October 6 Benefit for Beechwood

September 23rd, 2018

POST REHAB UPDATES!!  And now for something completely different… Way back in June 2015 we got our “new” 1997 Palomino Yearling, and we’ve been making good use of it for four years now.  It took a awhile to get set up, figure out what we needed, what we don’t, but we’re there.  Above is one of our early trips to Mirror Lake State Park in WI, Site 137 in Cliff Wood Loop is the best! 139 will do in a pinch.

Little Sadie loves camping too:


We’ve put a lot of miles on it, over 30 days a year, 2017 up to 53, 4 years and 170 days, not bad, especially because I can work in the “pup.”  We’ve been to many of the State Parks here in Minnesota.  Frontenac State Park 1st, and Scenic State Park which was fully booked, and which had no internet or phone at all:

Wild River State Park, where we had a pesto festo with friends and campground neighbors, but alas, sketchy internet:

Charles Lindbergh State Park, which rents canoes and we paddled up the Mississippi to the Little Falls Dam and back.  The park has great internet access, and right by town, highly recommend sites 15e and 25:

Itasca State Park (which has WiFi at the bathrooms in both campgrounds!) Prefer Bear Paw Campground and the lake view sites :

Tettegouche State Park for Grand Marais Wooden Boat Show.   Note the emergency blankets, it was pretty hot this last time, the first year, SO COLD AND RAINY!  5e isn’t so hot, but 26e is huge, 30 e is great too, though the sites are set up backwards, so we backed in and set the trailer sideways… PERFECT!

And also Cascade River State Park, to stay nearby for the Grand Marais Wooden Boat Show when Tettegouche was booked solid, as it often is.  Cascade River has best bathrooms EVER!

Even had dishwashing station outside the showerhouse, so no grey water worries.

Not long after we got our camper, we took it up to Big Bog State Park for the Great Northern Transmission USDA-RUS’ EIS Road Show, cool place because it has docks for the campsites, a fishing camp for sure with all the big BIG trailers and BIG pick up trucks, HUGE RVs and generators and more generators (and the flies and mosquitos as big, they remain trapped in the screens, to this day, never seen so many mosquitos ever, do NOT recommend going up there) and NO internet access whatsoever, what a pain, nope, take it off your list. If you’re a serious fisher, though, this is the place to be.

Nerstrand State Park with good internet through the phone, close to home and Tokyo Grill, a great sushi restaurant in Northfield, great place to have Norwegian relatives over for dinner:

Even Wisconsin.  Wisconsin State Parks seem to be set up a little better than Minnesota (gasp!), with sites further apart, and much larger, there’d be room for two campers and two cars in most of the Wisconsin sites I’ve seen.  Mirror Lake State Park is very popular, and the best site, as above, 137 on the cul du sac — it’s booked solid already, had to grab a few early days last year:

We’ve also been down to Arkansas and back, three times now camping, Petit Jean State Park, do the drive up Mt. Nebo and La Villa in Russellville, AR, the best Italian restaurant in the country… and for Thanksgiving, Lake Dardanelle State Park:

Went out to the Black Hills, Custer State Park, Game Lodge Campground, with buffalo in a pasture right next to the campground bathrooms:

… and to Hell Creek State Park in Montana (got to tour the Ft. Peck dam while we were out there, how cool is that?!?) that has 26 miles of the dirt road from hell to get there.  Here’s Hell Creek State Park in Montana then and now.  First is Hell Creek State Park, MT, in 1966 and the next is last spring at the same spot, it only took 50 years to get back:

My beautiful picture

It was a lot more hospitable now, but May v. August in 1966, no surprise.  No park ranger with a bag of rattlesnakes he’d shot this time either!  And after going through the Bakken BUST, we even got to Ft. Stevenson State Park, Garrison, North Dakota (no relation to anyone at Xcel Energy):

That trip on the way back, we toured the Soudan Mine, at that State Park (there’s a new campground there, Lake Vermillion, just opened last year) and toured the neutrino lab, which was closing soon thereafter – Soudan Mine tours are still ongoing, do check it out:

Went with a friend to Camden State Park, really windy and rainy day 1, but then the sun came out and we checked out Pipestone National Monument and Jeffers Petroglyphs, and got to help clients close on major buy-out, again working from the State Park.

