June 2017

June 1-3, 2017:

See May Blog – these were days of recovery.

We did have one problem ~ our refrigerator/freezer decided to go kaput.  Fortunately we had a neighbor in the RV park, Ross, who was actually an RN at the hospital where Tamara had been on the Surgery floor for 5 days.   Ross had been the RN several times for the lady in the hospital bed next to Tamara’s.  Ross was kind enough to help us by taking the food off our hands as we had to empty our refrigerator/freezer. Brian turned the refrigerator/freezer off and on and it is now working, but not trusted. It is now on the casualty list for repairs.

June 4, 2017:

It’s time to get back on the road, our first stop was Rugby, ND to see the Prairie Village Museum we tried to see a week ago.     So glad we are both healthy – the Prairie Museum was amazing.  This museum tells a great story of the local community.   Multiple original buildings, great dioramas, lots of cool antiques, we spent over an hour wandering the museum buildings.


This drive from Minot to Rugby took about 90 minutes – definitely needed to get out and do a little walking as Tamara worked on getting back into the routine of driving/traveling again.

Next stop Bismarck, ND the state capitol.


Dinner this evening was at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store – our first opportunity to stop here on this trip.   Food was excellent and it was time to check into our campsite – Bismarck KOA Kampground.   We’re here for 2 nights.

June 5, 2017:

First stop today is the State Capitol – got some great shots and on the grounds of the capitol we visited the North Dakota Heritage Center.    On our way into the Heritage Center we ran into a reporter doing a piece on the value of tourism in North Dakota.  She asked to interview us – which we said yes too.  It was a fun side note.

We spent over an hour wandering through the Heritage Center.   Lots of information about the state as a whole, how it was home to the Indians, then a Territory and how it became a state along with its sister South Dakota.   Very well set up.

We then visited the Bismarck Temple ~ Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  More walking for Tamara as she walked around the temple taking photos.


Next stop was Keelboat Park – the city of Bismarck has set up a scale replica of the Lewis & Clark Keelboat.  Interesting looking boat that was used from St Louis up the Missouri River by the Lewis & Clark exploration party.


Next stop the original site of the beginnings of Bismarck – Camp Hancock.  There are 3 buildings and a train engine – unfortunately the museum office was closed, so we were able to wander the grounds and view the exteriors of the buildings.

Finally time for lunch – we found an Irish Pub the Blarney Stone.   Tamara is not quite ready for spicy food and lunch was a little too spicy.

Now it’s time for Pirates of the Caribbean – Dean Men Tell No Tales.   Fun movie – perfect setup for Johnny Depp, and if the hype is to be believed the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

June 6, 2017:

Up and at’em this morning – heading out of Bismarck, places to see, and we need to get to Rapid City, SD in next few days.  We have an appointment on June 14th to get warranty/repair work done on the Minnie Winnie.

First stop today is Fort Abraham Lincoln State Historic Park.   We’ve had a lot of stops in last few weeks where we backtracked George Custer’s career.    At Fort Abraham Lincoln he was the man in charge – the 7th Calvary was quartered here, and when it was time to head out for Little/Big Horn this was where they left from.  The home of Mr and Mrs Custer is beautifully apportioned, lovely furnishings and large airy rooms.


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Just down the road is Fort McKeen, the original infantry fort site – it was more a lookout than a fort.    Also just down the road is the On-a-Slant Mandan Village.   We took the tour with the ranger, and the opportunity to hear the story direct is always a plus.   This ranger has been doing this tour for 13 years.


Time to head out for our next stop – Lewis & Clark Winter Fort aka Fort Mandan.   In 1804 on their way up the Missouri River, the Lewis & Clark party needed a resting spot during the winter storms.  They actually built a small fort to use for the winter.   There were approx. 25-30 people part of this exploratory group including a contingent of soldiers.


Time to head out for Carrington, ND.  We had dinner in the local joint and in speaking with the waitress she thought there was a place in town we could overnite in our RV.  It was down the road, near the park.   So off we went at 7:30 pm to see if we could find a camping spot.    So COOL – the local Lyons Club had set up approx. 10 spaces with water & electric for people to pay on your honor.  It was $20 and we were one of two staying in the park this evening.

June 7, 2017:

We woke up in Carrington, ND, a quick breakfast and off we go.  We need to be in Cooperstown, ND by 10 am for the first tour of the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site.   During the Cold War missile silos were built throughout the plains of the United States.   Multiple silos were controlled by one Minuteman Missile site.  Though now decommissioned, we were able to tour the site both topside and 50’ below.


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Now we’re off to Jamestown, ND.    First stop is National Buffalo Museum and the Frontier Village.  The National Buffalo Museum is all about saving the Buffalo.  At one point there were over 30 million buffalo roaming the plains, before 1900 the buffalo population was reduced to less than 1,000.  Now the population of the buffalo is on the rise at almost 300,000.

Frontier Village is made up of old buildings relocated to a central area and set up as a town street.  Some have operating businesses in them, others set up as a museum.  It was very touristy.

