. So..back on the phone with the store. They had to order the replacement tires from the factory since no one in Minnesota has these in stock. Hopefully they will be in on Monday and we can get them installed and travel on into Wisconsin. We really didn't plan to stay in Hinckley for almost 2 weeks, but that is the advantage of our lifestyle. We can be pretty flexible usually about moving or not. This area is very rural and quiet. The only excitement is winning at the slot machines in the casino. Which we've managed to do a little of..better to stay away from those one armed bandits. All though not to many machines have the arm to pull anymore.

On Sunday we drove down to Minneapolis and Saint Paul. These are large and busy cities even on Sunday. We went downtown and toured around. There were several beautiful churches. We also went through an area called Summit Hill. The homes there are many years old and quite impressive. We didn't see the bridge that collapsed last year but certainly saw the results with the traffic being detoured around. Fortunately there are several other bridges that cross the Mississippi there, but I know the folks will be glad once the new bridge is finished. From the signs we saw this should occur sometime in November.

On the day we went to get the tire we also traveled up to Duluth. This town is located at the westernmost tip of Lake Superior, halfway between Minneapolis/St. Paul and the Canadian border. Downtown there is a park right on the lake. We spent several hours walking along the shore line enjoying the views and talking to others doing the same thing. Miss Ellie enjoyed the walk and visiting as she got lots of rubbing and pats. We saw 1 extremely large barge anchored off shore and many other boats coming and going. There is a famous bridge called the Aerial Lift Bridge. We watched it go up and down many times to allow boats to travel under it. The city is built into a steep, rocky cliffside; almost mountainous. This made for some interesting travel up the streets from the lake with impressive views downward. There are extensive, climate-controlled skywalks that connect downtown facilities. Since the average low temperature in January is -2* these probably come in handy.
We went to Park Point beach. It is the world’s longest natural sand bar, jutting seven miles into Lake Superior. I walked in the was just a little bit cool with an average temp of 40*.