Nice sunset view as we pass over London, England, on our way to Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Shkodra, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Hiking the Peaks of the Balkans, June 13-24!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Hello Minnesota!

When we crossed the border yesterday into Minnesota, both Ruth and I thought "we haven't been to Minnesota for a long time". But then we thought again... we were actually here last summer! When we returned from Australia, our oddball flight routing took us from Hawaii to LA to Minneapolis to Saskatoon. So, we were actually in Minnesota last August 23rd!

And when we crossed into Minnesota, we also remembered that it's not as easy to find free overnight spots as we get into the eastern area of the U.S.. Minnesota State Parks are expensive, and even county and municipal parks we are seeing some at upwards of $30 USD ($40 CAD) per night.

But that's okay... we just have to look a little harder. We are pretty good at finding free places to overnight even when it looks like none exist.

We woke up to find misty waters with pelicans...

We left Watertown, SD without any real destination in mind other than we knew we were heading east towards Sault Ste Marie, Michigan in as direct a line as possible.

The town of Dawson, MN also calls itself Gnometown!

Scenery along the way.

We stopped in at Montevideo, MN but could't find enough in the area to keep us occupied. We continued on to Willmar (pop 20,000) and found a really nice city park where we parked in the shade and went for a walk. We walked through the park and did a sort of circular route around this lake.

The park would have been fine to spend the night, but there was a sign at the entrance saying it closed at 10:00pm, so that won't work. I found another possibility while searching on google satellite view... a dead end street beside a church. So as part of our walk, we detoured up to that dead end street to have a look... and it turned out it would do just fine.

Lake Willmar.

They have a nice beach here.
A few kids were using it earlier.

There are lots of pelicans around!

We had supper at the park, then just before sunset we drove over to the dead end street beside the church.

Yep, this will do just fine!

There is something else that we noticed when we crossed in to Minnesota. 


We haven't been bothered much by the little buggers for the last few months... but last night they were terrible! Plastered to the window screens, and there were so many that a few were even finding their way inside somehow. I went around and killed more than ten of them before we went to bed. Amazingly, we slept well and never heard any buzzing around our ears.

Here is the route we have taken since we left Wyoming.
From here, we will head northeast around Minneapolis and then east to Sault Saint Marie, MI.

We think we're going to hang around here for the day and get some laundry done and do another bike ride. They've got a trail that goes almost 40 miles (64 kms). 

Record low deal on the popular Keurig K-Mini Plus Single Serve Coffee Maker, choice of colors.

And in Canada...


  1. Sorry, but I'm laughing about the Minnesota mosquitos. From my experience, I'd rate Northern Minnesota at #3; the Grand Tetons as $2 and the Everglades in summer as #1.

    1. Have you ever been to Newfoundland or to the Yukon or Alaska, these are all pretty bad places too!

      It must have been just where we were parked because last night we had no issue at all with the mosquitoes and there wasn't even a wind to keep them away. It might have been because we were also much closer to an actual town rather than by a farmers field.

    2. "Everglades in summer as #1" This was my experience as well. In Everglades city upon opening the trucks door and standing outside we were covered in the blood suckers in seconds. Needless to say we high tailed it muy pronto to the Keys.
      "Yukon or Alaska" on my 3 1/2 month trip I literally only saw a few. Talk about luck! Somehow my movements got me out of the area before the local outbreaks which we both know could be bad if the timing was different. Backpacking in the Sierra's was so bad, swarms around the face, that I got one of those hats with a net built in. Plus I hate wearing bug juice. Had a very bad year here last year, so far light this year, so I got 3 of those indoor blue light bug zappers which work very well. Every time I let the dogs out the few seconds it took to open the door the pressure change sucked the blood suckers near the door into the house. But the bug lights be awaitin', and a poppin they be a playin!

    3. I'm a desert person anyway, but one of the blessings is no mosquitos. I've literally never seen one at my house.

    4. I know that we were down by the Everglades back in March 2008 and in 2010 but I don't remember us having a real bad time with the mosquitoes. When we were up in the Yukon in the summer of 2018 they were actually good for the most part. We took lots of spray with us as well as netted shirts that enclosed the head and we did have to wear them a couple of times but other than that it was way better than we thought it would be. We hate using spray as well but sometimes you have no choice. Saskatchewan was really bad one summer out of the four summers we worked there and we had a really bad time in one area of Prince Edward Island (PEI) back in June/July 2008, that was probably one of our worst times!

      We do have to agree with you Creigh on the desert being a great place to be if you don't like mosquitoes. We have never had a problem with bugs in the desert! :-)

  2. Another welcome to Minnesota. That's a clever way to find a free parking spot... google satellite view.

    1. Thank you for the welcome!

      We actually use Google satellite view and street view often when we are looking for boondocking or overnight spots. It really helps to have an idea what the road conditions are as well, although it doesn't always cover some to the dirt roads in the National Forests or similar places.

  3. Great header picture (except for the white rectangle in the upper right). Nice of the pelicans to arrange themselves so photogenically!

    1. Thank you Elaine! That white rectangle was probably a road sign, it wasn't too far away from us. Yes, they did do a nice job of arranging themselves for that shot. :-)

  4. Some great rail trails there in your neck of the woods!

    1. We are looking forward to getting out on some more of these trails. :-)

  5. Hoping you have somewhere to stay for Fourteen Days and are well stocked before you cross into Canada. People that have not hunkered down have been heavily fined. That was why I was sending you through New York towards Ottawa.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. Yes, we will be staying at my Dad's old house outside of the city of Ottawa as we have mentioned before. And, yes we will be stocked up on groceries but we also have family and friends around that can drop off additional food if we need it. We know all the rules and have no intention of breaking them.

      As Kevin mentioned in your comment the other day, we do not want to do the longer drive down and around all the Great Lakes and through those big cities. It will be a long driving day for us from Sault Ste Marie to just outside of Ottawa but we can do it all in one day without needing to stop for fuel. The drive is 740km and we can go 1000km on a tank of gas providing it isn't all uphill, which this isn't of course. Trust us, we have done our homework! :-)

  6. Our #1 most mosquito-y place when we traveled around the US twice (first time in our Honda, second time in our motorhome) was Crow Wing State Park in Brainerd, MINNESOTA! And I grew up in the southeast US (North Carolina) and have lived in Florida off and on, but nothing, I mean nothing, beat this state park for sheer number and aggressiveness of the skeeters! We were absolutely trapped in our motorhome as they covered every window, and any planned hikes or bike rides were out of the question. After leaving there a day early because we simply couldn't stand it, we went right to Walmart and stocked up on bug spray, DEET wipes, and a battery-powered bug killing racquet, which would have been a huge help in Crow Wing. We barely had to use any of the gear at our future stops, though, even in Minnesota. Sometimes it's a very localized thing. We figured that being so close to the Mississippi River during mosquito season was the main factor in our experience.

    1. Yuck, I hate that feeling of being trapped in by mosquitoes. It reminded us of three different times when we were in Prince Edward Island, in eastern Canada. Same thing! We went out for a walk down to the beach when we turned around and started coming back they were on us bad, we literally had to run the last kilometer or so and once we got into the motorhome they plastered themselves to our window screens just like you. Two other times we tried to take a hike and both times we had to turn around and that was after putting on bug spray the second time we tried!

      The worst thing ever though is trying to sleep and having one little buggers buzzing around your head all night and you just can't seem to find the stupid thing to kill it! :-(

      Hopefully we won't have anymore bad experiences as we drive back to Ottawa but we aren't thinking we will be that lucky!


There are more comments on our facebook page at

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.