Saturday, September 15, 2018

Taste of the Root River Bike Trail

Meandering through the river-carved blufflands of southeastern Minnesota, the Root River Bike Trail connects many picturesque small towns along the way. Located about 40 miles south of Rochester, this area has always been a favorite biking destination for us. It is where we first fell in love with biking as Doug pulled our young sons along in a Burley trailer.

It is where we enjoyed weekend "getaways" at a few of the quaint B&Bs found in the trailside towns of Lanesboro and Whalen, Minnesota.

It is where ... fueled by a gourmet B&B breakfasts as well as ice cream and pie along the way, we completed one of our longest bike rides along the picturesque paved trails a number of years ago.

It is where we returned last weekend to enjoy one more Minnesota bike ride with friends before starting our journey south.

As one of our favorite biking destinations, we would like to give you a ...

Taste of the Root River Bike Trail

The Root River and Harmony-Preston Valley State Trails boasts of over 60 miles of paved trails that pass alongside scenic forests, farm lands, bluffs and river banks. Constructed on an abandoned railroad bed, the trail has become a popular tourist destination. B&Bs, restaurants, and recreational services have sprung up in the rural communities along the trail bringing new life to the small towns.

On this particular Saturday, the towns of Lanesboro, Whalen, and Peterson were hosting the Taste of the Trail event.

An Amish "road block" marked our first tasty detour as we began our ride in Lanesboro. Free samples of Amish baked goods and candies tempted us to "fuel up" even before our ride began. Rhubarb ice cream samples were also handed out to further confirm Lanesboro as the "rhubarb capital of Minnesota".

Four and a half miles down the trail, music from the town park in Whalen welcomed us. With a population of 63, I suspect most of the town showed up to offer a taste of their town. Freshly made crepes, lefsa, pie, and cookies made me start to think that this was going to be a "negative calories burned" bike ride!

After enjoying the music and treats, we needed to get a little more "serious" about the biking mileage, so we resumed our ride east along the banks of the Root River.

Nine miles later, Peterson, Minnesota's troll coaxed us off the trail and onto Main Street to enjoy live music, a giant zucchini carving competition, and of course, more food.

We found the perfect parking spot as we set out to eat our way through another town.

The enthusiastic promoters of Burdey's Pies handed out free samples. Definitely need to stop back for a full piece of their heavenly pies next time through.

The reason we could not stop today is because we got filled up with the "best bargain lunch of all time!"

For a measly $2, we dined on a grilled brat with all the fixings and finished it off with a huge root beer float. Our tummies were very happy, but our calories consumed definitely surpassed our calories expended ... time for more biking!

Heading back toward Whalen, the conversation turned back towards "pie". Whoever said that men have only one thing on their minds is right ... and that one thing is "pie"!

The Aroma Pie Shoppe has been tempting bicyclists along the trail for many years. I suspect the presence of this tasty "destination" is the reason why the 4.5 mile stretch of trail between Whalen and Lanesboro is always busy!

Back in Lanesboro, we could have been proud of our 28 mile ride, but Doug had other ideas. He lead the way west as the trail became a slight upward climb ... and then a slightly more uphill climb ... and then ... how did trains manage to climb an incline this steep in the past??? Eleven miles later, we reached our "prize" in the town of Fountain.

Our "taste of the trail" was not over ... not when there is a new craft beer to try and coaster to collect. Karst Brewing delivered good beer and a new coaster, as well as a topography lesson. Why, do you ask, did they name it Karst Brewing??? Glad you asked ...

Here is your dose of nerdliness for the day:

Karst is a topography formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. It is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves

For those of you who are familiar with southeastern Minnesota, that is how some of the unique natural caves and sinkholes that are common in the area were formed. Who knew that you could actually get smarter by visiting a brewery ... or by reading my blog???

I was a much happier biker coasting downhill to Lanesboro as we ended our day with about 50 miles. While the mileage of this ride was not close to our century rides of the past, sometimes you have to slow down in order to TASTE the beauty that surrounds you.

Until next time ... savor the taste of all the goodness around you ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Our Great Minnesota Get-Together

Since we were still spending time in Minnesota at the end of August, there was no escaping the tempting call of ....

Cheese Curds, Pronto Pups, Sweet Martha's Chocolate Chip Cookies and All-You-Can-Drink Minnesota Milk!

Ya you betcha, it had been a very long time for me, and Doug had never experienced this local gastronomic celebration ... Time for us to check out the Minnesota State Fair that is fondly referred to as the ...

Great Minnesota Get-Together!

From the moment we stepped off the shuttle bus, we knew that we made our first "newbie" mistake ... We should have purchased our tickets ahead of time! But my electronic genius of a husband quickly came to my rescue. Doug pulled out his phone and was able to buy our admission tickets online, and we proceded through the gates ready to explore.

"Newbie" mistake #2 was trying to figure out what to see and do. The map is not really helpful ... we need the expertise of state fair veterans. I am grateful that I asked my Facebook friends for suggestions, and also happy that State Fair veteran, former 4H competitor, and good friend, Mary Beth invited us to tag along with her and her husband for the day.

