Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Midwest - Hot and Humid

The times of my life that I will forever cherish form a bouquet that I’ve saved, pressing it carefully between the pages of my life. --unknown author

Hot and sticky Medford, Minnesota

Goodbye, Blackhawk Park, hello Medford, Minnesota. We crossed the Mississippi at LaCrosse (appropriate name, don't you think?), Wisconsin, and continued west to Medford, Minnesota Destination was my cousin’s family farm complex – three houses, four generations, hundreds of acres – farming corn, soybeans and raising hogs. (Actually, Gloria is our mother’s cousin). We were there from Sunday, July 17 through Wednesday, July 20.

As usual, Jeremiah was parked beneath huge trees that would give shade in the mornings – but alas, no afternoon shade. We were plugged into her 20-amp house circuit. The infamous Midwest heat wave had not let up at all! Before the first day there was over, the motor home air conditioner was seriously struggling. With both Gloria and me running AC, doing laundry and such, Jeremiah (needing 3o amp) was not getting enough electricity. Big problem! Solution was to turn the AC off and for Cat and me to move into Gloria’s house (Linda had already moved in.) Cat, litter box and food were put in the laundry room and I got a bed in the sewing room. The inside temperature in Jeremiah that afternoon with full sun reached 100 degrees!

After a day or so, Gloria felt sorry for Cat and let her have the run of the house. And Cat sure made herself at home, as this photo shows.

On each of the four days here we played cards with other Tuttle cousins – Alton and Marcella and Laura. We played Progressive Rummy and also a game of Mexican Train Dominoes. And of course, Linda and I pulled rhubarb and cooked it down into sauce which is now happily frozen in Jeremiah’s freezer for future enjoyment.

Picturesque Annandale, Minnesota; Thursday, July 21

When she found out I would be traveling in Minnesota, Elizabeth Cabalka and her husband Mike, invited us to stop by their home in Annandale. I had seen photos of the house and yard and was thrilled to see them in person. They are friends of mine and fellow-camp host volunteers at McDowell Mountain Park where we spend the winter.

Elizabeth picked us up at our RV park and the first stop on our personal tour of the area were the Munsinger & Clemens Gardens in nearby St. Cloud. With more than 20 acres of world-class gardens, plant collections and historic hardscape along the bank of the Mississippi River, it was a delight to walk around.

The Munsinger Garden showcases the achievements of the WPA (Works Progress Administration of the 1930s). Among the thousands of annual bedding plants and perennials there are ponds and fountains, a gazebo, historic cabin and a wishing well.

There’s a sweet story behind The Clemens Garden. This was developed by Bill Clemens in 1986 as a gift of love to his wheelchair-bound wife, Virginia. He started with a garden of more than 1,000 roses. Then it grew, adding a formal garden, white garden, perennial garden, treillage garden and what is called a rest-area garden that includes a replica statue of the Clemens.

(Above - my favorite flower at the gardens.)

I knew there were more stunning flowers in store for us as Elizabeth drove from St. Cloud to their lovely 100-year-old house in Annandale. Her colorful flowers in interesting and creative yard areas have motivated me to get something done about my Prescott Valley yard of rocks.

As if the flowers weren't enough, the dining was a four-star experience, rivaling the fanciest restaurants. Weather had cooled off and we could dine outside while feasting our eyes on the flowers.

After dinner Riley, Elizabeth and Mike’s sweet dog, entertained us with his 'floor show.

Great food, amazing surroundings, entertainment and good conversation - it doesn't get any better than that. The delicious dinner was followed by a walk around the charming small town of Annandale as Elizabeth told us about the town and various projects she has been involved with. We ended our visit by enjoying ice cream cones for dessert. Before leaving, I took a photo of Elizabeth and Mike at their front door.

Flooding takes its toll; Friday, July 24

It was raining as we drove through the Spirit Lake area (northern Iowa) and we decided to keep driving south into Spencer, Iowa. Our destination was Leach Campgrounds along the Little Sioux River. Well, most of the camping sites were actually IN the river. Lucky for us they did have a few campsites open.

And the RV area is just a few blocks from Spencer’s historic downtown. And of course, we spent a couple of hours wandering in and out of stores. But first, we used the old bridge to cross the river. (Note the first photo shows Linda crossing the river and the second photo is taken from the bridge)

Last stop was a Dairy Queen and then back to Jeremiah.

Linda’s visit with her granddaughter; Saturday, July 23.

We got an early start this morning for a short drive to Little Sioux Campground near Correctionville, Iowa. After settling in a shady site, Linda’s granddaughter Sarah picked her up for a day’s visit in nearby Anthon. Linda got to see her two great-grandsons!

While she was gone, I reviewed our upcoming travel days, doing some re-routing. I discovered that we had a couple extra days not accounted for, so we’ve been thinking how to spend them. No decision yet. Stay tuned.