Wednesday, September 05, 2007




After surviving the storm, the weather gods decided to stop scaring us and the sun came out. Temperatures in the mid eighties, with clear skies.

We visited Fort Snelling which was the first white settlement in Minneapolis. It is situated on a bluff overlooking the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. Most of the fort has been restored to its original condition. There are people dressed in period clothing, playing the roles of those who lived there in the 1830. Solders, blacksmith, shopkeeper, doctor and cook. They each played their roles and explained to us what life was like back then.

The next day we took a shuttle bus to the Minnesota State Fair. The place was packed. Although the Del Mar Fair has lots of junk food, the Minnesota Fair is junk food. The fair grounds are huge and set out with streets in the traditional square blocks. Food booths line each of the streets. On top of that, there were buildings dedicated just to food. Everything comes on a stick, from the common, Hot Dog on a Stick, to the uncommon Breakfast on a Stick and Pork Chop on a Stick. Since the Midwest is farm country, there were lots of displays related to farming. Corn, dairy products, pork, and tractors galore. There was even a life sized cow carved out of butter. All in all it was a pretty good fair, and beats the Del Mar Fair in the food category.

I spent the next day exploring downtown Minneapolis and the state capitol in St. Paul, while Cathie lay around the pool. Downtown is pretty clean with a great system of bike/jogging paths around the Mississippi River. I wasn’t able to get close enough to the collapsed bridge, but most of it had already been removed. I didn’t stay long in the downtown area due to a Vikings game in the afternoon.

Our next stop was a campground near Shawano, Wisconsin. The result of being America’s Dairyland, Wisconsin is also America Fly Nation. They were pretty thick when the air was calm. The campground is mostly occupied with seasonal campers. They move their RV’s in at the beginning of summer and stay till fall. At night they roll out a big movie screen and everyone brings a chair. We spent time visiting with a retired co-worker who lives nearby. He has spent the last six summers, since retiring, building a lakefront home on property that has been in his family for years. A really beautiful setting, until winter when everything freezes.

It’s raining now so we are hold up in the trailer. We are in St. Ignace, Michigan in a state park which on the Straits of Mackinac. The Straits separate Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Across the Strait is Mackinaw City which we can be reached on the 5 mile long Mackinac Suspension Bridge. Every Labor Day, which was yesterday, they close several lanes on the bridge in the morning to allow walkers and joggers to cross the on foot. Participants cross going south and return via school busses. Well it turns out the powers to be didn’t expect 57,000 people to walk across the bridge. We heard stories of people having to wait up to 4 hours for a bus ride back. Usually people are allowed to walk on the bridge till around 11 am, but there were still people walking at 4 pm. It took several hours for a car to drive across and traffic was backed up for miles. Glad we didn’t get into town until after 4:00.
We are still enjoying ourselves and are seeing areas of the country we’ve never been in. St. Ignace is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or the U.P. as the locals call it. Tomorrow we will head south, across the Mackinac Bridge onto the Lower Peninsula, still exploring new lands.

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