Rochester….A great place!

Day 116

LOCATION:  Rochester, Minnesota
CAMPGROUND:  Oxbow Park & Zoo
WEATHER:  Rain in the AM.  Cooler.  High 68

It started raining overnight and rained all morning.  We had a little river flowing down the road.  I think it made the farmers happy.

The campground is starting to fill up.  During the week, we have had the place almost to ourselves.  By this evening, it will be full.  All the reservation signs show people departing on Sunday, and then we will chave peace again.

I went to Rochester.  I went shopping and bought some much-needed shoes – one pair to replace my scruffy hiking shoes and one pair to take on our upcoming Europe trip.  Everything has to be multi-purpose.  The dressier pair will be used to hike during the days (while we are in Europe) and nice enough to wear with black pants to dinner, etc.  I managed to get a pair marked down from $75 to $27.  I always love a bargain!

For lunch, I met three women who used to be my staff at another new restaurant in town.  We had a great conversation.  It was good to get caught up with them. (I forgot to take a photo!!)

Then, I did some grocery shopping in my favorite store – HyVee. 

Back to the campground where George had spent the day watching videos that I don’t like. We put away the purchases and packed up to go to a party.  Our old neighborhood was having a get-together to see us and to celebrate one neighbor’s birthday.  There were a lot of good snacks and beers.  We sat out on a driveway, like we used to do when we lived there. 

We talked a lot about real estate.  When we lived there, we bought our house for $149,000.  Now one is listed for $675K!  Wow! 

Sometimes we think about where we might live once we finish traveling so much.  Rochester seems to check off many of the boxes.  I saw this on the internet (so it must be true!) ranking Rochester one of the best small cities in the USA.

DINNER:  George filled up with snacks at the party – cheese, chips & salsa, tortilla roll-ups, kimchi (made by a South Korean neighbor).  I tried not to nibble much, so had a salad back in Joy. 

Downtown Rochester

Day 115

LOCATION:  Rochester, Minnesota
CAMPGROUND:  Oxbow Park
WEATHER:  Another nice one.  High 78

Before taking off for the day, we took a nice hike on one of the very well-maintained trails here at Oxbow.  It follows the Zumbro River up a cliff. 

Alexis and I met up for beauty shop appointments with my favorite Rochester beautician, who has been cutting my hair for 22 years!  I always feel like I should weigh myself after a hair cut, as my hair is very thick and heavy, and my head always feels so much lighter after a cut!

Alexis went home to nap as she has to work tonight.  George and I went to the Rochester Library to use their wifi.  We had to wire some money to a B&B where we are staying in France in September.  Quite tricky!

Then, we went to Rochester’s weekly Thursday street party – called Thursdays Downtown.  In the summer each Thursday, the City blocks off several streets.  Vendors set up – selling food, drink, jewelery, clothing, etc.  Bands on two streets provide nice background music.  It is a nice party!

Back at the campground, George built a good fire (as we are trying to use up all our firewood before we leave).  We munched on some peanuts and watched the fire.

DINNER:  Portabello sandwiches.  I made a filling with sauteed onion, garlic, and herbs.  George grilled the portabellos on the grill, then I added the filling plus some mozarellla.  I toasted some ciabatta rolls and made a tasty lettuce and heirloom tomato salad. 

BOOK:  “A Wedding in December” by Anita Shreve.  This is about a group of former classmates who get together after about 25 years for a wedding.  There is a story within a story as one of the characters is an author and while she is at this wedding writes a story about the Halifax, Nova Scotia huge harbor explosion and fire.  4 stars out of 5

Busy day in Rochester!

Day 114

LOCATION:  Rochester, Minnesota
CAMPGROUND:  Oxbow Park
WEATHER:  Beautiful.  High 79

I got up early to rush into Rochester for a 7:45 appointment at Mayo Clinic.  Downtown parking is always challenging, and with our huge pick-up truck, it is almost impossible.  (I think it is too high to enter most of the parking ramps.)   So, I parked it in daughter Alexis’s apartment’s driveway.  Misjudging how long it takes to get to town, I had to run to the Mayo Building for the appointment.

Everyone is required to wear a mask on the Mayo campus.  Last year, they required all employees to get vaccinated.  Some people refused and were fired.  Good for Mayo!  Patient safety is #1. 

My appointment ran late, so again I had to run back to the pick-up in order to be on time for a coffee meeting with a former work colleague.  We had a nice conversation, catching up on family and camping adventures.

From there, I dashed to one of the many new Rochester restaurants called the Purple Goat to meet another friend/co-worker for lunch.

