06.30.13 Our Saturday evening surprise!

After a long hard Saturday work day which ended at 8 pm we were settling down in our RV and heard a little knock, knock, knock at the door.  It was Tom, the resort’s owner, with a present for us.  He previously told us he was going to try to get this for us, but we didn’t know if it would actually happen.  When I came walking into the living room and Roy showed me “a picture of Drew Brees signed by Drew Brees” I wanted to scream, but settled for  being very excited and hugging Tom thanking him.   There is one for Roy and one for me and Drew addressed one to each of us.

drew brees autographed picture

Now about the man who got them for Tom. Jeff is one of our neighbor’s down the road here.  His family use to be guests each year at the resort, decided he loved the area and purchased a summer home within a few hundred feet of our RV Dora.  He works for a credit card company and they do promotional autograph signings with famous people.   Tom told him we were from Louisiana and were big Saints fans and asked him to get us an autographed picture from Drew.  Being so far away from Louisiana, and missing what I know is all the excitement of the upcoming Saints season, this was such a wonderfully emotional present.  Roy met Jeff recently and I got to meet him and thank him this morning at church.  His two daughters and wife sang Amazing Grace.  One of the daughters accompanied on the guitar and one daughter on saxophone.   Beautiful voices and music lifting up praises to God!

Well, a Drew Brees autographed photo seemed to me to deserve it’s own blog so here it is!

Ya’ll come back now. ya’ hear

06.28.13 Lady Slipper Festival

This is a photograph of St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans taken and enhanced by our friend John Vlosich. I think it is just amazingly beautiful.

The 29th and 30th of June are the dates the Lady Slipper Festival is held here in Kabetogama, Minnesota.  Since we work from sun up to sun down on Saturdays we planned to enjoy the festival on Sunday.

We went to church first at 9 where we were blessed to hear the family I talked about in my last posting sing Amazing Grace and heard a meaningful sermon. Marnie, Pastor Roger’s wife, gave me the information I’ll need to do the crafts for VBS.

One thing that was really wonderful was this.  A photographer named Tom and his friend Russ were at the resort the last few days doing 360 degree photographs of each of the cabins and the resort.  I don’t think we got in any of the pictures but anyway, last night Tom the resort’s owner learned that Russ had been Pastor Roger’s best man at his wedding decades ago.  Tom immediately said “well you’re going to church with me in the morning!”  Roger didn’t know Russ was up here and when he spied him in the congregation today his eyes opened wide and out he spurted Russ’s name.  Roger’s wife Marnie was so surprised also and told everyone that Russ was their best man.  It was a really nice joyful reunion and I felt blessed to witness it!

After church we hustled over to the Senior Citizens Center to check out the blueberry pancakes.  They were made from wild blueberries that grow in this area and were flat out delicious!  We got two or three pancakes and a couple of sausage links, coffee, orange juice or milk.  It was sponsored by the church we go to and I learned they do this twice a year and we’ll be here in August when they do it again.  This seems to be all they use the Senior Citizens Center for, though I had visions in my mind of Roy and I joining other old folks quilting and chewing the fat!  Oh well!  We did find out that at the Kabetogama Community Center on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 8 they have BINGO and we will definitely be checking that out on Thursday nights since we are off work that day.    The festival consisted of maybe a dozen tents with arts and crafts vendors and a few old antique cars (not many).  Guess the Strawberry Festival in Ponchatoula isn’t in any danger of being rivaled by the Lade Slipper Festival.

senior citizens centerblueberry pancake makers blueberry pancakesfolks enjoying pancakes

I came home and took a rare nap for two hours and then set out for Woodenfrog State Park for a Blue Grass Concert.  We rode around and around and around the park and found nothing that resembled a concert or even a group of people assembled who might at some point start singing!  We headed back home and decided to stay in for the evening and rest. Our work week is Monday and Tuesday and we’ll be doing our scavenger hunt with the children Monday at 1 so we’re resting up for those two long days.

Friday night we celebrated Tom’s birthday with a chocolate cake baked by Debbie.  We all gathered in the Lodge for this and really enjoyed the cake!  Hope you have many more Happy Birthdays Tom!  The man behind Tom is Russ, the man who was Pastor Roger’s best man.toms birthday

Just got off the phone with Madisyn (yes we are getting to talk to her better) and she was so cute.  She got the latest package we sent her in which we included a bag of “Bear Poop”.  We told her we were sending her some and when we called she was so excited about it because when she got it, it turned out to be chocolate and she said she had it all over her mouth!  Love that little squirt!

