WI/MN - July 31 - Aug 9

Wednesday July 31st:

Departed Indy and headed to MN to see family and friends for 10 days or so and get some much needed help from Dad on misc RV projects. Need to make this house on wheels a home on wheels.  Some tears of sadness of temporarily leaving loved ones, but mainly an overwhelming feeling that the day is finally here!

Of course our first stop was for a chocolate dipped cone!

We found a cool iPhone license plate search game that JAK and I enjoyed. We found 15 of the fifty in the hour or so of watching every car and truck that passed us. Note: we get passed a lot!!

We decided against driving all the way and stopped for the night around 8pm. Since the goal was to get up early we settled in at the local Walmart after asking for permission to park for the night. Walmarts are good places to stop because they have security and are well lit. Thank goodness for 'night shades'!

For dinner the kids had corndogs and kiwi. Melissa and I had crab cakes and pork dumplings from our great friend Jane. 

After dinner we watched the first half of life of Pi and settled in for our very first night in the RV. Yes, this is the point you say "what?! You've set out for a year and never spent a night in it?" That's right. We followed almost all the great advice we received for this type of family trip except that small one item. We'd mentally committed to this trip before we had the RV so we figured spending time in it before would mean spending time away from our Indy family/friends.  Additionally, what if it scared us? Would we potentially back out of the trip?  Is spending a week or weekends even comparable mentally to spending a year?  It just didn't seem like the thing to do. Yes, there will likely be some kinks that wind us up in a RV shop away from home, but that will be part of our adventure and dealing with it will be part of our learning as a family.

Thursday Aug 1st

One nice thing about parking at Walmart - your pantry is huge!  We picked out two kinds of Apple for a blind taste test. The girls prefer Pink Lady apples and the rest of us preferred McIntosh. 

In trying to organize the large (ha) counter during cooking , I managed to put the filter cover for our Aeropress coffee press in the wrong/trash bag (oh no JIM!!!!)…so if you need one, check the parking row 10 trash can in the Tomah, WI.  Thank goodness for Amazon prime, replacement on the way.

At our next fuel stop, we decided to get the RV weighed to make sure we had our tire pressure set correctly. 34,000lbs / 17 tons with the Jeep!!

As we approached MN, we found out there was a Twins game and my brother-in-law was going with our niece Brooke and the children from the summer program that he runs. We'd never been to the new stadium. It's amazing!  Thanks Jeff!!

Unfortunately, we had to park the RV on the east side of the Twin cities and head into downtown with the jeep. This resulted in our first rush hour experience with road construction. It was ok though because Brooke was now with us and the kids were able to finish watching life of Pi while I learned the benefits of an "engine brake" (cool!).

When we arrived at Lake Sylvia in MN, Dad guided us right into our parking spot for the week on their property.  You can't really tell from the picture, but I was blown away with his pin point instructions as I backed into that spot between the garage and tree with inches to spare. Melissa and I need some lessons this week!

Kid quote of the Day: 
Anna and Katie yelling after Twins game with foam finger sticking out the top of the jeep "Go Twins, WE are the Minnesota twins!!"

Friday Aug 1 - Saturday Aug 10th

I'm going to lump these days together. Wake up, have fun, rinse, repeat. It's always fun to be at "the lake".

All the kids went skiing 

We caught sunfish...and fried sunfish!

I was able to participate in a Cowboy Action shoot with Dad. It was good fun.  All the people who participate are so friendly and welcoming. 

One of the pieces of advice we received regarding what to bring and what to leave: "Bring whatever you use on a regular basis at home and leave what you don't"  Seems simple right?  So why do people laugh when they find out we brought our giant waffle maker and our beloved Kitchen Aid mixer?

Anyway, we decided to have a "Waffle-Off" on Monday morning. At least our 15lbs waffle maker received the most votes - Dad voted for his own, but I'm fairly sure that's because he doesn't want to buy a better model:)

On Tuesday, we were able to visit with three great families. First we stopped by to see our friends/neighbors and the house where all 3 of our children were born

Then we were treated to an awesome afternoon on the St. Croix river.

And we ended with a great dinner with best friends in their new home….and somehow I managed to only get one blurred picture. But it's fitting as it portrays how much fun we had with them:

Kids Quotes from the week:

Katie: "Daddy, you look a lot skinnier in those jeans than you really are"
Anna frustrated with strap burn for that child strap that goes between their legs on small life jackets: "Why did God have to make so many straps!!"
Katie:  "Mommy, why are you wearing the same outfit every day?" 

On Sunday our "vacation" in MN ends and our Big Country, Big Venture trip begins/continues!