Minnesota Magic

Well, after our “Rockin’ Route 66” travels this past summer it was time to head to Minnesota before their “brief” Summer was over to see our MN family and friends plus the Great Minnesota Get Together was coming soon . . . so we headed off for some Minnesota Magic Moments.


We had planned to come to Minnesota via Colorado and the Dakotas but finding places to stay in Colorado in the summer was a very daunting task so we ended up coming back to Oklahoma City and caught I-35 from there and headed north.  Taking this route brought us to MN earlier then we had expected so we had to find somewhere to stay for a couple of weeks until our reservation date at Mystic Lake.  We found a park in Waseca, MN about an hour or so south of Minneapolis so we set up house and waited.  The name of the park in Waseca was Kiesler’s Campground and RV Resort.


This was a nice park to kill a couple of weeks even though it seemed to be mostly “Seasonal” trailers and was a big “weekenders” park but we got a decent site near the back of the park out of the fray of everything.


The park was across the road from Clear Lake which had a great trail all around the lake so between walking through the whole campground and around the lake I was able to get my 7-8 mile walks each day and the scenery was pretty nice.






Even though it was early August you could tell Summer’s end was near.


There wasn’t a lot to do in the area on the weekends unless you had a boat or wanted to rent one.  We had family in Elysian, MN not far from Waseca that we were hoping to see while we were there but alas they were away on vacation 🙁 .  Lisa’s sister Rose and her guy Rob went to Mankato to see the Vikings in their Training Camp and stopped by for a bit on their way home . . . It was good to see them and we would see them again later at a family gathering.  We did find a nice place to eat right on the lake and walking distance from the park . . . The Boat House Bar and Grill.  We patronized The Boat House a few times . . . once for Prime Rib night . . . Yum!!!

Well, finally our two weeks in Waseca was up so off to the Twin Cities we headed.  Didn’t take long to get to Dakotah Meadows RV Park at Mystic Lake.  We arrived on a Sunday.  Shortly after we arrived we had a visit from good friends Phil and Marla.  We hung out and had a few beers and cocktails and then went up to the casino for a Buffet dinner, turned out it was crab leg night . . . Yum!!  It was a good time with Phil and Marla.

We would only be at Mystic Lake for two weeks with only one weekend to really do things.  On the next day (Monday) we had plans to go boating on Lake Minnetonka with David, Stephanie and Benjamin for our annual Lord Fletchers Burger night.  But alas the winds were a blowin’ all day so we cancelled the boat ride and just met at Lord Fletchers by car.  We had a very fun time with them and look forward to our next visit with them . . .  hopefully in FMB this winter 🙂 .

Lisa had to work for the rest of the week so I was on my own for the week.  One day I made a surprise visit to my old place of employment . . . Nestle.  I always love to make my first visit of the year a surprise.  When I got there I checked in and called Sue and she came to fetch me . . . it was great surprising her and almost everyone else that first day.  I was given a “Visitors” badge and was left to wander around on my own.  Of course IT was the first place I stopped and had a good time seeing Kong, David and Chris.  I spent most the day there and had great visits with as many folk as I could.  But alas I had to try and beat the traffic home so off I went . . . but not to be my last visit there on this trip to MN . . . and of course being a man of few words ( 🙂 ) I wasn’t having enough fun to take any pictures . . . Right??

Through the rest of the first week at Mystic Lake we didn’t do much except another dinner at the Buffet.  One afternoon our good friends Tim and Mona came by Mystic for a visit.  Tim and Mona always spent a week vacation with us at Trout Lake Resort off the Gunflint Trail out of Grand Marais, MN every year.  We hung out around “Waldo” having a few beers and shooting the breeze . . . or whatever 🙂 .  They told us about this years trip to Trout Lake . . . according to Tim it was the worst year he’s ever had fishing for Rainbow trout and Mona said it was a bit chilly this year too.  It was very good to see them and we do still miss our trips together at Trout Lake Resort .