Found out I was wrong about how many more dreaded Saturdays we have left.  We’re now at 8 and counting down!

I hope ya’ll had a great, restful weekend and

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

06.27.13 Begin each day with a grateful heart

We’re on the last of our days off before “Senior Citizens Hell Week rolled into one day” come around again!  10 more of them to go and I’m going to hang on to that light at the end of the tunnel like a mad woman!  Still loving our life shore at night shore at night2 here and we will hate to leave this beautiful part of the country – just not the Saturdays!  I am so thankful to be able to do what we are doing.  It took a big leap of faith and a lot of work to make it all happen but being able to see the glory of God’s creation unfolding in various forms around the United States is such a blessing.  I look forward to seeing many more of this as we continue our travels.

Yesterday evening Roy and I walked down to the shore by the beach and swung in the big wooden swing for a while.  I took some pictures of the lake at night to share.  First time we’ve done that and it will have to become a regular thing. It was so nice.

roy feeding duck One of the ducks from the lake came to visit on the deck by the dock a few days ago and Roy fed it out of his hand.  It was so friendly and stayed around us for a while.

We went into International Fall yesterday to buy groceries and a new coffee pot. We mailed a package of little presents to Madisyn from the post office there.  It’s a quaint small town post office.  We visited the Dollar Tree hoping they would have a  solar-powered pink hula girl for Madisyn.  We have green ones in Dora and in Boots which she named LuLu and LaLa.  We’ve tried to find a pink one since we left since that is her favorite color.  Again they were sold out but we found out that their shipments come in on Fridays so guess who will be traveling to International Falls next Friday!

christmas tree border bobs
Their pine trees that look like flocked Christmas trees are the most beautiful sight! This is outside Border Bob’s
christmas tree up close
Close up of the needles on the Pine tree

Discovered a really cool place called Border Bob’s that is chocked full of all sorts of gift items from this area, including moccasins, homemade candies and preserves, t-shirts, stuffed animals and lots of other gift items.  We’re too close to the end of the month to buy too much but there will be another trip to Border Bob’s made when we get paid again!

street sign canada
So close but we haven’t gone there – yet!

One of the pictures is a street sign that points in the direction of Canada.  We still haven’t been to the border crossing o land but hope to do that maybe week after next.  Our next days off include 4th of July and International Falls (locals call it The Falls) has a 4th of July celebration that we plan to attend.  We’re going to the Lady Slipper Festival this Sunday and hope to have lots to tell after enjoying the local festival.

We picked up our custard rhubarb pie from Pine Ridge Gift Shop on our way home from the Falls.  I’ve never eaten rhubarb before but this pie was delicious.  I looked up rhubarb on google and it’s a redish plant that look like a stalk of celery.  So weird that someone figured out to make it into a delicious pie!   It was all gone in one day.  Next time we’ll try the blueberry!

Our guests are beginning their departures for the week.  We’ve made friends this week with many of the families.  I loved to see, as the week progressed, the children all become friends with each other and the parents stress from their regular lives leave and everyone settle into a relaxing peaceful vacation time.  It’s a little sad to see each weeks group depart, but we always love seeing the new group arrive on Saturday all eager and ready to enjoy everything this beautiful place has to offer!

I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of houses in the Falls, a big building the tiny Sears, and a picture of the Minnesota version of an LSU football jersey – they just don’t know how to spell very well!

vikings jerseys
LSU jersey’s spelled wrong!

international falls house international falls house 1

Ya’ll have a great weekend and come back now, ya’ hear!

06.23.13 A T & T – grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

This post is mostly for RVers but could be helpful to anyone who has the need of a GO phone.  I believe this post rivals the Conroe, TX blog in length but definitely does not have as happy an ending.

A GO phone is a prepaid phone which can or does not have to be renewed each month.  It’s perfect for RVers who may not always be in an area where their regular service is available or for lower income people who may not be able to pay each month.  You can get a $25 a month plan and on up.  We chose a $50 plan for me with unlimited talk and texting and a $65 for Roy with the same things as mine but adding data so the GPS would be available to help us find places.  I’ve never had one in my life but when we arrived at Northern Lights Resort and found that we had no Verizon service we ordered a GO phone from the attwireless.com website. BIGGEST MISTAKE WE’VE MADE THIS YEAR!  I am going to share the whole story because no one would believe that one company could be so hard to work with and so inept unless you hear it all.  Before I start I’ll tell you that we still have not reached the end of this nor has anyone been able to help us so there is no end to this story for now.

We ordered one phone in mid May and by June first haven’t received it so we call ATT.  At that point they were wonderful and said no problem we’ll send you a second one, we have to charge you for both but when the first one is returned by either us or the mail they would credit us for the second one.  We said great.  Two days later we receive the first one and the next day receive the second one.  We decided we really do need two phones since we’re use to having two phones so we call ATT and work it out with them.  The next day we go to use both phones and neither work which we find out is because when we selected the monthly plan on the website it didn’t go through and it wanted us to talk to a live person to give them our money.  So we call and after sitting on hold for 10 minutes listening to how wonderful GO phone service is, I give the young lady who answers my debit card information and she tells me it won’t go through.  I”m only putting $100 on it (two months of service) and I knew I had much more than that in my account.  She tried again and still no go so I give her Discover card that I don’t owe anything on and she said it wouldn’t go through.  Finally I gave her a third card and she said it wouldn’t go through. We’ve made sure that all of our accounts have our Minnesota address so there would be no conflict so that couldn’t be the problem.  Now there have been times in my life that this may be understandable given our financial condition at the time but this was not one of those times.  I told her something must be wrong with her system and when she told me nothing was wrong on her end to give her another card I asked for her supervisor.  The supervisor said two of the three cards showed pending and was not sure why the first young lady had a problem with any of them.  She made it go through my debit card and apologized for the problem.  We hung up thinking all was well and about two weeks later when I tried to use my phone I got a message “I am sorry but all  network service has been blocked from this phone.”  This is where the fun really starts.  I could have gotten over the girl who couldn’t process our credit cards but the rest of the story is just totally inexcusably poor service.

Let me stop here and let you know that for the last five years a good part of my job at Southeastern has been handling university issued cell phone bills and issues.  It was an on going joke that when I’d say I”m calling ATT that would mean I’d be tied up for about an hour and then was never sure that they’d do whatever they told me they would do right.  If it was a Verizon problem, just one quick email to the representative always took care of whatever was needed.  I say all this to say I’ve had plenty of experience working with cellular companies and know some of their quirks and how to handle it.  Nothing in all my experience prepared me for what we’ve gone through with ATT over this GO phone.

When it was first blocked we called from Roy’s phone and after sitting on hold listening to that wonderful GO phone message for 4 minutes they answered and asked us a lot of questions.  They said their notes show it was reported stolen which we were told every time we’ve called since then and every time I told them it was never stolen and we never reported that.  Then they ask for our pass code which I told them the one we always use and they said it was not right.  Eventually the first representative figured out that they never set up a pass code for us and had defaulted to the last four digits of our phone number. Then he wanted to know how much our last payment was, wanted to know the IMEI number which you can only get to be removing the cover and the battery, and several other questions trying to identify us since they really think it is stolen and we must be the criminals who stole it.  When we finally pass all their questions they say another department is in charge of blocked phones so they transfer us to them.  This department asks us every question the first person did and wants to know the whole story including us having to tell them that we never reported it stolen.  They were able to unblock it after they were satisfied with all our answers.

This lasted three days and I was greeted with the message “I am sorry but all  network service has been blocked from this phone.”  No way this is happening again.  We call them back and again are asked all the same questions, why was it reported stolen, how much was your last payment, what is the IMEI number (remember this involved disassembling the phone to get to this number), some other number under the battery, what was the mailing address the phone was suppose to be sent to and AGAIN the first person finally understood and said it had to be handled by another department the ICU department and he would have them call me back.  I said okay and gave them Roy’s number.  They said someone would call back in 20 – to 30 minutes.  An hour and a half later they hadn’t called and I called them.  Sat on hold for 8 minutes had to answer all the same questions and explain everything all over again to the first department and they tell me there are not notes about the previous call for them to refer to.  They say they can unblock it and they do.   We tell them that we want a guarantee that this unblocking is not going to go away again and are reasurred that it will not happen.

Let me say here that they have all been trained in the oldest angry customer calming tactic in the books.  Show  your empathy for the customers frustration and let them know you’re doing everything you can.  The first three maybe four times we heard this it was a little bit calming and then it just started to tic me off and I think we’re here at this point.

