Transit to Ontonagon MI and Two Fun Stuff© Days

Well…life is better now we think; all in the family are feeling better from whatever it was we had, we kept relapsing on alternate days so only one of us felt decent at a time.

Luckily by Tuesday we were pretty much over that so after a leisurely breakfast we got up, hitched up and headed out on our 150 mile trip over to Ontonagon, MI about 1030 or so. We had practically no traffic and given the short distance were anticipating a nice easy travel day with arrival about 1500. We stopped for a bathroom and soda break about 40 miles before our arrival and when Connie got back in the car she called Neil and asked him if the tire was supposed to be that low. Turned out that we had picked up a screw in the left rear tire not too long before we stopped. We found a station with air and limped over to the place that was supposed to be able to fix it for us…but they were closed. So Neil put on the mini spare tire and we headed back the way we had come about 6 miles to the nearest tire store. Fifteen dollars and about 90 minute total later the tire was patched, remounted, and we picked up the house and BAT from where we had left it in a gas station rear parking area and made the rest of the trip to Ontonagon…where we are parked in site 29 at the River Road RV Park. Another great pick by Connie…it’s nice and quiet and we pretty much had our pick of spaces. So we picked one with nice satellite visibility of the southwestern sky and shade on the entry door side in the afternoon. The Ontonagon River is about 200 yards away from our spot. Neil got all the outside stuff setup while Connie cleaned the countertops inside and then we had some frozen fish filets for dinner. Here’s a shot of our setup in site 29. The site next to us is empty so we have lots of space at least until somebody pulls in next to us.



Wednesday morning Connie spent a couple of hours planning our week here in Ontonagon…which is located about halfway up the Keweenaw Peninsula which juts out into Lake Superior. Once her planning was done we set off on our first outing…about 15 miles south of us to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Unfortunately…once we paid our $9 park admission we had another 25 miles to drive to the extreme southwest end of the park to the Presque Isle Scenic Area where we had about a 2.5 mile hike planned to view 3 sets of falls on the Presque Isle River…Manabehzo, Manido, and Newadaha Falls…as well as a couple of other smaller unnamed falls on the same stretch of the river. We hiked south up the left bank of the river to view the falls from that side then crossed the river on the highway bridge, then another 1.3 miles back north along the other side to return to the parking area. This is the first really hard hike we’ve been on this summer and we were still feeling a little weak from our earlier illnesses so it was a bit of a struggle and turned out to be closer to 3 miles than 2.5 anyway. Lots of up and down along the river banks both ways as well as plenty of tree roots that you had to be careful not to trip over.

A shot of one of the unnamed falls…this one is about 2-3 feet high. Next is a shot of this same falls from a lot farther back on the riverbank…there’s a large ledge that is currently dry but is obviously underwater at higher flow time of the year…you can se the eroded section of the bank in this shot, the unnamed fall on the left side is underwater at higher flow periods.

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Manabehzo Falls; closest to the Lake as we hiked up. Note the rich copper colored stone…particularly where it is wet. This area was a huge copper mine back in the late 1800s to about 1930…with about 2 million tons of copper metal extracted during the period. The copper in the stone is responsible for the color.

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Manido Falls; the center drop.

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And finally Newadaha Falls.

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Shortly after this one we crossed the highway bridge just out of frame upriver here…then came back down the right bank to the parking area. One more shot of Manido from the other side as we hiked back.

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We headed home and after a shower headed out to Ontonagon for dinner…we found two bars. The Shamrock was our first destination and it had outstanding vibe and atmosphere and great beers…but no food except for frozen pizzas. The nice lady bartender sent us two doors down to Roxie’s which had  similarly great beer, great bar food…but fell a little short on the atmosphere part…but that was ok because we were looking for food by then. After dinner we went hoe and rested until bedtime.

Today…was going to be a long day…our plan was to go north to the end of the Keweenaw Peninsula and return…there are a bunch of waterfalls along the way along with some nice views of Lake Superior from atop a 800 foot ridge and there is a Nature Conservancy place out at the far end we were planning on visiting (the plan failed as I’ll discuss in awhile).