On Friday after Lisa was off work we drove out to our old neighborhood in Rockford for a cookout and visit with our old neighbors and dear friends Jim and Deb.  Jim and Deb lived just across the street from us, when we got there and let the “Kids” out of the car Tessy knew right where she was and proceeded to run through the yard barking up all the big trees . . . I am sure she just wanted the squirrels to know she was back 🙂 .  We had a great cookout with burgers and Italian sausage and Jim had gone to my favorite produce stand just outside of Rockford  . . . “Jim’s Produce” and picked up some of his “Delicious” corn.  After eating, Greg and Cindy ( the folks we sold our Maple Drive house to) came over and we all sat around and had a great “gab” session.  Thanks Jim, Deb, Greg and Cindy for the fun time!!!  Looking forward to next years visit!!

The next day, Saturday, we had made an appointment for Tucker at the vet. When we got Mr. Tucker a couple of years ago he needed his puppy shots when we arrived in MN so we took him to our wonderful Vet we had had for years when we lived in Rockford . . . Dr. Dan.  So every year we come back it is time for his annual shots.  So, off to Dr. Dan we go.  We got all Tuckers shots and both Tucker and Tessy got a “pawdicure” . . . Thanks Dr. Dan, MJ and everyone there!!!

From there we went to visit our dear good friends Dick and Debbie in Maple Plain.  I have known Dick since the mid 60’s and Debbie since she and Dick got together in the 70s.  Had a great visit with them and they decided to come back to Mystic Lake to see Waldo and have lunch at the casino.  Dick was leaving for a fishing week the next day and had a lot of packing yet to do so it was short but very fun visit with them.

Later in the day my step son Bill and Rachel brought the grand kids (Hailiey and Brayden) down for a visit.  The kids loved Waldo . . . Brayden jumped into the captains seat and wanted to take off.  He wanted to know what all the switches and buttons were for . . . it was all Hailiey and I could do to keep him from starting Waldo up and taking off 🙂 .  We finally got Brayden out of the captains seat and we all went up to the Buffet for dinner . . . I think Brayden ate as much as all of us put together 🙂 .  I wish I had taken pictures but alas again I was too busy having a good time!

On Sunday we were invited to a family get together with many of Lisa’s family at Sarah and Matt’s house close by Mystic Lake.  We had a great time seeing everyone . . . Wayne and Becky, Rose and Rob, Dan, Adele, Kaeli and Lilly and of course Sarah and Matt, Layla and Evie . . . .Thank you all very much for a wonderful day!!!! . . . And again too busy having fun to take any pictures 🙁 .

The next day, Monday . . . we went to the Great Minnesota Get Together . . . The Minnesota State Fair.  I don’t think we have missed a state fair in over 15 years.  Lisa had taken two days off so we had all day for the fair and all the next day to recuperate 🙂 .


We hit all our favorite haunts and tried to eat all we could of things “On a Stick” . . . Like “Big Fat Bacon”.


Corn Dogs . . .


And almost anything else you can think of  . . .



Being it was the first Monday of the fair the crowds were not all that bad.


We had a fun time again at the fair but this year one visit was enough 🙂

Actually, on the next day (Tuesday) it wasn’t all for recuperation . . . We had been invited to a lunch at Nestle.  When we got there being it was such a beautiful day they had decided to make it a cookout.  Kong (The Grill Master) grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and Sue, Cindy, Beth, Rhonda and Lu set up some great side dishes.  As always they had all the bases covered and we all enjoyed the good food and sunshine and sat around talking until they all had to go back to work . . . not all of us were retired or on vacation 🙂 .  We had a great time visiting with them . . . Thank you Sue, Rhonda, Beth, Lu, Cindy and Kong!!!!  In all my years working at Sandoz/Novartis/Nestle I loved working with everyone and tried never to play favorites but I have to admit . . . These gals are at the top of the list!!!! (Unfortunately Sue you didn’t get in any of the pics . . . I guess someone had to take them 🙁 ).


