Saturday, June 30, 2012

Roger Maris Museum - Fargo North Dakota

We just hung around Grand Marais yesterday walking around downtown and enjoying the waterfront. The weather was weird; one minute it was 64 and comfortable and 15 minutes later it was 82. The a couple hours later it was 65 for awhile and 15 minutes later it was 82 again then for the rest of the day. We thought we would blog on our recent stop near Fargo North Dakota and the Roger Maris Museum.

Roger Maris was born Roger Eugene Maras (later changed to Maris) in Hibbing Minnesota but the family moved shortly thereafter and he spent his formative years in Fargo. Although Roger is best known for the "61" homer season in 1961 he was also a Gold Glove winner with an arm that maybe was even better than Roberto Clemente. He was a two-time League MVP, 7-time All Star and on 3 World Series winners (Yankees, Cardinals)

After he retired friends asked him about a museum. Roger agreed to it only if people of all means could see the museum, thus it is free and in the West Acres Mall in Fargo since 1984.

The museum consists of glass display cases along an aisle of the mall. There is an alcove off of the aisle that has stadium seats and a great movie on the life of Roger Maris. What he went through during his 61 homer year with the press lying about his relationship with Mickey Mantle, they were actually good friends, and some Yankee fans not wanting him to break Babe Ruth's record.

We then went to the display cases. Here is his plaque at Yankees Stadium when they retired his number 9.

Here is his Kansas City Athletics uniform

Roger played for the A's after one year with the Cleveland Indians before he was traded to the Yankees. He and his family like the Kansas City area so much that the family still lived there even when Roger played for the Yankees and later the Cardinals. After we left we realized we should have taken a picture of his Cardinals uniform for Jim of Tumbleweed.

Here is a replica of his Yankees locker

Showing some of his many awards

A good saying for life in general although this deals with home runs

How he is not in the Hall of Fame is amazing and a travesty because he did what he did with what are generally acknowledged as "dead" baseballs and no juice (performance enhancers).

It was good to walk around a mall and the West Acres Mall is a pretty good one. It is estimated that 7 million people visit the mall each year.

Photos of the museum have been uploaded to in the Fargo set.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Friday, June 29, 2012

What a great day on the North Shore of Lake Superior

We still have some blog posts to catch up on but we thought we would give you a taste of what it is like on the North Shore. We had a great day yesterday which was our first full day in Grand Marais.

Bob setup the bird feeders yesterday and we had our first visitors, a male and female American Goldfinch.

We had a great brunch at the Blue Water Cafe; Jo got an order of blueberry wild rice pancakes, Bob got roped sausage, eggs, hashbrowns and instead of toast he also got the blueberry wild rice pancakes. Everything was incredible! 

We went back to the park and did some puttering and then got a very nice surprise. Our friends Bob and Wilma from the Kansas City area that also winter at the same place in Arizona have decided to escape the triple digit heat and humidity of the Kansas City area for a couple of days and are coming here for a visit (more on our weather here a little later). We decided to scout out some of the lodgings in the area for them and besides it was lupper time.

The Dockside Fish Market is supposed to have the best fish and chips in town and good soups also. We split fresh walleye, fresh whitefish, chips, clam and mussel chowder, and Wisconsin cheese smoked salmon soup. Everything was real good and we will be back. We scouted some lodging places and confirmed with them that their choice looked like from the outside a neat place. To celebrate we had a coupon for a free cone at Sydney's Frozen Custard and got very good custard.

Back at the park this is the view towards Grand Marais Bay at the front of our site looking left.

Heading right there is a trail that takes you to Lake Superior. By trail we mean our kind of trail consisting of a few steps :-)

Along the way we saw these lilacs. For us Midwesterners seeing lilacs in late June is unheard of, just reminds us how far north we actually are. In fact we are about 40 miles from the Canadian border.

Here is the trail from the park to the lake, in fact you can see the lake. What you can also do is hear the lake, as we got closer it sounded like a waterfall.

