Iowa for the Beer Olympics

September 11, 2014 Posted by Deb

We made it back to Iowa for the September 6th birthday party for Deb’s nephew, Wil. They hyped it as the Beer Olympics but it looked like a lot of vodka when we walked by. No one was drinking the Captain Morgan but that didn’t last long when I walked by.

Our bed count this summer is mid-20’s already and may surpass the 30 we did last summer. We stayed for two days of festivities, food, and even church. It is a perfect time of year for Iowa, 75 degrees and sunshine, though we hear it had been very wet. After two days, we had eaten our fill and moved north again to pick up the debris (trimaran, van, and wine from the wine tasting) we had left scattered all over Minnesota and Wisconsin.


My Roots

My Roots

Colorado for Hiking and Biking

September 3, 2014 Posted by Deb

We were going west when Deb’s niece and family (Kylie, Jeff, Beatrix, and Lucille) were returning east and the two cars crossed at mile marker 165 on I-76. Kind of cool to be able to roll the windows down and wave at family during a long trip. It took a bit of texting to pull that off.

Ron, Barb, Megan, Meridith, and Colorado put on quite a show during the week of our visit. The concerts were free at Copper with Kenny Loggins and Wynonna Judd in two days. The hikes were high mountain gorgeous, finishing on the final day with the highest and longest at Continental Falls. The bike rides were topped off with the 17 plus mile run from Vail Pass to Frisco  for a no pedal, hang on and watch the scenery go by trip. The food and booze seem to taste better at 9,000 feet on up. We celebrated our 39th anniversary with a cake, wine, movie, and a fire after a day of hiking looking out over Lake Dillon.





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Travelling Time Out

September 1, 2014 Posted by Deb

We stacked up our medical appointments in one week following the cabin up north. We found out that if you go straight from a cardio stress test to dermatology they tend to freak out about all the electrode gell abrasions on your skin. Other than that it was surgery as usual … meaning that Deb found out she can’t avoid the operation on C7 in her neck and they threw in a little bit of eyelid surgery and a touch of new shoulder for good measure.  The shoulder replacement is an item for the future. We spent our medical down time with pickelball and park flyers.



ChuckBill_FlyingThe van, our mobile storage unit, left us sitting outside a Casey’s gas station in Cannon Falls, MN, late on a Sunday after a bike/hike. The electrical system shut down completely and we had left all the tools and sand paper in Deb’s car. My portable jump starter lost its battery a month earlier and we were carrying it around as worthless extra weight. Our choices were to bike 60 miles to our motel in the dark (after we had already done our workout), try to get a tow truck on a Sunday night late, our call my brother Bill who was coming up from Iowa and could pick us up in four or five hours. We did both of the last two and a tow truck actually showed up in 20 minutes. We loaded the van on the flatbed, drove to the nearest closed car shop, dumped the van and put the key in their key drop. We noticed one of the windows was down on the van so I asked to use his jump starter to roll up the window. He noticed some arcing that indicated it might be a bad terminal (my tools and sandpaper would have been nice) and, even though it was against company policy, grabbed his terminal tools and presto … the van was as good as … an 18 year old car again. We paid him and added a nice tip, reached our hand in the key drop and retrieved our key, called off my brother, and headed for the hot showers.

Cabin Near Our Cabin

August 23, 2014 Posted by Deb

We rented a cabin on Shingobee Bay off Leech Lake in Minnesota very close to our old family cabin from 1963 to 1995. It was kind of sad to be that close to our old digs, but it is a great lake and a great part of Minnesota. We sprung for a Hobie Tandem Island Trimaran just like the one we demo’d up at Whiteface, splashed it in Shingobee Bay, and made the trip into the town of Walker and back in under four hours. It’s great for the two bridges because it has pedals and flippers that move it along well and the main has roller furling and comes down with a click. The main and rudder can be operated from either seat. It will also move out in the right conditions. Oh, and the beer holders are built in.




Forty Miles by Hobie Trimaran

We decided to extend the family stay up north but we needed a new cabin … our home on Shingobee was rented. We found one at Trapper’s Landing out on the main part of Leech Lake, packed, cleaned, and started thinking about loading up the Hobie. Somehow, the idea of sailing it under three low bridges, north through Walker Bay, around Onigum Island, through the Roosevelt canal, around Stony Point, and many miles east through the big part of the lake with a 25 mile fetch, seemed like a good idea. I loaded up a Coke, PowerAid, rain jacket and pants (the weather looked bad), plugged the coordinates of the Trapper’s Landing dock in my smartphone, grabbed some cash, my driver’s license (to ID the body), said goodbye to Deb, and took off.


The trip was very cool, partly because we had no idea if it was possible. The Roosevelt canal was part of our normal loop by power boat but everything looked different from the trimaran on a cloudy day. I tacked up into a bay that I was sure had a marker for the canal and soon discovered I was lost. I took a timeout and fired up Google Maps … I missed the canal by about two to three miles and was now in the lee of land. No problem … I had peddles. The canal was fun because of the looks I got from passing boats. Pretty sure they have never seen a Hobie trimaran go through. I stopped at the north end of the canal to check in with the shore party by phone and re-mount the main. A few minutes later I was doing a real shakedown on the new trimaran as the waves from the big lake started making things difficult and wet. I hove to after about an hour so I could safely get the smartphone out, check my location, put on full rain gear to preserve body heat, and pit (which was the challenging part). The rest of the trip was tacking into 10 to 15 knots of wind without really knowing where I was going (the GPS failed to acquire after the earlier fix). I asked one fishing boat and they never heard of Trapper’s Landing. I called Deb and she said there was an American flag on an island about 200 yards offshore and that I would be going by a large island just before I got there. I started tacking into shore to check out every American flag in front of a set of log cabins because they all looked like they could be on the water until I got near. Once I called Deb to ask her if she could see me because I was fairly sure I was in front of the resort. I wasn’t in sight.

A lot of tacks and miles later, I popped out from behind a point of land and saw Deb sitting on a dock and other friends and family pointing the way to the marina. A couple more tacks, rolled main, and a few pedal kicks and the Hobie was in its new home and I got the beer I had been thinking about for several hours. The total trip was about 20 miles straight line and over 40 over the water in five and a half hours. I still think about the weird feeling of being in a large body of water with a tiny boat and having only a rough idea about the final destination.


Hypocritical Quitting

August 18, 2014 Posted by Deb

– I was told to give up sugar but old fashioned candy at a throwback soda shop was too much to resist.

I was told to give up sugar, but old fashioned candy at a throwback soda shop was too much to resist.

 I was told to give up beer but an old fashioned brew on the St. Croix River was too much to resist.

I was told to give up beer, but an old fashioned brew on the St. Croix River was too much to resist.

My old college car except for the convertible part. No one told me to give up that car but I did and now regret it.

My old college car except for the convertible part. No one told me to give up that car but I did and now regret it.

Ranch Sitting

August 18, 2014 Posted by Deb

We took over house sitting duties at the Anderson’s while they vacationed on Madeline Island. One daughter flew in from Indiana and the other flew in from Spain for their annual trip north. We had the relatively entertaining horse feeding and chicken maintenance chores while they were gone. Yippie Ki Yi Aye.


Inland Surfing

If you put enough water in a ski boat (3 to 4,000 lbs), you can generate a big enough wave to surf on. We were mostly ballast due to leftover injuries in FL and GA but it made for some good shots.  We intend to give it a serious try when all the body parts are working again.

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Lyle Lovett

We bombed out on Fleetwood Mac and Paul McCartney but scored Lyle. Great concert and his whole band did their songs as well. Some had fan groups in the audience, especially the MN bass violin player. We did not take padding and it was bench seating so we stood up often.


North Country: Whiteface Park, Minnesota

August 5, 2014 Posted by Deb

We probably shouldn’t publicize this little gem of a campground, but we do it for everything else so why not. The Cast Iron Canoe Club and extended family and friends took over a whole peninsula of the Whiteface Reservoir campground with over five multi-tent camping spots near the beach, dock, and launching ramp.  This year the weather cooperated as well, but we were prepared for the worst with Forrest’s new 60-foot tarp.

As with the canoe trips, the Whiteface outing was a great food event with Bloody Mary’s and breakfast burritos in the morning, full blown buffets during the day, and a wrap-up with hot dogs for those left at midnight. We asked for volunteers for rides in the Hobie trimaran we had out on demo and every kid jumped at the chance. In a former life that would have been a mistake but it was kind of fun running a kid shuttle for a half day. Our fleet consisted of two Hobie 16’s, two kayaks, a double masted SeaPearl 21 sailboat for comfort and beer hauling, and two powerboats for fishing and pulling kids (oh, and beer hauling as well). The reservoir snakes for miles and it is a bit of a challenge to explore it all. We passed a pontoon boat going full bore (10 hp Evinrude) with our trimaran and got mooned … don’t think they liked being passed by a sailboat.


“Missed It by That Much”

August 1, 2014 Posted by Deb

Packing to head north was interesting because we had to guess at what we would need from July through October in Minnesota and we only had two vehicles to pack it all into. The list included biking, camping, hobbies, racquetball, work and workout stuff, and the normal laptop, notepad, smartphone, camera, hard drives and all associated cords and chargers.

We were packed and ready to go with our target of the big summer party at the Anderson’s overlooking the St. Croix River. Deb got a call at 7:30 Friday night from Mike asking her where we were and why weren’t we there. Deb thought he was kidding her because we had it on our calendar for the next day. Oops. At four hours south, we had no chance of making it up there by closing time. We felt terrible but the Andersons organized a small “leftover food and drinks” gathering the following evening and we did our apologies and got to sample a small part of the night before. After that scheduling nightmare, we went over all the upcoming calendar entries and double checked them for date glitches.