What a Lucky Guy . . . with all those Good Lookin’ Gals 🙂  🙂  🙂

On Wednesday my cousin Steve came by at Mystic Lake.  I hadn’t seen him in probably 5 yrs. or more.  We had a fun time catching up.  Unfortunately, he had to go to work so we were only able to visit for a couple of hours.  It was great to see him again . . . maybe he can come for a visit this winter in FMB!  Wednesday night Jim & Deb came by at Mystic and we sat around and had a few beers/cocktails and gabbed some more.

Thursday I was able to finally catch up with my step daughter Jessica . . . she is a workaholic and finding time in her busy schedule was a trick.  We were able to spend most the day getting caught up on everything.  Thanks Jessica . . . I had a very fun time!!!

Friday were off to Grand Casino Hinckley for a week.  Even though I tried booking more time at Mystic Lake when I called for reservations back in March they were already booked for Labor Day.  We got a nice site in Hinckley . . . one of the “berm” sites.  All the sites at Grand Casino are “Back-in” sites, getting one of the “berm” sites ensures we have nobody directly behind us and it’s great for walking “the Kids”.


We really didn’t have any plans to do anything special in Hinckley . . . just killing another week I guess.  Friday after we got to Hinckley I did get a call from my sister Deb.  We arranged for them to come see us here at Grand Casino the following day.  Deb’s son Colin wanted to come for a visit too but he had to work until 5pm on Saturday.  After Colin got off work he and Deb drove all the way up to Grand Casino ( about a 100+ miles from Mpls.) for a nice visit.  We sat around in Waldo and had a few beers/cocktails and then went up to the casino for a nice dinner.  Colin had to work the next morning so after dinner he and Deb headed home.  We had a great time with them . . . it was great seeing them and catching up on everything . . . Thanks Deb and Colin!!!

The next day, Sunday we didn’t have any plans but being it was a nice warm sunny day we decided to take a day trip in the “Silver Bullet” with “the Kids” to Duluth being we were not going to be going any further north then Hinckley this year with Waldo.  So we all jumped in the “Silver Bullet” and off we went.


We ended up at Canal Park along the Duluth Walkway.  We have only been by Canal Park hundreds of times but never stopped to explore.  The first thing we encountered after parking the “Silver Bullet” were a couple of horse drawn carriages . . . Tucker was enthralled  . . . he told us  “those are the biggest dang dogs I’ve ever seen”!!!


We strolled along the walkway around the park with “the Kids” leading the way.



We stopped along the way for a picture of “the Kids”.


Tessy is such a ham . . . she wanted a picture of just herself.


Here is a curious thing we found along the walkway . . . a post with all these padlocks and combination locks attached to it  . . . ???


From the walkway we made our way to the canal.


The Duluth Ship Canal is an artificial channel cut through Minnesota Point, providing direct access to Duluth harbor from Lake Superior.  Begun privately in 1871, it was put under federal supervision and maintenance several years later.  An 1866 report by Lt. Col. W. F. Raynolds of the Bureau of Topographical Engineers recommended cutting a channel through Minnesota Point, but due to the cost, no action was taken.  Instead, a massive federal effort was undertaken to improve facilities in Superior.  At the same time, the city of Duluth combined forces with the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad to dig a channel on their own.  This began in 1870, and politicians in Wisconsin, seeing traffic through Superior threatened, went to the war department to have construction stopped, eventually obtaining an injunction on July 13, 1871.  They were too late.  The channel was completed two months earlier, with local lore holding that on April 30, 1871, a group of city residents, summoned by brewer (soon to be mayor) Sidney Luce, came to the site with shovels and picks and dug the first connection between the bay and the lake.  The canal was, from the beginning, defined by piers along either side. These were initially timber cribs put in place by the city, albeit with some federal funding.  They did not stand up to the harsh winter weather and required substantial maintenance every few years, up until an 1896 project to rebuild the canal.  It was this project that gave the two piers their present form, with the new south pier completed in 1901, and the north pier completed the following year.

