Saturday, July 23, 2016

Last Days in Wisconsin…

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We still had one more day to kill before heading down toward Rochester Minnesota for our planned annual checkups at the Mayo Hospital. We talked about staying at the Expo another day but decided to pack up early and go down the road a mere 31 miles to the town of Durand. We decided to camp just outside of town is Tarrant Park, a city owned park that lies near the Chippewa River.

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We pulled into the park and found a nice shady spot. After setting up we went over to the pay station and wrote a check for $25 for the night for 50 amp service and full hookups. What makes this stay a good one is that right beside the park is the Chippewa River State Trail. The trail winds along the river for nearly 40 miles between Eau Claire and Durand.

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After setting up we hopped on the bikes and rode into town on the bike trail. It was a nice flat trail with some pretty scenery and it dumped us right into downtown. Durand is a small town so we rode along nearly all the streets since the ride into town was short. We stopped on the trail along the river to enjoy the view when suddenly a large bald eagle flew right over us.  We stopped at this location because we read about a nice place for happy hour on the trail where folks gather on the deck to watch the eagles.  How fun that we saw an eagle right away!  It was too early for happy hour but we vowed to return and then rode back to the RV.

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After lunch we decided to drive over to the town of Wabasha Minnesota. It was a nice drive through wooded land and rolling hills until we reached a very marshy section we found out later was part of the Nelson-Trevino Bottoms State Natural Area. There were lots of boaters out enjoying the day.

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Wabasha itself was a neat little town with a nice vibe. It is located on the Mississippi River near its confluence with the Chippewa River making it another great spot for bald eagle sightings. Wabasha is home to the National Eagle Center but we opted not to pay $10 each to peruse its holdings. Instead we walked along the trail beside the water and later walked all around the town which has several really interesting buildings.

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After enjoying our afternoon walking around Wabasha we headed back to Durand to the Happy Hour at Corral and Riverside Grill.  At first we sat on the deck hoping for more eagle sightings but sadly saw none. With record heat in the area we abandoned the deck in favor of the inside air conditioned bar where we enjoyed ice cold beers and ordered our last Wisconsin fried cheese curds. These were from Ellsworth Cooperative and were award winning curds.  We can attest they were indeed delicious and a wonderful way to spend our last night’s stay in Wisconsin before moving on down the road toward Rochester MN.

NOTE: We left the Rochester MN area and headed an hour NW to stay at the fairgrounds just outside of Minneapolis/St Paul MN.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Spending a few days in Eau Claire Wisconsin…

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Leaving Dorchester we headed a short way over to Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I wanted to stay close to Eau Claire and we found a great inexpensive site at the Eau Claire Expo Center. When we pulled in we were told to simply park anywhere we wanted but we soon discovered there were only four 30 amp sites (the rest were only 20 amp).  We filled up with water at the snack bar where the guy pointed out and then we parked along the roadside to plug in to the 30 amp site. No sewer but perfect for us to explore Eau Claire!

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Even better the Eau Clair Expo Center is happens to be adjacent to another great park (Lowes Creek County Park) which  we had planned to explore. But first we wanted to get some groceries and check out the downtown area.  Since we found a sculpture tour online we hoped it would help us get to know the town better.

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We headed downtown and parked near one of the sculptures. Most of the sculptures were on the main road we parked on so we walked down the street and took in the sights. The sculptures were nice but nothing to write home about however we did come across Phoenix Park in the downtown area. What a nice park with a great hike and bike trail it was as it meandered along the Chippewa River.  We saw lots of flowers as well as butterflies out enjoying themselves despite all the people around also enjoying themselves in the near perfect weather.

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As a perfect ending to a perfect day we found a neat spot for happy hour. With its name reminding us of Betty’s RV Park how could we not stop at Bug Eyed Betty's for a cold beer at happy hour...

The next day rain was predicted so we chose to go for a morning hike in Lowes Creek County Park which I mentioned was right next to the Expo’s RV park. The park had a mix of trails for mountain bikes and hikers. It made for some interesting hiking as we took several of the bike trails that twisted through the woods. Again lots of wildflowers were in bloom and we even found a bounty of berries including blackberries, black raspberries and red raspberries.

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I was walking and munching as we went. I had my head down eating raspberries when Sharon said stop! I froze thinking she may have seen a snake. But when I looked up there was a doe and her fawn a mere 25 feet in front of us. We stayed very still as they foraged for some fresh  herbaceous snacks and we simply watched them in awe for about 5 to 10 minutes. We were able to quietly snap a few pictures with our phones before they ambled off…

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With a nice morning hike behind us and no rain in sight we ate lunch and drove over to Mount Simon Park to play on their Disc Golf course. It wasn’t a particularly challenging course as it was shorter than we normally play but it had no water hazards which we abhor. Since it was a short 9 hole course we played it twice.

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Wisc Last Days 016After a full day we headed back over to Bug Eyed Betty’s for one last happy hour before moving on down the road. Next up is Zumbro Falls our first stop in Minnesota…

NOTE: As I mentioned before we are still in the Zumbro Falls area through the weekend!