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03/20/16

Permalink 07:29:22 pm, Categories: Adventures, 401 words   English (US)

Dylans Birthday March 18-20, 2016

Dylans birthday weekend and we decided to make a weekend adventure of it and planned a trip to Sibley State Park to stay at a camper cabin. All week Dylan was asking if it was the weekend yet and counting down for the weekend. He was pretty excited.


We picked him up from school a little early. We had sent cookies with Dylan to school and were mobbed by the kids on the way in. All wanted to tell me what color of cookie that they got. It was great!


We arrived in time to get unpacked and watch the snow flurries from the cabin. Dylan picked out his bunk for sleeping and his bunk for his toys. We didn't arrive in time to buy any firewood from the Park so we decided on a dinner inside and played card games together before turning in for the night.


Saturday morning dawned bright and clear, though with an inch or two of snow on the ground (surprise!). From the moment Dylan was up, he was asking if it was his birthday yet and time for presents. We brought his gift and one his Aunt Theresa had sent to him, so we agreed to presents with coffee.

We ran into the Park Ranger out by the bathrooms and he told us where we could pick up firewood for a fire later in the day. We visited with him a little bit and decided to collect some firewood at the Visitors Center. After picking up the wood for our fire, we stopped at the Ranger station and visited a bit more. Dylan got himself a homemade cinnamon roll for his birthday as well as a new game for us all to play together. We checked out the campground and boat launch in case we wanted to bring the new boat for a weekend adventure some time.

We returned to the cabin and built a nice bonfire. Dylan had some adventure walks where he found more bathrooms, unoccupied campsites and tons of piles of Deer Poo! We cooked hot dogs over the bonfire (Dylans new favorite meal) and had Dylans birthday cake of hostess cupcakes and snoballs with candles.

We finished the night with family card games. I love that he is getting old enough to enjoy playing games with us.

I can't believe that he is five already. It seems to have flown by.

03/06/16

Permalink 05:35:34 pm, Categories: Adventures, 483 words   English (US)

Troy's Birthday March 4-6, 2016

The boys picked me up at work just after lunch. Troy had dropped Bug off for his weekend adventure at Doggie Daycare, packed the truck and picked up the boy. We were heading out to our adventure to celebrate Troy's birthday and our 22 year anniversary.

We headed out to Glacial Lakes State Park amidst snow flurries excited for our adventure to begin.


We arrived at the campsite and found our cabin for the night. We were very pleased to find bunkbeds (Dylan especially), a table, screened in porch and deck. We unpacked the truck and set up our beds and camp before Troy and I walked around a little bit, since Dylan was so enamored by the cabin he didn't want to leave.


There was a deck overlooking the lake and gorgeous rolling hills due to the glacial formations. We cooked hot dogs over a wood fire and had baked beans and Troy's homemade potato salad. Though it was a day early, Dylan and I took the opportunity to surprise Troy with his birthday cards and cake of cupcakes and candles. He came into the cabin and we yelled surprise and blew horns at him. He was very surprised.


Dylan had too much fun with Troy's cards since they sang songs at him.

Saturday morning and we were all up early. We explored the area and cleaned up all the garbage we could find before searching for cool rocks and artifacts for Dylan to bring to the Science Museum for their exchange program. One of the rocks we found was slate and Troy had an experiment for Dylan to break off a piece of slate. He thought it was awesome the way it broke off and it could fit back together again.

We needed to meet the naturalist to get our Mn Parks Passport and join them for a walk. We weren't sure how far we would go since it was a good five mile hike to the top. We learned quite a bit about the glacier formations and the eskers as well as the erratics (which is a rock dropped randomly by the glacier). It was so cool just to see them. The hike was difficult given the terrain. The path was also very muddy in some spots and icy in others. So icy in fact that Troy fell a few times before we were back to our cabin.

We relaxed, had martinis and dinner before we enjoyed a fire and a little stargazing before heading to bed, a little early after that long hike.

Sunday we all slept in then packed among a beautifully sunny day. We got our DNR stamp in the passport and headed home. On the way we saw a sign for the Lake Maria State Park and detoured there for a stamp for that park as well. What a great adventure, we would definitely do that again.

06/26/15

Permalink 09:06:15 pm, Categories: Adventures, 688 words   English (US)

Fathers Day weekend 2015

It was an off day for the boat, so we decided to create an adventure closer to home. Since my Dad's birthday and Fathers Day landed on the same weekend, we thought we would combine a trip south, visit my Dad and keep driving to a state park in Waterville, MN. The Sakatah Lake State Park looked like a great place to do some camping and hiking. It boasted a great biking trail as well.

