Sunday, January 5, 2014

Lake Itasca & Max's First Boat Ride

We were up bright and early and rolled up to the Lake Itasca registration office right on time. We were surprised to see 3 other people in front of us. We were given a number and told to come back at 11am. What? Now what? How to kill four hours? We drove on into the park and found a nice day use area to walk the animals. We leashed up Erley and were just going for a saunter. As we walked away from the RV we realized we didn't have any kind of permit and were basically in this gigantic state park with no pass. Oh well. We were told to come back at 11am and that was our story. Erley was into the "walk" part of the saunter and led us into a log cabin with a bunch of museum stuff. We looked at all the displays and walked out the exit. Of course no pets were allowed but that early there was no one around and we tend to ignore all of those signs. You would have no fun if you followed all the rules that other people make up for you. We walked into the woods along the lake and Erley was just trucking along so we let him lead. We went about a 1/2 mile down to the main attraction at the park which is the headwaters of the Mississippi River as it starts its winding 2,552 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Erley was kinda tired at that point and wanted to just lay down on a bench for awhile. The mosquitoes were thick in the still morning air and it was a rough combination walking at a kitties pace all the while trying to protect ourselves from the hoards of biting insects. Even Max and Erley started getting landed on so we all spent a little time savoring the starting place of one of the world's mightiest rivers before moving out.

Lake Itasca State Park is Minnesota's oldest state park having been established in 1891. It's also one of the states largest and most popular parks spanning over 32,000 acres and dotted with more than one hundred lakes. Visitors come from all over the continental U.S. to camp here, along with a huge number of foreign tourists looking to spend some time in the Minnesota wilderness. On top of all of these out of state tourists, Lake Itasca State Park is also hugely popular with Minnesotans who plan years in advance for family reunions and camp-outs. Honestly you couldn't find a busier place to try to squeeze into on a Saturday in August. We were shocked when we went back to the office and saw a line of about 25 cars and rv's off to the side waiting to see if they could get in. We of course just drove right past them and to the head of the "registration" lane, parked and got out to hear David's name called from the window. He barged past the anxious crowd to receive his camping permit for two days and proceeded to ask a bunch of inane questions to which the ranger gave long winded answers. All for show of course. :) We merrily drove away quite pleased with how things turned out.
We weren't quite so pleased once we reached the campground as it was tightly packed and crowded. Across from us was a trio of loud "girls" that talked about their sexual orientation for hours. Everybody had fires and the air was thick and hard to breathe. We made a nice dinner and actually had a fire as well.If you can't beat em join em as they say.
Next day we rented a small boat and motor for some fishing. Max was utterly terrified of getting in the boat and was shaking like he had some kind of palsy. I held him tight to me and tried to calm him with encouraging cooing sounds while we putted out into the lake. He calmed right down once we were under way and we opened up the throttle and actually made a wake. We fished all over and made one shore stop where Max fully engaged his feet on the trail and made a show of running all over at warp speed. Pooped a bit too I think. Then we all went back to fishing. Max never whined or seemed impatient. He just looked around at the birds and other boats. Seemed to enjoy it.
David dropped me off at the parking lot and we were stunned at the level of activity. The lots were full and hordes of people were renting boats and bikes and gearing up for recreation. David went back to boat fishing by himself while Max and I went back to the RV and had a nice lunch. A middle eastern family decided to park next to the RV and have their picnic lunch while standing around in a dusty gravel parking lot. They had the food set up in the trunk and were milling about eating. Weird. Why not go set up at one of the hundreds of picnic tables and scenic areas?
We drove around the park and stopped at different attractions. Took Erley on a woods walk where a lady saw him and just freaked out. She demanded that I hold him so she could pet him and then she just chanted at Erley how pretty he was and how special and what a big boy and on and on all the while stroking him all over. It got a little uncomfortable there...She ignored Max completely which always hurts his feelings. People usually either shower the dog or the cat with attention and ignore the other creature. And I mean completely ignore.

Erley pooping on leash. Just like a dog. Who knew?

