April 23, 2014: Wednesday. We left Chicago today for Dubuque IA to see Jack Wertzberger. We are excited about seeing him and camping in his driveway. We have had three good days in Chicagoland and are ready to move on. We took mainly back roads since there are no interstate freeways to Dubuque from northern Chicago. It was kind of cold when we left and cold in Dubuque too. The roads were nice. We drove through Galena, IL which is a cool old town with a main district along the river. We have been there before so did not stop this time. Took longer than we thought, but we arrived just in time. Sally and kids went to do school work and I hung out with Jack. That was great. He has a beautiful home on Grand next to the golf course. We had a good dinner that night of spaghetti and meatballs then we went to the Film Festival to see Field of Dreams. We met the actor that played Kevin Costner’s Dad in the film. He was very generous. It rained hard that night while at the movie.
April 24, 2014: Thursday. Second day in Dubuque. No school work for Eliza and Nate. Jack drove us around town to see the sights. Burial sites like Julien Dubuque. Views over looking the Mississippi. Downtown. It was awesome. Jack knows a lot about the history of his hometown. It is a cool town over looking the Mississippi. We even rode up the elevator in Dubuque from downtown. It is a cable car that goes up the side of a hill. Lunch at Jimmy John’s and for supper we had roasted chicken. We watched a film from the film festival. It was about a musician from Croatia talking about how the civil war impacted him. He was actually there and we got to meet him. Jack showed us quite a few good magic tricks. We could not figure them out. I wish we could have stayed a couple of more days in Dubuque. It was a cold overcast day in Dubuque. It did not rain, but it was cold. Jack stayed home that night to visit with us instead of going to the Film Festival Party that he was invited too. That was special for us to spend time with him just hanging out.
April 25, 2014: Friday We arrived at my Mom’s house today! We left after spending a couple of great days with Jack Wertzberger in Dubuque, IA. The weather was beautiful. Sunny and somewhat warm. On the way there, we stopped at the Field of Dreams. We all ran the field. It really is a beautiful site. We saw the movie just a couple of days ago. We arrived shortly after noon. My mom was waiting for us. We just hung out that day with her and Larry and Sandy, Josh and Anna and their kids all came over. It was fun to see everyone that day. I also got to visit with my brother John a bit. We parked in the driveway
April 26, 2014: Saturday We went to Ames shopping and bought Nate a new Trek Bike. A Trek 3500. It has 26 inch wheels so it is a big bike and he loves it. It has a front suspension so he can ride off road with it. We did some other shopping that day and had lunch at a local noodle shop that my Mom likes.
April 27, 2014: Sunday Well, the wet and cold weather started today. We went to church at my old Methodist Church in town. It was cold and wet and rainy. We met quite a few folks that I knew growing up. We spent the afternoon at home doing nothing, which was great. We watched Eliza’s favorite show that evening, Once Upon a Time. No bike riding this week for me. It was mainly overcast, cold, windy and rainy this week.
April 28, 2014: Monday School day for Eliza and Nate. I drove mom to a funeral today. Aunt Alice was there too. Still cold and wet. It was great having the RV in the front driveway so it was a short walk to the house. Not much going on other than just hanging out which is time well spent at home.
April 29, 2014: Tuesday We went to Ames to visit the garbage plant that recycles all of the garbage. They burn it to make electricity in Ames. We did this for Eliza’s homework. It was a good time. It was very informative. For lunch, we went to Great Plains Sauce and Dough. Thee best pizza I have ever had anywhere and I just had some good pizza in Chicago. We always go there when we come home to Iowa. After that, we went home and hung out. This was Nate’s day to watch TV, both NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles. He loves both of those shows. One day in San Antonio when he was not feeling well, Nate and I watched an NCIS marathon on one of the cable TV networks. It was great.
April 30, 2014: Wednesday Hung at home. Rode my bike over to Rhodes and back, about 22 miles. Sandy and Larry brought over dinner that night. Pulled Pork and potatoes. It was great.
