Are you new to blogging or do you consider yourself a seasoned blogger? No doubt, I fall into the latter group. I started this little blog of mine nine years ago – January 2012. On one hand, it seems like just yesterday and on the other hand, it feels like a lifetime ago. Time can be strange!
We all have our own individual reasons for starting a blog. Mine started out strictly for personal reasons as a means of documenting our travels and keeping family and friends up to date on all our new happenings. What transpired was the building of a community and a group of new friends. Friendships were forged and physical meetups were arranged.
Many of my original blogging friends have since sold their RV’s and found new places to settle and call home. Most have stopped blogging altogether. Some connections were strong enough that our friendship continues to this day while others have moved on. Life continues as new chapters are started, and as I reflect on the past nine years, I cherish the friendships and memories created.
How to preserve those memories?
What will happen to all our blog posts … our tales … our stories when we decide to deactivate our accounts? Say it isn’t so! No, I don’t plan on shutting down my site anytime soon. I still plan on being around here for a while and I hope you will be as well. I truly appreciate you stopping by, reading, liking, and leaving comments, and for that, I thank you. I love this blogging community and every time I take a break, I miss it … I miss you.
I know there will come a time when I will deactivate this account, but not before I find a way to preserve some of these memories and tales documented here on my blog. This has been my online journal, and I’d sure like to preserve it in some structured way. Thus, the idea of a “blog to book”. What a great concept. The first time I heard about this possibility was several years ago, and since then, there are now numerous platforms to choose from to do just that … turn my blog posts into physical books … books that are intended for my purposes only.
Cringe worthy writing!
I love the idea of creating a hard copy of select blog posts that I’ve written. BUT have you ever gone back and reread some of your original posts? Eek! I don’t know about you, but mine make me cringe. I mean, I literally want to hang my head in my hands in an embarrassing kind of cringe. However, if I look on the bright side, over the years my writing and my photographs have improved… at least I hope. I guess that would be known as progress. I’ll take it!
As much as my early posts make me cringe, I’m still very glad I jumped in and just wrote. My original intent, which continues to this day, is to write as I speak … minus my Chicago accent.😆 I want my blog posts to sound as if you and I are having a cup of coffee, or happy hour cocktail, together. My goal has always been to sound casual and inviting but without grammatical mistakes. Thank goodness for Grammarly. Where were you when I started this blog?
With that said, I’m not comfortable archiving many of my posts into a book format. Ah, what’s a gal to do?
Since Al and I aren’t traveling like we used to and with this virus still hanging around, I find myself at a loss of blog material, a loss of inspiration, and at a loss of what to write about. Thus, I have decided to repurpose AND rewrite older blog posts, posts about our earlier travels with the RV. I also plan to add some new content to these tales … personal content and memories that I’d like to pass down to the next generation. After all, the whole point of turning my blog posts into a book is for the preservation of our travel memories … our life in an RV.
Hopefully, my images and writing will be somewhat less cringe-worthy and acceptable … acceptable to the level that I’ll feel comfortable turning those pages into a physical book; a book that will only be found on my shelf. Notice, I didn’t use the word professional. Yeah, I’m a realist and have no inclination to try and write professionally. Even my rewrites will still contain enough faux pas for an English teacher to have plenty to redline, and I’m ok with that.
So that’s my blog writing plan for the new year … to take you back in time and relive some of our travel tales and adventures. I hope you’ll stick around as I go down memory lane.
Although I’m still dreaming about vibrant fall colors, Al and I have been back in the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix, Arizona) for a little over a month now. I can’t figure out where the time has gone. Well actually, I do know … our days have been filled with predominantly obligations sprinkled in with a little fun here and there. I wish it were the other way around. You know, more fun and fewer obligations. Ah, such is life!
Both trucks have been in the shop for routine maintenance and then some. My little red Toyota Tacoma was in storage all summer. So basically, all she needed was an oil change and tire rotation along with a good cleaning. The Ford, on the other hand, needed a little more attention, especially after a 6,000-mile workout. (1,900 miles each direction and then all my exploring in Wisconsin and Minnesota.)
We are so grateful and lucky that our F-250 held up on our 1,900-mile journey back to Phoenix, Arizona. After a wonderful summer and fall spent in northern Wisconsin, we made it all the way to Arizona before encountering a problem. Once in Arizona, during the ever-changing terrain on Interstate 17 between Flagstaff and Phoenix, the truck came very close to overheating and not making it at the steepest grade just south of Camp Verde. According to our Mountain Directory (a must-have), the grade is about 6%, but anyone who drives this stretch of road regularly will tell you it feels much greater.
Turns out, the F-250 water pump was leaking and probably had this slow leak all summer long. Thus, the engine had trouble cooling, especially pulling the hills with the RV. Considering we were in mostly flat country all summer long with moderate temperatures and not pulling the RV regularly, we never noticed a problem with the truck until we hit Arizona and the ever-changing elevation. Whew! We dodged a close call of getting stuck on the side of the road.
All he needs now is a little exterior TLC, aka wash, wax, and vacuum. The Ford is almost ready for his next trip and is running like a champ and easily passed the Maricopa County (Phoenix) emission test … keeping the air clean – our truck is registered here since this is our legal domicile.
Along with tending to vehicle appointments, there have been Doctor, Dentist, and Vision appointments. Drilling, poking, prodding, x-rays, tests, scans, and follow-up visits have ensued. Al’s mouth and body are good to go for another year and I’m getting closer. Geez … this getting old stuff ain’t for sissies.🤣
Oh and I can’t forget to add in the water leak and a few other attention grabbing tidbits on the RV. So much for me and my remodeling ideas. That will be taking a backseat for a while, much to Al’s delight and my disappointment.