Our first stop was at Hungarian Falls…which required a 2 mile trip up a dirt road, a quarter mile hike down another dirt road that wasn’t car passable (and was the wrong road anyway), and another hike down another non passable road to get to what turned out to be not a waterfall at all but the spillway at an abandoned dam. We took a picture anyway…but it wasn’t much to really write home about I guess.

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Next up was the Upper Eagle River Falls…which were pretty nice although more of a cascade type than a straight drop. We also couldn’t really get downstream where we could get great shots but we did the best we could.

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From there we proceeded into Eagle Harbor and got a shot of the Lower Eagle River Falls right near the village. These are much taller…about 100 feet or so…but again are mostly the cascade down the hillside type rather than a straight drop.

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Next up was Jacobs Falls…literally right off the road about 20 feet and about 25 feet high. Following this is a picture of a young lad named Jacob Blocker we met standing at the falls with his family…Jacob thinks the falls is named after him and his parents have been bringing him and his siblings here to have their pictures taken for about 10 years. We told him we would make him famous.

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Following this we decided to stop for lunch…our first idea was not open for lunch today (too bad, they were smoking BBQ and it smelled really, really good) so we headed on to the next wide spot in the road and had a truly outstanding fresh caught char grilled lake trout sandwich and a Keweenaw Brewing Company Black Widow Ale…which was quite tasty as well. While having lunch Connie noticed that there were a couple of deer heads up on the wall mounted so that they looked like they were canoodling…Neil took a closer look and said “Hey, they’ve both got antlers which means they’re both bucks.” Neither of us ever heard of a gay deer if ya know what I mean so we grabbed a shot of them. After we laughed about it awhile the folks at the next table gave us a newspaper article with the real story…turns out that they got tangled up while fighting during the rut and the one on the left side was dead and his hindquarters were already eaten when a local hunter happened across them and shot the one on the right…so they mounted the heads as they died.


After lunch we headed off to our next stop at the Nature Conservancy property…and happened across the Silver River Falls which weren’t on our list to see but were pretty nice anyway. Along the way we headed up Rock Ridge Road which gave us some nice views from up on high. We also got a very nice shot of the Eagle River Lighthouse which marks the entry into the harbor there.

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After these we got to the Nature Conservancy area…which turned out to be about 3 miles down a series of worse and worse dirt roads. Unfortunately we could only make it about 2.5 miles down this series of roads before we ran into a puddle/hole/rock pile that Neil decided we couldn’t make it past so we had to turn around and give that one up. We headed for our last scheduled stop of the day at Haven Falls and got there for another picture of a nice waterfall.

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With that our day was done…we got back in the car and punched “Home James” on the GPS and 90 minutes later were back at the house after a quick stop at the IGA for a couple groceries we were out of. Dinner was a very nice NY strip from Costco and some Rice with Black Beans and Corn…quite a yummy dish that Neil invented a couple years back as a riff on your standard beans and rice. A nice glass of Merlot to go with it and dinner was great.

We’ve only got one more day of Fun Stuff© scheduled…but it will depend on the weather  as between Fri to Monday it’s got a good chance of rain 2 of the 4 days…so we’ll head off and do the museum on whatever day looks better.


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Finally We’re All Feeling Better

Oh, what a relief it is. Yeah…after almost two weeks of us feeling poorly today we actually are pretty much back to normal.

So; after breakfast Connie worked until about 1400…she had a lot of niggly little details piled up that she had to take care of. While she was doing that…Neil replaced a couple of our floor lights that were bad, paid some bills, scanned some paperwork into our files, and made lunch. Once that was all over…we decided that it was time for Fun Stuff©…and all that entails.

We headed out and after a quick stop at a nearby mailbox to send out some work related mail and another quick stop at the Duluth Library for some amazingly fast Internet…we headed out to our destination for the day. It wasn’t much of a destination as it was just a historical marker but here it is…Fon du Lac, Minnesota.

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So…as you can see from the above monument dedication…Fon du Lac Minnesota was founded by Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Luth in 1679 and was also the location of a fur trading company post in 1817…and most importantly it was the spot of the first Ojibwa Indian treaty in 1826.

Surely you understand the importance of that last piece of history, don’t you?

