Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Minnesota sunset

We traveled from Chicago to Wisconsin for an overnight stay and then moved on to the the Leech Lake recreation area in northern Minnesota. This is lake country - there is water everywhere. I took these photos last night over the marshes and lakes.

Minnesota Sunset

We are staying at a fantastic park built by the Core of Engineers. If you are not familiar with COE parks, I would highly recommend checking one out. They are among the best places we have found to camp - clean, spacious and quiet. And this one has full hook-ups!

You may know that the Mississippi river starts in Minnesota. It's a pretty small creek around here, and we crossed it several times when traveling in the area. We plan to cross it again next spring in Mississippi where it's probably a bit bigger. 

The Mighty Mississippi

In the bustling town of Bemidji we stopped at a local Indian-owned restaurant called "The Marvelous Fish House." They get fresh perch and walleye delivered every day from the nearby Red Lake. Today was perch night, $13 for all you can eat, and it was delicious - probably the second best perch I've ever eaten (the best was some perch I caught myself when I was a kid). Here is my third helping: 

We also had some great local beer, a brown ale called Lost Trout from Third Street brewhouse. I plan to sample local beer everywhere we go and I'll post pics along the way.

We plan to stay here another 4 days unless the mosquitos carry our motorhome away. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Enjoying the Second City

Chicago. Believe it or not with all the traveling Denise and I have done in our lives we had never made it here. Wow, what a great city! The weather was perfect and we walked all over. Here are a few pics from the top of the Hancock tower.

Chi-town and Lake Michigan from the Hancock building

Twisted view of the beach and city to the North
We visited Millenium park and took in the Art Institute. I thought that the collection of impressionist paintings were fantastic - on par with the Barnes museum in Phila and the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. One of my favorites paintings of all time is the famous "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" by Seurat and we got to see it in person.

A highlight of the Art Institute
While at Millenium park we took a few pics by "The Bean" - a cool mirror sculpture. Note the Victory T-shirt - we sent the pics to the brewpub in hopes of getting them to send us some free stuff.

The Bean
The Hopdevil and The Bean

Look carefully at the center - that's us! 
We took in the Detroit-Chicago White Sox game and enjoyed the trouncing that the Tigers bestowed on the Sox (6-2). Fortunately there were lots of Tigers fans in the crowd so we had fun cheering our home town. 

Tigers win!! Too bad for Chicago fans.
Some of you might be wondering if we drove the 42 foot beast into the city - NO WAY. We left the motorhome at an RV park in Joliet IL (Hollywood Casino RV park), drove into Chicago and stayed at the Palomar hotel. 

We had a wonderful dinner at the Sable restaurant adjacent to the hotel and stopped in the bar afterward to sample a scotch. I looked behind the bar to see what they had on offer and saw 2 huge shelves stacked 4 bottles deep with single malts!! They offered no less than 320 different bottles of scotch. The bartender was very knowledgeable and was impressed when I told him that my favorite was Highland Park 18 (also one of his favorites). He offered me a Tobermory 15 which was fantastic. We got to talking and he pulled some unique bottles off the shelf for me to try. One was Bruichladdich Black Art: 
 Black Art - fantastic, lots of flavor and complexity, not too peaty, 
After I enjoyed that one he brought out a tiny taste of Bunnahabhain 40 year old - the most expensive dram they had on the bar at $450 per ounce. Thankfully he comped me on this because I hated it. It tasted like sucking on a burnt piece of oak. The bartender told us about the guys who came in accompanied by 2 "escorts", asked for the best scotch, ordered 2 shots for $900 and downed them in one gulp. I can only imagine what they paid for the escorts. 

If you want to buy a bottle you can get one here for only 1,975 UK Pounds (plus shipping).
Bunnahabhain 40

$450 per ounce - not good but at least it was free

That was our 3 days in Chi-town. We had a blast but we're exhausted and ready for some peace and quiet. On to the lake country of Minnesota...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Got Bacon?

