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STOP #208

"Land of 10,000 Lakes"
is our 33rd visited state


The famous "Mall of America" in Bloomingdale, MN is 4.87 million square feet of retail space and could fit 7 Yankee Stadiums inside it. When completed in 1992 it was the largest mall in America, today surprisingly, it comes in fifth place.

Today, after three years of me towing THE POD into 32 different states, it was Tricia's turn.

So for the first time since hitting the road Tricia towed THE POD out of one campground, across a two state lines and into another. It wasn't without excitement either!

I do all of our route planning and when I saw today's route I figured it was about time for Tricia to take the wheel.

I drove the truck over to the dump station in the park and then surprised her by switching seats while she was inside THE POD putting the Happy Camper chemicals into our black tank by flushing them down the toilet.

She came back to the passenger side of the truck and leapt backwards when she saw "someone else" sitting in the passenger seat. It took her a moment to realize it was me on the other side of the tinted windows and then she smiled, knowing it was her turn to drive.

About 15 miles into the trip we hit a snag. The country backroad I had routed us down was closed to thru traffic. As we sat in the middle of the intersection trying to decide what to do two other work trucks made u-turns in front of us and headed back the way we came.

The intersection with the closed sign had options. Turn around was not going to be an easy one to do with THE POD attached in the back. The other options were to turn left or right. Both directions were an unpaved gravel road that went out into the farmlands for as far as the eye could see.

After zooming out on the GPS map I saw we could still get back to the route if we detoured about 5 miles down these bumpy gravel roads. So offroading we went with THE POD following behind us. It was slow going but we made!

Campsite #29 at Blue Mounds State Park in Luverne, MN

After getting THE POD set up in our new campsite we plugged into the electricity, then turned on the refrigerator and cranked up the air conditioning. It was way too hot to be sitting in THE POD so we climbed back into ROVER and checked out the rest of the park.

This short man-made dam and subsequent waterfall is located at the entrance to the campground. Not only do they have RV sites, with and without electric, there are dedicated tent sites, a group site and even three tipis for rent.

On the far side of the park there is an area known as Eagle Rock Vista. From up on this plateau you can see the surrounding countryside and all of the corn crops just beginning to sprout above the soil.

TUESDAY - Tricia got up at 5:45AM this morning and went on one of her most scenic morning walks in quite a while.

I'm not going to caption these photos as I think they speak for themselves.

On a different note, as of this morning we now have confirmed camping reservations through the end of the year. WOO HOO!

WEDNESDAY - The whole reason for us to be "dipping our toes" into Minnesota is to visit the Pipestone National Monument and that's just what we're doing this morning.

As you may have guessed this National Monument is dedicated to preserving the Native American Indian tradition of carving pipes (peace pipes) out of stone. Specifically pipestone is the soft rock which is found under the soil and 150 feet of quartzite rock, which is still quarried here and used for building construction all over town.

We began our visit with a 3/4 mile long hike around the Visitor Center. It started out with an example of what a pipestone quarry might look like and then went through a tall grass prairie before getting to the cliff faces where the pipestone is found.

There was also a short waterfall and many stairs carved out of rock. It took us a little more than an hour to walk the trail and then another hour to check out the inside of the Visitor Center and Gift Shop. We spent most of that time speaking with a Native American pipe carver who was displaying his pipes and sharing his techniques used to create them.

Enough talk, here are the photos!


The second half of the trail I went on ahead to go use the restroom and Tricia stayed behind to take photos. I had a little time to kill before Tricia finished her hike so I went in to the gift shop to look around.

Of all the items they had for sale in there I knew the minute I saw them on the shelf that Tricia would be buying one to take home. I was so sure that I tried to make a bet with the cashier that she would select the one I had in my hand. She looked at me like I was nuts! It's OK, I've seen that look many times before.

Anyway, Tricia found me in the gift shop talking to the pipe carver and I nodded to the cashier and signaled with a wave, then pointed at Tricia and then motioned for her to keep her eyes on her.

After checking out the entire gift shop Tricia brought her chosen purchase up to the register and I glanced over to see what she had selected.

I was right! We now have a new addition to THE POD. A miniature turtle, carved out of pipestone, by a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Nation.

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