Tuesday, April 26, 2016

International Falls City Loop

I was at the Coffee Landing coffee shop in my new hometown of International Falls, when I noticed a stack of neatly folded, glossy brochures on staying active in International Falls. Among the suggestions it contained was a walking route around town called the City Loop. At 5 miles long, I thought a walk of it might serve a dual purpose: get me some exercise and help acquaint me with my new home. Today, I finally had the chance to walk the City Loop.

I brought my handy map
City Loop Map
and began my walk at the Chamber of Commerce. I crossed US-53, the road that led a short distance across a bridge and into Canada, and made my way to the main drag. I walked past some interesting murals painted at Millennium Park
mural 1
mural 2
and through the small downtown business district on 3rd Street. Then, I headed over to Smokey Bear Park
voyageurs plaque
and the Bronko Nigurski Museum.
Bronko Nagurski
I had not planned to stop at the museum, but I wanted to learn a little bit more about International Falls and its most famous resident and so I paid the small admission fee and checked it out.

After checking out the interesting little museum I moved further along the route, passing through some nice neighborhoods and past the very interesting football stadium.
Sports Stadium
I saw a nice looking park that I thought might offer a view of the Rainy River and so I detoured off the official route of the City Loop for a bit. The park was indeed along the river and I admired the views across it to Canada.
Rainy River
Then I saw a faint path leading down to a small stream where water cascaded over some rocks.
small waterfall

After my detour I continued on past the Falls High School and Rainy River Community College on a paved bike trail.
City Loop section
Soon I made a left onto Keenan Drive and passed a large wooded area with some mysterious paths leading into the woods.
powerline trail
When the City Loop crossed 11th Avenue there was no longer any type of footpath or sidewalk. I found it curious that whoever planned the route would have it follow roads without any protected area for pedestrians to walk on. Perhaps there are future plans to pave a footpath? Anyway, I ended up back on US-53 which I followed north back to the Chamber of Commerce and the start of my walk.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Photo of the Day: The Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse
 I spied this ruffed grouse while exploring the Oberholtzer Trail at my new place of employment.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge

We're in Galesville for a few days before I start to continue north up to International Falls tomorrow. Today we headed over to the new visitor center for the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Onalaska, WI. The visitor center itself is very cool.
Sierra the Deer
Lots of neat exhibits and bird taxidermy. Outside is a network of trails making their way through the prairie
Walking the Trail to the River
Sierra and Grandpa
and over to an overlook of the Mississippi River. We enjoyed the short hike with Grandma and Grandpa and even looked for birds a bit.
Sierra the Birder

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Hanging Out with Colonel Sanders in Corbin, Kentucky

Colonel Sanders Park
We have officially left Greeneville, Tennessee. It still hasn't sunk in that this place where we witnessed so many of Sierra's firsts is no longer our home. Today the movers loaded all our stuff onto the truck, we cleaned the house one last time, and then hit the road headed north. Along the way we stopped for dinner at Sander's Cafe, the first Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Colonel Sanders Sierra and DaddySierra and Daddy at Sanders Cafe
It's a true Kentucky experience and one that Noelle and I had experienced before, but a first for Sierra. We are staying in Berea, Kentucky for the night and headed to Illinois tomorrow.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Backyard Bioblitz for March and April

house in spring
Our backyard bioblitz has come to an early end. We are headed north to Minnesota for my new job at Voyageurs National Park. We've known about the move for a while,
our house for sale
but now it's all too real. The movers have come to pack up our stuff and tomorrow they load it into a van and move it north. We have not closed on our home yet, but I hope the next owner enjoys the backyard and all the organisms that call it home as much as we do. I know that I especially love our backyard this time of the year, when the dogwoods are in bloom.
backyard

Birds:
  • Northern cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
  • American robin Turdus migratorious
  • European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
  • red bellied woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus
  • blue jay Cyanocitta cristata
  • mourning dove Zenaida macroura
  • house finch Caprodacus mexicanus
  • American goldfinch Carduelis tristis
  • yellow-rumped warbler Setophaga coronata
  • downy woodpecker Picoides pubescens
  • Northern mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
  • Carolina wren Thryothorus ludovicianus 
  • song sparrow Melospiza melodia
  • Carolina chickadee Parus carolinensis
  • tufted titmouse Parus bicolor
  • brown-headed cowbird Molothrus ater
  • cedar waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum
  • American crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
  • Eastern towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus
  • Northern flicker Colaptes auratus
  • red-tailed hawk Buteo jamaicensis
  • brown thrasher Toxostoma rufum
  • white throated sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
  • Canada goose Branta canadensis
  • turkey vulture Cathartes aura
  • great horned owl Bubo virginianus
  • chipping sparrow Spizella passerina
Mammals: 
  • Eastern cottontail Sylvilagus floridanus baby bunny
  • gray squirrel Sciurus carolinensis
 Plants: 
  • dandelion Taraxacum officinale
  •  dandelion
  • common blue violet Viola sororia
  •  violets
  • moss phlox Phlox subulata
  •  phlox
  • flowering dogwood Cornus florida
  •  dogwood flowers
  • spotted wintergreen Chimaphila maculata
  •  pipsessewa
  • azalea Ericaceae sp.
  •  azalea
  • Chinese holly Ilex cornuta
  •  Chinese holly
  • yellow wood sorrel Oxalis stricta
  •  yellow wood sorrel
  • jonquil Narcissus jonquilla
  •  Narcissus tazetta
  • barren strawberry Waldsteinia fragarioides
  •  barren strawberry
  • lilac Syringa vulgaris 
  •  lilac 2
  • fleabane  Erigeron sp.
  •  fleabane

Friday, April 1, 2016

Dogfish Head Brewery

Today was our last day with the family. We decided to take the ferry over to Delaware and visit the Dogfish Head Brewery. Noelle, Sierra and I had been to the Dogfish Head Brewpub in Rehoboth Beach 2 years ago, but never to the brewery in Milton. We saw lots of Northern gannets flying behind the ferry, but it was a somewhat rough ride as we reached the deep water on the Delaware side of the bay.
on ferry
noelle on ferry
We made it to shore without any major problems and got some lunch in Lewes before heading over to Milton and the brewery.
dogfish head brewery

We arrived and were greeted by the steampunk treehouse.
steampunk treehouse
We opted not to take the brewery tour since Mom, Dad, and Katie had to be on the ferry at 4:15. We all got our four free samples at the tasting room.
stamp and sample
sample 2
Sierra and I had our photo taken at a photo booth set up there.
daddy and Sierra
Then we shopped for a pint glass and some some stickers. After leaving we said our sad goodbyes and hit the road. We reached Washington, DC just in time for rush hour traffic. Eventually we made it out of the DC area and are stopped for the night in Front Royal, Virginia.