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July 2005
Fox Hollow July 1-5
We arrived at The Land in Richland Center around 3:00 on Friday, July 1. This beautiful 200 acre valley called Fox Hollow is the place where we have spent 4th of July weekend for most of the last 32 years. Our friendship with Tom brought us to this place for the first time back in 1972 and we have only missed a few of the occasions. Many new friends were made through the years and have continued because of this friendship.

The landscape has changed quite a bit through the years, especially now that Peter has kept the area mowed and created many beautiful paths to hike and cleared campsites all along the stream and the valley. It is very park-like without the access by the public. The stream has evolved and changed over the years due to rainfall and floods. Many of the older trees are gone now but have been replaced by new growth. We are so fortunate that this family has been willing to share this haven with all of their friends.

We were a little concerned about getting the Volksbox down the drive and in a level spot. But all went well and it only took a few tries before we were level and setup. The next 3 days were spent relaxing, playing scrabble, fixing and cleaning up meals, hiking, playing Frisbee, campfires, stargazing, and just plain enjoying the beautiful surroundings. Linda and Ryan put on another spectacular fireworks display on Saturday night, although they described it as being ‚??not much this year‚?Ě and ‚??scaled back‚?Ě. The viewers enjoyed them just the same. Tom and Leslie introduced the new toy for the year ‚?? Astrojax, a light up, swinging ball toy. They were a great hit and Jane even came up with a belly dancer display.

Savana and Mariah kept busy building an animal shelter from sticks, leaves, and pine needles. They also gathered berries and rocks, hiked, watched movies, climbed trees, and just playing. Savana learned how to identify some of the constellations and how to build a fire. She enjoyed the company of the many dogs. It has also been very nice to visit with our old friends, many of them are folks we only see when we come here.

Peter and I hiked the path to the top of the hill and were rewarded by seeing the very large patch of wildflowers growing along the hillside. See the photo album for various views of the land. It had been many years since I made that hike and thanks to Peter, I was able to enjoy his company and knowledge of the woods once again.
Sign at Amish Grocery July 7-10
We travelled to Portage to visit Dan & Sharon. Shortly after we arrived, we headed to Wisconsin Dells to the Moose Jaw restaurant and micro brewery for dinner. The building was constructed from very large logs and was decorated with mounted animal heads. It was quite an impressive north woods type structure. The dinner was excellent too, but mostly we enjoyed seeing Dan & Sharon again. The next day, their grandkids, Brooke & Elizabeth started their stay for a few days. We had a great time doing kid stuff, but it sure was exhausting. On Saturday, we drove north of Portage to an Amish grocery and bakery, where we stuffed ourselves on fresh baked goods.

Back in Stoughton on Saturday afternoon. Pat, Savana, and I took the canoe down the Yahara River. We spotted several turtles basking in the sun and also saw green herons, a great blue heron, a kingfisher, and several ducks and geese. Later that day, Dan & Alecia came by with their son, Joshua. He is a very energetic 2 year old, but great fun to be around.
July 13
Over the past few weeks we have discovered something very unpleasant about owning the Volksbox. From the time we decided on this vehicle, we knew there would be some challenges, but the ability to locate tires has been a real priority this week. Mike has made several calls to dealers, to tire stores, to Winnebago, to the manufacturer of the tires, and all to no avail. The tires are two sizes, made specifically for these vehicles, and are made in Germany. Even Winnebago has been unable to locate them.

Finally on Friday, July 15, we got a call from the Winnebago parts manager who assured us that tires would be delivered wherever we want them on Monday. She also assured us that she would help in any way in the future if we have difficulty locating any parts in the future. Also Friday night at Mike's class reunion he spoke to a former VW dealer who said these vehicles were pretty problem free and dependable.

July 19-25
A stop at the Fosdal‚??s Norwegian Bakery started off our trip this morning at about 9:00 am. We just couldn‚??t get out of town without a chocolate donut and a jelly Bismarck. As we headed through scenic southwestern Wisconsin, we listened to our old favorite radio station, WORT 89.9 and a wonderful collection of folk and bluegrass music. We traveled US 18 to Prairie du Chien, then Iowa 76 North and 9 West to Forest City. The countryside provided us with beautiful views of the rolling hills and after crossing the Mississippi River, the flatter farmland of northern Iowa.

Upon arriving in Forest City, we went to the RV dealer that promised us that tires would be arriving today or tomorrow. Guess what, no tires yet. On to the Winnebago Visitors Center. They gave us visitor‚??s passes to the Grand National Rally and a place to park for the night. We toured the grounds and had some dinner, then returned in the morning to check out the new RVs, some vendors, chatted with some folks, and had a bite to eat. This afternoon we are taking the tour of the manufacturing plant.

We are still having frequent conversations with the Parts Manager at Winnebago and still don‚??t have a definite date or commitment. Finally on Friday afternoon we got word that the tires were in but we couldn‚??t get an appointment until Monday. So guess we spend the weekend here.

Sunday we drove to Mankato, MN to meet the Fokkers (Jill‚??s parents), whom we had never met although Ben and Jill have been together for the last 9 years. We had a wonderful visit and enjoyed their company and hospitality. We will have to make an effort to coordinate meeting places in the future.