Here is your reward for this long hike :-)

Another reward

The grains of sand are pretty big up here, must be the cold winters :-)

It was actually a little chilly today with temperatures in the low 60s with the wind coming across the lake. After our walk to the shores of Gitche Gumee we were back relaxing in the Cameo when a very strange thing happened. The wind shifted, no longer blowing across the lake. In 30 minutes the outside temperature rose from 62 to 77. Still a great temperature for the end of June and much much better than the Kansas City area but it was shocking to see it happen so fast. It was probably payback and proof that you should not gloat too much since we had been taking photos with Bob's phone and sending them to friends and family and telling them how cool it was both scenery and weather.

What a great day on the North Shore; birds, lilacs, great food, beautiful scenery, and wonderful news!!

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Thursday, June 28, 2012

We made it to the North Shore - Grand Marais Minnesota

We departed Saginaw Minnesota yesterday, June 27th, and headed for Grand Marais Minnesota on the North Shore of Lake Superior. It was approximately 125 miles, here is the route we took.

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The Minnesota road conditions website indicated that there was a road closure, but a detour in operation, along Minnesota 61. The detour was not too bad and it did not take too long but we are glad it was a short day for us because in addition to the detour we went through many small towns and some road construction which slowed us down.

We arrived in mostly sunny 70 degree weather and setup at the Grand Marais Recreation Area. We are "all in", or probably better to say "all out", at this campsite. Staying two nights or so at a place we don't put out the bird feeders or the chairs or setup the king pin stabilizer or .... You would think we were going to be here for 4-5 months like Arizona because we have everything out and setup. We are a short walk to either the shore of Grand Marais Bay or Lake Superior and will get pictures posted later.

After zooming across the country due to the broken window delay we plan to spend most of our two week here enjoying the surrounding scenery while sitting outside reading books and vegging out. We can tell you that the sunglasses that are also reading glasses work real well.

The park charges for WiFi so we are using our Verizon MiFi hotspot and it worked pretty well last night but it cycled from good signal to poor signal to no signal quite a few times so we will see how much blogging we get caught up on here..

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chateau de Mores - Medora North Dakota

Remember when we said there is always a railroad story well here comes another one about the Chateau de Mores. This site memorializes the life and activities in North Dakota of Antoine de Vallombrosa, the Marquis de Mores, who arrived in the area in 1883 the same year as Teddy Roosevelt. There was a railroad stop in the area and the Marquis had the business idea of slaughtering cattle here and shipping them east in refrigerated railroad cars that he designed.

He first built this hunting cabin for a summer residence so he could setup his enterprises.

The residence was derogatorily called a chateau by the locals as the Marquis was not really liked by the locals since he never socialized with them. Here is a photo of the Marquis.

The only one he socialized with in the area was Teddy Roosevelt and out of town guests. He also built a beef packing plant and raised cattle and sheep in the area. He wanted to base his operations in the existing town of Little Missouri but they called him a "crazy frenchman". Not appreciating the welcome he started a new town just across the river, had to be near the railroad stop after all, and called the town Medora in honor of his wife. With all the new activity going on Medora flourished and Little Missouri died out.

In addition to the beef packing plant and the refrigerated railroad car company the Marquis also started a freight business and a stagecoach line. The only things remaining in the area though are the chimney from meat packing plant and the Chateau, a 26-room, two story frame building built on the hill overlooking his new town and plant. Managed by the North Dakota State Historical Society it is now a house museum and contains many of the original furnishings and personal effects of the family. It is the most visited site managed by the historical society so we guess the locals like the Marquis now. They even erected this statue in downtown Medora to honor him.

There is so much personal stuff in the Chateau because once the business failed, at a loss of $1.5 Million in 1880s dollars, the family never returned or had their belongings shipped back to France. Right off the bat the Chicago meat packing industry did not like the competition and with their pals the railroad companies effectively boycotted the new enterprise. The preference of meat eaters was corn fed beef not prairie grass fed beef which also did not help. Finally, there were droughts and frigid winters that killed off most of the herds. Bankruptcy was declared and the Chateau was mostly abandoned except for a caretaker, what the docents called the boarding house era. With the demise of the business and the herds the town of Medora became a ghost town.