Minneopa State Park was miserable last Memorial Day weekend, too hot to exist!  And the time before when we were there, end of October early November, it was very cold and rainy.  Seems the park is booked most weekends before the season even starts.  This is site 24, no electric.

And the Halloween trip, very cold, very windy, but sunny!

It was SO cold out.  Toured the Shell Brewery (lame “tour”), hiked around to keep warm, and though cold and super windy outside, so windy it was hard to cook, but our little heater worked well:

Alan and I had a great trip up and around the UP too, cold and rainy in July, Ft. Wilkins State Park, at Copper Harbor, MI, but the next day sun was up in time to dry out and leave, absolutely perfect weather:

And Pt. Beach State Forest in WI, on the shore of Lake Michigan, right near Pt. Beach nuclear plant!  Got to Pt. Beach Forest twice, both times perfect weather, site 79e and 81e are great sites, large, close to bathroom and showerhouse, with lots of room between sites.

It’s always a long winter in Minnesota.  As a kid, I remember my father spent the winter with maps, and planning our month of August on the road.  So in that tradition, I’ve spend the winter looking at camp sites, picking out our next trips, campsites, and we’re ready to hit the road… but wait, not so fast.


Equipment and cosmetics, lots of changes.  Over the winter, 2015-2016, I also got carried away looking at rehabs on The Pop Up Princess, and the thought of spending another summer with those 1990s scratchy maroon and green cushions was more than I could bear.  The camper was in great shape when we got it, just ugly and scratchy:

Alan’s been busy working on the camper, well, me too.  And as you can see, it’s good to go.  We’ve already added what we need to camp in comfort, roughing it has no appeal to me anymore, yes, we’re old farts.  We’ve now got a deep cycle battery, new propane tank, Alan scraped and primed the frame, put in bearing buddies of course, new tires too (after we had a flat in Arkansas that first long trip after we got it in 2015, at least we were prepared on a cool rainy day).

Alan has wired in outlets and USBs in the small dinette (office!), some other lights repaired inside and out, LED all around, and a 6″ PVC pipe on the back for all the poles so they don’t mar the floor bouncing around.

Also my fridge from the truck and a cube fridge to replace the icebox, a toaster, a convection/toaster oven and a fold up Coleman oven too, microwave, CampChef storage and toolbags for cooking equipment and spices/condiments… the Camp Chef storage makes it really easy, everything has its place, and we just chuck it in the camper and we’re set to go!

… and a couple of tables for kitchen duty, one with leg extensions for prep table duty, a YUGE outdoor mat, chairs, and doofy awning lites.  The final “must have” was my Camp Chef Ranger III, which works much better for the griddle, and is flat, not hanging crooked off the side of the trailer, so glad to see that old camper stove go!

Full kitchen set up — convection oven comes out, corn bread on the way:

I even sewed a cover for the camper (to match the air conditioner covers?!?!) for sitting in storage — got a gazebo cover cheap and made a lot of house and storage projects:

And early on, I gots me a chuckbox, what more could one want in life!  It would sit in the back of the van, everything all in one place.  Was great for long trips:


Best of all, I’ve now got my “new” Subaruski to pull it, December 2016 after a year of looking — car updated with rear suspension bushings to eliminate ghostwalking (scroll down here for info)!  Perfect for pulling a pop-up… BUT…. but now the Chuckbox doesn’t fit!!!!  It’s been retired…

We’re all set… and we’ve really been getting around!  Yes, the pop-up was just fine the way it was, in very good condition, but… but… that inside was SO 90s.  Rather oppressive.  And that’s where The Pop Up Princess comes in.  Check these rehabs, like wow!  I had no idea… And it’s not all that hard.  It can be a real mess if you have to rip everything up, replace a roof, fix holes in the floor, no thanks, but a makeover can be done fairly easily, fairly cheaply, if you’re on the lookout for deals.

That original fabric, URP!  It is so gross, dark, and scratchy, it’s got to go.  And it did!  With something different, something cheery and bright, it’s a whole new camper.  And SR Harris had a big sale on fabric, $3.99/yard at SR Harris in Burnsville, so… TA DA!!!!  Cheeriness personified!  Old and new… night and day!

