The Final Blog: Number 476

I’ve run out of steam. I’ve kept this blog going for well over five years now. It was in August of 2012, just after we purchased our sailing catamaran, Beatitude, that the first post was penned. This is the 476th. We’ve sailed ten thousand miles and driven three thousand in Beatitude II, our 5th wheel RV. The season for blogging has ended, at least for now. The hours needed to prepare and publish each new post have become drudgery. I can use that time more productively and more enjoyably. We will continue to share our adventures over our Facebook pages. You’ll be able to follow our adventures in a more real-time manner since we can post the photos more quickly and easily. I hope you’ll continue to keep us company as we head to all the great national parks out west over the next year or two. We’ll also have plenty of other adventures to share squeezed into those epic experiences.

Our motto has been “Traveling this orb with a sense of awe and wonder which is grounded in the reality of a world full of meaning, beauty, and goodness.” This we have done and will continue to do. In the unlikely occurrence that you are a reader of this blog and not a Facebook friend, I hope you’ll befriend Cindy, I, or SV Beatitude.

There are still a few adventures to share since we’ve returned to Georgia from Wisconsin over a week ago. I’ll be posting those photos on Facebook soon. The last few photos on our blog are from our walk today on the Big Creek Greenway, not far from our RV park. The Autumn colors have made their way southward with us to North Georgia.

Memory Lane: Superior, WI and St. Paul, MN

Our B&B in Park Falls

On October 20th, Cindy and I celebrated our 38th year of wedded bliss. And, while not all 38 years were filled with bliss, they have been almost four decades of love, commitment, fun, adventure, struggle and victory. And we are more in love than we’ve ever been. It was a special treat, on that day, to take a two hour and twenty minute drive to the northwestern corner of Wisconsin to the small town of Superior. It was there that Cindy and I moved in November of 1979, just a month after our wedding, to assist in a local church, Apostolic Faith Assembly. We lived there for almost three years, serving under Rev. Raymond Kloepper, in any and every way we could. We preached, counseled, sang, conducted youth services, conducted choirs, cleaned the church, and shoveled snow off the sidewalks. We moved from Superior to Atlanta in 1982 and returned for a visit only once soon after our departure. It had been well over 30 years since we had stepped foot in Superior. Of course, it had changed considerably with new stores and shops where nothing had been before. But, in many ways it felt the same. Our old upstairs apartment was still there in South Superior, but the old landlord and owner who lived downstairs was no longer around. The old church was still there, but I understand that the attendance is down in the 20s on a Sunday Morning and everyone we knew is gone. Our favorite pizza joint, where we would enjoy many meals with our friends, Chuck and Rhonda, was closed, although the signage was still present. Cindy’s old work place, Concordia Lutheran Church, where she was an office secretary, was still standing, but of course the pastor is no longer there. It was a great day of reminiscing about the early years of our marriage. Really the only disappointment was that we were unable to see anyone that we knew from thirty-plus years ago.

I came home from a 24-hour shift to find my sweet wifey bought me three flowers for our anniversary and spread petals across the bed. How romantic!

5926 Banks Ave, Superior, Wi. Our first address as a married couple. We lived upstairs in a small apartment.

Cindy’s standing to the side of our first apartment. Lots of cool memories from that place.

Back when I was a custom-made vinyl window door-to-door salesman, I’d start my day with peanut butter toast and coffee with two great guys, Al Crane and Ray Drolette (our landlord), at this corner restaurant not far from our home

So sad that Sammy’s, our favorite pizza place in Superior where we enjoyed many wonderful times with our friends, Chuck and Rhonda Hall, was closed down.

With Sammy’s closed, we walked three blocks away to Shorty’s Pizza and Smoked Meat of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives fame.

The Triple D Pizza, basically a meat-lovers with smoked meat added, was very good. This was the one which was featured on Guy Fieri’s Triple D.

Fall Foliage on the Streets of Superior

Our first place of ministry as a newly married couple – Apostolic Faith Assembly.

Cindy worked here, at Concordia Lutheran Church as a church secretary (and also for Lutheran Social Services which was housed in the same building).

Colorful ivy covering the front of this building on John Ave.

We took a quick drive into Duluth, Minnesota (the other twin of the twin cities). We passed by the Miller Duan Burn Center, where our 8-month old first child, Julie, tragically spent several weeks after sustaining 3rd-degree burns from hot coffee after a service at church.

Reuniting with old friends, Renee and Rodney Otto, who are pastoring this lovely church in Park Falls. Renee was a 12-year-old in the youth group when we were in Superior. Her mother, who has just recently passed away, was like an adoptive mother to us when we lived in the area.

On Monday, the 23rd, I put in my fourth and final 24-hour shift, so that on Tuesday morning, we packed up our rental car and drove the four-plus hours back to St. Paul/Minneapolis, from where we would fly out the next day. This was also a very nostalgic trip for us. It was in St. Paul that we first met when we were both attending the Apostolic Bible Institute, located on the east side of St. Paul. Our first semester of attendance was in the fall of 1976. I had just graduated from high school, although Cindy had taken a year off before attending college. It wasn’t until the end of our second year that we started dating. Dating at ABI was a creative process. Our social life was strictly controlled. We had to ask permission to go on a date (and I don’t believe freshmen were allowed). You had to file all the details of your plans with the school. I can’t believe how many times we just happened to show up at the same place at the same time. Coincidences are really something! Anyway, I asked Cindy to marry me on a cold February evening in Mounds Park overlooking the lights of the city. She said “yes” and the rest is, as they say, history. It was another great day of reliving these embryonic years of our relationship.

