Saturday, June 30, 2012


We are being invaded by a silent army of extra-terrestrial giants!
We had first encountered these enormous aliens many years ago when they gained a toe-hold at the family farm corporation owned by my nephews, niece, and their families.
 Some time ago we saw hundreds of them in southern Ontario, Canada when we visited there.
Last week, traveling in northern Illinois, we discovered that their kind has moved to the south and have silently invaded large portions of our own country. 
Rumor has it that their next goal is to invade -- and subdue -- Texas!

They don't look especially threatening.
 They resemble a helicopter, turned on its side and resting on top of a stilt. 
Neither is their speech aggressive or violent. 
They just emit a rhythmic "Whoosh -- whoosh -- whoosh" which sounds more boring than dangerous.

How should we respond to this invasion of whirling creatures who are evidently from outer space?
Should we, like Don Quixote of literary fame, gather up our weapons of self-defense
and charge the intruders in a futile attempt to destroy them? 
Or could we, like Rip van Winkle, hero of a different story, just ignore them
and sleep through these changes in the society around us?

Perhaps the best strategy is to re-read the stories of the pioneers to the West in our own country.  They quickly learned to build similar devices
and harness the power of the wind to help them with their work. 
Can we befriend these whirling, whooshing invaders
so they will help us with our rising energy costs?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ambassadors of the Obsolete

It’s has now been over seven years since we sold our "retirement home," bought an RV and began living in it full-time on the road. Many times during our sojourns, I have wondered what – if anything – we are doing of socially redeemable value. Are we serving any useful purpose in our retirement or are we just getting older, crankier, and more self-centered?

In the midst of these musings, one day it occurred to me that we are living, traveling examples of a lifestyle that has become obsolete. Perhaps we could consider ourselves "Roving Ambassadors of the ‘Good ‘Ole Days’."

The term "Good ‘Ole Days" means different things to different people, of course. However, it always includes enjoyment, a sense of satisfaction, peace and meaning in life lived at an unhurried pace.

We, too, in our working years, had spent many years in the stress-filled, over-committed, clock-controlled life of the modern era. We decided to retire, not only from our work, but also from the frantic pace in which our lives had been consumed. Retirement was the time to break free from the tyranny of time and the slavery to stuff.

Our migratory life in an RV helps us deal with both. We travel where we want to go, at a pace that is enjoyable, and stop at any points along the way that look interesting. We take time to:
  • admire the varieties of types and colors of wildflowers along our way
  • enjoy the songs of the birds that entertain us and try to learn the names of the singers
  • ponder the colors of the sunset (sunrises are beautiful, too, but they come too early!)
  • quietly observe a grazing mother deer and her fawn
  • reflect upon the sights and sounds of the sea coast
  • patiently watch the nest of a bald eagle family as two fledglings peeked over the edge (no doubt watching for their parents to bring them lunch!)
  • stand amazed at the power that created butterflies and boulders, mountains and Meadow Larks, the stars of the night sky and the cells of the human body
  • say "No" to responsibilities we don’t want to take on
  • walk together once or twice every day, giving thanks that we still can!
We also work carefully to free ourselves from an addiction to stuff. An RV has limited storage space, so shopping becomes an exercise in "How much can we do without?" and "If we buy it, where will we store it?" Answering those two questions really cuts our "wants" down to the size of our "needs." So, we’ve given up:
  • most of our dress clothes, but especially girdles, neckties and unnecessary underwear
  • buying "two for the price of one" bargains
  • fancy hair styles and make-up
  • many of our books in favor of lighter weight Kindle readers
  • listening or watching TV commercials for things or food
  • unnecessary furniture and breakable little "pretty things" to sit around and gather dust
  • a second set of dishes and silverware for "company"
  • saving old magazines, papers, boxes, or out-grown clothing
  • worrying about "what the neighbors (or anybody else!) will think."
This simplified lifestyle is not popular in magazine or newspaper ads or on TV commercials. But, for us, it’s like being on vacation year after year.  Better yet, it’s like having a seven year honeymoon! We enjoy life and give thanks for every day, every experience and every person we encounter along our way. So, perhaps as we travel, we can make a positive contribution to life by serving as roving ambassadors of the obsolete lifestyle of the slower and quieter past, the Good ‘Old Days.

Celestial Characters

My in-house computer guru said,
"Our calendar lives in the clouds."
We can view it on phone or laptop,
But it exists above earthly crowds.

 I’ve heard of those who live in the clouds,
Like angels, and saints, and God.
But computer characters seem out of place
With such heavenly hosts. How odd!

But maybe the calendar’s been sanctified,
Or been "raptured" from earth to sky!
Will it still be there when I arrive,
Sometime in the sweet by-and-by?

Or perhaps it’s been re-incarnated
To a higher form of life;
Now a genie, free from confinement
In electronic serfdom and strife.

I don’t know. A calendar based in the sky.
Just doesn’t compute in my cup!
For if it were, it seems to me,
That we’d really be living it up!

So, this computer calendar "in the clouds"
Is a mystery that boggles my head.
But that calendar keeps steadily changing,
So I’m sure that it’s not yet dead!

