Back from the great North Woods. We spent the week at Kathio State Park, up near Lake Mille Lacs [trans: Lake of One Thousand Lakes]. We were pestered with pests. The mosquitoes are not nearly as bad as they were last year across the lake at Fr. Hennepin Park. The ticks, however, were horrible. For apparently the same reasons: it's cold. The heat should start the 'skeeters growing and the ticks dying. For all the time I've lived in Michigan, I've never run into ticks there. Haven't seen them in the past couple years here, either. But this week? Woah... and the park naturalist said "This? This is a pretty light year." Man, I do not want his job.
Jr.Gopher #1's favorite part of the trip? The fire tower: 100 feet (30.5 m) of mind-melting maternal terror depicted here in full color, Not To Scale (neither structural nor emotional).
at the top
Jr.Gopher #1 had a more active enjoyment of the trip. Playing soccer with the boys from the neighboring camp
While out walking about, we discovered some people fishing at the spillway between the Rum River and its headwaters, Lake Mille Lacs. A fellow had just caught something, so Jr.#1 and I waited around to see what was going to come in. Whatever it was, it seemed to be pretty big, based upon how much bend there was in the fishing rod. A 36" (91 cm) Great Northern Pike appeared. Now, this is a nasty fish with nasty teeth, which is accorded a great deal of respect as a hazard. It wasn't really happy. I'm not sure my son was, either.
After 3 days of clouds and wind and cold, on the 2nd we finally got a glorious day of blue skies, eventually warm, and windy. We popped over to the Fr. Hennepin side of the lake, where there was actually a beach. The boys went wading, Mr. Gopher went swimming, and I sat on the hot sand enjoying not being in cold water. If I'd been hot, I might have been willing to get in the water.
Daily nature presentations gave the boys a chance to see new things about the Great Outdoors. Sure, we had already seen deer (right of 2nd tree from left),
but, did you know that antler velvet is actually a source of nutrition for the deer? We didn't manage to see (or hear) any loons, but did you know they have 4 different calls? The little nature interpretation center had some pretty cool items, including a To Scale bald eagle's nets, along with an eaglet of your choice:
I also discovered that it is illegal to posses any part of a non-migratory bird, such as Great Horned Owls (ehm, Mr.BirdMan?) ... and that skunks are really soft critters.
After the naturalist presentation on tracking animals, we made a point on our hikes to look for tracks. Unsurprisingly, the most common thing we found were deer and horses. We did find one racoon and one dog (at least, I'm pretty sure it was a dog, since there aren't any wolves or coyotes in the neighborhood). Walking was - of course - a primary occupation for the trip, in the marshlands:
in the woods:
and even when we weren't sure where we were going:
After the joys of camping, we decided to hit St. John's University (the religious one, not the basketball one). The Benedictine Monastery there is the owner of the soon-to-be-finished St. John's Bible. I saw part of it while it was on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and was utterly awe struck. I was speechless (which is pretty impressive right there). While it isn't quite finished, parts of it are on display in its soon-to-be-home, about an hour west of our campground. Mr.Gopher had checked to ensure it was going to be open, being the 3rd of July yesterday. No notice on their website. Now, despite the fact that they used a computer to do the layout and line breaks for the bible, apparently they don't bother to post university holidays on line. So, we got to see the chapel, but not the big book we wanted to see. C'est la vie. However, in the chapel is a Madonna and Child, which is beautiful if you like 12th Century art:
And, to conclude the day, the neighbors pulled out their box of explosive goodies for a slightly early greeting of our national independence. Last year Jr.Gopher #1 freaked out at the firework display at the capitol for the Minnesota Sesquicentennial (i.e., 150th) Celebration. I took him to the back of the crowd. Not far enough. Further. Further. By the time we got to the bottom of the block where the Cathedral is, he decided it was far enough away. Hmmmm. At the beginning of the neighborly explosions, he insisted to sit on Mr./my lap with our arms around him. By the end of the evening:
The boys have gone nuts over Toy Story 2. Jr. Gopher #2 has decided he's Buzz Lightyear. For the past month or so, he has taken to climbing onto something (the front steps, chairs, boxes, etc.) putting his hands in the hair and proudly proclaiming "To Infinity and Beyond". Although, the clarity of this proclamation has finally arrived at a level comprehensible to the uninitiated. This week, they both decided they wanted to be Buzz. There being two Buzzes: the Toy Buzz (i.e., the character in the movie) and the Star Ranger Buzz (i.e., the character that the Toy Buzz is modeled after). This isn't really a 'real' Buzz vs. not 'real', since they're both real. They realized that since Emperor Zurg is Buzz's father, that Mr. Gopher needs to be Zurg, since they're Buzz and he's their father. When I asked "So, who do I get to be?" Jr. Gopher #1 looked taken aback. After a minute of thinking, I was designated to be Andy's Mom, since she's a woman, and I'm a woman. (she's also the only woman in the movie). After which point, Jr. #1 decided he ought to be Andy, since I'm Andy's Mom and he's my son.
Ah, geneological fantasy ...
We wish you all a happy holiday.
4 hours ago