Friday, August 4, 2017

Off to Minnesota

Our adventure this year is to follow the Great River Road, down the Mississippi from the source almost to the mouth. But first we have to get to northern Minnesota.
We left on Friday, 28 July. That was one day after our scheduled departure due to a problem that developed with the house. A busy day put us on track to getting the problem taken care of so next day we went to MacDonald’s for a late breakfast, then to Kroger’s to stock up on food basics. That put us on the road about 2:00 o’clock. No sense scheduling a long stretch for the first day. We ran into and out of showers and a little fog. We also kept getting a warning light for oil from time to time. At first I thought that we might be low, despite recently having the oil changed. But after buying two quarts of fancy synthetic oil (it is a Mercedes after all) I found that the oil light was for too much oil!  Oh well, by 6:15 we were settled in at Tamarack, our usual first stop.
Next day was much nicer. After waiting in a line for fuel, we made a short, relatively uneventful run to Vic Cardi’s place in southern Ohio. It is out in the woods, on a quiet road. He has a place for us to park that is almost dead level. It doesn’t take much to make you happy when you are on the road. Vic took us on a tour of the neighborhood, which has a lot of Amish farms. Pretty country. Then we went in to Portsmouth, OH. They have a big flood wall there which has been covered with many panels of a very good mural. It illustrates the history of the town from before the arrival of the first English explorers to the present.

Next stop was a short distance away in Cincinnati. We stopped there because it was free (a perk of the club we belong to) and we figured we would need shore power to run the air conditioner. Right on both counts, it was very hot. The campground rules said that there was absolutely no fishing in the lake. Much looking failed to reveal any kind of lake; though we occasionally heard geese
When we travel we prefer to avoid the interstates. However, this first stretch is not really part of the adventure. We just need to get to northern Minnesota, where our real trip will start. So, much of the week it took us to get there was on interstates, playing moto-polo with the trucks.
This part of the trip took us across the prairie, where the corn and soybean fields are measured by the square mile. In Illinois, we saw lots of crop dusting, including a plane that crossed the interstate ahead of us and almost left tire tracks on the top of a truck. We even saw one field being dusted by a helicopter.
We had lunch in Evansville, a pretty town just south of Madison, WI. This is a bedroom community for Madison and Janesville.
Downtown Evansville
Gene is from Wisconsin so we connected with Bill, a cousin who sells spring water. We had hoped to visit with another cousin, but was never able to make connections. After some searching, we were able to find an old German meat market and got our hit of kupwurst, a treat from my childhood which I introduced to Jean. Wednesday we filled our water tank from Bill’s spring and headed north. 
 Out on the plains you can watch the thunderstorms building.

Wednesday night we spent in the parking lot of an Indian casino, our first time for that particular venue. They even had three power stations for RVs, but these were all in use by the time we got there. We never gamble and this one didn’t include a restaurant, so we just settled in for the night and read until bed time.
Thursday we set a goal that turned out to be a little too ambitious. We had been out almost a week and it was time to do laundry. So we aimed for Bemidji, MN, near the start of the Road. There we could lay over a day and catch up on household tasks. It started raining as we left the casino. It rained off and on all day, but never when we needed to be outside. Then the clouds cleared just in time for the sun to be in our faces as we approached Bemidji. It rained again that night. A long and often dreary day.
So here we are, a week after we started, set to launch unto the Great River Road. It’s just another 30 miles to Lake Itaska, the source of the Mississippi. Let the adventure begin!

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