We took a one hour guided tour of the Chateau and we really enjoyed it. Here is the hunting cabin up close.

Here is the view from the front porch showing the chimney from the meat packing plant and the town of Medora behind all the trees which were not there in the 1880s.

On the tour we saw the formal dining room.

the kitchen

an upstairs bedroom with a bathtub

the hunting room where all the hunts started

the custom built bathtub for the Marquis

proof that women always obsessed about their hair

the Marquisa's sitting room

the living room

In the living room we saw the neatest bookcase

There is also a carriage house, stable and coachman house on the grounds that you can tour. These buildings have undergone on restoration, they are as they were in the 1880s.

We really enjoyed the tour of the Chateau and the entire Medora area. We plan to visit again since this was such a short stay and you should to. More photos of all our stops in Medora are now on in the Medora set.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, June 25, 2012

On the move again - to Saginaw Minnesota

After our unpleasant stay in Bismarck we really enjoyed our stay in Casselton North Dakota just west of Fargo. But we have to continue our expedited trek to the North Shore of Lake Superior since we have reservations for July 4th at the Grand Marais Recreation Area.

So yesterday, June 24th, we headed to our next stop, Saginaw Minnesota. It was approximately 250 miles to Saginaw, a long day for us. We decided we tolerated 140 mikes one day and then 175 miles the next day better than 250 miles in one day. The good; it was a scenic drive for awhile as we drove along the "Lake Country Scenic Byway" for part of the trip. The bad; we were then on Minnesota State Road 200 after the "Lake Country Scenic Byway" and it was a very rough highway. Here is the route we took:

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We started the trip with a little trepidation as there has been a lot of flooding in the Duluth area with some road closures. Saginaw is about 15 miles from Duluth. Bob found a Minnesota road conditions map online and the roads we traveled yesterday were shown as back open which they were. We did have one spot where water was still across the road the but it was shallow enough you could still see the road underneath. We saw a few areas where water had been and the accompanying debris along the side of the road.

We arrived at Ogston RV Park in Saginaw and were pleasantly surprised how good of condition the park was in even though it suffered flooding just a few days ago. There was enough gravel on the road and the sites that even though you saw water it was not muddy. There are ponds in the park and we got a site with a view of a pond out our back window. We have a great line of sight for satellite reception. This looks to be a good choice for exploring the Duluth area and wish we had more time here.

There is still a road closure on Highway 61 which will take us north along the shore of Lake Superior to Grand Marais on Wednesday but there is a detour in operation. There aren't many choices for that direction so it was good to see a detour. Hopefully it will be open by next Wednesday.

Saginaw has been called "Sticksville" by some Minnesotans but with Duluth only 15 miles away and plenty to do there we are sure we will be busy. There is a breakfast place that was on DDD (Diners Drive Inns and Dives) that we are going to this morning (and maybe tomorrow morning too).

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Theodore Roosevelt National Park - Scenic Loop

After our tour of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park Visitors Center and the Maltese Cross Cabin that we recently blogged about we drove the Scenic Loop of the South Unit of the park near Medora North Dakota.

This part of North Dakota completely blew us away, who knew? We were expecting the flat farm land just like in the eastern part of the state. Here we found the Badlands, exposed surfaces of stone and clay that erosion has formed into some very interesting formations. We were amazed at the many different colors; many shades of browns, red, grays and yellows that appear in buttes, pyramids, domes, and cones. The area also contains lignite coal and seams of this coal have been burning for many years. The clay above, of volcanic origin, has been turned bright pink and red, which we saw on our driving tour. The highest point of North Dakota at 3506 feet, White Butte, is in the area.

The Scenic Loop starts just after the Visitors Center. What we liked about the Theodore Roosevelt National Park is how close the wildlife is. Prairie Dog Town is right next to the road.

Scoria overlook; scoria is the name given the clay turned red by the heat below it.

