July 12, 2014 – Getaway Day 2

We absolutely lucked out and got a great campsite at Split Rock State Park.  We happened to walk in just after a cancellation came in for one of the sites that you use a cart to haul all your stuff in, far away from other sites.

The dining room was ok.

But the view from the living room was spectacular, overlooking the lake and the lighthouse.

We headed down the hill to explore the lakeshore.

I’ve got the whole lighthouse in my hand…

This is a rather unfortunate composition of me against the lighthouse – Minnesota’s most photographed place, perhaps has never quite had this vantage point.

It was a wonderful night with the moonrise.  Can’t decide if the close-up, middle, or wide angle views are my favorite, so all follow.

xxx

July 11, 2014 – Dad and Kid Getaway Day 1

Heading North for a rare weekend with all three kids.  Might be the last time in a long time they are all together, except for a day before Claire leaves for Iceland.

sandboy

 

Since we had some extra time, we stopped at one of those places we always drive by on the way up north, Moose Lake State Park Agate and and Geologic Center.  After ogling the agates in the display, it was time for some impromptu swimming. Martin decided it was time to try the experimental sand hair exfoliate.

Next it was off to Jay Cooke State Park, just south of Duluth – another one of those drive-by parks that often gets missed on the way up the North Shore.  It is one of Minnesota’s truly under-appreciated parks.

The St Louis River battles through strongly tilted slate beds as it runs into Lake Superior.

A broader view of the valley, downstream from the park.

A closer look at the tilted slate beds.

We lucked onto a primo camp site – not too close to other sites, with a nice rock backdrop.

The swinging bridge is replaced after the floods of 2012.

Martin gazes into what we called the “cauldron of doom” where the river drops into a maelstrom of water and foam.

Aaah!

The forest along the river near the highway bridge.

 

July 6, 2014 – Mother Nature’s Fireworks and Funnels, Oh My!

Once again, dramatic skies in the neighborhood.

midwest storm

Looking to the tornado-spawning clouds to the south before sunset.

midwest storm

Same place as the sun set. This is the same tornado-spawning cloud as in the earlier picture.

barn and storm cloud

Clouds and the barn.

farm building and storm cloud

Clouds and the hog barn.  This cloud made tornadoes by Tama.

funnel rock creek

A view of the tornado near rock creek park in Jasper county. No wind here, and only a sprinkle of rain.

June 20, 2014 – Seems Like a Rerun

Every few days it seems a storm rolls through.

This is looking east in the late afternoon, with some funky rays streaming up (or down?).

The back pasture is lush (and mostly thistle-free).

More passing clouds over the barn.

This is the first year we’ve had deer problems – here’s one of them we scared out of the back pasture on on her way away somewhere else.

A look across the fields to the west after the storm.

Martin *was* building a tree fort in this grouping of basswoods when one of the three limbs of the just-started fort came down.

June 8, 2014 – A Walk Around the Back Pasture

Today was a good day to get things done on the farm. It was only about 70 degrees, Linda offered to take Martin to Decorah for his music camp, so I was left to catch up on all those things that never seem to get done. But first a break as we check out the back pasture.

This wonderful little pond was just a black dirt mudhole when we moved in. We fenced it off, planted some wet prairie/marsh seeds, and now it does its part to clean water as it runs off the neighboring fields before heading down to the gulf.

blue flag iris

One of the beauties is this blue flag iris.

tadpoles

The pond gives us great evening sounds, among other things – we can fall asleep to the sounds of the frogs and toads in their little home. Today, however, I was in for a surprise when I scared up a snapping turtle about the size of a dinner plate.

The alleyway of trees we planted in the middle of the pasture are close to creating yet another micro-environment on the farm. The walnuts, bur oaks, and black cherry are really starting to take off.

June 1, 2014 – A Superior Getaway: Day 3

Day three is only a few hours in the morning before the long drive back home.

beaver river

However, the Beaver River called as we drove over the bridge on highway 61, so we stepped out for a closer look.

north shore river

I love the minty green of the trees sneaking out of the fog.