It’s mostly a light blue with tan, brown, and seafoam and green and some off white.  Note sink unit on right, that was next to go, joining all the other camper parts in the attic, before and after:

Got the cushions done in about two weeks, a couple hours every now and then.  The tubes were simple, but doing the envelope flaps by hand on ELEVEN cushions took a bit!  And I made belly-bands for the seats of cheap towels, for protection of cushions and easy washing.

The floor, well, we have laminate that came up off the mud room floor, but it is so butt ugly, yes, it would match, but it would also be heavy, a lot more work, so I found a rich brown poly rug to cut and trim with off-white twill tape, it’s thin enough to sew, a lot easier than those #*($*%)#(*)#*% Subaru seat covers I made out of throw rugs!  Cut this to fit, glue the back edges so it doesn’t fray, and sew on twill tape binding all around, and toss it on the floor, take it out to hose it off now and then, how hard can it be?!?!

DOH!  That was a good idea, but not so hot in execution.  I got the plan backwards and cut, zigged where I should have zagged, and so tossed that out (well, cut to use as outside camping throw rugs), and went on to a new warm laminate quickly, and LOVE the result.  Laminate was laid after the painting was done, thanks “Floor Guy!”  And you can see the sink is now history, just a simple counter. No fold-down sink means lots of storage.

The cabinets are semi-gloss off white, 2-3 coats of deglosser and primer, and then paint, whew. That’s a lot of coats, but necessary to get it right.  Got the deglosser and found great pulls at Restore $0.25 each, and Rustoleum spray metallic paint so the hinges will match the pulls. Don’t need to redo the curtains because they’re the same seafoam green and dark green of the new fabric, and they will look just fine after those 90s cushions are covered.  The countertops and tables are OK as is, because they’re off white or wood.

Painting was a royal pain, VERY hot, but once I got going, it was OK, got it done in 3 days.  The prep is important, wash down, let dry, then degloss x 2, and x 3 on doors.  Primer x 2, and x 3 on doors and in doorway.  Paint, x 2, and 3 coats on doors.  I used a latex, and I think if doing over, I’d use oil and allow more time to fully dry.  The paint chips, particularly in the doorway, and on the plastic T stuff, and so needs touch up every year.  It washes well though with soapy water.

Here are the cabinet pulls, taken off, there was a backing behind the knobs, got rid of that, and put new pulls on that we had around the house.  Spray painted with Rustoleum everything metal and plastic, the fire extinguisher, furnace, electric outlets, new vent for “new” electric cube fridge, and of course, the fridge got painted brown too.  Used deglosser on these too, before spraypainting.  It held up well except that long vent, it was on the side of cabinet fridge is in (cube fridge needs extra venting), and it was always bumped with butts and bags on the bench.

At this stage, I also took out the sink and stove counter that folds down, as above, and put in a piece of ash we had sitting around from another project, put on a couple coats of poly, and voila!  With that counter out of the way when down, there’s a LOT more storage room, and when set up, that extra room makes it so light and airy inside.

Alan added a few touches, like scraping and painting the frame and wheels, the bearing buddies every 2 years, added plump radial tires. We work in the camper, I even use it for meetings with clients, and going to hearings, because often they’re a ways away, we needed outlets for charging and working.  These charger outlets were added before the painting, and sorely needed, and because we also sometimes dry camp, he added a battery on the tongue that wasn’t there when we got the trailer (former owners had just used it for sleeping room at their cabin):

Here’s the “charging station” (formerly baby changing station, $5 at garage sale) for tablets and phones hanging from the folding metal shelf (shelves from Convenience Concepts, got 2, a standard one and a corner one):

Oh, we also got a “Signal Booster” from T-Mobile, which helps a lot out in the toolies, which we needed for better signal to work in the camper (appears they’re now extinct, but some are on ebay).

The “Convenience Concepts” metal shelves collapse for easy storage, and are holders for ovens, don’t nuke often, but if it’s wildly rainy, it’s good to have that option.  The convection stored inside but only used outside, for baking and for TURKEY!  We have new tradition, maybe, of Thanksgiving in Arkansas, at Lake Dardanelle State Park, the little light oven is the perfect size for big turkey breast:

We got the emergency blankets from Walmart for when it’s HOT HOT HOT, anchored on with tarp clips from Amazon.

