Thursday, August 14, 2014

On The Road Again - Hudson WI


On The Road Again – Hudson, WI

Willow River State Park
 


Thursday August 7th 10:30 am and we’re on our way to Hudson, WI., about 250 miles and five hours away. Hope it’s worth the ride. If you haven’t been following our travels we are visiting places in WI that we always wanted to see and maybe even finding a new spot that we may want to revisit. Stopped at a wayside and then an hour or so later for gas and lunch and arrived at 3:30 pm. We are in the newest of three campgrounds and it is quite open, but there is plenty of room between campsites and we could put the screen tent up where we get shade all afternoon from the one big tree on our site. 82 degrees, but a very nice breeze blowing through to keep it comfortable. A Leinies, nice dinner on the gas grill and then a walk around part of the camp ground before calling it a night. Both too tired to light up a camp fire tonight and we want to get an early start to visit Still Water, MN.

Woke up to a very nice bright sunny day on Friday with just a slight breeze. Decided to have a cup of coffee outside in the screen tent and enjoyed it so much I had cereal and toast out there too. Enjoyed the sounds of the birds chirping and the breeze blowing through the aspen leaves. Doesn’t get much more peaceful than that.  We left for Still Water about 9:30 am and we were there about 10 am.

Disappointed that most of the stores don’t open until 11 am. It reminded us a lot of Galena, IL. for shopping, but the stores were not as nice and it seemed like every other one was a restaurant. We only stayed for about an hour and headed back to Hudson where we stopped at a park along the river to look at all the material we got at the visitor’s bureau before heading to Still Water. We decided on lunch at Dicks Bar and Grill, recommended to us by the young ladies at the Hudson Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau. Walking into the bar it looked like a small town dark bar, but we went into a very nice dining room with linen table clothes and then out to their screened in deck with a wonder breeze blowing through. One of those places where you take your time and linger over a very pleasant lunch for two. Food and service was great.

 Getting hotter so we decided to go back to our campground and check out the beach and boat landing in hopes finding a place to fish from shore, but didn’t find a good spot to wet a line.  Spent the rest of the afternoon writing up my VFW minutes from last Wednesdays meeting. I’m getting old and if don’t do it right away I seem to miss things that should be recorded or maybe I just take poor notes. Enjoyed another wonderful meal on the grill and burned through a bundle of firewood. Camping just wouldn’t be the same without that campfire. Amazing what your imagination can conjure up while being hypnotized by the red and blue flames of a popping sizzling fire. Thinking about road tripping to Interstate State Park which is located both in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Can’t wait to see Taylor Falls that our daughter in law has been telling us about which is very close to the park.

 A beautiful Saturday came peeking through our shades so we decided on the road trip to Interstate State Park.  We went up the MN. side and we were only on the road about 15 minutes when we got delayed in traffic for a run from Still Water to Hudson. We idled in a long line of traffic for almost 30 to 45 minutes watching exhausted runners, mostly walkers, none of which were smiling, most looking like they were not going to make it to Hudson. The rescue squad went screaming down the road the other direction and we hoped it wasn’t for some overheated runner. The temperature was 85 and humidity was very high. I actually had to turn off the air and open the windows because the temperature gauge started going up. Finally we were the next car to go and there was a break in the runners. Note to self to check prestone level.

The Interstate campground was a right turn before we even got to the town of Still Water. We waited in line to get into the office even though the campground posted a sign that said campground full. When I got in the office I was told there was no viewing area of the river in the park, but that we should take a right at the first stop and go light when we got into town. It would take us to the Pot Hole area of the park with scenic overlooks and hiking trails along the river. I handed over $5. for a daily MN park sticker and we were on our way. One of the craziest intersections I have ever gone through. Five roads and a campground entrance with lights on four corners and a stop sign on another. Right before we went into the park there was a parking lot for River Cruises so we decided to check that out first. It was about 11 am and the next cruise was leaving at 11:30 so we decided to go on a 45 minute paddle wheel cruise. It was well narrated, full of beautiful rock formations, had to use a very vivid imagination to see what the captain said was there. Thankfully we didn’t collide with any of the 100 or so kayaks and canoes on the river. Some just stay around the beach area and some journey from that beach either 3 hours or 5 hours down river where a van picks them up and brings them back. A little too adventurous for us.
 


