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"!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Lake Carlos: Feasting With Friends

Magnificent sunset colors ... gentle ripples of the water on the shoreline ... calls of the loons. Nothing says "summer" quite like a tranquil day on a Minnesota lake.

I shouldn't really need a vacation after working only a month in Rochester, but it did feel good to enjoy some "chill-ax" time when RVentures brought us once again to the beautiful shores of Lake Carlos State Park.

For the last 20 years, a group of families have been gathering at this beautiful state park near Alexandria, Minnesota for two weeks in July. We were grateful to accept the invitation when we began RVentures three years ago. Each year, the number of people able to make the two week trip fluctuates ... weddings, work schedules, and other summer activities make it a challenge to make the journey north, but ultimately ...

... the lure of the lake,

... and the crackle of the campfire

... draw all together to enjoy fun times with friends!

Because we were scheduled to start our camp host position on July 15, Doug and I were able to enjoy Carlos during the first week. A family wedding and other commitments meant that the majority of our friends would be there the second week. But what we missed in quantity, we made up for in quality as we joined up with two other couples for a week of fun bike rides, walks, games by the lake, and dinner feasts.

And yes ... the women got a little excited when we finally won a game of Timber Toss! What, you ask, is Timber Toss? It's an easy and addictive game of strategy and skill ... and just a little "luck"... which is why we were able to knock down the right number of blocks for the win!

This game, that can easily be handmade, consists of nine wooden "blocks" and a "timber" for tossing. The blocks are numbered 1-9 and are placed together in no particular order. The first person tosses the timber from an agreed upon position trying to knock down as many blocks as possible. When they fall, they are placed back up in the place where the tip of the block fell, thus scattering them apart. Scoring is such: if you knock down just one block, you get the point value on that block; if you knock down more that one block, you get one point for each block that you knock down. You play to 50 points, and you have to get exactly 50 to win. If, for example, your team has 44 points, you need 6 points for the win.  If you knock down 6 different blocks or just the number "6" block, then you would win. But if you knock down 7 or more individual blocks or a single block (ie the number "7" block), then you would subtract that number from the 44 points that you had. Make sense?? With just enough of strategy and dumb luck involved, Timber Toss became a favorite source of fun ... I predict a new "woodworking" project in Doug and Gary's future!

While the "girls" were not the frequent victors during our lawn
game challenges, I did manage to capture the surprise and shock
of the "boys" when we also finally won a game of Ladder Ball!

Lake Carlos is surrounded by quiet roads and beautiful vacation homes, making it perfect for a bike ride or walk. I loved being able to go slow enough to be able to enjoy wonderful conversations as well as the beautiful lakeside scenery.

With just the three couples here for the first four days, we decided to share our cooking talents. The result was three evenings of International dining featuring Italian, Mexican, and Chinese cuisine. Our feasts were delicious as well as quick and easy since we all still needed our relaxing time ... and the RV kitchen is typically not designed for elaborate meal preparation. I have included links for recipes so that you can join in on our "feasting".

Italian Feast a la Terry

Italian Night was highlighted by a simple spaghetti sauce that was heated through using the crock pot. The sauce was topped with fresh basil (I love it when friends bring their "gardens" camping), and accompanied by delicious Corn Cake (for recipe click here) ... Delizioso

Mexican Feast a la Joanne

Mexican Night showcased delicious chicken tacos surrounded by colorful veggies, rice & beans, and salsa. Once again, the crock pot handled most of the work, making this delicioso! Click here for the recipe.

Chinese Feast a la Chris

Chinese Night featured a veggie packed stir fry with a spicy "kick". Stir fry meals are always easy in that you can do the prep beforehand by pre-cutting the veggies (or using frozen) and letting the meat marinate for a few hours in the fridge. Begin the stir frying process when you start the rice, and the meal is ready in a jif. Here is the recipe. I made up my own "fortune" chocolate chip cookies for an authentic ending to our meal. Another 美味的 feast!