The many colors of the Badlands.

We mentioned how close the wildlife was and the wild horses were a great example. Funny thing is that the first time we saw them some of them were in a ravine where you could barely the tops of them. There was no traffic so we stopped the truck and tried to get a photo thinking that may be our only chance. Lo and behold around the next bend we see this right next to the road.

There were bison also but the traffic on a Sunday always seemed to be at its peak whenever we could take a good photo.

We did not get a chance to see any petrified wood due to our short stay but the Theodore Roosevelt National Park contains the third largest collection of petrified wood after the Petrified Forest National Park and Yellowstone. Here is a sample from the visitors center of a bald cypress tree.

There is so much more to see in Theodore Roosevelt National Park (three entrances and three visitors centers) and in the Medora area that we plan to come back again. Hopefully the next time we will have more than 3 nights. Thanks to our friend Joyce who suggested Medora as a stopover.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Theodore Roosevelt National Park - Maltese Cross Cabin

We went to the Roger Maris Museum in Fargo North Dakota yesterday which we will blog about later since we have some blogging to catch up on.

While in Medora North Dakota we visited the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Here is one of our visits.

Teddy Roosevelt said that "I would not have been President if not for my time in North Dakota". He first visited North Dakota in 1883 to hunt bison. Liking the area so much he bought the Maltese Cross Ranch (also known as the Chimney Butte Ranch). He returned east and in 1884 had one of the all time worst days. On Valentine's Day his wife died from complications from giving birth and his mother died from typhoid fever. Devastated he returned to what would become the Medora North Dakota area (more on that in a future blog posting).

He had his ranch hands build a cabin which has been moved to its current location outside the visitors center of the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

It seems like there is always a railroad story when you talk about anything. The lumber used for the cabin is ponderosa pine which is not found in the area. The ranch hands who built the cabin stole the lumber from the Northern Pacific Railroad. An enterprising reporter brought this up during one of Teddy's many political campaigns. 

The cabin's pitched roof, common back east, was an oddity in the area. The design allowed a loft area above the main floor for the ranch hands. With three separate rooms and wooden floors and imported wood it was considered a "mansion" in the area. Some of the items like the photos in the bedroom and a trunk are Teddy's but most of the items are period pieces.

Here is the kitchen.

Here is Teddy's bedroom.

Here is the living room.

The original location of the Maltese Cabin was along a stage coach route and it became too noisy and busy for Teddy so he bought the Elkhorn Ranch about 35 north. He had a ranch house built there that is no longer standing but there is a model of what it looked like in the visitors center.

In future blog postings we will continue our tour of the Medora North Dakota area.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Friday, June 22, 2012

Touring Billings Montana - zoo and Moss Mansion

We finally were able to get our Wal-Mart fix yesterday, we even got in a Sam's Club visit after our great lunch at the Valentino's Grand Italian Buffet in Fargo. That gives us an opportunity to catch up on our blogging, this time about our touring of Billings Montana.

Whenever we can we like to go to zoos so we went to Zoo Montana in Billings. Unfortunately we caught it at a time when a few exhibits were closed for remodeling. They are working on enhancing the zoo and when it gets done it looks like it will be really neat but that means sometimes exhibits are closed.

We did see some injured in the wild Bald Eagles and got a good picture of them.

We like big cats because their posing and movements remind us of our cats. Here is a big cat ignoring us just like our cats do.

Next we visited Moss Mansion. We think we remember seeing Moss Mansion on an episode of "America's Castles" on AandE. Here is the exterior of the red sandstone mansion.

What we liked about the one hour guided tour is that this house has a lot of furnishings owned by the Moss family so you are stepping back in time to 1903 when the house was built. Having original furnishing means that there are no pictures allowed so go to the Moss Mansion website if you would like to see more. While waiting for the introductory movie in the basement area Bob took this picture of the display case, before we might add they said no photos allowed.

The same guy that designed the Waldorf Astoria in New York, Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, designed the Moss Mansion. The dining room of the Moss Mansion is a duplicate of the smoking room in the Waldorf Astoria. The home has modern features like indoor bathrooms and hot water running throughout the house. 

