Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie

Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie
Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Lake Manawa State Park

Lake Manawa

While I was working in Council Bluffs, Iowa I stayed at the Lake Manawa State Park campground. This was a pretty area to stay, although the campsites were not as spacious and secluded as the ones at the Rice Creek campground that I stayed at before this. Still, some of the campsites were on the lake and they had lots of bicycle trails that Rylie and I used for our morning walks.

There were quite a few deer scampering about, but of course I never had my camera with me when we saw them. Every time I brought my camera along, we didn't see a one. Isn't that the way it goes? We also saw some wild turkeys, which really caught Rylie's attention. Rylie usually notified me first when there was wildlife about. He would stick his nose in the air and smell hard. Sometimes he couldn't see the deer because the grass was much taller than him, but he knew they were there. One day we saw a mother deer with what looked like three yearlings. I picked up Rylie so that he could see what he was smelling, and we watched the deer and the deer watched us for a few minutes.

Lake Manawa Campsite

Bicycle Trail

After I finished up my work it was time to hit the road again. I stayed one night in Kansas, and then arrived in Granbury, Texas, which is southwest of Fort Worth. I'm looking forward to seeing a little bit of Texas. I've only been in the state twice before, both times for sales conferences, so I didn't get to see much. One was in San Antonio, and the other was in Paradise, near Dallas. Maybe I'll see some cowboys.

Rylie's Notes:

I liked Iowa. There was lots of room to roam and interesting animal smells. The only bad thing was the noisy thunderstorms. I haven't decided about Texas yet. Last night we went for our first walk in the new campground and although there is interesting livestock nearby, I ran into my old nemesis, the goathead. Grrrrrrrrr.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Too Many Heads

I know, I know, I have not been good about blogging lately, but that's because I've been busy working. I have spent the past week peddling my aerial photos in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which is just across the river from Omaha. It has been quite hot and very humid most of the time I've been here, but things have cooled down considerably today. Last night we had a spectacular thunder and lightning storm that went on for a long time. I laid in my bed and watched the lightning fissures crack the shell of the sky through the window that's at the head of my bed.

That's one feature that I really enjoy on my motorhome, the window at the head of the bed. I've been able to watch lightning shows crackle and pop, enjoy hot air balloons as they float past, follow the birds as they make their rounds above a lake, and just gaze at the stars, all from the comfort of my bed. It's a really nice feature.

I just had to comment on something I saw in the home of one of my customers the other day. A couple decided to purchase an aerial photo, and invited me into their living room to complete the transaction. We had a nice conversation while I completed the paperwork and the wife wrote out her check, and then she invited me to see the view from their deck. Since their house was situated high atop a hill and no doubt had a great view, I said I would like to and followed her out to the deck. Their view was indeed spectacular, and I'm sure they enjoy many beautiful sunsets from their very large deck.

When we returned to the living room I was nearly stopped dead in my tracks by what I saw on the living room wall. My back had been to this wall when I was in the living room previously, so I didn't know what was behind me. Mounted on the wall were 25 to 30 animal heads including moose, deer and God knows what else. It was the most gross display of testosterone overload that I've ever seen. I couldn't bear to look at it and so I hurried out of there. All I could think of was how much pleasure I get from seeing animals like that in the wild -- alive -- and wonder how anyone could want to kill so many of them. I also thought about how much I wanted to see a moose when I was in Minnesota. I don't understand how it could give someone pleasure to destroy all of those beautiful animals. I guess I will never understand killing for sport. I know that you hunters out there are going to have something to say about this, but I still will never understand it. I was sorry that I sold them a photo.

Rylie's Notes:

It's too bad I wasn't with The Staff when she visited that customer. I would have peed on his leg.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Old Friends and New

Not only did I have a great time visiting with my family in Minnesota, but I had a blast getting together with old friends that I had not seen in years, as well as with some new ones. Unfortunately, I did not remember to take pictures of everyone that I got together with. Too busy having fun, I guess. Here are a few that I did remember to take.

Amy, Barb and John

We ate dinner at The Pickwick one night, which is an old restaurant in Duluth that has been around forever, and which has really neat decor inside. There are some old frescoes and lots of rich wood on the walls, and the food is very good.