With her years of experience, we found our way to all the fair's "must sees" and a few "hidden gems". We enjoyed a concert in the park while trying some of the "unique" beer choices like Key Lime Pie beer and Birthday Cake beer. We admired the artistic talents of current 4Hers. We enjoyed the musical talents of local high school marching bands. We savored the goodness of "fresh from the oven" chocolate chip cookies, "oh you have to try them" cheese curds, and "a meal in itself" milkshakes. And best of all, we discovered the fun of the Llama and Alpaca Costume Contest.

What, may you ask, is the Llama and Alpaca Costume Contest?? The competition consists of llamas, alpacas and their 4H owners who utilize their training skills along with imagination and humor to design a costume for themselves and their animal. Points are given for the greatest percentage of costume coverage on the animal as well as the youth's ability to handle the animal during the competition. Llamas and alpacas are not particularly fond of having something covering their ears, face and legs. It takes a skillful and patient trainer to encourage their beloved pet to go along with the humorous parade.

"Robin" was all smiles as she took first place with her well behaved "Batman" llama by her side. 

The "SubHay" team used a humorous approach to remind everyone how much llamas love to "Eat Fresh" .. Hay, that is!

Winners or not, we thought that all the youth were "Incredible" superheros in the way they trained and handled their beloved animals. 

The Minnesota State Fair signals the end of summer when the Ferris Wheel's lights go out for the final time on Labor Day. And the arrival of September means that we will soon be starting our slow trek southward. While we continue to enjoy our travels and look forward to what RVentures await us, we have enjoyed our summer here with family and friends.

We are grateful for our many ...
Great Minnesota Get-Togethers!

Getting together for pickle ball ...
Can you believe that the women FINALLY beat the men??!! 

Getting together to stock up on some good summer reads ...
that's about a week's worth of books for Ella!

Getting together to spend time with this joyful little boy
while his mom and dad enjoy "date night".

Getting together for Spanish lessons
when our Colombian friends came to town ...
Necesito estudiar mucho mas!!

Getting together for coffee, croissants, and 'sista time.

Getting together to hang out at the Mall of America
with dear "old" friends from grade school.

Getting together with our sons at a new craft brewery ...
and collecting a coaster or two.

Getting together to welcome a new baby who is
destined to be an enthusiastic outdoorsman just like his parents. 

Getting together with friends from college
while enjoying a beautiful evening on Lake Minnetonka.

Getting together for ice cream
after a fun bike ride with the "Chain Gang".

Getting together to celebrate with the parents of the groom ...
how do our kids grow up so fast?

Getting together to take a walk, share a meal,
and "catch up" with dear friends.

Getting together to bike our favorite Minneapolis trails
... and catch a quick glimpse of Minnehaha Falls.

Getting together to show friends and fellow vagabonds
our favorite "hometown" hangouts.

Getting together to check out a friend's ultralight aircraft
... Doug is hoping that conditions will be better for a test flight next time.

I prefer to keep him on the ground with me for now...

For it is true that wherever we may roam ...
Together is always home!

Until next time ... Cherish all your get-togethers, ya you betcha ... And enjoy the adventures in your life!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A Stroll Around Our Neighborhood of Baker Park Campground

When talking about our lifestyle, someone once asked, "do you miss having your own yard and neighborhood?" Hmmm ... I pondered.

No space for a flower garden ...

... we haven't missed that.

No place to entertain friends ...

... we haven't missed that.

No green space of our own to mow and maintain ...

... we definitely haven't missed that!

Sadly, this approach was
rarely successful with our sons!

Last month we returned once again to Baker Park Campground in Maple Plain, Minnesota to serve as camp hosts. Sunday through Thursday evenings from 7 to 10 pm, we were the "go to" people in this beautiful park. We helped late-arriving campers check in, assisted flustered parents who accidentally locked themselves out of their cabin, and fielded any question or concern that came our way.

Each evening as I walked around the campground loops and visited with some of the campers, I couldn't help but think about what a wonderful "neighborhood" we had! 

A stroll around our neighborhood revealed ...

comfortable rustic cabin dwellings,

... cozy tents hidden among the green foliage,

... and a shiny Wildebeest glistening in the
sunshine after her yearly waxing.

A stroll around our neighborhood revealed ...

... happy bilingual campers
eager to help me practice my
Spanish greetings,

... and active pups who are not so happy
that I have enforce the "leash laws".

A stroll around our neighborhood revealed...

... recreational opportunities
for the active crowd,

... or a quiet bench in the shade
for those needing a little R&R.

A stroll around our neighborhood revealed ...

... bike mechanics fine-tuning their wheels,

... getting them ready to access the bike trails,
... that lead us to the awesome sights of Minneapolis.

A stroll around our neighborhood revealed ...

... clean campsites and full recycling bins,
... as neighbors participated in the
recycling and composting opportunities

that Baker Park actively promotes.

A stroll around our neighborhood revealed ...

... fun times with old friends,

... and new friendships that form when
we take the time to get to know
our Baker Park camping "neighbors".

Until next time ... 
Remember that this beautiful world is our neighborhood
... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

Subtle hints of more beauty to come ...
for all our hardy Minnesotan "neighbors"!