Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Lake Carlos State Park: Fun and Games

How many full time RVers know what they are going to be doing a year from now??!!

That's the question we had last summer when our camping buddies, Dan and Barb, invited us to join them and a few other friends for their annual vacation at the "best state park" in Minnesota. Well, we have always admired their talent for finding a variety of fun adventures, so we were intrigued ... and after two weeks at Lake Carlos State Park in Alexandria, Minnesota we realized that once again, they were absolutely right! Lake Carlos State Park is the place for fun and games!

Dan and Barb make reservations a year in advance to ensure the "primo" sites on the lakeshore. Their group of friends includes many generations of families who have been coming to Lake Carlos for about fifteen years. Some, like Jack and Irene, married for over 60 years, still enjoy a smooch under the full moon.

Others, like this one year old cutie, are just starting to set their sights on the beauty of the lake.

We are happy that they included us in their vacation "family"! The Wildebeest's shaded "home" in the second row gave us easy access to all the group activities.

Fun on the Water included:

Water tubing with the "Golden Girls"

and being thankful that "Captain Dan" brought us all back in one piece!

Sailboarding ... our friend, Doug makes it look easy!

Fishing ... Fisherman Jake was not so successful, 

while our "expert", Trish, reeled the sunnies in. Unfortunately the "Fish Dinner for All" did not materialize!

Catching a ride on the stand up paddleboard ... that child knows the way to relax!

Hitching a ride down the river ... despite his name, "Lucky" is not going to take any chances ... he is equipped with his "doggy" PFD!

Jet skiing ... and dreaming about the day that he can do it all on his own!

Enjoying sunset pontoon rides under the full moon

Directing the boat driver ... or just being the cute puppy hood ornament.

More Fun Could Be Found on Land including ...

Campfire stories, games and treats. Unfortunately, Chris' guitar skills are not yet up to "campfire sing-a-long" standards.

Hikes through the park. We helped Dan and Barb train for their next adventure ... hiking to the bottom the Grand Canyon. Hey, maybe we should add that to RVenture's bucket list??!!

Birding ... all the squawking lead us to an eagle's nest ... and hungry juveniles waiting for mom and dad to bring them dinner. Hopefully, they are better fisherman than us humans!

Biking on the quiet roads around Lake Carlos revealed beautiful sights like wineries ...

... and Poke Stops!

And Games Any Time of Day 

Everett was the proud winner of "guess the number of candies" game! He was thrilled to be in total control of 253 pieces of candy!

Doug and Dan added some light on the subject as they tried their best to beat the women in Quarkle. Maybe next year.... 

Terry's skill and love of playing bocci is legendary! Actually, we believe that she is an expert in just about any game there is as she was usually the enthusiastic winner!

But when it comes to designing the winning water rocket, Doug excels!

His prize for the best rocket? A VERY LARGE can of chocolate pudding!

Which made great snacks at the the next campfire!

Yes, our two weeks at Lake Carlos proved to us that being surrounded by the beauty of nature ...

And the fun and games of friends ...

Makes our world so sweet!

Speaking of sweet ... anyone want some pudding? We still have plenty to share!

Until next time ... seek out life's fun and games ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Catching Some Krebs Along the Way

As much as we love our new lifestyle, there are certain events that bring back fond memories of our former life. Some of these precious memories come from participating in The Ride Across Minnesota (TRAM) to benefit the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society every July. The TRAM can be described as "adult summer camp", because the friendship and fun brings out the "kid" in us all!

Our team, the Krebs Cyclers, combined great fund-raising skills with spectacular fun-raising skills! Our mascot, Percy, is a much beloved skeleton who constantly reminds riders what will happen if they don't stay hydrated during the often hot and humid ride!

Thanks to teammate Sue, Percy's ever changing, always humorous presence at Rest Stop #3 added to the fun!

As much as we miss participating in this week of fun, we were happy to hear that the ride was going to be close to our current location at Lake Carlos State Park. Their second day route would take them right through Alexandria as they enjoyed a rest stop in the shadow of "Big Ole, the Viking" who is currently getting a facelift. 

The radar showed a line of rain heading our way, and heat warnings were posted for the later part of the day, but I managed to coax Doug up WAY TOO EARLY in order to cheer on some of our teammates as they stopped to refuel and rehydrate.  A beautiful ten mile bike ride past the homes lining Lake Carlos lead us into town. The rain held out until we got there. We missed a few of the ambitious early riders, but arrived in time to see some of our beloved Krebs Cyclers roll in.