Back in the Land of the Next Two Generations

July 17, 2014 Posted by Deb

We flew into Des Moines, IA, on June 25, and re-entered a world we had only been monitoring on Facebook. There are a lot of new and/or rapidly changing faces among the new munchkins and I would get looks of astonishment if I couldn’t quite tell one from the other. On Deb’s side there is a large extended family and it is actually growing now that some grandparents are moving to be closer to the action. There is a lot of action.


The Hunt for a Home

We are at eight beds already and in search of a home on land. Since we can’t decide where we would like to live (we like too many), we decided to try an RV and follow in the footsteps of Bumfuzzle. Our search started as we sailed up the Florida coast which is ground zero for RV’s in the U.S. One dealer started bragging about the number of used RV’s they had because “they come down here and …. “ then he stopped because he was about to say they come down here and die and I guess we looked too old for him to finish the sentence. Actually, one of Florida’s big exports is full caskets.

We started on a fifth wheel hunt because there were a lot of models that had a garage called a “toy hauler.” We moved on to the Class A Newmar Canyon Star because it was one of the few Class A RV’s that had a garage. Most of those we looked at had too many options and were quite pricey for being two years old with significant mileage. A dealer said we should look at a custom made new RV since we wanted “less” and that he could probably beat a used price. He did and we did. We take delivery at the end of August on a 2015 Newmar Canyon Star that actually has options on it that no other Canyon Star will have and it has a lot fewer of the options that make an RV look like a travelling brothel.


What we do with the new RV is still up in the air since most of the RV Parks are booked for the year. If you have a flat space on your property, we may show up. We’ll probably head north for awhile and then migrate south with the weather until we get back to the boat. Then we have to store the RV so our de-commission trauma has doubled.

St. Louis

On a whim, we decided to head east to St. Louis to see sister Barb after looking at RV’s in Kansas City. She wasn’t home when we called so we gave her about an hour to return our call or we would head north out of Columbia. She got out of a movie, checked her calls, and caught us with minutes to spare.


Continuing a July 4th Tradition

We moved north to Iowa City and the annual free concert in Coralville, IA, featuring Jefferson Starship. The replacement for Gracie Slick can really wail and the original lead singer still has his pipes as well. We were in the earthquake zone so earplugs all around.


This year we did not do a canoe trip and the pictures below show why. Deb’s cousin in law Marti plays in the Muscatine orchestra on the river (and almost in the river) leading up to the fireworks out over the Mississippi. We drove over to watch her and the fireworks. They had to move their venue since their normal platform was many feet under the Mississippi. The bridge over the Mississippi was lighted by Deb’s nephew, Wil. The pictures doesn’t show it very well, but the symphony was playing, the fireworks were overhead and the bridge was putting on quite a light show. Small potatoes, I guess, since he’s done the San Franscisco bridge and other lighting jobs all over the planet. Deb tried her best to get a shot of it but the high water and street lighting made it tough.


North Again to Michigan and Sherpa

It’s boat building time in Irons Michigan. Oh … that’s been true for twelve years. Eric, Julia, and Mara lined us up for hiking, boat building, jazz festivals, Jackson Browne, tailgating, dancing practice, play practice, barbeques, and reunions with sailing friends, Deno and Gail on SeaHawk and now on Gadabout. Mara is now 15 and heavily into the Manistee Ransdale theater as well as working two or three jobs. They now have a “palace” apartment in Manistee to use as a staging area for both Mara’s rehearsals and Julia’s massage therapy practice.

Blues in the Park in Manistee

Blues in the Park in Manistee

Tailgating the Jackson Browne Concert in Interlachen

Tailgating the Jackson Browne Concert in Interlachen

Jackson Browne Unplugged

Jackson Browne Unplugged

More on Boat Building

There is really no way to describe the size of the Sherpa boat project. It is big and impressive. We were here years ago when there was nothing but a building with concrete frame mounts for the primary beams and bulkheads. We were also around for the first sheet of plywood several years ago. Now the boat has been flipped right side up and the interior and topsides are taking shape. Eric estimates that she will launch in four more years. There are boat parts everywhere waiting to be installed but there is an order to every process that leads up to using that part. This trip we helped slightly with the fuel tanks and the rear cabin wall.

Sherpa, Seahawk and the Michighan Mountain Bikers on Tank Duty

Sherpa, Seahawk and the Michigan Mountain Bikers on Tank Duty

Adding the Fuel Tanks

On the Marks

m/v Sherpa

m/v Sherpa

Holding Up the Back Wall

Holding Up the Back Wall

A Day Off

June 18, 2014 Posted by Deb

Actually we were waiting for parts, but we took the bikes to St. Simon and Jekyll Islands. We were told those islands are a must see and we agree. Wow. Trees and Spanish moss in all their glory and very good bike and car touring.