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Friday, May 31, 2024

Staying Out of the Campgrounds on Memorial Day

We have a real aversion to camping in crowded campgrounds on busy holiday weekends. It's not that we're antisocial, it's just that we don't care for all the crazy people that come out for one or two weekends a year and don't know how to behave themselves in a campground! 

You know the ones, cranking loud music and singing at the top of their lungs? We had them last year. Or the ones that slam their car doors and their RV compartment doors at 6:00 a.m. on their way out to go fishing. Or the ones where their dogs bark incessantly for hours on end while they go off sightseeing. The ones that park all over the campground lot lines and intrude into your campsite. Of course they're the ones that walk right through your campsite to get somewhere they want to go. I could go on and on and on. We all know the types. It seems that they come out once or twice a year and make the most of a 3-day weekend for Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. So that's when we don't go to the campgrounds!!!

We were going to stay home, but our oldest daughter invited us to come up to their cabin and park our motorhome in the yard. It's nice and quiet up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin far away from any town, or any campground for that matter.

We actually drove on up there before they even arrived, and got parked into our "spot" complete with a 30 amp plug-in at an outdoor power post. Perfect!

We set up some lawn chairs and put out our awning and smaller camping mat. The weather report was looking grim, and we were supposed to have a lot of rain move in later in the evening. But, in the meantime, we could enjoy some peace and quiet in the woods.

We even took a nice long afternoon nap! 

I had assembled some fun video clips with my new GoPro camera. After the weekend was done I put them all together and let the GoPro Quik program assemble them and put them into a short YouTube. Complete with music! 

So if you don't want to read the rest of my blog, here is our weekend in a nutshell on this cute little YouTube clip:

By the time the kids got up to the cabin, it was starting to rain. We all ended up inside and tossed some pizzas into the oven for dinner. There would be no outside campfire or grill cooking tonight.

Things are pretty comfortable inside the cabin, as you can see. They recently built it as a getaway from their busy lives in the big city.

The kids were busy playing cribbage with their mom, while the guys were solving all the problems in the world.

We left our dogs out in the motorhome during the pouring rain, but got in plenty of cuddles with their silly little pups, Biscuit and Ewok.

Late into the night, we dashed out to the motorhome in between downpours. It was a very relaxing night sleeping with the sound of rain on the motorhome roof. We slept well, and in the morning headed back into the cabin for coffee and breakfast.

Chelsea and Claire were putting together one of our family favorites. It's such an easy breakfast bake dish that can feed large groups of people by only using one big casserole dish.

Here is the recipe. We omit the half cup of milk. For some reason it takes a lot longer to bake it because it's runny with the milk in it.  The kids are not crazy about the onions or the scallions in it, so we omitted them this time. Other times, if we are making two pans, one for the adults and one for the kids, then we add them. We have also added things like little pieces of mushrooms or green peppers or bacon bits.

Tah dahhhhhh! All done, and easily served up portions by Chef Chelsea.

It had stopped raining and was going to be a beautiful day! Clayton got out the lawn mower and started trimming up around the cabin. Can you imagine his utter surprise when he found THIS laying low in the tall grass????

It was so tiny, and laid there so lifeless, that we checked from a distance to make sure it was actually breathing by watching it's sides slowly move in and out. We knew Mama must be close by, so we left it alone and stayed far away from that area. We also enclosed their dogs back in the cabin and put ours back in the motorhome. That way Mama would not be intimidated about coming back for her baby.

I suppose, all week long, it was a nice quiet place to hide with a baby in the tall grass. But suddenly all these vehicles come and make noise and dogs running around! She must have dashed into the woods in the morning and left the baby behind and told it to not move or make a sound. 

About an hour later we saw a flash of brown against the trees so we knew she was nearby.  Sometime, when we weren't looking, she must have called to the baby and it quickly skedaddled over to her side. Off into the woods to safety. 

While the guys were cutting lawn, I put together a cute little craft idea for Claire. My sister Linda, who is a librarian, sends me all of these great ideas. We found a piece of cardboard and I got out a marker and a scissors. This is what she started with:

She wandered around through the meadow and found enough little flowers to adequately decorate her beautiful "Dandy-Lion".

The guys took care of cutting down a dead tree, and the kids all pitched in to help haul firewood and branches. The price you got to pay for having a cabin is spending Saturday morning doing maintenance! 

