First Time Rv’ing in Minneapolis.

Before starting this journal entry I wanted to thank everyone who read and commented on the First Time Wallydocking post.  My friend Gene wrote a very thoughtful response (he is a big fan of Wallydocking) and in the interest of providing people with a balanced view I thought I would share it here.  So thanks Gene, for taking the time to write this and I absolutely recommend everyone try it for themselves at least once before making a final decision.

“Just like Steve & Debbie we’re big fans of Wallydocking. We also get there late afternoon or early evening. When we run the generator in our motor home it costs us about a gallon of gas an hour. If we know we need A/C we’ll pass on Walmart and look for a campground and get a site with just electric. We’ve stayed in some Walmarts with trucks that ran their engines all night, but it wasn’t a big problem. We’ve learned to park at the outer edge of the parking lot and put out the bedroom slide over a grassy area away from traffic. If we put our jacks down we always put wood under them so we don’t mark the asphalt. Never felt unsafe. We almost always spend money at Walmart, but it’s usually for groceries which we would need to buy anyway. Overnight campgrounds are close to a highway and you can hear traffic and trains all night long. When you’re on the move you don’t want to spend a lot of time or money staying in a campground that you’ll be leaving first thing in the morning. Eileen and I have stayed at many Walmarts that have been clean, quiet and secure.”

We finally arrived in Minneapolis, pretty travel weary, and were happy to settle in for two weeks.  We are staying at Lebanon Hills Regional Campground.   The campsites here around Minneapolis are largely county parks and many have a one week maximum.  Since we are here for our daughter’s wedding we really wanted something that had a longer time frame available along with full hookups.  In retrospect I would have probably made a different choice since it is $32 a night to stay here, but the decision was made several months ago before we had solar and weren’t comfortable having less hookups.  I wouldn’t mind the cost if the campground was top-notch, but I have to say I am disappointed.  The park has extensive trails and waterways but they are all separate (many across the street) from the campground.   The campground itself has some deep spaces but the sites are in close proximity to each other with no separation (ie: trees, brush etc.)   My main complaint though is the staff.  Every interaction has been slightly unpleasant and there is one gentleman in particular who has been pretty aggressive with enforcing the “rules.” First he made Lee take down our small sign stating we had a RV Tech business claiming a local  city ordinance against it.  Then on Sunday afternoon he came to our site, asking why we hadn’t left yet since check out time was 11am.  When Lee stated we were here for two weeks, he said no you are not site 8 is checking out today.  It’s worth mentioning that as he was speaking he was standing next to the marker showing we were in site 7.   When we tried to buy wood at the camp store we were told they could only take cash between 8am -10am, and they take no other forms of payment.  (Obviously they have had some sort of issue).  They did give us wood and a slip so we could pay in the morning.  The larger issue with the wood is it’s $5 per very small bundle here and a $1,000 fine if you bring in outside wood, which they strictly enforce.   Lee asked where he could buy wood in bulk since we would be staying here for 2 weeks and received no recommendations,  other than to look online,  for a certified vendor.   As a side note it took Lee several hours and a 40 minute drive to find a certified vendor but at least the wood was certified and very, very inexpensive. So overall, I am not thrilled,  but since it’s more about my daughter and less about where we sleep, it will serve it’s purpose. 

Speaking of my daughter, her fiance Micah and she came to see us the evening we arrived and after catching up a bit we got down to work planning the wedding.  Let me say upfront that I am not going to share everything regarding this wedding.  It is Kat and Micah’s life and they have the right to some privacy.  I will be sharing the good moments of course, but as with all weddings I am sure there will be some craziness and  we will largely keep  those stories to ourselves…unless they are funny…then we will share them. Kat has done a solid job planning the wedding but there are still lots of details to be worked out so Lee and I jumped right in.  I have a project management background and Lee has tons of experience with live events so we bring that to the party.  But we are also in an area we aren’t familiar with and don’t have our contacts and resources to help as we did at Kyrston’s wedding.  Luckily Jim and Linda (Micah’s parents) are awesome people and they grew up here.  We decided to all meet at the venue at 5pm and I was really excited to see them again.  We stayed with them on their farm in our travel trailer almost two years ago and that experience is what really got us thinking about this as a lifestyle.  I will be forever grateful to them for that week and am thrilled to be working with them on the wedding.

