Winter Wonderland – XC Skiing #1 of 2016

We got out skiing at Battle Creek Regional Park on this fine New Years Day.  We went because it’s a known place to use the pulk, but then we messed up and took the intermediate trails – with hills! – instead of our usual green route.  We lived to tell the tale, but the pulk now needs some work.

This morning we went with friends to a huge brunch gathering at Psycho Suzi’s.  I love that brunch (brown sugar babies, anyone?).  Today was a microcosm of how I’d like my life to more frequently be.  The house is under control, feels good even.  We went with friends, we were active.  We didn’t overdo it.  We weren’t focused on stuff – buying/selling/cleaning/organizing/etc.  A great way to kick off the year!

selfie of the family skiing at Battle Creek Park

The family skiing at Battle Creek Regional Park. After we put the phone away Bryce took off and tripped me with the pulk. Baby crying, mama on ground, and I think a broken pulk as a result!

Memories to Cling To

I told a writing buddy about my idea for this blog, and when I’m feeling blue or like it’s kind of pointless because soon school will start and we’ll be buried in the slog of life, I remind myself of her words about my goal of “an adventure a day.”

I find it helps slow down time, so the brain has more memories to cling to.

That seems so important.  Lately I’ve felt foggy and clumsy.  I remind myself that even if my adventures feel small, that when I look back in many years, it will be these that I remember, not the drudgery of work, or vacuuming, or dishes, or whatever other things I allow to get in my way.

Some recent adventures!

1) New restaurants and desserts tried and added to Twin Cities Gluten Free!

2) Walking the dogs on the Minneapolis side of the river.  There is an ongoing joke that St. Paulites don’t go to Minneapolis and vice versa, and it’s remarkably true!  This might seem like a mini mini mini adventure given how close we really do live to Minneapolis, but it was important because as we were watering the community garden plot, I declared to my husband that we were going to try a new dog walking spot, but didn’t tell him that I actually had no idea where that spot would be, and he didn’t ask.  Normally he would need to know exactly what I might have in mind.  So we drove across Lake Street bridge and down the West River Road and ended up right at the oak savanna in the Mississippi River gorge.  Beautiful.  This unique ecosystem is only a fraction of 1% of the oak savanna that used to exist in MN.  Fire suppression allowed the areas to turn into oak forests instead.  One of my favorite orgs, Friends of the Mississippi River, has volunteering opps to help maintain the area.  It was fun because I’d heard of it, but didn’t know that was exactly the spot where it was at, and we weren’t looking for it or anything.

3) In crochet news, I learned the popcorn stitch to make the flower on this hat.

Easy hat and easy flower made from donated yarns for Team Yarn.

4) Reading the Harry Potter series!  I only saw the first two movies and now I am on book #4 so even though it is old to the rest of the world, it is new and exciting to me.  🙂

5) Yoga.  Tried a new studio and have gone twice and enjoyed the class both times.  The vinyasa class I did today was difficult.  Hopefully continued practice will help with my balance.  Uffda!

Sunset Kayak

Hi all,

I have subscribers!!  Woo!  🙂  I’m flattered that you wanted to read some more of all these adventures.  Lately they’ve been big, but once I’m back to work, they’ll be smaller.  Welcome.

Well, the pics came out like crap, but last night we went on a sunset kayak tour on Cedar Lake with REI Outdoor School.  We don’t own kayaks, though I hope to someday as I enjoy the paddling experience more than in the canoe.  We do own two canoes!  Believe it or not, neither of us has been able to part with our pre-nuptial canoes 😉 so they are both stored at our rental house.  Well, that’s neither here nor there.  The point is that we don’t own kayaks, and even if we had been able to rent them, we couldn’t have had them out at that hour.

The class cost $90 for the two of us, and we could have skipped all the instruction, really. But we had beautiful weather – we couldn’t have ordered better weather if we had a direct line to God – and a unique opportunity with nice people.  Highlights were the sunset, of course, a baby turtle, ducklings, fire twirlers on the hippie beach, skyline views, paddling the channel to Lake of the Isles, almost getting jumped on by bridge jumpers, going back through the channel by headlamp.  🙂

Another fun thing is that we had skied these lakes last February in the City of Lakes Loppet 10K event, so we were trying to remember the route from a totally different perspective, entrance point, and season.