Now time for lunch – we headed out to see what we could find and found The Depot Café, Jamestown, ND.  Lunch was really good, Brian tried a German specialty and Tamara had the vegetable beef soup.

Now time for the Stutsman County Memorial Museum in Jamestown, ND.  The locals have come together to make a new museum – or place to store their families treasures (junk).   Everyone has a story – though things clutter our homes, this is a great way to share our clutter with others.

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Now off to Aberdeen, SD.

June 8, 2017:

We woke up in Aberdeen, SD today – our first full day in South Dakota since we were here in January.  Our RV site is located near a local attraction – Storybook Land – they count themselves as the home of the Wizard of Oz since L. Frank Baum used to live in Aberdeen, SD.  Wylie Park RV Park.

Big day today – went to the local Motor Vehicle office and Tamara finally became an official South Dakota resident.   Her driver’s license has been issued and her California license confiscated.

Now off to the Dacotah Prairie Museum located in Aberdeen, SD.   2 stories of interesting information about the local community, and the state development.   We stop at a lot of museums – some are free, some have a minimal expense, others more.   By stopping at the little, the medium and larger museums it is amazing the things you can learn – not only about the local community but about what was going on in the rest of the country and sometimes the world.   It helps to put the various pieces together about how East moved West, and how the local community interacts with the Nation/World at large.

Heading for Mobridge, SD – decided to try Mexican food  in South Dakota so we stopped at a local restaurant La Cabana in Mobridge, SD.   It was pretty good – we’ve definitely had much worse in California.

We visited a local museum – Klein Museum in Mobridge, SD.   This local museum had 3 older properties physically relocated to this property:  house, church & school.   This museum consisted of 6 buildings, the main building was mostly filled with locally donated items, wherein they recreated various scenarios including: doctor’s office, dentist, front parlor, beauty salon, trading fort, local grocer, and many more.   They had a building wherein they had created a tool shed and a separate blacksmith shop from turn of the century.    Tamara really enjoyed this setup – Brian just loves how people’s “old junk” finds new life in museum exhibits.

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Just outside of town is a monument to Sakakewa (aka: Sacajawea) – the only woman to be part of the Lewis & Clark expedition of 1804-1806.   There is also a monument to Sitting Bull – it is disputed whether he is buried in this location or not.  Sitting Bull was originally buried at Fort Yates – his grand nephew petitioned the Bureau of Indian Affairs to relocate Sitting Bull to a site more suitable for his Uncle’s final resting spot.   After receiving approval to relocate him, his grand-nephew came in with a backhoe in the middle of the night dug up the body and relocated it – to this site near Mobridge, SD.   The authorities in Fort Yates say the human body was not taken, a horse buried with Sitting Bull was what was taken.   Who knows.

Next stop Pierre, SD.  Had dinner at Perkins Restaurant in Fort Pierre, SD.

June 9, 2017

Woke up in Fort Pierre, SD today – across the Missouri River from Pierre, SD the State Capitol for South Dakota.    In looking for a place to stay we found a little park right on the river with water/electric hookups for $15.  Fischers Lilly Park.  Sewer was available at the entrance so if you wanted to dump you could.

After breakfast and breaking down our RV we headed into Pierre, SD.    We made it to the Capitol grounds to get a few photos before heading out to the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center.   The Heritage Center was set up very well showing the growth of South Dakota as a state.  In speaking with the docent he explained that the collection on the viewing floor was only approx. 10% of available items – 90% are held in storage, mostly because the donors do not wish their items viewed, just stored by the state.  People actually come to the Center to view their items and make sure they are not being shown.   Kind of strange in our opinion, but a great free storage option for family heirlooms.

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Time to get on the road – we’re heading towards Rapid City to spend a week viewing all kinds of different things in the Rapid City area.   Our next stop is the Badlands of South Dakota.

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Time change in effect – we crossed from Central Time back to Mountain Time – gained an hour, yeah.

This afternoon we received the bittersweet news that our home in California has closed escrow.  The buyers were very excited to get their keys, and we are officially without a residential house payment.

The Badlands is a National Park – fee to get in is $20/vehicle – with our National Park pass we saved the $20 and quickly got through the front gate and into the park.    What an amazing place – Nature has made many beautiful things in this world.  We did some climbing, and walking among the rocks.   We hope you enjoy our photos.

We did the drive through the park, then it was off to Wall, SD.      In January we had to come to Sioux Falls, SD to establish our residency and for Brian to get his driver’s license.    We had taken a drive along the US-90 from the East part of the state to the West part, just a 90 minute drive, but we saw several signs about stopping in Wall, SD.     As we entered back into SD we’ve seen MANY more signs about stopping in Wall, SD.   So thanks to great advertising – we took the turnoff into a town of 800 people to go to a tourist trap – Hustead’s Wall Drugs.    Mr and Mrs Hustead in 1931 purchased the existing Wall Drugs in Wall, SD using some inheritance money.   Their families thought they were crazy moving to such a desolate spot.    They gave themselves 5 years to be successful….1936 rolled around, and Mr Hustead was starting to think it was time to give up on this dream when his wife had a dream/epiphany/answer from God.   She told her husband they needed to tap into all that traffic on the highway passing their town by on their way to and from Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, Devils Tower, etc.   Here were all these potential customers – she wrote an ad that would entice all these people on the highway to get off and come and get a free glass of ice water, 5 cent coffee, take a break from the drive.   Well Mr. Hustead listened to his wife, but feeling foolish he took a young man from town the following weekend and put out signs along the highway.    As he returned to the store, the line was out the door, and as people came for their free ice water, they would buy snacks, ice cream cones, medications, etc. and their dream was realized.  This business has grown immeasurably since 1936, and the family is still actively involved in the running of Wall Drugs and the business now being done.    During a typical summer day they can have 20,000 tourists at this business – remember the town is only 800 people.   How amazing!!

