Road Trip – Part 22 – Traveling And Visiting Reuben & Judi

Saturday, April 18

1 (1)This was our view as we drove down the hill from our cabin at Camp Victory on Saturday morning.

1 (2)Before long we were driving by many Amish farms.

1 (3)This large ear of corn took us by surprise. Cerwin stopped and backed up so I could get a picture. Someone told us it was designed with one-gallon jugs.

1aYou know you are in farming country when you see a tractor in town.

2 (1)

2 (2)

2 (3)Three hours after leaving Camp Victory, our GPS told us that we were getting close to Reuben and Judi’s place in Wisconsin.

2 (4)There it is.

2 (5)Reuben and their little guy came to meet us.

2 (6)Little miss just ran and ran. Do you think she remembered us?

2 (7)

2 (8)He has grown so much since they were with us in January.

2 (9)

2 (10)Reuben and Judi have their first court date – concerning his adoption procedure – in a week and a half, so they will be staying with us again – this time for just a few days.

2 (11)Judi thinks he remembered us because he smiled a lot – and he doesn’t do that easily for strangers.

2 (12)He loves this spot.

2 (13)Judi prepared a delicious lunch.

Judi is Bob and Doris’ youngest daughter.

2 (14)Three hours later we were on our way toward Indiana and they were enjoying the beautiful day.

2 (15)

2 (16)A few miles later we came upon this female turkey on the road.

2 (17)We think she had a nest nearby because she was hesitant to move away from the car.

2 (18)

2 (19)

2 (20)It was a beautiful day for farming.

2 (21)By sunset – after many days in north woods and farming country – we had to adjust to interstate life again.

2 (22)

2 (23)We followed this Lamborghini for awhile as we approached our motel in Merrillville, Indiana, and thought that some of our grandchildren would enjoy taking it for a ride. 🙂


3 (1)

3 (2)

4It had been a delightful day – and the sunset was the same.

Road Trip – Part 21 – Visiting Dave & Denise At Camp Victory

Friday, April 17

It was a beautiful day for a five-hour drive to Zumbro Falls, Minnesota – southeast of where Bob and Doris live.

1Not long after we left their house on Friday morning, I noticed these two sandhill cranes almost camouflaged in the field.

1a (1)

1a (2)There were many opportunities to look for reflections in lakes and rivers..

1a (3)

1a (8)

1a (4)These three were moving on as cars whizzed by them.

1a (5)

1a (6)I enjoy looking for ways towns and city’s advertise their names.

1a (7)

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1a (10)

1a (11)Lunch. My choice was delicious parmesan-and-bread-covered walleye.

1a (12)

1a (13)


1a (18)Farmers were busy in the fields as we approached Zumbro Falls.

1a (19)

1a (20)I wonder what stories this shed could tell.

1a (21)It was just before 3:30 PM when we pulled into Camp Victory where Dave is Retreat Director.

1a (22)

1a (23)Dave was in his office in this building, and Denise arrived a few minutes after us.

1a (24)They gave us a tour of several buildings – the dining room was first – and took us to where we would be sleeping.

Denise is the youngest daughter of Cerwin’s sister Velda and her husband, Mel.

1a (25)The recreation center is new this summer and is just being completed.

1a (26)Denise and I decided to hike up the trail to the cabins.

1a (27)On the way we passed the outdoor chapel.

1a (28)A cross carved in a tree stump.

1a (29)Several buildings at the top of the hill.

1a (30)Dave and Cerwin walked up the road instead of the path.

1a (31)The meeting room and…

1a (32)…bunks in one of the cabins.

1bThe “million dollar” view was next to our cabin.


1c (1)Camp Victory is a non-denominational Christian camp and retreat center in SE Minnesota. Located on 200 acres of forested, rolling hills and the beautiful Zumbro River.

1c (2)

2We were introduced to the cabin where we would be staying for the night. I expect this wouldn’t be available to us on Friday nights after summer camps start.