We were in downtown Taylor Falls by 12:15 and decided to look for lunch and decided on a small town bakery with delicious everything. Once again sounding like our typical, no good for you, lunch on the road. The town is only a couple of blocks long and we were sorry we didn’t drive down to the end because they had a 1950’s drive in with car hops that we would have had lunch at if we had not stopped at the bakery. It was very crowded with hardly a place to park so it must have been good. Maybe next time. Although I really was not impressed enough with anything at the parks or in Taylor Falls to bring me back.

It was only 1:30 so we started our journey back to the campground on the WI side of the St Croix River. We made a planned stop at Bass Lake Cheese Factory and restaurant. It was about 2:30 and a doughnut was not enough to get me through to a late dinner so we bought cheese, crackers and hard salami, all made right there and enjoyed it out on their deck. They even bought out a knife so we could get our cheese open. Everything tasted especially good because we were outside enjoying a wonderful breeze and a wonderful view of a field of corn blowing in the wind. Sometimes these little stores out in the middle of nowhere are real treasures.  

Typical of the our last camping adventure it started to rain about 6 pm just as I was putting baked potatoes on the grill. Sure didn’t want to cook two rib eye steaks in a frying pan on the stove. It was only a brief shower and we managed to have a very scrumptious steak dinner for two, candle light and all, at 7 pm. Enjoyed an after dinner drink while Lauralyn burned up two bundles of fire wood creating one of the best camp fires so far this year. Tomorrow, Sunday is supposed to be cloudy with rain predicted for late afternoon and continuing through the night and Monday morning. Only thing planned is to go to a Falcon presentation in the campsite at 11 am. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday we woke up to cloudy skies and high humidity. Supposed to reach 85. There were about 50 0f us at the beach and finally a park ranger showed up and told everyone there had been a miscommunication and the falconer would not be there until 2 pm. Many were disappointed because they had planned on attending this demonstration and then leaving for home. Poor folks probably have to work tomorrow. Did I mention retirement is great! We did drive a little further into the park and found the falls and some fishing piers, so I might wet a line tomorrow depending upon what we decide to do.

We went back at 2 pm and about 25 people showed up to listen to a man, about 35, discuss hunting with falcons which he has done for the last 15 years. I didn’t realize that they have the birds for a year and teach them to hunt for themselves before releasing them to the wild. They do this because 80% don’t make it to adulthood. He had three birds with him. The first falcon was a cross between a peregrine and grieves, the 2nd was a falcon from the southwest which was a little bigger than the first and then brought out a very big red tailed hawk that we see frequently circling above looking for a meal. No flight demonstration. Really wanted to see that falcon flying at 230 MPH. He usually only trains them during the fall and winter.  

Got up to 85 already and very humid so I think the rain is coming as predicted. Just enjoying the rest of the day in our campsite. Lauralyn always has knitting along, books to read and puzzle books to work on. I’ve been writing reading a book of poems, “Poems That Touch The Heart” by A.L. Alexander which I had given to my Mom years ago and found on my bookshelf. Bet you didn’t take me for a sensitive guy. Can’t judge a book by its cover. You all know I can’t write without using a couple of clich├ęs. Still trying to finish those VFW minutes too. Maybe I’ll do those next unless I get distracted which happens very easily when I’m out here.     

