After leaving the scene of the Camporee, we started out towards our kid’s place in Minnesota. We figure being retired gives us the right to only travel a few hours per day… So we spent a quiet weekend in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin on the way. We didn’t see any falls, but did spend some time at the Lake Wissota State Park.
The lake was created in 1917 when a hydroelectric dam was completed at the confluence of five rivers. One of the engineers on the project took the first syllable of Wisconsin and the last two of Minnesota and came up with a name for the lake they created.
A small village was built nearby to house the 700 or so workers that would build the dam. It was complete with water and sewer systems, houses, bungalows, bunkhouses, a central dining hall and a school. In 1918 the dam was producing electricity at a rate equivalent of 1,120 tons of coal per day. Today that’s worth about 16,000 homes.
A surprising amount of the State Park is prairie. Very pretty and makes for nice bike rides (Level!)
Our campsite in Chippewa Falls was quiet and peaceful. We’d requested a site with full hookups, and when I showed up the camp host wanted to show it to me in case I wanted to choose a different site. He was afraid, with our big rig, it would be too difficult to back into. I assured him it turns sharper than one might think, and that I would try it. It involved a reverse U-turn, but with my faithful wife on the wireless radio to guide me, we made it in one seamless turn. He had left, but was watching from a little ways down the road. He then came up and said I needed to give him lessons on backing up; he was very impressed. He talked about that to anyone who would listen all weekend. Funny.
The Camporee ended with a bang, literally, as a HUGE fireworks show lit up the sky forever! I heard many kids say they had never seen a show this amazing! There is only so much an iPhone can do to capture the essence of a fireworks show! It was a fitting culmination of a great time for thousands of happy campers!
The first part of the week the campers left, and we and MANY others took everything apart. The stage alone was put on at least 24 semi trailers. (Some may have left before I could count them). More than 50 semi trailers were filled with other supplies and equipment.
We turned in our golf cart – there were 1,000 golf carts for workers to use. (Coincidentally there were also 1,000 Porta Potties added to the existing bathrooms for the EAA camp).
We watched them stack dumpsters three high, and line them all up, getting ready for something huge to cart them off. I figured over 200 dumpsters in one area alone!
We were privileged to have our new friend Winston, and long time friends Marilyn Oliver and Pastor Ron Whitehead (Head man over all this awesome Camporee) over for dinner after things got a little quieter Monday evening. Winston couldn’t believe he got to meet Ron, so we did a short video so his family would believe him! Winston supervised cooking fresh corn in coconut milk, garlic, turmeric and curry – Fantastic!
It was a little sad to see everything taken apart, and the place empty out… but a little peace was good too!
Last week I tried to go through the EAA museum, but it was insanely crowded. I decided it would be better to do it this week, after the Camporee Crowd had left. After our Maranatha team had finished its work, and the whole place cleared out, I figured I should be able to spend lots of time looking at the fabulous displays in the museum. My new buddy Winston wanted to go too, so we spent the morning at the museum… but not inside. We chose to go outside, to “Pioneer Airport” – a re-creation of a 1930’s style airport. There are plenty of planes to look at in hangers there, but the best part is being able to fly in some of them!
Winston had told me that when he was a young man, growing up in Trinidad, he wanted to be a pilot. He even got accepted into a flying school, but his father squashed the idea. He has only been in a small GA aircraft once. I figured he needed to get in an old biplane! (And of course I did too…)
My flight was in a 1927 Swallow. This particular plane is believed to be the oldest plane still flying paying passengers! It looks pretty good for being 92 years old! The Swallow was designed to support a new industry: air mail. This plane never carried mail, but is special because its first owner was the first woman in the state of New York to own an airplane. She loved flying, and even flew advertising flights for Old Gold cigarettes. (I forgive her)
The Swallow now has a larger engine, still a radial, and has had an electrical system and radio added. But she’s basically the same gal she was in 1927! We did a couple gentle maneuvers; a lazy 8 and a stall. A great way to see the countryside!
My Pilot, sitting in the seat behind me…
Winston’s flight was in a 1929 Travel Air E-4000. Travel Air was state of the art in those days, and built rugged airplanes suited for the grass runways then available. The three principals of the company had worked building the Swallow, and proposed some enhancements to their boss. He refused to listen to any ideas of change, so they all quit, and started Travel Air. Their plane was very successful, but ironically, when it was time to improve on their design, they couldn’t agree which way to go. So they all quit and formed their own companies. They were Clyde Cessna, Walter Beech, and Lloyd Stearman… Those of you who like airplanes will know those names and their companies!
The only crazy thing… we spent our whole time in Pioneer Airport, and I never got to see more of the museum inside. Guess I’ll have to come back! 😉
Pine Harbor Campground
We are now in a pretty wooded campground in Chippewa, Wisconsin. Looking forward to a peaceful weekend.
Here we are with over 55,000 others at the International Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This is the main stage being assembled last week, in preparation for the evening meetings. It was built with the top layer first, then raised up a bit, and another layer installed under the top layer, and so on for several layers.
The theme is “Chosen” – saying we are chosen of God, and we need to choose to respond to Him as well. Every evening there has been a play portraying a part of David’s life, how he was chosen of God, and times when he trusted God and times he failed to do so. The production has been very well done, and the stage, scenery and effects are great.
