Mitzi, Ryan and Eda Adeline

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June 22nd 2017
Published: June 22nd 2017
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Englewood, Florida, United States
Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mitzi, Ryan and Eda Adeline

I had decided I wouldn't write about this trip; after all, it was just another road trip north from our home in Florida to see my family in Minnesota. What could possibly be so special or interesting about that? My attitude was suddenly adjusted just 45 miles from home when the first blow-out on the travel trailer occurred. Unfortunately, we were situated between traffic traveling 75 miles per hour on US 75 and an entrance ramp with little room for Bob to change a tire. He fired up the generator in the truck bed to use the electric impact wrench and I crossed my fingers, not daring to open the passenger’s door lest it be removed by the traffic whizzing by. Less than an hour later, a second boom signaled another dead tire. This one also removed the trailer fender. Bob was able to pull over to change it when we discovered that the generator had ignited a board that was lying next to it in the truck bed and a piece of cardboard he had placed beneath the generator to protect the newly-purchased truck! The cardboard was completely gone and so was most of the board, so much for a pristine truck bed. Luckily the rest of the flammable materials nearby—the first shredded tire and four 5-gallon cans of diesel—had not ignited!

With no spare left, we limped into Ocala where a wonderful PepBoys crew full of quick, congenial, efficient service fixed us up with two new tires. Just an hour earlier we had seriously contemplated turning around and scratching the trip. Not only had we experienced the flat tires, but I was regretting my decision to bring our two cats, Mitzi and Ryan, on this adventure. We hadn’t dragged them along since a trip to Wyoming in 2009, but we know they are always miserable when we leave. Nevertheless Bob and I aren’t discouraged by small things and we had made promises to my mom and several other people that we would get to Minnesota. Back on the road we encountered a billboard at MM 353 that read: "Clean House in DC 2012" and we were further energized!

Our first night, July 15, 2012, was spent at Veterans Memorial State Park near Cordele, GA. Established as a memorial to veterans, this park features a museum with aircraft, armored vehicles, uniforms, weapons, medals from the Revolutionary War through the Gulf War. There is also an 18-hole golf course. Our first concern was for our two cats which needed to experience freedom from the confines of the camper. We put them in their harnesses and let them out the door. After a walk around the campground, we had dinner, watched “Go Tell the Spartans,” and called it a day.

Georgia is a great state, full of history, congenial people and unsurpassed beauty, that is, until you travel her highways! Lady Bird Johnson should be resurrected to demolish the unsightly billboards! We traveled through the small town of Vienna with businesses like Hair’s the Limit; I noticed church after church and, after further investigation, discovered there are 104 listings of houses of worship in and within 15 miles of Vienna!

Our next overnight stop was a repeat of last year: Arrowhead Campground, owned by the town of Johnston City, IL. We love this place and found it by accident last year. It’s quiet even when it’s full of campers, and it sports a quaint small lake, wooded areas, grassy fields, all for the minimal amount of $8! Mitzi escaped to one of those fields for hours, finally returning when she pooped out at 9 PM. Homemade turkey soup was the main course and we were asleep by 10.

On Tuesday, June 17, we were on the road by 8:15 traveling to Iowa City, Iowa. It was a shock to see field after field of dried up corn; the farmers here are really suffering. Our new used truck is not equipped with a factory GPS and we had gotten spoiled with the one in the Dodge, so Bob purchased an aftermarket Rand McNally unit. We love the machine but it came with an unexpected plus: street names like “Mt. Vernon” become “Montana Vernon.” We stopped for the night at Lake MacBride State Park which is named for Thomas MacBride, considered the father of conservation in Iowa. This man-made lake covers 812 acres and there are dozens of trails available. The oppressive heat (105 degrees!) kept us and the cats indoors. We suffered though “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man” (now I know why it never rented in our video store!) and called it a night.

By noon on Wednesday, we had left Iowa and were closing in on Hackensack, MN. What? Yes, there is a city by that name here as well as the better-known one in NJ. If you blink you will miss it. We stopped here because Bob had sold a ringmaster saw to the owner of the Hyde-a-Way Bay resort and didn’t want to ship it. Mark, the owner, is truly a wood master, having just finished the construction of his new home; he’ll have a blast with this saw! To show us his appreciation, we received a free camping spot and a tour of the resort. We turned the cats loose while we inspected the lake, docks, boats, cabins and beach. Later we celebrated with a steak dinner and were inspired watching Jacques Pepin, the gourmet cook!

We could not depart from Hackensack the next morning without a walkabout of Mann Lake LTD., the beekeeping business from which we have purchased countless bee supplies. Bob seriously considered the new mesh bee suits on display, but none were in stock in his size. For the next several hours we crept along highway 200 where much-needed construction is occurring. The bumps shook bolts out of our camper AC unit! Needless to say, we would recommend avoiding it until the construction is finished!

By 3 PM we arrived at Buffalo Valley Campground near Duluth; this is a wonderful, wooded place with spacious, level sites, but no sewer hook-ups and a pay shower! We were offered a pump-out service and expected to use it as we planned on a week’s stay. Later we learned that wi-fi was coming before the sewer—interesting how our priorities have changed! We ate a bite, then were off to see Mom. My sister Linda and brother Bart with his wife Jeanne and daughter Madelyn also stopped by. Sadly, we learned that my Aunt Eda (pronounced “Ada”) had passed at the age of 91.

Friday was another visit at Mom’s; I brought along a huge homemade turkey pot pie and a watermelon and it promptly disappeared. Bart and company brought Madelyn’s dance DVD (watching Bart dance with his daughter was so special); of course, we worked on a bird puzzle, too. Later Bob and I watched “Fargo” to be certain we were in Minnesota mode. I remember when it was released how all my MN family was incensed because they believed the movie belittled them. I felt just the opposite; to me it revealed how a small-town female sheriff could solve a cryptic crime without drama. Classic Coen Brothers!

Saturday morning meant McDonalds, the assigned meeting place for the clan. It’s always fun because the little people show up for pancakes and ice cream. My sister Linda has been blessed with four granddaughters and I am soooo envious! I have but two and neither is close in miles. Bob and I went back to the camper for a bit and I threw together two Oreo calamondin pies. This is a recipe I received from a great gal named Shirley who showed up at my door in Florida requesting the puree that I use to make calamondin marmalade. It’s absolutely the easiest (Bob has made one) and the most luscious pie ever.

My brother John is most fortunate to have nine grandchildren and two more expected in December! He also has green thumbs and every summer we enjoy his gorgeous flowers. We gathered at his house to sample burgers, bratwurst, sister-in-law Jeanne’s salad and mud pie (and my pies) plus lots of kids and lots of fun. That’s what family is all about. Linda, Jeanne and I walked up the hill to survey the damage from the June 21 flood. Who ever thought it could flood in Duluth? But a rain just days before had saturated the ground and the water had nowhere to go. Animals were drowned at the zoo; a seal was washed out onto Grand Avenue!

Sunday, July 22, we met at McDonald’s again. This time I got to visit with Mom’s sister Shirley and brother Larry who generously gave me some smoked walleye. Of course, Mom, Linda, Linda’s daughter Michele and family were there, too. And Barb and John showed up with their young grandson, Nixon. Later we all reunited at Michele’s house for barbecued chicken. The kids played in the backyard pool and had a ball. To end the day, we shared Shane’s 31st birthday cake (Linda’s son-in-law).

On Monday, another promise had to be kept. We had met Mona and Renee (mother and daughter) in Florida at our home; Renee came to our yard sale and boldly asked to go fishing on our 26-ft. catamaran! She left a card and I forgot about it; a month later, Bob told me to call “those Minnesota women” and that was the beginning of a great friendship! These ladies have cabins at Lake Vermilion and have pestered us since leaving FL in April to come to their lake. Mom accompanied us on the 100-mile journey and what a day it was! After taking a tour of the gorgeous grounds around the cabin and the beautiful interior, Mona put Mom in her car and Renee put Bob and me in her boat. We would rendezvous at The Landing for lunch. The lake is Minnesota’s fifth largest, measuring 10 miles long and 24 miles wide; it contains 365 islands. Renee grew up here and she certainly knows her way around by water. I couldn’t remember when I last took a boat ride on a MN lake, but it felt invigorating to be on the water once again. Lunch was scrumptious: walleye fingers, onion rings, hot/spicy wings, burgers, fried shrimp. It all disappeared over good girl gab and Bob enjoyed our repast, too.

