Yes, I am still alive! The spring and summer has been filled with endless work and very little time to post blogs. We just got back from our 4th of July trip and I thought I would drop a quick note. I thought I would do something a little different with my photos. Feet and Water. Enjoy your summer.
As I continue my tales from the Land of Sky Blue Waters and Paul Bunyan.
Thursday we awoke with sunshine and some wind, but I wanted to travel to Hackensack Minnesota to see the statue of Lucette. Who is Lucette you ask. Why she is Paul Bunyan’s sweetheart. With the years growing up in Minnesota I had never heard of Lucette. It was only recently I came to hear of the name Lucette. There is a microbrewery in Menomonie Wisconsin named Lucette. On their web page they posted they named their brewery after Lucette in honor the hard working men of the lumber industry that built the Midwest. Interesting but still didn’t lead me to Hackensack. But what did lead me was the day before when we were in Park Rapids I found a story book about Lucette. When I was purchasing the book the clerk told me of the statue in Hackensack. So with that comment it lead me on a journey to meet the sweetheart of Paul Bunyan. Not knowing where to find Lucette, I looked for a city park in the middle of town. As we started going through town on the main drag a I spotted a big yellow sign pointing the way. As I turned the down the street, there she was standing in the middle of the street a couple of blocks away. I parked the car and took a couple of photos and went and visited the chamber of commence office which was next to Lucette. The lady in the office started telling me about Lucette. She told me she was constructed in 1950 as a tourist attraction between Brainerd and Bemidji. Brainerd had Paul Bunyan and Bemidji had Babe the Blue Ox. So the artist constructed Lucette and started the tales of Paul Bunyan’s sweetheart.
We headed back to camp and got our swimsuits on and met up with Becca and Jeremy. It was time to play in the water as we hadn’t yet that week. The week was as nice as it was going to be. We went out in the deeper part of the lake and Jeremy decided to take a loop with his wakeboard. They asked me if I wanted to wakeboard but I declined because the board isn’t set up for my stance. I did say I would surf. They set the boat up for surfing and I jumped in the water and set my feet on the board. I gave the ok and Jeremy hit the power and out of the water lifted standing on the surfboard. If you are able to do the surfing correctly you will ride the wake of the boat. I haven’t found the sweet spot of the wake. so I have to continue holding the rope so I don’t fall off the wake. But there are portions of time when the rope has slack and I am surfing. Then Becca took her turn and we headed back to shore and picked up the tube. I took a trip around the lake being whipped around behind the boat. It is fun to see if you can out duel centrifugal force and most of the time you loss.
Friday, the Fourth of July and our day started with wind. There is a tradition on Lake Belle Taine of doing a boat parade along the south shore. Boats are decorated in Red, White and Blue and so are the mates on board. There are many types of boats in the parade. Pontoons, speed boats and fishing boats. All parading the colors of our Independence. After all the boats gather the boats start slowly parading across the water waving at the people on shore. The people on shore are also wearing the Red, White and Blue and waving back. After the parade we wisked back to the cabin to continue watching the wind blow her lungs out. Dinner that evening was to be beer butt chicken on the grill. As we waited for the chicken to cook we continued in conversation with a main topic of whether the wind was going to let up so the firework would be displayed. We called over to the campgrounds and they stated the fireworks would be displayed at 10 pm. What the campground does is close the causeway from 10-11 pm. and they set the trailer with the fireworks on the causeway and launch the fireworks over the water. We were at the cabin and enjoyed about a 25 minute show then we headed back to our campsite at the campground.
Saturday we broke camp. Our week was over and it was time to go back to our real lives. After we had everything packed we headed off to a lumberjack breakfast. Now that is some serious eating! You get to order your eggs once and as many as you want. If you want two, order two. If you want six, order six. You can have them scrambled of easy-over. You get one order of hash browns and all the meat you want. Just keep eating, there is timber to be harvested! Paul Bunyan set the timber bar really high!
It was a great week even though the wind was blowing keeping us off the water. Laurel and I found land loving activities to investigate to fill our time. Maybe next year the week will be more welcoming to water activities.
This week we are in Nevis Minnesota. I think this is going to be a annual vacation for Laurel and I. Our grandson, Zach, will be celebrating his second birthday. His birthday is the fifth but the party will be the fourth. The kid will grow up thinking his birthday is celebrated with fireworks and others don’t get such festivities. The start of the week started with clouds, wind and rain. Total gloom! But Laurel and I tried to make the best of the situation and we took a couple of day trips in the area.
Sunday was a windy day at the cabin where Becca, Jeremy and the family stay. The cabin belongs to Jeremy’s parents. It was so windy that one of the neighbors trees had blown down. Laurel and I did a grocery run into Park Rapids and a look around town. There wasn’t much to see as the shops were all closed. Small towns close on Sundays and early if they do open. But there was time to do some loon watching and play with the grandsons.
On Monday we drove up to Itasca State Park to take another look at the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Becca, Jeremy and family joined us on the trip. The water was flowing swiftly over the rocks giving New Orleans plenty of water to float the worldly ships coming up river. We checked out some of the other attractions and vista in the park before heading back to camp.
