Park Rapids, MN 080417-081217

We vacationed in Park Rapids, MN this past August. For the most part Big Pines Campground is right in the town of Park Rapids, but far enough from major streets allowing only sirens to infiltrate the night. At first I thought we were staying in a Bad Boy town, but the frequency of sirens was a little too much. A combination of ambulance and police work is a better explanation. There are a lot of older retired people in the area. Early one morning an ambulance and several police vehicles were dispatched to Big Pines Campground. They attempted to revive a woman who was simply getting ready for work.  I had never associated vacationing and camping with death.  I never put the two events together, camping is fun right?

We did a lot of flat water kayaking. Wide slow rivers are about as close as we get to fast water. Every day was sunny and bug free.   Big Sand, Little Sand, Blue, Lake Belle Taine, Fish Hook, were some of the lakes we paddled. Big Sand and Blue were our favorites. Their blue green color is what attracted us back for a second paddle. It is odd that one lake can have an eighteen-foot clarity and a connecting lake only be rated at ten feet. Each lake has its own DNA. I tried to winnow out 10 photos’ to exhibit the Park Rapids area lakes but failed. Photo’s below.

The Saturday before we left a car show was in town.  Park Rapids down town is a little odd. Main Street is very wide allowing for two lanes of parallel parking in the center of the street. If you are not ready for it and you enter town from the south, it looks as if cars and trucks are heading right for you. This is a hold over from the late 1800’s when wagon loads of timber were hauled to town, and lots of room was needed for the horses and wagons to back up to a loading dock. Photo’s below.

The population of Dorset, MN is 22.  There are 4 restaurants in town making it the self proclaimed restaurant capital of the world. It so happened we were passing through Dorset during a festival.  Lots of action for a tiny town.

Dorset Parking
Dorset Traffic Control

The The Logging Camp is a popular place to eat. I was lumberjack hungry. Historical memorabilia from old logging day’s was the hook.  Maybe we went at the wrong time, or maybe people simply do not care about memorabilia these day’s.  We did not have difficulty finding a place to sit.

Logging Camp. “Table for two please.”

Weather was good, eating was good, and paddling was fantastic. So many lakes, so little time, and to think Minnesota is one of fifty.  Paddling, peddling, hiking, wandering about and seeing God’s creation and his children is a joy and wonderment. Working is good too. We need purpose. In a year or so our purpose will change, exactly how I don’t know, but we are looking forward to it.



Peterson, MN 101917-102117

Great plan, good execution, with a side of bummer. The weather forecast was for temperatures in the 70’s and no rain. Deb and I took (2) PTO (paid time off) days from work and motored down to the Root River State Trail for the second time this year. It’s a great bike trail that is very accommodating and welcoming by the communities on its path. We chose the Peterson City Campground for a landing.

Warning lights on the Driver Information Center (DIC) is never good. Except for maybe “Low Washer Fluid.”   The DIC said STABILITRAK OFF, and then came TRACTION CONTROL OFF, then SERVICE STABILITRACK. “Well OK DIC I’ll do that when I get back home, I promise.” Coming off Interstate 90 and slowing down for a turn the engine just did not seem right.   Idling at the Peterson city campground the truck was running rough. A pronounced phuff, phuff, phuff sound with a tick, tick, tick the sensors messaging “I’m telling the DIC I’m not doing so good” ailment was more than evident. Bummer!

No apparent leaking or loose anything addressed the symptoms. Even with the phuff and tick, the truck drove OK. The transmission was not shifting smooth. For now I can live with that. The good people at GM say in the service manual the SERVICE STABILITRACK should be addressed by a professional, possibly a computer problem. A loose wire on the Mother Board would be sweet.

What about the great plan too camp, ride bike, and eat fun food?  John 10:10 tells me that the great deceivers main goal is the rob, kill and destroy. So is anxiousness of a mechanical set back going to rob me of what is meant to be a fun weekend, or not? I choose not. The second half of John10:10 states that “I have come to bring you abundant life.” I’m asking God for mechanical favor. Not a new truck or anything silly like that, but for a non-stop drive home. Is faith taking the place of seeing a mechanic in Preston? Is there a mechanic? Is my desire for working the plan keeping me from being flexible? Is faith and free will overriding common sense? If we had phone service or an Internet connection I would upload this post now. I may have even called a Chevrolet dealer. I’m excited to soon write <with my best Paul Harvey voice>  “The Rest of The Story”

The towns along the Root River are susceptible to flooding. Thursday we rode towards Rushford, MN and had ice cream at The Creamery. It had been remodeled maybe because of the 2000 flood. Years ago I remember sitting at a table and seeing a line marked on the wall at shoulder height. It signified the 2000 flood level. Friday we rode towards Whalen and it too showed a 2000 high water line. The days have been amazing, sunny and unseasonably warm. It’s October in MN and the cold air is tussling with the warm air. Dried leaves crunch under the bike tires. Corn and soybeans are drying down in the fields. Farmers are harvesting, truckers are jamming gears hauling to the grain elevators and unloading. It’s food, ya gotta love farmers and truckers.