Unfortunately, we arrived at Dad's facility right before they were to serve lunch, so our visit was rather short. Dylan did get a chance to tell him about his T-ball and wish him a happy birthday. We decided to press on, though it meant we would arrive at the campsite early given our 4:00 pm check in time.

We arrived to find the previous campers still at the site, so we walked some of the trails and saw the lake, killing time. We went into town and had an ice cream cone, came back to find them still there and we were still an hour early. So, we drove around and visited the town of Faribault.

We returned to the State Park after 4:00 expecting our site to be open and ready for us to set up. But it wasn't! The previous tenants had changed the sign as if they had it rented for another night, so we went to the office and talked to the Park Rangers. They couldn't find the renters and had no other place big enough for our tent.

Was our adventure cancelled?

Lucky for us NO! The Park Rangers offered us the use of the group camp site since it wasn't in use. It was big enough for 50 people, had four tables and a bunch of grills, a pit toilet on it and water! It was away from all other campers as well so we could let Bug run free. What an awesome turnout. We set up and Dylan played in the tent. He really enjoys it.

And Bug! He had a blast. It is amazing how things can sometimes work out for the best.

We set up camp and played around, had an awesome dinner of pork chops. corn on the cob and baked potatoes followed by a campfire under the stars. The bugs were out and had definitely found us, but we made due with extra sprays of bug junk, as long as we were by the fire and under the stars I was happy. The boy crawled into my lap and fell asleep shortly afterward. It was a long day so I can understand why he was tired. Troy picked him up and we put him to bed on in his sleeping bag. Troy and I returned to the fireside and watched the fire and the lightning bugs play. The stars came out and peeked at us through the canopy of trees around us. The bugs went to sleep, as they usually do, and it could not have been a more perfect night. Troy and I didn't want it to end. But eventually, we headed to the tent and sleep very well ourselves.

The next morning Dylan was up before the rest of us, crawled into bed between us and fell back to sleep. (Given how late we stayed up, I was very grateful he went back to sleep!). We all got up and enjoyed the sunshine and coffee and homemade carrot bread before deciding to do some hiking of our own. We'd seen lots of folks go past the campsite on their bikes and were ready to check it out.

Though the day was a bit muggy and the bugs were busy in the woods, the hike was a nice one. The trails are nicely maintained and not too hard (Dylan got tired toward the end of the hike, but Bug never did). I would recommend that area to anyone, especially if you're thinking of a biking adventure since the campsite is a part of the Singing Hills Trail.

After our hike we returned to the site and packed up and headed home. An excellent adventure!

04/25/15

Permalink 09:01:16 pm, Categories: Adventures, 543 words   English (US)

April 25, 2015 Our first camping adventure!

We had our first camping adventure!

On Saturday we awoke early with the promise of a beautiful sunny day and multiple adventures. Dylan had been asking to take a train ride adventure, and, as fate would have it..... the Northstar announced an open house event at their Big Lake facility that included a free train ride to Minneapolis and back.

So, we would go!


We packed the car chock full of all the camping gear we could think of (including the Dog!) and headed north. We arrived at the Big Lake facility where Dylan was able to take his very first bus ride to the maintenance facility where they take care of the trains themselves. Metro Transit had tables and tents set up, free gifts (key chains and pencils) for the kids and of course the chance to meet Skip Transit! They also had a number of the Metro Transit police and their K-9 partners there. Dylan got a chance to meet with them all (and pet them of course).

Afterward, we took the bus back to the train area and boarded the train bound for Minneapolis. It was a direct trip there and back without stopping. We were able to secure a table on the top story of the train car so Dylan had a great view of the countryside.

After the train ride, we let Bug stretch his legs a bit and then went off to find the Ann Lake Camp area. It turns out that I am absolutely horrible at reading the maps that Troy prints out. I got us just a little bit off track. Eventually Troy got us back in the right direction, we found the campground and picked out a site.


While it was a bit windy putting up the tent (for the first time I might add), we eventually got everything all set up and were ready to explore. While we were setting up camp, Dylan and Bug had a ball chasing themselves around the campsite. In the tent, out of the tent..... they were happy, it was great.


We had a nice relaxing afternoon, topped off with stuff pork chops for dinner and a beautiful sunrise. The moon rose earlier and Dylan spotted it above us early in the evening. We roasted marshmallows for smores and watched the stars come out (each one pointed out by Dylan excitedly) before retreating to the tent as the last of the sun disappeared and the cool, clear night took over.