Fun!  These summer adventures are feeding my soul.

Lindbergh Home & State Park

Late last week, we took advantage of the last day without doggies to visit Charles Lindbergh’s childhood home and the adjoining Charles A. Lindbergh State Park near Little Falls, MN.  I only knew a minimal amount about Lindbergh – that his had been the first solo flight across the Atlantic and that he grew up in Little Falls, MN.  That’s it!  So I learned a lot.

Charles Lindbergh's Childhood Home, Little Falls, MN

Lindbergh’s childhood home on the banks of the Mississippi River. This home was built in 1906 after a far grander home burned to the ground in 1905. Lindbergh lived here in summers and then full time with only his mother since his parents were separated.

A hiding spot for Lindbergh's childhood toys in the wall behind the kitchen wainscoting.
Lindbergh would hide his toys in this spot behind the kitchen wainscoting so the hired hand’s kids wouldn’t get after them when he was away in Washington for the winter (his father, C.A., was a Congressman).

Lindbergh's childhood bedroom - a screened porch

Overlooking the Mighty Mississippi, Lindbergh used this screened porch as his bedroom on all but the very coldest of nights.

Lindbergh's mother's piano

Some items, like this piano, were salvaged from the larger house before it burned to the ground. Lindbergh’s mother loved the piano and certainly other items burned up because the clock was ticking, but this is an item that several men had to remove first.

 

Lindbergh's car

Interestingly, most of the items found in the house do belong to the Lindbergh family. The only reason they are still around is because Lindbergh had them in storage. Once he made his flight he was a sensation and the home was ransacked in search of “souvenirs.” Without doubt if these items had been left in the house, they would have been destroyed and stolen. This car was left in the house and was parted out, painted up, and nearly destroyed. Later crews from Fort Ridgely donated their time to restore it to its original condition. Lindbergh drove his mother and some other relatives to California in this car – it took them 40 days!!

 

The house was repaired by WPA workers in the mid 30s and they also built structures at the state park.

 

CA Lindbergh State Park

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park was donated to the state in the 30s to honor the flying superstar’s father. Here’s one idyllic scene.
We did a bit of geocaching but didn’t bring bug dope, so we didn’t last too long. Too bad – it was so pretty.

 

 

 

South Dakota and Western MN Adventures

western state park route

Our route and the places we visited in South Dakota and western MN

We took a few days to visit a friend of my hubby’s in South Dakota and then to hit a few state parks on the way home.  We had been hoping for a Yellowstone trip but the house project we’re in has us a bit freaked out money-wise, so we scaled back.  We had fun on the backroads of western MN – no Interstates on this trip, at least outside of the Cities.

First we met up with Bryce’s friend Jerod and met his whole extended family as they were celebrating the marriage of one of the nieces.  We also learned about potato guns.  🙂

Big Stone Lake State Park Sign

Big Stone Lake State Park is on the MN/SD border on humongous Big Stone Lake, source of the Minnesota River.

Campsite at Big Stone Lake

Our campsite at Big Stone Lake, complete with tablecloth and lake view. 🙂

Then we headed to Big Stone Lake State Park.  Everyone had shoved off after the Fourth and we had only about half a dozen neighbors in the very clean and quiet campground.  The beach was lovely and private and we took a dip; we marveled at the pelicans on huge Big Stone Lake.  Our campsite was right by the lake and we had a fantastic fire.  We also geocached with a loaner unit from the park and were successful at finding the cache, even though it was a bit prickly!

Monson Lake State Park sign

Monson Lake State Park is teeny but peaceful

Picnic shelter at Monson Lake State Park.

Both Monson Lake and Sibley State Parks had these granite buildings constructed during the WPA era by the Veterans’ Conservation Corps. I had not realized there was a separate arm of the Conservation Corps specifically for WWI vets. Look at those hand-hewn beams. Incredible.

Historic Marker at Monson Lake State Park

This historical marker was erected a Monson Lake by one of two survivors of an attack on the settlement during the 1862 US-Dakota Conflict. He was only about six at the time of the attack, and put up this marker almost 100 years ago. I found it eerie.

