Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cleveland, OH Area 8/10/13 - 8/26/13

We just finished up two weeks in the Cleveland, OH area (Chagrin Falls and Twinsburg, with us staying at Punderson Lake State Park).  We did little ‘sightseeing’ while there, mainly because it had been too long since we got to relax and visit with family and we know we will be back here again soon.  Instead this trip to the Cleveland area we took the time for many visits, Bob got to play several rounds of golf with his Dad and we also got to take care of a few things like oil changes, haircuts, a damaged stabilizer bracket and even the spaghetti wire mess in our truck for our Sirius -in other words, those things in life that are difficult to have time to accomplish as traveling nomads.  We had a very time packed, but good time.  Bob’s sister Mary and Husband Chris, as well as Bob’s Mom and Dad live her.  We got to spend time with all of them as well as with Bob’s sister Jacquie who came through on her way back to Vermont.  Lots of great visits with family with many meals shared, bike rides with Mary and Golf lessons too!  Teri has never played golf and has wanted to learn so we took the opportunity while being in one place for a while to do that with her taking lessons along with Mary.  She has clubs and shoes now and is looking forward to getting on a golf course for the first time when we get to KY the end of August.

Our bike rides (most with Mary) in the Cleveland area were filled with nature-Herons, turtles, beavers and even a snake.  We took one afternoon to drive into Cleveland to visit Cleveland's oldest publicly owned market, the Westside Market.  The market is over 100 years old and is home to over 100 vendors of great ethnic diversity.  We brought home with us Slovenia Sausages, green olives stuffed with blue cheese and Jewish Rye bread as well as lots of fresh vegetables (or lots for our little RV refrigerator).  All was so very tasty.  The Cantaloupes out front were the largest cantaloupes we have ever seen and the vendor seemed confused as to why we would snap pictures of his cantaloupes.  Outside of the market we saw a new wall for ‘Before I die I want to’.  We snapped a shot as Teri had just read a story about this global public art project started by artist Candy Chang .  Candy Chang began the first wall on an abandoned house in her neighborhood in New Orleans after she lost someone she loved.   Before I Die walls have now been created in over 20 languages and in over 50 countries. The story of these walls can be found at:

Downtown Cleveland has so many neat old buildings. Lots to visit on a return.   On leaving the Westside Market we noticed one of these historic building tucked in the corner of the parking lot that turned out to be St. Emeric’s Church.  Like so many things in our travels, there are so many stories right in front of you that are often not heard.  St. Emeric is a 100  year old plus Hungarian Parish with a recent interesting story.  It was one of several churches that the local Catholic Bishop closed siting shortages of priests and cash.  The parishioners, many of them second- and third-generation members of the church, challenged some of the closings, staged sit-ins and other protests.  In a rare occurrence, Rome reversed the Bishop’s decisions to close these churches and St. Emeric’s along with other churches were restored.  This was an important decision for the 350 parishioners, many of whom spoke only Hungarian and are happy to have their worship community restored.

Bob and Dad on the Golf Course
The Short Golfer
Blue Heron on the Bike Trail
Snake on the Bike Trail
Westside Market
All sorts of Produce at Westside Market
The Huge Cantaloupes
Before I Die Wall
St. Emeric Church
St. Emeric Inside


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Preston, MN - Bluff Country 7/31/13 - 8/5/13

As we travel across the Midwest, one thing is always key, to approach each day leisurely.  There is no rush in the towns we have traveled and that is enjoyable.

The Bluff Country has Heritage Farms (passed through generations), bike trails galore, Amish areas and even caves.

First day here was the Mystery Cave tour.  The Mystery Cave is located in Forestville State Park.  The cave, spanning over 13 miles underground is the longest discovered cave in Minnesota.  Included within the cave were stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, fossils, and even a couple of underground pools.  Some of the fossils seen in the cave (sea type creatures)were over 4 million years old.  That is twice the age of the dinosaurs!  We toured with just 4 of us and a very informative guide.

We enjoyed our remaining 3 full days in Bluff Country riding some absolutely wonderful bike trails.....trails full of wildflowers, trees and occasional deer.  We visited many of the neighboring towns.  I think our favorite was Lanesboro and we will return.  We went to the Pedal Pusher cafĂ© in Lanesboro twice.
The food was excellent.  Bob twice had the Buffalo burger with Cheddar and bacon and onion rings on top.  Teri had the Swedish meatballs first trip there and the PB and A burger the second time around (peanut butter, bacon and apple slices).  Excellent on all but would probably hold the apple slices on the PB and A on a return.  We also splurged on their sinful ice cream one of the days.

Two of the days we rode the Root River trail, a 60-mile paved trail network through trees, prairies and the surrounding bluffs.  This trail took us through many of the surrounding towns of Fountain, Harmony, Preston, Lanesboro, and Whalen.  Whalen has the distinction of being the home of the standstill parade.  The town is so small that each year in the one block stretch of downtown, they host a parade.  The parade, however, does not move.  The spectators instead walk around to view the parade from beginning to end.