May 1 to May 9, 2014: We just hung around a lot. Did not do too much. We did go see Sally Kresse in Des Moines. It was good to see her. Otherwise, just spent time with my Mom which was great.
May 10, 2014: Saturday. My Mom’s birthday!! She is 77. We all went down to her favorite restaurant in Ankeny, the Jade Garden. The food was great. Aunt Alice and Blackie walked over and joined. Thank you Larry and Sandy for treating us. It was a great meal and a great way to celebrate my Mom’s birthday.
May 11, 2014: Sunday. Mother’s Day. We all went to church with my Mom.
May 12, 2014. Monday. It was a sad day for me. We left home today after spending over 2 weeks with my Mom. It was her 77th birthday on May 10, 2014 and it was Mother’s day yesterday. We did quite a bit while we were there and we kept pretty busy. I wish we could have stayed longer, but now begins the meat of our dream trip. It was overcast when we left. We drove up I-35 towards Minneapolis. We are staying at Lebanon Hills Campground in Eagan MN. We stayed there in 1998 on our first trip. Great park. We are there to see Bob and Cyndy Kresse and Joe Kresse. They all live within about 10 miles of this park. We arrived shortly after lunch and when we setting up, a cable broke on the rear slider. We could not move the slider. What a joke, another problem to fix. Sally did a great job and getting it organized to be fixed the very next day. She made quite a few calls. Because of her, it got fixed before we had to leave on Friday. I gave up drinking coffee today after we left my Mom’s. I had some before we left but quit while driving.
May 13, 2014: Tuesday Sally made some more calls about fixing the RV. The critical call was to Steve Heim, a regional President in Decatur IN that we met while there. He dialed us in to the folks in Coburg who overnighted the parts to us, which was really critical. Thanx Steve Heim and John Heard in Coburg. That saved us. It was lined up for the tech to come out on Thursday and fix the rig. In the meantime, we hung out at the RV dealing with this. A little after noon, we went to the Mall of America for Eliza and Nate could see it. We shopped for about 3 hours. That place is huge. Sally and I went for a bike ride that afternoon. I have not been riding as much as I thought I would on this trip. I thought I would be killing it every day. I am not. That is okay. Probably a good thing. Biking in Bend was kind of becoming an obsession. A fixation for me. I was doing over 5,000 miles a year. I am still on track to probably do about 4,000 this year depending on how the summer goes. I am at about 1,600 miles right now. The good thing is when I don’t ride, I don’t feel bad about not riding. I want to spend time with Sally, Eliza, and Nate. I don’t need to see anything or do anything on this trip. My main focus is to spend time with them doing what they want. To get to know my wife better. To get to know Eliza and Nate better. To get away from the rat race. I have always tried to figure out when enough is enough. I knew that when I retired that if I ever got to where I am at, I had enough. I do have enough. We are not cash rich, but blessed and rich with each other. I have the best family in the whole world. I am truly blessed. I have the best friends in the world, both those we have seen and those we will see again in Bend when we reurn. For the evening, we went over to Bob and Cyndy’s for fish tacos at their house. Joe came over too. It was great to see them all. It is hard to believe that it was 2 months ago that we were in Houston seeing Joe. We just hung out this evening which was great.
May 14, 2014: Wednesday We found out they were not coming to fix the rig today since the part arrived late in the day. So, we went to the state capitol in St Paul and then over the Cathedral there in St Paul. The church is awesome. It is a domed church. We then drove down town to look at the Fitzgerald Theatre, the home of Prairie Home Companion. We then drove over to Minneapolis to see the “U” (University of Minnesota) where I earned by MBA in 1987. I guess after almost 30 years, it did not look the same. There were lots of new buildings and bridges and stuff and I really did not recognize it. We drove to see my old apartment at 2428 Clinton Ave South. I lived there for over a year while going to grad school. For the evening, we just hung out at the RV. We were tired. Again, it was kind of cold this day and overcast. The traffic in Minneapple was not bad.
