Monday, June 25, 2018

Two Campgrounds; One Blog Post

1st Location: Crystal Springs RV Resort; Ellendale, Minnesota (el 1,210 ft)
current Location: Grand Casino RV Park; Hinckley, Minnesota (el  1,000 ft)

This post and will be used to catch up over the last two campgrounds. I left the Des Moines area heading north on I-35. I had decided to do two short runs with a two day stay in two campgrounds. Mainly, I was trying to let the storms that were hanging around to pass on through the area. I also wanted to schedule my arrival at the campground near Duluth on a weekday. The two campgrounds I chose were nothing special in terms of exploring but were very nice in terms of amenities. But as it seems to be with all things, something always comes up to make things interesting.
Crossing over I-35 looking north. The next campground is "that a way".

The sky looks good after all the rain.

When I called for reservations at Crystal Springs RV Resort, the man said he had one site left but asked if I could back up. Well, as I always do, I had already looked at his campground from the air using Google Earth so I knew all of his campsites except 3 were back-ins. So I answered him with a non-committal, "sure, unless it is really weird". He laughed and said he would help guide me if I needed his help. That raised my curiosity and what was meant to be a simple two day layover may turn out to be interesting after all. As I was about to take the Ellendale exit off of I-35 to go to the campground, I saw a billboard that mentioned a business selling "award winning smoked meat". That sounded good. I knew I would find the place and check them out. It shouldn't be too hard to find since the population of the town was only 700.

As I pulled into the campground, a guy stopped mowing grass and came over to greet me. He was the owner of the place. (Note: Being met by the owner or manager is always a good sign of a great campground. Some owners/managers take that for granted.) Anyway, when I told him my name he said that "I was the backing up guy" and laughed a little. He said to wait for him to go get the golf cart and he would escort me to the site. He returned with the cart and told me to get in and he would drive me to the site so I could see how I wanted to "tackle" it,,, and danged if he didn't laugh again. Now I'm somewhere between being worried or wanting to laugh too. There definitely wasn't another campground in this small town, so it was either this campsite or drive on down the road in hopes of finding something else. I was noticing that all of the campsites were made up of crushed gravel with neat edges where the gravel met the grass. Well, we arrived at my campsite and it was nothing at all like I expected. There was a big tree growing in the middle of the site. They did it intentionally because there was fresh gravel all the way around the tree. At least they had cut the branches that used to hang over the site. I got out of the golf cart and the owner started laughing again. I looked at the tree and then at the owner. His loud laughing had brought the guy in the site next to mine out of his RV. He quickly sat down in a lawn chair aimed right at us. As I walked up to the tree to do some quick measurements, I hollered over at the guy, "are you the audience?" He replied in a slow speaking Yankee voice, "Yap, it's been boring lately". The distance from the base of the tree to the edge of gravel was about 9 1/2 feet. Even though they cut the overhanging limbs, I would still need to give the tree a respectable foot or so clearance. So, let's see, Liberty is 8 feet wide and I had a little more than 8 feet to maneuver. After the owner stopped laughing, I told him it shouldn't be problem as long as I eased over on the grass a little while backing in. That sparked his laughing fit again as he replied, "can't do that, we've just had 6 inches of rain over the last day or two". Ok then, let's go back and get Freedom and Liberty and give it a go. After getting lined up a couple of times and pulling forward a couple of times, I started Liberty back into the site. The owner was wisely looking up at the tree to make sure Liberty didn't kiss it while the audience man started whistling. I got a good line on the edge of the gravel and went right on in to the site. On the way in, Liberty found a soft spot on the edge of the gravel so the owner asked if I wouldn't mind moving over more towards the middle of the site. I said sure and pulled back out and started moving over. Everything went well, and after getting stopped, Liberty was perfectly level in all directions. The owner said, "see, not a problem" while the audience man said, "you should have been able to do it in one back up". Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. 
The Tree. Nothing much else to say about. There may have been a little more room than I mentioned. :)

They had a nice clean laundry that I took advantage of on the second day. A total of $6.00 and everything was clean and ready for wear. This sliding bench was a nice place to wait on the clothes until the jellowjackets liked it better than I did. 

