Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

We had a nice weekend here at the Geier Ranch.  One of Paul's orchids burst into bloom on Saturday.

It is so pretty and fragrant. We are just getting organized in the gardening department. I hope by the end of the week to have my patio pots planted. I don't know what we've been doing, but we have yet to accomplish this task.

We had a great lunch with our good friends, Randy and Ari. They coaxed us over to Minneapolis to the Loring Kitchen & Bar for brunch on Sunday. Even Paul, the true blue St. Paulite, enjoyed the outing across the river. He is mellowing in his old age.

Randy was my work partner for seven years and he still talks to me! We had lots of laughs together.

We also had a family gathering at the Simser's.  Joey, who is in Navy Seal training was able to be home for the weekend. The opportunity to spend time with our favorite member of the armed forces made for a perfect Memorial Day.  I am bummed we didn't get a group shot or even a picture of Joey.  However, we did manage to get a few pictures of Haley.

We hadn't seen her since Christmas! What a delightful little personality. She wasn't sure what to think of Great Uncle Butch.

He can be one scary guy!

Paul and I made smoked salmon and steelhead trout in our smoker on Sunday evening and were pretty happy with our first attempt. We will post the recipe after we have made it again.

 We were too focused to remember to take a picture!!!

Auditions for the summer show have cornered my concentration.

Last week we auditioned 100 children and this week we have three nights of auditions for the adults. It is fun to get back to "work".

The camper is patiently waiting for us.
Other than one short trip in two weeks, we have nothing else planned until August.  We finally moved most of our clothes back into the house.  Sigh. 

I'll talk to you soon.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Glacial Lakes State Park

We traveled from Itasca to Glacial Lakes State Park near Starbuck, Minnesota. A small park, it is an interesting example of preserved rolling prairie. There are several lakes, ponds and marshes within the park's acreage.

We had camped there last in 1993 and had never been back to visit.  And now, Beth and Gary live close by on Lake Amelia, so we had added incentive for our stay. The campground was pretty quiet for all four nights we were there. Besides the campground host, there were only two other campers in the campground all week. Ideal camping in our opinion!

Before we even backed into our campsite, we saw a pileated woodpecker, a rose-breasted grosbeak and an oriole.  I don't know where the term

originated, but it applied to this little gem of a park, only in a positive connotation. The campground host had placed about six bird feeders around and the birds were very happy with him! We documented well over thirty different birds while we were there.

They included lots of bluebirds,


yellow warblers,

and most abundantly, orioles.  There were at times six males in the trees over our camper.

We spent several hours discussing birds and life with our camping neighbors, a couple from Rotterdam. They had rented a motor home and were traveling for six weeks throughout the United States. This is their fourteenth trip in the past fourteen years to North America because it has been economical for them to travel here. They explained to us that a motor home is called a camper in The Netherlands and a travel trailer is called a caravan. My mind instantly pictured this:

It was fun to visit with them. Ellie loved learning about songbirds, especially the yellow warblers and goldfinches. She said, "In the Netherlands we are not having the yellows so much." She was very knowledgeable about all the different ducks and shore birds. Paul and I are working to identify those birds.

An important reason for our visit to Glacial Lakes was to canoe on Mountain Lake, a small 56-acre lake which is spring fed. Its entire drainage system lies within the park, which accounts for the purity of the lake's water.

We wanted to try our luck at drowning a few worms in that little lake.

It was so beautiful and quiet.

Our caravan is up there on top of that hill.

It didn't take us too long to realize the fish were not interested. Or, maybe nonexistent, who knows.

Meanwhile, over at Lake Amelia, our nephew Mike pulled in this 28 1/4" walleye. His sons, Tyler and Caden were pretty excited to see dad pull that trophy into the boat! I am so glad we were able to get a chance to see them! They are such great kids.

So, the Fox family feasted on walleye. And not the one pictured above, either. Mike put him back in the lake. Instead, he provided a couple of 20 inchers to eat from that same evening's fishing excursion. 

Meanwhile, back at the campground, Paul and I had chicken. No fresh fish for us.

Maybe next time...

What's next? We are planning a short caravan trip with Suzanne before she starts her new position. I'll talk to you soon.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Itasca State Park, May 12-17, 2010

We took the camper to Itasca State Park for a stay in Bear Paw Campground.

We have visited the park several times, but this was our first camping trip there. Itasca is our oldest state park. In fact, it is the second oldest state park in the nation. It consists of 32,690 acres and is a registered natural landmark by the national park service. I calculated my first day trip there was 50 years ago. It was time for us stay a few days with more time to explore.

It was earlier spring up there than at home. The leaves were just starting to open up at the beginning of our visit.