When in Michigan we stopped at Tony's I-75 restaurant which is famous for its 1 pound BLT's. You heard that right, a full pound of bacon. It's so unbelievable that Mythbusters visited the place to check it out and proclaimed it "confirmed".  The place has also been on Diner's, Drive-ins and Dives and the Travel channel.  A picture speaks louder than words...

A full pound of bacon on homemade Italian bread
with a bit of lettuce and tomato
The BLT pictured above was being delivered by our server to another table. We were looking for something a bit smaller, so I asked our friendly server about the egg sandwich.  "Is it smaller than the BLT?" I asked, and she assured me that it was.  You can judge for yourself: 

The Bacon and Egg sandwich was fantastic! 
OK, maybe a bit less than a pound of bacon on this one. It tasted great, but I could only eat about half of it.  

Denise thought she was safe ordering an omelet. A modest 6-egg affair filled with cheese and (you guessed it) tons of bacon. I'm not sure what that look on her face signifies - I guess a combination of amusement and embarrassment.  

Size Matters!!
We managed to escape without having a coronary and needless to say we didn't have to eat for about 24 hours. 

Bottom line: if you are ever in Michigan on I-75 near Birch Run (just north of Flint) stop in for a light bite. After your BLT you might want to try their banana split which is made with a half gallon of ice cream.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The beautiful lakes of Michigan

Michigan is our home state, but I am not invoking any bias when I say that it is one of the most beautiful states in the Union. The lakes are truly unbelievably gorgeous - it's like being in the Caribbean.  We visited Algonac and Port Huron to visit family and then went "up north" to Petoskey.

The view from our table at a restaurant in Bay Harbor MI
Views from a winery on the Mission Peninsula
 That's Grand Traverse Bay in the Distance

MI welcome sign in Port Huron MI

Looks like the Carribean but it's Lake Michigan

Denise and her folks at Algonac State Park
We stayed at a fancy "Motorcoach Resort" in Bay Harbor - that's our RV in the center next to a Prevost! 

Not really camping... 

While near Detroit I was able to get to a Tigers game -
but they lost to the White Sox ;-)

We leave Michigan and head on to Illinois and a few days in luxury at a Chicago hotel. We plan to go to US Cellular field where the Tigers will play the White Sox again. This time we'll beat them. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Direction of Travel - West!

Today was our departure day. We left the Brandywine Creek campground in the morning and set out for our adventure westward. We hooked up the car and the bikes and off we went... ready or not. 

Leaving PA in our new home with car and bikes in tow

Direction of Travel is West
The day was pretty uneventful as we traversed the PA turnpike in light traffic toward our first stop in Streetsboro Ohio. As we crossed the PA-Ohio border we reminisced about all the great times we had in Pennsylvania over the past 30 years. It has been a wonderful place to live and we plan to return next spring to visit all the great friends we are leaving behind.  

Off to Ohio and points west.  We hit a bit of rain this evening which didn't dampen our spirits at all. Tomorrow we head to Michigan and a visit with family.  

Friday, July 5, 2013

How to you get your mail?

This is one of the most common questions we get when we tell people that we sold our house and will be living in our Motorhome. We need an address (legally called a "domicile") because we no longer own a home in PA. We decided to use a mail forwarding service in South Dakota called "America's Mailbox". These nice folks provide us with a true mailing address (not just a PO box), and anyone who needs to send us physical mail will use this address. Of course these days the need for paper mail is small because almost all documents and bills are on-line. But when that important piece of cellulose does need to reach us, the folks at Americas Mailbox collect it, sort out the junk and forward it anywhere we want, any time we want.  

This is the "first" package we received as nomads:

Our mail found us after it took a cross-country tour

There were only 2 pieces of mail inside the package, and neither was very important, so it was kind of anti-climactic. But the service is very convenient and so far we are happy with it.  

When we get to South Dakota in August we plan to get SD drivers licenses and vehicle registrations.  

Our new "home" 

We are leaving in 2 days. The last few weeks have been wonderful, exciting and sad all that the same time. We filled the pod, sold the car and made settlement on the house. We had many tearful goodbye parties with our fantastic friends, and a bit too much wine. The adventure begins...