P. B. Moss was a prominent banker in Billings, originally from Missouri, who help start a lot of the utilities in the area like a dial telephone company, Billings Light and Power, Billings Utility Company. He also founded a newspaper, a hotel and other things in the Billings area. Mattie, his wife, was a pretty good artist and her painted china (in the display case that should not have been photographed) and watercolors are featured on the tour. It was neat seeing how people lived in the early 1900s and we are glad we took the tour.

Once outside the camera came out and we took a picture of the beautiful grounds.

If you are ever in Billings be sure and visit the Moss Mansion. Also be sure to have breakfast at Stella's Kitchen and Bakery, it is real good. Photos from Zoo Montana and the Moss Mansion have been uploaded to in the Billings Montana set.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo


Thursday, June 21, 2012

On the move again - to Fargo ND

We actually ended up in Casselton North Dakota just west of Fargo yesterday, June 20th. The great thing about this lifestyle is that if you do not like the park or area you just leave. We had paid for the one night when we made the reservation but that is all we spent there.

It was approximately 175 miles along I-94 from Bismarck to Casselton. Our virtual Carriage friends Kev-n-Christine helped us avoid another bad park, this time in Fargo, and we are very happy with the Governors RV Park (part of the Days Inn Complex). We have the fastest free park wifi we have ever had at almost 7Mbps on one test and just over 5Mbps on another. Our satellite dish has an easy line of sight. The only complaint is that there could be more gravel on the utility side. This park is a keeper. What also is a keeper is the kuchen, turns out we did not warm it up enough for our tastes. Once we got the thick crust warmed up suddenly kuchen is now one of the foods you must try while in the Bismarck area.

We were wrong about another thing, we bet that we could have heard those loud kids next to us in Bismark even from 175 miles away but we were wrong :-)

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On the road again - to Bismarck ND

We left Medora North Dakota yesterday, June 19th, and headed to Bismarck North Dakota continuing our expedited trek to the North Shore of Lake Superior for the summer. It was approximately 140 miles along I-94 and a time change to Central Daylight Savings Time. Here is the route we took. 

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We really like the shorter days and will try to travel no more than 200 miles in one day from now on.

We originally planned on being in Bismarck for three nights but the park, Hillcrest Acres Campground, was such a disappointment. It had rained and you can't blame that on the park but there are things that can be done such as more than 5 pieces of gravel in your entire site and better maintenance of the roads. We parked right next to permanent residents with the loudest, whiniest kids we have ever heard. There was dog droppings  in our site that had not been picked up. But the worst had to be the big tree at the end of our site which prevented our satellite dish from working. There were a few sites that a dish like ours would work and we requested one of those sites.

So we will stay only one night and head out today for Casselton North Dakota just west of Fargo. We had the first nights stay as a deposit or else we might have moved to the KOA. We had to get diesel for the truck and paid $3.619 at Sam's Club the cheapest we have paid in awhile. We ate breakfast for supper at Cracker Barrel and then hit Dan's Super Market for some kuchen, a Germans from Russia heritage item, which is a pie like pastry with a thick crust and a fruit and custard filling. It is good but not something that we would probably crave.

While in the Fargo area we will catch up on shopping. It is true we were near the biggest grocery store and biggest hardware store in Medora, the biggest SuperCenter for sure, but it was no Wal-Mart. We plan to eat at Valentino's Grand Italian Buffet which we really like but have not been there for years. 

Till next time, 

BTW all the Yellowstone photos have finished uploading and are on in the West Yellowstone set

Bob and Jo

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

Nearly two months ago Soaring Sun at awarded our blog the Liebster Award. We had never heard of it before but we love the concept. "Liebster" is a German word that translates loosely to "beloved" or "dearest" and the Liebster Award showcases blogs that have a following of no more than 200 subscribers. Recipients who accept the award then pass it on to five of their favorite blogs with small readerships.