The famous Aerial Lift Bridge was constructed in 1905 to provide access to Minnesota Point, which was cut off from the mainland by construction of the canal.


We walked along the canal to the Arial Lift Bridge.



From the canal walkway we made our way to Little Angie’s Cantina And Grill for a snack and a beer/cocktail before we headed back to Hinckley.


The “Kids” were a bit “tuckered”, it was a fun day exploring Canal Park but time to head “home”.

Back in Hinckley our neighbors at Grand Casino RV Park had a classic old bus.  I believe he told me it was a 1948.  He had converted it into an RV more then 30 years ago.  It was in great shape.  Never did get a chance to peek inside 🙁 .



Well, we finished out the week in Hinckley with another Buffet dinner or two and a bit of gambling . . . between us we pretty much broke even 🙁 .

Come Friday Sept. 9th we headed back to “The Cities” for one more week of Minnesota Magic 🙂 .  We found a place to stay in Maple Grove at a KOA.  KOAs generally aren’t parks we choose to stay at for any length of time but being it was only for a week and it was close to people and places we wanted to see it was a good choice.  Nothing fancy about this KOA but the owners were nice and the sites were level 🙂 .  Another reason we stayed for another week in MN was we hadn’t received any mail for almost a month.  The day before we arrived at the KOA I had our mail service send our mail to the KOA address on their website.  When we arrived I mentioned to them that we had mail sent  . . . Mr. Owner immediately asked if I had put the PO # in the address . . . he said their park was not on a delivery route and all mail has to go to the PO #.  I said “No”  I put the address from their website.  He said I would have to call the Maple Grove Post Office and see if they would hold our mail for me to pick up.  So I called the post office and was told in no uncertain terms “No we will not hold your mail.  If it did not have the PO# in the address they would send it back 🙁 .”!  But, if you have a tracking # and I contacted them the day it was delivered at the post office they would try and find it and would hold it then.  I told him I had it sent USPS First Class . . . which doesn’t have a tracking #.  Great!!!!  We knew there was a $500+ check from Tiffin for some warranty work we had done in Vegas this past summer in this mail and our FL Absentee ballots for the upcoming election.  So nice for the USPS to go above and beyond any normal day activities.  One good thing on the mail ordeal was I had ordered some “meds” for the “Kids” and it was sent UPS and I did have a tracking #.  I followed this package almost hourly and as soon as it showed up as being delivered to the post office I called . . . I was on hold for almost 1/2 hour before they came back had said they had found the package and would hold it for one day.  Off to the post office I went . . . after another 20 minutes of waiting they finally found the package and delivered it to me.  Well at least I got this one . . . good thing too because I had paid for the meds and it would not have been good if they had been sent back.  Anyway, It would be almost another month before we would get our mail . . . Oh well . . . Sorry for the rant 🙁 .

Well back to our last week stay in MN at the Maple Grove KOA . . . Our first night in Maple Grove we didn’t do anything special.  We took the “Kids” for a walk around the campground.  At one point we came upon a gentleman who was camping in a tent.  I gave him a wave and said “good evening Young Man”.  His face lit up and we started up a conversation.  He asked us if we had seen him on one of the local TV channels a couple of days ago.  Told him no we didn’t.  He proceeded to tell us that he had been on TV because it was his 100th birthday.  I asked him why he was camping in a tent . . . He told us that many, many years ago he and his wife had an RV and had traveled our country like we are doing but he lost his wife 25 years ago and after that he didn’t need the RV anymore.  He was trying to live a more simple life now and just liked to camp in his tent.  We had a very fun conversation with him and said goodnight . . . the next day he left.  Boy . . . still hope we’re camping when I am 100 🙂 .



