Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Full Timing - it’s Real Life not Vacation

Tuesday June 8, 2014
Bear Paw Campground
Itasca State Park
Park Rapids Minnesota


It’s catch up day.  I’m going to whiz through three days and be up to date. Well whiz may be a bit of a stretch but there are only 22 pictures.   HA!





On Sunday,  David works on the Magnadyne radio which we love since it has AM/FM, Cassette, CD AND a weather band radio.  All in one place, we can have it on the road or just in the house.   But, it has developed a mind of its own over the past few months.  First the CD player refused to load,  then it started turning itself on at night.  Recently it just won’t do anything. 

After researching a replacement and not being able to find anything we liked as well David decided to try cleaning the circuit boards since this worked for his computer.  Not being sirius radio users or bluetooth, we don’t want flashy new technology.  We do actually still have cassettes and listen to them.  I know OLD foggies.   Anyway,  cleaning it made the AM/FM work again so he thought hey, if I clean the entire thing maybe…………   so he did but when he put it back in, nothing worked again.  Oh well……. you don’t know if you don’t try.  He says he may have left some wire off or put some wire back on wrong.  But that will have to wait for another day.  The man has the patience of Job – at least with things like this.









In the meantime, I went to my two favorite stores in any town, the independent book store and the local ice cream shop.   In this case it is the darling Apostle Islands Independent Bookshop.  It’s my last day here and I really did have to go in.  What a fabulous little bookstore.  I did do my part to support Independent booksellers since they are my favorites.  No way do the big stores have these unique books or this wonderful atmosphere.  Even the ceiling is gorgeous.  Just look at it. 
















Later in the afternoon we went back to what is clearly THE ice cream shop in town judging by the constant lines out the door and sometimes around the block.  Not too bad today.  We were only 4 people out the door. 

David got some mocha thing or other and I got malted chocolate with caramel ripple and chocolate covered peanuts.  Very different from my usual fare of something with coconut and/or peanut butter .  They even make their own waffle cones right there so of course everyone has one.

The girl behind the counter asked me twice what I flavor I wanted and as I discovered when I was gone from the shop, did not give me what I asked for but rather gave me plain chocolate.   David said go back and make them change it.  Not so easy.  I could either make a scene or wait in line to complain with the wrong flavor dripping down my arm so I just ate the chocolate which was fine.  But I went away disappointed.  Granted it was late on a Sunday and I’m sure with the number of cones they dip she was tired and just made a mistake but I paid my money and didn’t get my choice.










But one of us was happy









Monday was one of THOSE DAYS.   If you read regularly then you know we’ve been having a coolant leak problem.  David thought he’d fixed it when we got to Bayfield by tightening a heater hose clamp in the area where the leak was coming from.  He also refilled the coolant reservoir but we found out otherwise as we got about 2 miles away from the campground this morning on our early departure for a 218 mile trip.

We were all set to load the car on the dolly when David noticed the engine was getting hot again.

Ok so what now?  There are no RV repair places anywhere within 100 miles.  There isn’t even a repair shop in Bayfield.  But 10 miles down the road is something called Ron’s Repair.   Oh great!   Who’s Ron?   What choice do we have?

I drive down to Ron’s and they tell me they haven’t even started on the appointment they had two hours ago.  They are so far behind.  I’m nearly in tears.  What will we do I ask.  We live in it.  We can’t drive it, it will over heat.   Andy calls another shop further down the road but they aren’t biting.   So he says if we can get it down here and are willing to wait, he’ll try to take a look at it. 



After the engine cooled back down again, David drove it to Ron’s.  Andy came out to look at what David had described was happening.  Then in a little while another mechanic came out with a radiator pressure tester.  After taking off the radiator cap he found the coolant was not visible.  After, they added all the Dex coolant that he had and we had, the coolant level was still not visible in the radiator. 

So we waited for another gallon to be delivered from a nearby NAPA dealer.  It only took another quart to fill it up at which point they could put the pressure tester on the radiator to apply pressure and find where the coolant was leaking.  Turned out to be the heater valve which was connected to the hose David had thought was leaking.  It wasn’t the hose, it was the valve which David had replaced in 2010.  So do those things only last 4 years?

Obviously the low coolant was why Winnona was over heating.  Where did all the coolant David was putting in the coolant reservoir go if it wasn’t getting sucked down into the radiator?  We have a second problem.



So rather than wait for NAPA to make another delivery David went to get the heater valve and a new radiator cap .  Of course they didn’t have that valve so David bought a radiator cap and hose coupler to bypass the heater valve for now. 

This means the hot water is going through the heater core all the time.  The problem with that is on a hot day you don’t want heat from your heater so we had to run the AC in order to keep from getting too hot as we drove.   BUT the engine didn’t over heat and the coolant level in the overflow reservoir rose and fell as it should. 



On a happier note, I must say I have never seen an auto shop with beautiful flowers like this.  Hanging pots and planters everywhere.  To keep myself from worrying about “what now”, I weeded all 9 of the giant flower pots you see in these pictures.   If you are ever near Bayfield having car trouble or even RV trouble, Ron’s is the place to go IF you can get in. 

We are so grateful to them for going out of their way to help us and for an amazingly reasonable charge.





We are on our way at 1 pm instead of our original 8 am but we drive the 218 miles anyway.  Theresa from Trails RV Park in Walker, Minnesota greets us with a hug.  We had called her yesterday about a Passport America site for the night and said we’d be there mid afternoon.   So we had to call her back this morning and say “we’re not sure” and then later and to say “we’ll be really late”. 

The site was perfect, a LONG pull through with full hook ups although the sewer was one of those raised above the ground things that only someone who has never ever dumped an RV would put in.  Our cost was $23.50 and it was well worth that although the full price, at double that rate,  I think is too high. 

They have about a dozen long easy to get to pull throughs in one area of a nice park of summer seasonal rigs.  After such a long day this was just what we needed


See what I mean about a LONG site?  They are clearly prepared for 50’+ RVs  BUT the utilities are at the back end of the site so I’m not sure why they are sooo  long.







We were only about 40 miles from Itasca.  Yes I know Paul 250+ miles is hardly a half day drive for you, but it is further than I’m willing to drive in one day especially a day like yesterday.  More important was the decision to stage ourselves as close as I could get since I could get no reservation at our destination Itasca State Park. 

Luckily Minnesota parks set aside a nice number of walk in sites and if you come during the week your chances are good.   So we want to be there early in the day.


Looking on line, it appeared that there were quite a few walk ins available on this Tuesday but as in other places, the website is not up to date with the park.  When we arrive, we don’t have many choices but all it takes is one and we find it.  SCORE!!   In Bear Paw the smaller campground by the lake.  SCORE!!   It doesn’t have the seclusion of some of the sites in the larger Pine Ridge campground but it has THE LAKE.  Or should I say it has one of 100 lakes in this park.  Really??  100 lakes?  That’s what they say and 100 out of the state’s 10,000 lakes isn’t much actually.

The site has 30 amp electric for $28 a night PLUS the park pass fee.  This seems to be a mid-west thing and may be coming to state parks near you.  The daily entry pass of $5+ per vehicle OR the annual pass of $25 to $70.  Ruby’s window is going to be covered with them.   Minnesota’s yearly pass is $25 and you only have to buy it for your car so it is much less expensive than Michigan or Wisconsin.  In both of those states, you have to buy one for each vehicle, not just your towed and both are more expensive.

That takes the cost for this site without water or sewer up to $31 a night for a week stay.  Of course state parks have no weekly or monthly rates.  State parks are having a terrible funding crisis as many states have totally or nearly cut out funding them.   So before you assume your state taxes are paying for your state parks, you’d better check.

After we get set up, I work on the Pow Wow blog while David arranges to have his medication shipped here and to get his monthly blood tests in Park Rapids about 20 miles away.  He calls a local auto parts store in Park Rapids and they can order the heater valve so he can put it on before we leave here.   No more hot flashes for Winnona.

But this is not the exact valve that Winnebago supplies, it’s the same  after market he put on in 2010 so perhaps that’s why it lasted only 4 years. We want to call Lichtsinn Motors and have them send the exact part so we ask at the campground check in about having mail delivered.  No one has ever heard of that although thankfully they have heard of medicine being delivered.   Tomorrow we’ll go over to the Park Headquarters and ask about mail delivery.

Of course we make a short trip to the Visitor’s Center for information about all the trails, biking and kayaking opportunities.  We see that they have a very informative interactive center and hope to return on a rainy day to see it.  Dinner time now though.

After all and after everything, we are finally here,  awning, chairs, mats, flag out and bikes secured and covered.  We plan to stay a week to hike some of their 18 trails ranging in length from 200 feet to 9.4 miles, walk in the head waters of the Mighty Mississippi, bike the paved trail, and kayak the lake(s).  Actually it may take more than a week.  We have no reservations until Rocky Mountain National Park on the 10th of August so who knows.   I feel rather gutsy winging it during the height of summer vacation.

You’ll have to keep checking on us to find out how this works for us.   And if you have any North Dakota suggestions especially for campgrounds near I 94 on our 464 mile trip to Theodore Roosevelt National park from here, please let me know.


  1. Always impressed to see David's mechanical skills at work. He's very talented! Don't forget about Corps of engineer parks. They are half price of many state parks and have terrific facilities. But you look like you are in a wonderful spot and for a reasonable price. With the 4th out of the way, you shouldn't have too much trouble the rest of the summer. I know you will be sure to lock in for Labor Day weekend.

  2. Fort A braham Lincoln State Park should fit the bill on your transit of North Dakota. Enjoy your walk across the mighty Mississippi, it is a Minnesota tradition. Par k Rapids has an old fashioned soda fountain at the drugstore, be sure to bring the camera and enjoy a root beer float. Poodle skirt optional.

  3. It seems that David has the patience of Job. Hope Winona's hot flashes disappear for good.

  4. So glad David is so smart. It's like traveling with a mechanic, an engineer, and a handy man all at once. That's one reason I sold the RV and bought the trailer...enough can go wrong with the trailer, but I wouldn't know where to begin when things go wrong in a MH. We once got stuck on Interstate 50 in Nevada because of a 97 cent part. What a couple of days that was. Glad you're okay and back in the beauty of nature.