From Wall, SD we headed into Rapid City, SD.   We are here for a week – with LOTS to see, so we picked up a rental car in order to get around to the various sites we’re looking forward to seeing.   Since Tamara’s surgery almost 2 weeks ago she has been letting Brian do all the driving – but with an RV & a rental car, Tamara is back behind the wheel.    She is feeling much better and hasn’t had to have any pain pills in over 36 hours.  After getting the RV setup, we set off to do some quick grocery shopping in order to prepare for the next week.

June 10, 2017:

The list of places and things to do is mighty long for Rapid City, SD.   Our first trip is to Devils Tower.   With the rental car, travel was quick – it was an approx. 90 minute drive from Rapid City, SD to Devils Tower, WY.

Happy Days – it’s a National Park – park fee is $15/vehicle BUT with our National Parks Pass – FREE.  This pass has officially paid for itself.   As just an FYI – Devils Tower is the FIRST National Park.   In an underhanded/sneaky way in the late 1800’s early 1900’s the government ACTIVELY denied settlement rights to anyone who’s property would have included the Devils Tower – the local residents and state government got together and actively labeled congress to declare this a preserve, state park, something that would protect it.  The Federal government opted to turn it into initially a Federal Preserve which allowed it to be turned into a National Park in 1906.

Next stop was Sturgis, SD.   I’ve seen Sturgis on several TV shows – which includes Pawn Stars.  A small town that has found its niche as the gathering place for motorcyclists – they have taken to heart the idea of providing everything a motorcyclist could want or need.     While Brian visited the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame, Tamara took a walk along the main tourist shopping center.

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Brian found the museum good – he’s seen better and he’s seen worst.     Tamara did a little shopping, she finally found a mug she would like.

Just down the road from Sturgis is a little township known as Buffalo Chip – it’s current claim to fame is that it is the main staging area for the Sturgis Motorcycle event.


Fort Meade was the next stop – turns out that this Fort was founded in 1878 – but it is actually still being used.  The South Dakota National Guard uses the fort for gathering and training.  There is an active VA Hospital also located at the Fort.   Brian did the fort tour and found great information about the local customs – including the fact that at one point in time the military banned its members from going to Deadwood as the town was too bawdy, and the people in town were taking advantage of the military members.


Back to Rapid City we go – time for some dinner – decided to try Golden Corral – the food was very good, and we had an enjoyable evening.

June 11, 2017:

Sunday – rest day?   Maybe – got up and had a nice breakfast before heading out to 11 am church.  We enjoyed the cute little church down the road.   We’ve been in many different LDS Chapels throughout our lives, but this was an unusual chapel shape – almost an octagon.   Church was out at 12:15 pm.  Back to the RV to change – we have things to do.

Tamara went to the movies to see Wonder Woman and Brian had lunch with a friend Rich Rivera – Brian and Rich used to play Magic the Gathering in Lancaster, CA when Rich was much younger, Brian too.   Rich moved to Rapid City with family several years ago.   He shared that jobs are so plentiful, that part time employers expect you have a 2nd job, and will work your weekly work schedule around your 2nd and or 3rd jobs.

After the movie and lunch it was back to the RV to do laundry, and some housekeeping.   We actually had a very pleasant afternoon getting things done, and just sharing time together.

June 12, 2017:

Monday morning – today is an opportunity to visit an American must see – Mt. Rushmore.   The drive from our RV Park to Mt. Rushmore took about 30 minutes – it was a beautiful drive through hills, trees and wildlife.   Walked into the flag walkway where there is a flag for every state and province of the Union.

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Then the VIEW – the Amazing View of Mt. Rushmore.   It was an emotional viewing ~ for many years we’ve heard about the great Mt Rushmore, little did we know that great was an understatement.   Tamara found herself crying as she just sat and took in the view.    After enjoying the view for a time we took the time to go through and take in the museum.   The story behind the view is a true American success story complete with highs and lows, financial deficit and sufficient funds to close the deal.     Though the complete project was not done – the important visual impact is there for all to see.

After viewing the mountain we went into the town of Keystone, SD and attended the Borglund Museum – Borglund was the sculptor who designed & implemented Mt Rushmore.   Though he did not live to see the final final product, his son knew his vision and finished the finalizing details in 1942 but the balance of the unfinished unseen work still lies undone.   There was to be a vault and viewing area closer to the mountain.  He did some great sculptures – and some we just could not relate too.

