We drove north out of Omaha and took a quick jaunt off the interstate to Le Mars, Iowa, the home of Blue Bunny Ice Cream. We dropped into their visitor center and ice cream parlor for a tasty lunch. Josie had butter pecan with chocolate syrup, while I had a waffle cone of mint chocolate chip.
We then drove to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for an independent league baseball game, featuring the home town Sioux Falls Canaries. We have now seen a professional baseball game in all of the lower 48 states. After the game we drove to our adopted home town of Madison, South Dakota to pick up our mail. We boon docked that evening in the local supermarket parking lot. I tried to get Josie to try the South Dakota specialty "Chislic" (marinated fried beef cubes) but she passed on the opportunity. At 4 am we were hit by a severe thunder storm with high winds, heavy rains and small hail. We pulled in the bedroom slide, the only one we had out, so the cover would not get damaged by the hail. We came through with no problems, but there were many tree limbs down in the town next morning. .
We picked up our mail from Terri at My Dakota Address and drove north to Littlefork, Minnesota to visit Josie's Aunt Mary Jane and her Cousin Warren. Littlefork is 15 miles south of the Canadian border near International Falls. Josie had not seen her aunt in over 50 years so they had a lot of catching up to do. We had a great two days visiting them They showered us with hospitality and treated us to a great time. They have 80 acres of land almost all forested, on the Little Fork River. They have 4 dogs, and seven horses. We drove all over the property in their ATVs and Warren was brave enough to let Josie and me take one of them out for a spin. Josie drove and we had a ball. To my delight they feed the birds and I have never seen so many Rose- breasted Grosbeaks in one place. They also have a large colony of Cliff Swallows living under the eaves of their garage. Warren and I also scared up a brood of Ruffed Grouse. We do hope to get back there and visit again.
We left Minnesota and decided to make a long day of it and drive all the way to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We had seen a post from birding and Facebook friend Calvin Brennen about the Crisp Point Lighthouse on the south shore of Lake Superior and the Superior Agates that are found on the beaches there. We drove the 44 miles from our campsite in Grand Marais, Michigan following our GPS. Almost all of the roads were dirt, but we drove 3 miles on a sandy two rut road that was only big enough for one car at a time. If we had not had four wheel drive we would have never made it. When we got to the Lighthouse the caretaker at the lighthouse showed us their brochure and in big letters on the map it said DO NOT FOLLOW YOUR GPS. About a mile from the lighthouse we had seen a plastic bag nailed to a tree and wondered what it meant. We found out that it marked where two sisters who had set out to find the lighthouse in April got stuck in the snow and survived 13 days on Girl Scout Cookies and cheese puffs. We remembered hearing about it on the news. From the picture below it looks like they smoked a few cigarettes too. We walked the beach and found a lot of pretty rocks but no agates. On our way home we passed a very appropriate sign.
Grand Marais is bordered by Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We hiked over to the Sable Falls in the park and we were going to hike the dunes but they are off limits due to erosion. One of the landmarks of this small town is the Pickle Barrel House. It was built by the Monarch Pickle Company for Writer and illustrator William and Mary Donahey who had a comic strip called the "Teenie Weenies" in the Chicago Tribune. The Teene Weenies lived under a rose bush in a pickle barrel. The house was in the woods but became such an attraction the Donaheys moved out of it and the town moved the house to a corner in town. While talking to the curators on duty at the house they told us about the fish fry at the town docks that was being held to announce the winners of the weekend fishing tournament. We were treated to all you could eat lake trout caught during the tournament and all the fixings. It was put on by the town and the cost was whatever donation you felt like giving. We enjoyed our time here staying right on Lake Superior and hope to come back again and stay longer. Tomorrow we drive south to mainland Michigan.
We have spent the past week at the West Omaha KOA. We don't usually stay at KOA's since they charge so much for their name value. But it was the only campground available since it was College World Series Week. Josie did take advantage of one of the amenities there, the zip line. I purchased tickets for a couple of games to the CWS last month not knowing who would make it into the tournament. As luck would have it UVA made it into the field so my daughter Missy bought a couple of tickets for me as a Father's day present. The rains backed up the schedule times of the games so our game started at 9:10 pm and finished at 12.20 am. It was worth it as the Cavaliers pulled off a shutout win over the #1 ranked Florida Gators. It was very exciting sitting with all the UVA fans. Before the game we went to the Old Market area of downtown Omaha and decided to have dinner at the Upstream Brewery. We ended up eating great appetizers and Josie was able to get a root beer, her favorite. We also discovered a coffee bar named Scooters, the nick name of Eli Haddad.