I have to admit that it was cool that night. I think the low was 32 degrees. At one point, all four of us were in the same bed together, keeping each other warm. We didn't really rough it, with air mattresses, a camp kitchen, a drip coffee maker and warm water and all..... but it was a great time.

The next morning the air was bracing, but as the sun rose it warmed the air. Dylan and I got up together and he showed me the lake and all the sparkles on it (the sunshine reflecting). The lake had visitors from all sorts of fowl from ducks to trumpeter swans. It was a great campsite and very quiet (unsurprising given the weather). I would recommend it to others!

09/13/14

Permalink 05:33:44 pm, Categories: Adventures, 2934 words   English (US)

August 30-September 8, 2014 -- Apostle Islands Adventure

Posted by Karen A. Brown

We planned a grand adventure, a week and a half bumming around the Apostle Islands. We had no planned visits or routes, but hoped to spend a bunch of time at dock's this visit to give Dylan and the dog free access to the beach (which they both absolutely love!).

Friday, August 29
While we had planned to head up the night before, we still had cookies to make and packing to do. Given the weather wasn't going to cooperate anyway, we headed up on Friday instead. The goal was to load the boat for the weekend and ready our departure on Saturday morning. There were lots of people around the marina and it was nice to visit with so many of them. We were able to get everything stowed away, ready for the next day's departure.

Saturday, August 30
Saturday dawned a bit foggy and with no wind (no surpise). Many of the fishermen were up and out of the marina early to take advantage of the good fishing usually found with flat calm, and the fact that the fish were starting to come our way. The boys rowed WhimC (our dinghy) around, we all got aboard and headed to the fuel dock for the final fuel up and pump out.

We crossed to Wisconsin and the day brightened as we made it across. By the time we reached Eagle Island it was still flat calm, but now a bright sunny day. We entered the Apostle's using the south passage by Sand and headed to Raspberry Island. We had hoped to spend the night at the dock there if it was available.


Lucky for us, it was open. This is a picture of the boys at the top of the stairs from the dock to the Raspberry Island lighthouse. Though the lighthouse was closed and the keeper no where in sight, it was still a beautiful afternoon. We hung around the grounds for a little bit, giving Bug a chance to stretch his legs (and Dylan) and even got in a game of croquet. For those of you who haven't been to the lighthouse, they keep a croquet game set up with balls and mallets for visitors to play. It's pretty cool.

Sunday, August 31
Sunday dawned clear and sunny, with the promise of a bit of wind and a storm coming later in the day. The plan for the day was to get into the rhythm of the sea and spend the day either on the boat or on a sandy shore. With the planned wind being SW to SE becoming S in the evening, we headed to York Island, leaving the dock by 9:00, before the lighthouse opened so others could enjoy it. Labor Day weekend is the end of the season for the Apostle's and a lot of people use this as an opportunity to see the lighthouse one last time.

We anchored at York and spent the day hanging out, playing with Dylan and watching a variety of kayaker's paddle up the island. There certainly were a lot of people out and about. There was also a bit of wind, though we were moderately protected in the harbor, the wind did periodically come too much East of SE and a chop developed in the protected anchorage as well. We heard later from our friend Joey that Sunday would prove to be a busy day for them. (he does boat rescue and salvage on Black Warrior).

Unfortunately the wind really started to come out of the Northeast more frequently than not. We were getting uncomfortable. A final listen to the weather prediction confirmed that we should probably move. This was after dinner and we were heading towards dusk, but we've anchored in the dark before and we weren't worried about moving.

Just as Troy got the hook up, the storm hit and we were both completely soaked in a matter of minutes. Troy changed his jeans into his rain pants and put on his float coat. It's a good thing that it is summer and the rain was warm. Dylan and Bug, staying out the rain, enjoyed a movie below while we headed over to Rocky Island. It was an interesting trip, seeing the islands in between the strikes of lightening. We seemed to be the only vessel underway that evening.

We arrived at Rocky Island and saw that the north side of the dock was empty and decided to try and make for the dock. We headed in and I went forward to step off with the dock line. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work that way. The dock was slippery as was the deck of the boat. The dock at Rocky is also a 'Michigan style dock', meaning it has poles that run up four feet every few feet, which we don't often encounter. Regardless of the reason, I ended up in the water, between the dock and WhimSea. Troy saw me go in. In his concern for me, he evaluated his ability to make the dock himself, bring the boat in and keep WhimSea away so I could swim to shore. He stepped onto the dock with the stern line, but he also was unable to stay on the dock and he ended up in the water.

