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STOP #219

"The Badger State"
is our 35th visited state


The Green Bay Packers are owned by the people of Green Bay (pop. just over 100,000). The NFL football team is a nonprofit whose fans support it, and the team supports them with a bolstered economy, plenty of charitable giving and even a Lombardi Trophy from time to time.

Today our travel day started a little bit early at 9:30AM. We have a pit stop to make on today's route, the Goodyear Tire Store in Maple Grove, MN.

One of THE PODs tires is wearing faster than the other three and I was hoping to make it last until we made it to Pennsylvania at the end of August. In August we are getting another upgrade to our solar package and I was hoping to upgrade to 16" tires and wheels on THE POD at the same time.

The tire just kept looking worse and worse, so today we pulled the trigger and elected to purchase just one new tire so we don't risk any major damage to the trailer with a blowout, not to mention danger to ourselves and others.

After a $185 repair and a quick $27 lunch at the Culver's Restaurant next door (famous for their frozen custard), we were back on the road, feeling safer and less hungry.

You all know how much I hate maneuvering THE POD around in tight shopping center parking lots. In campgrounds I'm fine, most people know how to act when there are trailers present by staying alert for anything. Remember there are no backup lights on a trailer, only on the truck!

THURSDAY - Today we were up and off the campsite by 9:00AM. One of the main reasons we are camping at the Highland Ridge Campground, other than the fact it's half price and only $12 a night for us, is because of it's close proximity to Crystal Cave.

You all know how much we like doing cave tours and today will be our 41st trip below ground. While Crystal Cave turned out to be just an ordinary cave as far as formations go, we had an extraordinary tour thanks to the very knowledgeable tour guide who led our trip. The reason we didn't see any of the large formations we are used to seeing is because until just 80 years ago this cave was filled with mud, not allowing the water to drip and thereby create the formations.

We were also surprised to find 17 other customers up early, ready to go on the first tour of the morning with us. Maybe things really are starting to get back to normal in the world.

Our knowlegeable guide leading us down into the entrance of the cave.

Eighty year old soda straw formations just an inch long.

On another note:

While we were underground this morning I missed a phone call. Not a big deal it was from an unrecognized number and I wouldn't have answered it anyway. Turns out they left me a 28-second long voice message.

It was United Parcel Service in Jamestown, ND wanting to know when I was going to be coming in to pickup my package. It was not "The UPS Store" where I had addressed the package to be delivered mind you, but a Customer Service Center, somewhere else in the same town.

They said it had been there for "a couple of days now" (more like 20 days) and just wanted to let me know it had arrived. Keep in mind, I originally scheduled this pick up for July 1st as I drove past their town. I then spent six days trying to locate it after the Tracking Data said it had been delivered at 10:14AM on July 2nd to "Clare at the front desk".

I started to call them back and then changed my mind. I already have the replacement package in my hands, so as far as I'm concerned, I'm good to go. They'll just have to figure out for themselves what to do with the one they have!

FRIDAY - Today we were up and out of the campground by 9:30AM. We are going sightseeing back across the border in Minnesota, Minneapolis to be more exact.

There are two sights on our list today, in addition to purchasing gasoline and a few needed grocery items. First up is lunch!

There is only one place in the country where you can taste an "Original Jucy Lucy" burger and that's at Matt's Bar & Grill in southern Minneapolis.

Waiting for the place to open!

A view of nearly the entire restaurant and bar.

There were seven of us standing outside waiting for the place to open at 11:00AM this morning and by 11:30AM the restaurant was nearly filled.

You are probably wondering, "What's the big deal, it's a hamburger". First off, it's not a hamburger, it's a cheeseburger, with one very big difference.

The Jucy Lucy is created by placing American Cheese between two thin hamburger patties and sealing the edges all around. Then it is grilled to perfection on both sides and served with diced grilled onions and pickles on a fresh bun. When you bite into it you'll know where the name came from.

What it looks like before you take your first bite. BTW - that's their half-order basket of fries.

After the first few bites I was thinking it should of been called the "Molten Lava Cheeseburger".

The burgers were delicious and worth the 60+ miles we drove back to taste them. That half-order basket of fries was more than enough for the two of us and we left almost as many as we ate.