Choosing five blogs of the many great blogs that we read was a tough choice but here goes.

Where are the Dixons today?; Jim and Sandie blog about their full-timing adventures always entertains us. We have never met Jim and Sandie but plan to some day. They are the unofficial Escapees 2009 Class President and we first made contact with them on the Escapees forums and then started following their blog. They full-time with two dogs, Scooter and Skittlez.

Where's Weaver; Paul and Marsha Weaver also started full-timing in 2009 just like us and the Dixons. We also have not met the Weavers either. They full-time with their cat Bella. Paul and Marsha are dynamos, they pack more into one day of sightseeing than we probably do in a 2-3 days. They recently were in Oregon and we were writing down all the things they did and places they ate at, especially the chowder tour.

Our Adventures with Tassie; We have not met Ralph and Donna either but enjoy their full-timing blog and their campground review site, Tassie's Campground Reviews. They are sightseers and foodies like us and we always get good tips on where to go and where to eat.

Tumbleweed; Jim and Dee full-time in a Carriage Cameo just like we do. We first made contact with them on the Carriage Yahoo Group and then began following their blog. We have not met them although we share one state camped in common, Missouri. But we start out on the western side and head west and they start out on the eastern side and head east.

Paws and Friends; Finally someone we have met. Mike and Lindy parked next to us at Destiny RV in Goodyear Arizona and we struck up a conversation. We found we were both full-timers and we both dabble at blogging. What we like about their blogging is that they visit a lot of historical sites and we like to visit them also. They full-time with pets as you can probably tell from their name. Right now it is two corgis, Lord Rupert and Bitty. They recently bought a place in Congress AZ so we plan to visit them on our way to Destiny later this year.

It was tough picking only five, stop by and visit them and see if you like them too.

Congrats to the winners!

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, June 18, 2012

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is such a beautiful place that even with a short stay in the area due to our broken window repair and then being snowed out of most of the time we had we still had some great sightseeing. Right off the bat we learned that Yellowstone is so much more than the geysers, although they do figure prominently.

Yellowstone is also great scenery with water, mountains and wildlife. We went through the park from West Yellowstone entrance in Montana and before we knew it we had crossed into Wyoming. Enough of the foreplay let's get to the highlights. If you would like to see any photo larger just click on it.

As you enter the park from West Yellowstone Montana you first follow along the Madison River and then other rivers depending on the path you take.

Firehole Falls is along the Firehole River.

Celestine Pool is one of the prettiest geothermal features.

Clepsydra Geyser was active while we were there.

We caught a good bubble from Twig Geyser.

No trip to Yellowstone would be complete without bubbling mud, this from the Fountain Paint Pots.

Silex Spring is another neat geothermal feature.

Here is a picture of the incoming weather that snowed and sleeted on us while we were waiting for Old Faithful and eventually drove us out of the park. This storm officially dumped 1.5 inches of snow and dropped the temperature to 28 degrees from the mid 40s while we were in the park.

Here is Firehole Lake. The conditions were such that there was a tremendous amount of fog that made picture taking difficult but this area was the worst. We had to drive through this fog around Firehole Lake and we slowed way down because we could barely see. Believe it or not there is a lake behind the fog.

We got a lot of photos of Bison grazing far away but was glad to get this photo up close.

While waiting for Old Faithful we toured the Visitors Center and saw this sign comparing the three eruptions of the super volcano below Yellowstone to the recent Mt. Saint Helens eruption. The sheer power of this super volcano is amazing.

Here is Old Faithful working up to an eruption. We thought we would never get a bubbling photo as every time Bob raised his camera it died down. Finally he got a good shot.

Here it is at full glory. There are bigger geysers and there are more regular geysers but Old Faithful is the biggest most regular geyser in the park.

Yellowstone is such a huge park with five entrances and five visitor centers so we just barely scratched the surface as to all you can see and do but as you can tell from these few pictures of the total number we took that we had a great time. We have a fairly slow internet connection so it will take some time for all the photos to be uploaded to in the West Yellowstone set.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo