Hiking Club Trail #38
Date: September 21, 2021
Location: Park Rapids, MN
Length: 3.5 Miles
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 112.2 of 197
Happy 40th Birthday to me. Outside of the North Shore Itasca is my favorite - the Park is huge and has something for everyone. Miles of hiking, many lakes and the headwaters of the Mississippi River. We came to hike the Hiking Club trail this time - which brought us to a part of the park I haven't explored before.
We saw 4 people on this trail all day - which is amazing for one of MN's most popular parks. The weather was perfect with puffy white clouds in the sky reflecting off all of the lakes. The HCT is on the opposite side of the park as the headwaters which is probably why it was so quiet. The trail was moderately hard with lots of hills, rock and roots - which makes it hard to lead my mom through. Penny veered off the trail every time she could get close to a lake, drinking out of all but one which when she got down to it she immediately turned around and peed in it, I guess she liked that one best and wanted to claim it as her own.
After the hike we went over to the headwaters - it had been 20+ years since I had visited so it was a must see.
Hiking Club Trail #37
Date: September 20, 2021
Location: Bemidji, MN
Length: 2.0 Miles
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 108.7 of 197
Birthday Trip 2021 - this year I turn 40 so we are making a week of it. We rented a wonderful AirBnB Cabin on a lake just outside of Remer, MN we are using it as home base to hike a few State Parks. First stop was the Bog Walk at Lake Bemidji state park.
This was a nice hike after 4+ hours in the car. It was raining and fairly cool outside, which was perfect because it meant we were less likely to run into other dogs on a boardwalk - the last thing I need is to have Penny worked up about other dogs with nowhere to go. This boardwalk is short and narrow but it provided a different scenery than we are used to. Bogs are interesting environments with even more interesting plants - like carnivorous pitcher plants.
Not only is my Mom trying to complete the Minnesota State Park Hiking Club - she is also trying to visit all 50 states. She isn't quite as actively pursuing the latter. Two years ago when I took my niece to Hawaii my Mom adamantly said she didn't want to go (I think the believed she would ruin our adventures because of her disability), fast forward we are starting year 2 of the Covid pandemic and everyone is stir crazy - Hawaii gets brought back up and shortly there after I am trying to navigate the new world of travel that requires vaccines and heath checks...
This was our first trip since the pandemic shut down the world in March of 2020. Hawaii was the farthest we could go, as American's still weren't allowed to enter most other countries. Hawaii had way less tourists as their borders were only open to American's after negatived Covid tests and a health check at the airport. Definitely a different way to travel, but definitely worth it.
My mom, her friend Pat, my niece and I fully masked boarded a direct flight to Honolulu June 11th, 2021. We would again stay on Waikiki beach, this time renting a car for part of the time. Travel is always interesting with my Mom - as you know she is visually impaired, but that doesn't stop us from adventuring.
Highlights of this trip: Climbing Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, My Mom and Pat's first time swimming in the ocean (I still find this hard to believe as they are in their late 60's - they both said they have waded in before but never swam), Paradise Cove Luau, The Dole Plantation, A Raptor Tour at Kualoa Ranch, Stopping at random beaches to swim and explore, Nu'uanu Pali Lookout, Leonards Bakery, Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens, Byodo-in Temple, and snorkeling at Hanauma Bay (the clearest I have ever seen it - the pandemic did wonders for the reef).
What do you do when the Polar Vortex hits? You go searching for a caveman, of course.
An artist hid a Caveman and a Cavewoman in different local parks in the Twin Cities. They are said to be off hiking trails where people who are searching will have easy access. I got a clue that the Caveman was at Theodore Wirth Park and I had a rough idea of where to find him. So my mom, my niece and I headed out into the -20 degree weather hoping to find him.
After about a mile walk we found him - a good time was had by all and it was a nice way to beat the winter blues.
Hiking Club Trail #36
Date: September 21, 2020
Location: McGreggor, MN
Length: 5.3 Miles
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 106.7 of 197
Birthday Hike 2020! This park is huge and I can't wait to come back and hike more of it. The fall colors were spectacular!!!
This park is really well maintained, trails were great and the signage was even better. This park has quickly become one of my favorites.
The Hiking Club trail takes you to a view point of the Continental Divide between the Mississippi and the St. Louis Rivers. It also brings you along part of the Savanna Portage Trail - this is an historic trail that was used by fur traders, American Indians and voyageurs. The last part of the trail takes you through some tall red pines (love the smell!).
Overall great day, beautiful colors, and a good long hike where I got to test my new hands free double leash for the dogs - it's a game changer for sure!
Hiking Club Trail #35
Date: September 17, 2020
Location: New Ulm, MN
Length: 2.8 Miles
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 101.4 of 197
Since the Covid-19 Pandemic hit earlier in the year and basically shut the world down, the State Parks have been overcrowded. We have avoided doing any State Park hiking this year due to the fact that crowds make it hard to hike with my mom and I have heard stories of lots of people not following park rules and having dogs off leash which would present a situation for Penny. We finally decided we needed to get back out there so we would try a mid week hike at a less traveled park.