The next day the phone is blocked again. We call ATT again (got that number memorized by now) they ask all the same questions, gotta go through the whole story so they clear us as not being criminals apologize profusely for the problems and say they will get it fixed and they understand our frustration (no they don’t) we disassembly the phone to give the IMEI number and when they ask us for the last amount we paid them we gave the same thing we’ve always said to everyone of their representatives before this and they tell us it doesn’t match up so they ask us for the pass code and I forgot about them not giving us one so I told them what we normally use and that didn’t match, I gave them five or six options and none of them matched so we’re back on the criminal list and they said they would have to put in an ICU case report which someone would act on and would call us back in 24-48 hours.  Well three days later no one has called back and my phone is still blocked.

Part of the frustration is that we’re 1500 miles away from everyone we know and this is our one means of direct communication and it’s shut down.  So on the third day I call and again get asked all the questions and the representative this time was in no way trying to calm me down.  She accelerated my fury when she was telling me how to do something to solve it and I repeated it so Roy could hear it and she says to me at one point “you’re not getting it” and I almost came unglued.  It seems that most of the people we’ve spoken to haven’t made any notes or very many notes about our conversations because we have to tell it all over again every time.  She wanted us to get a third person’s phone and ask them to let us put my sim card in their phone so the pass code could be changed.  We’re in a city where we know no one and it was going to be hours before we were back at the resort where we at least know a hand full of people. I told her that was the craziest thing I’d ever heard of to ask a third party to help out with a problem that ATT should have fixed from the beginning.  She said well if you don’t want to do what I”m telling you to do then I’m going to be able to help you.  She then tells us that the ICU case was only submitted the day before which was two days after we spoke to someone last.  That didn’t seem in any way to be their fault to her as she said well you’ll just have to wait a couple more days for action to be taken.  I wanted to reach through the phone and rip her little head off at this point but I gathered myself and didn’t.   We were driving into International Falls during this last conversation and when we got there Roy tried a version of what she had said by putting my sim card into his phone, doing something and putting it back into my phone and I was unblocked.  I thanked my wonderful husband and told him if it got blocked again he was handling calling them.

The next morning it’s blocked again so he does handle calling them.  I’m not sure what all went on in his conversation with them but he was on the phone for an hour and when he hung up he said it’s not blocked any more and again they guaranteed him that it would not be blocked again.  One hour later it was blocked again.  Oh and I now know the 15 or so digit IMEI number by heart!

This takes us to this morning when Roy got on the phone with them again.  Again we had to answer all the same questions but this time the man told us that he was the same person who helped us several days ago and put in the ICU case and told us they’d have it taken care of within 24-48 hours.  He said the records show no action was taken and the case was closed.  Roy has to go help a customer at this point and I take over the call.  He then tells us that the amount we were telling him of our last payment (which was our only payment) wasn’t correct and we needed to verify the amount he has.  This brings us back to the lunatic first girl who couldn’t get any credit or debit cards to go through.  I didn’t know what account might have been charged this newest mystery amount and had to check all three which are on three different websites.  Of course it wound up being the last one I checked and that’s when we discovered that the last payment was for $53 and was just a couple of days ago.  We did not set up automatic payment for these numbers because we paid for two months service for both up front and wanted to just do that one more time before we throw these phones in the sea and blow them up.  So no one should have charged us $53 and we discover that they also charged our account for $64 for Roy’s phone which was not authorized.  They had our banking information from the original order and USED IT!  By the way we really liked this last guy.  Since he talked to us early on and knew they had really botched this up he tried very hard to help us.  Before we placed this last call we decided we want them now to send us a new phone, with a new sim card and a new phone number and want them to pick up this diseased phone and make it go away.  Now we have to add getting our money refunded for the additional payments we didn’t authorize so this nice little man has to send us to the sales department.  I ask him before he transfers us to please tell the sales people to not ask us all the questions and make us go through what we have to with each new person that answers.  He promises he will.  The sales people ask us the same questions and we have to prove our non criminal status to yet them and they transfer us to someone else.  We are now on hold for 20 minutes and the person who answers the phone this time doesn’t have a clue why we are calling, no one has had the decency to give them the background and we’re starting from scratch.  As she proceeds to ask the questions all over again I have to help someone and ask her to hold on, I come back and she’s gone.  I know very well about their “silent holds” where they can hear you but you can’t hear them and thought perhaps this is what happened so we held on for another 10 minutes and finally hung up.

In between all of this we’ve tried to take care of the pass code issue on their website.  As soon as Roy successfully got into our account on line it says “we’re sending a new pass code to your phone”.  Well guess what WE CAN’T USE THE PHONE TO GET THE PASS CODE.