Hmmm…I see many puzzled looks on your faces so allow me to explain. In 1826 the first treaty between the Ojibwe (or Chippawa) Indians and the white man was signed at this location in Wisconsin. The treaty was negotiated by Governor William Cass of the Michigan Territory and Colonel Thomas  L. McKinney who was the first head of the US Indian Department. While you may have never heard of either of these two gentleman or their treaty…it’s important to the Laubenthal family history as the interpreter for the expedition was none other than Henry Connor…who just happens to be Neil’s fourth great grand uncle. So…I guess means that he’s famous (or something like that).

We also got a shot of the St. Louis River next to the historical marker…the trading post was located on the banks of this river.

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It was raining pretty hard off and on so we didn’t stay long…and instead headed off to our second destination for the day…the Anchor Bar and Grill in Superior Wisconsin just about 10 miles from our campground. This is a burger joint that was featured a year or so ago on Guy Fieri’s Diners Drive-ins and Dives show on the Food Network…and since we knew we were coming this way we put it on our list.

Here’s a shot of our beers…look at the size of these things.


After we had a couple more sips out of them than you see above we ordered a couple of burgers…which are the house specialty. Neil had a bacon cheeseburger and Connie had a cashew cheeseburger. Both were excellent and the total bill for the beers and burgers was only $16.75…good thing since we didn’t have much cash and the sign on the door said “As of 1977 we are no longer accepting credit cards.” The joint opened in 1977 and has never taken credit cards.

The beer was cold…the burgers were outstanding…and our tummies feel good so it was a great early dinner and happy hour. Afterwards we came home and have no plans for the evening other than TV and bed.

Tomorrow we’re off to Ontonagon MI for a week.


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Another Really Bad Week Around the RV

Well, things went from worse to worst after Connie got back on Sunday morning. Somehow she infected (we think) Neil with her disease. The first thing he knew about it was Monday evening when he was outside dumping tanks for our planned departure from Barnesville last Tuesday morning. He started feeling bad and by 2100 was throwing up just like she was. Fortunately he only did it 4 times and that part of it was done by about 0130 Tuesday morning. He didn’t get much sleep but seemed to be a little more normal by Tuesday morning so we made the decision to stay an additional day before leaving Barnesville.

That seemed like a good idea until the other end started later on Tuesday afternoon and he still felt bad Wednesday morning. At that point we decided to stay 2 more additional days in Barnesville and leave Friday morning. He felt pretty decent and the illness was mostly gone by Thursday morning but we went ahead and stayed anyway…good thing we did as he felt bad off and on until late afternoon on Thursday.

Friday morning he felt pretty decent although still a bit weak so after some breakfast we got packed up and on the road by about 1000 or so for our 240 mile drive over to South Range, WI which is jut across the border from Duluth, MN…well actually Superior, WI is just across the border and South Range is next to Superior but ya know what I mean.

Anyway…we got here and got a nice full hookup back in site 39 here at the Northland Camping and RV Campground in South Range. The sites are a bit narrow but we got backed in first time perfectly and did the minimum amount of setup yesterday. We went out and had some dinner at a local place (packed, really good food although nothing really tasted very good to him last night).

Today we both felt a little tuckered out from the illness…Connie has continued to feel bad off and on…but after lunch we felt well enough to head over to the Apostle Islands National Seashore. This is a series of 22 small islands in “the big lake they call Gichigami” (Lake Superior for us English speakers). They islands were occupied by the Ojibwe Indians…and I know, I know…you’ve all heard the Gordon Lightfoot song but Chippewa is the English name of the tribe that called themselves the Ojibwe and yes, it’s -ami, not -umi like it sounds like in the song.

Anyway…we had a nice drive over there and hauled along our folding camp chairs…so we just sat on the beach at Sandy Bay for awhile then drove back home. Stopped and got some ice cream on the way back for snack as we were hungry. 

Once we got back to the house we had leftover Bacon Mac and Cheese from Connie’s dinner last night…the bowl they gave her was huge and she ate as much as she wanted last night and there was still enough for both of them for dinner tonight. Neil’s dinner was grilled shrimp which he thought would be pretty mild but they were over seasoned so he couldn’t eat all of them last night. He did eat all of the potato panakes that came as a side dish and they were really good. The Bacon Mac and Cheese leftovers were also really good for dinner tonight.

