grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

27-30SEP09 - Minnesota, Wisconsin & Michigan

After three great weeks in Manitoba we decided to drive hard for several days to cover a good distance enroute Connecticut. Unfortunately this was done during a constant drizzle/rain & gusting winds. We crossed back into the USA at Tolstoi, MB; and thankfully Corrie’s name was not in the Feds computer as a smuggler of fish. The first night was spent at the 7 Clans Casino at Thief River Falls, MN, w/free electricity.

While driving through WI on US 2 we stopped at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, Ashland, WI. It is not just a visitor center, but has displays and exhibits about the regions history from the ice age to the present. And while we were there, they were showing a short award winning film from 1966 called “Paddle to the Sea”, based on an award winning children’s book of the 40s. Dan can’t remember if he saw this film in school or on TV, but he instantly recognized it! The film starts at Lake Nipigon, Canada, where a boy carves a wooden model of an Indian in a canoe and sets it free to travel the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The story follows the progress of the little wooden Indian on its journey through all five Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. People carve in the bottom of the boat where he has been and then they put him in the water again. We spent the night behind the Frontier Bar in Saxon, WI.

The next day, Tuesday, 29SEP, was spent driving through the Upper Peninsula (ie the UP) of Michigan. The inhabitants of the UP call themselves Yoopers, which Dan thinks results from the large number of Finnish immigrants trying to say Uppers? We stopped at “Da Yoopers Tourist Trap”, located in Ishpeming, MI. It is a true tourist trap but it also has displays of Yooper ingenuity & creativity. If you don’t mind really incorrect humor based on farts, beer drinking and inept hunters, then check it out.

We also stopped at “Lakenenland” east of Marquette, which is junkyard art by Tom Lakenen. Tom has created some really fantastic sculptures out of steel, most whimsical, but some make political statements. He has set them out on open piece of land for 24/7 access. You can walk or drive the trail, and it’s free. Since it was still raining and not wanting to get the RV stuck, Dan & Gumbo hiked the “art trail” while Corrie waited. On the back side of the trail is a BBQ area with a metal locker full of free picnic stuff, like starter fluid, paper plates, plastic utensils, etc. Apparently Tom is known to be often found sitting there right next to a warm fire. He has also created snowmobile access for the winter months.

You might be a Yooper (ie from the U.P.) if:

—six foot snow drifts mean partly cloudy weather.
—you have worn shorts and parka at same time.
—"snowed in", means wife is sick and can’t shovel snow.
—one snow blower is permanently attached to the roof.
—you call soul food a pasty.
—you know smear tournaments are card games.
—you write "cow" on your livestock during hunting season.
—you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling 18 inches of ice and sit there all day waiting for your dinner to swim by.

Tuesday night was spent in St Ignace, MI, at the foot of the Mackinaw Bridge. We ate at a local restaurant where Dan had to check out the fish livers. Wednesday was an uneventful drive on freeways to spend the night in Port Huron, MI.

Trivia – is it Mackinac? or Mackinaw?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

20-26SEP09 - Sprucewoods, MB

After Sunday at Clear Lake we returned to Ed & Elaine’s house to continue slowly working on our projects; prepare for our departure; and so Corrie could attend a reunion of the “1960s Brandon Girls”. Turns out one Donna Hogeland took it upon herself about six years ago to organize a gathering of any and all girls that attended any of the Brandon High Schools during the 1960s. Corrie attended the first such gathering in 2003.

Since Dan had already decided to attend his 35th CG Academy reunion in Connecticut, that meant we could easily travel eastward from Seattle to New London, passing through Brandon, MB, for the gathering. Donna scheduled an action packed, fun filled, three evenings on Thurs, Fri & Sat nights (24-26SEP). Dan has no idea what exactly went on because males were not allowed to attend, but apparently there was Mennonite Elvis in the house?

