Bill and Kit’s Excellent Adventure Chapter 40

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The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #40

Thursday, May 7, 2009:


Today marks 16 weeks on the road and the day I traditionally update the travel statistics. However we should be back in Maine by the end of the month so I’ll wait to report out until then.

Heading up I-35 toward Minnesota we saw the most wind turbine generators in one place this entire trip. We lost count but there must have been hundreds of them slowly spinning in the breeze over a 10 mile stretch of the interstate.

 Stopped in Clear Lake, Iowa to pay homage to the Surf Ballroom and the last rock and roll concert before the day “the music died”. Three of rocks greatest late 50’s performers perished in a small plane flying out of Clear Lake the morning after their concert. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson were gone too soon and will forever be remembered by the Don McLean tribute “American Pie”.

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Rest in Peace, rock legends. You are gone but certainly not forgotten…..at least by the rock faithful!

The Surf Ballroom is still hosting concerts and some of modern rock’s most popular bands play there on a regular basis. An interesting tidbit about that fateful morning is that Waylon Jennings, a then unknown back up guitarist, was scheduled to go on that plane as well. However, he relinquished his seat to the youngster Ritchie Valens and decided to take the band bus to the next gig. Buddy Holly on hearing of the switch told his friend Waylon “I hope the bus breaks down” to which Waylon replied “Well, I hope your old plane crashes”. Waylon Jennings has kept that conversation a secret until just a few years ago.

Somewhere south of the Twin Cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis we came across this interesting piece of roadside sculpture.

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Yep, those birds were painted in the colors of the USAF Thunderbirds. Not sure why or why they were even in this location. Pretty dramatic display however.

We decided to stay for our duration in the Twin Cities at Lebanon Hills Regional Park. This Dakota County campground is located in Apple Valley, Minnesota and is very nice with full hook-up’s all at a very reasonable price. We picked a real nice wooded site.

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

The rest of the park has numerous hiking, horse and biking trails. A mere quarter mile down the road there is a Mountain Bike Park maintained by the Minnesota Off Road Bicyclists. I’ll have to fully check those trails out soon.

Friday, May 8 through Tuesday May 12, 2009:

We contacted family in the area for availability to visit, which is the actual reason we came to the Twin Cities area in the first place. As a side note, I bet those cities are fraternal as they don’t look like each other at all.

We were able to spend a lot of quality time with my Dad and his friend Henrietta.

Dad and his friend Henrietta

Dad and his friend Henrietta

 

 

Dad is doing well and has little residual effects from his stroke of a few years ago. We had a great time reminiscing and he was able to fill in some gaps from my childhood. He handed down to me some family items as well as a personal history document he has been working on. This incredible detailed history makes for fascinating reading as it describes his early childhood, his war years on a destroyer in the pacific during WWII and his life after he retired from the Navy. I intend to make copies for all the kids and Dewey which I’m sure they will enjoy reading as much as I have.  

We spent a very nice afternoon with my Aunt Vi, Uncle Howard and cousins David, Mark, Michael (Marks son) and friend Dawn. My aunt and uncle have recently moved to a new Senior Apartment Complex which is much closer to David who helps out a lot with transportation to doctor’s appointments, etc. It’s a nice homey place and they seem to have adjusted to their new “digs”. It was great to see Michael, who has grown quite a bit since the last time we saw him and is doing well in school. David was kind enough to scan several family photos for me, photos he gave me to scan last September. We never got around to purchasing a scanner so I brought them back for him to scan. Both Aunt Vi and Uncle Howard seem to be doing well. Aunt Vi just celebrated her 90th birthday in March.

Aunt Vi and Uncle Howard

Aunt Vi and Uncle Howard

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Another delightful afternoon was spent with Billy and Char. Billy is my cousin on my mom’s side of the family. They live in Blaine, Minnesota, just a bit north of Minneapolis. We were able to get caught up on news in both of our families and share some of our trip stories over a nice lunch. Billy and Char spent time traveling with a 5th wheel in tow several years ago so it’s always nice to hear how their adventures went. They are both enjoying retirement now. Char spends a lot of time doing genealogy work and Billy works part time as a security guard at a local shopping mall. They also spend time with family activities and their grand kids. In addition, we were able to return the family pictures Char had given us last September to scan.

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Billy and Char

I spent one afternoon riding the trails at the Mountain Bike Park down the road. They were in very good shape and offered most any challenging terrain that a mountain biker would want. The trails were well designed and marked as Beginner, Intermediate and Expert level. I rode the beginner loop of 3 miles followed by the intermediate loop of 7 miles and attempted (walked some of it) the expert loop for another 3 miles. A number of the turns featured high bermed swooping turns with excellent run-outs. They were designed so well, and since they were marked for one way traffic, you could just let off the brakes and rail down the trail. Those 13 miles took me over two hours and I was beat…..but I really had a good time.

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Great time in Minnesota but we are getting anxious to get home so tomorrow we hit the road.

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

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