Don’t know what we’ll do tomorrow and Monday…might go some place if we feel OK and it doesn’t rain but we won’t do anything too strenuous. Connie has some work she needs to do and we’ll go ahead and make our scheduled move over to Ontonagon, MI on Tuesday unless we have a total relapse. Hopefully by then we’ll be completely back to normal and can do some more Fun Stuff©.


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And Connie Thought The Train Trip Was Bad

Little did she know that the train trip was just the harbinger of Bad Stuff© to come.

She originally was supposed to leave at 0200 Monday morning and arrive there about 1600. She actually left at 0630 and didn’t get to her hotel room until after 0130 Tuesday morning. Nonetheless…she slept late, had lunch at the hotel restaurant, had an evening meeting with food catered by the hotel restaurant and got back to her room about 2030 or so.

By 2330 she was throwing her guts up continually and by 0300 the hotel had called an ambulance to take her to the emergency room for treatment…she was getting dehydrated pretty seriously by that point. She had called Neil and based on her symptoms they were both pretty sure she had staph food poisoning…which won’t kill you but will make you wish you were dead.

She sat in the ER waiting area puking into a bucket until about 0630 when they finally took her back…stuck an IV in her to rehydrate her systems and got her some nausea medication. After telling the doctor about her history of diverticulitis he decided to do a CAT scan to make sure that nothing was amiss with her lower GI tract…so she got to drink another liter of contrast solution for the scan. Once the scan was done (later review showed it was pretty much normal but they’re doing some cultures to verify)…she discovered that the contrast solution side effect was to make the other end start running (she had mostly stopped throwing up by this point).

So she sat in the ER until about 1600 alternating ends in the bathroom and they decided that it was most likely food poisoning but wanted to keep her overnight for observation…and moved her into a separate room but still attached to the ER vice the normal hospital admission system.

She had an OK night getting a little sleep between trips to the facilities and is feeling a lot better today. However, they’re keeping her for observation a second night since she hasn’t had any solid food yet (got some mashed taters and pureed fruit this afternoon…so far so good) and is still having a little lower GI distress; although that appears to be slowing to a stop now. That will also let the culture results get back in the morning.

She’s hopeful to get released tomorrow morning and then will have to figure out what to do…finish the last day of the convention, stay in the hotel room and come home Saturday as scheduled, or try to reschedule her ticket for Friday afternoon and come home then instead. She’s going to wait until tomorrow and see how she feels as well as whether she even has a possibility of making the Friday train.

Neil’s been providing moral support for her over the phone and she’s glad she’s at least got people around her to wait on her instead of being in the hotel by herself.

Meanwhile…Neil’s holding down the fort here in Barnesville…although today he did go up and hit the Fargo Aviation Museum (it was OK but not spectacular considering they’ve been to both the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the Udvar-Hazy Aviation Museum in the Washington DC area. After that he got meat from Costco and stopped by Home Depot for a few things we need.

A few shots from the museum along with some explanation on what they are.

An ON-1 Forward Aircraft Controller (FAC) aircraft from the Vietnam War. Designed in the late 1940s and almost unarmed…these light planes dove onto Viet Cong targets at their top speed of maybe 150 miles an hour and marked them with smoke for the jet fighter bombers coming in behind them. 

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A Velocity 4 seat canard type pusher engine experimental aircraft. This was hand built by a 3M employee.

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A WWII aerial torpedo and trainer in the foreground…the left background is a half scale flyable version of the German FW-109 fighter. Even at twice this size it still wasn’t a very big aircraft.

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The crew pilot and passenger area of a Piper Cub…the whole plane weighs like 900 pounds and flies at about 100 miles an hour top speed. 

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The pilot seat of a UH-1 Huey…the workhouse helo of the Vietnam War. Nothing fancy but these things were incredibly durable aircraft.

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That’s about it. After this tour (an hour maybe) and a couple of errand stops Neil went home and had a few chores around the house he took care of…in between several moral support calls to Connie.


Added Friday morning…she was released from the hospital this morning and is headed back to the convention hoping to catch a couple of educational sessions this afternoon before heading back to Barnesville tomorrow.


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Slow Week and the Worst Train Trip in History (or at least this week)

Well…as they say…there was good news and there was bad news this week.

