Four States, Four Bikes, and One Yellow Travato – Chapter Three


After Chapter 2, you’re probably thinking to yourselves, “Wow, what could possibly be more exciting than Nebraska?” (It’s OK. We live in Utah. We get to talk smack about pretty much every other state when it comes to the outdoors.)

Well get ready for:

Chapter 3: Minnesota and the BLOODY SUPER MOON!

Welcome to Minnesota

We managed to avoid driving all the way across Nebraska on I-80.

Sadly, the way we did this was by driving all the way across South Dakota on I-90.

There’s no winner in that contest. But next time, we’re going to try driving all the way across Kansas on I-70 and see if that’s any different… I suspect not.

Our next stop was at Blue Mounds State Park in Minnesota. We were pleasantly surprised by this place, which turned out to be quite nice.  But we had some concerns going in.  We had received a notice from the park that the water in the park was not testing safe.  They advised filling up with fresh water before arrival, which is normally no big deal.  They even provided a helpful map to the place they wanted you to fill up.  Very nice.  But when we got there, we realized we were at the Luverne, MN Waste Water Treatment Plant!  Needless to say, we found this disturbing.  There was one spigot which was marked “This water IS safe for drinking“.  And we really didn’t have too many other options, so we hooked up a filter and filled the tank.  Happy to report, no dysentery.

When we finally landed at our campsite, we didn’t have much time for chit-chat. You see, we had gotten up late (as always) and taken our time getting to Minnesota, and it was getting dark. We had been hearing on the news for days that this night was alternately either a “blood moon” or a “Super Moon”. Well, as it turns out, it was both. Which made it a “Super-Blood-Moon” or (my favorite) a “Bloody Super Moon”. A “Blood Moon” is something that happens during a total lunar eclipse (when the moon passes through the earth’s shadow). A “Super Moon” is when a full moon happens at the same time that the moon is on the closest part of its orbit to earth, which makes the moon seem especially big. But “Bloody Super Moons” are apparently rare – like every 30 years or something.

Clearly, we couldn’t miss that. So no sooner had we landed at Blue Mounds State Park than we grabbed some cameras, hopped on our “crap bikes” and struck out to snap the best bloody super moon pictures we could. We can explore a lot of ground quickly on those crap bikes, so I think we’re pretty much going to bring them all of the time from now on.

James is blurry

This picture is all blurry because that’s how the camera chose to compensate for low light. It makes things blurry. Now, I’m no professional photographer, but on the surface, that tradeoff doesn’t make sense. It’s like an appliance repairman saying “I’ll install your garbage disposal, but since I found it under your sink, I’m going to cover the bill in Lemon Pledge.”

 

We did get a couple neat shots of the bloody super moon.

This was the best we saw of it before it got cloudy.

This was the best we saw of it before it got cloudy.

All the “How to photograph the supermoon” information we could find said to put something in front of the super moon for some perspective. So here’s a faux-abandoned tepee installed by Minnesota State Parks.

All the “How to photograph the supermoon” information we could find said to put something in front of the super moon for some perspective. So here’s a faux-abandoned tepee installed by Minnesota State Parks.

And then it got too dark and cloudy to take any more pictures. But the next morning, when we got up (late), we took a few pictures of the campground before we departed.

Blue Mounds State Park

 

It really was a nice place. And I had the best campground shower experience ever at this place.  I had an awesome 10′ x 20′ shower with a huge shower stall, toilet, separate sink and counter, Niagara Falls water pressure, and the guy had just finished cleaning it.  Meanwhile, Stef got to shower with someone else’s discarded band-aid and a clogged drain. So she finished her shower and basically immediately wanted another one.

After that, I got to work,

(yes, actual work)

(yes, actual work)

while Stef took the helm and drove us the rest of the way into Forest City. While we were in Forest City, we either took part in top-secret RV experiments that will change the face of RVing forever… or we just hung out and had some Mexican food. You’ll have to wait and see.

We spent one night in Forest City at the more or less deserted GNR grounds, and then we decided to head BACK to Minnesota. But this time, we went to the nearby Myre Big Island State Park. We liked this place well enough that we’re actually going to do a full campground review on it, and we haven’t done one of those in a long while. In fact, we stayed there for THREE WHOLE DAYS, which actually ties the record for us staying in one place in an RV.  The only other place we’ve stayed for three days was in Banff – so we’ve got a pretty high bar for multiple day stays.

This was really our kind of RV park. For starters, one of the two campgrounds really is on an island, so you get views like this:

I'll write about the UFO that landed in the lake in a separate post...

I’ll write about the UFO that landed in the lake in a separate post…

The other thing we liked was that there weren’t playgrounds, swimming pools, giant inflatable movie screens and things like that. There was plenty to do, but it was old-school DIY active recreation. For example, we rode Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs).  Stef loves stand up paddleboarding. I guess it’s just her thing, and she feels very natural and at ease on one. When she does it, it looks like this.

Stef SUP

I on the other hand, am considerably less at ease. When I do it, it looks like this.

You know when you put socks on a cat’s feet and then you let them go but they just stand there frozen? I mean, of course, I’ve never done that. But if I had, I bet Crabby felt exactly like I did when this picture was taken.

You know when you put socks on a cat’s feet and then you let them go but they just stand there frozen? I mean, of course, I’ve never done that. But if I had, I bet Crabby felt exactly like I did when this picture was taken.

They actually rent SUPs and kayaks, etc, right from the park office.  And again, this is a place where the crap bikes really came in handy. The Myre Big Island State Park is covered with trails – few of them paved, and all of them fun. There was a whole lot of this kind of thing over those three days:

James Mountain Biking in Minnesota

By this point, Stef had made me switch bikes with her. Because apparently, her crap bike is crappier than my crap bike.

And this park is close enough to the city of Albert Lea that I even rode one of the crap bikes into town to pick up a few groceries and a candy bar that I ate before I got back to the campground so Stef wouldn’t see and nag me.

Yes, our crap bikes have kickstands.

Yes, our crap bikes have kickstands.

I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed staying put for three days.  We hardly ever do it, and I can see why people like it.  The ratio of fun stuff to driving is much better when you do it that way.

But alas, finally, it was time to head on to our fourth stop – and head on to one of the main reasons we made this trip anyway. But to get the details on that, you’ll have to continue on to Chapter 4!



James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling certified coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.


    One thought on “Four States, Four Bikes, and One Yellow Travato – Chapter Three

    1. Andy & Kim

      Another inspiring installment James.Makes us want to get back on the road!
      We caught the Bloody Moon at our campground in Yellowstone, our cat was not impressed. We’ll be looking forward to the revelations in the next episode.

      Happy trails,
      Andy & Kim

      BTW – we are zeroing in on the new rig (that Lance 1685 at this point) and are
      haggling with a few dealers (which is equivalent to your visit to the sewage treatment plant).

      Reply

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Comment moderation is in use. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear once we have had the chance to review it.