The geese put on a nice show while waiting for clothes to dry.
After getting set up and turning on Liberty's A/C's, I went in search of that smoked meat place. There isn't much in Ellendale, so the meat place was easy to find. I didn't get a picture inside but the store, but it was pretty much right out of the 1950's or so. A nice lady saw that I was lost and asked me if I was looking for something special. I told her I was looking for something that was "heat and eat". I mentioned traveling around the country in an RV and although I had a stove and oven, I used the microwave oven the most. I was looking for something to heat in the microwave or at worse, heat in a skillet on the stove. She pointed out several items which looked good, so I bought pretty much everything she pointed at except the cheese curds. I had tried those in Wisconsin before, and didn't like them. All totaled, the purchases were a little over $20.00. As the lady was bagging my stuff up, she quietly said, almost in a whisper, "so, you're traveling around the country in an RV all by yourself, uh?" I said, "Yes, ma'am", putting as much southern accent into it as I could muster. She gave me a look that sort of said a lot more than "thank you for shopping with us" so I left with a little quicker step than I had when I arrived. 
Small town meat market. They were setting up for some kind of party.

I tried the chicken and ate one and threw the rest away. They were too "rubbery". The pepper jack sticks were tasty but looked funny. I read the ingredients and they had milk in them which gave it a funny look. I ate one and threw the rest away. The ham links were good but the Colby cheese was the best of the bunch. I haven't opened the brats yet.
After taking it easy around the campground for the two days and getting to know the "audience man" a little more, I hitched up and moved farther north. The next campground was part of a very large Indian Casino. After setting up camp, I went to the casino and got a players card. This time it came with $10.00 in play money which I played in the slots until I won $8.00 in real money. I cashed out a winner and went in search of supper. It's a big campground with over 100 campsites but it is generally well maintained and quiet. The campsites are close together though. The temperature last night got down to 50 degrees. I had my ceramic heater ready to go but didn't need it since it stayed in the lower 60's inside of Liberty. Excellent sleeping weather. Someone told me about a small cafe in the old part of downtown Hinckley (population 1,800). They were suppose to have a great Reuben Sandwich. I found that hard to believe in such a small Minnesota town. But since it was so unusual to even hear of such a thing in a place like this, I had to give it a try. The small Whistle Stop Cafe was easy to find so I went inside. I got there about 12:45 just as most of the people were finishing up. The waitress was younger than I had expected and probably in her late 40's. I told her what I had heard about their sandwich and she said it was true. Well, it wasn't all the way true. From 1 to 10 with 10 being the best, the sandwich was about a 7. But it was better than any Reuben I had lately. On my way back to the campground, I noticed a really nice golf course with hardly anyone playing. Uhmmm,,, I would have to remember that if I come back this way again.
Campsite at the casino. A little crowded but full hookups and Cable TV. It's the first TV I've looked at since hitting the road. 

A little bit of an overall view of the campground. You can't see Liberty in this shot but you can see the Casino in the far background on the right. 

Whistle Stop Cafe.
Maybe I should have ordered breakfast.

The Reuben Sandwich.
The coffee was super great. 

Tomorrow is moving day and I finally reach my destination point of Lake Superior. I found a nice little campground just outside of the Duluth city limits. In fact, it may actually be in Wisconsin. I'll be there for 5 nights with exploration plans scheduled around the area. It should be a nice time if the weather cooperates. I need to pull out my long pants and windbreaker. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road. 


  1. Looks like decent traveling weather over all. I appreciate the pictures of the countryside. Be Safe.

    1. Your welcome Barney, It is surprising how much I like looking back on those road pictures. Stay cool.

  2. If you like smoked meats, when traveling through Missouri there is a little town called Swiss. Swiss Meat Co has every kind of Bratwurst and smoked meat you can think of. Enjoyed the ride and thanks for sharing.

    1. Hello John. The best thing I got from that place was the Cheese. It was great. I hope you're enjoying your planning.

  3. You find adventure wherever you go. Good parking job! Hope decent weather is in your future.

    1. hello Barb, all of us travelers seem to find adventure, uh? Be safe out there.

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