Now that we have full bellies it's time to make a short drive to our second sightseeing destination of the day, the Mall of America. When it opened in 1992 it was the largest shopping mall in the United States and now attracts an average of 42,000,000 (that's millions folks) visitors a year, roughly 8 times the population of the entire state of Minnesota.

Neither Tricia or I are big shoppers, but it just seemed like something we shouldn't pass up. We spent nearly two hours walking around the mall and our combined purchases were a new top for Tricia, found on the 40% off Clearance Rack in the Eddie Bauer Store, a Starbucks Coffee for Tricia and a Tollhouse Cookie for me. Like I said we aren't big shoppers!

We spent a little bit of our visit "people watching" from the balcony walkways of the four story shopping mall, looking out over the Nickelodeon Universe theme park which occupies the entire center of the mall.

Here are a couple short videos for you.

SATURDAY - Today was going to be a "lazy day" but it didn't turn out that way. We did end up checking off four items on our Wisconsin Bucket List.

Just before lunch we went on a hike (#1) that goes around the perimeter of the campground. About halfway through the hike we took the time to locate the geocache (#2) that is hidden just off the trail.

For lunch we cooked up some hot dogs on the grill and then remained outside to devour them (#3) with some of my favorite Deviled Egg Potato Salad from Walmart, if you haven't tried it, you don't know what you're missing. Much later we enjoyed a campfire (#4) before retiring for the evening.

Just like that, we had checked off 4 of the 7 bucket list items we try to accomplish in each state we visit. It's not hard to accomplish, but if we didn't have this bucket list we just might forget to enjoy the outdoors.

In between lunch and dinner we were treated to a parade, right in front of our campsite. It was the 10th Annual "Come As U R Dum Parade". I looked online for some additional information about the parade, but all I found was a short 5-minute You Tube video from 2012.


The campground host was able to tell us that the parade is sponsored by a local Spring Valley Womens Club and is run every year at this time to honor the Army Corps of Engineers for constructing the earthen dam back in 1968 that saves their small town of 1352 people from continued floodings throughout the year.

We weren't expecting much and it was all over in a matter of a few minutes, but as a show of support we joined all the other campers by sitting at the end of our driveway while the small parade passed by. I did score a couple of choice pieces of chocolate candy that were being thrown from the passing "floats", but most of what we collected was donated to the mom, big sister and three little girls from the campsite across the street from us.

SUNDAY - I forgot to mention that after our cave tour on Thursday morning we did a little sightseeing in the small town of Spring Valley.

On the edge of town is the huge dam that controls the water flowing from the Eau Galle Reservoir which is fed by Lohn Creek, Lousy Creek and the Eau Galle River. We drove all around the dam checking out the beach area, boat launch and picnic area. Finally we drove up to the scenic overlook where these two pictures were taken.

Our campsite is somewhere on the other side of the lake up in the trees.

Afterwards we went back into town to have lunch at Sneakers Pub & Eatery, a small restaurant on the main street going through the center of town. We ordered an appetizer of Cheese Curds to share, we are in Wisconsin afterall, and they were so much better than the ones we sampled previously while in North Dakota. The waitress explained that their cheese curds are deliver fresh, almost daily, and the other ones we had were probably frozen at some point.

We both ordered a personal sized 9" freshly made pizza which were also delicious. Amazingly we both had leftovers which we boxed to take home for lunch tomorrow.

I'd also like to mention that Sneakers participates in a program whereby the senior citizens who reside in Pierce County can come in once a day and recieve a special home cooked meal for just $4.00, today it was Sweet and Sour Chicken over rice with a beverage and a fruit cup. Just another perk for living here!

I'm bringing all this up now because after we mentioned how we like to "shop local" when we visit new locations, the staff recommended we also check out A Butchery Shoppe as we are leaving town. Also we should check out the Cady Cheese Factory & Shop just outside of town on our way back to the campground.

Back on Thursday we didn't visit the butcher shop, but we did visit the cheese store where I purchased a heavy loaf of Apple Fritter & Spice Bread and a 12-oz. bottle of Chokecherry Flavored Honey, because I liked the Chokecherry Jelly I purchased in North Dakota so much.