May 15, 2014: Thursday Last day at Lebanon Hills. We got the rear slider fixed. It took about 4 hours. The tech was good. I am praying that it is fixed for good and does not break again. Sorry, I know there are worse problems in this world that I should be praying about and not some stupid RV slider. As long as we have our health and each other, we are fine. I should be praying for all of my friends we have seen on this trip and those friends we left at home in Bend, and I do pray for them all. Every where we have stayed with friends has been great. Jen and Hawk in San Diego. Sally’s cousin Barb and husband Tom in Phoenix. Friends John Byer and his wife Wilma in Phoenix. Joe and Olga Kresse in Houston. Jack Wertzberger in Dubuque. Amanda in Greenville MS. Theresa Walker in Austin and her children Whitney and Clint. My family in Iowa, Mom, John, Larry, Sandy, Josh, Anna. Aunt Alice and Uncle Blackie. Bob and Cyndy Kresse in Mpls. So, we spent the afternoon at the RV. That evening, we went over to Joe Kresse’s house for dinner. Sally made pulled pork. It was great. She made it in our new crock pot from Sandy and Larry. Thank you Sandy and Larry. At about 8, they all went for a walk and Joe and I just hung out at his home. I had never been there before. Very nice place.
May 16, 2014: Friday. We drove the short distance up Al and Sue Crouse’s place in Stillwater MN. However, before that we stopped off at Bob’s and he and Andrew were kind enough to put our trim back on that we took off to fix the slider and they fixed the door hinge. Thank you Bob and Andrew. I will miss them. They are very dear friends. Bob and Cyndy helped me out a ton when I lived in MPLS from 1985 to 1987 when I was going to the “U”. I even stayed with them for a bit till I found an apartment. We arrived and Al and Sue’s at about 1 pm. Al was mowing the yard. Later that day Nate and I helped Al plant a new tree in the yard. We had to dig up the roots. The balance of the evening was spent hanging out at their place. We have take and bake pizza then we watched the secret life of walter mitty. That was fun to watch and lounge around. Then we headed out to our “campsite” and went to bed.
May 17, 2014: Saturday We got up sort of late. Slept in. We just hung out for a bit. Nate, Al, and I went for about a 12 mile bike ride which was fun. Joe came over at about 2 and we went mushroom hunting. No luck. Too early in the season. However, the ticks were out! It was a sunny nice afternoon. That evening, Sue and Al cooked up a great meal of the grill. Chicken and hamburgers. It was great. We had a fire in the driveway and then after dark we let off a few fireworks. Nate loved it! He was in charge of setting them off. It was a great day.
May 18, 2014: Sunday. Slept in again. We all drove down to Stillwater around 11 to site see. It is a beautiful town on the St Croix with Wisconsin on the other side of the river. It is a big river. Scenic town. We had a great lunch at the Main Café. I had chicken fried steak. Good portions all around. Sunny warm day. Nice to be out. When we got home, Al was generous since he let me cut down some limbs on his trees so we could drive out the next day. I am forever grateful for his generosity to do that. It meant quite a bit to me. Al and I then put some flashing back up on his garage that had fallen off. That evening, Nate picked out the Matrix to watch. It was a good movie.
May 19, 2014: Monday. Sad day again. Had to leave our dear friends. Al stuck around to say good bye. It was great seeing them. A high point of the trip. We hit the road at about 9 or so. We decided to drive along the Mississippi on the Wisconsin side. It was scenic, but it rained hard the entire drive which was kind of a bummer. It took about 6 hours to get to Devil’s Lake State Park. This is beautiful park. We set up and just hung out as the weather was not all that nice. Plus, it had been a long day driving.