Monday morning wakeup call came about 4:30 am with rain on the roof.  Amazing how loud it can be on the roof and awning. Just rain so drifted back to sleep. Still misting when we finally got up for the day and we were having a leisurely breakfast when another storm went through  with enough wind and rain to make the trailer rock and the awning flap more than it usually does. We were deciding if I should go out in the rain to try to lower the awning when half of the screen tent collapsed on itself. Just as I’m fearing the worst for our brand new screen tent a gust of wind came through and popped it right back up. Went out later and there was no damage at all to the tent. I would definitely recommend the Gander Mountain Vista Dome Screen tent.

Drove into Hudson after lunch to check out the local stores but once again we were not impressed. Guess we are just spoiled with those in Minocqua and Galena, IL. They set a pretty high bar. Continued to mist and even showered once again which also put a damper on our playing tourist. We walked out on Old Toll Road which goes out across the St. Croix River almost to the MN. Side. They have an opening that is just large enough to let boats through. Some really big boats moored here and they actually have smaller boats locked up on shore to get out to their larger boats. Would have made some really nice pictures if the weather would have cooperated. All in all I don’t think Hudson would be one of the places we would return to. Nice campground, just not enough to do without going into the cities which we didn’t want to do.

We are contemplating going up to Door County for a few days from August 22nd  to the 28th , but there is no definite plan at the moment. Our next reservation is a return to Lac Du Flambeau and the Tribal Campground that we really liked. We will be there from September 17th to the 23rd.  Still looking for somewhere go in October since we canceled our trip for my ship’s reunion in Rhode Island. Just don’t want to even think about putting the trailer to sleep for the winter, but we are already looking forward to our trip to Florida the end of April/beginning of May. We plan on going to St. Augustine for a couple of days and then drive down to Key West. Friends, that introduced us to Key West a couple of years ago, will fly down and meet us so we can enjoy a couple of days together. A few drinks, great shrimp called “Reds” and of course Key Lime Pie. The plan is to drive back by way of Baton Rouge, LA. To visit an old Navy buddy that Lauralyn and I knew from Japan.  Jesse, I’m giving you fair warning.    

Enjoy what’s left of this summer. For us it’s going way to fast, but it’s been one of the best in a long time.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

On The Road Again - Chippewa Falls


Lake Wissota State Park

Chippewa Falls

 

 

Learned another lesson today. I know you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, but I also learned that my Garmen GPS is not always right. It told me it was 204 miles and would take three hours. We only stopped for gas and a rest stop and it took closer to 4 ½. Yes I did the speed limit almost the whole way. Only got stuck behind one old person, older than me, in a Buick with Iowa plates that either wanted to only do 40 in a 55 or could only do 40 in a 55. No schedule when on the road so we never hurry. 

Nice large sites with enough trees and bushes that we can’t even see the camper next to us. With just electricity and no sewer or water we have to be more conservative of how much we use. Lucky for us one of the two bathrooms is within a quarter block of our site, but it is a pit toilet, can you say outhouse?  The nice regular bathroom with shower is on the other side of the campground and there is no privacy for taking a shower. They only have these two facilities for 116 sites which doesn’t seem like enough.

Tuesday, our first full day here, we decided to visit the Leinie Lodge, the home of Leinenkuge’ls Brewery established in 1867. We took a one hour guided tour that explained both the history of the brewery and took us through the process of making it. I now have a greater appreciation of the Leinie’s Honey Weiss that is my favorite beer. At the end of the tour we sampled four 4oz glasses of our choice of their beers. I started out with creamy dark and now have another one of their beers that I would have no problem drinking. They also mix their beers together to create exciting flavors like the “Bumble Bee”, 50% Creamy Dark and 50% Honey Weiss, two of my favorites. The other one that I like was 50% Honey Weiss and 50% Berry Weiss.