Yet another perspective.

gooseberry falls

Finally one more look at Gooseberry middle falls after a night of rain.

gooseberry lower falls

Gooseberry lower falls.

Finally, Mark and Linda selfie.

I was struck with the stark contrast between a story on my phone with my location and experience this morning.  While enjoying the clear waters and parks of Minnesota, I read that the governor of Iowa had cut $9 million dollars from the state parks and outdoors budget and $11 million dollars from the clean water budget, despite being passed by both parties in the state house. Of course, there is enough money to give $110 million to a private company to build a fertilizer plant.

May 31, 2014 – A Superior Getaway: Day 2

With the threat of rain for the day, we made a quick trip to Gooseberry Falls early in the morning and found the wildly popular park, usually covered with people like ants, to be nearly empty.

The middle falls.

And one part of the lower falls, with an example of one of the most iconic and under-appreciated trees, the Cedar, its gnarly roots, holding of for dear life on the rock.

The drizzle and fog soon set in as we made the annual pilgrimage to Palisade Head.

Hiking to the north of the cliffs reveals a tundra-like landscape of rock, mosses and lichens, and small trees.

Did I say it was wet?

It was wet down at the beach as well, but as a bonus, made the rocks look their best.

We finally relented and went to Duluth in the evening and sampled some of the fare at Fitger’s Brewery – both dinner and beverage locally sourced.  I was surprised to learn they had their own herd of Scottish Highland cattle for meat for the restaurant – lots of spent grain to feed hearty northern cattle.

May 30, 2014 – A Superior Getaway: Day 1

Linda and I don’t have many chances to sneak away, but we did for a while this weekend.

split rock park beach

Of course, we headed to the big lake and explored some locations we hadn’t previously visited.  While we had visited the lighthouse portion of Split Rock State Park/Historical area, we had not explored the river portion and more remote part of the park.  The water is wonderful as it transitions from clear to turquoise to deep blue as it gets deeper.

split rock lighthouse

Here’s an obligatory view of the lighthouse.

split rock view

A vista from a hill close to shore, looking south towards Duluth.

marsh marigolds

A special shout out to my mother for remembrances of those who fetched these from the ash swamp many years ago.

eagle in tree

The trail soon turned into “animal kingdom” first with this Bald Eagle.

Then this rather skinny doe, no doubt much appreciative of the spring foliage.

ground squirrel

Look, Look, Squirrel!! I believe this is a Franklins Ground Squirrel.

split rock river

A hike up the river leads to a series of waterfalls.

split rock river

And more cascades further up the Split Rock River.

May 17, 2014 – Claire’s Graduation from Macalester

Graduation day at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.

toss graduation hat, throw mortar hat

Celebrate!

The assembled audience and graduates.

The president addresses the student body.

Claire moments before grabbing diploma.

And immediately after grabbing the diploma.

Posing for the professional photographer.

With some responsible parties.

Her dad trying to embarrass her by bringing out the Iowa State Honor cords.

Claire and Nana.

Yep, it’s got her name on it!

She wanted a shot on her summer and winter mode of transport.

On the swing at graduation…

and on the same swing at first college visit to Macalester.

In front of the wind turbine at graduation…

and again, on her first tour.

Congratulations Claire. I hope Iceland is prepared for what you bring!

May 1, 2014 – Doesn’t Look like Much…

The picture does not belie the effort needed to arrange the photo.

This wagon is the new home to about forty 16 foot-long cattle panels.  They were protecting small trees from grazing animals and now the trees are larger and there aren’t as many grazing animals, so it was time to take down the fences so the trees wouldn’t grow into them.  It is amazing how much grass and soil accumulated around the bottoms – in all cases the first row was buried and in some places, they were buried up to the second cross row.  Who needs a gym membership when you can instead rip these out of the sod and drag them to the wagon (uphill of course!)  The fenceposts that were pulled are in a different pile.