We did some shopping locally – Brian has been waiting to visit the local leather store to buy a new wallet.   He found what he was looking for.  We got a reference to a local restaurant for lunch.  We went to Powder House Lodge and Restaurant – we had buffalo burger and the buffalo, elk & deer kabobs.

We attended the Keystone Museum – the museum is located in the old school house.  It opened in 1901 and closed in 1988 – it only closed because there were only 8 students.  One of their local legends was Carrie Ingalls – Laura Ingall’s younger sister.   The museum is free – and though a bit sparse, it was definitely a nice little stop.

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Time to head back towards Rapid City – the road back has a lot of little places to stop – history, fun, food, etc.   One of these stops was the Founding Father’s exhibit.  There is a famous painting by John Turnbull entitled Signing of the Declaration of Independence.    This exhibit takes that painting and turns it into a 3D/lifesize exhibit with an audio overview of the Declaration of Independence.

June 13, 2017:

We’re up and at’em early today.  We want to get to the nature loop and Custer Park early to see as many animals as possible.    We headed out in our rental car towards Custer Park to view the animals in their natural habitats.  We saw buffalo, buffalo and more buffalo.   It was a beautiful drive through a Federal Park.

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Next stop was a drive through Needles Highway.  From pasture and open spaces to soaring mountains and jagged rocky peaks in a little over an hour.  We saw some great animals in their natural habitat and much more of God’s beauty in the landscape.


Then it was off to Hill City to the Railroad Museum where we were slightly disappointed in the museum but the train ride on the 1880 Train from Hill City to Keystone was awesome.  We saw some great natural scenery, some manmade scenery as well as several local wildlife.   The 1880’s train was as authentic as they could make it, open windows, and an opportunity to just enjoy life.

While in Hill City we also went to visit the Everything Prehistoric Museum at Black Hills Institute.   A local gymnasium that was converted and filled to the gills with dinosaur bones – some original/real and others casts that had been made of original bones.  But – almost ALL were of dinosaurs found in South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska and other states.   They are also the original founder of Sue the T-Rex the basis for the documentary Dinosaur 13.  A local man who lived on leased land from the US Dept of Forestry found a dinosaur bone – he made arrangements with the Black Hills Institute to purchase and dig out the rest of the fossil for $5,000.      Shortly after Sue was unburied and brought to the Institute the Federal Government came in and confiscated Sue – claiming that the man who sold Sue had no right to sell something from land he did not own, remember he was leasing the land.

After years of disputes and lawsuits – the man received Sue back and sold her for over a $1m to a museum in Chicago – who made a cast of Sue and gave that to the Black Hills Institute for their museum.  That is the short story – I need to get a better internet access and watch the Documentary Dinosaur 13 on Netflix.

One more stop before we head back to Rapid City – the monument Crazy Horse.    We had some large expectations after seeing Mt. Rushmore yesterday – but unfortunately this monument fell short.   Their philosophy is that this project will be done with private funds – not government so the work will only progress as there are funds to complete the project.    The face is complete, but the hand, the horse, still need to be completed.   We were disappointed to say the least and feel that this monument may not be completed in our children’s lifetimes, let alone our grandchildren.

Time to head back to Rapid City – time for some dinner.  We stopped in Rockerville, SD at the Gaslight Restaurant & Saloon.   Food is really good – nice people running the place as well.

June 14, 2017:

First thing today we dropped off the motorhome at Dakota RV.  We had some warranty work that needs to be done, as well as a few repairs.

This morning is a ME morning for both of us.     Tamara went to the mall and got her nails done as well as a pedicure.   Did some walking around the mall and had lunch at Fuddrucker’s.

Brian had two museums to attend:

South Dakota Air & Space Museum – located right next to Ellsworth AFB makes it kind of cool to look at the displays outside while active duty jets are taking off and landing.  They have approx. 20 aircraft outside as static displays including a B1B Bomber, B29, B52 and many early jet fighters and some civilian/military small prop jobs.  Inside is mostly devoted too displays dedicated to different time periods from WWII to Desert Storm.  Watched an interesting video of an interview of a WASP pilot that was approx. 30 min long, a forgotten part of history.

Motion Unlimited is as much a car lot as car museum.  They have numerous project cars for sale and also many completed.  They have 3 separate buildings of muscle cars as well as 1930’s cars.  Amongst the buildings is a huge collection of other personal treasures.   They have so many toy cars, oil cans, spark plugs, esp pedal cars, some even for sale.  They are also always ready to purchase pedal cars.  It is located outside of town, so they don’t get much attendance.  Thanks Mike Macino for the recommendation.

Back together again, the RV is ready and they gave us a referral for where to get our oil change done – unfortunately they are unable to get us in until Friday morning, which we will do.

After we got the RV back to the park and set up, we headed for a dinosaur walking tour – in 1936 this park was built as a tourist park – there are 7 dinosaur statues that is a nice walking tour.

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Last stop was the Black Hills Gold Store – we were hoping to attend the tour but it was too late.  We did some pick up some fun jewelry for Tamara – new earrings and a necklace.

