Sep 11, 2007

Getting Caught Up

September 11, 2007 -- Lebanon Hills Park in Apple Valley, MN

The last few days we've spent a lot of time with friends and now need to get the 'ol Sabbatical Journal up to date with our travels. I'm amazed by the speed time passes. It doesn't take long to fall way behind.

The last post I published was on September 4th I think, and we were staying an extra day at Camp Soldner due to rain. The next day, Wednesday the 5th, we drove a little over a hundred miles and ended up at Arbor Vita Campground in Arbor Vitae, WI. We have some friends, Bob and Nancy, that recently moved from St. Paul, MN to a log cabin near Woodruff and we wanted to see both them and their new place. The place they bought is the log cabin you see in your mind when someone says "log cabin in the woods". It's a nice sized home with a high, open roof-line and a big, wrap-around covered porch -- a classic log cabin! They have a few acres which is all wooded and surrounded on three sides by state or national forest. We fell in love with it -- it was quite a catch! They invited us over for dinner (which was outstanding) and spent the rest of the evening talking, telling jokes, and remembering the "old days" around the campfire. Thanks, Bob and Nancy, a wonderful night.

Because we liked the area and had a great campsight, we hung around for an extra day. But on Saturday, we made a short move of about 70 miles to the Winter, WI area, about a half-hour southeast of Hayward. Our friends Terry and Jane recently build a new house in the woods, so we stopped for one night to see them and spend a little time catching up. Terry designed the house himself and it turned out great -- a lot like something we'd see ourselves settling into once our sabbatical is over. We're starting to taking notes and will pay particular attention not only to where we'd like to live in the future, but what we'd like in our next house. After dinner we helped break-in their new basement bar. Thanks, Terry and Jane, for another great night.

The next move, from Winter, WI to Apple Valley, MN, was our longest since we've been towing the toad -- about 220 miles. The portion of the trip from Winter to Eau Claire was easy, but the Eau Claire to Apple Valley leg was more challenging with a gusty side wind out of the north keeping the driver busy. We made it in a little over 4 hours with a couple short stops to "freshen up". The Campground in Apple Valley is called Lebanon Hills and is operated by the Dakota County Parks Department. It's a little more like an RV park than a campground, but it's neat, clean, with large, wide, full-hookup sites. It's very comfortable and I'm sure we'll stay here again the next time we're in the Twin Cities.

The reason we're here is to see our old friends and neighbors Jim and Sue. I don't mean "old" as in "old"; I mean "old" as in "long-time". They're a couple of wonderful people who we bonded with when we lived next door to them way back in the middle 80's. For years, Dar and Sue have gotten together to make antipasto. What, you ask, is antipasto? Here's one dictionary definition:
[ahn-tee-PAHS-toh; an-tee-PAST-oh] Literally meaning "before the meal," this Italian term refers to hot or cold hors d'oeuvre. An assortment of antipasti could include appetizers such as cheese, smoked meats, olives, fish and marinated vegetables.

Dar and Sue's version has an assortment of vegetables and tuna in a tomato paste/olive oil/vinegar brine. The mixture is cooked and canned. It keeps without refrigeration. When opened it's a great hors d'oeuvre served on crackers -- perfect for a couple of vagabonds as we travel around the country.

It was Jim and Sue who, years ago, really introduced us to the idea of having a fire-ring in the backyard of your house. (Campfires aren't just for camping anymore!) And, as you'd expect, we've had campfires almost nightly during this visit -- after all the work is done, of course. Jim and I launched their boat into the Minnesota River and we spent most of Monday touring the Twin Cites by boat on the Mississippi River. Due to the downed bridge in Minneapolis, it wasn't possible to really get to downtown Minneapolis, but we did a complete river tour of St. Paul and stopped at a dock-side restaurant for lunch on the river. It's a great un-congested way to see the city, especially on a sunny day.

That a quick summary of the past few days. Thanks for reading.

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