After shopping in the gift store, that was as big as your local Walgreens drug store, we each had a couple of shirts, a cap for me and two pint glasses that were on sale two for one. I even got a free tote bag for being a lodge member on line. If that wasn’t enough they had coupons for about a dozen places that would give us a free Leinies if we bought something to eat. It was now 12:30 pm and time for lunch anyway so we decided on “The View Restaurant” that overlooks the bridge that separates Lake Wissota from the Chippewa River. Enjoyed a perfect four topping medium pizza for only $13. and got two free pint glasses of Honey Weis.  The view from their outside deck could have been on a post card. Just enough breeze to keep the bugs away too. A perfect end to our tour and our day. Make sure you get to The Leinie Lodge if you ever get to this area.
Woke up this morning, Wednesday, to very cloudy skies and temps in the low 50’s. Believe it or not the weather prediction is for a high of 80 with a chance of showers in the late afternoon. We’ll see how that works out. It was a good excuse to cook and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. One of my VFW brothers, Maynard, suggested that we could not visit Chippewa Falls without going to Irvine Park, so that was our plan for today. What a treat, a 318 acre park in the city of Chippewa Falls including a zoo, hiking trails, many picnic areas, many with shelters for groups and even individual tables with canopies over them. They also had a baseball diamond, tennis courts, sand volley ball courts, horseshoe courts and a splash pad. We got there at 10:30 am, walked around for two hours, enjoying the zoo and a very beautiful view of one of the falls on the river. We found a picnic table in a quiet spot where we enjoyed the lunch we had packed along. It reminded me of a song by Peter and Lou Berryman. If you haven’t heard their music bring them up on line and listen to the words very carefully, especially one song “Pack Up A Picnic”. This is a picture of Chippewa Falls.
 
 

After lunch we drove a short distance to the cities rose garden which was a disappointment, but it was right next to their community vegetable gardens where I checked out the square foot garden plots. Thinking now that square foot gardening may be the way to go next year at home. Tired of walking around so we made a stop at a local restaurant and had cones with homemade ice cream. It was as good as advertised. All of a sudden it was 3pm already so we decided to call it a day for sightseeing. I dropped Lor off at the trailer and then fished from one of their fishing piers for an hour and a half, but the only thing biting were the flies and they were biting me.  Just as I was about to start the grill to cook some hamburgers I heard thunder. Turned on the TV and there was rain headed our way so the weather person was right, nice weather all day, got up to 78 and now the rain was upon us. At least the 50 mile per hour winds stayed north of us so we only had rain. Actually had to make our hamburgers inside. Well at least we have an inside to make them in. Lor’s disappointed because she will not get a camp fire in tonight. Tomorrow’s supposed to be a really nice day so we will decide while having breakfast where the road will lead us next.  

Thursday already and it looks like it will be another beautiful day followed by rain again around 5 pm. We decided to visit three nearby towns, Stanley, Boyd and Cadott.

We went to Stanley first because it was the farthest away and we would work our way back to the campground. It turned out to be just another small town but they did have a nice veteran’s memorial so we stopped and took pictures. They also have the Stanley Correctional Facility with 1500 inmates that employs over 40 people.  We have stopped during our travels at Veteran’s Memorials to take pictures with the thought of making a scrap book or perhaps an online post of some sort. No interesting or unique stores in Stanley to shop at.

 

Fifteen minutes later we arrived in Boyd which was even smaller than Stanley with a population of 600.  It’s listed as “The Friendly Town”. I was amazed at what 600 people could donate to put up a very respectful and impressive memorial for their service men and women. Once again no stores that enticed us to shop. Good news, we’re saving money. Flagpoles are at least $200. a piece.
 
 

Another 15 minutes down the highway and we were in Cadott which was the largest of the three towns. It is noted for being half way between the equator and the North Pole. The Veterans memorial in Cadott was amazing. I’m always impressed by the way these small towns honor those that died, those that served and those that continue to serve. We spotted one of those small town bakeries and stopped to get lunch. At 67 we can get away with desert for lunch and not feel guilty. Enjoyed our coffee and bakery at a small park at the end of town overlooking another pretty waterfalls.  It was still early in the day so we decided to visit Chippewa Falls one more time and get a couple of more small glasses even though it meant sampling some more Linies. The things we do to supply our new trailer with juice glasses. We had planned on grilling out, but once again Mother Nature had different plans for us. The weather pattern this week has been beautiful days followed by rain beginning about 5 pm. We did manage to get steaks grilled on our gas grill but settled for microwave baked potatoes.  Weather person says more of the same tomorrow.
 
