Once we got around Bemidji most of the trip north to Baudette was along MN 72. This is a two lane road that runs alongside both Lower and Upper Red Lake for most of the way. For a couple of hours we saw very little traffic and miles of black spruce bogs and no towns. We were able to get to the small town of Waskish where there was a truck stop large enough to pull in for a break in the nearly 3 hour trip north. From there it was still another hour to Baudette and our next stop at Lake of the Woods Campground. While we were close to the Lake of the Woods, the campground is actually on the shore of Rainy River. I expected to find a small campground with minimal amenities whose sole purpose was to provide fishermen access to the Lake of the Woods. As we left the area around Minneapolis we expected the TV and phone reception to virtually disappear and were ready to spend a few weeks cut off. However, we found the Lake of the Woods campground to be VERY nice with spacious pull-through sites for transient campers, full hookups, and even cable TV! In addition, they had free WiFi that was okay, however, the phone reception was excellent so we had a great signal for our hotspot. This was MUCH better then we had expected. I will admit that we were one of the few campers that did not have a boat, however, the campground was full of families with kids, especially over the weekends. It was a great atmosphere for the next two weeks.
Since there were not laundry facilities at our last campground, we spent Tuesday doing laundry and cleaning the RV in anticipation of Nikki and Chris joining us on Saturday.
For the past several days, Kal had been fighting a cold that began as a sinus headache and developed into a cough that she was still dealing with. I had also caught the cold from Kal and had a couple of days of severe headaches over the weekend. While I did have a running nose as well, I never developed the cough that was causing so much concern for Kal. Since we were expecting Nikki and Chris to join us on Saturday and Kal wanted desperately to go fishing the beginning of next week, she decided to have a doctor check her out. We found the local hospital in Baudette and made an appointment at their clinic for the afternoon on Wednesday. We drove back into Baudette in the afternoon and Kal was prescribed an antibiotic, an inhaler and steroids for the inflamation. We spent the rest of the day just relaxing in the campground hoping Kal would improve over the next couple of days.
We took it easy again on Thursday since Kal was still coughing a great deal although the medicine, especially the inhaler, was helping. She decided she was feeling good enough to drive over to Warroad to the Seven Clans Casino by mid-morning. After a couple of hours in the casino, where neither of us did very well, we drove on into Warroad to a local bar and grill for lunch. After a nice lunch we drove back to the campground for the afternoon.
We also spent Friday relaxing in the campground where I finally got all caught up on this blog.
Saturday was spent in the campground waiting for Nikki and Chris who arrived late in the afternoon. After getting them set up, it was time to take advantage of the “Campers Appreciation Weekend” in the campground where they were serving margaritas, pulled pork barbecue, baked beans, potato salad, and a wide selection of deserts. We enjoyed the free food, but did not spend much time at the celebration as we had to get over to Chris’ grandparents who also live on Rainy River just a couple of miles away. We had a delightful evening meeting some of his relatives and taking a ride in their pontoon boat on the Rainy River, before heading back to the campground for our first game of spades before going to bed.
Sunday was an early day as I had to drive Kal and Chris to meet up with Grandpa George for a day of fishing for Walleye. Since there was only room for four in the boat and one of Chris’ uncles was going as well, this left Nikki and I on shore. This was fine with both of us since neither of us really enjoy fishing and I can get seasick very easily. So we headed back to the campground for most of the day which gave us a chance to really talk and I was very thankful we had the time. I learned a lot more about her job at the Hi-Wire Brewery and how it has evolved as the brewery has grown. Kal and Chris had a great time fishing until early afternoon. While Kal caught the first Walleye, they had to throw it back as it was not big enough to keep. This was the only fish she caught all day. The others did not have much more luck coming away with only 6 fish they could keep. Grandpa George quickly fileted the catch and we headed to a nearby bait store to get the fixings to fry them up. As soon as we got back to the campsite, Chris pulled out their propane stove and immediately fried up the fish. We all got a good snack and I found out I could enjoy Walleye. Generally, neither Kal nor I care much for fish, but Walleye is a nice white fish with very little “fishy” flavor. In fact, most of the flavor is from the breading itself. After our snack we cleaned up the dishes and headed once again to Chris’ grandparents for a nice dinner of ham, potatoes, and salad. Chris’s parents, Mike and Jane, joined us once they arrived from North Carolina. After a nice evening with Chris’ family, we headed back to the campground. Once again we were able to sneak in a game of spades before bedtime.