It was great to be back on the trail. I didn't really realize how much I missed it.
This was Rio's first State Park hike - and my first time with both big dogs out at once... I am going to need to find a better double leash solution.
This Hiking Club trail had terrible signage by the end of the day my watch said we hiked 4.13 miles and the trail is supposed to be 2.8... Most of the hike was up against an electric fence (later I found out, much to my surprise, that area in the woods is home to many goats who are helping to get rid of an invasive plant species). Fall was just starting - paths were nice, wide and level. All in all it was a beautiful easy hike along the Cottonwood River.
Today we received our 100 mile patch!!!
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the new reality of working from home - I got the bright idea that we needed to rescue another dog. We lost Ruby 6 months ago and the house must be feeling a bit empty with just the other 2 dogs... haha! Winston is also getting pretty old (16) and Penny is the kind of dog that needs other dogs around. So I started to keep an eye on the Coco's Heart Dog Rescue website - this is the rescue we got Penny from. When Rio's picture popped up I just knew we needed to put in an application.
She has a sad story - she was found locked in an abandoned house with another dog. Left with very little food they were eating the furniture and anything else they could find. When she was rescued she was covered in more than 400 ticks but she was still the happiest dog. Well she will only live the best life now.
Meet my new hiking buddy!
I was supposed to be heading to South Korea this week for an epic vacation with my "Adopt-A-Mom" but Asia is being hit hard by a Pandemic. That trip was canceled and I opted to book a National Park Vacation with my Mom instead.
The plan was to fly into Las Vegas, visit the Hoover Dam, see Cirque du Soleil - Ka, then head to California and spend some time at both Joshua Tree NP and Death Valley NP. I knew before leaving that I needed to be ready for anything as the threat of that pandemic becoming an issue in the US was quickly becoming a reality. Before I left my work had told all employees if they fly on an airplane they would be subject to 2 weeks of work from home quarantine upon their return - all of this was unprecedented. It made me think twice about going but ultimately we decided we were going to go.
Flying into Vegas was just like any other flight to Vegas, full airplane, excited travelers. Arriving in Vegas was a little different the airport was pretty empty. We got our rental car and headed to our hotel - the MGM Grand - we get there the lobby is empty... it was so eerie but there was currently no need to change plans.
The next morning we headed out to the Hoover Dam - here it was easy to forget we had a global pandemic looming. There were PEOPLE here (not normal capacity as there were open parking spots) but people none the less. We were able to walk around and explore (the dam wasn't open so we couldn't go inside), people were incredibly nice and the fear of illness seemed non-existent. My favorite part was walking across the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. It spans the Colorado River between Nevada and Arizona 890 ft above the ground. The bridge give you a spectacular view of the Hoover Dam.
We then headed out to Red Rock Canyon to do some hiking. What a beautiful place! I loved hiking here but some of the trails were pretty difficult for my Mom (she is legally blind and the desert sun wasn't helping) so we found a nice fairly long boardwalk hike.
When we got back to Vegas we found out that the city would be shutting down in 2 days due to the pandemic... WHAT?!?!? Now the threat is real - we were scheduled to head out too Joshua Tree the next day - did we want to be in a small town in the desert as the world closed down? We decided to sleep on it. When we woke up it was pretty clear that California had plans of shutting down too - would the airports shut down too? We were in uncharted territory and decided to reschedule our flight and head home. During breakfast I literally watched the bartender take all the booze from the bar away - Vegas is hiding the boozed it is definitely time to go home.
Turns out this was only the beginning of a Pandemic that would ultimately change our lives for a long time.
Quick work trip to Chicago - it's been quite a few years since I have been here so it was nice in the very little downtime we had to get out and do a little urban hiking in the Windy City. Besides the pizza the best thing about Chicago is the walkability and the architecture.
Spent 8 hours delayed at the airport just trying to get here. Earlier that day a plane had slid off the runway at O'Hare. So it was nice to finally get here - though our landing was one of the scariest I've ever experienced, we slid a bit but stayed on the runway - we were all safe and gave the pilot a standing ovation. It was cold, Lake Michigan is prettier in the summer - but there is something about Chicago and it is beautiful in all seasons.
Hiking Club Trail #34
Date: October 26, 2019
Location: Fairfax, MN
Length: 2.6 Miles
Cumulative Hiking Club Miles: 98.6 of 197
This park is small but the trails are nice - though not marked super well. We started our hike looking at and walking through the historic old fort - the park was part of the Dakota War of 1862 - one of the battles took place on the grounds.
The hiking club trail is mostly flat, mowed grass except for about 1/4 mile of hills through the woods. We stopped for lunch at a scenic overlook. Penny got away from me (pulled backwards out of her harness) and caught an opossum - thank goodness it scared her and she came running back to me - in the meantime Winston got so worked up he peed on my shoe... very exciting and crazy 5 minutes. We also saw quite a few hawks and some deer.
We were getting toward the end of the fall colors but still had a bit of yellow showing through.
This is my quest to find my place beneath the stars - outside the confines of my office and without the pressures of everyday life.