Tuesday was a cloudy day and I said I would like to go to the town of Walker Minnesota. Walker lays on the edge of the iconic lake of Leech Lake. Becca and two of the boys went with and our first stop was at The Piggy BBQ. Smoked barbeque served from 11 am until gone. The service was slow but worth the wait. I had a Carolina Pork sandwich which had coleslaw on top. It hit the spot with full flavor. I will have to continue perfecting my smoking skills to get great tasting pork like the Piggy BBQ. After lunch we looked thru a few shops and stopped by Reed’s Sporting Goods. A sportsman’s dream store. Then we went looking for the lake front icon. As it turns out it is a lighthouse. I was expecting a giant walleye, but it was a newly constructed lighthouse in the city park. A few photos and on our way back to camp wiping the rain from the windshield. Back at camp we had fire grilled pork chops with the smoky flavor of north woods birch.
Wednesday brought back the sun, but with wind and cool temperatures. Laurel and I went to the town of Park Rapids to check out their downtown. Up one side of Main Street, in and out of shops and back down Main Street on the other side. The Candy stores….Time to load up and spoil the grandsons. We stopped by the little town of Dorset for an ice cream cone before heading back to camp. And supper…steaks on an open fire with birch smoke. Life is good in the north woods of Minnesota.
As a note on the campsite, we are staying at Campers Paradise. This camp is located on an island in Lake Belle Taine. The only way onto this island is a causeway. One lane. The sign reads, “Stop and look for cars on the causeway”. The causeway is about a half mile long. At camp our site is on the lake looking to the north. On the west is a small pond with a large white pine standing tall on the . The top of the tree is gone but a Bald Eagle has built a nest in the top. This year there is a pair of eaglets perched in the nest waiting for mom and dad to bring back a fresh catch of the day.
Here is a first look at the travels into the Land of Sky Blue Waters. I hope to past more tales of the Land of Paul Bunyan.
Friday morning when we awoke at camp and some of my family went fishing. Dave, my son-in-laws father, took Laurel, Sarah and Paul fishing in the morning. They had a good time reeling in several keepers. They arrived back at camp about 11am so we could get ready to head out to the source of the “Mighty Mississippi”! We cleaned ourselves up, we thought we should remove a little fish smell and camp fire smoke, loaded the car and headed north.
We drove about a half and hour and reached the east entrance of Lake Itasca State Park. As we drove thru the in the park to the ranger station to check in, I admired the large red pines standing majestically protecting the forest floor. As we neared the ranger station we had a traffic stoppage. I guess other families had the same idea of visiting the headwaters. We got to ranger station and paid for our day use pass and received our map and headed to a picnic area to grab a little lunch before our sightseeing. At the picnic area there was a log lodge filled with the history of Lake Itasca. Stories about the Native American who lived in the area and the first settlers to come to the region. They also had a display of the history early explorers trying to locate the source of the Mississippi. Some of the claims of the source 50 to 100 miles short of Lake Itasca. After our short visit we loaded up in the car and headed to the headwaters.
The parking lot was full of cars and people filled the entrance path to the headwaters. We made our way down the 600 foot path to the headwaters. And there it was, Lake Itasca being held back by a row of rock creating the first dam on the Mississippi. A large Pole stood tall with the fact that we were at the source of the Mighty Mississippi. We were standing 1475 feet above sea level and the river will be traveling 2552 miles on its journey to the Gulf of Mexico. The rocks were filled with families setting claim to the same exploration we made. This river is a true treasure for the State of Minnesota and wealth of commerce to our nation. We waded in the lake and crossed the slippery rocks like the water to stand in the first few feet of the Mississippi. And we crossed the first bridge over the river which is 100 feet down stream. Yes it is only a log but it is still a bridge!
Paul and Beth who live in Winona Minnesota, which is on the Mississippi, the river is filled with barges loaded with cargo headed north and south on the river but Paul had never seen the headwaters. This was my third time visiting the headwaters and it is a reminder of how humble the Mighty Mississippi starts out and how it is a treasure to this nation. After we finished visiting the headwaters we retreated to the gift shop and did a little shopping and had an ice cream cone. We loaded back into the car and headed back to camp after our visit to the headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi. If you are ever “Up North” in Minnesota make this stop on your trip.
We arrived at Camp Paradise in Nevis Minnesota. We pulled in about 8 pm after a 274 mile trip. The trip was smooth sailing and one road construction slow down. Not bad for Minnesota’s second season. We quickly checked in with the office and off to our camp site. Nice and roomy. It has plenty of room for our camper and my daughter’s large tent. So we set up camp.
We just bought a new pop-up camper about two weeks ago. It is about 20 years old but in good shape. Yes we set it up at home but it isn’t like being on the road. We got the camper and tent set up without a hitch. Then we headed out to another daughter’s in-laws cabin. We gathered around the bon fire and we tipped back a beverage of our choice.
When we were at the fire the loons were calling across the water. Their screeches filled the air. We were “Up North!” A term used by the people of the Twin Cities to describe the north lake country. A land of trees, wet lands, lakes. Also skies filled with sunsets and clear night skies, and if you are walking at night without light you need to listen to your footsteps. Your hearing will guide your footsteps.
We headed back to camp for a good night’s sleep. The week ahead
is going to be filled with time spent on the water. Wake boarding, tubing and surfing. Yes you read it correct, surfing in Minnesota.
Sunset over Lake Belle Taine