Murdo SD (9/15):

I can’t recommend a stop in Murdo. We stopped at a weird RV park and we ate a hamburger dinner in a bar.

Sioux Falls SD (9/16):

How convenient – we stayed at an RV park that was a stone’s throw from an RV supply/accessory store. And we had to go, honest. We needed a new 50 amp extension cord because we noticed our extension cord was mysteriously fused when we left Custer SD. More later about the mysterious fusing – hint, it doesn’t get better.

Fairmont MN (9/17, 9/18):

This was a great stopping place. The RV park was pretty – lots of trees and a lake. However, we didn’t get to have a spot by the lake and we had no trees. But still.

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John’s Grandfather John Ruhnke

We got to spend a big chunk of time with John’s cousin Pat. We had dinner with her twice and also breakfast on the morning we left. We spent time at her house reviewing old family photos and talking about genealogy. There was a lot of story-telling and laughing – our favorite pastimes.

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I noticed a bar named Shenanigans. The “nan” part of that bar sign caught my attention.

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During our Minnesota stop, we were able to carve out some time for a visit with Bob and Joanne – old friends from our life in Cedar Rapids in the 70’s. I worked with Joanne. Bob and John have the same birthday. They share that birthday with Mick Jagger, but he never calls or writes. Bob and Joanne left Cedar Rapids for California before we left Cedar Rapids for Georgia. We’ve kept in touch over the years and have met up in several locations. Several years ago, Bob and Joanne bought a summer home in Alexandria Minnesota. When we planned our trip to Fairmont, I asked would they still be at the summer home on these dates and was it reasonable to meet up at some location between their summer home in Alexandria and our RV park in Fairmont. Yes and yes. We met in New Ulm, had a tasty lunch at a German restaurant, went to see the statue of Herman the German, told stories, and laughed together for hours.

Pepin WI (9/19 thru 10/02):

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More cousin time! John’s cousin Ann and her husband Dick have lived in Pepin for a few years. John’s cousin Sally (Ann’s sister) now lives in Hager City. we planned for two weeks of beautiful fall weather and, you guessed it – story-telling and laughing. We got even more than we hoped for! John’s brother Jim drove up from Chicago for a long weekend visit. We had many delightful meals together, had a field trip to a neighboring town with Jim to get a part from an RV store, and spent a great day on Ann and Dick’s boat.  The day on the boat included docking at Lake City for lunch. I was intrigued by an appetizer called “Pizza Fries”.  I was expecting food similar to Chili Fries, but with pizza toppings on the fries. It turns out that it’s not fries at all, it’s just pizza cut into vaguely fry-like shapes. Hmm.

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Kumla Potato Dumplings

The cousins had a kumla cooking festival at Sally’s house.

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The Kumlafest Table

Ann’s daughter Kate came from “the cities” with her darling children Nicholas and Claire.

We started watching the Deadwood series on DVD. It was family-style DVD viewing, with everybody at Ann and Dick’s house. After Jim returned to Chicago, Ann and Dick kept up a heroic pace with us – it was a Deadwood binge and we finished watching all 36 episodes before we left Pepin.

Yes, we did other things in addition to watching Deadwood.  We had even more tasty meals with Ann, Dick, and Sally. We went to Red Wing MN (just across the river from Hager City WI) and saw the “big boot” at the Red Wing store. We went to an apple orchard and found a new favorite variety – Haralson.

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We went to a raptor center and saw a fabulous demonstration with an eagle, 3 kinds of owls, a kestrel, and a hawk. Continuing the story-telling and laughing, we went to Baldwin WI for a visit (and dinner) with John’s cousin Jim and his family for more “S-T&L.”

Pepin WI is the eastern-most point of our travels in 2013. Now it’s time to turn west again (just a little bit west) and move on to Algona IA for two more colorful autumn weeks, including a family wedding.

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