We also rode the Shooting Star trail while here from Leroy to Taopi and back which took us through the Lake Louise State Park and also though huge fields of wild flowers.  After all the steep hills in CA we are finding it refreshing to ride more gradual climbs.  The weather was beautiful the entire time we were here.

Our last day in this area we rode back to Lanesboro to watch the local Buffalo Days parade. The parade had bands and barbershop singers as well as a good Elvis singer.  And where else would one find a buffalo walking in a parade?  All the parade participants threw candy to the kids and one could not help but get caught up in the excitement that we were surrounded by.

While there was lots of road construction, which made it difficult to get around, (remember the slowing down part) we had a great time riding some really beautiful trails and the weather was fantastic.

Heritage Farm
Amish Buggy
Soda Straw Formations in Mystery Cave
Flowstone in Mystery Cave
Water Pool in Mystery Cave
Don't even ask
Bob stops along the wild flowers
Fields of Wild Flowers
Canopies of Trees
A Working Wasp
Whalen the home of the stand still parade
The star of the Lanesboro Parade
The excitement of the kids

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sioux Falls, SD 7/28/13 - 7/31/13

South Dakota:  For those of you that do not know, this is our new home state.  We came here to take care of driver’s licenses and registrations and to just enjoy all that South Dakota has to offer.  Our time here was short this trip, however as always, enjoyable.

We stayed in Big Sioux State park.  This was a lovely park.  We rode bikes along the Sioux River, walked the Sculpture walk in downtown Sioux Falls (sculptures change every year), enjoyed walking amongst  the falls and the state park and also enjoyed an exceptional lunch at Lam's Vietnamese Restaurant

The Sculptures
 The Sculptures
 The Sculptures
 The Sculptures
The Sculptures
 The Courthouse
The Falls

North Platte, NE 7/26/13 - 7/27/13

We thought we were in North Platte, Nebraska for 2 days of rest and to catch up on laundry, little did we know when we arrived that we were staying in the locations of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Scout Rest Ranch and also the location of the world's largest train yard in the world, the Union Pacific's Bailey Yard.
Buffalo Bill Cody’s Scout Rest Ranch was interesting for many reasons.  From 1868 until 1872, Cody was employed as a scout by the United State Army, thus the name Scout's Rest Ranch.  We toured his mansion, his huge barn and the acres of land that he had.  We learned of Buffalo Bill from his childhood through his death.  There were so many old videos to view which were incredibly interesting, including many of his actual wild west shows.  Most of the animals from his Wild West show were stored within his ranch barn.

Buffalo Bill Cody held his first rodeo in North Platte on July 4, 1882, as the town had no 4th of July celebration.  From this his Buffalo Bill's Wild West got its start in North Platte in 1882 as the Old Glory Blowout. 

Buffalo Bill was friend of many including Sitting Bull and Annie Oakley.  Sitting Bull toured with the Wild West show during the season of 1885.  When Sitting Bull left the show, Buffalo Bill gave him a white horse named Gray Ghost.  The horse had been trained to perform tricks at the sound of gunshots.  During an attempted arrest of Sitting Bull, Dec 18 1890, Sitting Bull was killed.  When gunshots broke out, Gray Ghost picked up his cue and began performing.  While bullets flew, the horse sat down and raised one foot.  The Indian police were terrified, thinking that Sitting Bull had entered the horse.  Lots of neat memorabilia was on the grounds.
From there we headed to the Union Pacific's Bailey Yard. Not sure why this never entered our radar before, but this was an incredibly interesting place.  With all the rail traffic across the US, I guess we never thought about the logistics before.  Well, the logistics happen here, in corn and soy growing Nebraska!  This yard sorts, services and repairs locomotives and cars headed all across North America. This rail yard is the largest in the world (8 miles X 2 miles).  They not only service all the locomotives coming in but they build the trains going east and west across the entire US with great precision.  They have precision 'hump' yards.  These hump yards push train cars, that are organized by town in to long segments.  The engines push these cars into segments that are then connected (by gravity) and sent to build long rail cars (be it east or west).  The various 'segments' can then be dropped at various yards across the country.  It was an incredible thing to watch.  Not impressed yet?

The yard totals 315 miles of track, 985 switches, 766 turnouts. Union Pacific employs more than 2,600 people in North Platte, most of whom are responsible for the day-to-day operations of Bailey Yard. An average of 139 trains and over 14,000 railroad cars pass through Bailey Yard every day, and the yard sorts approximately 3,000 cars daily using the yard’s two  humps.  It's like a major airline hub on steroids! It all makes sense, just one of those things most (or at least ourselves) never pondered about.  

Buffalo Bill Cody's Mansion in North Platte, NE
 Buffalo Bill Cody , Scout's Ranch Barn
Inside  the Mansion
Sitting Bull's Grey Horse
Bill Cody with wife
Buffalo Bill Cody Original Posters
Buffalo Bill Cody Original Posters
Baily Yard Repair Facility
Baily Yard including hump facility