At least we’ve been able to add in a few fun family visits on a small scale. A Thanksgiving get together this Thursday is still up in the air. The eight of us are all trying to be Covid cautious. Thus, we’ll all check with one another at the last minute, and then if we do get together, we’ll probably eat outside. Fortunately, the weather in Phoenix, Arizona has been beautiful. Perhaps even a tad too warm with record highs being broken. It has been a hot year around here, and I’m glad Al and I were in northern Wisconsin for the worst of the heat.
Along with getting together with family back here in Arizona, we’re enjoying reconnecting with our RV Park friends (on a limited and socially distanced scenario, of course). We’ve chosen not to engage in any of the park’s social functions even though they are trying to do their best with Covid guidelines. I’ve dealt with my fair share of illnesses the past several years (including flu, Valley Fever, and mononucleosis), so I’d really prefer to avoid this nasty virus.
My to-do list seems to be growing instead of dwindling. I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say, I’d really prefer being less busy. I guess you could say, I’ve been a little too busy lately and am looking forward to life slowing down soon. Ah, but with the holiday season in full swing, I don’t think that’ll happen anytime soon. On that note, excuse me if I’m a little less active here in the blogosphere. Life!
What a change from my relaxing summer. Calgon, take me away!
As I was putting this post together, I couldn’t help but think about the differences between our summer home and winter home and it’s not just the drastic contrast between the two landscapes. It’s about our mindset. When we visit family property in northern Wisconsin, we’re more in vacation mode and tend to think less of life’s responsibilities, unless we’re talking about an RV tank leak, then it’s all business, in more ways than one 🤣
When we return to AZ, it’s like returning home after being on vacation. It’s time to think about responsibilities and get back to being an adult. Phoenix is our home base where we have an annual RV site. It’s our place of residence and the place we spend the most amount of time. So I guess it’s safe to say, Phoenix, Arizona is our main home, and Hayward, Wisconsin is our second home.
I’m so incredibly thankful to still be able to travel via our RV and enjoy two such beautiful worlds while spending time with people we love in both places. With that said, enjoy a few images showcasing how different our two homes are.
We all have a story to share, and as bloggers, we love sharing our stories. Some of us tend to lean toward visual inspiration and share our tales via photographs while others are gifted with words and the ability to write. But when photographs and words come together, it’s pure magic. Well, in my book anyway!
Think about it … many of us have a favorite children’s book that is filled with a combination of images and words. I still have a few of those books from my childhood tucked away in storage. And then there’s my collection of cookbooks. I love cookbooks but rarely buy one without a healthy dose of tantalizing food photos to accompany the recipes. But my favorite is a beautiful coffee table book filled with stunning photography taking me on a visual adventure.
Storytelling with photographs is all about the images with just enough words to enhance the story.
Visual storytelling with photographs
The photographs we share depend largely on how we want to tell the story. As someone who enjoys travel in an RV, the majority of my photographs, and thus my stories, are centered around the places we visit along with my personal experiences and thoughts. There’s an excitement to traveling, to seeing new sights, meeting new people, having new experiences, and capturing those moments and memories is important to me. The ability to share them with you is a bonus! 😁
When I think about my adventures and how I want to preserve a memory and how I might want to share a story, I keep a few thoughts in mind …
5 Elements to help tell a story.
Idea: what, where, when?
Plan: execution, how?
Memory: preservation, what do I want to remember most?
Emotion: feeling, sentiment, how does it make me feel?
Narration: words to complement the images and help deliver the story.
It doesn’t matter what kind of camera we use to capture our story. As a matter of fact, one of my favorite recent fall photographs was taken quickly with my iPhone. Al and I had gone on a scenic drive and stopped to explore a national forest campground on Lake Namekagon in northern Wisconsin. It was a gorgeous fall day, and I was easily distracted by the beautiful autumn colors. While Al strolled back to the truck, I ventured down a trail.
Knowing Al would be waiting for me (patiently) and realizing we still had several more places to visit, I was rushed, but I felt compelled to capture snippets of my experience. Without much thought, I pointed the iPhone … click to the left, click to the right, click up high, click down low, time to go! Regrettably, my Panasonic stayed slung across my body.
Trust your instincts when capturing the moment. Try not to overthink the composition … unless your goal is for professional reasons or a wall hanger, in which case you’ll want to pull out the good camera, tripod, and spend some time composing. But for storytelling, go with your gut and capture what makes you happy at that moment … it’s your story.
Memory / Emotion: The image above evokes a calming joy within me and that’s exactly how I felt strolling through those leaves, and for some reason, those leaves almost looked like rose petals guiding me further into the forest. Whenever I look at this photograph, I’m reminded of the wonderful autumn day that I shared with my husband. I realize the way the image impacts me is unique to me personally.
I’m curious though … how does the image make YOU feel? What does it say to you? Perhaps you don’t even care for the photo, and that’s ok, but the photograph is part of my visual story from that day.
Idea / Plan: The whole reason for us to remain in northern Wisconsin into October was so I could capture autumn foliage. So with that in mind, I set about planning where I wanted to go. For three weeks, starting in mid-September, whenever the weather was agreeable, I was off in search of color.
I was rewarded with stunning colors in all directions. Sometimes I was able to pull off to the side of the road and snap some photos and other times I wasn’t so lucky, in which case I would have to savor those views in my memory. I knew when I planned these photo outings that I’d want to share my tales here on the blog. Therefore, I made mental notes and had an idea of what kind of images I wanted to capture to help tell my story … visual storytelling.
“A picture is worth a thousand words“
Narration: Years ago, long before personal computers, the internet, and digital photography 😵, I was into scrapbooking. I have about three large storage containers filled with photo albums. I treasure those albums, but when I recently started flipping through one, I noticed the lack of narration. Writing has never come easy to me and that was more apparent than ever when reviewing that photo album.