June 15, 2017:

Deadwood, SD is our stop today.   We arrived and went straight to the Adams Museum & House.    Mr. Adams purpose built this museum to share the heritage of Deadwood as well as South Dakota.  Three stories sharing history from beginning to current times.


We then walked around Deadwood and saw a fun little melodrama on the street telling the story of a resident who was shot in the forehead and lived to tell the tale for a few months.  There are all kinds of crazy stories of the old west.

We had lunch at the Nugget Saloon – Brian had the Ultimate Burger and Tamara had fish and chips.    Did some more wandering on the way back to the car and did a little gambling – Brian finished ahead and Tamara finished behind.  But we had fun.

We then headed to the local cemetery – Mt Moriah.   Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok’s graves are here.   There was a cost of $2 to walk through the cemetery.

Next stop was a trip up the mountain to view a large tower built on a mountain as a memorial to Teddy Roosevelt.   Originally this tower was visible from Mt Moriah Cemetery, but now the trees are grown too high and obstruct the view.

June 16, 2017:

This morning we have an 8 a.m. appointment to have our oil changed – so we dropped off the car at the airport car rental, then headed out to drop off the RV with the service provider.   About a ¼ mile down the road was a Perkins restaurant where we walked down to have breakfast.

After the oil change we headed out – East.   Time to move on.   Our first stop was the 1880 Original Western Town in Midland, SD.    Lots of old buildings – many in disrepair.   We walked around town, and enjoyed the buildings and furnishings available to see.


Next stop was Pioneer Auto Show – 42 buildings filled with lots of stuff, and a lot of it related to cars.   American Pickers has visited here twice to pick, and they recently sold one of their Antique Archaeology vans to Pioneer Auto Show Museum.   It was a great museum – we could have spent a lot more time here.

We stayed in Oacoma, SD – just outside of Chamberlain, SD.  We stayed in a park – where when we checked in we were dry camping and they said – go over to this section and wherever there is a space – take it.

June 17, 2017:

It rained all night – we packed it up and headed out for the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center/Missouri River Overlook.  A very nice rest area with a little history about Lewis & Clark and their journey along the Missouri.

We had intended to take some time to experience the Ingalls Homestead in De Smet, SD – this particular museum would be a great place for kids to get out and experience working on the ranch and experiencing life on the prairie.   We opted not to stay and got lunch in town.

Headed back out towards Fargo, ND.  With not spending time in De Smet we felt it would be an easy drive to Fargo, ND, so off we went.   Amazing drive, lots of fields and quiet roads taking us NE into ND.

June 18, 2017:


After boondocking last nite at Walmart, we woke up in Fargo, ND.   Brian has been asking about crepes for a while – so off we went to IHOP for breakfast.  It was a busy morning for Father’s Day but breakfast was good and we were off to our first stop for the day.

Brian has been looking forward to visiting the Air Museum in Fargo, ND.     It’s a small museum, about a dozen airplanes including a DC-3, P-51D, B-25 and their jewel GlobalHawk.  They also have the most correct Wright Flyer according to the Smithsonian.  Most of their aircraft are airworthy, overall not bad.

Time for Bonanzaville – a North Dakota village.   We spent almost 2 hours visiting – walking – enjoying the exhibits – really we needed at least another hour to really appreciate everything.  Buildings included:  creamery, store, saloon, several old 1 room or 2 room houses, a church, several barns full of tractors, cars, planes, a police station as well as a courthouse.  There was much more …. And it was a very enjoyable afternoon.

Went to Kroll’s Diner for lunch – excellent lunch.

Last stop in Fargo was the Walk of Fame at the Visitor’s Center.   A local businessman in the late 1980’s early 1990’s wanted to draw business to downtown, he began his own walk of fame – when local celebrities and national celebrities came to town, he’d capture their signatures, hands and sometimes their foot/shoe prints in cement.   Included here were Debbie Reynolds, Richard Simmons, Bill Gates, Patsy Cline and so many more.  Bands, Singers, Actors and more are represented here.


Now it’s time for Minnesota – off through the back roads, a trip to Bemidji, MN where we stayed at the KOA.

June 19, 2017:

From Bemidji it’s time to head towards Duluth, MN.  On the way is a beautiful drive through forests, across rivers and a stop at the Mississippi River.

In Bemidji as we headed out of town we stopped at the Paul Bunyon & his big blue ox Babe statues erected in the 1930’s.   They are located at a visitor center, a playground/park and on the Mississippi River.    It won’t be the last time we see the Mississippi, but on this trip – it is our first time.   A portion of the river has been dammed here creating Lake Bemidji.   On our trip we are collecting rocks from various states for our granddaughters Rylee and Elizabeth.  Brian picked up rocks from the Mississippi River for the girls.

Heading out for Duluth, MN – our next stop.

Our first stop in Duluth is the Maritime Museum located on Lake Superior.    WOW WOW WOW – the lake is HUGE.   You hear about the Great Lakes – but once you see it, it makes more sense.