I’m thrilled with the results!! We also put reflectix in the windows of the bunk in the “new” hybrid:

The rehab made the pop up so comfy and light, what a thrill, and it was pretty easy!

Oh, and necessary equipment: a BAL leveler, and scissor jacks to keep it level, and YES, THE CAMPER IS LEVEL ON THIS SITE, it’s at Great River Bluffs State Park, MN, site 27, and well, didn’t think we’d need a BAL leveler, but bought it based on rave reviews on the pop up camper list, and next trip, well, we couldn’t have set up without it!

Really, the front was that low!

We’ve now got the inside set up figured out, and then the outside set up figured out (only cook outside, and cooking is a big part of camping for me!), the electronics figured out, and that leaves the looking and booking over winter for next season’s trips!!!  That was 2017…

PUPDATE: Since then, we sold the pup in fall 2019 (that was a very sad day, so much time and work with our Palomino), tried a large teardrop, but it was too small.

Myre-Big Island State Park, site 2e
Frontenac, site 19e

The outside kitchen was very cool, but having to get out to switch from dinette to bunk was a pain, not at all workable, we need both accessible, so off it went. Sold in a day!

Next, after more looking, was a small hybrid, a “NTU” 2012 Starcraft 15RB, better for longer term working on the road, works for a quick snooze in Camp Wallyworld, and for weeks of camp-hosting, however, FUEL MILEAGE SUCKS. But then COVID, so very little “on the road” work. Can’t go visit my distant clients (and ALL are distant). We did get one round of camp-hosting in the fall of 2019 at Myre-Big Island, and a road trip from hell, complete with van breakdowns and van light problems that October, plus a nuclear/electric tour. With COVID, state parks cancelled our 2020 reservations and one camp-hosting gig and we backed out of another mid-summer for 2020. Good news is we got in two trips in fall 2020 to nearly deserted campgrounds, Little Missouri State Park, ND, in particular, that was great, and another trip to Mirror Lake State Park, WI. It was so windy there, had to turn the trailer so the awning wouldn’t blow away! Hope that COVID’s STAY HOME changes soon, that COVID goes away, and we can get camping again! JUST WEAR THE DAMN MASK!

Camp Hosting, Myre-Big Island State Park, MN
Post Labor-Day 2020 trip to Little Missouri State Park, ND
Late October trip to Mirror Lake State Park, WI

And since then, sold the hybrid, and now back to tenting in a Wawona 6, huge and dry. Set up and take down is same amount of time, because it’s mostly the outside stuff, the camp kitchen, etc, that takes so long! But less than an hour, in all cases. And the cost, whew, the cost is so much less. A queen size air mattress was initial attempt, but the thing leaked, not good when not at electric site, and so a big cot, which works well, and if it’s cold, a small electric heater under the cot is just right!! Miss that pop up, especially after all the work to make it “new,” but storage and having a separate unit was an issue, and they hybrid was supposed to be my office away from home… but COVID and the cost of hauling it around made it unworkable. So tent, with vestibule big enough to office in during the rain, best solution I could come up with.

Life is good!!

November 23rd, 2015

I gots me a chuckbox!!!



Labor Day

September 3rd, 2012

Just the facts, ma’am…


This is a chart showing the unemployment rate from 1948 to 2012, marked every six years.  You can find the numbers for yourself at the Bureau of Labor Statistics Data page, plug in whatever years you want, and there it is:

Bureau of Labor Statistics Data

Take a look at trends.   This is not rocket science…

I’ve been seeing so much, opinions expressed by people who should know better, a handful or more I hear from regularly (maybe not so much anymore!), making statements so far in contradiction to easily discoverable facts, it’s so disturbing, and this mantra of “say it enough and it becomes true” is driving me nuts…

I went on a little Labor Day rant earlier:

Labor Day… Yes, it’s true, my great-grandfather on my mother’s side was a union organizer and buddy of Debs; my father often told us of being a kid hanging at the outskirts of the teamster strike and shootings in his Mpls. neighborhood by Hiawatha-Lake, guns going off and running to safety. Here it is Labor Day, and we should be expressing gratitude for 8 hour days, overtime pay, weekends, minimum wage, elimination of much child labor… and taking a day off! I’m seeing the rants of people clueless of those who gave so much and fought so hard for things today’s workers take for granted, so much so that they’ll roll over and give it up, act against their interests… and then when they’re hit with economic reality, to vilify unions (Wisconsin is just across the Mississippi from here) and blame the current unemployment rates and economic disaster on Obama? Even my life-long Republican father sitting in diapers at the nursing home had the sense to give Bush the finger every time his mug appeared. Repeating the propaganda over and over does not make it true, though it does a lot to keep me outraged and fighting! Dog grant me the serenity…

And let’s be clear — I have a personal and professional disgust about Obama’s support of coal gasification a la Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project, and his fast-tracking SEVEN transmission projects, including “my” Susquehanna-Roseland and CapX? 2020 Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse (What does Obama’s Xmsn push mean?), and then there’s fracking… I spend hours writing the White House (rattling the cage enough to get a call from Lauren Azar!), the campaign, and pieces here, and you all know about that disgust in detail, but the alternative?  Romney is so repulsive, repugnant that I have no words, and I am going to have to hold my nose, and vote for Obama the corporate toady.  But more than that, if there’s any chance Romney could get in, it’s time to act and do what I can to keep that from happening.  It’s time.  I now feel I have to kick into gear and do more, the prospect of Romney getting elected is more than I can bear, and it’s a lot more than Seamus:


It’s a lot more than giving my Social Security to Wall Street, or Romney and Ryan’s desire to eliminate Medicare (though having health care in a few years is something I am so looking forward too).   This is a “Drill, Baby, Drill” guy, a proponent of nuclear power, his Energy Plan is embarassing, that he put something like that out in public, OH MY DOG, and yet, people aren’t rolling on the floor laughing?  WAKE UP!  Read the stupid thing:

Romney’s Energy Plan – much ado about nothing

How is it that someone this monumentally stupid, look up vacuous and there he is, he and his handlers, how can he be deemed Presidential material?  Did you see his facial expressions during his big speech last week?  OH MY DOG!  Scary… utterly phony.

And they’re calling this election close.  How is it that people I know and respect and care about can have their heads SO implanted?  In large part, I think we’re seeing the result of our “educational” system, zero critical thinking abilities…  So it’s time to do more than hitting reply and send the Obama team scathing emails about their horrible policy positions (don’t worry, I’ll be doing that too).  But its time ramp up the challenge to the falsehoods that are being tossed about, over and over, in an effort to make it true. I just can’t stomach it anymore.  I’ve seen one too many “Obama is responsible for this mess” rants.  I’ve had enough.

Again, Dog grant me the serenity… and this situation, yes, we do indeed have a situation, this is something that raises the obligation humans have to change the things we can.  Onward!

Here she is, Rhea, a German Shepherd at the Humane Society of Goodhue County and she needs a home!

I’m on the Board of HSGC, and tour regularly looking for those special dogs that grab me, yes, it does happen, three times so far!  I’d seen her a week before, when I brought in Kady-Kate for toenails, this was before Rhea went off to be spayed, and she was my kind of grrrrrrl (and had those pangs… hmmmmm… 3 dogs… one more??? FOUR dogs?  No can do in City of Red Wing, 3 is the limit.).

She’s a 3 y.o. GSD.  She’s now been spayed, and as a part of that, had bloodwork done and now we know she’s not just any shep, she’s a special shep, young, beautiful classic coloring, perky, and she has EPI.  That’s Endocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, meaning she needs the EPI drug to help her process her food, and she’ll need it for the rest of her life.  It’s fairly cheap, and she should do fine as long as she’s taking it.

To adopt Rhea, contact the Humane Society of Goodhue County:

Phone 651-388-5286. Because she’s off recovering from spaying, she’s not on site, but let them know you’re interested in her and they’ll set up a meeting.

She’s a diamond in the ruff, she needs training, some love, and YOU!  Just look at that face:




Is this a shep or what?