Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A short stay in Grand Rapids

We checked into the Moose Lodge in Grand Rapids, Minnasota with 20 amp and a back-in on level blacktop.  We wanted to pay for our stay and they wouldn’t take any money.  We also had a very nice garbage can right by our plug-in.  We really like Moose and Elks lodge parking options.  The weather  in Grand Rapids was very pleasant, in fact on Sunday it was cold enough that we pulled out our heavy ‘tie’ quilt. 
There is not a lot of attractions in Grand Rapids, but we had lots of laundry to do and we found a couple of nice restaurants to try.  We also saw on our way into Grand Rapids that there was a Forest History Center near by.  We decided to do laundry first then drive out to the Forest HC to check it out.  It had closed at 4 PM, so it was off to Ground Round for dinner. 
This was one of those evenings where our feelings were mixed whether to give a good tip for the delicious dinner that we enjoyed or to leave no tip at all for the extremely poor service we experienced.  We were seated and forgotten.  Our waiter walked by numerous times waiting on others.  I finally got up and asked to the hostess if we had a waiter.  After she disappeared into the back, the waiter who had been waiting on others showed up and said he was so busy – no apology.  We gave our order, it was delivered and we did not get any service until our bill was delivered.  Tip??? 10% no more!
The next day we went to the Forest HC and found this living history center is run by the Minnesota Historical Society which is older than the state itself. We were told that with a lot of pride.  The displays inside were very nice especially the hands-on activities for the children.  We saw a very interesting movie.  The film was projected on a see-through screen with scenery being changed in the background.
After this 8 minute film we met up with the rest of the tour group on the guided tour. We walked the 30 miles to the camp.  It took us about 5 minutes. Confused smile  Along the way our guide, Miss Nora, explained what we would be seeing in the early 1900’s if we were lumbermen heading out to live for 6 months in the wilderness with the goal of cutting 6 million board feet of white pine.
We first visited the store where the men could buy replacement clothes if theirs were damaged or lost.  The store also sold tobacco and medicine, but no alcohol (except that in the medicine Open-mouthed smile).
The store owner and this helper slept in the store.
We visited the bunk house where the smells of the day were explained is such detail, I think some of our group was actually cringing.  Most of the lumbermen slept here.  We were told that you could tell the sawyers by the smell of kerosene that they used to remove pitch from their saws.
All of the men ate together in the mess hall, the men with the most responsibility or the most dangerous jobs ate at the tables nearest the stove.  Those lower down ate nearest the door where sometimes the door had frost on the inside of it.  Outside might be –40* or colder.
The men ate really well and as much as they wanted.  They were served breakfast in the mess hall, hot lunch hauled out to them in a covered wooden sled, and dinner back in the mess hall.  They ate in 20 minutes and there was no talking in the mess hall.
The saw shop was next.  All saws are dropped off at the end of the day and a sharpened saw pick up the next morning.  The saw sharpener did not stay in the bunk house as he had to stay up late to sharpen.  Lights out was 9 PM in the bunk house.  After his demonstration, we moved outside to test how sharp the saw was.
A sled that hauls the logs typically weighs 40,000 pounds and is pulled by just 2 horses.  How does that work?  The roads are groomed every day by the ‘Water Wagon’ that adds water to the ruts which then freezes.  The ruts are where the sled runners ride and there is little resistance so once the sled starts to move, the horses can pull it easily. This is the wagon that holds the water, loaded by the barrel on skids on the side. The sled is holding the logs loaded by a ‘Jammer’.

We visited the 2 beautiful Percherons horses. They were the bred of choice for this work. They were taken better care of than the men.
Then we went to the blacksmith/carpenter’s shop.  This is where the horse shoes are fitted, chains are repaired and other metal work is done like fixing the cooks implements.  That gives the blacksmith extra points like special treats from the kitchen.
This was a wonderful exhibit.  If anyone is in the area it should not be missed.  This is easy to miss as there is little advertising of this.
As we were leaving it started to sprinkle.  By the time we got back to DA PAD there was nothing left but a rainbow.
2012-08-05_16-23-07_938The next day, Sunday, was Tom’s birthday.  We went to Home Depot to look for a latch for the drawer under the refrigerator.  We didn’t find a latch. We did find a birthday present.  This will help organize the bay.  We discovered Tom needed a dedicated tool box just for the electrical stuff he carries when we worked on the Jeep lights.
We went geocaching and found a cache right at the beginning of the “Edge of the Wilderness” scenic byway.  So we drove it, at least the first 20 miles of it.  I think it would be spectacular in the fall with the fall colors, but it was still lovely to drive the up, down, right, left curvy road through the forest and by the many lakes.  At mile 20 we stopped at an information pullout.  Wow, the stuff we learn on the road.  This was the east-west continental divide called the Laurentian Divide.  Water north of here flows to the Hudson Bay and water south of here flows into the Mississippi and into the Gulf of Mexico. 
Now it was time for Tom’s birthday dinner.  We went to Forest Lake Restaurant.  We were seated by the window with a beautiful view of Forest Lake.  Tom ordered steak and ribs.  I thought for sure we would have to have to-go boxes. NOPE… he ate it all.  2012-08-05_17-34-15_2002012-08-05_17-51-20_853 - Copy
We finished out day with a visit to the Moose Lodge bar to say thanks, drop a donation (we insisted), and to say goodbye. 
We left the next morning to drive to Duluth, MN, to exchange our 3rd fan that didn’t work from Bed Bath and Beyond.  They had tested it and had it waiting for us.  We also stopped at an RV parts house to check if they had a 12 volt cutout rotary switch.  Ours would stop when we unplugged from power or when we stopped the generator.  Tom had reset it about 5 times since Bismarck. They did not have one.  We continued on toward Odanah, WI, to stay at the Bad River Casino.  We had only driven about 45 minutes with the generator running, so we shut it off. Yup, the 12 volt went off.  We stopped and when Tom tried to start it the switch just went round and round and no 12 volt.  We drove about another 20 minutes and found a big parking lot at a high school and removed the switch and bolted the 2 leads together as a temporary fix.  The inside of the old switch was fried!  We got checked into the casino parking lot, $20/night for 50 amp, water, and a dump near by.  We have Wi-Fi from the casino though it’s a little slow. 
I then discovered the 2nd big mishap of the day; my computer had hit the floor when we pulled out of the Moose Lodge.  I went to plug it in and found the plug and the power supply plug had been jammed into the computer.  Broken computer! Soooo sad!!!!
I researched computers from Costco, BestBuy, and Amazon finally decided on a $899 model that was in stock in Duluth from BestBuy. Crying face
To see how I handled the situation, check in my next blog.

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