The next day (Saturday) we met our good friends and old neighbors, Jim and Deb again for lunch at one of favorite eateries in the Rockford area . . . River Inn Bar & Grill in Hanover.  It has become a tradition since we left MN that Jim, Deb, Lisa and I patronize the River Inn Bar & Grill every year we visit.  As usual we had great food and a great time with Jim and Deb . . . Thanks Guys for the Great Time!!!

From the River Inn we said our farewells to Jim and Deb and headed to Maple Plain to visit more Great and long time friends Greg and Cindy.  I have know Greg and Cindy since the early 70s and always look forward to seeing them.  After “Big” hugs and hellos we sat out on their deck and had a couple beers and got caught up on everything going on with each other.  After a wonderful afternoon with them was more “Big” hugs and goodbyes and time to head back home to “Waldo”.



Greg and Cindy had planned to stop by to see “Waldo” but unfortunately they had car issues and couldn’t make it before we left.  Hey Guys . . . I guess you’ll have to come to FMB this winter for a visit 🙂 .

The next day (Sunday) Bill and Rachel invited us out to their house in Delano for Sunday dinner.  He had gone to pick up Jessica so we could all have a great visit with everyone.  Bill has a new puppy . . . Koda.


Being a puppy, he was so excited to have Tessy and Tucker there for a visit.  Tucker wasn’t too sure about him because Koda just wanted to play and play and Tucker I think felt a bit overwhelmed.  Koda tried to get Tessy to play but she wasn’t having anything to do with that . . . finally she gave him a “friendly” nip to put him in his place.  Bill and Rachel have a pretty good size yard out in the country so Tessy and Tucker did have a blast being free and running to their hearts content.  Hailiey, Brayden and I played golf-hockey in the driveway with Brayden’s plastic golf clubs.  Who won is still in contention . . . Brayden said he won . . . I said I won . . . but I think it was Hailiey who really won 🙂 .


Seeing Jessica again was very nice, We are so glad she was able to work the early shift that day to be able to spend the afternoon with all of us . . . Thanks Jessi 🙂 !!


Bill made Chicken Cordon Bleu.  Me, not being a big cheese fan Bill made me a special one without cheese . . . I know . . . what you don’t like cheese??? . . . a whole other conversation 🙂 .  It was a very delicious meal . . . Thanks Bill and Rachel 🙂 .


We had a very fun time visiting with everyone and look forward to getting together again . . . Maybe Y’all can come for a visit in FMB this winter.

A couple of days later Phil and Marla came out to Maple Grove for another visit.  We have always been big fans of the TV series “Star Gate”.  When we lived in MN we had all ten seasons of the show on DVD.  When we “Liquidated” they all went and we hadn’t seen an episode since.  Well, Marla found the first two seasons on DVD and got them for us and brought them out to the KOA.  We had another great visit with them . . . and thanks guys for the DVDs . . . I think we’ve watched both seasons so far.  As we were saying our goodbye a car was slowly coming down the lane . . . I glanced over at the driver and at first I thought I recognized her.  I thought it was a gal who spends the winter at Gulf Waters in FMB every year but that probably wasn’t her.  As the car approached us I hear the driver call out . . . “I know you guys”!!  Sure enough, it was Betty from Gulf Waters.  We knew she was from MN but didn’t know where.  She actually lives less then a mile from the KOA.  She was scouting a site for some of her friends that were coming to visit.


We chatted with her for a bit and got her to take a picture of us with Phil and Marla.


Yet another day my cousins Pam and Kim came by for a visit.  We had missed seeing them last year so it was great to be able to get together again.  Their whole family gets together every year in Grand Marais, MN.  We had hoped to hook up last year when we spent a week in GM but alas they all came the next week  🙁 and this year we didn’t get as far north as GM.  It was great seeing them and we had a very fun time chatting about all that everyone has been doing and catching up on all the family.  Next year we will try and plan a longer reunion!!  Again no pics . . . was just having fun . . . I did steal a pic of them off of Fb 🙂 .