We just want to make this awful phone go away and get a reliable means of communicating with our loved ones and even people we don’t like.   I can’t just hear my old boss Donna Methvien dying laughing because she’s listened to me on the phone with ATT so many times and heard me say when I hang up – I know they won’t get this right – and sure enough they usually didn’t.  There is a separate department for GO phones so they should be able to help you quite easily but you can see from my tirade above they can’t and don’t.

There is no end to this story right now, just one little dead phone sitting in front of me.  We’re going to drive 100 or so miles tomorrow to the nearest ATT store to hopefully speak to someone in person and get this ended.  Please be in prayer tonight for whomever that salesperson is!  They will need it!

When and if this ever gets resolved we’ll let you know – in the mean time please don’t call my number it will never work again!  Until then I’d highly recommend that if you live in an area where you get equal coverage from ATT and Verizon, never, never, never, never, never choose ATT.

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

06.25.13 Pies, flies, surfboards and robins!

The high here was 86 on Tuesday which was a shocker to us. I’ve heard it’s been around 100 in Louisiana for a few days so I shouldn’t complain.  However the cabins and the lodge do not have a/c because it’s pretty much never needed.  The lodge temp showed 84 but the kids don’t mind since when they come in they are wet from swimming.  I was told this is unusual and since today’s high is 77 I’m hoping they are right.

baby robins mouth openOur baby robins that reside outside our RV in the rear continue to grow and all have feathers now.   They were really kind of ugly at first without feathers.  It’s been years since I’ve actually witnessed a birds nest with the eggs and then hatching and growing.  I’m really enjoying seeing this miracle of God’s.

Several of our guests in the biggest cabin arrived on Saturday with surfboards on guests on surfboards launching surf board paddlingtop their vehicles.  Roy and I couldn’t figure out  where they were going to surf around here.  Yesterday I found out why they have them when I saw three of them paddling on the surfboards out in the water.  It seemed to be a mom’s get away from the children time and I say amen to that!  The mom’s are so patient and play with the children all day while daddy’s go off fishing so they deserve some regenerate time away!  I remember when we had a pond and a paddle boat, Roy and I would jump in it when we got home sometimes and paddle to the middle of the pond.  It was far enough away to where we couldn’t hear Chip and our oldest son whose name he asked us to remove calling to us and they couldn’t hear us trying to have some alone time conversation.  They learned that trick and would pull it on us sometimes.  I loved those growing up years with our sons!  I resort from wter farther was heart broken when the paddle boat broke and we didn’t get another one!

One day this week Roy took the hydro-bike out by himself and took some pictures of the resort from out in the water.  The second picture is of me taking a picture of Roy!

The Pine Ridge gift shop is maybe 3 miles from here.  We’ve visited there and love the choice of things they have.  We’ve seen the sign outside that says Pies on Tuesday.  We keep forgetting to go there on Tuesdays but this week we remembered.  We hopped in the car and drove over there around 1:30 on Tuesday only to learn they sold out around 9:30 in the morning.  But we learned we could order one for Thursday and pick it up when we want to.  We chose a custard rhubarb pie which we’ve never had before.  In case she doesn’t have rhubarb we chose a blueberry pie.  Since everything around here costs more than in Louisiana I shouldn’t have been surprised when I heard it would be $14.00.  Can’t wait until our day off tomorrow to pick it up and enjoy it!

The mosquitos and gnats around here are causing Roy all sorts of problems.  There are also may flies and black flies and he seems to be a prime target for all of them.  We can be sitting together and  IMG_20130617_145732they will attack him but barely bite me.  I’ve always thought I was the sweeter of the two of us but the bugs don’t seem to think so!  Roy’s ordered a special spray off the internet that doesn’t contain deet because it burns his skin.   We searched Menard’s (the big Lowe’s type store) in Duluth and found a couple of sprays to hold him until the supply he ordered comes in.  His problem, along with itching all the time, is that when he scratches (since his skin is getting thin – it’s that old age fun thing!) it bruises him and turns his skin purple.  The two pictures of his arms show you what he’s dealing with. I think they look like something from a horror film but I must report he’s looking better this week.  The biting seems to have eased up some and hopefully he’ll be able to tolerate it until October 1st!

While I was at work today I realized that I now have memorized how much we charge for leeches, worms, shiners, rainbows and chubs and never in my life would I have known anything like that.  Yes they do fish with leeches (the blood sucking things .  I’ve gotten use to that now after finding that a lot of good fish are caught on those things.   I haven’t touched one however and hope I’m never required to do so!

