Morning is a bustle of activity, getting everything put back in the proper place in the Casita for traveling – always a longer chore after being stationary a while. It starts out warm, and is certifiably hot out by the time I’m finished, a combination of humidity and clear skies have me coated in sweat before I’m finished hitching up.
For those of you who aren’t on the road yet, you may imagine dressing halfway nice on travel days so that when you stop to get gas or supplies out in public you make a good impression.
The reality is you’re going to get dirty and sweaty packing up and later setting up camp, and if you have a trailer like me the grease you use to keep things from squeaking is almost impossible to get out of clothes. In the beginning I dressed nice on travel days, but it just isn’t practical with my limited wardrobe and desire to conserve money by being creative with laundry loads. Now I wear old clothes on travel days knowing they’re going to get gross, and I change once I’m all set up after a shower.
The drive west on I94 into Minnesota goes quickly and without incident, other than some traffic near Minneapolis which can be expected. The thermometer inside Bertha keeps creeping up: 90, 91, 92…
By the time I arrive at the KOA southwest of Minneapolis, it’s 94 out. Jeez Minnesota, talk about a fail first day of fall.
I’ve stayed at a few KOAs in my time on the road and in I’m usually not impressed by them. They tend to have a lot of amenities, but a high cost to go along with it and I prefer paying less for less – the bells and whistles don’t appeal to me. The weekend rate here for my electric and water site is $40, but it is almost in the city proper which would drive the price up.
The ladies at the front desk are handing out a complimentary bottle of water to everyone checking in, the place is filling rapidly and will be full tonight – mostly of people attending the Minnesota Renaissance Festival like me. This is one of the closest campgrounds, which is why I chose it despite the cost.
Setting up camp is as uncomfortable as expected, but all the tenters must have it worse, they can’t escape into the AC afterward like I can. The trees here are still full and green and from looking at a picture you wouldn’t think it’s as late in the year as it is.
Site quality is decent. The row I’m in is a bit sloped, pads are gravel, site separation is acceptable, the free WiFi actually works. The indoor pool looks nice through the windows but I don’t actually use it.
Multiple people have fires going in the evening, and the smell of grilling food permeates the Casita. One neighbor is playing The Princess Bride on an projector on the side of their RV – my kind of people. My best friend Julie arrives from Madison in the evening, we go out to eat at Patron Mexican Bar & Grill in nearby Chaska. I get a chimichanga, it’s good!
Sept 23 and 24
I like ren fests, have made it a bucket list item to visit them in the states I visit, and worked at one as a performer three years ago. If you’d like to learn more about them, you can read this post. I won’t go into detail here since I have in the past. But suffice to say, I love MNRF and have a good couple of days despite the heat wave.
I suspect the next month at the beet harvest will be very full and demanding, so this weekend is something of a treat to myself to prepare myself for the hardships ahead.
On Saturday night, Julie and I pick O’Brien’s Public House for dinner in Shakopee proper. It happens to be their Oktoberfest weekend and we arrive around 9 pm to live music and a beer tent set up outside. Despite the crowds the wait for food isn’t bad and they have a good fish and chips and a great atmosphere. Afterwards we play on the nearby playground while waiting for the alcohol to fade (we’re such adults!) so we can safely drive home, a fun evening.
Sunday evening is a pizza joint called Detello’s in Chaska. We’re so tired after two full days of fest that I can’t accurately rate it other than to say I was really hungry and it was food.
Sept 25, Monday
What a difference a day can make. Julie and I wake up to overcast skies, temps in the 60’s and intermittent rain which luckily holds off while I hitch up. I say goodbye to Julie in the morning and she heads home. I am conveniently already home, but need to keep moving north. And west.
I skirt Minneapolis and get back onto I94. It being midday on a Monday, traffic is fine this time around, a fine travel day. Lunch is had at a rest stop somewhere in the neighborhood of Sauk Centre, MN where the maple trees are beginning to show their fall finery.
Not long before sunset I cross into North Dakota, and actually manage to get a picture of the sign. It surprises me by being above the road instead of alongside it.
I park overnight at the Flying J travel center on I29 not far off I94 in Fargo. I frequently choose truck stops as overnight stops on my way from point A to B and have never had any safety concerns, just check with the front desk first to make sure they allow RVs. I pull into the truck parking area and pick a back-in spot away from the building. It just seems courteous to give the semis the prime spots as these areas are meant for them and they don’t have a toilet on board like I do.
Some people are bothered by the noise of idling engines in truck stops, not me. I fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly.
Sept 26, Tuesday
Yesterday was a 250 mile day, about the maximum distance that I like to drive. Today’s only half that. Which is probably just as well because it’s raining harder than yesterday and driving in the rain takes more focus and energy.
I’m out of Flying J and back on I29 before 10 am. And….I just keep driving.
The forests of Minnesota have been left behind, it’s all open farm land around here. In several fields I see standing puddles from the heavy rains and wonder if that’ll affect the beets and other crops.
Around 12:30 I pull into my home for the next month or so while I work the beet harvest – Leistikow Park Campground.
It’s still raining heavily, making for one of the least comfortable unhitchings I’ve ever had to do. But more on that next post!