Tuesday, July 24, was a day to celebrate Eda Adeline’s life. At her funeral in Cloquet, the pastor noted her gift for stories and jokes (most of which he could not share with us!) and I remembered her in the same way---very tall, slender, always smiling. When I saw a red hat with a purple band on her blue casket, I was certain that the years hadn’t lessened her sense of humor. During WWII, Eda delivered parts for Sterling Motors, her “favorite” job, on a motorcycle. Notice the picture. Eda never married, but bore five children, all of whom appeared to have gone on to productive lives, giving her 12 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren! When I was 19, she became unable to care for them and the youngest four came to live in our home. Mom earned her star for this generous feat as there were already six children in the household. Eda loved Shaw, a small Scandinavian settlement 20 miles from Duluth where she was born. My stepfather, her brother, and my father were born there, too. Although I hadn’t seen many of my cousins in years, it was refreshing to know they all greeted me warmly on this sad occasion.

I never visit Duluth without a trip to see “Miss Endrizzi”—Jean, that is. She was my sophomore and junior English teacher at Denfeld High School and also my speech coach. Jean, along with my debate coach, Robert Skouge, is responsible for encouraging me to apply for the Hunt Scholarship and receive a B.S. in English at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. No one, except for my parents, had so much influence on what I would become. Bob, Mom and I carried Larry’s fish and my pie to see Jean; we were so elated that she appeared healthy and sharp as ever, just shy of 82. Later we drove to my cousin Sandra’s home in Esko where much of the Rodberg family joined for food and fellowship. Sandra lives in a building that was once a car dealership complete with an enormous garage. One of her sons is a trucker who bought the building for the garage, but Sandra's vision involved the rest of the structure; she created spacious, attractive two-floor living quarters that I envied. Years ago she owned and renovated an old hotel in Cloquet, MN, that provided part of the set for the 1994 movie, "Iron WilI." Bob and I enjoyed speaking to Eda's twin brother, Eric, the only surviving member of my stepfather's family. I'll always remember his one-word reply to the secret of a happy, successful marriage: "Respect." I brought two albums which contained very old pictures of Dad’s family and was very happy I did as they meant so much to so many in attendance. It was a family reunion of sorts for me; even though I’ve been gone since 1965, for a few short, lovely hours, I truly felt like I was home. When Bob and I delivered Mom back to her house, we had a tough time saying goodbye. I think we both were surprised at the tears we shed.

Thursday was our day to leave Minnesota behind; as we passed Hinckley I couldn’t fail to point out Tobie’s to Bob, the halfway point on a trip to the “Cities” (Mpls./St.Paul) where we always stopped for caramel and cinnamon rolls. But we were on a mission to arrive in Missouri at our daughter’s house in two days, so, on we drove past the Cities and into Iowa. Forty miles past Des Moines, we decided to camp at Lakeside Casino. It was hotter than Hades, crunchy grass, dead new trees. Mitzi decided to upgrade to the luxury RV parked next to us in spite of the heat; we hoped she’d relent and return home. After I embarked across the enormous parking lot to pay for our site and returned via golf cart, Bob had retrieved Mitzi. We devoured our favorite green bean/taco dish and watched Ocean’s 11 and 12. That was our gambling fix!

On Friday, July 27, we arrived at our daughter Kirsten’s doorstep in MO by 1:30. She fed us a light lunch of green beans cooked in lemon-infused olive oil with chicken breast, yum, yum! Her in-laws, Juanita and Milas, live next door. Juanita’s family has a reunion every year in Bolivar, MO, not far from Springfield. It’s a three-day affair and we were extended an invitation; you don’t have to ask us twice as we knew the food would be delicious! And it certainly was: fried fish, chicken, salads, beans and a dessert table that I couldn’t pass up. We were shown a pencil drawing that a family member had made of the Campbell homestead; it would be auctioned off the next night. Juanita had five sisters and only she and one other, who was unable to attend, survive.