Oh, how I wish I had shared more information about the photographs, about the events, about the places and people. Even though a picture may be worth a thousand words, adding additional information via words will enhance any story. Besides, there’s a little storytelling in all of us.
Timing is everything when it comes to most things in life, and we seemed to have timed our recent travels perfectly. It was the second full week in October and the leaves were changing from brilliant hues of reds, oranges, and yellows to varying shades of brown. Those dry rust-colored leaves were a clear indication that the trees would soon be bare and winter would be nipping at our heels.
With a memory card full, I was satisfied with my collection of autumn foliage images and ready to get the RV moved to a warmer climate. Bye-bye Wisconsin, hello Arizona. After seven straight days of driving and 1,900 miles later, Al and I made it safely to our destination in Phoenix, Arizona, and managed to escape the snowstorm that targeted the upper Midwest.
Currently, there are six inches of snow covering the ground where our RV once sat. Yep, good timing on our part. Now it’s time for us to settle back into our RVing community in the desert southwest, but first, I need to share a few more photographs of nature’s beautiful landscape.
Beware of what lies beneath.
With our departure date looming, I took every possible opportunity to get out into nature to soak up the colors. I hadn’t been back to this part of the country during this time of year for probably thirty years. Oh, how I’ve missed this! The western United States has its own unique beauty that I love, but these past months back in the Midwest have felt a bit like a homecoming. I was in my comfort zone, in my element, and enjoying every moment and what a treat it was. But as we all know, life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns.
Wanting to capture images of sunrises and morning reflections on the lake required me to set upon my explorations early in the morning. It was usually just me, my camera, and the wildlife wandering the forest before sunrise, and it wasn’t uncommon for us to startle one another. Fortunately, these encounters were in the friendly form of deer, wild turkeys, squirrels, birds, but thankfully no black bear. Mind you, I was ever on the lookout.
When exploring, I do my best to be aware of my surroundings at all times and avoid potential obstacles that could end in injury. So there I was, traipsing through the forest, stepping over and under branches, and immersed in the sights and sounds. The air was crisp and fresh. The leaves crunched beneath each cautious footstep while I listened to Loons calling in the distance.
And then it happened … in a split second … beneath the thick carpet of leaves hid a twig. When I unknowingly stepped on it at just the right angle, it flipped up and one of the edges scraped down my shin. Ouch! Ah, the perils of walking in a leaf-covered forest, but nothing a little time wouldn’t heal.
What a treat!
Spending time with family on lakefront property these past four months was a treat … add in beautiful fall colors and it just doesn’t get much better … such a treat!
Photo challenge: Lens-Artist Challenge #120 – What a Treat! This week, Tina asks us to share photographs depicting a ‘treat’. Spending the autumn season in northern Wisconsin and seeing the changing of leaves was indeed a very special treat for me.
Fall is definitely in the air and the trees are popping with more color every day. I’m loving it and have been out exploring at every opportunity. No words are necessary to describe the beauty of autumn found here in northern Wisconsin.
These photos were taken this past week when colors were said to be 30-50%. Every day, more leaves are changing and peak color around here should be the first week in October. Hopefully the weather will cooperate in which case, I’ll be one happy photographer, and if the weather doesn’t agree, I’ll still be a happy camper surrounded by such a beautiful landscape.
Fall colors in northern Wisconsin.
“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” – Aristotle
“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Time spent amongst trees is never wasted time.” – Katrina Mayer
“Colors are the smiles of nature.” – Leigh Hunt
“My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature.” – Claude Monet
Lens-Artist Photo Challenge #116 – Symmetry
I haven’t engaged in a photo challenge in a very long time and I miss participating. So for this week’s challenge, Patti asks us to focus on images that represent symmetry. The above image has that feel of symmetry.
I love my time in nature. It’s my happy place, my church, my way to recharge and reflect, but there’s still a city gal lurking in me that requires a little hustle and bustle every now and then. Okay, maybe not too much hustle and bustle, it’s more about the shopping that’s at the real core of my city longings.
I grew up in the Chicago suburbs near one of the largest shopping malls in the United States, and as a newlywed, Al and I lived near the second-largest mall in the state of Illinois. I’m used to having lots of stores at my disposal and that includes grocery stores.
Obviously, with online shopping, the need to have shopping facilities in close proximity isn’t as much of a priority in my life as it once was, but it’s still nice to have choices especially when I’m on the hunt for something specific and can’t or don’t want to wait for delivery. Truth be told, I’m a hands-on kind of shopper.
Visiting Duluth, Minnesota
Spending the summer in the Northwoods of Wisconsin with the nearest town being a thirty-minute drive away (not too far), and boasting a population of less than 3,000, does not bode well for a city gal and her shopping desires.
So, two to three times a month, I hop in the truck and head for the nearest city located ‘a little ways’ away, and in less than two hours, I’m crossing a bridge taking me from Wisconsin into Minnesota and the city of Duluth.
With a population of less than 100,000, there was a time when I’d consider Duluth merely a town, but all things are relative, and these days, she’s the closest thing to a big city for my shopping excursions. Duluth does offer all the big box stores which allow me the ability to stock up on supplies and shop for those specialty items that I just can’t find in the small town of Hayward, WI.
Shopping aside, Duluth has some of the prettiest parks offering an abundance of lush vegetation and lots of trails to walk/hike.
One of the parks that I always make the time to visit is Enger Park. This park is a gem and one of my favorites. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and include a small Japanese Garden, a large climbable tower type of structure honoring land donator, Bert Enger, and at the opposite end of the park is an overlook showcasing an amazing bird’s eye view of Canal Park and the historic Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge.
Great place for a walk, picnic, or merely sit and relax.
Sidewalks and trails are a joy to stroll.