Tom and Amy Being Friendly

Me and Nola

I also got to help my friend Nola celebrate her birthday. Nola and I met when I was 17 years old and we were both waitresses at The Country Kitchen in Duluth. We became best friends and roommates later on, and had many, many fun times together. We hadn't seen each other for six years, so it was really good to catch up with her.

I also had a great time catching up with Kim one afternoon. Our mothers have been best friends since they were kids, and we spent a lot of Saturdays shopping and having lunch with our moms when we were little. When Kim and I were sophomores at different high schools, we went on a Know Your Government tour with a busload of kids to see the Eastern U.S. Fun trip!

Wendy was a good friend of mine when I was in junior high school. We spent a lot of time at the local ice skating rink. When she and I got together for dinner, my face hurt at the end of the night from laughing so much. What a funny lady she is.

It was fun hanging out with the gang at Grandma's, which is a well-known restaurant/bar in Duluth's Canal Park that long ago was a bordello. I also really enjoyed a boat ride in the bay from the Wisconsin side, which I had never done from that side before.

I think Duluth is more appealing to me now than it was when I was younger, but of course I wasn't there in the winter time. It does have a lot of great qualities, and it's in a pretty setting. It's just too bad about those winters.

It was really difficult to say goodbye to everyone in Minnesota, and especially to my family. Of course I know I will be back, but it seems to get more difficult to part now that we are all getting older. That's the one thing I don't like about this traveling lifestyle: the many goodbyes. The nice thing is that now that my schedule is flexible, I can see people more than I used to, so that helps.

Rylie's Notes:

Dogs don't get sad about saying goodbye, because we know there are exciting sights and smells down the road. Besides, we know we will see all of our friends again, either here or in the big, back yard on the other side.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lino Lakes, Minnesota

Minnesota has some really nice campgrounds, and one of them is the Rice Lake Chain of Lakes campground in Lino Lakes, which is north of St. Paul. This campground has very large, wooded, and secluded campsites, and it was really quiet. I had the campground virtually to myself until the weekend. It is sandwiched between two lakes in a chain of five lakes, and there were deer in the campground.

Geese in Centerville Lake

My Campsite

The only drawback to this campground was the mosquitoes. There were a bunch of them, and they made quite a feast of my left foot and ankle. Why just the left foot, I wonder? Is it tastier than my right foot? Anyway, I learned something new from this experience. I took a break from work one afternoon and came back to the motorhome to walk Rylie. I decided I better protect my calves and feet with insect repellent first, so I sprayed them well, put on my sandals and we took our walk. When we returned to the motorhome I removed my sandals, and discovered that the black die had been removed from the leather and transferred to my feet. It has taken quite a bit of scrubbing to get the black die off my feet. If that stuff can remove the die from leather, what does it do to our skin? Scary. I guess I'll be shopping for some new sandals.

I'll be moving to the Omaha area next, where I'll be doing some more work for Air Photo. Hopefully it will be warmer than it has been in Minnesota this past week. It's like winter in California here, with temperatures getting down into the 30's at night. Brrrrrr.

Rylie's Notes:

Mosquitoes don't bother me, because I have a nice, thick coat to protect me. If humans didn't have such bald bodies, they wouldn't have to worry about mosquitoes. Poor humans. They have bald bodies, they can't smell, they don't hear well, and they have to be walked on leashes. They are like newborns, really. It's a good thing they have dogs to look after them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Depot

The Depot

If you go to Duluth, one of the places you should visit is The Depot. This is the old train depot downtown which has been restored and converted to a museum. It currently houses a train museum, The Duluth Children's Museum, and the Historical Society, among other things. Since my Mom has been a volunteer for years at the Children's Museum and works part-time for the Historical Society, Julie and I had a personal tour with Mom one day.

There are some really nifty old trains

and a re-creation of some of the store fronts from days gone by.

If you have kids, you really should take them to the Children's Museum. It has a lot of fun things for the kids to play in and with. The play exhibits change from time to time, but some of them include a castle, a tree they can climb around in, and a camping exhibit complete with tent, canoe, and fake campfire to play with. They have all sorts of fun activities there too.

