The Lakes of Minnesota


When Matt drove across the border into Minnesota on July 22 around 6:00 a.m., I was sound asleep with Bella on the bed in the back of the RV. It had been a long road getting there! We left Bozeman at 6:00 a.m. the previous morning, and had traveled off and on throughout the day. We stopped in Miles City to look for grease, but the rendering services must have just cleaned everyone out. There was none to be found! So we headed East and stopped in the little town of Terry, MT. After scoping out the town of about 500 people, we stopped at the Dizzy Diner. As Matt approached the grease barrels to check them out, the owner came out to chat. It turns out that they are only open seasonally, and they had two 55 gallon drums sitting there FULL of oil. One of them had been sitting for an entire year! This is really good for us, because it means that the sediment and gunk had already settled to the bottom, leaving beautiful, clean grease on top. They were happy to get rid of it and we were happy to fill up our entire tank! We had a great time chatting about green living and about the veggie oil system. We bought some root beer floats and chatted some more. The owners’ granddaughter came into the RV to watch a movie with Bella while Matt filled up. It was a fun stop.

The temperatures were over 100 degrees all the way through Montana and we ended up stopping in Glendive, MT to give the RV a much needed cool down. Because the RV was overheating, we couldn’t run the air, which meant we were sweltering! Luckily, we located the public pool in town and promptly changed into our suits. We had a leisurely afternoon at the pool and had a picnic after that. We hit the road again after it had cooled down a bit. We pulled into Bismarck, N.D. around 1:30 a.m…and parked at the Wal-Mart overnight. Matt got up at 4:00 a.m. to hit the road again. And like I said…I stayed in bed!

We spent the next 2 weeks in the Baxter/Brainerd Lakes area. Matt lead worship and helped teach campers how to wakeboard at the three wakeboard camps at Camp Shamineau. It was wonderful to be reunited with old friends! Matt worked at Shamineau for 5 years on their high-ropes course and has fond memories there. Jeremy, the Marketing Director, and his wife are good friends of ours. We had a great time hanging out at the beach and on the boats. Be sure to check out the photo albums for some amazing wakeboard shots! There were some really talented riders there teaching…including Bart Copeland, pro trainer (and brother) of Emily Copeland (she has won tons of awards, including the title of Pro Women’s Wakeboard Champion). We met Bart and his wife Brooke when we worked for SportReach Ministries. They have a 4 year old and a 2 year old…and along with Jeremy and Melissa’s 2 year old and 1 year old, there was an abundance of fun. There was even more excitement when one of the campers broke his femur while wakeboarding…and had to be picked up by the Life Flight helicopter. It landed and took off within feet of our campsite…Bella is still talking about that!

While we were at camp, my brother, Dan, came up from Denver, CO (he had some business meetings in Minneapolis) and spent a few days with us (that’s his car in the above photo). He was our first overnight guest in the RV! We hooked him up with a comfy bed and some s’mores and he was happy. He turned our table into his mobile office and was good to go. It was great to see him…the RV was so quiet and lonely when he left! :)

When we weren’t at camp, we were in town spending time with Matt’s parents. They also live on a lake, so we had lots of water and sun time! Matt’s aunt and uncle were there with their 4 children (3 girls and 1 boy) for one of the weekends. They are all around Bella’s age, so endless hours were spent in the playhouse and with the dolls. We also had a seafood boil party with all of our camp friends and another couple, Andy and Jen, that Matt knows from high school. There was an abundance of food…an abundance of children, and noise…and an abundance of good fellowship. It was great catching up!

It was hard for Bella to leave Grandpa and Grandma’s house…she LOVES being there! After Brainerd, we headed down to Minneapolis and stayed with Matt’s aunt and uncle for a couple of days. We were able to see even more of Matt’s cousins the night we arrived and had fun chatting around their pool. It was really nice having poolside accommodations! :) Thanks Dan and Brenda! We also caught up with my sister Laura while we were there and went out for some Thai food and coffee. Yum yum! On our last night there, we had our first official tour of the RV with a blog reader! Leah and her son, Rex came over from St. Paul and we had a great time talking and sitting outside.

We headed for Des Moines on August 8, and have reunited with my family once more. We’ll be staying in Des Moines and working for my Dad to make some extra money before heading out on the “official” tour around Sept. 17.

For photos and explanations of our time in Minnesota, click HERE.

Laundry Love

Spinning Laundry

I’ve always liked doing laundry. Even when I was very young, I remember thinking how wonderful it was that you could put your clothes in a big machine, press some buttons, and they would come out clean. That wonderment never left…I still find joy in this simple task. So MUCH joy, that I even take photos of our clothes blowing in the wind on a beautiful day.

When we decided to go on the road, I was never really worried about where I would do laundry. I always figured that we could either go to the laundromat, or use a washer/dryer at someone’s home. So when we came across a great device to help us keep up with our laundry on the road, I was excited! It’s called Wonder Clean.

Wonder Clean is a pressure washer that is powered by hand. It’s a simple design, and by the above photo…you can see that even Bella can get in on the action! One load can consist of about 10 shirts or 2 pairs of jeans (roughly 5 lbs). We put our laundry, soap, and water (the outdoor shower on the RV works perfectly) into the compartment, seal tight, and spin! The best thing is that we only have to spin for 2 minutes, and then drain and rinse for 1-2 minutes. After that, we just wring the clothes out and hang them to dry.

I love the spinning, but I also love hanging clothes to dry on the clothesline. And a clothesline that is strung through some big pine trees is even better! :) If it’s raining out, we have the option of hanging them inside on the retractable clothesline located in the shower.

Teaching Bella how to do laundry is easy when it’s so simplified. There are no buttons, no huge/loud machines…just simplicity. She LOVES to help me wring out the clothes and hang them up. So it’s FUN, and she is learning at the same time. She is able to join me in the daily chores and it gives her ownership and understanding of how we take care of our belongings.

Spinning our laundry is something Bella and I both look forward to…there is magic in the mundane if you are willing to find it!


Spreading the Love


Explain it to Me

Thanks to the Golden Fuel Systems team…we are officially driving on veggie oil! We had a wonderful time with our new friends in Springfield. We were only there for a week, but we were able to do so much! We went to a renewable energy fair, explored the heart of Ozark Country, ate Thai, drank tea, and checked out the local coffeeshops. All in all we had a glorious time. Thanks again to Chuck and Anna for opening their home and hearts to us while we were in Springfield. See photo set here. After all that fun, it was time to move on. Our system was completed on Sunday and we took off and headed back toward Des Moines. We stopped at the Kansas City/Oak Grove KOA for the night, where we enjoyed free wi-fi and a wonderfully cool pool. See photo set here. It is SO HOT in Missouri! Whew!

In the above photo, you can see Matt explaining how a veggie oil system runs. I had been chatting with one of their wives in the office as I checked in, and as soon as we parked, they drove up in their golf cart. These two men (Ron and Ron) were really excited…and with good reason: they were former Ford Motor employees! It was fun to listen to their questions and enlighten them about the joys of veggie. They seemed genuinely interested about converting their diesel RV’s to veggie oil.

We slept great in our air conditioned bedroom. It’s so quiet and dark in there; I love it! We hit the road in the morning and headed north…but first, we needed to go grease hunting!