The lush gardens are beautiful.
(To enlarge a photo in a gallery, simply click on any image.)
Rose Garden – Leif Erikson Park
Next on my list of must-see parks is the gorgeous Rose Garden. The Duluth Rose Garden is an extension of the Leif Erikson Park and offers a stunning arrangement of more than 3,000 rose bushes and other flowering plants. The park sits high above the lakeshore offering a beautiful view of Lake Superior.
Beyond the rose garden are trails/walkways leading further into the park and connecting to the Waterfront Trail near the shores of Lake Superior. According to some locals I spoke with, the best time to visit the Rose Garden is in July when the roses are blooming in abundance.
No visit to Duluth would be complete without a visit to Canal Park. Canal Park is the entertainment hub of Duluth. The old warehouse district has been converted into an attraction offering an array of restaurants, shops, cafes, and hotels. The building conversions began in the 1980s in an attempt to promote tourism. In my opinion, they’ve done a great job, and if crowds are any indication, I’d say the project is a huge success.
Along with the usual tourist type of shops, there’s one store in particular that I like to visit; the Duluth Pack store. A Duluth Pack is a specialized type of backpack made of heavy canvas and leather. The packs are a traditional portage pack which are nearly square in order to fit easily in the bottom of a canoe.
We still have our son’s Duluth Pack safely tucked away in our storage unit. For me, it’s always a nostalgic walk through the store which conjures up fond memories.
Some of Canal Park’s attractions include a 4.2-mile long lake walk, a lighthouse pier, the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, the Great Lakes Aquarium, a floating ship museum, and the famous Aerial Lift Bridge, Duluth’s landmark. Watching vessels from around the world enter/exit Duluth’s port is interesting to watch. You don’t realize how huge these ships/barges are until you stand near one.
I loved watching the Aerial Lift Bridge rise and then a 750-foot ship glide through the canal. Be warned … those horns are loud!
Minnesota Park Point
Park Point is the largest freshwater sandbar in the USA. The narrow Park Point extends 7 miles out from Canal Park and offers miles of public beach for everyone’s enjoyment.
More parks and waterfalls
I never seem to have enough time when I visit Duluth. I’m usually visiting just for the day and running errands which limits my explorations. When I have overnighted, I was able to explore more, but not enough. I’m still left with a list of parks I’d like to see, especially one’s with waterfalls. And let me tell you, there is no shortage of waterfalls in this neck of the woods.
On my Duluth list yet to visit are Lester Park, Congdon Park, and a tour of the Glensheen Mansion and her beautiful grounds. Did you know, you can even arrange to have lunch delivered to your picnic spot on the grounds of Glensheen? How cool is that! Visit their website for more details.
Hmm, perhaps I can squeeze in one or two more excursions to Duluth before we leave for the season.
Where to stay when visiting Duluth
There’s no shortage of lodging around Duluth. Peak season usually runs from mid-June to mid-August, and thus, prices can vary … a lot.
Last September, my daughter and I enjoyed a last-minute overnight at the Inn on Lake Superior located in the heart of Canal Park. We loved the location. From the hotel, we were able to walk to the Aerial Lift Bridge, stroll the local shops, dine at a couple of different restaurants, photograph the lighthouses, and stroll along the lakeshore.
Providing we choose not to stay in Canal Park, I think next time we would consider a vacation rental on Park Point or maybe stay at the Two Harbors Lighthouse for a unique experience.
The lodging choices are endless, and there really is a little something for everyone.
RV Parks – We’ve enjoyed camping at the Burlington Bay Campground located in the town of Two Harbors. It’s an easy thirty-minute drive east of Duluth, but for those wanting to stay as close as possible to Canal Park, consider staying at the Lakehead Boat Basin. Unfortunately, it’s parking lot style RVing. The sites are close together and depending on where cars are parked, it could be a challenge to maneuver. But it’s all about location at this place.
Another popular Duluth option for RVers is Indian Point Campground. It’s located on the west end of Duluth near the zoo and along the shores of the St. Louis Bay. It’s in a wooded state park kind of setting. Sites are a mix of gravel and grass. Huge bonus; near proximity to great hiking/biking trails.
Navigation – Most cities have some form of a congested traffic area with interchanges. In Las Vegas, it’s called the Spaghetti Bowl. In Phoenix, it’s called the Stack and the Mini-Stack, and here in Duluth, it’s called the Can of Worms, and it really is a can of worms.
This Duluth interchange, I-35 and Highway 53, is one of the busiest in the region. It can be congested and confusing to navigate and more so with an RV. This series of bridges and ramps are sometimes single lane with little room to merge or change lanes. I highly recommend using the aid of a GPS during your first time or two driving through this area. Construction to try and fix this mess begins soon making it even more fun for us to navigate with RVs. Yippee! (she says with sarcasm) By the way, I didn’t find the west end of the city (I-35 and Hwy 2) any easier to navigate due to short on-ramps.
I’ve become quite smitten with this scenic city nestled on the shores of Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake. Pristine forest, rocky cliffs, waterfalls, and nice shopping make Duluth an ideal place for any getaway. This little big city continues to pull me back time and again nudging me to explore more … with camera in hand, of course!
Some weeks are more eventful than others, and this past week was one for the books. First, three out of the four of us celebrated a birthday. So of course, there had to be festivities.
And what’s a birthday celebration without plenty of tasty food and fine spirits to toast to another year?
Fine food and drinks
I’m not sure where the time has gone, but all four of us fall into that “senior” category and considered to be in the last quarter of our lives. Eek! That sounds eerie, doesn’t it? So when ya put it into that light, we might as well live it up and throw any thought of diet or restrictions out the window. Right? Bring it on!