May 20, 2014: Tuesday: Slept in. Sally not feeling well. I rode my bike around the park to south shore. It was a hilly ride but some fun hills to go down too. At mid day, we rode our bikes down to the lake to see it. It is a beautiful lake. It was sunny and about 80 degrees out. We decided to go for a hike the next day. We rode around the park for a bit then headed back to the RV to hang out and rest up. This park is beautiful. We are in site #129 in Northern Lights. Sally and I agreed that we stayed in Quartzite campground in 1998. Not many folks here. Nice and quiet. We like that. The grass is green and the trees are leaved out.
May 21, 2014: Wednesday. Hard to believe, we have been here for 2 days already. Another nice day. Sunny and about 80. Only got down to about 55 last night. We hiked up to Devil’s Door and Balancing Rock. It was a strenuous hike up a boulder field and down a boulder field. But we got up quite high with some commanding views. It was a great hike. Everyone did well. We had a picnic lunch down by the lake. Thank you Sally for making such a great picnic meal! I went for a bike ride when we got back. I rode into Baraboo. There is a beautiful church in town. I always look for the church spires and I go in as many churches as I can to look at them. That is what I like to do. Sit, be silent, and pray for a few minutes. I also like to “visit” cemeteries. Don’t know why other than they are so peaceful and spiritual with green grass and trees. For dinner, Sally made a great mixed bean soup in our new crockpot. It was very good. Another great day with my family.
May 22, 2014: Thursday. Went for a cool bike ride in the morning. I rode down to Merrimac to look at the ferry that crossed Lake Wisconsin. It was pretty cool and a pretty lake. After that, we went down to the lodge because it had wi-fi. Nate had to take his final math test. He got 28 out of 32, so he got an A in the class!! After that, we went back to the RV and enjoyed the rest of the day lounging around with an empty campground, quiet too! Tomorrow we leave for Madison KOA.
May 23, 2014: Friday. Left somewhat early, about 9 am. We drove into Baraboo to Wal Mart to shop for groceries. Sally found a great shoe store called the shoe box. Both Nate and I bought some new shoes. We then drove over to the Madison KOA which was only about 40 miles away. We got there early and since it was warm with not many folks around, we hit the swimming pool. Well, only Nate and Sally went swimming. Eliza and I did not. I am not much for the water really.
May 24, 2014: Saturday. We drove into Madison WI. We took a tour of the capital at 10 am. Well worth it. It is a very beautiful and spectacular capital, probably the best we have seen. It is grandiose. We then had a picnic lunch at the Methodist Church where we parked. It was very busy downtown due the farmers market that encircled the entire capital block and then down some down State Street towards Uni of Wisconsin. We walked the campus. It was a cool campus. Nate said he could go here. You can see Lake Mendota from campus. There is quite a strong Greek system here. On the way out of town, we say a car that had advertising for Erik’s Bike Shop out of Minneapolis. We met Jim, the local manager who knows Andrew and Bob Kresse. Small world. We made it back to the RV with time to nap in the afternoon.
May 25, 2014: Sunday. We drove to Gilbralter State Park for a hike. The park has some spectacular sheer boulder cliffs. I got some good pics of Sally, Eliza, and Nate standing on the edge. It was fun. We met a woman named Michelle who was a Holt adoptee. She had tons of insight for us since she had been back to Korea to meet her family. From there, we drove over to Merrimac, had another great picnic then rode the ferry across the lake. It was free and we walked right on. The line for cars was over an hour long. We walked around Merrimac for a bit, but there is not a lot there. Nice weather. Sort of hot and sunny.
May 26, 2014: Monday. Memorial Day! We went to the City of Deforest memorial festivities. They had some speakers. It was great. There was a 96 year old man there who was a veteran of World War II. That made me think of Uncle Blackie. He served in World War II as well. I went for bike ride before that and got caught in a rain downpour. It rained hard, but then cleared right off and is now hot and humid. Doing laundry today. One of those necessary choirs. We are not going to have full hook ups now for over 2 weeks. So, need to do laundry when you can.
