Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Savoring the Beauty of our "Lake Home" at Baker Park

At one point during our retirement planning/dreaming stage, I thought that it would be nice to live on a lake.

Imagine being able enjoy the magnificent colors of a sunset over the water every evening.

Imagine relaxing on the shore as you listen for the call of the loon,

... or watch a fisherman bring in his catch.

Well, for the second year in a row, my dream has come true ... as camp hosts at Baker Park Campground in Maple Plain, Minnesota. Our "lake home" for the month of June was located on the shores of Lake Independence. 

In exchange for a full hookup site, we were the "go-to" people for fellow campers on Sunday through Thursday evenings from 7 to 10pm when the regular staff was gone. During that time Doug and the Wildebeest greeted visitors and fielded questions while I took a nightly walk or golf cart ride around the campground.

Occasionally I had to be the rule enforcer ... and let a camper know that even though some fireworks are legal in Minnesota, he still could not let them off in the park.

But mainly I had the joy of getting to chat with fellow campers as they sat around their campfires. Occasionally these campfires were as spectacular as the firecrackers!

Baker Park Campground is a gem in the Three Rivers Park District due to the conscientious efforts of our manager, Bri and her park district staff. Bike paths and hiking trails lead to the lake as well as around a peaceful nature preserve.  

Biking through the woods or around the pond provided many opportunities for "natural" surprises,

... such as the time I came upon a turtle laying her eggs,

... or found this cute little guy trying to cross a busy path,

... or watched an eagle search for his breakfast.

 Would I want to trade RVentures for a home on the lake?

Thankfully, because of the opportunity to "hang out" as camp hosts for a month on the shores of Lake Independence, I don't have to answer that question. We continue to savor the beauty wherever our travels take us.

Until next time ... Savor the beauty of your summer ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Family Smiles at the NCAA World Series

One of the great joys of Facebook is keeping up on the activities of family members.  Over the past two years, I have followed my nephew, Matthew, as he honed his pitching skills as a member of the Roanoke (VA) College baseball team.

While in Omaha last fall, I texted his parents this picture of the Ameritrade Park, which I was told is the site of the college baseball championship games. "Wouldn't it be cool if Matthew's team could make it to Omaha?" I'm sure that they were thinking, "Wrong division, Chris", but sometimes it is just not worth the effort to try to explain the mysteries of the NCAA to a college sports novice like myself.

Well, fast forward to the past few weeks, when Matthew and his Roanoke Maroons became the South Region Champs and earned a trip to Appleton, Wisconsin for the Division III championship. No need to figure out this "D3" stuff ... all I need to know is that it is the perfect reason for an RVenture road trip! Time to cheer on Roanoke!

The Maroons had won their opening game on Friday against the #1 "seed" ...  another term for me to try to figure out some other time. All I know, is that when we got to the stadium on Saturday afternoon, all the people in maroon were pumped for another win!

Go Noke!

Doug quickly found the biggest and best seat in the stadium!

Great-nephews, Will and Sam were prepared to catch that stray foul ball!

Matthew and his team, of course, were totally focused on the task at hand ... another win! 

They took an early lead with a couple of solid hits, but unfortunately, Washington & Jefferson College would prove to be a tough opponent. Strong hitting gave W&J the win. Roanoke was able go on to beat Concordia University Chicago on Sunday ...

but was unable to pull off a win when they faced W&J again Sunday evening, thus ending their championship quest.

But the frowns from Matthew's biggest fans quickly turned to smiles when we realized that family time together is the greatest prize in this championship!

We all became winners as we shared:

"Tailgating" Smiles 
"A Runner Scores" Smiles

"A New Brewery Visit
In Between Games" Smile

"And They Serve Real Wisconsin
Cheese Curds" Smiles

"Getting the Player's
Autographs" Smiles

"Posing With Our
Famous Baseball Player
Cousin" Smiles

"We Are Proud Of You" Smiles

"We Got The Senior Discount ...
And These Cool FREE Sunglasses"

And Best of All ...

"We Caught A Foul Ball"
Life is Good!

Until next time ... Share a Smile with Family ... And enjoy the adventures in your life!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Blooming Friendships in Rochester

This past March, we were able to enjoy the wildflowers in the southern California desert. While that degree of spectacular color and beauty doesn't happen every year in the desert, we know that we are guaranteed a SUPER-BLOOM of bluebells and of friendships as we return to our former hometown of Rochester, Minnesota.

We stayed ahead of the rain and snow storms, but we could not dodge the freezing temps as we pulled into Autumn Woods RV Park a week ago. The buds on the crab apple trees were still tightly closed as they shivered in the wind. But a few days of sunshine convinced them to burst open to share their BLOOMING beauty and fragrance. 

Autumn Woods is frequented by visitors to the Mayo Clinic, so it is not a typical "recreational" RV park. Conversations revolve around medical issues and hope for the best treatment. And as a nurse, I listen and try to offer information and encouragement. New friendships BLOOM with fellow campers and their adorable pups.