Despite all the negative happenings centered around 2020, Al and I have been enjoying a fantastic summer staying on family property, and having a ‘real’ house at our disposal.
A real kitchen, a real shower, and a big-screen TV with cable have been huge bonuses.
I’ve been able to watch the Food Network to my heart’s desire which has led to lots of experiments in the kitchen … in both the RV and the sister’s house.
Some recipes have turned out better than others, but there hasn’t been any out and out fails.
There’s something about watching one of my favorite personalities cook (or bake) that inspires me to get in my own kitchen. Believe me, I need all the motivation I can get!
Oh, and I’ve been banned from watching HGTV after trying to talk my husband into doing a complete remodel on the RV … back to that inspiration thing. 🥴 Little does he know, there’s still Pinterest and Instagram that keep those remodeling ideas alive in my head. Shh, that’ll be our secret!
With new-found cooking inspiration, for Steve’s big day (Al’s sister’s husband), I made filet mignon cooked to perfection in a cast-iron skillet, a Ceasar salad made with homemade dressing, and a side of my version of focaccia bread. Dessert consisted of my favorite chocolate cupcakes drizzled with chocolate liqueur and whip cream. Yum!
While I made a fantastic meal and dessert for my brother-in-law’s birthday, we went out to brunch to celebrate my own birthday. Over the river creek and through the woods, we arrived at the Garmisch Inn located along the shores of Lake Namekagon. Good food, great view, wonderful company … a gal can’t ask for much more!
Interesting sights around the Garmisch property
Bloody Mary with a beer chaser
Out to brunch for my birthday – Al, me, Al’s sister, her husband
The fun didn’t end with brunch. The weather was perfect for a boat ride. So when we returned home, we hopped on the pontoon boat for a spin around the lakes and a little fresh air and sunshine. Later in the day, I made my favorite Sloppy Joe’s and Margarita’s, followed by more Margarita’s around a campfire. #LifeisGood
The third birthday occurred at the end of the week. The festivities continued as we celebrated Al’s sister’s birthday. We started off the day with a big breakfast of bacon, eggs, cinnamon toast, and Bloody Mary’s followed by a boat ride. For an early dinner, I made Chicken Marsala, Buttered Egg Noodles, Ceasar Salad (by request), and herb topped dinner rolls. Al popped the cork on some sparkling Prosecco as we toasted to another year and another great summer spent hanging out together.
The day was topped off around a toasty campfire while indulging in my homemade apple crisp and spiked hot cocoa. We are definitely into fall weather. So the hot chocolate was the perfect way to end a great day.
Catching the Big One
Birthday cheers … eating, drinking, boating, and campfires weren’t the only events of the week. Although Al and Steve get out on Teal Lake fishing regularly and do routinely catch fish, they recently enjoyed a very special and rare fishing outing.
My husband had a once in a lifetime experience earlier in the week during an evening of fishing. He caught his biggest fish ever; a 42 inch, 24 pound, Musky. Al is still beaming. According to fishing guide Steve, aka brother-in-law, this Musky was trophy size (especially for this small Hayward lake) and many an angler spends a lifetime trying to catch such a Musky. For the serious and tournament anglers, they choose to try their Musky luck on Wisconsin’s third-largest lake located a mere fifteen minutes away from the family property; Lake Chippewa Flowage.
And this was Al’s first-time Musky fishing. Beginners luck! Al usually focuses on fishing for Bass, Walleye, or Crappie… the good eating fish. He has never been one to trophy fish.
So what does one do when they catch such a fish as a Musky? You snap lots of photos, take measurements, and do so quickly. Then you gently lower this freshwater shark back into the water and massage/revive the fish.
Once he starts fighting and you know he’s fine, you let him loose. “Be safe Mr. Musky and go make more Musky’s”.
These days, you never ever keep the fish. First, Musky doesn’t taste good, and second, for those wanting the wall hanger, you provide a taxidermist with the measurements and photos and a plastic replica is made.
If an angler did show up at a taxidermist with the real fish, the angler would be thoroughly chastised for his selfish stupidity. “Not cool, dude. It’s catch and release“. BTW – there won’t be any wall hanger in this RV, and that’s okay. Al is quite content with his Musky photo screen saver.
The summer is wrapping up!
With the cool air blowing in and the leaves beginning to change color, it’s time for Al and me to think about our migration south. But not so fast! I have my camera batteries charged and waiting at the ready for fall colors. I have a few day trips planned to capture that beautiful autumn foliage … fingers crossed! 🤞
For my birthday, I received more cooking inspiration. These are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support❤.
Due to the current circumstances surrounding 2020, travel of any kind can be challenging and that holds true even for those of us with RVs. Restrictions abound! But let’s take the pandemic out of the travel equation and pretend like life is normal.
Is there a right way or a wrong way to RV? How much travel is too little or too much? Is the RV lifestyle about constantly moving to new locations, about seeing all the National Parks, about visiting as many states as possible, or is it about living an alternative lifestyle, or is it a way to see extended family more frequently? Whether we travel part-time or full-time, it’s a personal journey … gosh, life is a personal journey!
Blog comments that make you think!
I originally started this blog to journal about our RV adventure and keep family and friends up to date. A surprising by-product of this little travelogue has been YOU, my reader. I never could’ve imagined the friendships I’ve developed via my simple writings and blog comment interaction. I’m humbled and grateful, but before I get all mushy, let’s jump into the meat of this post.
Several weeks ago, I received a comment that I can’t seem to get out of my head. Fortunately, it has led me down the path of memory lane …
Hi, new reader to your blog and future part-time RVer’s! I am a bit surprised that you have not done that much moving around the USA? Maybe I am missing these posts, but don’t you want to see the west (Washington) and east coast? I realize now is not a good time, but you have been at this for a few years.
The rules of RVing … spoiler alert, there are no rules!
