Monday, June 11, 2018

Mesabi Trail: Virginia to Eveleth

It's been over a year since I got the old bicycle out of the garage for a ride. Yesterday I aired up the tires and lubed the chain in preparation for today's ride, a 20 mile out and back on the Mesabi Trail. I awoke and hit the road early. I bought my wheel pass at Natural Harvest Food Coop and headed a short distance to the trailhead in Virginia. The trail starts out with a trip into Olcott Park past some interesting flower beds and greenhouse. The trail then heads near Silver Lake through town,
Mesabi Trail directions
past a sculpture of a sawmill worker
sawmill worker sculpture
and over to the Mine Overlook (which Noelle, Sierra and I had visited a few weeks ago) and then to the brand new bridge
Highway 53 Bridge
that carries US Highway 53 across port of a water-filled mine.
water filled mine

After crossing the Highway 53 bridge (reputed to be the highest in Minnesota) the trail heads towards Gilbert and Eveleth.
the trail to Gilbert
The trail here follows an old rail line through 2 impressive rock cuts.
Rock Cut Sign
long straight trail
Once at Gilbert, the trail passes near to Lake Ore Be Gone.
Lake Ore Be Gone
I elected to ride a spur into Eveleth. Once in town I rode along roadsides to the Largest Freestanding Hockey Stick in the World.
the Big Stick
I rested at a nearby park that had some interesting paintings on a concrete slab.
The rest of the year.... not so much
Then I started to retrace my route back to the car in Virginia. I stopped at the Mesabi Trail offices for another break,
Trail Offices
but there's not much there. I saw a painted turtle along the way,
turtle on side of trail
but not much else in the way of wildlife.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Voyageurs National Park: Lost Lake and Blind Ash Bay Paddle

A friend from work and I had a chance to get out and explore Voyageurs National Park by kayak. We had originally planned on canoeing from Woodenfrog State Forest Campground to the rapids at Gold Portage, but a forecast of high winds for the afternoon changed our plans and instead we opted to paddle to Lost Lake on Kabetogama.

After we grabbed breakfast to go at Tim Horton's, we made the drive down to Ash River and after a pit stop for the bathrooms, made our way out onto the water. The wind was relatively calm in the morning, but there was still a bit of chop on the lake. We made quick time paddling across the navigation channel and into Lost Lake.
heading into Lost Lake
Scot 1
We paddled the entire circumference of Lost Lake
Scot paddling
calm surface
blue fag iris
and then headed over to the portage connecting Lost Lake with Long Slough. I made it to the dock at the portage with out realizing I had paddled within 4 feet of a loon on her nest. As my friend approached, he was a little bit closer and upset mama loon quite a bit.
mama loon
While we were sorry to have disturbed the loon, it was cool to see an active nest with a solitary egg.
loons nest

We tried walking the portage trail
blue bead lily
without our boats, but the mud, mosquitoes and ticks forced us to turn around. We paddled past mam loon again and headed back out across the navigation channel. With a wind out of the south, we headed to the southern shoreline of Kabetogama Lake where we would have less wind to contend with.
headed to Blind
We paddled back into Blind Ash Bay into a strong headwind and turned around and allowed the wind to do most of the work for us.
kayak and paddler
When we returned to Kabetogama, we had more headwind to deal with, but not as strong as what we had to contend with in Blind Ash Bay. We made fairly quick time back to the put in and were off the water before the winds started to pick up even more.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Fort Whyte Alive

This morning we packed up our campsite at Bird's Hill Provincial Park and headed to the other side of Winnipeg to check out Fort Whyte Alive, a nature center and preserve. The first thing that you notice when you drive in is prairie dogs.
prairie dog
Sierra enjoyed watching them immensely! After checking out the prairie dogs for a few minutes, we went inside the Alloway Reception Centre where we learned a little bit more about the site to plan our visit. We headed from there to the Interpretive Centre, where they have an interesting burrowing owl exhibit and then out into the natural part of the site. We walked past a Canada goose nesting
goose on nest with eggs
and over to some boardwalks that cross wetlands.
walking boardwalk
boardwalk vista

We saw a few ducks and turtles in the wetlands,
but not much else.
Sierra on boardwalk
We were getting hungry at this point, and so we went back to the car to get ourselves some lunch before we returned to the trails. We would be hiking the Carolyn Sifton Trail. It started at a sod house.
It was nice and cool inside
Sierra inside sod house
and the volunteer there talked to us for a bit and showed us a book about life in a soddy. Then we continued on
Noelle and Sierra walking
to the bison overlook and then the Family Treehouse. The bison were a bit closer to the treehouse,
distant bison
so we got a decent view of them from the top. 
Tree House
Sierra explored a "shelter" made out of tree branches for a bit
in other tree house
and then we returned to the car for the long drive back into the US.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Winnipeg Goldeyes vs. Sioux Falls Canaries at Shaw Park

Our first baseball game outside of the United States! After our stop at the Centre of Canda, we drove to Bird's Hill Provincial Park where we checked into our campsite and set up camp. Then we drove into The Forks, parked the car, bought our tickets for the night's game
Goldeyes tix
and then headed over to the Market at the Forks to eat dinner and kill some time before the start of the game.

Shaw Park is a really nice, modern baseball stadium. Our seats
waiting for game
were along the third base line
game action
and offered a nice view of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Human Rights Museum from stadium
and a partial view of the Louis Riel Bridge. The game itself was pretty exciting as well. We left after the top of the ninth inning because Sierra was getting pretty tired.
under tje lights
The Canaries had taken a 6 to 5 lead at that point and that's the way the game ended.

The Centre of Canada

We were originally going to make a trip down to the Twin Cities for the Memorial Day weekend. However, it was forecast to be hot, really hot for the 3 days (temps in the mid 90s F) and so we opted to head north instead to Winnipeg to see a baseball game and check out the zoo. On the drive into town we noticed the Centre of Canada alongside the Trans-Canada Highway and we just had to stop to take a look.
Centre of Canada 1
Daddy and Sierra at the center of Canada
kissing in the Centre

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Superior Hiking Trail: Wild Valley Road to Wisconsin Border

What a wonderful day to get out into the woods of northern Minnesota. We ate breakfast in Carlton, said goodbye to the friends we camped with and then headed out for the southernmost section of the Superior Hiking Trail and the Wild Valley Road Trailhead. We parked the car, had our photo taken at the trailhead sign,
family hike on SHT
and then headed into the beautiful spring woods.
happy hikers
Blooming wildflowers included bloodroot,
trout lily,
trout lily closeup
wild ginger
wild ginger flower
and anemone. 
At one point Noelle found a large vertebrae on the trail.

Eventually we made a short road walk
hiking road
and then headed back into the woods,
Sierra again
traveling parallel to a set of railroad tracks for a bit. Soon enough we were at the unmarked Wisconsin border
End of Trail
and the end of the Superior Hiking Trail.
Southern Terminus of SHT
We turned around and started to make our way back to the car,
enjoying the lively spring scene, wonderful weather and splendid company.