On Monday, we had the new tires installed and an oil change and hit the road again by 3:30. The drive through the northern farmlands of Iowa and the small towns was not very eventful, with the exception of meeting up with hundreds of bicyclists that were participating in RAGBRAI as we went through Estherville. There were tents and food stations setup all through the town and we had to take a detour through the city. The Volksbox feels much better on the road and handled well in some pretty good winds and heavy rains.

We stopped for the night in Sioux Falls, SD and spent the night in the Walmart parking lot along with about 5 other motor homes. This was a first for us, but they were very hospitable and it was comfortable but rather noisy (a busy street and lots of activity with the night shift, etc.).

Stoughton to Forest City, IA
Forest City, IA to Pierre, SD July 26
A cold front moved through last night and the temps got down to the upper 40s, quite a bit cooler than what we have experienced since leaving Lake of the Ozarks (mostly in the upper 90s and very humid). After a night in the noisy Walmart parking lot and filling prescriptions at Walgreens, we headed west on I90 and traveled to Vivian, then turned north on US 83 to Fort Pierre. Mike and I had a disagreement on the pronunciation of Pierre, him feeling it was pronounced as ‚??pier‚?Ě and I feeling it was pronounced as a two-syllable French man‚??s name. It turned out that Mike was right. As we traveled through the Pierre National Grassland, along the Missouri River, the countryside was rolling, vast prairie with a tree scattered here and there. We talked about what it might have looked like back in the days when Lewis and Clark passed through here on their expedition, but it was hard to imagine without the utility poles, large farm buildings, and manicured fields. There was a lot of construction in the 32-mile stretch of road so the dust was flying.

We settled in for the evening at the Oahe Downstream Recreation Area campground, a Corps of Engineers project on the banks of the Missouri River. Our generous sized campsite is right on the river and we have met folks from Laramie, Wyoming and from south Texas. The sun is setting now and the light is reflecting on the giant cottonwood trees along the bank. The river is so smooth there is hardly a ripple as it flows along. We have seen Canada geese, swans, herons, egrets, hawks, meadowlarks, and the usual robins and crows in the area.

July 27
As we headed north on US83 and west on US12 today, we realized that we must be approaching big sky country because the landscape is wide open, with rolling hills and fields of corn, wheat, and sunflowers. The color contrasts are beautiful. There are not many trees with the exception of small clusters that are usually near a house or farm building. The drive seems to be real long, although we were only on the road for 5 hours. It must have something to do with the repetitive scenery.

We stopped to view the monument at Sitting Bull‚??s burial ground (his remains were relocated to this location near his birthplace) outside the town of Mobridge. The site is on a hillside overlooking the town and Lake Oahe ‚?? we are nearly 100 miles north of where we stayed last night and we are still seeing this lake. We also saw a monument to Sacagawea, not her final resting place, but a tribute to the woman who helped signify the Corps of Discovery‚??s friendly intentions.

We have decided to head west on US 12 rather than straight north to US 2. I wasn‚??t aware that US 12 is also known as the Yellowstone Trail and that it goes from Seattle, WA to Plymouth, MA. As we came closer to the Montana border, we have noticed the hills getting bigger and some peaks off to the west. As we drove along, we kept hearing something hitting the Volksbox and discovered that it was grasshoppers. When we settled for the night, we found the front has a solid covering of dead grasshoppers.

Tonight‚??s resting place is the Shadehill Recreation Area that is located approximately 14 miles south of Lemmon, SD. Once again, we have lakeshore property and a lot of privacy, active birds, and very few campers.

Pierre, SD to Lemmon, SD
Lemmon, SD to Medora, ND July 28-30
We traveled west on US12 to Bowman, then headed north on US85 until we reached I94 in Belfield. The road was torn up between Scranton and Bowman, so we chatted for a half-hour with a young local gal who was directing the traffic and driving the pilot car. The Red Trail Campground in Medora is the place we decided to stay for the weekend. It is close to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (which doesn‚??t have motorhome hookups).

As we headed north on US85, where the road was being resurfaced, our windshield got a good sized star-shaped ding in it from a flying stone. Needless to say, we had to have it repaired when we got to the campground. The fellow that did the repair told us that he had been quite busy recently, in fact, while he was fixing our windshield, he got 3 more requests from the campground alone.

On Friday, we walked to downtown Medora, just 3 blocks from our campsite. It is a quaint little old cattle town on the east side of the Little Missouri River. We shopped, stopped at the Media Center to check our e-mail & do some banking, had pizza, talked to some locals and returned to the campsite. On Sunday, we plan to drive through the park and do some hiking before we head out.

Medora, ND to Billings, MT July 31
We started to day by taking the 26 mile drive through the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and enjoyed every minute of it. We saw all kinds of wildlife including buffalo, wild horses, prairie dogs, hawks, jackrabbits and many birds. The views were breathtaking.

We encountered one buffalo just strolling down the road and I got an excellent close-up photo (see journal).

We headed straight west on I 94 to Billings, Montana.

Created on 07/01/2005 08:32 AM by bridge
Updated on 08/01/2005 09:37 AM by bridge
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