Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Enough Is Enough

Once again another month has gone by since posting here.

The “Retired Life” is great.  We work when we want and where we want.  Last week we volunteered again at Habitat for Humanity.  A new house is being built in Mountain Iron.  When we arrived, the outer walls were standing and sheeted, with rough openings for doors and window cut out.  The two of us and three other volunteers built and erected four interior walls for the bedrooms.  New construction is quite different from the repair work we have done with Nomads.  Next week a large traveling group of RVing volunteers will begin a 2-week project on this house.  We will come back again, after they leave, when there will be a need for more local help.

Next week we will leave the quiet lakeside life for a few days in the Twin Cities.  We both have a number of doctor and dental appointments, plus a day at the State Fair before returning to the lake.

Those of us from the Midwest have a reputation for being too pleasant and not speaking up often enough or loud enough.  The label “Minnesota Nice” comes to mind, but it also applies to many of us in at least a 7-state area.  The time has come for us to speak our minds.  On a recent morning TV program, the hosts asked about stress in their viewers’ lives.  Reflecting on this question, our main stresses come from the shameless functioning of our current administration in DC.  The “swamp” was not drained; it has only become more rancid during the past 6 months.  The current occupant of the Oval Office has shown his true colors as a despicable egotist who will never admit any of his many mistakes.  The “Leader of the Free World” is now someone in Europe.  Our president is not a leader, but is an embarrassment to this country, his party and himself – a truly “Ugly American”.

It is true that he has bought us together:

The new Marist Poll, which has a sampling margin of +/- 3.1 percent, found that 55 percent disapprove of Trump after seven months on the job“

This poll was completed before the recent Charlottesville demonstrations.

There, I have said it, and it feels good to get it out there

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Nearly a Month has gone by

Maybe summer has finally come to the Northwoods.  Since parking here at the lake more than 2 months ago, we have finally had a couple nice weather days, back to back.  An average day has been cool, wet, or windy or a combination of them.  There may have been 4 or 5 nice days scattered around, but not very many.

We had Stella, the Grand-dog with us for more than 2 weeks, while Brett, Jen, and the girls were on vacation.  The granddaughters took Stella’s place over the Fourth of July weekend and have since gone home to their varied summer activities.  David and his family were here as well over the Fourth, so that weekend was quite busy.  Dave took lots of beautiful pictures.  This is one of my favorites!

After the Fourth, Paula and Tomie came to Duluth for a quick visit to Grandma Joyce.  Pam and Ron came up from the Twin Cities and we had a nice dinner with Grandma to celebrate an early 88th birthday for her.  Brett’s girls were still here so it was a nice group and lots of fun.

Last Sunday was a nice day and we spent part of it on Steve and Deanna’s pontoon.  Very quiet as most of the “weekenders” had left the lake.  So nice that they invite us for these long rides!

The last week has been pretty quiet.  The pickup has been repaired (mostly) from the storm damage.  We haven’t yet received an estimate to repair the motorhome; maybe we’ll have it soon.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Well, This is Different!!

After all these years in the northwoods, storms have only caused a few power outages, but no real damage to our personal property.  All that changed Tuesday afternoon.

We had strong winds off the lake, and one weak tree.  It came down onto both the Winnebago and the pickup.  We have policies for both vehicles with the same carrier and they will consider it to be one “incident” so we shouldn’t have to pay two deductibles.  We have spoken to a claims person by phone, and are waiting for a personal visit to be scheduled soon.

We will see how all this turns out.

Down the road, Duluth is now filling up with runners and their families and fans.  This is the weekend of Grandma’s Marathon, when tens of thousands of people show up to run along the shores of Lake Superior.  We will be volunteering to help with route control during the William A. Irvin 5k support event, just like we did last year.  At least it will take our minds off insurance, deductibles, and body shops.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Busy Days

Well, summer has finally come to northern Minnesota.  Eighty degrees is hot up here.  We have stayed busy, both here and in the Twin Cities area.  Earlier this month we traveled to Brett’s house for nearly a week.  Saturday, the 3rd, was busy with going to an afternoon ballgame where Leah (granddaughter of Paige’s sister) was playing.