Mom at the Children's Museum

Rylie's Notes:

Trains are pretty fast. I wonder if I could herd a train?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Family Time

I have been having such a great time hanging out with my family. My siblings and I have not been together at the same time for 15 years, so we did some family photos. Julie took some very good photos but I don't have those yet, so I'm including a couple of shots taken by Bob with my camera.

Julie, Gray, Amy, Mom, Dad and Me

Three Sisters

We have had some great laughs. We have played cribbage and Up Your Giggy, had parties, met up with all kinds of relatives, had lots of talks around the table, and done lots and lots of eating. I've got some damage to undo there. We even went to Bridgeman's, which is my favorite childhood ice cream place. Yum!

Another place that we went to was the old Fitger's brewery building. This is a neat old stone building that has been converted into a bunch of shops, restaurants and a hotel. There are so many neat old buildings and homes in Duluth.

Fitger's Building

Rylie's Notes:

I didn't get any ice cream.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Back to Duluth

When we left Ely, we drove back to Duluth along the north shore of Lake Superior. We stopped along the way at the Split Rock Lighthouse, which was built in the early 1900's. It was constructed using a derrick and hoisting engine that hauled materials up the 100-foot cliff face from the boats moored below. When it was completed in 1939, it was one of the most visited lighthouses in the nation.

Split Rock Lighthouse

There are some really pretty views of Lake Superior from the lighthouse.

View from the Top of the Lighthouse

The Rocky North Shore

Back in Duluth and a warm, sunny day.

Duluth and the Aerial Lift Bridge

The Aerial Lift Bridge and the Port of Duluth

St. Louis River Running into the Bay

Rylie's Notes:

Okay, enough about scenery. Let's talk about something interesting, like my new friend. He lives a couple of houses away, and he likes to come over and chase me around the yard. I really like being chased around the yard. The Staff was having a tough time getting a picture of us playing, because we're so fast.

Rylie Playing with His New Friend

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Ely, Minnesota

From Pelican Lake I drove to Ely, where I stayed at the Fall Lake Recreation Area campground. This is a really nice campground. I did not have a lakefront campsite like I did at the Pine Acres campground on Pelican Lake, but I thought the campsites were much prettier. They were large, spaced far apart and very wooded, so I didn't feel like I was right on top of my neighbors, the way some campgrounds feel. The campground was re-done in 2004, so everything looked like new. Julie, Bob and my parents stayed in a very nice cabin at the Deer Ridge Resort, which was just a few miles away. Pets weren't allowed there, which is why Rylie and I stayed at the campground.

Dad, Mom, Julie and Bob at Deer Ridge Resort on Garden Lake

They had canoes for rent at my campground, and Fall Lake is one of the entrances to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Julie and I went canoeing in the Boundary Waters one morning, and this is the only sign letting you know you have entered the BWCA Wilderness. It's easy to miss.

I was really hoping that I was going to see a moose while I was in Northern Minnesota, but those shy creatures were avoiding me. I did see a bald eagle while we were in the canoe, so that was some consolation.

Julie in the Boundary Waters

The town of Ely was only about six miles from where we stayed, and there is quite a bit to do in this area besides canoeing. We went to the International Wolf Center, where they have six resident wolves. The wolves were difficult to see, but it was a great learning experience.

Julie, Mom, Dad and Me at Wolf Center in Ely

Another stop was the Dorothy Moulter museum. Dorothy was the last resident of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and they moved her cabins from the remote area she lived in to Ely. She used to make root beer and sell it to the people passing through the area. The town of Ely is cute, with some quaint shops and restaurants.

Dorothy Moulter Cottages

Dorothy was a no-nonsense kind of gal. This was a funny sign in her cottage:

I could have spent more time in this area, but the rest of my family needed to get back to Duluth. I wouldn't mind going there again, maybe even next summer. If you like lakes, this is the place to be. Maybe the next time I go, I'll see a moose.

Rylie's Notes:

Canoes are a little too tippy for my liking. I'm glad I wasn't invited on this one.