There are so many variables to consider when it comes to traveling; a major factor being finances (yeah, travel costs money), followed by interests and goals, and working around obligations like work or family or both. And just like there are all kinds of different RVs, from inexpensive small pop-up trailers to large expensive motorhomes and everything in between, there are also all kinds of ways in which to RV travel.
It’s not uncommon for RV newbies to get out and explore as much as possible that first year. FOMO is real (fear of missing out). They’ll log ridiculous amounts of mileage and exhaust themselves in the process. Some are smarter and will take it slow. And then there are those that prioritize connections with fellow RVers over destinations. Hence, meetups, convergences, and rallies. I know, we personally have rearranged travel plans so we could connect with blog readers and/or family and friends.
There are no rules for embarking on the RV lifestyle adventure. Whether one travels back and forth between the same two states repeatedly or decides to visit all 50 states, it doesn’t matter. Perhaps there are those that have some preconceived notions about RVing, but that’s merely an opinion. We all need to do what we feel is best for us, and what’s right for us may not be right for others.
Given a choice between visiting a stunning and exciting new location or spending time with loved ones, we’ll pick time with loved ones; whether that be family or friends.
Perhaps when we were younger, we would have chosen the exciting destination. Okay, I know we would’ve gone for the travel destination. 😏 Age has a way of changing one’s priorities; changing our interests and desires.
So yes, we have been at this RVing thing for a while, but we’ve been at life for a while as evidenced by the abundance of grey hair that Al and I are sporting. This means we had a life long before we bought the RV and long before I started writing this blog.
We’re no longer young. (I know, what a surprise 🤣) We’ve lived … we’ve lived an exciting life … we’ve traveled, traveled extensively … we’ve survived tragedies … we’ve persevered … we cooperate, compromise, and prioritize and that means, we don’t always get what we want, but the older we get, the more our interests shift.
No justification needed.
A few years ago, one of my regular commenters practically apologized on a regular basis for not traveling in the RV beyond the southeast corner of the United States. Instead of doing the extensive travel that they thought they would do once they moved into the RV fulltime, they found themselves returning to a town along the east coast routinely to visit with their grandsons. Why did she feel a need to justify their travels or lack of distance traveled?
Another blogger/commenter I met made a remark that resonated with me. She and her husband had just spent the previous three months traveling the west and west coast visiting some of America’s most stunning places. When we got together, they’d already been in Colorado for a week and had reservations to spend another two weeks near a different mountain range that they hadn’t yet explored, but they seemed to have lost interest and all they really wanted to do was return ‘home’ to the Gulf Coast.
She said, “I know this may sound bad, but once you’ve visited several beautiful National Parks with jaw-dropping scenery, seeing another mountain range becomes just that, another set of mountains. Of course, still beautiful but less impactful and less interesting“.
They ended up canceling the rest of their Colorado trip and returned to the Gulf Coast. It appears that the law of diminishing return applies to a lot of things including travel … I get it.
Thank you, blog readers and commenters.
I appreciate every single comment left here on my blog and do my best to respond to each and every one. Although I may find some comments perplexing, that doesn’t mean I don’t value them.
As a matter of fact, they can be thought-provoking like the one noted earlier in the post… “haven’t done that much moving around.” Hmm … haven’t done much moving around? I thank that commenter for her thought-provoking words as it has led to some amazing happy hour conversations recently … reminiscing … lots of travel tales and laughs shared. I know the commenter was referring to travel in our RV, but Al and I didn’t purchase the RV with any specific destination goals in mind. After all, we already had a lot of travel experiences behind us.
Did you know Al and I, separately, each lived abroad? Me in Germany and Al in Turkey, Japan, and the Philippines. He and I together and separately have visited Hawaii a dozen times. Al has resided in Alaska, California, Texas, and Florida. Together, we’ve lived in Illinois, Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona.
There was a time when Florida and St. Thomas were the two warm-weather winter destinations that we visited frequently. We loved snorkeling in the Caribbean so much so that we even traveled with our own snorkeling gear in tow.
Here are just a few travel memories discussed recently around the campfire …
Regular visits to Clearwater Beach, Florida, and staying on a 40-foot single-hull sailboat owned by friends.
Disney World lots of times. Disneyland once.
A Jeep excursion on Aruba. Almost got stuck in the sand.
Watching the kids ski in the Colorado mountains. We one time lost our 13-year-old daughter for almost 2 hours at Crested Butte when she got off the chairlift and went down the wrong slope. Another time, our kids, beginner skiers, accidentally found themselves on a mogul run at Copper Mountain. We have lots of mountain stories that always bring on tears of laughter when we reminisce.
My mom and I took a train from Brussels, Belgium to Munich, Germany. The sights along the Rhine River were spectacular. Another special moment was visiting the Kölner Dom. I realize now, the time spent with my mom is more precious to me than the actual sights I saw during any of our trips together.
After a business trip to Calgary, Canada, Al and I reentered the United States near Waterton Lakes and visited Glacier National Park. Driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road over Logan Pass was stunning. We spent the night in the back of our SUV in a resort parking lot because there were no vacancies anywhere … hotel or campsite. Guess we’ve been sleeping in parking lots long before we heard the term “boondocking orstealth camping”. Al and I still laugh about our little adventure and our success at avoiding security.
We honeymooned in Ontario, Canada. We could’ve flown anywhere in the world for mere pennies, but chose to rent a remote cabin in the woods along the shore of a lake. We love nature and wildlife and all things outdoors and it was the perfect honeymoon for us!
Hmm, haven’t done that much moving around?
I have so many amazing travel adventures that this list could get very very long. I’m so fortunate to have traveled extensively throughout my life, not only in the RV but also during my airline days; travel tales that I’ve never shared on this blog.