Tricia purchased I don't know how many different kinds of Wisconsin Cheese to share with the new friends we're bound to make at an upcoming Airstream Rally in September. All I know is our bill from this one outing was $65.83 when everything was rung up at the register. I was reassured by Tricia that she understood, since we are both now retired that we can't afford to do this very often. Tricia may be the accountant in the family, but I'm the one who manages our checking account and pays our bills.

This finally brings us up to today. When I asked Tricia what she would like to do today she said, "Let's go check out that butcher shop". I said, "OK, but I'd like to get another loaf of that bread and some more honey, they were both really good"! So off we went.

We stopped at the cheese store first, where I bought the fresh baked loaf of bread, but they were all sold out today. We did pick up four more 12-oz. bottles of honey (it never goes bad) and that's when I saw Tricia checking out the meat case. We selected some Bison Summer Sausage to try for ourselves and some Beef Summer Sausage to share with the upcoming rally friends. Total bill = $38.48!

Next we drove into town to the butcher shop. I selected a 4-pack of Red Birch Beer soda, a half pound of seafood salad (for lunch today) and some Cheese Curd Bratwurst (another MUST TASTE Wisconsin Bucket List item). Tricia found some meat products to go with the cheese and crackers she plans to share at the rally and some for us to eat for ourselves. Total bill = $56.09!

We have got to slow down on our spending!

Tricia kept busy this afternoon by getting out her sewing machine and taking care of a project she saved for doing after she retired. She had already made two foam pillows that we stuff into the exhaust fans in the ceiling to keep the heat in when it's cold out. Today she made two more pillows to stuff into our huge skylights to serve the same purpose.

They also do well when it's hot outside to keep the inside of THE POD cool when the air conditioner is running. One more thing off of her TO DO list.


it's pretty simple actually:

If the border color is then Tricia took the photo.
If the border color is then Phil took the photo.

and if it's a thin black line or no border at all, that means I screwed up
and it's up to you to try and figure it out for yourself!

Additionally, from now on if the type is italicized, then it was written by Tricia.

We are going to try and make this blog a team effort now that Trica is also retired.

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Until next time




STOP #218

Today we left North Dakota behind us and traveled 140 miles east back into Minnesota. If you remember, we've already visited Minnesota for three days back in early June.

When we were just 9 miles from our destination we saw this statue in a park on the side of the road and just had to pull over to see what it was all about.

It's billed as "The World's Largest Crow".

The statue is located in the Belgrade Centenial Memorial Park in Belgrade, MN. The park was dedicated in 1990 for the Minnesota Centenial and is funded and maintainied by private and corporate donations.

The crow is 18 feet high and sits on a 31 foot long branch, making him "The World's Largest Crow". With the pedestal under him he is 43 foot tall and weighs a whopping 3,000 lbs.

Why a crow? It actually has nothing to do with the bird. A Sioux warrior named Chief Little Crow used to inhabit these lands and the Crow River, which feeds into Crow Lake, are named after the indian chief like many other natural landmarks located nearby.

Campsite #43 at Sibley State Park in New London, MN

Just across the campground road and within plain view of our campsite
is the park's Day Use Area and it's Swimming Beach on Lake Andrew.

It wasn't long after we got all set up that Tricia blew the dust off of her bathing suit, grabbed a towel and her phone, then headed for the water. I on the other hand was updating our location on this blog, like I always do upon arrival, and then joined her on the beach.

I tested the water up to my shins and decided it was a little to cool for me, besides I was planning to offer Tricia a nice dinner in town to celebrate her retirement.

The park's swimming beach area.

Lake Andrew as seen from the swimming area.

After getting cleaned up we headed into town to a lakeside restaurant in the next town south of here, O'Neils on nearby Green Lake in Spicer, MN.

For all you foodies out there, here are our dinner selections for tonight.

Tricia came all the way to Minnesota to select a Cuban Sandwich,
but she enjoyed it so that's all that matters.

I tested my luck by ordering the house specialty, a Parmesan Crusted Walleye Dinner.
I wasn't as thrilled with my selection, but I did ask for a double serving of Mashed Potatoes, instead of the veggie offering they had. Mine also came with a cup full of French Onion Soup that was good, sorry no photo for that!