Good news first (since it was first chronologically anyway).

On our arrival here in Barnesville we pulled into the Wagner Creek Campground and figured that we would have our complete choice of it’s 28 spots…after all there didn’t really seem to be all that much around here and we were arriving on a Tuesday. Imagine our surprise when we got here and…at least based on appearances…the campground was almost full. We parked the rig near the entrance and drove around finding a total of 3 spots to choose from including site 3W that we ended up in. We quickly decided that this was the best site of the 3 available…and that we would have likely picked it anyway…although to tell you the truth 3E would have been a little bit better as our door faces south which means that the awning provides no afternoon shade to sit under although it does shade the side of the house and helps keep it cool inside. Fortunately we have a nice tree a little forward of the door so we just pull the recliners over there and voilà…shade.

Our second surprise was that…despite the number of RVs here…the park is actually pretty deserted. Our guess was that most of the rigs here get parked all summer since it only costs $500 a month to stay and just get used intermittently…our original suspicion was that it would fill up with people on Friday afternoon and empty out Sunday afternoon and while there were more people here over the weekend it was still pretty deserted and quiet. We did have a couple of neighbors right next to us in a smaller travel trailer…but other than them we haven’t really seen more than 3 or 4 actual occupied rigs since we’ve been here. Nice…

On checking we paid our $252 (18 bucks a day) for 2 weeks and Connie noted that our 2 weeks of parking cost less than one night on her upcoming trip to Chicago for the ASCLS Annual Meeting where she does professional stuff…mostly continuing education so that she can keep up her California Medical Technologist license…after all the studying and exam taking back in the 80’s that it took to get that license she long ago decided to just keep it current just in case. California is one of the few states that require a license for an MT…and having it gives you a little more impressive résumé even if you aren’t applying for a job in the state.

For the rest of the week…we pretty much did nothing. The highlight of most of the days was moving the chairs around under the tree as the sun (and hence the shady spot) moved about during the afternoon. Given the number of skeeters we have been seeing in the upper midwest since our arrival from Kansas…we decided to skip hiking for a few weeks in hopes that they would die off…and concentrated on other forms of Fun Stuff© instead. We did have an abortive trip up to a National Wildlife Refuge and a nature Conservancy site up east of Fargo…but the bugs we encountered were a big factor in the no hikes decision. Our one real trip away from the park was out to Fort Abercrombie over on the ND side of the Red River about 20 miles from here…we combined that with a trip down to Wahpeton so she could get her nails done. There were a few bugs around down there but mostly they weren’t biting bugs…but they were annoying enough that we were glad we weren’t hiking and stepped pretty lively while on the walking tour at the fort.

Fort Abercrombie was established in 1857 and named after Lieutenant Colonel John J. Abercrombie who selected the site and built the fort. The fort was built on the western shore of the Red River separating Minnesota from the Dakota Territories and was originally built right on the edge of the river for protection from attack by the Indians. Here’s a photo of the river looking northeast taken from the center of the second fort…the original site is just visible to the far right of this shot, it was built in the curve of the river you can see there. Unfortunately…the Red River floods almost every year and the original fort was quickly underwater…earlier this year the water was up to the top of the rocks you can see on the riverbank at the right side and this was not considered a flood year at all. Usually most of that area is a couple feet underwater…the top o the rocky area is about 12 or 15 feet above the current water level which is just within the banks across the stream. The second shot was taken from the original fort site looking to the left (downriver) out of this frame; the fields across the other side were 5-6 feet flooded earlier in the year.

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The fort was rebuilt in it’s current location a few hundred yards away in 1860 and was manned by civilian volunteers starting in 1861 as the regular army was sent elsewhere during the Civil War. The fort was the subject of a 6 week siege by the Dakota Sioux during the Dakota Wars of 1862 and was eventually abandoned in 1877 after the area was pacified. The original fort buildings were sold off at auction and the current buildings rebuilt using old photographs by the WPA in 1939-1940 during the Great Depression. The blockhouse is an original building that was moved to a nearby farm after the original auction…it was donated back by the descendants of the farm owners when the State Historical Park was established in 1940. Most of the remaining building sites are marked but mostly the site was left as it was post auction.

