Friday, August 16 Cy brought the RV to our house after working on a few last minute projects to get The Phoenix (which is what I named our RV) road ready. Summer was winding down, kids were back in school, so it was time for annual family trip! I was excited to load the bus, because this would be the first time I would be able to load and organize everything before setting off on a trip. In the past, we simply loaded everything in and stuck it somewhere well enough to get on the road, but not well enough to have order. Our new house is on a street where the RV can park for longer than an hour, so as we loaded, everything found a home. It was great to hit the road with everything in its place.
Saturday morning, Becky and I headed to Fayetteville with the girls. Ellie and Savannah spent the day with my mom while Becky and I attended a Bible Study Fellowship leaders’ summit to prepare for our upcoming fall study. The guys spent the day finalizing packing and buttoning up the RVs, then headed to Fayetteville to meet us. Once we joined the men, we got the girls settled into their seats and headed north.
Our last two big summer RV trips had vague destinations from the start. Our first trip we were hoping for Acadia National Park, but since we had never gone in an RV before, we really didn’t know where we would end up. Last summer, we were aiming for Yellowstone. This year, we really couldn’t decide where to go. We had talked about Canada – Thunder Bay or Banff (those are on opposite sides of Canada), we had talked about Glacier National Park, and we had even talked about Yosemite National Park. We figured we have the most fun when we just make the trip up as we go, so off we went. We did know that our first “destination” was Kansas City for cheap diesel, so that’s the direction we headed.
The first day of RVing always takes longer than you think it will. Everything needs to be checked over, everything has to get settled, and you have to get in the right mindset. So, we only ended up making it a few hours, but we were on our way. We had just started to get the girls ready for bed when we realized our generator wouldn’t start, which meant we couldn’t use the air conditioning. The generator won’t run if our diesel gets under 1/4 tank, so we had to go get a little diesel before we could go to bed. Luckily, when you’re boon docking in a Walmart parking lot, diesel isn’t far away.
The next morning, after a breakfast of cream of wheat (special request by Ellie) we made our first grocery run, then headed to KC. We arrived at the cheap diesel, to discover a trickier than average gas station (for an RV that is). Cy and Wendell handled it like champs. The girls had lunch while the men fueled up the busses, and I took the car to Target to search down some items we couldn’t get at Walmart. All this multitasking allowed us to get back on the road quickly – only an hour or so after arriving! (Everything with an RV trip is slower than you think it will be.) Then we continued north.
Cy and I decided we should probably figure out some more of a plan. So we laid the options on the table. We didn’t really know much about Glacier National Park or Thunder Bay. Cy’s parents had been to Thunder Bay a few times to see a beautiful waterfall and enjoyed those trips. I’ve always wanted to go to Glacier. Cy talked about adding a trip to Banff onto Glacier since we would be up there anyway. But we just couldn’t decide. Finally, we decided to stay north and shoot for Thunder Bay. We figured it would be cooler up there than it has been in Fort Smith and after a day or two there we could still head west if we wanted, or we could venture further into Canada, or head to the upper peninsula of Michigan. So toward Canada we went, with the second leg of our journey still to be decided. We spent the rest of the day driving. The girls entertained themselves with singing, reading books, and talking to each other. We spent the night on the border of Iowa and Minnesota.
Since we had done a pretty big day of driving on Sunday, we figured we should give the girls a little more of a break on Monday. As we made our way through Minnesota, we made a few pit stops. First, was a trip to Cabella’s to look at some walkie talkies. The girls enjoyed seeing the fish in the giant aquarium and the various elk, deer, moose, and even an elephant on display in the store. Our next sop was to a big RV store so Cy could look for a few parts he wanted for the RV. The girls had a ball in the shopping cart that had a two-seater cozy coupe attached to the front. Later, we ended up back at Walmart to top off the diesel before the prices started going up closer to Canada. We spent the night at another Walmart just outside of Duluth.
Tuesday we woke up and ran into Walmart one more time. Then we headed on toward Duluth. We enjoyed a scenic view of the city as we ate sandwiches for lunch at a visitor’s center. Then we left the big city for the smaller highways along the north shore of Lake Superior. Lake Superior was gorgeous, and often it was difficult to remember it was a lake and not an ocean! We saw lots of industry along the lake and also many beautiful homes with scenic views. The further we got from Duluth, the quainter the towns felt and the more picturesque the sights were. We stopped along the way to try out Betty’s Pies. We figured they must be good because the parking lot was packed with cars and people standing in line waiting for their chance to order a slice. We got a blueberry pie to go so we could have it with dinner. We couldn’t park in Betty’s lot, but had found a pull off just across the street. We walked around where we had parked because the view was spectacular. The bluffs were gorgeous and the water was so clear. This day was really feeling like vacation!
We drove a little way down the road to Gooseberry Falls State Park. Wendell and Becky remember it was a nice walk to see pretty waterfalls, and that sounded fun to us! Ellie hiked on her own (holding hands most of the way) and Savannah happily rode in the baby backpack on Cy’s back. We first went up to a big bridge where we could see down to some of the waterfalls. Then we headed down the trail to the areas where you could stand below the waterfalls. Cy and Savannah immediately headed for the water. Ellie and I walked around the riverbed and Ellie felt some of the smaller streams of water coming off the side of the bluff. Then she got brave and went into the riverbed with Cy and Savannah. She was delighted to splash around in the water while wearing her rain boots. We let Ellie play and took some pictures, then headed along the trail further to see another fall.
After our hike, the day felt spent, so we headed back East a little to a camp grounds in Two Falls, MN. The camp grounds were neat because many of the sites had beautiful views of Lake Superior. We could see the lake from our window, which would be nice for early morning coffee time! Wendell hadn’t been feeling himself so saw a doctor while we got the RVs to their sites and set up. We had a pleasant dinner outside and then once the girls were in bed, Wendell and Becky came over for Blueberry pie. It was delicious! We just wished we had had some vanilla ice cream to go with it! I snagged the recipe while we were at Betty’s Pies, so I will try it out when we get home and see if I can do it justice.