With the win on Monday Virginia did not have to play again till Friday afternoon. So we had three days to explore Omaha. If you are ever in the Omaha area plan on visiting the Henry Doorly Zoo. We visited here fifteen years ago and found it to be one of the best in the country. It is even better now and they are in the process of making it even bigger and better. After our visit to the Zoo we visited Boys Town, made famous by the movie of the same name starring Spencer Tracy and Micky Rooney. Josie added a stamp to the world's largest ball of stamps a tradition started by the boys over 50 years ago. We then visited a second location of the Upstream Brewery and had the same great appetizer of bacon wrapped shrimp and this time Josie had a very tasty Milk Stout beer.
We attended the Friday game and this time Florida was much better and beat Virginia 10-5. Since this is a double elimination tournament Virginia had to play Florida again on Saturday. We could have gotten tickets but decided to sit this one out. I was able to get out one morning and do some birding and just a few miles down the road came upon a most unexpected site, a full size light house beside the road on the banks of a small lake. Not sure what the story behind it is. Tomorrow we drive north.
We left Albuquerque and headed northeast through the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma. We spent the first night in a Walmart parking lot in Liberal, Kansas. We were going to meet my brother the next day for races in Salina, Kansas but as most of you have seen in the news the mid-west from Texas to North Dakota has been slammed with one rain storm after another. So the Salina races were canceled and we drove on to Belleville, Kansas for the Sunday night races at the High Banks Raceway. Our first night in Belleville we experienced a strong mid-west storm with 50 miles per hour winds and heavy rain. Belleville is a very small farming town that has a huge racetrack at the county fairgrounds. The track is very fast and we enjoyed the racing. We stayed right across the street from the track and it was exciting being around all of the action. Since we had an extra day in Belleville my brother Tom and I went to the local racing museum. We also visited the Boyer Museum of Animated Carvings. Mr. Boyer has carved many wooden figures and then with small motors and wires animated them. There were some very interesting and intricate works.
We then drove to Kansas City where I visited my mother. We were also able to update our GPS systems for both the RV, Car and even my golf watch at the Garmin Headquarters. The Royals were in town so of course we had to take in a game. We lost a close one 2 to 1 to the Indians.
I have always wanted to follow one of the many open wheel dirt track race weeks that are held through the Midwest. So Josie tolerated four days of racing at four different tracks. We saw races in Quincy, Jacksonville, Macon, and Belleville Illinois, moving from track to track each day. My brother has done this numerous times so he would drive ahead and save us a prime parking spot at each venue. There is a loyal racing fans fraternity who attend these races every year and Tom knew many of them. We met California Joe who is 82 years old and drives all the way from California and spends six months of each year driving from race to race. Everyone on the circuit knows him. We also met Illinois Eric, Arizona Dave and the Iowa Boys just to name a few. Each evening we had a cookout and everyone would bring something to the feast. Josie played the hostess at these events and did a superior job. I was able to see my favorite driver Rico Abreu drive again. He may be small in stature but he is a big time driver. He is making the transition to the lower levels of NASCAR because that is where the big sponsor money is despite their loss of fans. Hate to see that happen but it is the reality of the sport now.
Our racing friends headed to Indiana speed week and we drove to Moscow, Iowa. Moscow is the home of the HWH Corporation, the company that makes the hydraulic systems for Winnebago. Bruce and Audra Stewart had told us we could go there and have them service the RV's hydraulic system just as you would go in and get an oil change for your car. They have hookups for your RV so you can stay overnight and be there early on the day of your appointment. We were in and out of the service bay in a little under two hours, since the coach checked out in perfect condition. Since we had the time we stopped in at the Amana Colonies. The Amana's were a communal sect that worked together for the good of the community. They later expanded into making appliances with the very familiar names of Amana, Maytag and Whirlpool. We replaced a broom we bought there fifteen years ago. We also bought some of their famous Maytag Blue Cheese. We also picked up a six pack of their amber beer and root beer. We drove on to Des Moines, where we had a lake view from our camp site. We attended an Iowa Cubs game and I was able to take a birding field trip with the Des Moines Audubon Society. We move tomorrow to Omaha, Nebraska.