North Country Souvenirs

In Wisconsin and Minnesota
What a wonderful time we had!
We hiked and biked and lunched with friends,
Though the weather was sometimes bad!
We danced and sunned and chatted a lot,
And toured some lovely sights.
We got many souvenirs of our trip,
For we’re covered with mosquito bites!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Dells of Wisconsin

Today we took a boat tour of the Upper Dells -- the portion of the
Wisconsin Dells upstream from the Kilbourn Hydroelectric Dam.
Our boat was similar to the one pictured above.
Entering the Narrows. 
A formation known as "Stack of Pancakes"
also known as "Chimney Rocks."
This formation is known as "Chief Black Hawk"
because of the facial features.
The first-time visitor clicks photo after photo
of the magnificent rock formations.
 The tour guides have a name for each of the formations
but I could not remember them all.
 We disembarked to walk through the Witches' Gulch
where we visited the restrooms and snack shop.
We also disembarked at Stand Rock where we saw a German Shepherd
leap from the top of the cliff to the top of Stand Rock and back again.
Our tour guide told us that Stand Rock was the location for the first stop-action photo as
H.H. Bennett took a photo of his son Ashley leaping to Stand Rock in 1886.

However, our trip through the charming Dells of the Wisconsin River,
like all good things,.had to come to an end.
We -- like the thousands of other people who enjoy this tour each summer --
had to return to the dock and regain our land legs.

Rocky Arbor State Park, Wisconsin

We are enjoying our stay at Rocky Arbor State Park, 
located just north of the Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
The park was established in 1932 to protect sandstone outcrops
eroded into picturesque walls and ledges.
The Wisconsin River once flowed over this tract of land,
carving channels into the sandstone. The river has
since changed course, now running 1.5 miles to the east,
leaving the rock walls of its former gorge exposed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge

Yesterday our friend, Rebecca, took us to visit
Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota.
In addition to this view of a Trumpeter Swan alone,
we also saw a mother Trumpeter Swan with her babies.
We had several good views of Bald Eagles in their nest.
 Bird sightings also included Sandhill Cranes, Double-Crested Cormorants,
Blue Heron, Killdeer, Canadian Geese, Common Yellowthroat, and Barn Swallows.
The Barn Swallow circled us anxiously as we inspected her unique nest!.
We also enjoyed a special lunch at Russell's on the Lake in Big Lake, MN.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

What a Meal

Last evening our friends, Ron and Lynne, took us to the Marina Grill and Deli on University Avenue Northeast in Minneapolis, MN.
Our friends suggested the we share the "Family Platter for Four."
They suggested that there would be enough for "take home."
But we really were not prepared for what was to come.
The salad, hommus, and pocket bread would have been enough to feed six.
 But then the server brought the main dish of gyros, chicken, lamb, Kafta,
Samosa, Spanakopita, Grape leaves, Baba Ganouj, over a bed of rice.
That dish could have fed eight or more!
It was all very delicious, but we put as much food into "take home" boxes as we actually ate.
What a delightful meal.

Later in the evening our friends took us to the Plymouth Playhouse for the musical "A Mighty Fortress is Our Basement." presented by The Church Basement Ladies.
Wow!  What a hoot!  We laughed through the entire production.

Beach Picnic

Sensed before known,
so twice enjoyed:

*lapping lake waters and breaking waves
*white caps and many colored liquid depths
*scorching sun and cooling breezes
*wood fire smoke spiced with bug spray
*hot dogs, roasted and salty, smothered in catsup
*sticky sweet s'mores flavored with charcoal.

Picnic on the beach:
A feast for all senses!

Daily Walk

Aspens and Ants,
Birches and Butterflies,
Cedars and Cardinals,
 Ducks and Day Lilies,
 Forget-Me-Nots and Ferns,
Grasses and Goldfinches,
Honeysuckle and Humming Birds,
Larkspur and Lady's Slippers,
Mushrooms and Meadow Larks,
Nodding Daisies and Nosy Rabbits,
Open Fields and Orange Poppies,
Petunias and Poplars,
Quail and Quick Running Deer,
Rabbits and Raspberries,
Sea Gulls and Sunflowers,
Thistles and Toads,
Vultures and Vines,
Wild Flowers and Woodpeckers,
X-ings for Bicycles and Horses,
Yellow Dandelions and Sunshine,
Zzzzz-ing of Bees gathering nectar.
We walk through an alphabet soup of beauty.
Will we turn off our minds
and open our eyes and spirits
to see it?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

St. Paul, Minnesota

On Tuesday we visited the Cathedral of Saint Paul in the city of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Inside we marveled at the artistic detail including the altar in the photo below.
After our visit in the cathedral we walked to the Capitol building.
However, before touring the Capitol building, we ate a delicious lunch
from the Sassy Spoon Truck, parked close to the Capitol building.
From the outside the Capitol building is quite impressive.
Our guide took us to visit the House chamber.
 The tour ended on the roof where we had a view of the Cathedral of Saint Paul
(center, distance)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Peninsula State Park

We all started with day with a mid-morning brunch at Julie's Park Cafe just outside the gate of Peninsula State Park where Anna had nachos and cheese.
Then Shirley, Joyce, and Anna took a two-hour excursion in a canoe
while Bruce and Mary Sue walked on the Minnehaha Trail.
After some light lunch in the park snack shop we went to the Eagle Tower.
Above is a view from the Eagle Tower overlooking Lake Michigan.
We took a guided tour of the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse.
There has never been electricity to this lighthouse.  The Fresnell lens on the right originally focused a flame from the burning of lard.  Now the solar panel in the foreground left powers a light on the corner behind the solar panel.
 We ended the day in Sister Bay where we enjoyed dinner at Al Johnsons Swedish Restaurant and Butik.
Notice the goats on the roof of Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant and Butik.
You can see the goats from home via a web cam at