We’re looking forward to having Thursday and Friday off and going into International Falls.  We may try some fishing in one of the resort’s boats tomorrow afternoon.  Decisions, decisions!  I’m liking these kinds of decisions.

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

06.24.13 Department of Natural Resources visit to Northern Lights Resort

An intern with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) came to do a presentation today at Northern Lights Resort.  The audience was all the little children at the resort this weekand I was there to help.  We had ten children ages 4 – 14 and I think they all enjoyed it and all learned from it, mostly me!  We learned the life cycle of a fish and they played a game going up stream, in the lake and down stream all on the big meadow near the lodge.  Then they each received a big stuffed fish, all different.  They learned the differences between fish and the name of the different parts of a fish, and why each fish is designed the way it is (for protection, etc.)  Then they came inside and made decorative fishing lure with craft things Nate the intern brought with him.  After that the children all went outside with Nate and fished for a while off the dock.  Talk about active little ones but it was fun and I learned a lot.  Some of the kids know more about fishing than I do but I think each of them learned something new!

The children lined up on a log learning from Mr. Nate
dnr loon
Another of the children dressed as a “Loon” which also inhibits fish from growing up.


Ya’ll come back now ya’ hear!

06.23.13 Let us go into the house of the Lord

Psalm 122:1 I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.

Today we were blessed to be able to attend church after a few weeks of missing.  We have not been able to find a Southern Baptist church up here.  However, there is a small  kabetogamaunitedmethodistchurchMethodist church near the resort that we attended a while back and today we were able to return to worship there.  Our Saturday work has literally drained everything in me to where I couldn’t get out of bed on Sunday mornings. After asking for Sunday morning offs to be able to attend church, it’s been frustrating to be physically unable to do so.  I now understand Psalm 122:1 very well after being separated from hearing the Word of God taught.  Pastor Roger is preaching a series of sermons on the Lord’s Prayer.  This morning’s sermon was about the part that says “Thy Kingdom come” and I realized as he preached how much I missed being taught from the Word of God.  I’ve listened to Bro. Randy’s (our pastor at Trinity in Hammond) sermons on line but there is something about being in the house of the Lord with other like minded believers that makes it more meaningful. Yesterday I decided that as tired and drained as my body may be, my soul and spirit needed to be in the house of the Lord today no matter what.  Roy wholeheartedly agreed. Some people may not understand my deep need for Christian fellowship and teaching but it’s the way God made me and I’m very thankful for that.

The bumper sticker on my mama’s car got a lot of comments over the years.  I just found it in graphic form and thought it so perfect for today’s post I have to include it.

go to church

strawberry festival
Our hometown Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival – I just thought about most all Louisiana festivals are about food!

During the announcement time, Marnie, Pastor Roger’s wife talked about their three day Vacation Bible School in late July.  Since I’ve loved working with children at church I got very interested.  They have a need for someone to work with crafts so I talked to her and Marcia, who is working with crafts, about their plans. One of the men, Eddie, is making wooden string puppets for the kids to decorate.  They sound really cool and I am looking forward to seeing them, being involved in their VBS and seeing where God leads us with our involvement in this church. We’ve heard about minnow races up here and they’re actually having one at VBS, can’t wait to see that!

Next weekend is a local event called the Lady Slipper Festival. The church is sponsoring a Gospel Concert nearby here late

Lady Slippers are a wildflower in this area

Sunday afternoon and a blueberry pancake breakfast Sunday morning as part of this event.  We’re looking forward to seeing a Minnesota festival.  Pretty sure it will be totally different from a Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival!

We’re heading up to the Lodge in a bit to enjoy the free Ice Cream Sundaes they offer the guests every Sunday evening.  Roy grilled chicken and fresh vegetables for lunch and we’ve watched two chick flicks which gave us plenty of rest time. Starting the day in the house of the Lord, eating well, resting, enjoying the movies and now ice cream sundaes will top off a perfect Sunday.

We start our first all day work day tomorrow so it will be an early bedtime tonight!

Ya’ll come back now ya’ hear!