One of the first orders of business when we return is for me to get back into the work routine once again. When I retired, I wanted to keep up my nursing knowledge and skills. With the help of my nurse manager, I am able to maintain a "supplemental" status at Mayo Clinic ... which means that during my month here, I get to go back to work! I am looking forward to the BLOOMING of friendships with my coworkers and patients.

While I am working, Doug is definitely not sitting around enjoying a month of leisure. His "RV repairs" list is continually growing. The rain that greeted us proved that there was still a small leak ... somewhere by the driver's window. Roof checked and caulking replaced. "Oh, and while you are at it, Doug, could you rewire the lights up there??" Yes, every little job BLOOMS into something more. But the Wildebeest and I appreciate his conscientious efforts!

What joy to be able to worship once again with our Rochester church family and hear the beautiful music of the choir! Doug was convinced to rejoin the choir ... providing the balance to make the angelic harmony BLOOM.

One sure way of knowing that we have been gone too long is to see how much our special little friends have grown in the past year. Ella may not be taller than me yet, but her musical talent has truly BLOOMED as she serenaded us with her ad-lib piano tunes. 

While we are back in town, we share the joy of babies soon to be born. Audrey, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel "princess", lovingly awaits the arrival of her human sibling in July! God's gift of new life continues to BLOOM in our world.

The bluebell BLOOM along the Mayowood bike path in early May is one of the most anticipated signs that spring has finally arrived in Minnesota,

... and a perfect reason to get on our bikes again and discover the beauty of a friendship that continues to BLOOM as we celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary!

Until next time ... live life in FULL BLOOM ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

What a Wonderful World: Our Second Anni-RVersary

This week we made a mad dash north. 1550 miles in seven days is quite a bit faster and further than we typically travel, but we were trying to stay ahead of the rain and ... dare I say ... snow! But, there was no avoiding the cold ... bring out the down jackets!

Day 1 - no stopping in Salt Lake City ...
got to get over that mountain pass!

The Wildebeest seemed to appreciate her recent tune-up and made it up the climbs without breaking a sweat! 365 miles later we rested for the night in "semi row" at the Walmart in Evanston, Wyoming.

A church ... a brewery ... everything within walking distance
from the Walmart in the small town of Evanston, Wyoming

Cheyenne, Wyoming ... 360 miles down the Interstate ... was our next stop. Sierra Trading Post offered quiet overnight parking as well as great outlet shopping.

Doug found a new pair of hiking boots ... as well as a "pour your own beer" bar at Accomplice Beer Company,

... and I checked another state capitol off my list!

Doug decided to go for his world record on day three ... 439 miles down the road to Lincoln, Nebraska. A strong west wind also gave the Wildebeest a world record for gas mileage ... 8.2 MPG! We pulled into Camp-A-Way RV Park for a two night recovery period. A walk around downtown revealed a lot of red ...

... as well as another State Capitol building! Like how I tried to fit into the Nebraska scene with my red shirt??!!

We were doing well at staying ahead of the rain and snow, and also making record travel time to Rochester ... well ahead of when we could get into the campground there, so we enjoyed a three day stay at Clear Lake State Park in Iowa that included ...

trees budding along the lake,
a brisk walk into town,
and a field trip to the Wildebeest's birthplace
at Winnebago Industries in Forest City, Iowa! 

Our journey this past week has been amazing as we went from magnificent mountains rising up in the desert

 ... to vibrant colors of spring rising up from its long winter's nap.

This week also marks our second Anni-RVersary!

I love how the "Sold" sign matched the Wildebeest

It's been two years since we sold our "sticks and bricks" house and moved into the Wildebeest. 

I can make just as good food
and just as big messes
in my RV kitchen!

During this second year, we got out of our comfort zone and explored a new part of the country ... the southwest. We experienced new climates and cultures. We made new friends and reconnected with dear old friends. We saw mountains rise above the plains. We discovered deserts bursting forth with flowers.

We realized what a wonderful world we live in!

We see trees of green

Red blossoms too,

We see them bloom for me and you

And we think to ourselves what a wonderful world!

We see skies of blue and clouds of white

A bright blessed day

A dark sacred night

And we think to ourselves what a wonderful world!

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky

And also on the faces of the people going by

We see friends shaking hands saying how do you do

They're really saying I love you

We hear babies crying, we watch them grow

They'll learn much more than we'll ever know

And we think to ourselves what a wonderful world

Yes, we think to ourselves what a wonderful world!

We will soon complete our journey north and settle into Rochester for a month. I will be going back to work for a while. Doug will keep busy with his "RV repairs" list. And most importantly, we will be able to spend time with the family and friends who truly make this a wonderful world for us!

Sing it for us, Louis!

Until next time ... embrace the wonderful world around you ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!