April 25-28, 2019
Wild River State Park
North Branch, MN

Joy, joy, joy – our house went on the market April 25! Our 150-year old house is in wonderful shape but we had various picky things that we wanted to finish up before putting the house up for sale. Terry worked especially hard so it felt really good to head out for a few days for another shakedown trip AND do absolutely nothing but lie around and go hiking on some trails.  We also had the chance to try out our water tank for the first time and see how far 30 gallons of water will take us. More on that later.

Scuppers the Camping Dog

We chose Wild River State Park; it’s close to home and we could see how Scuppers would be without riding on a lap. The Winnebago Navion is built on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. There is no center console area that is Scuppers’ other preferred riding place when not on a lap. We thought of a couple of ways we could jury-rig something but in the end we decided to just put his bed on the floor behind the cab seats. And it worked! He immediately lay down and stayed there for the 30-minute drive.

I’m embarrassed to admit that we’ve lived in this area since 1993 and, except for a full moon cross county skiing event, we haven’t walked the trails at Wild River State Park or stayed at the campground. What a gem!

The campground sites are nicely spaced with vegetation in between so there will be nice privacy after things leaf out. The bathrooms are clean and having it heated is a plus when you’re camping in April.

The trails are in wonderful condition and it’s always a treat to get close to the St. Croix River. Kudos to the staff and Friends group!

Arriving on Thursday, there weren’t very many people camping so the park was exceptionally quiet. The site appeared to have a little slope so we had to use a couple of blocks under the front levelers to avoid the “excessive slope” warning. It’s always rather disconcerting to see the front tires off the ground and it captured the attention of people walking by.

The sun was shining bright and warming us nicely, but we hadn’t tested out the awning yet so out it went. Such a beautiful afternoon!

It took quite a big of coaxing to get Scuppers to come down the steps of the motorhome on his own but by the time we left on Sunday he was going up and down like a champ. Being that he can only see shadow and light, he was pretty nervous about jumping up and down from the furniture but he’s getting the hang of it and his belly prat falls are becoming fewer and fewer. We’re so proud of him!

The three of us set off for a hike. We did one or two hikes every day.  I think that’s what we’re going to enjoy most about being on the road full time – the infinite variety of walks and trails we will be able to do every day.

We built a fire the first evening and grilled Beyond Sausage brats served with  homemade cole slaw.

For technology, we’re going to be using a Jetpack on our Verizon plan as a WIFI hotspot. We have the prepaid unlimited hotspot plan at only $60/month. Being that there were only 1 or 2 bars of coverage at the park we wondered how the Jetpack would perform. It worked great! We even streamed Netflix through our Apple TV before we settled in for a deep nights sleep.

Morning breakfast was a hearty bowl of oatmeal. I cook the oatmeal with chopped apples and cinnamon and then top it with pecans, bananas and local maple syrup. So good. Off we went for a morning.

I’ve been having a strained feeling in my hip for a while now but I think walking yesterday really helped because I didn’t have any pain on our Friday morning walk or any of the other hikes we did. It’s amazing how restorative movement can be for the body. Hurrah!

For lunch I made wraps with chickpea sandwich filling, chips and homemade lentil soup.

One of our main objectives for this get away was to do as little as possible. We achieved that objective. Everything we chose to do was on our own terms. We spent our days reading, drawing, napping, writing, knitting, walking, eating. It was exactly what we needed.

Dinner was spaghetti with homemade sauce. Just that. I was too darn lazy to even make a salad. And that’s ok.

When we were planning this get away the weather forecast for Saturday was 100% chance of rain and a high of 46 degrees. We didn’t care. Heck, we’re not in a tent anymore – a forecast like that will be easy-peasy. By Friday, the forecast was for 40% rain and 50 something. Saturday turned out to 100% dry and beautiful.

After another oatmeal breakfast we had our first showers in the motorhome. What a treat! We’ve seen our share of scary bathhouses between our sailing days and now our camping days so the ability to have a private shower was wonderful, even if it was a Navy shower.

The Navion has the Truma instant hot water heater. We love it compared to a standard 6-gallon water tank! It takes only a couple of minutes to heat the water.

Part of our shakedown this trip was to see how many days our 30-gallon water tank would last us. We could use the campground toilets to stretch our usage, but if we’re boondocked somewhere, and we can’t use the great outdoors, we wanted to see how long we could go with our tank.

We’re very stingy with water. We capture the rinse water from the dishes to use for the toilet. We don’t leave the water running – ever. We use less than a gallon of water to wash the dishes – per day. We follow the “when it’s yellow let it mellow” philosophy and we each only had one shower. I thought we were doing great, but after showers, we had only 10 gallons of water remaining – and it had only been 1 ½ days. Not good!  We had purchased 4-2 ½ gallon collapsible water jugs that we can fill and put in the shower to supplement our water usage. I guess that’s a plan we should plan on implementing on a consistent basis.

Here we are running low on water and I start making bread. Then it hits me – “What the heck are you doing?” A doughy mess in the bowl and countertop that’s going to use our precious water to wash! The bread turned out great though so it was worth it.

Saturday’s hike was the Trillium Trail. It’s was a wee bit early in the season for the trilliums but the name implies that it will be beautiful a beautiful when they’re in full bloom. Scuppers loves his walks. We wonder what the world must look like through his eyes where all he can see is shadow and light. He approaches the trail with confidence and when he accidently confronts something in his way he gives it a withering look as if it was the objects fault.

It was chilly evening that Saturday, but everyone in the park was making the best of it with bonfires at nearly every site. We are Minnesotans after all! If we had brought our e-bikes and dog trailer, we would have gone to get more wood at the visitor center. Lesson learn – bring the bikes!

Rice pilaf with Gardein veggie “chicken” and roasted vegetables (the same recipe I made in first shakedown trip) and salad. We also finished off the Daiya Key Lime Cheesecake while watching another episode of Retribution on Netflix.

Sunday was such a beautiful morning! We turned on the tank heaters for a while since the temperatures were below freezing for a while. Being that we were low on water, we decided to keep breakfast simple. Terry had bread with Follow Your Heart Smoked Gouda and I had fruit. Save a dish!

We enjoyed an early morning walk on the River Terrace Loop. The birds were chirping and the geese were honking. The nettles are coming up and I was sorry I didn’t bring along a pair of gloves and a bag so I could harvest. Is it too early for ramps – I didn’t see any.

Time to break camp and head home. Our new approach to breaking camp is to ready the interior, bring in the slide, raise the jacks, turn off the engine and finish up the outside. The benefit of doing it in that order is that it’s easier to access the long storage bay when the slide is in.

Our second time with the pump out went well and now that the water has been turned on at the dump station we had a chance to use the Sani-flush for the black tank. What a great feature!

Our next shakedown trip will be Frontenac State Park and parts unknown. We love the unknown part.

I had to crop the painting Terry did for the featured image. Sorry Terry! Here it is in all it’s glory.


We hope you enjoyed these shakedown travel logs! If you would like to continue living vicariously through our travels – in real time – we hope you’ll consider supporting us through Patreon. Help put a little diesel in our tank  every month and become a member of the WeMeander community!

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