Timber rattlers inhabit this area. Yesteryear we came across one on the bike trail. I have a photo of it somewhere. Signage along the trail talks about reclaiming snake habitat by the MN Dept of Natural Resources. Evidently Cedar trees have grown along the south facing side of hills making it cooler, so the snakes will sneak down to the human inhabited areas.

Thursday we rode (20) miles. Friday we logged (25.5) miles. Today (Saturday) we may do some hiking, or maybe hook up the trailer and see about making it home non-stop. It’s 6:45 am and I hear thunder. It took a while to figure out what I was actively listening to. The hills and valleys change the resonance. It’s raining now, and the thunder sounds just like thunder, only better.

To be continued…


The entire drive home was dang near white knuckle stressful. I say dang near only because it was not until we were three quarters closer to home do I start to relax. Coming out of the Root River valley the truck maxed out at 40 MPH. Accelerator to the floor, engine revving, heart sinking “Oh man oh man what are we in for now?”

Should we take the interstate or back roads home? Interstate is more direct, back roads would be safer if we need to call for assistance. It takes miles to achieve 60 MPH. I remember the interstate being more level that last time I drove it. Sheese it’s hilly. Every uphill I’m holding my breath as if that is going to give the V8 more power. We pulled into the Bohnarosa with a sigh after driving 45 minutes longer than our trip down to Peterson. “Whew!”

The mechanical diagnosis is stuck or broken lifters. Our mechanic offered up (3) options. Try an engine flush, and I could do that myself. Steve would charge for his time, and I would expect him too. He is running a business after all. Option two is a $2,500 repair consisting of replacing all (16) lifters and maybe other components. The third option is closer to $5,000 and replaces the entire engine. I’m looking for solace in being happy we made it home.

To be continued…


Preston, MN 093017-100117

What a woman!  Friday’s I normally get off work at 5:30 and get home around 6:45. This Friday I had to stay late and arrived home at 7:15. Deb had already pulled the rig out of the barn, backed it up to the house, and loaded it with supplies so we could get in one more camping trip in 2017.  At 7:30 we headed south to Preston, MN.  In the dark Siri guided us on a route we had not taken before.  She too did a good job.  We landed in a campsite at the Fillmore county campground in Preston, MN. By 10:00 we were all plugged in with the stabilizers down, had paid $20 to a drop box, and in bed by 10:00.

It had been four years since we last camped in Preston.  I remember it as being infested with small biting insects.  We didn’t stay long on that outing. We camped overnight and left the next day.

Preston is located on the Root River and connects with the Root River Bike Trail. The Root River Trail is about 60 miles in length.  Deb and I have biked different portions of it many times over the years.

The weather forecast for Saturday and Sunday is sunny and in the 70’s.  The metro and northern MN was forecasted to have rain on Sunday. That is what prompted our southern get away.

It was cold waking up. The inside temperature was 40 degrees.  That’s good, I can leave my coffee creamer out and not worry about it going bad.

Saturday we rode bike to Lanesboro, MN (23 miles) total.  In Lanesboro we found a camp ground next to a dam and relocated to that site later in the day. Sunday we rode (20) miles and felt satisfied with our weekend outing and returned home late afternoon.

My friend Earl turned me onto an app called If you do not have cell service and need a map, this is the app for you. The Root River trail for the most part is in a valley dotted with small towns. Cell service is spotty. I wasn’t lost by any means, heck the trail either went one way to a town, or the other way to a town. To test the app I opened it and sure enough it located me right next to Raaen Creak. The map showed the bike trail, creek crossing, roads, and the whole dang state if you zoomed out. It must somehow use the phone GPS. There was “No Service” yet I had my location on a MN state map. Fantastic.

Crow Wing State Park 091017-091217

We stayed at site #58, it was the most remote site in campground.  Deb’s bike had a flat tire so we drove to Baxter and bought a replacement at Fleet Farm.  Biked 14 miles on the Paul Bunyan trail.

Sunday we kayaked Lake Sylvan for 2 hours.  Very nice clear lake aprx 800 acres.  Sunday night the next door neighbor Camp Ripley must have been practicing night training with helicopters.  We heard the deep “Thump thump thump thump” of a helicopter and “Bam bam bam bam bam bam bam bam” of a machine gun.  This all happened between the hours of 7:30 – 10:00 pm.  They have to practice somewhere.  Why not next to a State Park?  We felt very safe.