After our night at Big Stone Lake we headed out on MN-12 across fields of corn to find Monson Lake State Park, a diminutive little park that commemorates the site of an attack on settlers, one of the first of the US-Dakota Conflict in 1862.  The local community used to have yearly commemorations of the event that would draw thousands.

There was only one camper in the whole campground!  Two lovely lakes and a nice nature trail, combined with stately Veterans’ Conservation Corps constructed buildings, would have made this a peaceful place to camp.  We decided just to lunch and to move on to the next park for the night since they are very close to each other.

Sibley State Park sign

Sibley State Park is large with lots of activities.

Sibley State Park is much bigger than its cousin Monson Lake!  With two large campgrounds and several lakes and hiking/biking/horse trails, canoe and boat rentals, interpretive center, this park had a lot more for those who like to do activities.  We chose a wooded campsite since the lakeside area was really open and didn’t feel very private.  After a dip at the clean, boisterous beach we headed back, made some supper and then went out geocaching again!  This park kindly provided not only the coordinates to the Avian Adventure cache in the park, but also the coordinates to several nearby caches.  We even found a microcache.  Man, that was hard to spot!  Another delicious fire capped off the evening, and even though the state bird was being particularly active, it was still nice.

The state bird, a mosquito

The state bird 🙂

Overnight we got drowned by over an inch of rain.  Our tent was never so wet in our camping lives, but we were still staying dry on our blow up bed.  A low, consistent rumbling in the clouds made us fearful of a tornado so we exited the tent in the middle of the torrent to go to the bathroom building.  I, upon exiting the tent, thrust myself headfirst into a huge mud puddle.  YUCK!!  (It was wonderful to take a shower here at home after all that.)  Well, we figured out that it wasn’t a tornado after all so we went back to bed for a bit in the tent (on the dry island of the bed) and when all the rain was over we packed up and headed home as everything was so. so. wet.  I do have to say that it made it fast to pack up the car – just shove it all in and take care of it at home!

We drove home on US-12 through lots of picturesque little towns and did a little thrifting.  Since our trip was cut short we’re hoping to take some doggy-less time to head over and do a bit of antiquing in Stillwater, or perhaps go up to Little Falls to see the Lindbergh House.

World's Biggest Twine Ball

How could I forget the World’s Biggest Twine Ball?!

Inaugural Adventure: Urban Canoeing

I decided about two weeks ago that I would try to have a small adventure every day.  I’m truly a person who needs variety and novelty, and I hadn’t been getting much of it.  Just an hour of something new and different can keep me going through alllllll the rest of the day. When I can’t get that, it might be a mini-adventure or even a micro-adventure – a new recipe, a new route home from work, a new crochet stitch or yoga move from a YouTube video, but SOMETHING new.

Canoeing backwaters of Lake Keller

Keller’s backwaters are lovely.

Today, it was a lovely paddle on Keller Lake, Round Lake and Lake Phalen in St. Paul/Maplewood.  I was first turned on to this idea by this blog post, plopped up a few years ago.  We unlocked the canoe, loaded it up (with a bit of a kerfuffle due to my injured back – it’s a big aluminum sucker), and headed over to the park.  Again, a bit of an issue locating where to unload due to my back and not wanting to carry the boat very far.  We were juuuuuust about to give up when my hubby Bryce suggested we drive up to the Keller end of the chain to see if the parking would be easier (and closer to the water).  We did that and luckily at the lower picnic area (green marker on map) there was ample parking and only a few steps to the water.  It’s not an official put-in but the water was so nice and high that we easily boarded the canoe.

There are some great backwaters connecting the lakes.  Normally canoeists can access five lakes but due to some bridge construction on 36 we could only get to three of them, which was plenty.  The area that most interested me anyway was the channel connecting Round and Keller Lakes.  It was like a creek but without so much current.  I loved the shade and observing the bikers and walkers on shore.  Bryce was disappointed he’d forgotten his fishing rod.  We did spend a bit of time on open Round Lake and Lake Phalen but quickly headed back into the channel.

All in all, we were on the water for about an hour, which was perfect given this danged back – just enough water and sunshine for a perfect afternoon treat.

 


View Phalen/Keller/Gervais Chain of Lakes in a larger map