2aaIt is set up to sleep 14 people – with 7 sets of bunks.

2abSince there were only two of us, we had lots of space.

2b (1)The bathroom has 14 cubbies for personal items, two showers, two wash bowls, two bathroom stalls, and 14 hooks for towels and wash cloths.

2b (2)I would like this much room at home. 🙂

2b (5)Upstairs there was a comfortable loft.

2b (6)

2b (7)

3 (1)Looking down on the bunks.

3 (1a)The view of other cabins and meeting areas next to our cabin.

3 (2)Denise wanted to show us their house, which is several miles from camp. This was the view of the dining hall as we left camp in Denise’s car.

3aThe house Dave and Denise rent on a nearby farm.

4 (1)They have a nice deck.

4 (2)Denise is preparing to plant a garden.

4 (3)Their daughter Sami, the neighbor’s dog Jesse, and Denise. Their other two children Brittany and Dan are away in college – Brittney in Virginia and Dan in Florida.

4 (4)A barn next to their yard.

4 (5)

4 (6)Heading back to camp.

4a (1)Dave helped serve supper to a youth group that just arrived for the weekend.

4a (2)After they were served, Cerwin, Dave, Denise, Sami, and I got our meal – which was delicious.

4b (1)Sami having fun with my camera.

4b (2)It was fun spending the evening with them before Denise and Sami went back to their house, Dave helped the youth group settle in to the camp, and we went to our comfortable cabin.

4cIt was a delightful, warm evening, so we stayed outside as long as possible – at least until the sun set.

4dIt was a beautiful, relaxing day – but we needed to sleep because there were things to do and people to see on Saturday.

Road Trip – Part 20 – Saying Goodbye To Bob & Doris

Friday Morning, April 17

Around bob & doris' (1)Before we say goodbye to them, I have a few more pictures. This one is from the end of their driveway.

Around bob & doris' (2)Their many white birch trees add great beauty to the property.

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Around bob & doris' (8)I am not sure what kind of fungus was growing on this tree, but it was kind of pretty.

Around bob & doris' (9)A wood duck house waiting for residents.

Around bob & doris' (10)I heard this woodpecker before I saw it and thought it must be really large because of the sound, but it was a small downy.

Around bob & doris' (11)Look at that stack of wood in the center back of the picture.

Around bob & doris' (13)Lumber is very important in this household.

Around bob & doris' (14)

Around bob & doris' (12)It is used to heat the house – from the large outdoor wood furnace in this building.

Around bob & doris' (15)If you have been reading my blog, you know they use a lot of wood in making maple syrup. This is a friend who came by to do the final cooking of his maple syrup.

Around bob & doris' (16)In another two months there will be beautiful, ripe strawberries in their garden.

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Around bob & doris' (18)The boat is waiting for a spring fishing trip.

Around bob & doris' (19)When we left in mid-April, it still looked and felt a lot like winter, but several warm days were bringing signs of spring.

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Around bob & doris' (26)There were lots of little calves on the neighbor’s farm, but I never did find the time to walk over and get close-ups of them.

Around bob & doris' (27)

Around bob & doris' (29)Then it was time to say goodbye to our gracious and delightful hosts – Cerwin’s youngest sister Doris and her husband Bob.

Around bob & doris' (30)

Around bob & doris' (31)They are not only family, but great friends.

Around bob & doris' (28)Just after leaving their driveway, we saw this pair of Canada geese.

Around bob & doris' (32)The church which Bob and their son Japheth pastor – plus two other men – is not far from the house.

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Around bob & doris' (34)Bob and Doris’ other son Jon and his family live next to the church. They are also active in church activities, including the youth group.

We only saw them one evening, before they left for Pennsylvania to visit her family.

Around bob & doris' (35)Bob and Doris have many things around the house to remind themselves and visitors of the value of following and trusting God – during ordinary and not so ordinary days.

