Monday, July 28, 2014

Oh, Auntie EM, There Is No Place Like .....

Grand Rapids!   Yes, birth place of Judy Garland and home to all things the Wizard of Oz.  No sign of Paul Bunyan and that Blue Ox in this town!

There is NO place like home -- so bring on those red ruby slippers!  Oh, Toto too!

There are several criteria for determining if one is a die hard fisherman, especially from Minnesota.  And after I inspected the trailer below I realized I had found yet another hobby/interest/toy that I could totally never be interested in.   You have heard of ICE FISHING???  Well, wonder no more.  I suppose it beats swatting at flies & mosquitos on the lake.

Tow this castle out on a frozen lake; lower the wheels; fire up the heater inside.
Now -- cut 4-5 holes in the ice from the cozy comfort of your trailer.  And go fishing!!


View from our campsite of the Mississippi River -- now looking like a real river.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Calling All Crafters!!

The Chippewa National Forest has been selected to provide the 2014 Capital Christmas Tree.  Actually it means they supply at least 20 trees of various sizes & type.  Mostly big and bigger ones.  It takes a committee to select the specific trees to be cut -- lots of criteria like access points, surrounding environment, etc.

BUT -- you can join in the fun too!  Because in addition to sending the trees -- The Chippewa gets to send along all the necessary Christmas Tree Ornaments.  Like as in 10,000 ornaments that highlight northern Minnesota and National Forest themes including lakes and wetlands, wildlife, heritage and ecosystems.

There are a few criteria:
a.  Ornaments should be 9-12" in height and less than one half pound in weight.
b.  Durable and weatherproof for outdoor use.
c.  Make sure there is a hole in the ornament to be able to hang it on the tree.
d.  Use recycled or sustainable materials.  Natural materials should reflect the state.....
e.  (MY FAVORITE)  Ensure that your natural materials are not invasive species.

The list goes on a bit more --

Anybody want to make an ornament???  Let's collaborate and contribute a masterpiece.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Headwaters of the Mississippi River!

Seemingly for months we have followed along side the Great Mississippi River or one of its tributaries, especially the Missouri.  Finally came the opportunity to see the beginnings when a 12 foot stream tumbles over a rock barrier -- leaving Lake Itasca, MN on its 2,552 miles journey to the Gulf of Mexico.

Lake Itasca (named by the combination of Latin for true (veritas) and head (caput) minus the first and last syllables) was named by Henry Schoolcraft in 1832.  I can't say he actually FOUND the headwaters; white men had stumbled around for years looking for the source and finally he ASKED the Ojibwe Indians to help him.  And so he gets some credit (maybe just for asking for help???)

The headwaters flow year round:  about two thirds is groundwater and the remaining from the lake.  Spruce forests ring the Lake.  The Mississippi flows north; then east; then southwest in a long arc around the Itasca moraine before finding the St Paul area.

And of course, Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Blue Ox are everywhere up here.  Doing all sorts of fun things!

Walking across the river!  Lake Itasca is in the background -- the Mississippi heads to the right.

Signs are about every 200 feet....suspense is building

Lovely rolling hills (the moraine) interspersed with wetlands and lakes.  

Babe rides the tandem

Babe the curler

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Central Lakes

Everywhere you peek -- lakes.  Big lakes, small lakes, marshy lakes, meandering maybe it is a river lake.  Lakes.

But we are here to ride:  the Heart Land Trail and the Paul Bunyan Trail.  Ride by day and sit by the lake by night.  Except that we don't have a boat, fishing poles, jet skies, or snowmobiles we could be from Minnesota.

Raspberries along the trail.
The Chippewa National Forest will provide the 2014 Capital Christmas Tree.

Look for the tiny beaver nose!  Swimming lazily through his pond.

All sorts of trails & connections make it easy to ride through and around towns.

Paul, there, and everywhere!

Doing a bit of trail clean up --
strong winds the previous night downed multiple trees.

Share the trail!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Minnesota. Nice.

The folks are welcoming and friendly; the bike trails are paved; the weather is warmer -- everything is turning up Minnesota Nice.

Bessie needed a spa day -- so off to an authorized Winnebago dealer in St. Cloud we went.  While she got tuned up for another year (!), we met up again with the Mississippi River and rode through town.  Then up to the Central Lakes area of Minnesota -- home to several of the premier bike paths in a state that offers amazing cycling options.

First up:  the Paul Bunyan State Trail.  100+ paved miles from Brainerd north to Bemidgi.  Lakes, small towns, creeks, fields.

Trail Bridge at the start of Paul Bunyan Trail.
Everything here is somehow linked to Paul & his Blue Ox.

Lakes are everywhere.  A lake is large enough to have a boat on it.  

Rode for mini-donuts today.  Just enough to get us back to the car!

My favorite Blue Ox -- outside a dive shop in Brainerd.  Love the fins!
Finished up at the micro micro Jack Pine Brewery.  Tasting was fun.
The brewmaster/owner  came by to say hello.