Meanwhile, I had lost my car keys.  I used George’s to drive into town.  Instead of a key, our pick-up uses a fob.  The computer came on saying that the remote (fob) was in the truck.  Once I got back to the campground, we tore the truck apart and finally found them.  Whew!

After a little rest at the campground, we went back to town.  George dropped me off at a nice bar/restaurant (100 beers on draft!) where I met yet another friend.  We enjoyed drinks on their patio and chatted up a storm.  Suddenly it was time for George to pick me up!

We (George, Alexis, and I) went to Prescott’s Restaurant, another one of our favorites in town.  It is farm-to-table and they grow most of their own vegetables and herbs.  Alexis had their butternut squash gnocchi with roasted beets while George and I shared a Greek salad, then their special Egyptian kabobs in a  turmeric//curry sauce.  Side was perfectly steamed broccoli.  Of course, we paired this with one of their good bottles of wine.  Heaven!

Rochester does it right….

Day 113

LOCATION:  Rochester, Minnesota
CAMPGROUND:  Oxbow Park
WEATHER:  Beautiful.  High 76

Rochester does so many things right…..This morning, I watched a van full of special needs people arrive, eager to clean the bathrooms and showers.  Their caretaker was very good with them.  The county must have a contract with this company.  It is a win-win!

Then, in to town for dentist appointments.  Our daughter doesn’t have a car, so she is making appointments to coincide with mine, so she can get a ride.  After a clean bill of health, we went to one of our favorite restaurants – Twiggs – for lunch.  Twiggs is inside one of the many hotels in town that cater to Mayo Clinic patients.  This restaurant has a special kitchen and menu that is gluten-free.  The flowers in front of the hotel are beautiful.

Speaking of Mayo Clinic patients, this article was on today’s news.  Although no one will say they were Mayo patients, the probability is high.

Rochester is experimenting with a self-drive bus that takes people (mostly Mayo patients) around town. Great idea!

Then, a shopping spree.  First was Savers, a very nice thrift store, where both Alexis and I scored some good deals.  Then to Aldi’s so Alexis could stock her larder.  Ching Ching.  Last stop was an Asian grocery store where she bought a lot of food to last her a while – like a 25 pound bag of rice!  More ching, ching! 

After an afternoon of shopping, we recuperated at another of our favorite restaurants – The Redwood Room.

This place brings back a lot of fond memories from when we lived here.  Sometimes on a Friday night after work, George and I would meet here (located downtown just a few blocks from our jobs at Mayo Clinic)  for happy hour.  The restaurant is very cozy, located one level below ground.  In the winter especially, it is very welcoming and warm.  With our drinks, they gave us slices of French baguette with olive oil dipping sauce and Parmesan cheese.  Afterwards, we would walk about a block and catch the bus home.  One time, we were the only passengers and the bus driver was playing some nice classical music.  It felt like we were in a stretch limo!

We dropped Alexis back at her apartment and came back to the campground.  George got a good fire going and cooked a package of bacon for future meals. 

DINNER:   Breakfast for George – pancakes, bacon, and an egg.  I had a big chef’s salad with a variety of lettuces that I had bought at the  farmers’ market a few days ago. 

Nine years on the road!

Day 111

LOCATION:  Nelson, Wisconsin.  On the Mississippi River across from Wabasha, MN
CAMPGROUND:  Nelson’s Landing RV Park.  Long gravel sites with picnic table and fire pit.  Beautiful bathrooms/shower.  Good wifi.  No TV reception.  $52/night – too expensive.  4 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Mostly overcast and light rain.  High 70
DISTANCE DRIVEN:  1.5 hour

NOTE TO ROCHESTER-AREA READERS:  We are hosting a Reids-on-the-Road  campfire drop-in at Oxbow Park on Saturday, August 13 from 4:00 – 7:00.  We are in site # 7.  Bring a drink and a chair.  Hope to see you!

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We were happy to get back to our Sunday ritual of eating George’s grits and eggs while watching CBS Sunday morning.  (We haven’t been able to get CBS for about 6 Sundays!)  After a quiet Sunday morning in the Minneapolis RV park, we headed out.  Since we were in the southern part of the metro area, we didn’t have any traffic to deal with.

We stopped along the Mississippi at a park for a picnic lunch.  Very nice.  We crossed over to Wisconsin and followed the very scenic Great River Road. 

On to Nelson.  We have been to this RV park before, and really like its location.  We were surprised to find it almost empty!  Once we got set up, we walked about a block to the Nelson Creamery.  It is VERY popular in the summer due to  its ice cream.  We passed through the busy retail shop where they sell lots of interesting cheese and meats to the quiet backroom bistro.  We enjoyed a glass of wine listening to some quiet jazz in the background.  When we lived in Minnesota, we often came here, especially in the winter, to listen to live music in front of their roaring fireplace, sip on wine, and graze on a charcuterie platter.   Great memories!

Then, back across the Mississippi to Wabasha where a former co-worker and his wife now live.  They bought a fixer-upper and have made it into a house that could be featured in House Beautiful magazine.

We celebrated our 9th anniversary of being on the road with a champagne toast with them.  Nine years ago, George picked me up in front of my office with our Honda Pilot and tiny A-Liner camper.  Then off we went! 

Some former neighbors from Rochester that are mutual friends came, too.  It was a lovely evening, sitting on their patio overlooking the Mississippi, eating and talking.

After dinner, we took their boat out for a ride on the river.  Delightful! 

DINNER:  We started with my friend’s baked puff pastry dish with asparagus and cheese.  I must get this recipe!  The main course was an assortment of brats  – pineapple, IPA, brown sugar bacon, and Philly cheese- plus a tuna salad, slaw, and cucumber salad.  All really good. 

Minneapolis fun on a rainy day

Day 110

LOCATION:  Minneapolis, Minnesota
CAMPGROUND:  Lebanon Hills Campground
WEATHER:  Rain most of the day.  High 78

NOTE TO ROCHESTER-AREA READERS:  We are hosting a Reids-on-the-Road  campfire drop-in at Oxbow Park on Saturday, August 13 from 4:00 – 7:00.  We are in site # 7.  Bring a drink and a chair.  Hope to see you!

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We checked out the nearby Apple Valley Farmers’ Market right when they opened at 8:00 AM.  They had tons of beautiful vegetables, especially zucchini and sweet corn.  Unfortunately, I won’t be doing a lot of cooking in the next few days, so only bought some lettuce, sweet corn, red onions, and heirloom tomatoes. 

Just as we got in our car to leave the market, the skies opened up..  It rained most of the morning.  My friend Nancy contacted me to see if we could figure out some indoor activities.  They included a brewery of course!

George thought he should have received a bald-headed discount! 

We ate one of their wood-fired pizzas from the school bus food truck.

With full tummies, we visited the Minneapolis Institute of Art.  It is huge!

We enjoyed the Van Gogh special exhibit….

Back at the campground, prepared for another set of friends to visit. Dan and Joan, who had visited us in Michigan, joined us for dinner.  They brought some take-out from a  Mediterranean restaurant.

DINNER:  Hummus and chips, salad, and gyros.  Great dinner and wonderful conversation!


Let’s get together!

We will be in Rochester, MN next week. We will be camping at Oxbow Park in Byron.

I am hosting a get-together for Rochester-area blog followers.

If you are free and would like to meet, please join us for a campfire and drinks.

Details – Saturday, August 13

Drop-in anytime between 4:00 – 7:00

We will have some craft beer and snacks. Bring other drinks if you prefer something else.

Bring your own chair, too

Hope to see “Reids On the Road with Joy” followers!

Fun evening with my brother!

Day 109

LOCATION:  Minneapolis, Minnesosta
CAMPGROUND:  Lebanon Hills Campground, a Dakota County park.  Great location if you need to be in/near Minneapolis.  Nice, paved sites.  Ours is full hook-up.  Fire pit and picnic table.  Nice showers/bathrooms.  Laundry.  $46/night.  4 stars out of 5.
WEATHER:  Hot!  High 92. 
DISTANCE DRIVEN:  4 hours

We had a leisurely breakfast out on the back deck of our friends’ lake home near Battle Lake, MN.  Then, we headed south and east toward the Twin Cities.  We did part of the drive on Interstate 94, which wasn’t bad for an interstate.   We took some slower secondary roads (including an unplanned gravel stretch) taking us through small towns and LOTS of corn fields.  As we got closer to Minneapolis, I insisted that we get some gas.  The price was higher than George liked, so we only got $10 worth.  Thank goodness we did get gas, as we got lost finding the campground, going first to Lebanon Hills Park which is about 10 miles from the campground.  We certainly would have run out. 

We got set up in the campground.  It was beastly hot, so we put up the awnings, turned on the second refrigerator fan, closed up the blinds, turned up the A/C, and headed out to my brother’s house. 

Again, the gas gauge was low.  I was visualizing us running out of gas on one of the crazy busy (rush hour) freeways.  We limped to his house.

It was great seeing my brother and his wife.  Fifty years ago (how could that be???), he and I, along with one of his friends, traveled the summer around Europe.  Our budget was $1 per day plus the Eurail Pass.  A few months ago, we started sharing memories of this trip, and so my brother compiled a book of our collective memories of that trip.  This evening, I picked up the book.  So cool!

We ate a ton of delicious sushi.  Since it was so hot, it really hit the spot.  After several hours of conversation, we headed back to our campground.  Such a pleasant get-together!


DINNER:  The sushi was supposed to be just an appetizer, but we ate so much that we didn’t need anything more. 

BOOK:  “Dance of the Bones” by J.A. Jance.  This is part of the J.P. Beaumont series, a detective in Seattle that solves crimes.  4 stars out of 5

Mooch-camping with friends!

Day 108

LOCATION:  Near Battle Lake, Minnesota – in Northwest part of state
CAMPGROUND:  In the driveway of some friends on Ethel Lake.  Nice shady spot.  Beautiful setting!  5 stars out of 5!
WEATHER:  Sunny and nice   High 78
DISTANCE DRIVEN:  1.5 hours

We took a hike in the Gull Lake Recreation Area, where we camped last night.  We found a trail that meanders through the forest with views of the lake, one of the lakes that is the headwaters of the Mississippi River.   George spotted some bear scat, so we were a little wary that we would encounter one around a corner.  (We didn’t.)  We munched on wild raspberries as we hiked.  Quite nice!

This has to be the tidiest campground we have been to.  There are 3 volunteer camper couples for 40 sites.  We watched them meticulously picking up every bit of “mini-garbage” from vacated sites, scrub down the picnic tables, clean the fire pits, then rake the gravel until the sites looked like a Japanese Zen garden! 

We checked out of our site, and hung out in the Day Use area for a picnic lunch.

Then, on to today’s destination.  The landscape has changed – a lot of corn, soybeans, and cattle.  We passed a buggy full of Amish teenage girls who waved frantically at us as we passed by.  So heart-warming!

We arrived at our friends’ house and got situated in their driveway.  They have a home right on the lake.  We sat on their back porch admiring the lake views. 

Then, we drove over to the Sip House, a cidery.  It is right across the lake.  Our friends told us that they WALK there in the winter –  across the frozen lake with their snow shoes!

The ciders were quite tasty and it is a lovely venue.

On to dinner….We went to a restaurant in a golf course/conference center.  When we entered the driveway, I realized I had been here before!  When I was working, our professional association had fall conferences at difference resorts in northern Minnesota.  This one – Thumper Pond – was one of them.  We ate  on the patio overlooking one of the golf course greens listening to some music.  Lovely!

DINNER:  George and I shared a delicious  tuna melt sandwich. 

After dinner, we took a boat ride on their pontoon and said hello to the resident loons there.

As the sun set, we sat on the patio, enjoying the views and conversation.  Wonderful evening.

Minnesota….Land of 10,000 Lakes

Day 107

LOCATION:  Gull Lake, Minnesota, near Brainerd – in North Central part of state
CAMPGROUND:  Gull Lake Army Corps of Engineers.  Like most ACOE parks, it is very well-done.  Very long, gravel, and level sites.  Electricity.  Lots of trees and bushes separating sites.  Small – 40 sites.  Good bathrooms.  No lake views from campground.  $14/night with senior pass.  5 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Very nice.  High 74
DISTANCE DRIVEN:  3 hours

We hung out at the marina RV park in Duluth in the AM.  I took a “power walk” a few miles in the neighborhood, admiring the beautiful lakefront homes and residents’ lovely gardens.

On our way out of town, we stopped at Ursa Minor brewery.  Nice vibes.  They have a very large outdoor seating area.

They grow basil, kale, and other plants for their wood-fired pizzas.  These huge, long planters line the street.

We had small beers and a jalapeno bacon panini.  Wow!   There were about 8 IPAs from which to choose. 

Our drive was due west through the lake region of Minnesota.  So pretty.  We got set up at our site.  We went from very urban camping (Duluth) to woodsy here. 

DINNER:  Starter was a caprese salad, using a few basil sprigs that George had purloined from the brewpub.  Main course was shrimp & grits.  George, the expert grits-maker, made the grits, and grilled the shrimp on the campfire.  I did the assembly…..I added cheddar and cream cheese to the grits.  I sauted a bunch of onion and garlic, and added the cooked shrimp.  Then, I just mixed everything together.  Great!