We were sad to say goodbye, but it was time to move on to visit a niece, her husband, and daughter near Zumbro Falls, Minnesota – a five-hour drive to the south.

Road Trip – Part 17 – Frank’s Little Machine

Thursday, April 16

1Bob and Doris’ neighbor Frank came to show Cerwin the little machine he designed.

2I don’t understand how things like this work, but it makes sense to Cerwin.

DSC_0248It operates by heat and sounds like a hit and miss engine.

DSC_0252I am not a machinist, but it is easy to see that Frank’s skill is in that field.


DSC_0260He also brought a walking cane that his brother carved.


DSC_0266Things like this fascinate me, probably because they are so far removed from anything I could do.

Road Trip – Part 15 – Visiting Aimee & The Children

Wednesday, April 15

After leaving Japheth’s shop, we went to their house to see Aimee and the children.

1 (1)They have a great woodlot and property for children to run, explore, and play.

1 (2)


DSC_0024Loraine and Rose were enjoying the warm sunshine.

DSC_0025Wayne was reading.

DSC_0048Japheth Jr. and  Aimee were doing school work.

DSC_0052Jeremiah was doing school work on the computer.

DSC_0050Rose and Lynne were assembling a toy.

I somehow missed taking a picture of Jaden – and I think Lily was taking an afternoon nap.

DSC_0026Violet and Lynne wanted to see a “read aloud” story in my Nook.

DSC_0027Children enjoy these because the Nook does the reading and sound effects.

DSC_0029I asked Lynne if she would take me to see the goats.

DSC_0046Along the way I noticed their neatly stacked wood pile.

DSC_0043There are three female goats – and each is pregnant.






DSC_0032We had never seen their house or property, so I was glad we had time to visit on this trip.

Road Trip – Part 12 – Gathering Buckets & Taps

Tuesday Evening, April 14

Sometime during the day Bob and Doris decided that this was the day to shut down their maple syrup production for the year. It suited Japheth’s family (their oldest son) to help, so plans were made to begin gathering buckets and taps before supper.

Gathering Buckets (1)We are off to the first woodlot – some on the four-wheeler, some on back of the trailer, and a few of us in the pickup truck.

Gathering Buckets (6)Buckets were removed from taps, taps pulled, sap emptied into the portable tank, and buckets, lids, and taps taken to the trailer Cerwin pulled behind the pickup truck.

Gathering Buckets (10)Bob, Jeremiah, and Jaden

Gathering Buckets (7)

Gathering Buckets (2)Cerwin and Wayne

Gathering Buckets (3)Jeremiah

Gathering Buckets (4)Japheth, Jr.

Gathering Buckets (8)

Gathering Buckets (14)Japheth, Sr.

Gathering Buckets (9)Aimee, wife to Japheth, Sr. – and mother of their nine children

Gathering Buckets (11)

Gathering Buckets (12)

Gathering Buckets (13)

Gathering Buckets (15)

Gathering Buckets (16)Removing taps with a crow bar.

Gathering Buckets (17)Moving to a new location.

Gathering Buckets (18)

Gathering Buckets (19)This woodlot is finished.

Gathering Buckets (20)Going back to the house for fuel for the four-wheeler.

Gathering Buckets (21)Ready to go to the next lot.

Gathering Buckets (22)

Gathering Buckets (23)

Gathering Buckets (24)

Gathering Buckets (25)Japheth, Jr. and Cerwin

Gathering Buckets (26)They picked up Loraine when they went to the house for fuel.

Gathering Buckets (27)

Gathering Buckets (28)

Gathering Buckets (29)

Gathering Buckets (31)About this time I decided that if I was going to move to this north country, this is the spot where I would want to build a house.

Gathering Buckets (30)

Gathering Buckets (32)

Gathering Buckets (33)

Gathering Buckets (34)The trailer is filling up with buckets, lids, and taps.

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Gathering Buckets (37)

Gathering Buckets (38)Cerwin checking out the landscape to see where the truck and trailer will fit through the woods.