06.20.13 Duluth, MN – Vista Fleet cruise and our new work schedule

936366_520818971313780_541418646_nBefore I start in on telling you about the cruise we took, I want to tell you about our new work schedule.  They have decided not to replace Annie and Russ during the week but have hired a girl and a guy to work with us on Saturdays so we’ll have a full crew then.  They talked to us today about a proposed new work schedule where we’ll be off on Sundays so we can continue to go to church and then work Monday and Tuesday, be off Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and work with everyone on Saturdays.  The Monday and Tuesday work days are from 7 am to 9 pm but we don’t have to stay at the dock or the store the whole time.   We both have certain duties that need to be done but other than that one of us will be sort of on-call.  One of us has to be here and if what’s needed by a guest is something the other takes care of we’ll call him/her and they can be here within a minute or two since we live on the resort grounds.   We don’t know how we’ll work it out yet but probably one of us stays here for a few hours and the other is at home and then switch a couple of times during the day.  We’ll still continue doing Kid’s Quest, just move it to Monday.  I won’t be doing Linens any longer, though I do have to say I liked doing that but it involved lifting heavy totes and bags which was hard on my back.  And another bonus to this new schedule is that we’ll be off for three days before the dreaded Saturday work day so we’ll be well rested and better able to handle it.  Up till now we’ve worked three days before the Saturday so we went into it tired.    I still wish Annie and Russ hadn’t left but the resulting changes aren’t as bad as we dreaded.  This new schedule involved switching one day with one of the other couples but if they and the owners approve we’ll start this Sunday.  Yeah more days off!  Who wouldn’t be happy about that.

Okay now for the Vista Fleet cruise. It was an hour and forty five minute sightseeing cruise on Lake Superior and surrounding areas. The boat had three levels one of which was outdoors and the other two in climate controlled interior with huge windows perfect for sightseeing without fighting the elements.  Even though it is mid June, it is still cold some days in Minnesota and that was one of them.  The wind and cold on the water meant heavy jackets were necessary on the outside areas.   A young man narrated the tour and was very funny and pleasant.  One of the facts he shared is that the deepest point in Lake Superior is 1,332 feet deep and that it’s the larges of the Great Lakes.  They gave away prizes for answering trivia questions correctly and even raced with some folks on shore in their touring bicycle.   Of course the bike won.  It was the perfect way to see Duluth.  When you’re driving through the city streets you don’t see it all and the view from the water was complete.  Duluth is built on a mountain (a small one) and from the water you can see all the houses  on the mountain side.  Duluth has a street like the ones you see in San Francisco that runs from way up the mountain down to the water and they have imitation trolley cars riding around. It’s also a port city so we got to see a lot of ship activity and other port activity and we learned a lot about it through the young man’s narration.  It was a fun cruise and we really enjoyed it.  Also, we got to sit down through the whole thing which was very restful.  We wound up needing that rest before our journey through all the buildings of St. Mary’s hospital looking for our friend Annie.

Before we went to the hospital we stopped at the Vista Fleet Gift Shop and purchased several neat presents to send Madisyn and the girls at our office at Southeastern.  there’s some Moose Poop coming your way Cindy, Jacqueline and Donna!  They had so many really unique gifts that we had a field day!  The lady at the Visitor’s Center information desk was sweet enough to give me two bandaids for my blistered feet.  New shoes are not a smart thing to wear on a day you’re going to walk through an Aquarium and around town.!

A word here to fellow RVers who have the combo washer/dryer.  If you’re going to wash your crocks, don’t let them dry.  I did and they shrunk three sizes!

We spoke to Annie’s husband Russ on the phone and he was leaving the hospital to go take care of little Maddie, their dog, but he told us where Annie was and we headed over there.  When we were parking a helicopter was coming in to the hospital.  It landed on top of the building we were parked next to.  That was cool, especially when all the sands and dirt on the ground around us started whirling every which way!

where we parked
This is their Arena and we parked Boots in front. You can see him (the white truck!)