I made another trip back to Nestle to say goodbye to everyone.  I hadn’t seen my old “Big” boss ( and “old” is NOT the key word there 🙂 ) Ian since I had retired 3 years ago.  We have been friends on Fb and I heard he was going to be in Minnetonka this week.  I messaged him hoping to run into him while I was there.  Well, on this last trip to Nestle this year as I was driving up the road to the building and low and behold there was Ian out for a walk . . . and I nearly did “run” into him.  He had his ear buds in and was on a conference call so we met up at the office.  It was fun chatting with Ian and the other IT guys . . . Kong, Chris and David.  As usual I was left to wander around the building on my own.  I went up to the second floor and found my favorite R&D Admin gals . . . BMW 🙂 . . . Brenda, Marilyn and Wendy.  I had seen them all on my previous visits but wanted to give them all goodbye hugs.  We had a good chat and we all had big Goodbye hugs and I wished them a great winter 🙂 .  This time I did get a pic . . . at least of Brenda and Wendy . . . next time I’ll get you in a pic too Marilyn  🙂 .


I always love my visits to Nestle every year and look forward to next years!!!  Thank you everyone for everything!!!  If any of you Nestle peeps are in the FMB area this winter we sure hope you come for a visit . . . and that includes all our family and friends!!!

Our last visitors this year in MN were a couple of old friends (and “old” may be a key word here . . . just kidding guys 🙂 ) . . . Rick and Earl.  We have been fortunate to see Rick every year we come back to MN but I hadn’t seen Earl since we graduated from high school (I think).  It was so good to see them!!!  We sat around and had a few beers and just talked and talked . . . it was very interesting hearing all about what Earl has been doing all these years and catching up with Rick.  Earl and I have been friends on Fb for over a year, Rick on the other hand doesn’t want to have anything to do with Fb.  Earl and I kept kidding Rick to get into the 21st century and get a smart phone and on Fb so we can all keep in touch.  I guess I shouldn’t have given him such a hard time . . . I know it took me until just 2 years ago before I joined Fb . . . and I was an IT Guy ( but maybe that’s why it took me so long 🙂 ).  Thanks guys for a great visit and look forward to getting together again.

Well, the leaves were starting to change and even though fall in MN is very beautiful we knew our Minnesota Magic for this year was coming to a close.



So after nearly a month in Minnesota and so many fun times and get-togethers seeing so many family and friends it was time to “hit the road”.  Our plan was to head south to Kansas City for a week so we could get our mail . . . it had been over a month since we had received any . . . not always a bad thing but we knew there was a few things waiting for us.  Lisa has been wanting to go to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas since we’ve begun this adventure so after the week in K.C. we would be off to  . . . as Lisa has said “Find the Family Jewels” 🙂 From there would be another stop at Tiffin in Red Bay, AL for a few more warranty issues then off to our winter home in Ft. Myers Beach 🙂 .

To all our MN family and friends Thank You so very much for all the “Minnesota Magic” 🙂  🙂  Look forward to seeing everyone again next year or maybe you could take a winter break and visit us here in Ft. Myers Beach 🙂 .  Thank You all again and stay tuned to see if we “Find the Family Jewels” in our next blog 🙂 .





2 Replies to “Minnesota Magic”

  1. I’m starting a blog too. Please look at it the first of every month. ” Worked, ate, slept.” Livin the dream. (Nightmare)

  2. What a great blog and wonderful summer! You guys really get around!! In reference to the locks on the post at Canal Park, I believe it is a take off from a bridge in Paris where couples and lovers put a lock in the bridge fence and throw the key into the river below (I forget what river).
    My brother and sis-in-law have a condo in Fort Meyers. They stay from Oct.-April, then come back to MN where they have a lake home on Beauty Lake in Little Falls. If I’m ever FM way, I’ll shoot you an email.
    Take care,
    Love and Hugs to you and Lisa,
    Connie, “Smooth Operator”

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