But that was Sunday and first we had some free time on Saturday (Katy and Micah had another wedding they were attending) so we decided to visit the Caponi Art Park which was right around the corner from us.  We both like sculptures and the combination of grounds and sculptures is the best I have ever seen.  Caponi is a local artist who taught himself to carve stone.  The grounds surrounding his house  were turned into a free park for the public (donations accepted) and you can walk the grounds and see the meld of sculpture with nature.  At 89 he is still creative director of the nonprofit he helped create.  It was really lovely and all the sculptures can be touched which I found particularly appealing.   There are over 30 sculptures strategically placed throughout the grounds and here are a few pictures of my favorites.

The artists house made primarily from the materials on the property

The artists house made primarily from the materials on the property

Very cool balustrade

Very cool balustrade


I loved the snake

I loved the snake

Lee liked this sculpture about war

Lee liked this sculpture about war.  The red inside the helmets represents death and since the artist served in WWII (assigned as a driver/interpreter to the actual unit portrayed in the movie  Monuments  Men) we found it particularly impactful

 

 

This sculpture was stolen, held for ransom, thrown over a cliff, and ultimately returned to the artist

This sculpture was stolen, held for ransom, thrown over a cliff, and ultimately returned to the artist

Probably my favorite which shows the progression of man from walking upright to Einstein's Theory

Probably my favorite which shows the progression of man from walking upright to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

 

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Lee was having a good time

Lee was having a good time

Another of Lee's favorites called The Crows

Another of Lee’s favorites called The Crows

 

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Sunday evening we drove to the venue, cleverly named Jean Acres after the owners.  Katy and Micah really liked the facility because it is very new to the wedding business and they allow the couple to have a ton of freedom in how they choose to use the property.  While this is a huge benefit it also caused some challenges as we had to figure out many things that more experienced venues have templates for (ie: where to put the table and chairs and where to hold the ceremony.)  Still, it’s worth the extra effort as the barn and grounds are unique and beautiful.  We were there for 3 hours trying to work out some of the details, but Jim and Linda were with us and they are nice people to try to figure this all out with.  Next week more wedding details to handle and hopefully we will get out a little and do something fun next weekend.

 

Katy and Micah talking to the owner James Jean (not making that up) in the barn.

Katy and Micah talking to the owner James Jean (not making that up) in the barn.

The upper level of the barn where dinner and dancing will be

The upper level of the barn where dinner and dancing will be

The downstairs stalls was converted into an awesome bar and party area

The downstairs stalls was converted into an awesome bar and party area

 

All the grounds around the house are available for use

All the grounds around the house are available for use

 

Jim, Linda, Lee, Micah, and Kat working out some details

Jim, Linda, Lee, Micah, and Kat working out some details

I love love this view

I love love this view

A potential wedding ceremony spot

A potential wedding ceremony spot

More beautiful views

More beautiful views

 

Oh one last thing I wanted to mention.  An RV pulled into the campground with this signage on it.  Have to say I love when people deck out their rigs for their businesses ever since we saw the Circus Cats bus in Orlando. They have a website called Go Pet Friendly that specializes in all things pet friendly when traveling.  Locations, travel tips, etiquette rules and a blog.  Seemed pretty cool so thought I would pass it along. I do think it is ironic that the camp host made Lee take down his tiny little RV Repair sign but this is ok lol, but more power to them and ultimately Lee picked up a job just from the signs we have on our truck which they didn’t say anything about. 