By afternoon, the day had turned absolutely glorious. It was in the low 70s with a slight breeze. Just enough to keep the mosquitoes and gnats away.  The games came out on the picnic table and Chelsea drew up elimination brackets for tournaments for each game we were playing. Connect Four, Domino's, cribbage etc.  Everyone got involved and took their turns on the playoff bracket. Erin found this really nice large wooden Connect Four game at Aldi's last week.

Chelsea, who would like to be a veterinarian one day, took care of brushing out both of our dogs. They had recently had a bath that helped loosen up their winter undercoats. There was plenty of fuzz flying around for birds to take and put into their nests.

Grandson Clayton was manning the campfire. With all of the excess tree branches that came down during the day, he had plenty to keep the fire going into the evening.

By nightfall, Waylen had put up their new big projector screen and set up for a family movie. We took out all of our chaise recliner lounge chairs and blankets and snuggled up for the evening.  Movie Night! 

Erin popped popcorn and we watched the classic Jurassic Park. The mosquitoes weren't too bad, and the temperatures dipped down into the '50s. We didn't care, we were pretty snuggly warm...

The next morning, the kids couldn't wait to haul out more crafts and games. It was maybe going to rain later on in the day, so we figured we better get all of our outside fun in while we could.

Painting on rocks and acorns was the highlight of this day. Our daughter Heather came up with granddaughter Whitney to spend the day. Jameson and Jesse both had to work so it was a "Girls Road Trip" to come up to the cabin!

Heather was added into the brackets and teamed up with the advice of Whitney to win against the other grown ups. They beat me!

The two silly little girls decided that they wanted to go for four wheeler rides! Of course, they are just pretending here. They do not drive.

Look at those smiles!!!

Clayton attached a little wagon to take them around at a slow speed on the trails. They have 10 acres of beautiful land to wander around on.

Throwback memory to a time when our kids were little, and here is Erin on the back of the four wheeler with her Uncle Butch, and Heather is in the wagon along with her little cousins Matthew, Darren and Christopher... Circa early 1990's

Fun runs in the family---

By evening, the heavy rains managed to return. It was an inside cooking evening again. This time it was Clayton's turn! 

His absolute favorite meal to cook whenever he comes to our house is spaghetti and meatballs and garlic bread sticks. He went to work as our MasterChef for the evening.

Soon he had our meal fully prepared, including breadsticks fresh out of the oven.  He was pretty proud of the fact that he did the entire meal and it all came out perfect.

We also kept granddaughter Whitney for an overnight at the cabin. Lots of giggly girls and silly games were played. We did play some cribbage games which are really good for the children's math skills. 

Again, we had a rainy night in the camper. But we didn't mind. We were safe and warm and dry. I felt bad for anybody who was trying to stay in a tent in a campground.

The next morning, it was Chelsea's turn to serve us a little treat. Recently she had found this cute little machine at the Dollar General store. Using one of the recipes out of the book, she was able to make us all little mini donuts to go with our coffee.

It's called the Babycakes machine. She said there were also machines for making ice cream cones and French toast sticks and a couple other things all in the same brand or series.

We decided to skip driving all the way to the nearest town to watch the Memorial Day celebrations. Instead we stayed back at the cabin and talked about family members in the past who had served. 

There were more storms due to come in later that day so it was time to pack things up and head on back home. We stole a couple grandkids to ride along with us. It made more room in their vehicle with all of their extra gear.

Clayton rode up front in the co-pilot seat and made sure Grandpa had all the directions on how to get back home. He jibber-jabbered the entire way!!

Soon we were back home, unloaded, and another holiday weekend was in the books.

Stay tuned for my next blog, which is going to be a little handy hint on cleaning RV awnings!

Thursday, May 23, 2024

MAY VACAY - Camping At Sandy Rec Area near McGregor MN

My last blog post was more of a review on the Corps of Engineers recreation area named Sandy Lake, in North Central Minnesota.

You can go to my last blog at this link for more information and particulars on the campground itself:


Here we are set up on campsite number 36. Most of the sites are pretty level. This one had a little slope up and then it leveled out once you got up in the rear portion of the campsite. So we unhooked the trailer and left it near the road. We backed the motorhome in until it was level. (The trailer has both a hitch lock, a lever lock, plus a very loud and flashing light alarm if anybody tries to even move it!)