It was the men's turn to cook on the fourth evening, and there is nothing better than an authentic "American" feast of burgers and beer at DJ's Tap House and Grill!

In the evening there were some lessons and plenty of laughter as Terry taught us the game of Pegs 'n Jokers. I am not going to even attempt to try to explain the rules and strategy of this popular game (click here if you are intrigued), but suffice to say, the women were victorious again! Thinking that Doug should stick to what he does best ...

... happy hour by the lake!

Until next time ... Confucius say: laugh lots, eat well ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

An "Epic" Hometown Visit

There is a popular catchphrase floating around Rochester, Minnesota these days.
The traditional definition refers to a long narrative (and sometimes rhyming) poem recounting the deeds of a legendary or historical hero. The more modern use of the word "Epic" refers to something that is outstanding, fabulous or impressive. And with the arrival of Epic Systems Corporation's new electronic medical record (EMR) at my supplemental workplace Mayo Clinic, I added a third definition: It is "Epic" that everything that I need to know about my patient is in the electronic chart ... somewhere!

During my 35 years as a nurse at Mayo Clinic, I have seen quite a bit of change. While I did not have to chart on stone tablets, I do recall "paper charting". When Mayo first converted to an EMR over 20 years ago, I volunteered to become one of the "super users", not because I knew so much about computers, but rather so I could attend the training classes more than once. Seeing the advantages as well as the flaws of the arrival of computers into my medical workplace intrigued me ... and so when Mayo announced that they were converting over to the Epic system, it gave me the desire to come back to learn something new.

Time to teach this old nurse new tricks!

Because of the extra training involved, we decided to stay in Rochester for seven weeks. We divided our time between Autumn Woods RV Park and Chester Woods County Park.

Autumn Woods RV Park caters to Mayo Clinic visitors, and we had the pleasure of getting to know our delightful neighbors and new friends, Mitzi and Dan. Dan was a good "supervisor" as Doug tackled some RV repair projects while I was at work.

Beautiful repair work around the window,
guys! Unfortunately, it still leaks ...

The park has reasonable monthly rates as well as full hook up sites and convenient laundry and shower facilities. Located next to a main highway leading into town, it provided quick access to work ... but also a constant "hum" of traffic.

We began and ended our stay in Rochester at Chester Woods County Park. Located ten miles east of town, Chester Woods campground is set in a beautiful and quiet wooded area with plenty of hiking trails and a lake for summer water activities. It has a more reasonable daily rate, but is a longer drive into town and has a ten day stay limit.

With our plan in place, there was work to be done, friends to visit, and babies to hold ... as we enjoyed every moment of our "Epic" visit to Rochester!

Memorial Day brought out the sun,
Sweet little Daniel provided the fun!

Back at Pax Christi, Doug joined in the song,
Our worship family welcomes us back to where we belong.

We have tried BBQ in the east and in the west,
But Hardy's BBQ (with a bonus visit from our son)
Is simply THE BEST!

Always a feat to be able to gather the crew,
And share stories as old friendships are renewed.

When I was at work making a little money,
Doug tackled that "to do" list that starts with "Honey"!

To reward his hard work, you can't go wrong,
With The Tap House beer list - 50 brews long!

All work and no play would not be good,
So bike rides with friends filled our free time when we could!

June brings Ella's birthday ... so happy we could show up,
Always amazing to see how fast they grow up!

And to celebrate the first year of this precious boy,
Daniel's Dino-mite Birthday brought us all joy!

Senior pictures ... Can it be true?
My dear friend Brittany ... Beautiful in blue!

Gathering to celebrate my niece's grad,
With all my siblings and her very proud dad!

Thursdays on First or concerts in the park,
So many memories with friends left their mark!

For even though far away we roam ...

the smiles,

and visits,

and treats,

and giggles,

and hospitality

of our talented,

and artistic,

and supportive

Epic Hometown Friends

Welcome us home!

Until next time ... celebrate the "epic-ness" around you ... and enjoy adventures in your life!