In case you haven't noticed I've already referenced several Lake names in this post. Also in case you are unaware, Minnesota's unofficial nickname, which is on all their automobile tags by the way, is "Land of 10,000 Lakes". We are beginning to understand why!

FYI - They actually have 11,842 to be exact!

FRIDAY - Yesterday, after going unplugged for the last week, I once again plugged in my malfunctioning EMS and once again it was erroring out with a High Voltage Warning code. No worries, today is the day I drive one hour north to St. Cloud to pick up my brand new EMS that's there waiting for me.

After we picked up the EMS at The UPS Store it seemed a shame to travel all that way to accomplish only one thing, so we also went to Walmart where Tricia bought some new PJs and I got a couple of small plastic boxes to better organize a few loose items in the bed of the truck.

Next we did something we've only done once before in the last 3+ years on the road, we paid more than $3.00 a gallon for gasoline, $3.04 to be exact! Not something we look forward to seeing more of in the future.

A quick trip into Target where we purchased a fourth Whisky Ice Cube Tray. It makes six 2-inch square ice cubes that last longer than regular ice cubes in our room temperature water and drinks. We do this because there's not enough room in the fridge for stuff like beverages, other than our usual half gallon of milk.

Finally a trip to the grocery store, Coborn's, an employee owned Midwest chain that reminded us of a Trader Joe's atmosphere with Whole Foods higher prices.

Time to make the hour long drive back to the campground with our cold food purchases crammed into a 16-quart cooler we purchased earlier this year for just this scenario.

We arrived back at the park around 1:00PM and saw several bright yellow signs posted at the entrance and around the campground announcing there would be Live Music between 2-3PM today. There was no mention of where it would be held in this huge park.

When we got back to our campsite it was pretty obvious we would have reserved front row seats for the show.

Waiting for the show to start and for Tricia to join me.

Three friends, playing together in front of an audience for the first time, strummed out eight original melodies (no lyrics) written by the rhythm guitar player who is seated in the middle.

It was a very pleasant and unexpected surprise to listen to them for an hour this afternoon. I was more than happy to throw a twenty dollar bill into their open guitar case, strategically placed out front for everyone to see. I did this after their fifth song, hoping the rest of the small audience would take the hint, only one other guy did.

To be fair, I realized after they finshed playing that most of the rest of the audience who was there to listen were either family or friends, just there to cheer them on in their musical efforts.

MONDAY - As Tricia often does before she starts her early morning walk she gathers up all the trash from the day before and makes a deposit into the dumpster as she leaves the campground.

Today however she got a bit of a surprise when she was about to make her deposit. NOTE: It's better if you rewatch the video a second time at full screen size by clicking the little square icon in the lower right hand corner of the frame.

It appears a mischievous pair of little bandits managed to find their way into the dumpster, but couldn't figure out how they were going to get back out. I guess that's why mama was running across the parking lot to give them a hand.

Tricia did leave the lid to the dumpster propped open just a little to lend a hand in their escape.

Just around the corner from the dumpster she saw these three leisurely going about their day.

TUESDAY - Sibley State Park has four different campgrounds. The one we are in is the Lakeview Campground and as you might expect there is a lake with a swimming beach and cool breezes blowing in from the water.

The campground on the other side of County Road 48 is the Oak Ridge Campground and once again as you might expect it is higher up in a stand of oak trees. There are two loops, the first are all primitive sites (no water or electric) geared towards the tent campers. The second loop has utilites and is suitable for RVs and tents, there are also four cabins for rent.

There is also an equestrian camp with nine sites for the horse riders, one with this great view...

...and three primitive group camps for larger gatherings.

There is no dump station in the Oak Ridge Campground, but I suspect they are permitted to use the one we have here in the Lakeview Campground. That would explain all the extra traffic on the opposite end of our campground loop.

One thing the Oak Ridge Campground has that we don't is an observation tower on the top of Mt. Tom, with a bird's eye view of the surrounding area.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot!
We did have someone who made very frequent short visits to our campsite this week.

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We would really like to hear from you!

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