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.