The edge of our site was overlooking a pond and marsh area rather than lakeside. The marsh was full of frogs and it was a delightful cacophony of sounds of birds singing and frogs chirupping and croaking day and night. The mosquitoes were not too bad at all, and we didn't even need to take out a Thermacell or put on spray.

It feels like home when we roll out the awning, unfold the mat, and set up the lawn chairs.

Steve took out the Blackstone griddle to start supper. He usually does the outdoor cooking and I do the prep work inside and gathering all of the utensils needed. He really enjoys using the griddle more than a grill. So much so, that we don't even carry a grill with us anymore. Just the flat top griddle. 

Done to perfection! He did up some tenderloin while I baked potatoes and chopped up some salad. Food always tastes so much better when it's cooked outdoors.

After dinner we sat back with a beverage or two of our choice. We found this plastic traveling wine glass with a sippy lid on top. Eliminates spills and keeps bugs from flying into my wine!

Relaxing under the awning is probably one of our favorite things to do. It's like an outside living room and we watch the birds, a few squirrels here and there, and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. We recently picked up this larger patio mat at Menards, a Midwest big box home improvement store. It is 10x12.

Imagine our dismay when we looked down on the second morning and saw that a hole had been chewed right through it by some little critter! There must have been an acorn or something underneath there and they were determined to get it?

Our other recent acquisition is our Starlink satellite dish. We keep our dish portable and do not mount it tight to the roof of the motorhome like some do. We can move it around the campsite into an open area, but still keep the motorhome parked in the shade. 

By not mounting it permanently, we can use it at home as well. 

Our Spectrum service at home was going up to $120 a month! The Starlink dish with the "roam"  feature that you can take it anywhere is only $150 a month! So we canceled the Spectrum at home, and for $30 more a month, we have portable internet that we can take anywhere as long as we have a somewhat clear view to the northern sky. We set it out on our little folding table and it works perfectly every time. Within 5 minutes it aligns itself to the satellites and we have a clear fast signal.

We use the Starlink signal for our cell phones for data as well as making VOIP calls. Inside of the motorhome it operates both of our Roku sticks on the TVs as well as my laptop and our Wi-Fi thermometer. Now we can tell what the temperature is inside of the motorhome if we are ever out and about. Great thing to have if you have pets... We also have a Wi-Fi outlet that we can plug a fan into and turn that on remotely from our phones if we are out and about.

These are some really good speeds!


We went to sleep with the frogs chirping in the marsh and slept in this peaceful quiet campground with only four or five other campers in the entire Northern Loop. Early in the morning I heard one person leaving to go fishing. But we rolled over and went right back to sleep. 

Once we did get up, Steve treated us to one of his wonderful breakfasts.

Here's a little hint we learned when cooking inside of the camper. You know how the dang smoke alarms go off all the time? Especially when you're doing bacon or toast?  Save a couple little disposable shower caps next time you are at a hotel, or pick up a pack for a dollar or two at any chain store or dollar store. 

Put the shower cap up around the smoke alarm while you are cooking! Just be sure to take it back down when you are done. I keep them in a little container in the drawer right with my kettles and fry pans. That way I remember to put them up and take them off.

The second evening it was getting a little clouded up and was going to start raining. But that's okay. We curled up inside to watch some HGTV and Magnolia shows. This one is "Farmhouse Fixer" featuring Jonathan Knight who used to be a member of New Kids on the Block. Now he does some interesting house and barn restorations on his own TV show. 

Steve fired up the popcorn popper, and we had a nice evening curled up inside while listening to the rain on the roof.

In the morning, it was still rainy drizzly and dreary outside. But that's okay. I set up my folding Lifetime table from Home Depot. 

(P S. I don't get anything for mentioning a brand name or where I got it. I only say it so people don't have to take the time to write and ask me "where did you get that cool table???")

It folds up to only 2 ft by 2 ft by a few inches thick. It has five different adjustable heights to the legs. I can set one side longer for the front portion by the cab seats and one set of legs shorter for the portion that reaches into the living area of the motorhome.

I put my little sewing machine on there and spread out my quilting supplies. I have a little mat and an iron to press my seams flat. Sipping coffee, listening to soft music, and sewing a pretty quilt is a great way to spend a rainy day.

This little antique Singer Featherweight is the perfect size to take along camping. It stows away in a little case in the back of the closet along with my sewing gear. I do like it so much I take it into the house and sew on it in my she shed when we are at home too.