The fort headquarters building site…the building in the background is the visitor center and the palisade fence is similar to what was eventually constructed around the fort…although not until after the Dakota Wars siege…there was no barrier to entry during that period other than a rough pile of cordwood (firewood) that was piled up around the blockhouse and central areas of the fort during the siege at that time. Good thing the defenders had 3 cannon and that the Sioux had only a few guns and nobody that knew how to aim very well or the fort would have been massacred. The garrison of about 100 or so defended themselves and another 50-75 women and children against up to 600 Indians during the siege with a total of 4 killed and a dozen or so injured…there was no indication of Indian casualties on any of the signs but they must have been more than that or else they wouldn’t have given up and left I guess.

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The original blockhouse/guardhouse that was moved back to the site; the on duty guard section as well as the soldiers in jail (mostly for drunk and disorderly charges) stayed. After that is the interior jail section of the building and the punishment horse that was used to discipline soldiers…mostly it was intended to embarrass them so that they would not repeat offend…no indication as to whether this was successful or not.

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We had a nice hour or so walking tour around the fort area…and it was free since we passed up on the museum in the visitor center and the guided tour. Afterwards we headed over to Wahpeton where Connie got her nails and toes done then headed back home.

We had one night out (Tuesday after we arrived) at the Mainline Bar and Grill located 8 miles or so from here; it’s built in the old railway depot building and has pretty good food (and nice cold beer as well). The rest of the time we grilled out and otherwise did pretty much nothing through Sunday.

Ok, on to the bad news I talked about earlier…Connie’s trip from hell on the Amtrak Empire Builder heading eastwards to Chicago for her meeting.

We picked the Fargo area to stay in for 2 weeks specifically so she could catch the Amtrak instead of flying over to Chicago…the train ticket was 220 round trip and the air fare when she checked 3 or 4 weeks before was almost 700. She knew that there were likely to be some delays in the train’s arrival in Chicago as there is track maintenance but from looking at the performance figured it would just be 3 or 4 hours total. Her scheduled train departure time was 0130 Monday morning so we figured that she would get some sleep on the train overnight with scheduled arrival in Chicago around 1400. Once we arrived here she checked the overnight delays a couple of days and it looked like about a 3-4 hour delay in leaving. With that in mind we checked the schedule Sunday evening and up until 2300 it was showing a departure from Fargo (23 miles from here) at about 0500…so we decided to just sleep until 0330 or so before heading off to the station. Right as we lay down in our recliners she checked again…and now the schedule showed an almost on time departure at 0144…so we cancelled our plans to sleep (even though we didn’t know how it could go from 3 1/2 hours late to on time) and headed off. Lo and behold…about halfway there the schedule changed back to an 0500 departure. We talked about whether to turn around or not and eventually decided that we wouldn’t get much sleep anyway so we stopped at McDonalds for a couple cups of coffee and got to the station about 0300. From there the posted time got later and later and later…with the train eventually arriving at 0640. She got on the train and Neil headed home. He got an email when he arrived home that they had left the station, went about 20 miles and pulled off onto a siding behind a freight train. They followed this freight most of the morning with a couple of 90 minute stops as westbound freight and passenger trains passed. She got no sleep of course…and the cafe car was closed so there wasn’t even anything to eat. Around 1800 the conductor announced that everybody onboard would be getting a free Beef Stew meal since they were so late…naturally the sleeper cars (higher fares) were served first and then the riffraff cars from front to rear (guess where she was sitting). Then they ran out of food and finally about 9PM she got dinner…a sandwich from Subway…woohoo. Neil commiserated with her frequently during the evening via twitter but finally went to bed around 2230 and the train was still in Wisconsin. She finally got to the station and caught a cab to the hotel where she checked in. She let Neil know that she had arrived via a phone call at 0146 this morning then went to bed. She slept until about 1015 this morning…Neil talked to her and she’s a lot better than she was the last time they talked about 2200 when she was really tired, almost back to normal this morning. She’s got a couple meetings at 1800 and 1900 this evening before the meeting kicks off in earnest tomorrow.

Neil has a couple of errands to run this week as well as a visit up to the Fargo Aviation Museum planned…but other than that will not be doing much at all.