The Maritime Museum relates the history / development of Duluth, MN as a major shipping port on Lake Superior.  It shared the story of ships lost on Lake Superior as well as the development and improvement of Superior Bay.   The museum is located in an area known as Canal Park – an area that used to be a large commercial area, that the city has rebuilt, updated, upgraded and made an area where you can come and have a nice meal, walk in safety around the Lake, lots of hotels and more.  A great tourist area.

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Our RV site is located at Lakehead Boat Dock – during the summer the boat yard turns a portion of their parking into RV sites.   They have electric & water, some sites have sewer.   It doesn’t get better than this – parked with a view of the bay, watching ships and come and go, and walking distance to great restaurants.

Tamara is feeling much better – the last surgery was officially 3 weeks ago.   She’s walking a lot, still doesn’t like stairs or steep climbs – but she didn’t like those before surgery – so doing well.  A minor procedure will need to be done in the next 6-12 weeks to take out the stent left in to deal with the bile duct drainage.

We walked across the bridge this evening and went to Grandma’s Restaurant for dinner.   Time for some fish – Brian had the cod fish & chips, and Tamara had the trout.  Dinner was excellent, and the walk back to the RV was very relaxing.

June 20, 2017:


A full day in Duluth, MN is in store for us today.  After breakfast we headed out – walking about 1 mile (give or take) from where our RV is parked to the Depot Museum.   First thing tour day is a 90 minute train trip along Lake Superior.   Beautiful views, lots of green spaces and some old and new homes were what was in store for us.

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We enjoyed the train ride, and once returning to the Depot – it was time to take in the museum.    The museum building was the train depot originally located in Duluth, MN.   The ground floor held 7 tracks for trains – several rebuilt trains, many turned into museums.  One of the rebuilt trains was a replica of the Lincoln Train – the train that took the body of Lincoln from Washington, DC to Illinois after his death.  One of the trains were converted to show a dining car with many different styles of china used on the various trains.

The rest of the museum was well laid out, and good information was shared.

Next stop – the local trolley.    From the Depot we took the trolley to Fitger’s a local brewery/restaurant recommended by a friend of Brian’s Mary Josephine Karsten.   The food was good – we tried Poulton – French fries, cheese curds and savory gravy.   We added shredded pork and voila, this was an excellent dinner.    Brian had fish and chips and a beer.

Back on the trolley to head down to Canal Park so that we can walk back across the bridge and to the RV Park.   After getting off the trolley we got some ice cream and walked back to the RV to spend a quiet evening on the boat dock.

June 21, 2017:

We woke up in Duluth, MN.    Time to get back on the road – heading through Wisconsin directly to Michigan.   As we entered into Michigan it was time for a time change from CST to EST — really Eastern Standard Time?

We decided to stay at a State Park tonight – found the FJ McClain, Michigan State Park.   From our RV we could see over a small knoll Lake Superior.   Brian fired up the fire pit and we cooked BBQ chicken and S’Mores for dinner tonite.

June 22, 2017:

Woke up at the FJ McClain, Michigan State Park – we slept in to 8 a.m. had breakfast then off on our adventures.

First stop was the Lakeview Cemetery in Calumet, MI.   This is the last resting spot of the Gipp Family – George Gipp is the infamous Gipper.  A young man attending Notre Dame and an outstanding football player who died while still in college.   Knute Rockne’s famous Let’s Win one for the Gipper was in memorial of player George Gipp.

Next stop in Calumet – this is a true company town.  Originally built to support the mining operations of the C & H Mine in Calumet.    Many of the old buildings in town are in the process of being saved through a partnership with the Federal Government under the Keweenaw National Historic Park.   The mine closed in the late 1960’s, and many of the miners & their families moved on.  Many actually moved to Flint, MI to switch from mining to building cars.   Because of the exodus, buildings were just left – houses as well as commercial.  There really weren’t any buyers.  In 1989 the government partnership began and buildings were taken over, some restored, some destroyed as they were too far gone.  Between the end of the mine and 1989 approx 20% of the commercial buildings were lost due to neglect, but many more have been salvaged and restored.     This site tells the tale of how this community was formed in partnership with the C & H Copper Mining Co.

The mine owned much of the town as either the Landlord, builder, financier or board member of local community groups, ie: YMCA, etc.

Walking around downtown we found the Michigan House Cafe & Red Jacket Brewing Company.   This restaurant/hotel was originally built in 1896, torn down in 1906 and rebuilt at that time bigger and better.   Based upon stories shared through their interviews with locals – they’ve been serving French Onion Soup since at least the 1920’s – and Tamara had that and it was good.     It was a very cool place, lots of history in the dining room.

On the road again – heading further East, a stop in Munising, MI to see the Munising Falls.  We’re heading onward again – out here in the Upper Peninsula of MI towns, amenities are few and far between.  We did find a restaurant – almost literally in the midst of nothing.   The Triangle Restaurant is located at the junction of 2 highways.  We had a very nice meal, then off down the road to Newberry, MI.  We had found online an RV Park to stay.

June 23, 2017:

We woke up in Newberry, MI at a former KOA now Good Sam RV Park.   The staff here are very friendly, and the space was excellent.