We are fortunate to be staying in our “home on wheels” in an area of RV’s. We have full hookups and are very comfortable. The pictures below were taken from on our roof. You’ll notice the “street” in front of us is pretty open and not busy. Most other places in this huge area are packed with tents. In these pictures it looks like RV’s go on forever – but that is only about 2 percent of the real estate here. The tents literally go on for miles. We walked a big circle around maybe a quarter of the lot before everyone arrived and it was 3 miles.
When all these people arrived, they hit local stores, like Walmart, to get things they had forgotten or had decided not to take with them. They also needed food to feed their groups. Here are pictures of empty shelves at the Walmart where fruits and vegetables should have been. Camping supplies were also sold out.
It is impossible to describe what over 55K people on one big field look like! People as far as you can see!
Over 100 countries are represented here, and they all are very proud of their flags!
There have been hundreds of activities for the kids – I have no idea how they even decide what they would like to do! We’ve spent a few hours just looking around at the tents full of educational opportunities, entertaining shows, delicious foods and lots more. They have had hundreds of kids donate over 30,000 hours of community service in the Oshkosh area. We’ve seen evidence of horseback riding, water skiing, and basketball competitions. The plethora of things to do would give you a headache!
Of course this is at the Experimental Aircraft Association grounds in Oshkosh… so one has to visit the amazing EAA museum. We got far too little time there; I think we’ll come back next week when the crowds are a bit less!
The machine on the bottom right is a weight and balance calculator for old bombers. It would let you calculate all the parameters before you actually loaded fuel and payload.
A section is dedicated to the “Rutan Legacy”- Burt and Dick Rutan and their amazing unconventional aircraft. Space Ship One in the foreground here was the first non-government manned spacecraft that was able to go to space and back, and again within 2 weeks. Voyager was the first manned (and womaned) aircraft to fly around the world without refueling. 11 days in a cockpit far smaller than a regular twin bed. Amazing!
After spacecraft it only seems fitting to include a moon shot of my own- last night was a beautiful full moon.
We have spent all week helping prepare for an epic event about to occur in Oshkosh, Wisconsin! For those of you not familiar with an International Pathfinder Camporee, let me start by defining Pathfinders. Think of a Co-ed Boy Scout/Girl Scout program, but with a very Christian basis. The Pathfinder program is sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist church, and teaches kids about all sorts of things, the foremost being a relationship with Jesus.
Every five years Pathfinders from all over the planet converge in one spot to play, learn and worship. Three days from now, over 55,000 people will arrive in Oshkosh to join the biggest International Camporee ever! We have worked like crazy, with hundreds of others, to prepare for this huge event. I am not going to put up any pictures except the teaser above, so I don’t spoil anybody’s surprise arriving to the camp. But I will mention that the stage in the picture above is HUGE, very sophisticated (you can’t see much of that in the picture), and will be the stage for every evening program.
Next week I will try to put up pictures of events in progress, as well as some of what we’ve done to build all this amazing stuff! In the meantime, please check out the completed blog of our Doing Duluth; I finally got around to adding a bunch of stuff that was missing last week!
Becky and the grandkids spent an afternoon with us at the zoo. Giraffes figured prominently…
The conservatory portion is very pretty, but we only saw it from the outside. Grandkids are more interested in animals… but it did look like Peter would loved to have walked in among the water lilies like the worker was doing.
Our cute grandkids got to feed a giraffe!
With all three families together, we loaded up Kevin’s Polaris General, and headed for a rented Lake House, a bit north of Duluth, Minnesota…
Lake Superior Marine Museum & Maritime Visitor Center
The focal point of this museum area in Duluth is the Aerial Lift Bridge. It is one of only two of this type in the world, the other being in France. Built in 1905, it originally had a trolley car suspended from the top structure, and would take pedestrians across for a nickel. Horses and carriages and even some cars made the trip. With car traffic becoming more common, the bridge was upgraded in 1930 by having a roadway that lifts straight up. The roadway weighs about 900 tons, but with that same amount of counterweights, it is said it takes very little electricity to open or close it.
A land locked tug:
Island Lake, Minnesota
Our hosts for the beautiful lake house warned us that some phone wires would be too low for the motorhome… but they have done this before and had a special stick made to lift them so we could drive under!
The house was on the shore of Island Lake. You may notice a few islands!
Sunrise over the lake:
An early morning double rainbow seemed a great omen…
We had several kayaks, a paddle board, a paddle boat, and several tubes. Time spent playing in and on the water was wonderful!
We also got some fun rides in “The General”… and it’s never really done till you get stuck!
Here is a short video recap of our time on the lake and on the trail…
Split Rock Lighthouse
1905 saw some of the worst storms Lake Superior has ever seen. 29 ships were lost that year in one storm alone. With Radar and GPS decades away from being invented, during a storm it was very hard for ships to navigate and stay off the very rocky coastlines. In response to that disastrous year, the Split Rock lighthouse was created. The 133 foot cliff was a great spot for a light, but there were no roads anywhere near it. So a derrick was built to lift all the supplies up the steep cliff to build the beacon. For years it was only accessible by boat, but now the road makes it much easier (and safer) to visit the lighthouse. While there we were treated to a torrential downpour, complete with extremely close lightning and deafening thunder! It added to the mystique of the old lighthouse!