Two funnies for ya today…a quote I saw on the Internet and a picture for our upcoming grand baby and Jen.

God give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of the people killed because they bugged the crap out of me.


12 hours of labor



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Travel to Barnesville MN

Just a quick post after our travel day, about 250 miles and we are in site 3W at Wagner Park Campground in Barnesville MN right outside of Fargo ND. We have no wifi internet here so only have our Millenicom air card for connectivity. So I will have to run over to the library if we have any photo intensive posts. The park is quiet and has pretty large grass sites with full hookups. Neil has to order some Amazon stuff and we will get delivered via General Delivery at the post office in town. Hope that works all right. Here’s a shot of our site setup.


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Two Hike Day…Including the Mosquito Death March Hike

Well…at least one of our hikes was really nice yesterday.

After breakfast we packed up ourselves a picnic lunch and headed out about 15 miles from here to our first hike at the Homesteader Nature Trail in Brandon. This turned out to be a pretty decent hike…we had the park almost all to ourselves the whole time. On arrival we saw a fellow getting out of his car with his dog and heading off on the loop trail. We didn’t see where he went so wandered around a bit before finally finding the trail start…although we ended up taking a different path through the series of loops forming the trail than he did. We ran into him again about 3/4 of the way through heading the other way but he was gone by the time we got back to the parking area. We were alone through our lunch break sitting on the picnic table and another fellow and his dogs showed up right as we were leaving.

The land for this park was donated by the descendants of John Samuelson who originally homesteaded with his wife Anna in 1869 after they emigrated from Sweden. He built this cabin and it was used by his family and the 160 acres farmed by his descendants until 1967 when it was bought by the country and turned into the current park.

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Heading out on the hike we missed the sign for the entrance into the trail and sort of took the back way in.


After crossing the creek through the property we got a couple of nice shots of the oxbow bends…the creek probably curved 2 or 3 miles in all as it passed through the 160 acre site (about a quarter of a square mile)…it was quite twisty and we crossed over it several times as we traversed the loop. The trail wasn’t marked and had numerous intersections with other trails…all of which appeared to be maintained so we generally kept our selves in a loop and used our the GPS on our iPhones to figure out which way to turn at each junction. Connie found the trail on her All Trails app…but there was no information at all in either the app or on a sign at the park so we were sort of on our own.

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This was a pretty nice little hike about 1.7 miles in total. We had put on bug spray but the critters weren’t actually bad at all and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Didn’t see any wildlife but it was still a nice walk through the woods.

After lunch we headed off to our second hike at the Valley of the Giants Nature Trail…no idea why it is called this as again neither All Trails or the trail signage said anything. This was supposedly a 1.2 mile loop hike out around a bend of the Big Sioux River…which eventually flows through Sioux Falls about 7 or 8 miles to the southwest of the hike location and over the falls there. We paid our 6 buck per vehicle entry fee and got parked…everything seemed normal and we headed out on the hike…everything seemed normal for a couple of hundred yards then we got into the mosquito zone. I tell ya…there wuz thousands of them and it seemed that the bug spray (even though we liberally applied some more) just attracted the little buggers. We pressed on hoping that it was just a localized thing…we’ve found on a lot of hikes that you’ll run into a patch of mosquitos either at a particular elevation or close to a small body of water and that climbing or descending just a few feet as you hike makes them disappear. No such luck on that one today though…we did have a few spots where we had less of them around but by and large it was continuous. We thought this was surprising as it wasn’t really a swampy hike with lots of standing water for them to breed in…the only real water was the Big Sioux River but it was flowing steadily so would not really serve as a breeding ground for them. So we ended up hiking pretty quickly and only stopped for a few photos…what with them buzzing around the camera and your head it made for a pretty lousy walk. Still good exercise but that’s about all you could say for it.

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We came home and had burgers and leftover couscous for dinner…then Neil went out and got another shot of a nice sunset over the freeway before calling it a day.

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Today we’re headed up to the Jazzfest in Sioux Falls…there are a couple of zydeco and New Orleans style bands playing…and we’ll have some barbecue or a hotdog or whatever while we’re there probably…I’m thinking they’ll likely have beer as well. Tomorrow we’re off to a local winery where they have music and sangria…can’t complain about that either.


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