While I am sewing, Binney is curled up in her little safe spot. She likes the area in front of the passenger seat under the dash. We put her little bed there and she is happy as ever. Like her own little doggie den.

Nicholas, on the other hand, has to be out and about and checking everything. Steve spends his time indoors looking at Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. Always on the hunt for a bargain! Nicholas is on patrol at every window, transferring from the loveseat, to the bed in the back, to upfront on the driver's seat to peek out and see what's going on.

And THIS is what he saw! Two big black and white furry cats in the motorhome next door!!!

They were keeping a close eye on Nicholas too...

On the fourth day, the rain let up and we had beautiful sunshine. We had noticed that over in the shower/bathroom building in the southern loop of the campground, there was a free laundry area. Yes, free! It was one washing machine and one dryer. A little sign said please limit yourself to one load per campsite per day. 

I put my paneer bags on my bike. They clip onto the frame on each side. The tops on roll down and clip shut. They can be left quite tall to carry cargo. Yes, even dirty laundry!

I loaded them up on each side and added a packet of laundry soap and a couple dryer sheets. What a fun way to do laundry?

When I peddled over across the dam to the Southern Loop, I was happy to see that nobody else was using the laundry. It's an open air alcove with a laundry sink and a folding table. I unloaded my stuff and popped it in the machine. There was a timer on the front that said the load would be done in 25 minutes. So I set the alarm on my phone for the same amount of time. Now I would know exactly when it was done to switch it over to the dryer, and not delay anyone else who might be wanting to use the washing machine.

I peddled on back to our campsite. It was turning into an absolutely beautiful day. Blue sky and white puffy clouds!!

This really was a nice comfortable campground to stay at for 5 days. With our half price America the Beautiful Senior Access Pass, it was only $13 a night. With electric and free laundry? That's a pretty good deal. 

We always keep a close eye on the weather reports for the area we are in, as well as what is coming up in the areas we want to go to next. 

It looked like North Central Minnesota, and into Northern Wisconsin, it was going to be rain rain rain for 4 to 5 days in a row including some severe thunderstorms heading on through by Tuesday. We had hoped to stay out and about until Thursday and get home before the Memorial Day rush and crazy people in the campgrounds. 

The more we looked at the maps and the more we looked at the weather, we decided to leave Big Sandy Lake Minnesota and head on east towards Duluth Minnesota. 

My mother's side of the family all came from Duluth and many of them still live in the area. We stopped in to see my Great Aunt Nancy. Technically she is my "second cousin" ... But when I would play with her daughter Colleen who was my age, I always was told Colleen was my cousin. So in my mind, that made Nancy my Aunt. So I have always thought of her that way.

She and cousin Larry had us in for a nice lunch visit, and sharing of good memories, and catching up since our last visit. Here we are by the beautiful maple tree that she had planted 10 years ago after the passing of her darling husband Dan.  Hugs goodbye and promises to stop again next time.

We headed on down through Duluth, in the famous "Bluff" area that my family had lived in for many years. Soon we transferred onto the brand new modern highway, instead of going on the aerial bridge. All these crazy big bypasses way up high in the air get traffic in and out of the Duluth and to the North Shore quickly. We headed it on East, towards Wisconsin.  It was starting to cloud up.

In no time, we saw the familiar sign that we see at many entrances to Wisconsin from any direction at the borders. I have photos of us as children standing in front of this sign when we are like seven or eight or nine years old.

We kept a close eye on the weather. We have been planning to stop maybe somewhere along Saxon Harbor or even looping up into the Kewenaw Peninsula of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. But the weather was looking worse and worse. There was a ridge of storm clouds following along just to the north of us heading in the same direction..

So we decided to keep scooting along and drive the entire distance back home to the east side of Wisconsin. We normally try to only drive 200 miles in a day. But with the oncoming storms we decided to bite the bullet and drive the entire 350 or so miles home.

We made it home by about 8:00 p.m. pulled in the driveway just as some raindrops started splattering on the windshield. 


861 miles total trip

In retrospect, we are glad we came home early. Horrible storms and tornadoes and straight line winds went through Wisconsin and the entire Midwest. We were home safe and sound and our motorhome tucked in alongside the garage.

Today the sun is out and Steve is taking care of the "bug removal" of the collection that stuck to us while we were out and about. 

Before and After


Ready for our next adventure!