The Apostolic Bible Institute, the small denominational bible college where Cindy and I met in 1976. The joke was that this was the place young ladies went to get their Mrs. degrees. Cindy obtained hers. 🙂

This dorm served as my residence. It holds many wonderful memories.

On the hillside below the ball field, on a cold winter night, I wrote “CINDY” in large letters in a couple of feet of freshly fallen snow by shuffling up and down the hill. The hill faces the school. The things one does for love!

Cindy’s dorm. The guys were not allowed to get too close. On many evenings, I said good-bye to Cindy at the top of those steps.

The beautiful Minnesota state capitol building – the location of at least one of our college dates.

I had forgotten how impressive St. Paul’s Cathedral was in St. Paul. It towers above the city, sitting on top of a hill. Opening in 1915, it is presently the third largest church in the U.S., and the fourth tallest.

Cindy and I (along with a few other students) attended a mass here in the late 70s, mainly out of curiosity. I had never been in a Catholic Church. We were afraid to kneel when they did because we didn’t want to worship “idols.” :). How naive we were!

The 76-ft. diameter dome of St. Paul’s.

One of the beautiful rose windows.

A look toward the altar with its masterful baldachin under which rests the host.

The St. Patrick’s Chapel, one of six chapels dedicated to the patron saints of the European ethnic groups that settled the area around the city.

Indian burial mounds at Mounds Regional Park, high atop 450 million-year-old limestone and sandstone bluffs overlooking downtown Saint Paul. It was at this park I proposed to Cindy.

A not-historically-accurate reenactment of the proposal. The actual proposal took place in a freezing VW wagon with almost non-existent heat in the bitter February cold, at night, overlooking the lights of the city. I had three roses in hand, two buds representing Cindy and in our present unfulfilled state, and a rose in full bloom signifiying the potential of our lives together. How could she say no? 🙂

The view of St. Paul from Mounds Park. Instead of the beautiful fall foliage in the daylight, our engagement took place in the night with a view of the lights of the city.

More fall colors near Mounds Park.

A visit to the massive Mall of America (which wasn’t around when we lived in St. Paul.). We stayed nearby the night before we departed back to our RV in Georgia.

A mesmerizing work of art by HOTTEA inside the Mall of America. It is constructed of thousands of strands of yarn hanging from the ceiling.

Yarn art.

Inside the four-level, rectangular, Mall of America: when it opened, it was the largest mall in the U.S. (now 2nd to the King of Prussia Mall in PA).

The mall is so big that in the center of the mall is an amusement park, Nickelodeon Universe.

The amusement park before we left in the evening.

With our time for reminiscing over, on Wednesday, October 25th, we boarded our plane in Minneapolis for the return trip to Beatitude II, which awaited us in Georgia.

Return to Copper Falls State Park (with Cindy!)

On Monday morning, the 16th, Cindy, Christy and I took a ride with Uber to the Atlanta International Airport. Christy would fly back to Ohio, I would fly to Wisconsin for work, and Cindy, instead of flying to visit family in Ohio as usual, decided to accompany me to the north woods of Wisconsin. We landed in Minneapolis/St. Paul around 2 p.m. and then drove the four hours to Park Falls in our rental car. I would be working 24-hour shifts on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Monday, with 24 hours off in between.

Fall Colors in Park Falls, WI

So, Tuesday I worked. Cindy visited with me for a few hours in my work/dictation room, but spent most of the day enjoying life in Munro Manor, a four-room bed and breakfast (which no longer does breakfast… I guess that makes it just a bed.). It’s lovely however and she loves the accommodations.

Munro Manor, our Park Falls accommodations.

On Wednesday, Cindy picked me up at 8 a.m. when my shift ended. I showered back at Munro Manor, and soon we were off for the forty-minute drive north on Route 13 to Copper Falls State Park. I visited (and blogged about) this place on my last excursion to northern Wisconsin to work, but I thought Cindy would enjoy it. It was perhaps better than it was before. The fall colors, although past their peak brilliance, still provided a beautiful backdrop of mostly yellows for our hike along the Doughboy Trail and the Bad River. The water seemed to be flowing more strongly over the several falls as well. It was a lovely afternoon spent hiking in warmer than usual mid-October temperatures (It was sunny and around 70 degrees).

Beautiful Copper Falls State Park

Park Pavillion surrounded by God’s handiwork.

Beginning our hike on Doughboy Trail

The Beautiful Bad River

the Bad

Last time, I didn’t take the side hike to the observation tower. This time, we decided to. These are the stairs at the beginning of the trail and it was more uphill hiking from here. Cindy is the speck at the bottom of the steps.

Fall Foliage on the Observation Tower trail.

Golds

Coppers

Cindy, near the top of the observation tower.

Bad River water falls, the water is rich in tannins which provide the brownish tint.

Hiking the Doughboy Trail

Beauty in beauty.

Probably, the most picturesque spot on the trail.

Full-flowing falls.

Natural tree bridges across the river beneath the falls.

We’ve made it back to the bridge which marked the beginning of the trail.

We passed this friendly deer on the way out of the park.