Sunday, July 31, 2016

Como Park, Maze Trail, Dakota City and more…

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After our initial appointments for our annual checkups at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester we both discovered that we needed further tests. I had two punch biopsies of moles taken off my body both of which had to be sent for testing.  Sharon also had a polyp to be biopsied after her colonoscopy. It seemed to take forever to hear the results but we finally got good news we were hoping for and were cleared to leave….

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While awaiting our results we stayed at Dakota County Fairgrounds in Farmington, MN which was the perfect location. Not only was there plenty of space at our water and 50 amp electric site (for $25/night) there also was a cool historical village called the Dakota City to explore adjacent to the RV park.

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We took many strolls around Dakota City checking out each of the restored buildings and marveled at how well they were displayed to project the time era in which they were built. Some from the late 1800’s and others from the early 1900’s made for some whimsical walks. They do give tours, for a small fee, two days a week and the tour guides dress in era appropriate clothing.

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My favorite building was a early 1890’s house that was meticulously landscaped and had an exquisite garden outback with beautiful ripening heirloom tomatoes. Eggplants were fruiting and lettuce, cucumbers and pumpkins were in the ground waiting for their turn. It was very, very tempting to pick some of their tomatoes but we fought the temptation and left them for others to enjoy..

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Lastly, in the park, there was also a rather nice hiking trail or maybe a better wording would be a hiking maze in the prairie beside the park. These mowed trails through the neck high grass and wildflowers interconnected allowing one to wander around for hours taking in the sights of the prairie. A few garter snakes and a leopard frog were spotted as well as some sparrows and goldfinches. It really was relaxing and pleasant to wander through the maze of trails…

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We did make one last excursion back up to St. Paul to see the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. This was another free, donations accepted facility.  It is interesting how many of the communities in the northern states have set aside land to take care of injured wildlife by providing homes for them in these community zoos. In these zoos we noticed there were regular “zoo animals” as well. This one was nice and well attended.

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Our favorite exhibits were the monkeys and apes as many of them were carrying their babies around with them. After leaving the zoo we drove over to see the Minniehaha Falls. It really was quite a beautiful waterfall right in the middle of town. We had to pay to park to see it but the money spent was well worth the attraction.

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Another day while waiting for our results a blog reader, Jim Stein drove over to meet us.  He and his wife have a new Winnebago Motorhome and are excited about traveling full time in August.  It was really fun getting to know Jim and we hope to meet again perhaps this winter in Arizona.  What a treat it was to have this nice visit.

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We needed all these distractions until we finally received our release from the Mayo. We were so relieved and more than ready to get back to traveling. Now we plan to head further west and see what adventures lie in wake for us On the Road of Retirement…

NOTE: We are now sitting for a few days in the Mel Rieman COE Campground in North Dakota…

Friday, July 29, 2016

An Urban Hike in Minneapolis Minnesota…


We noticed the Bigboy Travel site also had a good self guided walking tour for Minneapolis Minnesota, the other city of the Twin Cities so we decided to check it out as well. St Paul, Minnesota is a large city but Minneapolis is about 50% larger and the buildings seem to be at least 50% taller. The downtown area had a feel to us similar to Chicago Illinois.

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We parked the CRV and started our walk along the street feeling very small with the size of the skyscrapers in this city. Most impressive to us was one that was erected in 1992. The 776 foot tall Capella Tower which is one sleek looking building with its rounded top piece. It really stands out in the Minneapolis skyline. Also on this bright sunny day the many glass buildings reflected the buildings all around them adding to the beauty of the city.

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Unique to Minneapolis is its extensive Skyway System which links more than 80 blocks with 8 miles of climate controlled pedestrian overpasses.  Like a “people subway” this system helps workers and shoppers in the downtown area with a way to get around in Minnesota’s very harshimage winters.  This Skyway was once the largest in World! Now it is simply the largest in the United States! Impressive…

Another must stop for Sharon was to find the 8 foot tall bronze statue of the character Mary Richards from the Mary Tyler Moore show. As you may recall from that old TV sitcom show Mary Richards, a single woman, had moved to Minneapolis after being jilted by her boyfriend. She was hired as an associate producer of the station's "Six O'Clock News" by her lovable boss Lou Grant (Ed Asner),

The statue was in the Visitor’s Center and while we were there one of the staff told us that the Minnesota Vikings Football Team was having an open house in their new stadium! We abandoned the rest of our walking tour and hiked the mile or so over to the U.S. Bank Stadium, the new home for the Vikings. At a total project cost of $1.027 billion it certainly seems as if we Americans may have a whacked sense of priorities but the end result is a really cool stadium.

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We stayed for a while and wandered around the stadium. We sat in a few of the seats and took in this billion dollar spectacle. However it didn’t take me too long to tire of the crowds in the stadium so we left to head back home thinking we might finish the walking tour another day…

NOTE: Yes!!!! We both got back great results from our tests at the Mayo so we are back on the road and will be casino hopping to North Dakota next…

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Enjoying St Paul, Minnesota while waiting for results from the mayo…...


Since we needed to stay close to Rochester in case any of our results require further treatment we decided to move just a bit further away so we could visit the Minnesota Twin Cities. Minneapolis and St Paul, Minnesota are just 30 minutes north of the Dakota County Fairgrounds in Farmington, MN where we are camped now.  This also puts us only an hour away from Rochester if we need to return for further appointments.