All the kids and their families had a good time in the sunshine.  Later that day we took David’s family out to dinner in north Minneapolis, and then to an off-Broadway play at the Minsky theater.  Steve’s son, Tom, was performing in “Spandex, the Musical”.  We just learned that his next performance will be next month at the Ordway in “Jesus Christ, Superstar” (quite the actor!).

On Sunday we bought Brett’s older BMW R1100RT, very similar to the one we used to have.  On Monday he (on his newer RT) and I rode to a number of firehouses to take photos so he can qualify for a Red Knights award.  Paige will feel more comfortable on the larger BMW, so our V-Strom is available (any interested buyers?).

Paige had 4 doctor appointments between Monday to Wednesday.  So good to get those taken care of!

We got to see a number of Olivia’s soccer games and one practice.  They hadn’t won a game all season, until the last one when they buried the other team by 5 to 0.  Way to Go Girls!!

Wednesday was also Olivia’s graduation from elementary school. 
Next year, her 6th grade will be in Middle School.  After her 2-hour ceremony, we came back to the cabin late in the day.  Thursday was reserved for unloading and unpacking. 

Friday we split the cost of the rental of a wood splitter with our neighbors and spent most of the day splitting their pile, ours, and Steve’s.  As if that weren’t enough labor, we mowed Steve and Deanna’s lawn that evening.  They are both recovering: he from a broken wrist, and she from appendicitis. 

The grandkids will be coming up here in a couple of weeks, but we will have our split wood all stacked before they arrive.

Monday, May 29, 2017

At the Lake

When we posted last, we were planning to move the motorhome to our cabin on the Whiteface Reservoir.  We traveled on that Thursday, the day before the opening of fishing season.  Traffic was no problem and the drive was stress free. 

Once here, we took a little time to rake our parking area and unload the motorcycle before backing in and leveling.  Since then we have filled our days with mundane tasks like a complete raking of the lawn, floating the swimming raft, putting out the dock, and planting flowers.  All of these activities were spread over 2 weeks because the weather has been miserable: frequent showers, cloudy skies, and brisk winds mostly off the lake.  We have made a couple of walks around the peninsula, and chatted with a few of the neighbors and played cards a couple of times with Paige’s cousin Steve and his wife Deanna. 
On the 20th, Aerostich held an open house at its Duluth Headquarters.  This is the manufacturer of the well known motorcycle riding suit and a mail order supplier of many other motorcycle accessories.  We went there by truck since the temps were in the lower 40’s but many customers were hardy (?) enough to ride there.
One of their doorprizes was a booklet called “Zero below zero” which was a diary of the management and staff of Aerostich who ran an experiment with a Zero-brand electric motorcycle.  They took turns commuting to and from work all winter without parking the parking it indoors at all.  Reading of their experiences made that day’s temperatures seem balmy.

On one of the nicer days last week, we got a text message from Brett telling us he was on his way to the Boundary Waters on a search and rescue mission in the Minnesota State Patrol’s helicopter.  They passed nearby on their way to Ely, and then to Sawbill Lake, but they were too far east of us to be seen or heard.  Their mission was successful and, on their return to St Paul, they had time for a quick fly-by and wave.
Lucky for them that it was probably the best weather for flying during the entire week.