Our campsite overlooked Lake Itasca.

What a great view while sipping that morning coffee!

The bike trail ran right in front of our campsite, so it was very convenient for us to spend several hours riding our bikes each day the weather permitted.

We rode to the headwaters of the Mississippi River, a "must see" stop in the park.

The river flows out of Lake Itasca. The word Itasca is made from parts of the latin words "Veritas Caput" which means true head.  It seems it took quite a few excursions with several discussions and disputes for the white man to find this spot. The Native Americans said, "We'll show you where it is for heaven's sake. Quit stomping around disturbing us." And there it was. Right behind Paul.

We also stopped at a pioneer's cemetery along the bike trail.

And Preacher's Grove, a beautiful stand of old pine trees.

Itasca also has many old lodges and cabins for people to stay in while they visit the park. There even is a youth hostel open year round in the park. This building, built in 1911, is called The Clubhouse.

The famous Douglas Lodge, built in 1905, wasn't even open for the season yet. We took a break there on the front porch.

We also got out on the hiking trail as much as possible.

There are quite a few smaller lakes within the park boundaries.

2000 acres of the park are set aside as a State Scientific and Natural Area. We took a hike in that section to Bohall Lake.

Seeking out these natural areas is always high on our priority list.

A short hike from Douglas Lodge brought us to the "Old Timer's Cabin" which was the first CCC constructed building built in the park in 1934. Local experts taught the young men how to build the log structure. What makes this building unique is the size of the logs. A sign by the building states:

"Only the sworn statement of one who is well informed, to the effect that this cabin was built from wind-falls and not cut timber, permits conservationists to show this cabin here. Almost humorous in its scale, it is far from that as a reminder of magnificent forests all but extinct. As a relic of the days when trees were trees, this cabin can inspire us to firm resolution to permit them to be so again in the long term future. …The random informality of the axe-hewn log ends contributes greatly to the naive charm of this little building."

When trees were trees, no kidding! Anyone home?

Of course, our hikes afforded us great viewings of spring wildflowers. We recorded over a dozen different flowers.

The fern "fiddleheads" always cause us to stop and admire.

As did the round-lobed hepatica

and the abundant swamp marigold

and the wood anemone.

My favorite was the Large-Flowered Trillium, which carpeted areas along our hikes and bike trails.

And, of course we had to take the beautiful Wilderness Drive to see Beaver Lake

and the record White Pine.

We spent our mornings and evenings at our campsite with our binoculars to do some bird watching, recording 28 different varieties of birds, including some warblers we had never seen before.

And, there were the birch fires in the evenings. Nothing better than a birch fire.  I told my friend Nancy we slept like we were hibernating bears while we were there!

It is great to be back home in our Minnesota State Parks! We had one more park stay before we headed home. I'll talk to you soon.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On The Road Again

We are heading north with our "cabin on wheels" to

Hope the weather cooperates! We'll talk to you soon.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Celebrating with Vanessa and Al at Target Field

Thursday evening, Paul and I joined my brother, Al and his beautiful daughter, Vanessa, at Target Field to watch our Minnesota Twins play the Baltimore Orioles. Excited to see the new ball park for the first time, the four of us arrived thirty minutes before the gates opened.

We wanted to have a chance to explore the stadium before the game. The first view of the field was memorable. Outdoor baseball, the way it is supposed to be played!

I liked the combination of the latest technology with the nostalgic reminders of the Twins teams from our childhood. The old Twins logo looks great against the Minneapolis skyline.

We also wanted a chance to tour the Legend's Club before the game. Our nephew, Mike, is the manager of this level of the stadium and Nick works for him there. The Legend's Club includes padded seats with a premium view of the field, along with access to private, climate controlled lounge areas featuring full-service bars, large screen TVs, fireplaces and upscale food options.

I loved the picture of one of our favorite legendary players, Tony Oliva, in the wall above the bar named for him.

And, of course, there has to be a Kirby Puckett area. I want to come back for a game with a ticket to this level! Thanks, Mike, for the private tour.

Although not on the club level, we had fantastic seats, right above third base in the 17th row. We were excited for the game. The big screen adds so much to the experience.

And, during the 5th inning, right on that screen, congratulations were extended to Vanessa on her graduation this weekend from Minnesota State University Mankato! Her dad might have had something to do with this.

Even though the Twins lost and it drizzled throughout the entire game, we had fun. We don't get many opportunities to bond with Vanessa, and it was very special to spend this evening with her. She will be moving to Denver to work in the fall. Graduate school is in her near future.

Congratulations, Vanessa! Thanks, Al! Good work, Mike and Nick! Target Field, two thumbs up.