Snippets of life … I used to hop on a plane first thing in the morning in Chicago and fly to Boston for the day to pick up fresh lobster or fly to New York City for a day of shopping.
I’ve been to Philidelphia and embraced history by visiting the Liberty Bell and other historical sites. I’ve seen the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom in Washington D.C.
I’ve gotten drunk while strolling the French Quarter in New Orleans and I’ve visited Minneapolis in the dead of winter with a minus 50 degree below F wind chill factor.
Who would’ve thought I would taste some of the yummiest pizza in Lincoln, Nebraska? Or finally find that matching cookware tea kettle in a shop in Topeka, Kansas, after scouring stores throughout Chicagoland and NYC to no avail?
Aside from Al going on a fishing excursion on the Columbia River, the Pacific Northwest remains an area of the United States that we have yet to explore. Is it still on my list of places I’d like to visit? Of course, it is, but I’m left with weighing out travel priorities. Do I spend time with family having our own little adventures or do I travel to new territory?
For now, my priorities lie with spending time with loved ones and revisiting familiar places that feel like home. These past two summers have been spent with family on private property located near a place I used to vacation as a child. It has felt like coming home. I feel a sense of calm and contentment that I haven’t felt in years.
“The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.” —George Santayana
So although I haven’t lost my interest in traveling to new destinations, for now, the shuttle between summers in Wisconsin and winters in Arizona is exactly what we need, what we want. Which goes to show, there’s no right or wrong way to RV travel. It’s whatever makes you happy!
What about you? Are you a homebody or is travel an integral part of your life? Is it about the number of places visited or about the kind of memories created?
I can’t believe it’s mid-August already. Has your summer flown by as quickly as mine has? I’m feeling a little sad because I can already feel the changing of seasons is near. Here in northern Wisconsin, there’s a crispness in the air letting us know Fall is just around the corner.
I’m not sure I’m quite ready for summer to end and fall to begin … no, I know I’m not ready.
Changing my mindset!
So, as sad as it may be to bid farewell to summer, I have my happy memories; some very fond summer memories. Oh sure, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the elephant in the room … Covid-19 that nasty Coronavirus pandemic thingy that has plagued much of 2020 thus far. That has not been fun and was partly the cause of my summer starting out with me feeling very stressed, overwhelmed, and sad.
I think I was too caught up in the news and world happenings, that quite frankly, I have no control over which is a difficult situation for a control freak for someone who likes to be in control.
Somewhere along the line, I’d had enough … enough negativity … enough bad news. It was time for me to work on my mindset and not be influenced by all the noise. After all, I was sitting in a beautiful, secluded location surrounded by nature and people I love. It was time for me to control me. Ah, an epiphany!
Enlightened by canoeing!
It was a quiet and calm morning in early July when Al and I launched the canoe. Five minutes later, we were paddling through a patch of lily pads. It was so quiet and calm that other than the occasional call of a loon or croak of a frog, the only sounds we heard were the trickling of water dripping from our paddles and the movement of the canoe gliding through the floating flat leaves. It was a magical moment, a picturesque moment, but alas, I consciously left my camera behind. I wanted to live in the moment with no distractions.
As we continued canoeing, Al and I paddled in silence taking in our surroundings. Soon we exited the lily pads and rounded an island. We spotted a bald eagle sitting on a tree limb high above us. Moments later, we spotted another bald eagle on a much lower limb and smaller in stature. (Where’s my camera when I need it? 🥴) We determined that this must be a nesting pair of bald eagles as evidenced by the loud squawking sound heard nearby from a hungry eaglet. “Feed me, feed me!”
We sat in the canoe with our paddles idly resting across our legs while floating and being awed by our surroundings. My mind was quiet. I felt more at peace and relaxed than I had felt in months. I was happy! Perhaps, I would’ve been even happier had I brought my camera along to capture the exquisite morning. No, I was definitely happy despite being without a camera or even my iPhone. I was in my element and savoring every moment, sight, and sound.
Eventually the juvenile eagle learns to hunt for its own food.
Juvenile in nest
A great summer!
So, even though my summer didn’t start out the best, it has turned into a very relaxing and enjoyable time filled with plenty of fond memories. Come early October, I’ll be sad to leave our little slice of perfection on family property in northern Wisconsin behind, but I’ll be happy to hit the road bound for Arizona in search of new adventures.
This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy.” ― Susan Polis Schutz
I leave you with a few more images showcasing my summer sights. To enlarge a photo in a gallery, simply click on any image.
Sunsets are divine
Great Blue Heron in flight
Daughter and I go blueberry picking
How was your summer? Are you happy or sad to see it come to an end?
After a very stormy night, we awoke to an eerily calm, fog-covered morning. Lake Superior’s water was as smooth as glass; a rare treat to behold. Even though the campground is located on Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay, creating some protection from the open waters of this Great Lake, a mere few hours earlier, she was showing her true personality with large whitecaps, waves crashing over the shoreline, and ominous clouds swirling overhead. Lake Superior is a force that demands respect.
As we sat in the comfort of the RV enjoying the view while sipping our morning coffee, Al and I discussed the plan for the day. There was still a heavy layer of cloud cover blocking any sight of the sun rising. Thus, when I suggested we take a scenic cruise of the Apostle Islands, Al thought I wasn’t thinking clearly and proceeded to fill my coffee cup in hopes more caffeine would improve my logic.
I was serious though and thought the day would be perfect for a three-hour Apostle Island cruise on Lake Superior, not that I didn’t have my doubts considering how the visibility was currently poor and the overall feel was very gloomy.
Visiting the Apostle Islands had been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved looking at maps and am intrigued about places the more I study a map. That little passion of mine has lead us to explore some beautiful locations and this part of northern Wisconsin fits that bill.
