Thursday, July 23, 2009

Another Month Slipped Past Me!

Hello! Before I know it, the days get away from me. I am able to tell you we continue along the same as always. It's nice to know some things don't change, I guess!

There are some changes in our world, though.

Paul's summer band commitment at his "old school" is completed.

He has dear friends there with whom he taught and enjoyed spending his days in their company.

I also am enjoying my summer job, working with the Eagan Summer Community Theatre production of "Fiddler On The Roof." The rigor of rehearsals is behind us and the production is running through August 1st. It is a very talented cast and I wish my entire family could come to see the show.

We welcomed a new grand niece into the world on July 7th. Hayley Elizabeth was born to Elizabeth and Mike Rohrer on July 7th. They live right here in Inver Grove Heights, so we plan to closely watch this little one grow.

We had a stretch of three days with nothing on our calendar, so we headed out with the North Trail to Lake Louise State Park, located in southern Minnesota.

We had heard LeRoy-Ostrander mentioned on WCCO many mornings listening for those "oh so wonderful"
announcements. Lake Louise is located very close to the Iowa State Border within the boundaries of that school district.

The campground is comparatively small in this park. But the individual sites are large and we settled in quite comfortably.

You can see that "George" the egret carving travels with us. George has been with us since Oscar Scherer State Park in Florida. I am a member of a camping forum and George graces the pictures of our campsites and travel information we share with our internet "friends."

Lake Louise State Park is made up of hardwood forests and once tilled open fields. Although it is not native prairie, there are beautiful fields of wild flowers in full bloom. Brown Eyed Susan was predominant on the drive into the campground.

We had ample room to set up our outdoor kitchen. We generally spend the day hiking or biking and then come back to shower and relax as we prepare the evening meal. There were few bugs, so nothing stood in our way to work outside. The weather was perfect.

As you have seen before on this blog, we love our Weber "Q" gas grill. It is rare we cook a meal without it when we are out camping.

We grilled up a bunch of peppers and onions that first night to accompany a New York strip.

Part of our camping "mission statement" is to explore and enjoy the local food sources. In rural Minnesota, in particular the southern part of the state, we have had great success finding wonderful meat markets. This trip was no exception. We set out the next morning and found Buster's Country Meats outside of the town of Ostrander. This place brought being close to one's food to the forefront. The market is actually located directly in a farm yard. As we walked into the store, I commented that there was a steer in a small pen attached to the building. I almost could imagine the cuts of meat drawn out on the poor guy.

We made our purchases and when we came back out, he was gone. Gulp. That being said, however, it is an excellent market and I wish it was closer to home!

The main draw to Lake Louise State Park for us is its location on the Shooting Star State Trail.
The town of LeRoy was moved from this site after the railroad passed it by. The original grist mill site was turned into a recreational area and eventually became the state park. The original name of the park was Wildwood. A member of the family who donated the pond and mill site to the state was named Louise, therefore "Lake Louise" became the name of the park.

We rode our bikes into the town of LeRoy after we had shopped for dinner.

We stopped and took pictures of the wild flowers along the bike path.

When we arrived back at the camp site, we took out our identification guides and documented the wild flowers and bird sightings we noted during the day. Love that digital camera!

Out came the Weber and that freshly cut pork chop Buster had recommended to us that morning provided us with an excellent dinner.

The next morning we set out earlier, as we knew we wanted to cover at least 20 miles on the bike trail that day. It was cloudy and cool, so we enjoyed our ride through the countryside.

Once again, we made frequent stops to enjoy the flowers blooming along the trail.

Most of the trail goes along farm fields. Most every field was corn with some soybeans as well. All the crops looked great in this part of the state. The untilled edge of the old railroad bed provides a great buffer where the wild flowers grow.

We rode into the (extremely) little town of Taopi where the second smallest post office in the United States is located. Oddly enough, last winter we camped in Carabelle, on the Florida Panhandle where we found the nation's smallest post office. We decided we would not be seeking the third smallest, although we did drive through a town whose claim to fame is "the brightest street lights."
Very quiet countryside......

As we turned around on the trail to head back to the park, we were greeted by a rain storm.

The sky opened up and we rode at least eight miles through a heavy downpour.

Note to self, shop for proper clothing for bike riding. Items that dry in less than 12 hours are quite necessary.

It was sunny back in the park, so we took our showers, hung out our drenched clothing and grilled our buffalo steak purchased at Buster's.

The day ended perfectly, which means a campfire without insects and a cigar for Paul.

This trip is an example of Paul and me at our happiest. We know what we like (and what we don't).

And we remember soooo many days when we had our

and we would talk about "some" day when we could poke around the country, shop the local markets, do some exploring and cook some fine meals. Not extravagant, but it was our dream.

Thanks, Paul. I can't imagine my life without you!

Where do we go next? I'll keep you posted.