After driving 50 miles northwest of Zumbro Falls we pulled into the fairgrounds and set up in a spacious site with 50 amp power and water (no sewer). However, there is a dump station in the park.  The nightly fee is $25 which is high for a fairground but parks around here are very pricey so it is a fair price. There was no office to check in to and online I read that once set up a camp host would come and register us.  After we set up completely the camp host came by and told us we were not in the right area but said we could stay the night and not move unless we wanted to stay more than one night. You would think there would be signage or some mention of where RVs are supposed to park online, but oh, well...  The next day we had to move to the south side of the fairgrounds.

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Using the Bigboy Travel site (as we often do) we were able to find a nice self guided walking tour. Since it was a Sunday we were able to park for free. We love doing these self paced walking tours to get to know a city especially those we have never visited before. While some may not like these urban hikes we like to mix up both urban hikes along with hikes in more natural settings. After all, to us diversity is the spice of life!

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Since we had most of an afternoon still left we drove 30 minutes to do a self guided walking tour of the capitol city of Minnesota, St. Paul. Our first stop was the state capitol itself but once we arrived, we were sad to find that the capitol is closed for renovations for the next three months. So we didn’t get to go inside and really didn’t get to see much of the building since it was shrouded in wraps and scaffolding everywhere. I did take a picture of the top which was the only part not covered up in some fashion…

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Some highlights of this walking tour were seeing Lambert’s Landing near the Mississippi River docks at Upper Landing, with 80 foot sheer white cliffs marking where the area’s first settler Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant staked his claim in 1830s where he built a tavern. Also there was the Union Depot with its Art Deco style which opened in 1926. We also really enjoyed Rice Park where we found several statues of Peanuts characters since the creator of them, Charles Schultz,  is from St Paul. Lastly and interestingly was the Saint Paul Hotel which was originally built as the Windsor Hotel in 1878 where the likes of Gene Autry and John F Kennedy once stayed.

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Sharon also loved seeing Mickey’s Diner which became one of the first diners placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the “1930s Mickey Crimmons and Bert Mattson were at a Restaurant Expo in Chicago when they " fell in love a street car display by New Jersey’s Jerry O’Mahoney Company. They ordered one right away and opened their 24/7 malt and burger shop open in 1939”.

As we left the city we were going to make one last stop at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden but alas, it too was being renovated, but such is life on the Road of Retirement…

NOTE: Still here in the fairgrounds waiting for the last of our results….

Monday, July 25, 2016

Rochester MN and the Mayo - Rochester is the Mayo!

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We certainly enjoyed our 18 day stay in Wisconsin but the main reason we spent so much time in Iowa and Wisconsin is that we had scheduled our annual checkups at the Mayo Hospital in Rochester Minnesota. Most of the campgrounds around Rochester MN are pricey so we opted to stay at a local park just outside the town of Zumbro Falls, MN.

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After scouring the internet for an interesting place to stay I came across one called the Sportsman Park Campground. This park has 50 amp and water, no sewer and no dump station, but was right on the Zumbro River. With the heat predicted for the area to be in the 90’s we certainly wanted 50 amp service to run our A/C’s and being next to a river is a bonus. All this for $20 per night with the only downside being we would have to drive 20 miles to Rochester for our appointments at the Mayo.

We won’t bore you with details about all of our appointments but between the two of us we had appointments in Rochester for four straight days. Sharon is a breast cancer survivor and I had a melanoma before so we don’t really look forward to these appointments but know that they are necessary and are vital to our well being.


After four days of appointments we were certainly tired of all the prodding and poking as well as all the mental anguish but we must say that the Mayo Clinics really are wonderful places to have medical concerns taken care of. The quality of care, friendliness of staff and punctuality of appointments are unheard of at any other hospital or clinic we have ever been to.

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Since we didn’t spend every moment of every day seeing doctors we took the guided tour of the Mayo one day and I also did the self-guided tour of the art inside the Mayo while Sharon was at an appointment. We highly recommend when in Rochester Minnesota to take the time to take the tours as they are well worth the effort. We also strolled around downtown Rochester only to learn that Rochester is the Mayo!


What began as the Mayo Clinic goes way back to the practice of a frontier doctor, William W. Mayo, who was an Englishman that settled in Rochester MN in 1863. In 1883 a tornado ravaged Rochester and Mother Alfred Moes, the founder of the Sisters of St. Francis, proposed to build and staff a hospital in Rochester only if Dr. W.W. Mayo would provide the medical care. He accepted and his two sons joined him in the 1880’s and they founded the first Mayo in 1889. Shortly thereafter more physicians (of like mindedness regarding patient care) were asked to join.

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Their passion for medicine and their attention to patient care become known worldwide as visiting physicians would come to learn from them. What these three doctors started eventually gave rise to the renowned medical facilities that make up the Mayo today. We have now visited and been treated at all three of their major clinics, the one in Jacksonville Florida, Scottsdale Arizona and now the one in Rochester Minnesota.

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There have been a lot of medical innovation at the Mayo’s. Cortisone was first identified by American chemists Edward C. Kendall and Harold L. Mason while doing research at the Mayo Clinic. For their efforts the Nobel Prize in 1950 was given to Mayo doctor  Edward C. Kendall  "for their discoveries relating to the hormones of the adrenal cortex, their structure and biological effects."


At the end of all our appointments we walked over to the Ground Rounds Brew Pub and cheered the end of our appointments. We plan to leave the next day heading an hour NW to stay at the fairgrounds just outside of Minneapolis/St Paul MN. We need to stay close to Rochester in case any of our results require further appointments. We are certainly hoping that isn’t the case…