More recently there was one other nice-weather day just before the Memorial Day weekend, when neither jacket nor rain coat was needed.  We saw that many of our neighbors had lots of visitors for the weekend because of the cars and trucks parking nearby, but the lake and roads weren’t crowded and it was really pretty quiet up here.  We had 2 guests: David and Brayden came here late on Friday and spent Saturday hiking along the North Shore and getting some photographs at a couple of state parks.  Sunday we tried for another state park at Calumet but found that it is open Fridays and Saturdays only.  They left early on Monday to have time to photograph the St Louis River and its rapids in Jay Cooke state park.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Yet another Week (not Quite As Quiet)

When we posted last, we were enjoying Winnebago’s hospitality in Iowa.  We left there on Wednesday morning for a quick trip to Minnesota and Dakota County’s Lebanon Hills park.  They had just opened the campground for the season and were able to get us in for an extra 2 days prior to our weekend reservation.

Thursday we had lunch with the Hilmos, the fellow Nomads who also are originally from Minnesota and we have known for years, but have yet to work with them.  Our plans to volunteer together last fall in Missouri fell through when we were delayed in Duluth.  We last saw them in Texas early in November, before they left for Florida.  They have made the decision to “hang up the keys” and end their full-timing lifestyle after 17 years on the road.  We wish them well as they take on this more traditional lifestyle, and will continue to keep in contact, especially during the winter when we will be somewhere warm.

On Friday, David and Brayden came to the site next to us for the weekend.  We had a pleasant time around the campfire that evening.

On Saturday, Bob’s family held its annual reunion at a pizza parlor in Mankato.  Eleven of the 16 possible cousins were there along with quite a few spouses and children and Aunt Marion, the only surviving Dakins sister.  It was good to catch up with them, without the gathering being a wedding or funeral.

Sunday we moved to the street in front of Brett’s house for a few days.   We will catch up with him and his family, and catch some of the girls’ sports while we are here.  We are also taking the time to do tons of laundry, cleaning the motorhome, and catching up with friends. 

This weekend is Minnesota’s opening weekend of fishing season, so the highways will become choked with traffic by noon on Friday.  We will be gone before then as we expect to be parked at the lake by Thursday afternoon.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Another Quiet Week

This time in Iowa.  First came a few days in Spirit Lake, then in Forest City.  While on our way to our appointment at Winnebago’s Factory Service, the Great Lakes of Iowa called out for a pleasant stop.  Northern Iowa only has a few good-sized lakes, but Okoboji and Spirit are two of the largest and are close to each other.  This area is known, locally, for fishing and boating and a lot of vacationing in the summer, but is very quiet this time of year.

We have been catching up on a lot of reading while also catching up to winter weather.  We are just now starting to see the sun for the first time in over a week, and heavy coats are finally being replaced with lighter jackets.

While in Sioux Falls last week, we spent some time at a Barnes and Noble store, getting ideas for future reading.  One that caught Bob’s attention was “38 Nooses”, subtitled “Lincoln, Little Crow, and the beginning of the Frontier’s End”.  It is a history book dealing with the Sioux Uprising that took place in southern Minnesota during the Civil War.  It ended with the largest mass execution in US history with 38 Indians being hung in Mankato Minnesota at the same time.  Abraham Lincoln personally decided to spare the lives of an additional 265 condemned prisoners.  We now have an electronic copy of this book.

Before leaving Spirit Lake, we found a historical marker at site of the Spirit Lake Massacre Monument in nearby Arnolds Park.  This monument opened as one of Iowas’s first tourist attractions and marks the location of an earlier Indian uprising.  Here 36 settlers were initially slain and 4 prisoners taken captive (only 2 survived).  More history can be found at


We arrived in Forest City on Saturday for our Monday appointment.  Their customer lounge is a spacious and comfortable to wait while repairs are being done.  Pets are also welcome and we met Marley, who loves to be petted by everyone.  He waits on his back until the next person comes to pet him.

A couple of minor repairs were taken care of by Tuesday morning and we are ready to leave.  But first we have to get to Mitchel’s Bar and Grill for their Tuesday night, all-you-can-eat chicken and ribs.  This is a regular stop for us whenever we are near the Winnebago plant.  We are going there with Marley’s owners soon.