Gathering Buckets (39)Bob showed him where to go.

Gathering Buckets (40)We’re not finished yet.

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Gathering Buckets (47)Jaden found a chair.

Gathering Buckets (49)

Gathering Buckets (50)The last bucket.

Gathering Buckets (51)The last tap.

Gathering Buckets (52)One hour and thirteen minutes later we were finished.

Gathering Buckets (53)308 buckets and 385 taps gathered.

Gathering Buckets (54)The trailer and pickup truck were filled with sticky items.


Then it was time to eat a delicious supper of tomato soup and pizza which Doris prepared while taking care of the four youngest girls – Lynne, Violet, Lily, and Rose.

Road Trip – Part 11 – Bees & Bee Trailer

Monday, April 13 to Thursday, April 16

Bees and Bee Trailer (1)Bob and Doris are also beekeepers.

Bees and Bee Trailer (4)Two of their hives survived the winter – this one was quite busy when we were there.

Bees and Bee Trailer (2)The other was not as busy, so most of my pictures came from the other one.

Bees and Bee Trailer (5)Bees were constantly coming and going.

Bees and Bee Trailer (6)

Bees and Bee Trailer (3)Notice the yellow pollen on several bees.

Bees and Bee Trailer (7)Every now and then a bee was so pollen-laden that it had trouble moving into the hive.

Bees and Bee Trailer (8)A freshly painted trailer frame.

When not doing something with maple syrup, Cerwin and Bob worked on a trailer that Bob plans to use for transporting hives of bees. (He has purchased many more bees which will be delivered in the near future.)

Bees and Bee Trailer (9)As you can see by their shirt sleeves, the weather was quite warm in Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday.

Bees and Bee Trailer (10)Wiring the trailer

Bees and Bee Trailer (11)

Bees and Bee Trailer (12)

Bees and Bee Trailer (13)

Bees and Bee Trailer (14)Working on the platform that will hold the bee hives.

Bees and Bee Trailer (15)The reason Bob is making a mobile bee hive trailer – for 8 hives – is to move them to areas where trees and flowers are blooming. (Notice: The lights are working.)

Bees and Bee Trailer (16)I took this photo for a side view of the trailer, but also captured a pretty sunset on the lake.

Road Trip – Part 10 – Making Maple Syrup

April 13 through 15

I combined photos from several days to explain the way Bob and Doris gather sap and make maple syrup.

I learned that there in no “normal” in the time it takes each batch to cook or gallons of sap it takes to make one gallon of syrup, because it depends on the sap and the weather on the day when it is boiled.

Maple Syrup (1)This year their taps were put out during the second week of March.

They use mostly hard maples.

Maple Syrup (2)With this style tap there is a hole in the side of the bucket that fits on the tap.

Maple Syrup (3)They also use a hose-style tap – mostly double, but they also have several singles.

Maple Syrup (4)With this style, the hoses fit into a hole in the lid.

Maple Syrup (5)When they are finished setting taps, the woods looks something like this.

This year they put out 385 taps in 308 buckets.

Sap runs best when the nights are in the low 20s and the days in the low 40s.

Maple Syrup (6)After the taps are set, they must prepare the cookers – the large one in the center and the small, finish cooker on the left.

Maple Syrup (7)Then they periodically go back to the woods to gather sap – sometimes with the help of children or grandchildren.

Maple Syrup (8)The two grandchildren in this picture are Loraine and Jaden.

Maple Syrup (9)Pouring sap into the portable tank – with the help of Jeremiah, a grandson.

Maple Syrup (10)

Maple Syrup (11)After emptying every bucket, Bob goes back to their place and prepares to transfer sap into the cooker.

Maple Syrup (12)

Maple Syrup (13)

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Maple Syrup (14)The cooker will hold 96 gallons of sap.

Maple Syrup (16)Soon the portable tank is tilted to get every bit of liquid.

Maple Syrup (17)In this case, it was the last gathering of the season.