helicopter landing over headWe stopped at the gift shop and got her a Get Well Soon balloon.  The lady behind the sales counter kept saying “Ya”, “Ya”, “Ya” to everything I said and it was all I could do not to laugh.  I love their accent but find it terribly funny at the same time.  “Sorry Debbie!”  We didn’t know that there are four separate buildings to the hospital but we found out quickly she wasn’t where we were and finding her with a name of Ann Johnson at a huge hospital presented a challenge to the people trying to help us.  Since it sounded like it was going to get complicated one of their staff members walked us to the building where she might possibly be which was three buildings away!   When we got there she had just finished a procedure but they let us go back and then we got to follow her on the gurney back to the first building which was three buildings away!  Now you see why it was wonderful that Roy got a shot and I got band-aids!  They got her settled in her room and we had a nice visit.  Two of her doctors came in and we met them.  When hearing we were originally from New Orleans one said that he tries to go there for every Jazz Fest he can and he’s taking his family back there for his 25th wedding anniversary.  I can very much see where the saying “Minnesota Nice” comes from.  Everyone  we’ve come in contact with is super nice and goes out of their way to be accommodating.   Anyway back to Annie.  She was feeling good during our visit and we were so happy to get to see her again.  It’s really been amazing to all four of us that we connected so fast and I truly believe we’ll stay in touch with them in the future.   Annie had her surgery yesterday to remove her gall bladder and hopefully she’ll be back on her feet soon.  She’d had pain while she was working with us but it wasn’t until she was gone that the pain got so unbearable she went to the hospital.  I just spoke to her on the phone and she hopes to be released tomorrow so that’s good news. She said today was a rough one. I appreciate all you guys who prayed and my Facebook friends who prayed for Annie’s surgery.  Please continue to pray for her as she heals.  You are all a blessing to me in my life!

When we finally found Annie!
Rosalyn and Annie visiting in her room
  • babybirds
  • Our four scrawny baby robins!
This is the Vista sightseeing cruise ship
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Rosalyn at our table on the second deck. We moved our chairs over to the window for a good view and went outside some
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Lighthouse at the end of the walkway on the shore
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The lighthouse on the opposite side of the waterway that took us to the Lake
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This is the Aerial Lift Bridge. it doesn’t open up to let ships through, the entire bridge span rises up to the top to let tall boats through and half way through to let smaller ships like us through. This is a series of pictures showing it lifting for us.
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Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth, MN almost raised enough for us to pass
loading and unloading
This looks boring but what it’s for was interesting. The trains come on the top and open up their bottoms and dump whatever they have into a container in the middle and then the ships come next to it and whatever is in there is emptied into the ship through those things that are sticking up (they swing down)
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The City of Duluth, MN looking at it from the water – the perfect view!
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Another view of Duluth from the water

06.19.13 Duluth, MN – Great Lakes Aquarium

saints fan
I had to throw this in. All this Minnesota stuff is making me miss my Saints something fearful! Not much longer till they will be marching on into town!

aquarium 1aTuesday morning of our trip to Duluth we visited the Great Lakes Aquarium. It’s known as the largest fresh water aquarium in the US.  The following was copied from Wikipedia to tell you about it:

“Great Lakes Aquarium features animals and habitats found within the Great Lakes basin and other freshwater ecosystems such as the Amazon River. The Aquarium houses 205 different species of fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. It is one of few aquariums in the United States that focuses on freshwater exhibits. Many of the main exhibits at 62,000-square-foot Great Lakes Aquarium are based upon actual habitats in the Lake Superior basin. “Slices” of the St. Louis River, Baptism River, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Kakagon Slough, Isle Royale and Otter Cove can all be viewed up close.”

One of the exhibits that especially interested me was the one that explained about the Glacier Age when so much of this area up here was formed and all the rocks we now see came up to the surface.  I don’t understand it all so I may have said that last sentence incorrectly but that’s how I see it!  The aquarium was very nice with exhibits and tanks on two floors.  This was where Roy’s knee got a good workout and he passed with flying colors!  Prior to the shot he’d have stopped half way through the first floor in pain so this is a great improvement!

We saw an otter playing in the water, beautiful fish in many tanks, met the divers and had a photo op with them, pretended we were steering a ship, Roy pretended he was fishing in a boat with fake fish. We took a picture of ourselves standing in front of a green screen where various backgrounds showed up behind us and made some fish stay away from us on a screen using our shadows.  We generally just had a fun time together being silly old folks and checking it all out.

After the Aquarium we headed down the street for the Vista Fleet cruising tour which I”ll write about and include pictures of that in tomorrow’s blog.

aquarium view of lake superior
View of the Aerial Lift Bridge on Lake Superior from the Aquarium
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Description of how all the huge rocks came to be
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Roy and his moose friends – Moose are the big thing up here – I even bought a bag of Moose Poop to send to some friends!
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Roy standing behind his big moose friend
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I think these are lion fish
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Rosalyn in the Otter Cave
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Second floor exhibits
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Roy pretending he’s fishing – couldn’t pass up this photo opportunity
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Check out the diver waving behind me!
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The diver doing a hand stand on one finger in the aquarium
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One of the exhibits – this is where I had a better camera to pick up how beautiful it was
The guided tour part of the visit

Ya’ll come back now ya’ hear!