We headed out toward Whitefish Point, MI.  At Whitefish is the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum – very interesting museum.   So many ships have lost their life on the Great Lakes.   We spent a few hours there.

Off to Sault Ste. Marie – there are locks here helping ships move from the lower Huron Lake to Lake Superior.     We were on the Michigan side – across the river you can see the Canadian side – both cities are the same name.

In Sault Ste. Marie we visited the Tower of History and the Valley Camp.      The Catholic Parish in Sault Ste. Marie, MI in the 1960’s wanted to build a new facility – as part of this facility they built a tower of approx. 210’.   The architect for the tower was trying to convey the 3 crosses on Calvary the day Christ was killed.   The approximation of the towers is subtle, but the view was amazing.   We tried to get some good photos.

Valley Camp is a large barge permanently parked at its own dock.   The ship has been converted to a museum about shipping on the Great Lakes.  Lots of interesting stories, and great visuals about how from Indians gathering in this area, to how the ships evolved over the years/decades bringing in supplies and taking out minerals, wood and other items from the Great Lakes to the markets of the East.

Found a great restaurant called Lockview Restaurant – it’s been a local restaurant for several decades and has evolved from a small restaurant on the river to its current size – we sat on the 2nd floor and had a great view of a barge coming from Huron to Lake Superior through the locks. It was amazing to watch the barge go from low in the water to almost looking like it was going to be raised so high it was going to be above the locks.   There is an approx. 9’ drop from Superior to Huron so the need for a lock is a huge necessity to facilitate shipping between the lakes.

June 24, 2017:

We woke up in St. Ignace/Mackinac Island KOA in St. Ignace, MI.    Last night we went to 3 campgrounds before we found a site.   Turns out this entire past week – beginning last weekend going through this weekend there is a car show in St. Ignace.  It has grown so big that they had to expand to 2 weekends.  Last weekend were the classic cars – this weekend are the muscle cars.

It was our intention today to visit the local museum, but access was blocked due to the carshow, so we decided to move on to Mackinaw City, MI.   Before heading out we visited the Father Marquette memorial and Bridgeview Park.

Father Marquette was a missionary from France in the 1600’s.  Besides being a dedicated missionary he was also an explorer.  He was the first European to travel down the Mississippi River and to map it.

Between St. Ignace and Mackinaw City is a 5 mile strait separating Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.   In the 1950’s funds were put together to build a suspension bridge connecting these two cities.    Got a great little history story about the development of the bridge at Bridgeview Park before we took the 5 mile drive across the toll bridge.

Brian did the driving as Tamara has a little fear of heights, let alone driving in close traffic on a 4 lane bridge – 2 lanes one way 2 the other.  The cost to cross the bridge for an RV is $5/axle-for us $10.

Ended up in Mackinaw City and found a place for lunch.  We had lunch at Audie’s, another local restaurant that has been here for several decades.   We had a good lunch before heading out to our next museum.

Camp Michillinac is an old French Fort that is slowly since the 1950’s being restored to its former glory.  The fort in the late 1700’s was awarded from France to Britain after the 7 years war.  The British were not well received by the local Indian populations, as they had great trade relationships with the French, that was not reciprocated by the British initially.   The fort was actually captured by the Indians at one time, and eventually due to the American Revolution the fort was relocated from the mainland to Mackinac Island.  Many of the buildings were physically moved – once everything that was to be moved was removed, the remainder of the fort was burnt to the ground.   Archaeologists beginning in approx. 1957 began excavation of the fort, and every year from June to August Archaeologists working for the State of Michigan come in to do more excavating.   As buildings are dug out and identified, the buildings are being rebuilt and re-enactments are done to show the visitors what life was like for the French as well as the British – more slanted towards the British occupation.

June 25, 2017:

Happy Sunday – woke up in Mackinaw City at the KOA We decided to take a rest day – both of us needed clean laundry.   Did some package prep as we have several items to ship to the West Coast, and other business items.  Ready to go for tomorrow a trip to the Post Office before our excursion.

Today was a REST day.

June 26, 2017:

Woke up in Mackinaw City at the KOA – RAINING.

We decided to just stick around the RV and have a movie day, and enjoy the rain beating on the roof.

June 27, 2017:

Beautiful morning in Mackinaw City – we’re going to the island today.

We headed up to the KOA Office and they called the shuttle to take us to the boat slip – the shuttle lady was so nice she agreed to drop us in town so we could mail our packages at the post office.   From the post office we walked to the ferry docks to take our ferry from mainland to island.

We took the Star Line Ferry from mainland to Mackinac Island.  A great trip across the water – once on the island we did some walking along the marina before we took a carriage ride around the island.  We ended the carriage ride at Fort Mackinac – this is where Fort Michillicamp was moved from the mainland when the British decided that they did not have a strategic advantage on the mainland, and felt they were better off on the island.    This fort was later held by the Americans, and promptly lost during the War of 1812 to the British due to a brilliant sneak attack across the island by the British – the fort was seized with no casualties.