Sunday morning, 27SEP, it will be time to say goodbye to the Canadian side of the family; head back to the USA and Dan’s reunion 09OCT in New London, CT.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

19SEP09 - Clear Lake, MB

It seems that the phenomenal good weather we enjoyed in the Seattle area followed us to Manitoba! After one of the wettest summers on record, we have enjoyed record warm days in the high 70s or low 80s. So after over two weeks of working, quad’ing and doing nothing, we decided to go to Ed & Elaine’s cabin at Clear Lake outside of Riding Mountain National Park, see our BLOG from two years ago about our last visit to the cabin & Park:

Sunday morning we took their pontoon boat into the Park and launched it into Clear Lake to just motor slowly about the lake doing nothing. We especially did no fishing to insure that we had no repeat of Corrie’s past criminal activity (see below BLOG link for more info):

Latter in the day we were joined by Ron & Lynne Curtis friends of Ed & Elaine’s who visited us for Mardi Gras 2007, along with Ed & Elaine. And when we visited Ed & Elaine in the summer 2007 Ron arranged a tour of Hutterite farms for Dan and we then BBQ’d at their place.

The rest of day was spent motoring very slowly about the lake while Ed BBQ’d snacks like sausages, and escargots! A great time was had by all and NO fish were caught or transported!

Friday, September 18, 2009

04-18SEP09 - Sprucewoods, MB (via swift current, sk)

Originally we had planned to spend over a week in the Canadian Rockies visiting Lake Louise, Jasper & other scenic areas; but we had another alarm “problem” that we had been living with for some time and finally had had enough. So we decided to drive straight through Alberta & Saskatchewan, to Corrie’s brother Ed & wife, Elaine, outside of Brandon, Manitoba. Enroute we spent the night in Swift Current, SK, where we visited one of the smallest Indian Casinos we have seen. We would be in the Brandon area for three weeks which should give the local Freightliner dealer plenty of time to figure out the problem and order parts (if necessary). It has been two years since our last visit to the Brandon area; see below BLOGs for more on Ed & Elaine, and all the other Riesmeyers:

Turns out that Ed & Elaine had recently sold their old house and scuba business to their daughter Kim & husband, Brian; and have been in their brand new house less than one month. So rather than just sit around and freeload we decided to help out in completing some of the finishing touches. Corrie decided to help with the landscaping and getting grass started; Dan decided to take some of the leftover lumber and build shelves in Ed’s brand new “shed”, & help with the finishing of the “shop” inside the shed. Did we mention the “shed” measures 40 feet by 65 feet, with 16 foot walls; and the “shop” (ie future man cave) measures 20 feet by 40 feet!

After a couple of days of doing nothing much, we began to visit other relatives. We started by visiting Kim & Brian to celebrate the second birthday of their daughter Haily. We also attended a local High School football game to watch Matthew, son of Corrie’s youngest brother, Rob, play as wide receiver. Unfortunately, sister Alie & husband, Janik, were on vacation in Poland.

Ed took Dan to one of the largest potato farms in Canada to watch the harvesting, sorting and storage of this years crop. It was an amazing operation with semis bringing in forty ton loads to be dumped on the huge sorting machine where workers scrambled to sort out the debris and damaged potatoes, before the “good” potatoes were deposited in sheds that can hold over a million pounds! Ed warned Dan not to turn his back on the workers sorting potatoes, because they have been known to chuck a piece of debris (ie dirt clod) at you if you are standing around doing nothing.

Since Ed & Elaine’s new house is just across the street from a Sprucewoods Provincial Forest, we also found time to go quad’ing. Four wheel drive ATVs are called Quads in Canada, and the Provincial Forest has miles and miles of trails that are used by Quad enthusiasts. When Ed and Dan would go, they would look for the forest trails and mud holes. When Elaine & Corrie would go, they would stick to the main trails or ride alongside the roads. The quads are big, mean, green, Kawasaki machines, with unbelievable power and acceleration; Ed warned Dan that if he hit the throttle too hard while standing still, the quad would rotate about its rear wheels and fall over on the driver (not a good thing?)!