So now, both Troy and I are in the water... the boat is underway (though in reverse and dead slow) on a lee shore, in a storm, in the dark. The boy and the dog are still below, watching a movie. But they are the ONLY ONES ON THE BOAT!

I swam to shore while Troy grabbed the stern line that he brought in the water with him and made his way to the swim platform. He made his way to the platform, the diesel exhaust spitting water in his face and paused a moment to get his breath. Of course the swim ladder wasn't down and now he had to figure out how to get back aboard. Three times he made the attempt to re-board the boat. Failure was not an option. Dylan and Bug were aboard, alone (and unaware of the drama that was unfolding) below. He later told me that he had to talk himself into climbing up each rung of the swim later to get aboard. Finally he made it back aboard and turned WhimSea out to sea before the water became too thin.

In the meantime, I swam to shore, throwing off the coat that was dragging me down. I was minus one shoe and a hat, but I had somehow managed to keep my glasses on and walked down the dock in a step, slap fashion towards the end of the dock. There was a boat on the south side of the dock and those folks aboard had come to the dock in the meantime. All of them had donned headlamps that they were pointing in Troy's direction. He had turned the boat about and was about to make his second attempt to dock when he asked them where his wife was. They were all confused.

'Man Overboard' Troy yelled. And mayhem ensued as those on the dock realized someone was in the water. I was walking up the dock at this time, but with the noise of the diesel, the dark and the storm, people couldn't see me until I was among them. Troy still couldn't see me, given that the other boaters were blinding him with their headlights. He had come around for another attempt at docking and the boaters took the bowline from WhimSea to help out. Unfortunately, they did not cleat her off, but stood there, holding the line. Troy threw the mid-ships line their way, tossing into the general darkness and bright lights that were presented to him (being blinded by their headlights). We all heard the splash as the mid-ships line hit the water instead of the intended recipient. At the sound of the splash, the person holding the bow line threw it back aboard and shouted that Troy try again. Troy put the boat into reverse with the intention of making an attempt, but the stern line he had brought to the water with him when we went in the water was quickly sucked into the prop.

Thunk. The engine died. And the boat was without propulsion, on a lee shore, without me.

Instinctively, Troy pulled out the jib to windward and on a starboard tack headed out to drop the hook. This allowed him run forward and drop the anchor as close to the dock as possible. After she was secure, he rolled up the sail and began hailing the boat on the dock. Eventually, they turned on their radio and I was able to talk with Troy and Dylan. Assuring them that I was fine and that we would get together again in the morning. I would spend the night on the stranger's boat. They would stay out on the hook. Hopefully we would remove the line from the prop in the morning.

Monday, September 1 (Labor Day)
The morning took forever to come. I had spent the night on a stranger's boat. On the dock, wondering if my boys were ok and periodically checking to make sure that WhimSea hadn't dragged her anchor in the night. It was rainy and overcast that morning when everyone started to stir and the strangers I had imposed myself on offered to drop me off at WhimSea on their way to Madeline Island. I really appreciated their hospitality and was grateful that they would drop me off, so together Troy and I could resolve the prop issue while she was under anchor. They dropped me off and were on their way to Madeline. Unfortunately, the boat didn't even have a name, so I can't thank the boat personally, for their help.

Troy and I talked through what to do about the line in the prop. We couldn't even get the engine in neutral to charge the batteries. We either had to resolve it, or plan to end our vacation right then and sail back to Knife River.

In an effort to make sure that both ends of the dock line weren't in the water, Troy put a rolling hitch on the dock line that had wrapped around the prop and cut the line. There was a loud thunk, the cut end shot two feet, as the tension on the line was released with the cutting and it unwrapped from the prop. With the tension released we were able to unwrap the dock line from the prop. We could now put the engine into neutral.

With the engine in neutral, the engine fired right up. While there was a slight wobble, she didn't seem too much worse for wear from her adventure. We motored about for a little while and then headed for the dock. Both boys were anxious by this time to make dry land. After we tied up they ran gleefully down the dock and played in the sand and the water at the shore. Troy even recovered my lost shoe that had ended up down the shore.

We would spend the rest of the day relaxing, playing in the sand and the water and enjoying a wonderful dinner at shore. Troy made us a bonfire and we even had smores (Dylan for the first time) before heading to bed. Tired, and grateful to be together.

Tuesday, September 2
Tuesday morning would find us on Rocky Island dock for the day. The boys really enjoyed their quick and easy access to the beach and to water. We had a hard time keeping them out of the water, as a matter of fact.


Tuesday evening would find us cooking dinner under a cloudy sky dropping rain. Troy braved the weather to make us pork chops, sweet potatoes and pea pods on the grill. We were out of ice, so we cracked into one our our mini-kegs and enjoyed some Nut Brown Ale with dinner.

Wednesday, September 3
Wednesday morning and we decided we had to head for Bayfield. We were out of ice and could use more milk as well. We left the dock, with some reservation (dock space can be hard to find sometimes) and headed in to the marina at Bayfield. We headed into and secured ourselves at the end of D dock behind Always Sunday. A beautfiul powerboat which happened to have aboard someone who had worked at Knife River a time or two splashing down boats! Imagine, running into someone we knew at Bayfield.

Imagine our surprise when we looked the marina over and saw our friends from Pemion at the City Dock! Knowing we would be at the dock for the night, we sent a note to our friend Joey and invited him over for a drink. Lucky for us he was free and we spent the night catching up on friends and hearing of his adventures on Black Warrior first hand.

Thursday, September 4
Thursday dawned with a storm. We were heeling at the dock and the winds were buffeting every boat in the marina. We considered our options for the day. We could slip the dock lines and head out to an island. Or we could stay in town for another day. We had gathered our provisions (milk and broccoli) and could pick up ice before leaving, but first we listened to the forecast. They called for 30 knot gusts that evening switching 180 degrees in the night. There was no place in the islands that offered the kind of protection we would need from 180 degrees, unless we stayed put.

So, we stayed put and explored town a bit, heading to Maggies for lunch about mid-day. Afterward we explored the local marine museum and headed to the City dock to see if Pemion was aboard. We were anxious to hear of their adventures to date and to learn where they were headed. Jim and Linda had been talking about their adventure south for some time and we wondered if they were finally off on their epic adventure.

After hitting the marina, we made our way to the city dock where Dylan expressed, once again, his desire to get aboard the 'big ships' at the dock. Of course he meant the ferry that was bringing folks back and forth to Madeline. We stalled Dylan for a bit and knocked on Pemion, and were happy to find Jim and Linda on board.

It turned out that they were on their way to the big adventure, heading towards Chicago, their eventually trip down river and out to Belize next spring. What an amazing stroke of luck that we were able to see them on the way, else we wouldn't have had a chance to say goodbye!

In the interim, we did bring Dylan on his trip on the big ship (the ferry to Madeline and back) so we had an opportunity to enjoy a new type of ship on the lake. We invited Jim and Linda back to WhimSea for a drink and learned of their adventures so far. Enjoyed a drink and wished them well on their adventure. Their blog is planned to be at Pemion.Blogspot.net when they have it up and running.

In the meantime, we learned of a coast guard call made to by a former marina made for a medi-vac. The Annie B Stone needed someone removed who was experiencing pains and Nelson was bringing the boat to Bayfield to join their friend. He would dock right behind us, in the spot emptied by Always Sunday.

Friday, September 5
Friday would find us leaving Bayfield behind and heading back out to the dock at Rocky Island. We had enough of the hustle and bustle of marina life and looked forward to the quiet found in the islands. We had a great sail out and docked, once again, at Rocky. We were surprised by the number of boats out, given that it was the weekend after Labor Day, but it was a beautiful night to be out and about.

Saturday, September 6
Saturday morning dawned bright and clear with Dylan and Bug itching to get back in the water. We would have a hard time getting them out again before leaving the islands. While this picture doesn't convey the temperture, there were times when both would stand before us, shivering with the cold, asking to get back in the water. True water babies, both of them are!


Saturday evening would find us cooking dinner ashore again, complete with a bonfire and smores. We would share with our dock mates, but the nights were quiet and filled with stars and the moon, which had just reached full. More perfect days on the lake could not be planned.

Sunday, September 7
Sunday would be another day of relaxing at the beach, looking for sticks to throw and playing in the water. I have not felt so disconnected. No cell signal meant no internet, no facebook, no email and it was wonderful. Time slowed down and life was truly enjoyed. The moon reached out to us that evening and gave off such a wonderful light. What a perfect end to a truly fine vacation.

Monday, September 8
Monday would find us heading home to building seas and a rolling boat. Dylan did not fare well on the trip, being sick sea with the roll, but recovered quickly after we returned to the marina. While we were all sad to see the end to the vacation, it was clearly time to head home.

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