Monday was another early day as Kal and Chris were once again going fishing with Grandpa George. This time they had room for one more, so Nikki went along as well. This left to me all alone most of the day, which I spent going to the store in Baudette and just relaxing in the campground. I was surprised they called early in the afternoon that they had enough fishing and when I picked them up I found out why. None of them had gotten even a bite all day, even though the Walleye were enjoying the minnow snacks. I understand they still had a great time, but Grandpa George was simple disgusted with their luck and came in early. This was fine with us as this left us plenty of time to play spades.
Tuesday was the day for the big party planned by Jane, which started with Nikki and Chris heading to Roseau to meet up with his other grandparents for breakfast. The party was not until 2:00 in the afternoon and consisted of both sets of grandparents along with Chris’ aunts and uncles and even two relatives from Norway that were visiting the states. We had a delightful afternoon getting to know everyone that included a nice pontoon boat trip up the Rainy River and a great meal of turkey, rolls, and salad. Although it was late in the evening before the party broke up, we still managed to fit in another game of spades before heading to bed.
Wednesday was a sad day as we had to say goodbye to Nikki and Chris as they started back home to North Carolina by way of Chicago and Knoxville where they had the grand opening of a new tap room for the brewery. After they left, Kal and I just relaxed in the campground for the remainder of the day.
By Thursday, Kal was feeling good enough to do some hiking so we headed to the shores of Lake of the Woods to Zippel Bay State Park. I was looking forward to it, since I had yet to get a good view of the Lake of the Woods. Instead of a 3+ mile hike through the woods, we decided to take the 1 mile hike (2 miles round trip) along the beach to the Coast Guard lights at the mouth of Zippel Bay. I was surprised to see the long sandy beach as I had expected to see a rocky shoreline like you see on Lake Superior. The trail began at the swimming beach and ran along the beach for the first half mile. The Lake of the Woods was very calm with very little wind, so we were able to walk along the waterline which was much easier than walking in the loose sand. The second half mile cut into the woods close to the shore so you still had good views of the lake. Once we set for a while watching the fishing boats exit Zippel Bay, we turned around and hiked back to the truck. We then drove to the marina on Zippel Bay which took us by the campgrounds that we were very nice if you had a tent or a short RV that did not need hookups. At the marina we took another short trail of about a quarter mile that snaked through a mature aspen forest. I was very glad to take this walk as being completely surrounded by white trunk trees as far as you can see was amazing. The trail ended with another view of Zippel Bay. Since we were only a few miles from the campground we decided to head back for lunch and spent the afternoon relaxing in the campground.
On Friday, we decided to spend another day at the Seven Clans Casino, so at around 10:00 we went to start the truck, only to find it was totally dead. Turning the key did absolutely nothing and none of the interior lights were on. The batteries were totally dead. So we went up to the office to get some help and the owner grabbed some jumper cables and drove their big diesel to assist. Along with my jumper cables, since both trucks had two batteries, we attempted to jump the truck with no luck. So Jack, the owner, went and got two chargers, which we hooked to the batteries for about 20 minutes. After this the truck started up and after thanking Jack, we head into Baudette to find a mechanic. They really had only one repair shop in town, Johnson Auto. Thankfully they were not too busy and were able to test the battery, from which it appeared the alternator was not functioning at all. Thankfully, the local NAPA store had an alternator that would work for the truck in stock and they had time at the repair store to get right on it!! So, we walked to lunch at Northlake Cafe just a few blocks away. We had a leisurely lunch and even walked over to the nearby Visitor Information Center to find out about the International Plowing Contest later in the month. We found out this was an international competition that is very big in Europe. Competitors use tractors to plow a row in different types of fields and are judged on a number of factors that include straightness, depth consistencies, and at least 10 other factors. Once we had bothered them enough, we walked on towards downtown Baudette and spent some time in a sportsmen store before heading back to the repair shop. We got there just as they were finishing up and testing the new system, so by 3:00 in the afternoon, we had a new alternator and two new batteries.
In order to test out the new alternator, we decided on Saturday to drive to the Seven Clans Casino in Warroad to make sure we had no other problems with the truck. The truck performed well and after a couple of hours in the casino, where we came close to breaking even (an improvement over the previous trip) we headed back to the campgrounds. We were both feeling better that the truck was ready for the long haul on Monday.
Sunday was spent doing laundry and cleaning the RV again before we headed out on Monday.