Local supporters equipped with bells, cheers and smiles welcomed the riders and encouraged them on!

The MS Society does a great job of planning the route, organizing volunteers and supplying nourishing snacks to refuel the riders!

Sag wagon support is available all along the route, so this is truly a ride for all levels of bicyclists. All you need is a passion for fun and a desire to support the quest to find a cure for MS!

We were happy to greet our teammates ... although, I am thinking that Doug could be a little more kind and share his umbrella! Andy claimed that the rain felt "refreshing"!

Seeing these two brought back fond memories of "drafting" behind the "power team" of  Doug, Paul and Warren on the previous TRAMs.

The longtime captain and top fundraiser for the Krebs, Dudley, came peddling in on the trike that allows him to continue to ride year after year. His passion for supporting MS research keeps him focused on the goal ... slow and steady wins the race!

The skies began to clear, the temps were starting to climb, and the ride marshals arrived signaling that the last rider was coming through. All TRAM volunteers provide support and encouragement to each rider until they cross the finish line ... just as all participants and donors support and encourage those who bravely face the struggle of MS on a daily basis!

As we headed back to the campground, we enjoyed a scenic ride along the bike friendly Glacial Ridge Trail. It was, however, slow at times ...

... because Pokemon were hiding along the way!

But we would have to agree that we had more fun catching some "Krebs" along the trail!

Until next time ... play like a kid ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

Monday, July 11, 2016

"Minnesota Nice" Sights

We were scheduled to head north today, but the threat of strong storms kept us at Baker for one more day ... something about the Wildebeest (and I suspect his driver) not wanting to encounter high winds and torrential downpours while traveling on the highway. While the humidity builds and we wait for the rain, it is a perfect time to reflect on our time in Minneapolis.

You may have heard of "Minnesota Nice" ... yah, ya betcha! Well, we would like to share some of the many "Minnesota Nice" sights that we enjoyed during our stay in the Twin Cities.

Nestled along the 45th Parallel, Baker Park begins our "nice" list. Lake Independence, with its beaches and watersports, was a very "nice"  place to stay cool ... and learn a new skill!
Lots to enjoy right in our backyard, but RVentures in our car and on our bikes allowed us to enjoy many more "nice" sights in the surrounding area.

Some of our favorites ....
Minnehaha Falls
Loring Park 
Dandelion Water Fountain

Como Park Conservatory

...with its flowers,
...and gardens,
...and Carousel ... still as magical as I remember it as a kid!

A trip downtown brings us past the "nice" new Vikings stadium,
and leads us to Target Field to spend a "nice" afternoon watching the pros,
... but we still prefer the "nice" smiles of the semi-pros!

We biked by "nice" houses like this one near Lake of the Isle. This one can be yours for a couple million. It's kind of famous ... anyone know why??? Hint

Walking or boating around the lakes we meet the "nicest" old friends ...

... and the Fourth of July parades provides a festive atmosphere for a "nice" family gathering.

Polish ancestry or not ... it is worth the trip up to "nice" Nordeast Minneapolis to stock up on Kramarczuk's krakowska sausage,

... after stopping at "nice" little church like the Basilica of St Mary along the way. We heard about the Basilica Block Party a little too late ... next time around!

While you are in the neighborhood, make sure you visit a couple of the many "nice" local breweries ... just make sure they aren't closed for a private event ... 

So happy that there are a few other "nice" ones to choose from ... Cheers!

Venturing into St Paul, Chris was able to get her photo in front of the Minnesota state capitol ... not so "nice" as it is undergoing renovation.

Riding past the Victorian mansions that line Summit Avenue one afternoon, we had to stop to experience the ultimate Minnesota "nice"... The sign in front of the garden said, "Free strawberries - Help yourself to whatever you can pick!" Don't mind if I do!

Unfortunately, this past week Minnesota was put in the national spotlight with a tragic event that makes many question the "nice" in the people around us. Our hearts go out to those affected by the senseless violence. It serves to remind us that we need to remember that ...

While volunteering at the nearby Y Camp SuperKids in June, Chris had the gift of being surrounded by the precious "Minnesota Nice" smiles of kids and counselors all week long!

From sunrise to sunset ... as we seek it out ... "Minnesota Nice" lives in the hearts of those around us!

Until next time ... appreciate all the "nice" around you ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!