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Campground Reviews

Lebanon Hills Regional Campground   12100 Johnny Cake Ridge Road, Apple Valley  2 out of 5 pine cones

The campsites here around Minneapolis are largely county parks and many have a one week maximum.  This campground has a two week maximum with full hookups which is largely why we chose it.   It costs $32 a night to stay here, and has decent WiFi in the West Loop.    The park has extensive trails and waterways but most are all separate (across a busy street) from the campground.   The campground itself has some deep spaces but the sites are in close proximity to each other with little separation (ie: trees, brush etc.)   My main complaint though is the staff.  Every interaction has been slightly unpleasant and there is one gentleman in particular who has been pretty aggressive with enforcing the “rules.”  The worst incident was on our first Sunday he came up to our site and asked  why we hadn’t left yet since check out time was 11am.  When we stated  we were here for two weeks, he said no you are not… site 8 is checking out today.  It’s worth mentioning that as he was speaking he was standing next to the marker showing we were in site 7.  Wood is  $5 a bundle and there is a $1,000 fine if you bring in non certified  wood, which they strictly enforce.   When we asked where a certified vendor was so that we could buy in bulk we were told to look online.  It’s been a long time since we have been treated this rudely at a campsite and I would not return.   

RV Recipes

Wannabee Big Don Sub 

I am originally from Columbus, Ohio and I absolutely adore Donato’s Big Don Italian subs.  When I am in town they are the first thing that I eat, I’ve even dreamed about them.  The taste is tough to reproduce though but this recipe gets pretty darn close.  The quantities below are for one sub and can be multiplied accordingly. Keep in mind you have to have an actual oven or propane stove  for this one as a convection oven will not work. 

  • One Marzetti’s House Italian Dressing  packet  this is the secret to this recipe and you cannot substitute.  It has to be the packet version
  • 4 slices salami
  • 4 slices ham
  • 1 large deli slice provolone cheese (cut in half)
  • Shredded lettuce shredding definitely makes a difference
  • 2 Roma tomato slices has to be Roma 
  • Banana pepper slices optional
  • One seedless sub roll
  • Pam
  1. Preheat Broiler in an RV oven there is a broiler setting.  
  2. Slice roll in half long ways
  3. Place both pieces of roll cut side down on a cookie sheet sprayed with Pam
  4. Place on bottom of RV oven under the propane flame for 2 minutes until tops are cooked slightly but not burnt
  5. On bottom pieces of roll place in order some salad dressing, salami, ham, cheese, and peppers (is using)
  6. Place bottoms back into broiler for 2-3 minutes until edges of bread are brown and cheese is bubbling.  Do not burn
  7. Place 1/4 packet of dressing on top bun then lettuce then tomato.
  8. Place sandwich halves together along with remainder of dressing in the middle.  Heat under broiler for 1 minute
  9. Slice as shown below and enjoy!!  If you do it right the taste should explode in your mouth at the first bite!

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Chinese Seafood Nest

This one was quite a bit of work and has tons of ingredients, but the taste was really great.  Pretty close to what you get in a Chinese restaurant and I had fun making it

  • Vegetable oil
  •  1 pound Chinese egg noodles
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seed oil
  • 2 Tablespoons fish sauce 
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 oz Imitation Crab Meat
  • 4 oz Shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 3 oz Broccoli flowers, cut chunks bite sizes
  • 3 oz snow pea pods
  • 1 small can mushrooms
  • 4 Stalks green onion,chopped
  1. Prepare all ingredients in advance; mix fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, cornstarch, and sugar in a bowl for sauce
  2. Bring water to boil in a large pot and place loosened noodles in boiling water making sure they are covered
  3. Boil for 5 minutes then rinse in a colander and drain well; once drained mix sesame seed oil into noodles
  4. Place 3 TBL vegetable oil in a small skillet and heat to bubbling.  Add half the noodles covering the full bottom of the pan in an even layer
  5. Let noodles brown for approximately 5 minutes on medium heat; do not burn
  6. Flip noodle nest and cook another 5 minutes
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 above for second noodle nest
  8. Heat up a large skillet or wok.
  9. When skillet is hot, add 2 tablespoon vegetable oil, add garlic and yellow onion; cook 2-3 minutes until garlic is slightly brown and onion is translucent
  10. Add shrimp stirring continuously until shrimp turns darker color pink.
  11. Add broccoli, mushrooms, and imitation crab meat stirring until broccoli is slightly tender
  12. Add snow peas; do not over cook vegetables
  13. Add sauce and green onions, stir well
  14. Remove wok from heat and place seafood mix over noodle nests on plates.

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