RV trip, week 50: the home stretch

Sort of a milestone with this post, as it chronicles the last week of our RV trip. Here’s how we spent our final week before returning to Indy.

We started our week at a quiet little campground near Rochester, MN, home to the famous Mayo Clinic. I had another pretty busy work week, but Amy and the girls did some touring. This historic home, the Plummer House, belonged to a prominent Mayo physician:

They also visited the Gonda Building on the Mayo campus. The Drs. Mayo (a father and son) believed art to be an important factor for healing, hence the art-filled beautiful buildings:

The on-site museum was technically for patients and their guests only, but the museum docent thought Amy and the girls looked harmless (and quiet) enough:

Upon returning home from a mid-week family ice-cream run, we encountered this 3-ish-foot-long snake. No idea what kind it was, but it was cool. My girls were screaming for me to get back in the car:

On Thursday we headed to our next destination: the EAA AirVenture event, the world’s largest annual gathering of aviation enthusiasts held in Oshkosh, WI. It’s sort of an aviation tradeshow, air show, and week-long festival all rolled into one. The moment we got to Oshkosh, it poured!!

The rain passed over quickly, and we made our way to the campground (a field, really, with hundreds upon hundreds of RV’s). See those muddy ruts?…those are mine. I actually got stuck in the mud with the RV, and those strapping men walking away helped get me unstuck:

There’s typically an etiquette (or explicit campground rules) about using one’s generator due to the noise and fumes they produce. Not here! Generators 24 hours a day, baby! Between all the airplanes and everyone running their generators, there has got to be a new hole in the ozone over Wisconsin:

A nice surprise one evening:

Like many of life’s opportunities, vans handing out free ice-cream don’t wait forever. Here’s Carrie and me seizing opportunity:

The Good Year blimp was a regular fixture in the sky:

We learned that aviation needs more chicks. Emily was accosted with encouragement from the various aviation folks she encountered to pursue her dream of becoming a pilot.

Many of the attendees actually flew in and tent-camped right there in the fields surrounding the airstrip. Sorta makes RV camping look mundane by comparison:

Saturday morning there was a little 5k race. Carrie took pictures, Amy and Em ran together…

…and Nat and I ran together.

The school bus shuttle service saved us a lot of walking. Here we are hitching a ride from the RV field to the airstrip where the air show was about to begin:

There were people and airplanes everywhere:

The airshow started simple, with several fly-bys of old-timey planes (Em just corrected me; those are P-51’s):

The Lockheed Hornet flying by at mach 0.8 was pretty cool. You don’t hear anything until it’s right on top of you, then it sounds like it’s ripping the sky apart.

Saw several parachutists too:

It got way more interesting when they started doing the arial acrobatics. That just looks fun. And how hard can it be?

Gun powder + Gasoline = Awesome! The pyrotechnics really won me over.

After the airshow was over, we walked around for a bit and grabbed some dinner.

…and then headed back for the night airshow. It was hard to get any good photos at night, but just think “airshow combined with fireworks.” I’ve never seen anything like it.

It ended with an excellent fireworks show, which more than made up for us not seeing any fireworks on the 4th of July.

…and then as a grand finale they blew up more gun powder and gasoline on the runway! YEAH!! (*high five*)

On Sunday we rolled out of Oshkosk and into Milwaukee where we met up with some friends for a tour of Lakefront Brewery:

My girls were a bit mortified; it was a sort of a rowdy tour (note the fist-pumps as the group “sang” the Laverne & Shirley theme song). Brewery tours are apparently very different from winery tours.

Otherwise, it was a really nice time to catch up with our friends Mike & Autum and Mark.

I had never been to Milwaukee before, but it seemed like a cool town. It was nice to see water again.

The next morning we drove to the outskirts of Chicago and parked at a truck stop so I could have a client call. Em and Amy took that as an opportunity to do some plane-spotting at O’Hare International Airport:

In addition to identifying planes, Em is getting pretty good with the camera:

Afterward, we tried to get a jump on the Chicago traffic, but I guess it’s always busy in Chicago:

It wasn’t too long before we saw the most exotic state sign of this entire trip:

We weren’t ready to drive all the way back to Indy just yet, so we stopped at one more national park: Indiana Dunes.

We were too tired to see the actual dunes; strolling along the beach at sunset was more our speed:

The next day Amy took the girls back to the beach with their inner-tubes from Spearfish. It sounds like floating in a lake was way more enjoyable than trying to float down a river:

This spot at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore would otherwise be lost in the blur of other campsites, but this was the final one of the trip:

After a couple hours of driving, we saw our first glimpse of the Indy skyline:

When we reached downtown Indy, we parked the RV on a nearby street where it was easy to park, and then walked the short distance to my mom’s house. We encountered my sister Shelley and her daughter Caitlin along the way:

It was good to see my mom again:

Clearly, the cat was thrilled to see us again too:

I’ll be honest, it was very hard coming back to Indy, partly because of the emotions involved with my dad not being there to see it, and partly because this trip has been so awesome that I hate to see it end. We’re already scheming RV Trip II: The East Coast. More info to come.

If you’ve been following our trip or otherwise want to know more about the RV lifestyle, stay tuned for our next post: the complete financial accounting of what it has cost for us to live and travel in an RV for a year.

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