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Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Great River Route

The source of the Mississippi River was hotly controversial with explorers offering several different theories. While we often think of the “source” as percolating out of the ground or a tiny stream from no where, the source of the Mississippi River actually flows out of a glacial lake that a few tributaries feed all year round. 

The river's channel appears much as it did when Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, in 1832, was guided by Ojibwe chief Ozawindib to the beginnings of “Gichizibbi,” an Ojibwe word meaning “great water.” Mississippi derives from the Algonquin word “Misiziibi.”  (Source: GARY GARTH | SPECIAL FOR USA TODAY 11/4/16)

The mighty Mississippi River begins its winding journey to the Gulf of Mexico as a mere 18-foot wide knee-deep river that flows out of Itasca Lake in northern Minnesota. We found this source and even walked on a short boardwalk following its beginning. 

From here the river flows north to Bemidji, where it turns east, and then south near Grand Rapids. It will flow a total of 694 miles before working its way out of Minnesota.  We will drive the entire length down to the Gulf of Mexico over the next 6 weeks on two-lane "national scenic byways" back roads.  

The Great River Route skirts the Mississippi River ducking in and out around the bends occasionally giving us a glimpse of the meandering river that is still rather narrow.  For miles along this two-lane road we were the only vehile.  We passed signs pointing the way to fishing lodges through the dense forest of maple, river birch, bur oak, green ash, hackberry, cottonwood and swamp white oak.  Apparently what these lodges lack in comfort they gain in location!

A quick stop in Bemidji the home of the "original??" Paul Bunyan statue from 1937.  Seems that old time lumberjacks in Bemidji claim that Paul Bunyan was born here.  'Course so does Bangor, Maine and even several other states!  

Lumberjacks sitting around their camps told a story that Paul Bunyan and Babe wandered throughout Minnesota and their large footprints caused deep holes in the earth.  Rainwater filled them which created Minnesota's 10,000 lakes.  Another story told that a huge water cart that Babe was hauling sprung a leak and dribbled all the way to New Orleans, causing-you guessed it- the mighty Mississippi River!

We are having fun stopping to see the largest this-largest that roadside attraction.  Amazing what the little communities come up with!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Where The Dinosaurs Roam

After returning from Europe on June 5, we picked up our trailer & truck that we had left stored in Desert Hot Springs, CA and made a bee-line north to visit family in California, Idaho & Oregon.

Liam & Ethan with German pretzels Karen made

Liam's birthday party at a Lego store!

A first for all of us-we took Liam & Ethan to a Monster Truck & racing show-they were so excited!

Billy, Melissa & the boys-we took the ferry across the bay to San Francisco for a day

a movie, ice cream & cookies at a bakery for Isaac & Owen-spoiling our grandkids???

East Coast-West Coast cousins meet for the first time!
Bert (in the driver's seat) Jack & Billy cruisin' in Bert's rental
It was great to spend several weeks with each of our childen but we after 6 weeks we needed to “hit the road” in our trailer while summer still lingered.  The only commitment is an RV Rally in August in North Dakota so we are free to wander for several months.  

Our first stop was one of our favorite “hidden gems” at Lake Tahoe, a COE (Corps of Engineers) campground near Truckee.  But we were surprised that they started requiring reservations rather than “walk-ins”. We lucked out and were able to reserved two nights as we sat at the entrance of the campground.

bear up the tree
When we came back from a hike to the campground we had some excitement.  A bear visited our campground In The Middle Of The Day.  We heard a couple of guys shouting and they were chasing the bear away because the man found the bear INSIDE his trailer!  The bear somehow opened the screen door and rummaged around while the man was gone. Boy was he surprised when he went to open the door and the bear jumped out with a bag of marshmellows in his mouth.  The bear was pretty calm and really wasn’t too interested in leaving so climbed a tree for a bit. Eventually he ran off. Unfortunately this bear has become way too comfortable around people and will need to be captured to be moved deeper into the forest where hopefully he’ll stay.

another wild animal??  chipmunk checking his reflection in our solar panel
Boardwalk in the Tahoe Meadows

Heading east we spent several days in Utah at the Dinosaur National Monument and the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.  We had never visited either of these areas and they were absolutely spectacular. While it was in the high 90’s and very hot to walk around, we camped at Steinaker State Park with electricity where we could use our air conditioner.  
Definately one of the "little known" national monuments

we went on a Ranger-Led hike & saw bones & fossils just in the rock/dirt cliff next to the path

The Quarry Site in Dinosauer N.M. was where the work began in 1910 and by 1926  there were 150 dinosauer species discovered. The side of the hill is now enclosed and available for visitors to view the 1,500 fossils still embedded in the rock.

I just had to learn more! Great Book

Yep!  Jack is sitting on a dinosaur bone bench!!

The historic Green River flows in the Colorado River

Flaming Gorge National Recreation Site

We camped one more night on the Wyoming side of the Flaming Gorge at a campsite with stunning geography and views of the River
 there are a few other campers but the spaces are very wide apart

Monday, June 10, 2019

Munchin' in München,

Our last stop on our River Cruise was Regensburg, a small city that is both a UNESCO historical site and one of the oldest cities in Germany, being founded by Romans in the first century. The city did not sustain much damage during WWII and the center of the town retains many of its medieval buildings. They have a very old stone bridge, 1137-1145,  that is so low that the cruise ships stop here so Regensburg is usually the start or end of cruises on the Danube. 

many of the wealthy had towers built adjacent to their homes.  These were not used for anything other to to show their wealth.

The Goliath Haus mural is about 5 stories high, painted in the 12th century (retouched many times since) on one of the largest city mansions in Regensburg.

We next took a train and spent our last few days in Munich, sampling the many breweries & biergartens, touring the great Marienplatz with the famous glockenspiel clock that have moving figures during the chimes.  

the Hofbrau Haus brewery.  I was here 50 years ago!

the famous liter mugs, or Maßkrug holds a Maß (Mass)-most biergartens serve the beer in these and you have to ask specifically for a smaller amount. 

this is the "new town hall" built in the 19th century!

We took a day long bike tour through the city with Mike's Bike Tours.  They describe this tour as the best balance between fun, edutainment and history, covering a lot of history from the period of the Nationalsozialismus.  Hitler's rise actually started in Munich.  

Our group learning about the historical events that formed Hitler's Third Reich in the Odeonsplatz square
 slack line walking over the Isar River.  The Globetrotter World Slackline Masters takes place in Munich

 Surfing on the small channel of the Isar River that runs through Munich's large park.  Since the 1970's people line up to try their skill on the continuous, ice-cold ONE wave that rolls through the channel. 

The Chinese Tower- or Chinesischer Turm- is the second largest beer garden in Munich in the English Garden.  We stopped for beer and sausages here

We finally have true veal schnitzel at yet another outdoor beer garden

Well our travels have come to an end for this trip.  After 2 months it's time to head back.  This has been a great trip that took us to some countries where we were exposed to different religions, cultures, wars, languages and peoples.  I think what we learned was that the people who live in these central European countries are very proud of their ethnicity and cultural traditions.  Borders and countries change but the people remain strong to their culture. 

 guess it was time to end our travels with a hold in my walking shoes!

Good-bye - heading back to the USA on three different airlines.....