We had a nice dinner in town at the Seabiscuit Cafe, and made sure we picked up the world famous fudge of Mackinac Island before taking the ferry back to the mainland.  Unfortunately by the end of the day both our phones had died so we were unable to take pictures as we went under the Mackinaw Bridge on the way back to the ferry dock.

June 28, 2017:

Woke up for our last day in Mackinac City – got ourselves unhooked, and everything back in place to get back on the road.

Our first stop today is The Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse.   It’s located right next to Fort Michillinac.  This old lighthouse has been preserved and restored to serve as both a museum for the lighthouse itself as well as a small maritime history museum.

We had a chance to go to the top of the lighthouse and enjoy the view of the bay and where the 2 lakes – Erie & Huron merge together.  Afterwards we went down to the edge of Lake Erie and got our Lake Erie rocks for the granddaughters.

Now back on the road – we have a long drive ahead of us to Muskegon, MI.  We arrived late afternoon and found the local Walmart that would allow us to spend the night in their parking lot.   Muskegon has 2 Walmart’s in distinctly different parts of town.   Once parked, and shopping completed, we walked over to Russ’ Restaurant in the same parking lot.  A unique dining experience – in order to place your food order, you had to pick up the phone and call in the order, a server brought out the food, and we were on our own to refill our own water.

After eating we realized the restaurant had 2 separate sides – one for full service and then the side we were on.  Dinner was tasty and we enjoyed ourselves.  Tonight it rained cats and dogs, but the sound of rain on an aluminum roof is very tranquil.

June 29, 2017:

Today is an odd day – we are separating for the day.     Brian dropped off Tamara at Salon 297 where she is taking advantage of a day at the spa.  Massage, facial, pedicure, manicure and hair style.   A six hour day, but is it long enough for Brian to see everything he wants to see?

Brian’s first stop is the LST393.  LST stand for Landing Ship Tanks. These ships were a key to D-Day. They can carry 23 Sherman Tanks. LST393 is one of 2 surviving LSTs. There were over 1000 built. 393 survived because it was used to transport cars from Detroit to Milwaukee. The Great Lakes were kind to her. The other LST is located in Evansville were 393 was built. The ships shallow draft allowed to be used for landing on beaches. This also allowed them to be built along the Mississippi River System. 393 was also used in the landings in North Africa and Sicily. Brian intends on seeing the other in Evansville next year. 393 had lots of displays, many focusing on veterans from Michigan. A nice touch would have been a Sherman on board. They are the most common tank from WWII but they aren’t a dime a dozen.

The next stop were the homes of Charles Hackley & Thomas Hume, friends who lived next to each other – Hackley Hume Historical Site.  Charles Hackley was an important man to Muskegon. He came to the area to build roads. He stayed and got into lumber. In a short amount of time he had a very successful lumberman. In 1881 his partner died. He was very impressed with his bookkeeper, Thomas Hume, and offered a partnerships to him. They became great friends. They built houses next to each and vacationed together. The lumber boom in Michigan was short lived lasting from the 1860’s to the mid 1890’s. Hume in this short amount of time became a millionaire. They diversified into many different fields (transportation, shipping, industry, banking, and manufacturing). Their houses were built between 1887 and 1889. Hackley home is over the top costing $50k. Hume had several children so his house was more live able than opulent and only cost $25k. Hume’s home was added onto over the years. The Hackley’s died in 1905 and gave away most of his $12 million to the city of Muskegon. Hume added onto his home over the years. A daughter ended up with the house and stayed until her death. When Hume died he was worth over $60 million and also gave much to the city.  Hackley’s home is restored to 1895. It is amazing the detailed wood work that was done. Hume’s home is restored to 1920’s era and is very different but also a very beautiful building.

The USS Silversides is a Gato class submarine built in 1940. Submarines are one of the few military items that the US entered WWII with a good number and mostly modern. US torpedoes were a BIG problem but the Gato class were good subs. 77 were built, 20 lost in the war and 6 still survive. The USS Silversides still has at least one functioning engine they start for special occasions. The sub has been restored to its WWII specifications. Several of the others were altered for the cold war as sentry subs. The tour guide had served on post WWII diesel and nuclear subs. He had some FANTASTIC stories. The museum was terrific! Great displays of the Silverside and other subs. A must see if you are a WWII buff!

Once we got back together, it was time to drive to the State Capitol, Lansing, MI.   We stayed at the Cracker Barrel in Lansing.

June 30, 2017:

We woke up today in Lansing, MI.  Besides housing the state capitol, Lansing is where R.E. Olds (Oldsmobile) got his start in the car business.

We headed for the cemetery to visit the RE Olds Gravesite.

The next stop was where the old Oldsmobile plant used to be.  We visited the placque.

Brian wanted to visit the RE Olds Transportation Museum ……..

Our next stop was the Michigan State Capitol – such a beautiful old building, we decided to take the tour.

Next we started heading towards Indiana where we went to visit the Gilmore Auto Museum in Hickory Corners, MI.  We spent an enjoyable 3 hours here visiting many different styles of cars, in many different styles of buildings over about 90 acres of land.

We then drove to Shipshewana, IN.  We found a great little campground on the lake where we could stay for the next two days and recover from the fast pace of the last few days.