Maple Syrup (18)There is also a tank on the second floor of the shed for the other two families who bring sap for Bob and Doris to cook or when they have more than 96 gallons.

Their son Jon and his family have 400 taps and a friend Jesse and his family have 600 taps.

Maple Syrup (18a)This photo (taken from our bedroom window) shows the hoses that come from the second floor of the shop – also part of his storage of wood.

Maple Syrup (19)Hot sap running into the cooker from the second floor of the shop – hot because it has gone through a preheater on the chimney.

Maple Syrup (21)A view of the cooker from the shop.

Maple Syrup (22)Doris starting a fire.

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Maple Syrup (25)Bob prefers Jack Pine because it burns hot.

Maple Syrup (26)

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Maple Syrup (28)The sap is just about to boil.

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Maple Syrup (30)Doris keeping a check on the progress.

Maple Syrup (31)Removing foam that gathers as it boils.

Maple Syrup (32)

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Maple Syrup (34)Bob moving the sap from one end to the other to keep an even boil.

Maple Syrup (35)He periodically measures the depth of the sap.

Maple Syrup (36)A hydrometer will tell Bob when the cooking process is complete.

Maple Syrup (37)When he thinks the syrup is almost finished, he drains a bit of hot liquid into this tube…

Maple Syrup (38)…then inserts the hydrometer. If it rises to a certain height, it is time to stop the cooking.

It wasn’t quite ready, so back to more boiling, while keeping a close eye on the texture.

Maple Syrup (39)

Maple Syrup (40)He tests it again. This time it is ready.

Maple Syrup (41)As the syrup changes in texture and they know the process will soon be finished, they use less and less wood, and when it is finished, all wood and ashes are removed from the stove.

Maple Syrup (42)

Maple Syrup (43)The delightful smelling liquid is ready to be transferred to the finish cooker.

I am ready for pancakes!

Maple Syrup (44)

Maple Syrup (45)Doris usually oversees the draining and straining during this process.

Maple Syrup (46)

Maple Syrup (47)Bob transfers the filled buckets to the finish cooker.

Maple Syrup (48)The large cooker is empty.

Maple Syrup (49)Washing the cooker.

Maple Syrup (50)It is again boiled to perfection.

Bob said there is no exact ratio, but it usually takes about 32 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.

Maple Syrup (52)The next process is filtering.

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Maple Syrup (57)Before filtering, diatomaceous earth is added.

Maple Syrup (58)This forms a complex matrix that traps suspended solids while allowing maple syrup to pass through.

Maple Syrup (59)When the filter is turned on, the syrup runs from finish cooker, through a hose, through the filter, through a second hose, to the collection container.

Maple Syrup (60)The pressure gauge tells Bob when to change filters.

Maple Syrup (61)The final stage is bottling – while still hot so the lids seal.

Maple Syrup (62)

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Maple Syrup (64)

Maple Syrup (65)The lighter syrup is from early in the season and the darker from the end of the season.

Maple Syrup (66)

Maple Syrup (67)This year they bottled a total of 140 gallon – theirs, Jon’s, and Jesse’s.


After watching all the work involved, I have a new appreciation for the price of maple syrup.

Road Trip – Part 9 – Visitors & Sunset On The Lake

Monday, April 13

DSC_9422On Monday evening, after cooking water off of gallons of maple sap, we prepared for a visit from Bob and Doris’ son Jon, his wife, Jen, and their four children before they left for Pennsylvania (next day) to visit her family.

While they were visiting, the next-door neighbor brought their brand new (1 day old) baby girl over. Doris, David, Alisha, and Dietrich enjoyed holding her. I did not get a photo of Jon, Jen, or Andre. (I think it is Dietrich in the above picture. It takes me longer that one evening to keep Andre and Dietrich apart.)

DSC_9421David took holding a baby quite seriously. However, he is usually full of laughter and fun.

DSC_9423After they left, I took a picture of the sunset over the lake in their back yard.