♪♫When it’s summer, there’s music♫♪

We visited Marine-on-St. Croix at the beginning of the summer and here I am posting a review at the beginning of Fall. Our summer calendar was almost completely reserved and every day was busy, busy.

Halfway through the summer and it’s been grand! Not many days have been too hot or horridly humid, rainy or stormy enough to send us scurrying for safety.  The weather is a major reason I enjoy summers in the River Valley, along with so much natural beauty and wildlife.

With some major exterior improvements behind us, we’ve had some time to enjoy local entertainment.

Our first trip for an enjoyable evening was in Marine-on-St. Croix, Minnesota. It’s a gorgeous drive up Hwy 35 to the river crossing, especially through Osceola and the Scenic Natural Waterway. Our destination was the patio behind the Brookside Bar and Grill .

The lush vegetation surrounding the meandering  creek that flows close to the patio creates a peaceful ambiance. The historic old mill next door is a reminder of the past.  brookside

The afternoon we visited, Switched at Birth played a blend of bluegrass, country, folk and blues acoustic music.

When the band isn’t playing, listening to the water rush toward the river is very relaxing.  The day we visited, the audience was very diversified, ranging from families with children, couples, and solo locals. If you have a blanket or folding chair handy, there’s a grassy area on the edge of the patio to take in the music if you’re taking a break during your road trip. Kids were having fun walking the pathways along the creek and climbing over the barnyard resident, a permanent pig.

We were fortunate to be seated at the large table under the patio canopy. After eating, we were feeling a little guilty having so much space all to ourselves. About the same time I considered moving, a family came in looking disappointed to see us. When I asked if they’d like us to move, couldn’t miss their sigh of relief. It was their annual visit to the Brookside with grandparents and we were seated at the table where they always dine for their annual outing. As we walked by to leave the patio, couldn’t resist smiling seeing how happy they were to be at ‘their’ special table.

Memories are magical

Taking the free Blogging 101 class has already transformed my blog format with only half of the assignments completed. I’m pleased with the changes so far.

This morning I visited the blog, http://yourbiography2.com/blog/ and responded to her question, “What games did you play as a child?” about my memories of the school playground on a warm spring day. Isn’t it impressive how easily we can ‘see’ details as accurately as a photograph, whether those details ever existed or not?  Reflecting on that playground image lead me to re-title my blog.

“Two tree trunks and a hammock” brings up a memory I don’t have — it belongs to my husband because I wasn’t even there. He’s laying in the hammock, quietly swinging back and forth, listening to water gently splashing against the rocks in the pond. It’s not quite twilight. Looking up, way up, is a ceiling of pine boughs from the remaining plantation pines that are over 40 years old.

What a surprise it must have been for him to see hundreds of monarch butterflies flutter toward him, land overhead on the trunks and limbs of those huge white pines and quietly close their wings together to camouflage their beauty and blend in with the bark. He was up early the next day to leave for work and the butterflies had already moved on as quickly as they arrived.

I have always envied my husband for having this one-in-a-lifetime experience.   Continue reading

$~£~€..What’s in your wallet? .. $~£~€~

On September 9, our Homeaway subscription expires and will not be renewing for another year. We are accepting reservations through October 31, 2016. If you are a previous guest or have referred our rental to someone, please contact us to see if we can accommodate reservations after November 1.

Until our subscription expires, guests can book through Homeaway and pay their service fee which based on our rates, is at their highest percentage, near 10%. Guests have the option to pay us directly from Paypal, by credit card, or personal check, with no service fee included.     

We’ve felt forced into this decision after the sale of Homeaway/VRBO by Expedia and the service fee added in February, which has been disastrous for vacation home owners. Hundreds of us have experienced a drastic drop in inquiries, and a significant decrease in bookings from prior years.  Constant changes to their policies and homeowner management website, implemented without advance notice, has been a frustrating, time-wasting effort.

Vacation rental owners receive no benefit or financial gain from this new service fee paid directly by our guests to Homeaway. To list on Homeaway, owners pay an annual subscription or a 10% commission, and now guests are expected to help contribute as well.

Homeaway/VRBO, without owner’s knowledge, allowed our listings to appear on the website,  transler.com , an auction website like Priceline, to offer our homes at drastically reduced rates.

We have homes in communities, with neighbors, and may be subject to home association or municipal regulations.  We cannot, and will not, consider our home part of a commercial inventory to be reserved like a hotel room.