St Croix Paddle Day 12

Our second day on this trip. Beautiful weather!

Nothing looks as nice to a paddler than seeing the boats laid out like that, just ready to float!

Above and below in the foreground is Troy’s 17′ Old Town Tandem kayak that carries us so well!   It is low in the water and very stable (unless a lady is determined to dump out its contents….  more a bit later ….)

Troy had time for a last minute text home and a photo and then we had the morning briefieng and then we were down to the water like a pack of crocodiles that had been on the sandbank too long!

Mark and Troy and me, first paddled upstream a few hundred yards to look at the cliffs at the paddle boat landing. [I will place more of Mark’s photos in a next posting.]

Half way through the day’s paddle, we stopped at a sandbank where a gentleman beached his boat with several coolers on – the best lemonade on the St Croix – and some very good snacks!

As I said before, to any paddle enthusiast, this picture of the boats lined up and at the ready, is just pure joy.

[I know its almost a duplicate – so play Spot-the-difference….]

We swam, drank, ate and chatted, while the minnows insisted on nibling on ant exposed skin they could find – a very eery sensation.

Eventually the whole group had caught up and we were able to take a group pic.

We were off again on a leisurely paddle and Mark had lots of oportunity to put his long lens to work.

[Check out the next posting for the picture he took of this eagle…]

The wind stayed down and for the most part the water made for just great photography.

It did also help that there were clouds around – sunscreen by now was mostly just to keep your mother happy ….   But again the cloudy conditions made the photographs special.

There is always the rumour that the rear engine in a tandem kayak can sneak in a rest or two while the front guy has to do all the work.   Well, on this trip I had the sneaky suspicion that it might just be the other way round ….!


St Croix Paddle Day 10 part two

Upon arriving at Taylor’s Falls, this very kind gentleman had a cooler full of beer and pop to welcome us with!

Everybody was glad to come in for rest at the end of the day – and however hard we had to battle the wind, everybody had smiles on their faces!

Eric was there to shuttle our boats to the next day’s starting point and to take us to our camping site in the Interstate Park.

We were able to pitch tent in a little piece of heaven.

After the local Rotary Club shuttled us to the showers two miles away, they also shuttled us to the local town for their “Wannagen Days” celebrations where we had a good beer, a very well made hamburger and where we could solve the world’s political hassles in peace!

Back in our tent, we slept through raccoons ransacking the neighbors, a tornado siren and two inches of rain, or so they say…..

St Croix Paddle Day 10

This was the first day I joined the group that is paddling the whole length of the St Croix river.

I joined my two good friends Troy and Mark and we camped with the group on the Thursday evening which was the 9th day of the trip.  The three of us shared Troy’s tent, dubbed bythe group as the Taj Mahal.

Because it is an organized paddle, there were set times to start so that day tripper could join us on a predetermined schedule.

But, on Friday morning, just after we packed up our tent, it started to rain and some lightning was detected.  This meant that there would be real danger for people in aluminium canoes.   So we hung around and made friends with many of the very interesting group of paddlers.   Julie also brought the most divine pan of oven-warm sticky buns to sweeten us up!

Troy even had a chance to do a Facebook entry in his plastic bag enclosed phone.

Before long a park ranger, Dale, came and set up a shelter and gave us a very interesting talk about the people who had fought hard for the preservation of the St Croix river.

After that, we still had some thunder, but Deb, the person responsible for us all, gave permission for us to go on the water as soon as 15minutes passed without lightning.

While some were keeping an eye on their watches, some took it easy:

At last we were off in the rain – just happy to be on the water.   For the next few hours I did not take any pictures (because of the rain).   We started getting a sustained headwind of 20mph sometimes gusting up to 35mph – so if we stopped paddling, we would float upstream!   Even though i was in a tandem kayak with Troy, we had to keep it going all the time.  The rain stung now and again and a few times we took on a gallon of extra ballast, but it was sheer fun!  I would not have had it any other way.

Mark managed to get these two photographs of me and Troy:

Here and there we could hug the shore and get a bit of relief from the wind.   I don’t think it was too long before the weather cleared and even the wind let up.  By 3.30pm the sun was out and we found a river-access picnic spot to take a rest and eat a snack.

Here is Mark with his Hobie kayak that attracted a lot of interest from all the paddlers:

A sign said there was a toilet you could go to.  Troy went to investigate and took this photo:

Won’t catch me easily on one of those when I know other people are close by!

Snacks were good and it was not long before we were on the water again.



Short Vacation Day One

After a long stressful time we decided to take a break – not to Arizona as we would have liked, but to the north shore of Lake Superior (a bit more reasonable price wise).

We left on Sunday morning, intent on spending a few days doing as little as possible.  (I did have a lot of electronics packed in my bag, but that was so that I could play with toys that there would ususlly not be time for.)

Up on I35, past Duluth and then we hit Highway 61:

We had gotten a sweet deal from Chateau Leveaux, who still considered this time of year to be off-season.  The little condo we got had a beautiful view looking east over Lake Superior.  It was like being at the sea.

From the two big easy chairs, it was only a few steps to get to the kitchen area.

The previous Friday, Gina’s mother had an emergency operation, so we were never too far away from our cell phones.

My brain just about died after a delicious stir-fry dinner …. so that was the end of day one.

Major Snow Dump Again

Nothing when we went to church this morning.  BUT this was our drive home from church:  the start of the second huge snow storm this winter  (The other one was December 12th 2010).

[Don’t panic!  Gina took these photos while I was driving!]

We will see what this looks like tomorrow:  (I will post pictures.)


More tomorrow …!

Getting the Cars out

We first cleaned around Gina’s car and mine.  This was what hers looked like before we started:  (Behind the car is the neighbor opening up in front of his garage doors.)

Wilhelm had to work at noon, so his car had to be freed too.

He had cleared a small little passage around his can the night before, but now mom helped him get enough away so that he actually get the car out.

We keep our own sidewalks clean – by law – but the roads guys clean the snow off the roads – at this stage only half the road was done and that mountain in front of Wilhelm’s car, was half way on the sidewalk and halfway in the road.

The heap of snow behind his car was so huge that we were not sure if it contained a car or not!

And here is a few seconds of video of the action:

The Morning After

Well, church was not even an option this morning – there was about a two foot plus wall of snow in front of any of our cars.  We started early this morning at 1ºF  (-17ºC) digging out again.   This time at least the sun was out!

End of BIG snow

And so, at about 4.00pm Saturday afternoon, we were at the tail end of the big snow storm.  One of the ten biggest for the Twin Cities of all times.

No sign visible that we had even begun to shovel out a few times during the day.

Of course, one creature knew where to keep warm…!

Then towards 5.30pm Wilhelm went out to start opening up his car – behind it was a heap of snow that we did not know if it was another car or not …?!?

More REAL Snow!

This was at nine this morning – and the blizzard had just started.   So far Jacques’s ACT tests have been cancelled (college / university entry exams), Gina’s chair massage event have been cancelled, our activities at church have been cancelled,  I asked my two employees at the store to close up and go home and the St Paul store did the same.  We are so snowed in!!  I will post more pictures later on.

I think Jacques will also not be able to go to work at McDonalds this evening….!