Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Sure signs of spring in Owatonna April 12, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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AFTER A LONG MINNESOTA WINTER, and they all seem long to me, we look for sure signs of spring. A robin. Snowbirds returning from Arizona, Texas and Florida. Road construction beginning.

The recently unveiled motorhome in Owatonna.

The recently unveiled motorhome in Owatonna.

And in Owatonna, about a dozen miles to the south of my Faribault home, it’s the unveiling of a motorhome parked in a front yard along East Main Street, one of the town’s main drags. “This, like the return of the robins, is a sure sign of spring,” a friend and Owatonna resident shared in a recent email.

Motorhome in Owatonna in January

This is a photograph of the same motorhome taken in January.

I posted a photo of that camper in early February, when it was shrouded in a “blanket” and snow blanketed the yard.

Campers filled the spacious Four Seasons Centre and spilled into a parking lot.

Campers filled the spacious Four Seasons Centre and spilled into a parking lot.

On Saturday I was in Owatonna again, this time to tour exhibits at the Steele County History Center (posts forthcoming on that). And while we were there, my husband and I checked out the Noble RV Camper Show next door at the Steele County Four Seasons Centre. Like the uncovered camper on Main Street, the camper show signals spring, even if temps are still in the 30s and windchills in the teens.

We’re not campers. But we wanted to tour these homes on wheels.

If he could have, Randy would have kicked back with a beer, watched TV and fallen asleep inside this comfy motorhome.

If he could have, Randy would have kicked back with a beer, watched TV and fallen asleep inside this comfy motorhome.

These are some pretty fancy schmancy rigs with fireplaces, steel appliances and kitchens way nicer than the one in my woodframe house. If this is camping, I could learn to like camping. My few camping experiences have involved leaky tents, deflating air mattresses, partying neighbors and, once, even a flood. So when people ask if I camp, I respond with an emphatic no.

If you were in the market for a camper, this was the place to be. So many to tour...

If you were in the market for a camper, this was the place to be this past weekend. So many to tour…

I lost count of how many motorhomes we toured on Saturday. But after awhile, they all began too look alike. And I was tired of carefully stepping up and down trios of stairs, my hand gripping a side hold lest I plummet onto the cement.

For the sportsman, there was even a ice fishing house/camper. Remove the lids and drop your line into the water on a frozen lake.

For the sportsman, there was even a ice fishing house/camper. Remove the lids and drop your line into the water on a frozen lake.

For one thing I was especially grateful. Not a single salesman approached us. So we didn’t have to feign interest in something that didn’t interest us beyond abating our curiosity.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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25 Responses to “Sure signs of spring in Owatonna”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    My sister and brother in law are confirmed motor home campers and love it. I camped with my sis once in Ohio and it was fun but my memories of camping growing up were similar to yours except instead of a flood ours involved a tornado event close by. We have tossed around the idea of doing traveling in one when we retire but I am not sold on it yet even though there are some amazing rigs out here as you saw.

    • A lot of people love camping this way. It wouldn’t be for me. We have friends who sold their rural home and live on-the-road. I couldn’t do that; I need my root base, that connection to community, church, family and friends.

      Now a “tornado event” would be even more frightening than a flood. We left the state park before it was evacuated.

  2. Marneymae Says:

    Wow.
    I had no idea that campers could be so fancy.

  3. Dan Traun Says:

    In more recent years I have grown to desire a certain level of comfort while camping. A motor home is wonderful. A cabin is swell too. A tent isn’t so bad as long as it is a good one and you don’t encounter any floods. Tents are made pretty well these days. There isn’t any tent good in floods.

    • As we age, or at least as I age, I need more amenities and comfort.

      You’re right about no tent being a match for a flood.

    • Almost Iowa Says:

      Then there are bears. 🙂

      • Oh, yes, bears. Do you have a bear story to share? I do. When I was camping as a child with an aunt and uncle in Wisconsin, a bear wandered into our campsite one night. I was sleeping. The adults photographed the bear. When I think about it now, I consider that only flimsy canvas separated me from a BEAR.

    • Almost Iowa Says:

      Do I have a bear story? Audrey, you know I always have a story.

      My buddies and I used to camp in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) several times a year and every time we camped, we were raided by the same mother bear who walked a circuit around the lake and hit every site on the shore.

      On one of our first trips, my buddy Stan thought that he could outsmart the bear. He shimmied up a tree and tied a line to the trunk at a good 15 feet above the ground. After he slid down, he crossed the camp and shimmied up another tree. He fastening the other end of the line at a similar height on that tree and pulled it tight. Back on the ground, he tossed a rope over the wire he just strung and hoisted our food packs hight into the air. The loose end of the rope, he tied to a nearby tree.

      About twenty minutes later, we got a visitor.

      It was amazing to watch her. She trotted into camp looking for food and not seeing it where she expected it to be, she turned in a complete circle then raised her eyes to the Duluth packs dangling over her head. With the packs firmly in focus, her eyes followed the line up to the high wire and then down along the rope to where Stan tied it to the tree.

      She ambled over to the tree and nonchalantly swatted the rope. It snapped and our packs fell to the ground. Normally she was rather courteous about not destroying packs but since we had offended her, we paid the price.

  4. There is nothing better than touring an RV Show, Craft Fair, Home Show, etc! Happy Spring – Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  5. Randy and I would get along famously.. What kind of beer should I bring?

  6. Those motorhomes are pretty sleek. I’m not a camper either and I’m not sure this would help; I’d hate to drive one of these anywhere! So that’s what I was thinking when I scrolled through the comments and found Stan’s bear story. I’ll stick to day hikes.

  7. They look nice and cozy and I’m sure they come with a hefty price tag.

  8. DeLores Johnson Says:

    Not for me. I want to stay in a nice hotel or B & B, where I can take a shower and clean up every day after touring whatever area I am in. I had my fill of camping when we camped with friends in a tent with 4 adults & 6 kids,(18 mos.- 12 yrs) and their dog.It rained all night, the tent leaked and the dog was running wild over all of us. I told my husband, “No more of this stuff!!”

  9. Jackie Says:

    These campers are a good way to go and explore and see the country in a comfortable movable home. We were a “camping family”, We went from tent in the “just two kids days”, to a pop-up camper in the “3 kid days”, to a cabin in the No kid days…funny how it works that way. I Love the fact that I have solid walls all around me in the northern woods where and occasional bear has been spotted.


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