 

We had heavy rain at about 12:30 pm that woke us up and I asked Lor if she closed the overhead vents. She couldn’t remember so I got up to check. Got to the first one, looked up and told her through the water dripping on my face that they were not closed. Got a towel and dried the floor and went back to sleep until we were awakened again by heavy rain at 4:30 am. Some nights are like that.

Slept in after all the rain last night and decided over breakfast to go to Jim Falls just because of the name. Got on the road about 10:30 am, but made a wrong turn and ended up in Cornell where they have the only remaining pulp wood stacker. I’ll include a picture because you really can’t appreciate how big it is until you see it. Small Native American museum, but not worth the stop. We decided to head to Bloomer, about a half hour away, because they were having their local fair. Only enough to keep us there for a half hour, but the Knights of Columbus stand had strawberry cream cheese cake that we couldn’t pass up. I know. I know. I have to start eating healthier at lunch. Hey, it had fruit and cheese in it. How bad can that be?
 
 

Finally we were on our way to Jim Falls our original destination. Only 2:30 pm and rain clouds were already rolling in. We were planning on going on the dam tour, no it’s really a tour of the dam there, not a dam tour, or maybe it is. We decided with the weather closing in on us we would go back to our campsite, only 15 minutes away to get our screen tent packed away before it got wet again. Rain drops started hitting the windshield just as we pulled into our camping spot. Sun is out and it is pouring rain. Only rained for 15 minutes so we hoped that it would hold off until the tent dried out and we could pack it away. Just as we were questioning if it was dry enough to pack up, you know what happened. It rained again. It finally dried out enough to pack it up about 7:30 pm, but we will have to put it up again when we get home. There are those that question our sanity, but everything that seems like more work out here really isn’t. The joy of seeing new places and meeting new people makes up for any extra work.
 
 
Last night we talked to our neighbor who was from Canada. This young 70 year old has a trailer similar to ours and has traveled 16,000 miles already this year. He’s been on the road since April and plans to keep up this life style until he can’t. We have to be out of here by noon tomorrow so we plan to leave even earlier and travel by way of Niellsville, and stop at “The High Ground Veteran’s Memorial” on the way home.

Saturday was another beautiful day, but once again they were predicting rain storms by late in the afternoon. We were packed up and on the road by 10:30 am planning to be in Niellsville by noon. Just a warning if you go there with a travel trailer or motor home the closest parking is about a half mile walk. We made it without any problems at all. Nice straight flat country road. We first heard about this memorial when we attended LZ Lambeau, the welcome home for Vietnam Vets held in Green Bay in 2001. It was everything they said it would be and more. We’re walking around taking pictures and reading about the individual war memorials when a Wisconsin National Guard Unit Convoy drives past on Highway 10 all blowing their truck horns. How fitting is that? Once again thought about my dad and uncles, all Navy during WWII, my father-in-law, Army Air Corps WW II and a friend, a Marine, killed in Nam. If you are in that area make sure you stop.
 

Spending four days at home, but it will go quickly. Wash clothes, pay bills, one of us getting her hair done, Church on Sunday, Mallards baseball game on Monday night, last one of the year for us, weed garden on Tuesday, if I can find it in all the weeds , National Night Out in town with the and VFW Meeting on Wednesday night. Then it’s “On The Road Again” to Hudson Wisconsin.  Main road trip will be to Still Water, MN. I was hoping to visit with a Navy Lt. that I served with in Taiwan, but unfortunately he is out of the country.

Hope everyone that is following us on my blog is enjoying my rambling about our camping adventures. Also hope that all of you are having as much fun this summer as we are.