As many times as we’ve driven along Lake Superior’s Northshore, her south shore eluded us until the summer of 2019. And believe me, she did not disappoint … Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
Visiting the Apostle Islands
The picturesque little town of Bayfield, Wisconsin, is the gateway to this national lakeshore. The Apostle Islands consists of 22 coastal islands in Lake Superior that feature lighthouses, sea caves, hiking trails, camping, sailing, and amazing kayaking. It’s said that the area offers some of the best kayaking in the world allowing kayakers to weave in and out of dramatic archways of sea caves.
Tent camping is allowed on several of the islands, but you’ll need to hire a water taxi if you don’t have your own watercraft. There is a vehicle ferry available for visitors interested in touring or camping on Madeline Island. Voted as one of the coolest small towns in the U.S., this Apostle Island is not technically part of the national lakeshore but worthy of a mention. (Personally, I feel the ferry is a tad pricey. Vehicle price is based on length with an additional per person charge.)
During the winter when the waters along the lakeshore freeze over, hikers are able to hike to these ice caves that are adorned with windswept icicles. Although northern Wisconsin winters are no longer something I feel a need to experience, I might change my mind in order to photograph these ice caves. It looks like a really stunning sight and adventure.
(In reality, I’ll stick to viewing pretty images of that winter wonderland from the comfort of my desert located RV. I don’t think I could handle the thirty plus below wind chill conditions anymore 🥶 I’m definitely out of practice.)
Cruising the Apostle Islands
Visiting the town of Bayfield is enjoyable, but in order to really see the beauty of the National Lakeshore, you’ll need to get out on the water. Apostle Islands Cruises offers a nice variety of tours to choose from. We loved our cruise and would definitely recommend.
During our visit in the summer of 2019, we chose to take the Sea Caves and Lighthouse Tour. I was really looking forward to taking another one of their cruises this summer, specifically the Lighthouse Tour, but the cruise company ended up canceling that specific tour during the 2020 season in order to accommodate Covid-19 safety guidelines, and thus, tours and schedules were rearranged.
Kayak tour from Meyers Beach in Cornucopia, WI
Lake Superior is a sailors delight. Plenty of wind.
Our boat for the 3 hour cruise – no Gilligan
Loving the ride – top deck is windy and cold.
Smooth as glass. Lake Superior is only this calm maybe 10 times a year and we scored.
Things to be aware of when cruising on Lake Superior …
Temperature – don’t dress for land, dress for the ‘sea’. Temps can be as much as 20 degrees colder once your away from land and the weather can change drastically in mere minutes. Thus, bring a sweatshirt and/or raincoat regardless of what the weather is like on land.
Open Water – the lake can get rough. Even though this is a lake, view it as a sea.
Wind – we enjoyed sitting on the top deck, but it’s windy as all heck and the wind is always cold. All that wind makes for great sailing though.
Camera and info – it’s beautiful so plan on taking lots of photos, and the captain shares fascinating information on the islands and happenings.
The lighthouse on Raspberry Island has long been known as the Showplace of the Apostle Islands. At scheduled times, the Park Service provides a narrated historical dramatization to tourists. In addition to the lighthouse, boaters often anchor about a mile away along Raspberry Island’s shoreline at one of the more scenic sand spits in the Apostle Islands, and hikers who arrive by boat can follow the trail between the lighthouse and the sandspit to explore.
We couldn’t have picked a better day for our tour. Since the morning’s weather was gloomy, misty, and less than optimal for a three-hour scenic cruise, our boat was barely half full that afternoon. Glancing at the sky while boarding the boat, there visually appeared to be more weather rolling in, but according to my weather app radar, it was looking good. The captain concurred that we should have a lovely day for a boat ride.
And what a lovely August afternoon it was! Aside from Captain Mike’s informative narration, he interjected his excitement regarding the rare optimal lake conditions as well as personal lake life tales and experiences. He hails from a generational seafaring family and his passion and love for Lake Superior and the Bayfield Pennisula was obvious.
He and his crew appeared to be enjoying their time out on the lake every bit as much as the passengers considering we were all experiencing a rare treat … a very calm Lake Superior.
According to Captain Mike, the lake is rarely that calm … happens maybe ten or twelve times a year… a year … and we were fortunate to have experienced it. The afternoon weather was gorgeous combined with the calmness of the lake made for a magical day. I don’t think we could repeat those conditions even if we tried. Luck was definitely on our side that day. A bucket list memory for the books! ⛵😎❤
Where to stay!
The charming town of Bayfield, Wisconsin, offers a unique variety of accommodations; small hotels, historical Bed and Breakfasts, and vacation rentals. The nearby towns of Washburn and Ashland offer additional lodging options.
RVing – There’s a variety of places to camp throughout the Bayfield Peninsula. We stayed in Ashland at the Kreher Campground which is a first-come-first-serve campground and is big rig friendly. Our second choice would have been at the town campground in Herbster purely for the sunsets. The Herbster Campground is also a great spot to stay if your goal is kayaking the sea caves which are accessed via Meyers Beach in Cornucopia. FYI – kayaking tours start in Cornucopia.
We also checked out the county campground in Washburn, and although workable, we thought the sites were pretty close together and the abundance of trees with low branches could be problematic. This CG is better suited for travel trailers, Class C’s, and tents, although we did see a couple of 5th wheels.
The Legendary Waters Casino in Red Cliff is an option for larger RVs, but expect close neighbors and unlevel sites, but the beautiful views might make up for the cons. The national forest campgrounds that we drove through we’d consider best suited for tents, vans, or popup trailers.
Obviously, we weren’t able to explore all the camping facilities in the area. So, for additional RVing options and more detailed information, please check with your favorite app. Our favorite apps are Allstays and Campendium. Happy trails!
Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. — Mark Twain
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