I had promised Bob he could travel to Lamar and, of course, he deserved to make the trip on Saturday. This town is Harry S. Truman’s birthplace, but Bob’s motivation was a visit with Lee Shaver, a world-renowned gunsmith and marksman who has a shop in Lamar. Lee doesn’t normally keep weekend hours, but he kindly offered to open up when Bob told him this would be the only day he could make the trip. When Bob arrived back at Kirsten’s house, I could tell the trip was a success; he was the proverbial kid in the candy store and the credit card bill proved it! While he was gone, Kirsten, Lauren and I went shopping for a pair of Tom’s shoes for Lauren’s back-to-school wardrobe. When you purchase a pair, Tom’s donates a pair to a child in need. The shoes are quite attractive and, according to Lauren, very comfortable. We struck out at the mall, but found just the right pair at Kalaeidoscope. I lived in Springfield from 1965 until 1992 and can recall when this business opened in an old house on Sunshine Street in 1972. It was the first record store in town and, over the years, catered to buyers of smoking paraphernalia. Now it is housed in a newer building and what a difference! It is upscale, classy, and caters to those with discriminating tastes in clothes and accessories. Of course, the smokers still have their section and a huge tattooing room is available. We finished the day with dinner at a Chinese buffet and a viewing of the Olympics.

On Sunday I made a breakfast of sausage, bacon, biscuits and eggs for the early birds. Frank started up the smoker and later we were treated to chicken, ribs, fried potatoes and beans. I spent the afternoon examining Lauren’s discarded clothing and toys; several bins were loaded into the camper to take back for Ava, our 7-yr.-old granddaughter in Florida. We were elated to see the Campbell house drawing again when Milas and Juanita returned from the reunion; naturally Juanita won the auction, as it should be. We couldn’t say goodbye without a group picture; it was early bedtime for us as Bob was determined to get on the road by 4 AM!

At 3:30 Monday morning, I tapped on Lauren’s window; the night owl was still up, busy with her girlfriend, Izzy. How teens can stay up all night is a mystery to me, but sleeping until noon probably accounts for it! Suffice it to say, we’ll miss our lovely granddaughter and look forward to seeing her again soon. Bob drove on through Cabool, West Plains, then into Arkansas and Tennessee. When we reached the intolerable, rough Mississippi roads, the third tire blew. Three Hispanic men stopped to offer assistance; this was the first time this had ever happened! We thanked them, but Bob had the situation in hand; practice makes perfect when you’ve had the experience about a dozen times in the last seven years! We ended at Holmes County State Park, a place we’ve stayed at several times. It’s quiet, easy to pull into and, of course, a bargain as are most state parks. We let the cats loose, took showers and treated ourselves to a long afternoon nap. Thanks to Frank and Kirsten, we feasted on the leftovers from yesterday. Then Bob took a long investigative stroll while I stayed behind and cleaned cabinets in the camper. As many times as we’ve been here, we have always been in a hurry and never bothered to look around. Bob discovered a small lake where model boats are raced and a defunct skating rink. Later we enjoyed “Deathtrap” and fell into bed.

Our Rand McNally entertained us with “millisecond” for MS and “Mobil” for Mobile as we traveled on through Mississippi and Alabama. Bob pointed out the USS Alabama and recollected his boyhood visits there when he lived near Mobile. It sure was good to see the Gulf again! Our last night was spent at Blackwater River State Park in north Florida. This was also a repeat visit to a National Gold Medal Winner among parks; it’s a well-deserved title as this place sports a gentle river full of kayaks and canoes, sandy beaches, many well-kept trails, pavilions with manicured grounds, and accommodating RV sites, all for $11.05. We watched “Get Carter” and longed for home tomorrow.

August did not begin well when tire #4 erupted just 10 miles north of Lake City. We toyed with the idea of attempting the drive to Ocala and opted for a safer alternative: Gainesville. We had had so much great service at PepBoys in Ocala so we naturally stopped at the store in Gainesville. However, the attention (or lack of it!) that we received here could not compare favorably to our previous visit. Poor Bob had a long day because of yet another tire failure, but he managed to get us home by 7 PM, 4754 miles driven over 18 days! I opened up the mail to discover an invitation to the Johnson/Anderson reunion in Esko on August 26, 2012. This is my birth father’s family of which I have met only one cousin! Now, if I could convince Bob to go-----maybe next year?!

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