Monday, September 27, 2010

Temperance River State Park, September 8-15, 2010

The past three years, we have spent the week after Labor Day at Temperance River State Park. It seems we have fallen into a pattern on these trips up north.  We book our favorite spot a year in advance.

I wake up each morning and look out at the sunrise over Lake Superior. Then, I go back to bed and read and maybe fall back to sleep.

Paul gets up and makes coffee. We listen to the weather report on the radio while we enjoy our morning cup.  We don't have phone service in the park, so there are no emails or phone calls to distract. We enjoy listening to KTIP out of Grand Marias.

While we sip our coffee, we determine what we will do for the day, depending on the forecast. Watching the lake sometimes distracts us from our topic.

To help plan our days on this trip, we used "Camping the North Shore"
by Andrew Slade. I follow his blog, so when I saw his book, I ordered it. It turned out to be a perfect guide for our week. The book highlights his favorite campgrounds in the region. We toured many of the spots he described and appreciated all the work he has done to help make the region more accessible to visitors. Although we weren't exactly looking for a campground, we used the book to find spots to canoe and hike. We found some "off the beaten path" places we most definitely want to camp at in the future.  This isn't a book review, but I do recommend this book if you ever consider camping near Lake Superior.

Back to our daily pattern. We determine our "lesson plan" for the day, pack a picnic lunch and drive to our destination.

Our first hike was Carlton Peak. This was our first trip using our new trekking poles and I doubt I will hike without them for the rest of my life! I love the balance and stability they provide, which I very much need stepping over the roots and rocks of northern Minnesota.

We take our time, stopping to take pictures along the way and to admire the terrain.

When we get to the top, we enjoy our lunch. Because it is the first week of school, we generally remark how nice it is to be retired. This trip to the North Shore is our yearly celebration of our careers.

No need to hurry back down.

If there is a spur off the trail, we go see what there is out there. Rarely are we disappointed.

We also go to the ranger station in Tofte and pick up maps to get ideas for hikes that are up the Gunflint Trail.
This year, we hiked Honeymoon Bluff and the Bearskin Lake Overlook.

This spot made me sing the Hamm's Beer song, "From the land of sky blue waters..."

Paul surprised me with a harness strap for my binoculars. No more neck pains after a day of hiking for this girl!!!

One day was foggy and a little rainy, so we drove all the way up the shore to Grand Portage.

We enjoyed our visit to the National Monument.

On a calm day, we put the canoe in the water at Baker Lake, thanks to information from Andrew Slade's book.

We hiked up Leveaux Mountain.

Although early, we could see the leaves showed more color as the week progressed.

We try to make mental images of the lake so we can keep it in our mind until we return!

We used our Minnesota Atlas and Gazetteer to find the fire road where the Manitou Overlook trailhead is located. What an adventure that drive was!

Every day, a new spot for that sandwich and can of pop. I told Paul if I were a moose, I'd live in this lake. Except in January. It has to be really cold down there.

We even found a little old bench to sit and rest our feet.

After our daily explorations, we then returned to our lake view to make supper and have a campfire. There was only one night too rainy for sitting outside. We might have worn several layers of sweatshirts, but we enjoyed our campfires. I was in bed by 9 each evening. I didn't want to miss that sunrise!

At the end of our week, we packed up and headed down the road for Jay Cooke State Park. It made leaving easier, knowing we had a few more days to enjoy a different park.

Our spot at Temperance River is already booked for next September! We have so much more we need to see! 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Heading North

We leave tomorrow morning for our third annual camping trip to the North Shore.

We are excited to put that new canoe in the water.

Life is good! Talk to you soon.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Burning Down The Fox

Last weekend, we traveled 250 miles to Princeton, Wisconsin.                

We stayed at the privately owned Green Lake Campground. It was a very nice spot with several swimming pools, full hookups, wifi and daily garbage pickup at the campsite. Our site overlooked the nine hole golf course.

We weren't there to spend time at the campground, however. We were there to be part of Burning Down the Fox Bar-B-Q Championship. Our nephews, Chad and Kevin were competing and we were able to join them on their team. Chad named the team for the event, Team DGQ, incorporating our last names. He was already setting up when we arrived at Princeton High School, where the event was held.  He was the second person to check in and had chosen the only spot in the entire competition area that had shade from trees, which helped immensely over the course of the next two days.

The contest sponsors provided water, electricity and ice so teams could set up proper kitchens.

Once we had things unpacked and the brisket and pork shoulder had been properly inspected, we got started with the food preparation.

Kevin arrived as we were putting the rub on the brisket.  He brought the ribs and chicken and the inspectors gave them thumbs up on all products. Team DGQ was now complete.

Our nephews are very innovative men. Chad brought a heat sensor that could send temperature information to a digital interface. They fit that sensor near the grate surface in one of their cookers.

That information went through a router to a laptop so that during the cooking process, whenever the thermometer indicated the fire had dipped below the desired temperature,  a fan would activate and force air into the firebox to increase the temperature. If the school's server hadn't blocked Twitter, they would have received scheduled tweets indicating the temperatures, which would have made it helpful for them as the night progressed. Their plan is to tweak and expand this technology for future barbeque events.

Paul and I left to go back to the campground once the setup was completed. There, we prepared the parsley for the presentation boxes. While we slept, Chad and Kevin tended the fires and started the briskets, pork shoulders and as the sun came up, the ribs.

The competition grounds were buzzing with activity when we arrived the next morning. At the team site, the brisket and shoulder smelled wonderful. They monitored the meat temperature to determine when it should go in foil.

Chad's adapted rib rack rotisserie worked beautifully. Time to also put them in foil to finish.

Meanwhile, Kevin prepared the chicken thighs.

They went on a rotisserie as well.

And, a whole chicken was prepared. We were busy.

Noon marked the beginning of the judging process. We were ready to go.

Chicken was first to be judged. Gorgeous.

Ribs were next. Glazearrific.

That was followed by the pork shoulder. Smokealicious.

And last to be judged was the brisket. Check out that beautiful smoke ring.

Team assessment? Everything was excellent. Comparison to last year? Better. Could there be improvements? Always. But, let me tell you, these entries were fantastic. I know these things.

We packed up and waited for the decisions.  This competition was the Wisconsin State Bar-B-Q championship, sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. DGQ was being compared to many professional entries and the work of other great teams in that judges' tent. We joined the crowd gathered to learn the results.

DGQ chicken: 4th place!!!! Awesome.

That was it for us for the prizes. The team standings were very solid. My nephews are winners in my book.  Great work.

We are so pleased they have brought us into this part of their world. We bonded while we worked together. The best part of retirement is having the time to share these experiences with our family. We are making plans to compete together next year. My brother, Al, is interested in being there for that event. How great is that? And, I have joined the Kansas City Barbeque Society and we plan to take a judging class in the next year. Look out barbeque world!