May 27, 2014: Tuesday. Still at the KOA in Deforest WI which is north of Madison by about 10 miles. We all went for a bike ride in the country first thing in the morning before the storms came. Since everyone had left just about, we got the pool all to ourselves. Nate, Sally, and I all went swimming. It was about 85 degrees so the pool was nice. As predicted, it rained hard late in the afternoon, so we just hung out in the RV. Tomorrow is Nate’s 13th birthday!! I really cannot believe he is 13. It seems like he just came home yesterday. He is the best boy in the whole world. I love him so much. Doing this trip to spend time with Sally, Eliza, and Nate is the best thing I have ever done. It is not all what I had expected nor has everyday been paradise like you would think on vacation. There is always a price to pay but the more risk we have taken, the greater the return. Our return has been great. I love spending time with my family.
May 28, 2014: Wednesday. Happy Birthday Nate!! 13 years old. We let him sleep in and Sally bought him a McDonalds happy meal for the breakfast. He loved it. We opened his gifts at the KOA. His big gift we bought back in Iowa. His new bike!! So, today is travel day. About 200 miles from Deforest WI to Peninsula State Park next to Fish Creek, WI. It was a beautiful drive today. It was overcast until we got close to Fish Creek, but still nice. We drove through Green Bay WI. Very very small town to have a pro football team. We are in site 748 in South Nicollet Bay. Nice campsite. Very wooded and the sites are spacious. When we got here, the campground was virtually empty. We are about 100 yards from Lake Michigan. There are all kinds of hiking and biking trails here. We came back, since this was one of our favorite campgrounds from our 1998 trip. We are going to stay here 4 nights. For supper, we drove to Rowleigh’s Restaurant for a real fish boil. The supper was a buffet so Eliza could have other food to eat other than fish. She does not like fish. As part of the supper, there was some entertainment around the fire used to boil the fish. A real old gentleman played the part of Mr. Rowleigh from the 1830’s and gave us all kinds of real and true history about the area. It was pretty cool. The evening was wonderful. After that, since we were close to the north end of the peninsula, we drove on up to Northport to look at the ferry port. Sally and went there on our last trip here in 1998. Lake Michigan is so huge, it looks like an ocean. This area is similar to the Oregon coast in some regards. I like it here other than the pesty mosquitos.
May 29, 2014: Thursday. We all went for a bike ride this morning. We rode the sunset trail all the way into Fish Creek. It is a very nice limestone trail that was about 7 miles into town. I could even ride my road bike on this trail. Nate was crushing it!! He was always way out ahead of us pedaling as fast as he could. He loved it. It was fun to watch him. Of course, every time he stopped he had to lock up and skid the real tire, just like what I used to do when I was his age. In the afternoon, Sally and I took another short ride into Ephraim to check it out. After that, back at the park I tried to sit down by the lake and read, but the mosquitos were just too much. So, we had supper in the RV and watched a Miss Marpel PBS Mystery Theatre show. Sally and I love the PBS British shows. They are really well done without all of the theatrics of American TV.
May 30, 2014 Friday. We were up somewhat early. Still at Peninsula State Park. The mosquitos are terrible. We are up to go to Cana Island to see the lighthouse. Sally and I did this in 1998. The water at that time to get there was about a foot deep and we walked a few hundred feet to the island. Since then, they have built a footpath up so you don’t walk in the water. Beautiful day. Sunny no wind. It eventually got up to 80 degrees today, which is hot here. Nate, Eliza, and I hiked the 97 steps to the top of the lighthouse. It was really cool up there. We were the first ones for the day, so we got a guided tour up the lighthouse keeper. He gave us all kind of history about the lighthouse. From there, we drove down to another state park and walked along the beach. It was really nice. On the way back to the RV, we stopped in Egg Harbor and got groceries and ice cream. When we got back, I went for a cool 20 mile bike ride. I am up around 1,700 miles for the year, which is not too bad. Very hot now, so we turned on the air conditioning.