He absolutely loves stumps and trees
We had one more night of choking smoke and loud sex stories and then we took off early. Actually had to wait in line to use the dump station. We had never had to do that and so had never watched anybody else do it. We were absolutely horrified when we watched the man do the whole thing with no gloves. Then proceed to get back in the truck without washing his hands. You realize everything that man touches in the truck is contaminated. And I bet he ate his lunch without washing his hands either. Totally disgusting! Disposable gloves are cheap people. Please wash your hands with hot water and soap at least. Yeesh...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

That could be the title to our lives really. We love to plunge into new ideas and adventures and then if things don't go as we wish them to, or if we become bored and disillusioned we have no problem bailing out and going back home. Or off to a new adventure. We've lived an interesting life because of it! So if you haven't guessed it already, we are back home in our cabin that we bought right before we left (thank goodness because who knows what would've happened without an exit strategy?) and have been since October 9. 
We made it to Bar Harbor Maine and stayed in the state of Maine a good month while we pondered continuing the rest of the trip. Maine was amazing and we loved it there. The people are so nice and we loved the Bar Harbor Campground where we had a water view and a big field and woods to walk the animals. And the lobster..... mmm so good.
Crew on Maine Seashore

Arcadia National Park
Life on the road in an RV is not for us. Good thing we figured that out early before we decided to sell our home and go on the road for good. This was just a foray to see how we liked it and if it would be a possibility in the future of being fully retired. Not so much.

 I can't begin to even count all the reasons why but I will share the short list. Living in that small space with a cat and a dog. Tough. Very hairy and dirty and dusty and food dishes and water dishes and cat litter dust. Combine that with a bed that is super hard to make so we just leave it down all the time. The dog and cat jump up there after walks with sandy feet and we end up sleeping in a sandy bed no matter how hard we try and keep it clean. And as a result we have no real lounge area that we loved so much when we looked at the Pleasure Ways. And add in trying to keep clean in a tiny bathroom or showering in a different public shower all the time. Annoying and not remotely vacation-like. Add in driving all the time and going to dump stations and maintaining the RV. Having to chat with a million different people about the animals mainly. We're not super social anyway and to live in the public eye all the time is wearying. Little things like all the drinking water east of Idaho is so foul as to not even be drinkable. I can't tell you how nice it is to actually be able to run the tap water in our cabin and get a glass of water that tastes icy and clean. Other things like almost bursting into tears every time any little thing goes wrong. Like a cup falls out of the cupboard and hits you on the head. Every day. Spilling the coffee grounds on the floor because you're trying to do too much in a small area. All of that put stress on us and we did not get along very well. Damaged our relationship a bit I'd say. We've been married over 26 years and don't fight that much but we had some doosies. David wandering in grocery stores for 45 minutes while I wait in the blazing sun in the Rv trying to keep the animals cool and thinking he was just going in for ice. Pissed doesn't begin to cover it. The mutual rage that simmered for hours while we drove in complete silence just isn't good for one's mental health. All the while I'm thinking that I signed up for this. This is what I chose to do as a vacation. How in the world did I make that decision? Based on what? Why did I think rattling (and I do mean rattling as the roads in the US are in BAD shape) around driving all the time would be fun? I guess I thought we would stop and stay in cool places for longer but we had ADD when it comes to staying in one place. Especially an RV park.
Erley in Bar Harbor Maine

We did see some amazing things and had some special moments that we will treasure forever but for the amount of money we were spending and the angst we were feeling, we didn't feel like we were getting our bang for the buck. And even though Erley and Max were good sports about the whole thing I do think they were getting a little irritated by it. Especially Erley. He was ready to come home and be free. Of course now that we're home he stays in all the time and sleeps a lot. He hates cold weather.
So we are home and happy and content again for awhile. We're planning an amazing garden and have already made a cool twig gate. We've been spending our days beach combing for neato pieces of driftwood. Free building material! We love living in the Gorge so far and have been waiting for a big snow storm. The weather is different every day and no the wind doesn't blow all the time. It's been still as glass for a week straight. No fog and sun all the time. We'll update this with a pic of the garden when we get it finished. Happy New Year!