  5. It sounds great where you are and hope you really enjoy it. We've only passed through Minnesota, but it looks wonderful.

  6. At our campground every vehicle is suppose to have a pass but Kevin won't charge a motorhome the vehicle pass if they have a toad because it will stay stationary until you leave which is no different than those that come in with a travel trailer or a 5th wheel. It's different if it is ONLY the motorhome because then it may be coming and going from the park each day to do any sightseeing.


  7. Seems like a couple of lucky days with the RV and the campsite! I bet it feels good to be caught up on the blog! I can't stand falling behind and would probably just summarize or skip stuff to stay current...it's too hard to remember the details once I get behind (thank goodness for photos to jog the memory)!

  8. Glad you've narrowed down the culprit that is causing the leak. Those leaks can be so frustrating to find. The positive side is you've completely changed all your engine's coolant now. I too am a fan of Lichtsinn and order my WB stuff from them. They sure do provide great service.

    250 miles? You're getting close to Bronze Medal levels in the PDD Driving Club! :c)

  9. The tin roof in the bookstore is beautiful. You don't see many of those. Enjoy Itasca - I loved it and am so glad Judy took me out there.

  10. Yes, taking care of business where ever you live is required to keep on, keeping on. Hope the incoming part does the trick for the long haul... I love the independent book stores too and lately our best finds have been coming from Library sales. You have a gift of entertaining yourself no matter where you are.....an art for sure!! I'll bet the owner of the garage loved your weeding efforts!

  11. As a Librarian, you know that I love little book stores like that one! They are a dying animal now days. If you ever get to Portland, be sure to visit Powell's Book Store, also known as "Powell's City of Books". Independent Book Store, but small it is not....takes up an entire city block! They claim to have over 1 million used books. --Dave (GoingRvWay.com)

  12. So glad to hear that your problems got resolved and you got a nice site at the State Park. Look forward to seeing what you discover here!!!

  13. Poor Winona. Hot flashes just really are no fun at all. Hopefully she is all fixed up for now. (Wish mine had been that easy to fix! LOL!) Since we've never been to Minnesota, can't wait to read about your adventures there. So jealous you are ultimately headed to RMNP. Of the places we've visited, that is our favorite place to hike. We've always been in the spring so will enjoy seeing pics from a different time of year.

  14. Yep, I always tell people that tulltime RV'ing is NOT a vacation, despite the fact that we get to travel/hike/bike/kayak/and explore lots of new places. It also means that we have to be very resourceful and flexible when we find ourselves away from our hometown and need repairs on our equipment or ourselves! So funny that you weeded planters while you waited for RV repairs!

  15. That pull through looks like a driveway! Long! Glad the site was there and Ron was able to help- thanks Ron! Too bad the ice cream wasn't your flavor boo :( But what a sweet bookstore ;) Sounds like more fun times ahead. 100 lakes. Yes please :)

  16. Great score on the PA park. Sometimes you find a good one :) Lovely flowers to look at in Ron's driveway. Nice of you to weed them for him :)

  17. LOve the tin ceiling in the bookstore. Sometimes small town repair shops are more understanding and helpful than big ones. And such a nice thing to weed their flowers. Very brave of you to be winging it across country.

  18. Even the wrong ice cream is great :-). Nothing like burning off nervous energy with a nice weeding project, and those flowers look like they were worth the effort - so pretty! Good to see you settled in again.

  19. Sherry, when we traveled to North Dakota two years ago, we stayed in Jamestown at the Frontier Fort Campground. We were planning to spend a night at the Fargo Fairgrounds but it was full of permanents and a real dive. So we got out our map and found this place. It turned out to be very interesting. The town is nice. We ended up staying a couple nights. We also stayed in Bismark and had a great time. We were headed to Theodore Roosevelt NP, too. We were surprised how much fun we had going through ND. If you put North Dakota in our search spot, you can check out the place. Good Luck!

    1. Am off to go do that right now. I called Frontier Fort today to make reservations for next week-end since we can't get anywhere early enough to walk in. The person I talked to sounded like a child about 12 and told me the rate was $25 a night although PPA website says $20. Hmmmmm So glad you've been there before me, I'm going to read all about it. Thanks!

    2. It is a decent park. The office is in the old fort, as well as, as restaurant. We did eat dinner there one night and it was good. Also there is a little reenactment village attached to the park that was free. Someone brought various old buildings from the area and placed them there together. Definitely worth a visit. The office was a little strange but then you are in ND:)

  20. Isn't it wonderful when our husbands have mechanical skills! I can't imagine stranded a 100 miles away from the next RV repair shop. Its a good think Ron was there to assist you.
    I am really impressed that you can keep up with your post despite also very active.

  21. You've been busy since I last checked in, sea caves, a Pow Wow, radiator trouble, sounds like you've landed in a great place though. Can't wait to read about the Rockies, only rv'd in Colorado Springs but have spent some days in the Nat'l Park with my brother while he was photographing some of the park.

  22. Hope you are able to get the valve for Winnona so she can stay cool!


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