minnesota

#ForestFriday - Weekend Recap

Are you sick of hearing about Minnesota? Last week I shared photos from the 2018 trip, including some snowy trees, but honestly do snow covered trees ever get old? (maybe to some, but not to me) This will be the last post about it, for a little while anyway…maybe, I can’t make any promises. Enjoy some snow covered trees from my weekend in Minnesota. (Read about the “hike” here)

#WayBackWednesday - My first trip to Duluth, MN

The view of Duluth from Park Point

The view of Duluth from Park Point

Beach bonfire before heading up to the cabin.

I am quite lucky to know people with amazing places to go when I want to escape the real world for a little bit. Through my best friend, I have access to an off-the-grid cabin in Northern Minnesota near the Boundary Waters. I may have already gone on and on about how amazing this place is, so I’ll just say it is probably my favorite place to go ever. I met Kevin in the dorms back in 2003. We became good friends and he invited me up to the cabin in the summer of 2004. Since college was done for the summer, he was back in metro Detroit and I was in my hometown on Lake Huron in Northern Michigan. The plan was that he’d swing through my town and pick me up one night and we’d drive through the night to arrive in Duluth at dawn. Unknowingly, this trip set up a lifetime of loving the night drive and road trips. Kevin picked me up, we made one stop to buy a new digital camera in the neighboring town’s Walmart, and we were off. I remember getting to Duluth, being tired from the drive, but excited to see Minnesota. After a nap, I met his aunt who owned the cabin and her friend Marie. We had a nice day exploring Canal Park and had bonfire on the beach that night. I want to say that we slept on the beach that night, but my mind is a little foggy on details. The trip was off to a great start. When we did finally head up to the cabin, we strapped the canoe on the minivan and headed up the North Shore. We stopped very little on the way up, saving some scenic spots for our return trip. Kevin had made this drive and been up here annually, so this wasn’t all new to him like it was to me. Looking through the photos, I’m shocked there weren’t more. Back in 2004 we had cell phones, but not nearly the connected lives we have now so I’d be willing to say I appreciate what the cabin is so much more now. I’m so excited to be heading up there tomorrow, escaping the emails and text messages. Enjoy some photos from that virgin voyage in 2004. Here’s to hoping there are many, many more.

Boundary Waters flowing into non Boundary Waters area

Boundary Waters flowing into non Boundary Waters area

The only way to the cabin is by boat (or bushwhacking through the woods)

The only way to the cabin is by boat (or bushwhacking through the woods)

This is a place we frequently visit when at the cabin - it has a nice clearing and is great for pondering the mysteries of life, grilling, camping, or just enjoying a trail beer.

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge - our last night in Duluth before heading back to Michigan

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge - our last night in Duluth before heading back to Michigan

The journey back to the Lower Peninsula across the Mighty Mackinac Bridge.

The journey back to the Lower Peninsula across the Mighty Mackinac Bridge.

#MondayMotivation - Authentic Outdoors

I’m motivated by people who love the outdoors and love to spread the joy and knowledge associated with the outdoors. People who share their stories in a real way and don’t just sugar coat everything are my favorite people. Life isn’t like an edited photo, it’s a little grainy and sometimes the colors are out of balance.

A week ago I met with my people on a Skype call for a mastermind group centralized around being real, outdoorsy people who want their social media presence to reflect real life. I’m so lucky to be a part of a group of like-minded folks who love the outdoors in their own ways but love themselves enough to realize that maybe we haven’t always told the whole story or even the real story because we’ve been conditioned to present life in a polished, tidy way. Prime example is the previous sentence - this is how I speak in real life and run-ons are my life. I could clean it up but I don’t care to as it doesn’t REALLY change make it any better overall.

Thanks to the people who run the blogs/websites listed below for motivating me and speaking so freely over Skype on a random Sunday in January. You have improved my life and I look forward to becoming regular chatters about all topics outdoors. I’m no digital media expert, nor would I consider myself an influential person, but I do appreciate anyone who reads/enjoys my content. I make it for me, in some narcissistic weird way, but hope it’s received and can offer some form of inspiration or entertainment for YOU.

Christina: http://www.christinaskis.com/

Jen: https://jennythetrailhead.com/

Kristi: https://indoorsycamper.com/

Sara Beth: https://innercompassblog.com/

I wish you all a wonderful week ahead and I hope you find motivation out there, if not from this. Hike your own hike and live your reality.

#MondayMotivation - This week, upcoming trips!

From the album "As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide" available NOW. iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/as-... Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/7aOUkT... Physical Copies: http://www.saidthewhale.com

I often use upcoming trips as motivation. I know I have touched on this before, made Monday Motivation posts about it before, and yet here I am again. Right now, we’re looking to camp at a local state park at the end of the week, if my family can get a reservation. Right now, Texas Parks and Wildlife is updating their reservation system with a new, much better system that allows for specific campsite reservations which will change my life for the better. So, since my uncle works near the park we want to visit this weekend, he’s going to stop in and try to reserve something in person. Here’s to hoping. Even if it doesn’t happen, I’m going to head there to hike anyway.

On February 7, I fly to Minneapolis and then drive to Duluth. My buddy and I are taking our annual trip to his family cabin near the Boundary Waters. (If you haven’t voiced your support for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and want to, please do so!) We will get up there on Thursday night, pack it up, and then head to the cabin Friday morning. We’ll stop at the wonderful Gun Flint Tavern in Grand Marais, hit up the IGA and local co-op if they’re open, then make our way up to the frozen lake. I can’t wait to be off the grid, away from it all. I can’t wait to snowshoe, to drink Leinenkugel's original, and to spend some time with the trees and snow. We will head back to civilization on Sunday afternoon, and back to Texas on Monday evening. It’s going to be a great little first quarter reset.

Work is fine, life is alright, hiking is great, but I’m always up for a reset. It’s never a bad thing to shut off the tech for a minute and get back to real life.

These events/ideas/plans are getting me through the next two weeks. Also, the song I’ve attached at the beginning is one of my favorite songs of all time by my favorite band of all time. When I was in Seward and it was rainy as ever, I’d listen to this song on my morning walks around the streets as I waited for everyone to wake up. Every morning can be a beautiful morning, remember that.

Been friends since 2003, so more like family now. Doesn’t hurt that he has access to the cabin, kidding!

Been friends since 2003, so more like family now. Doesn’t hurt that he has access to the cabin, kidding!

#ForestFriday - Dreaming of Northern Minnesota

I’ll be heading to Northern Minnesota in early February to brave the cold and snow to go off the grid for a few days. I’ve talked about it before, but my friend’s cabin is one of my favorite places in the whole world. The cabin is a short hike or paddle from the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness and surround by Natoinal Forest on the other side. It is peaceful, quiet, and the perfect retreat.

If you’ve followed me, you know the BWCAW is important to me but also an important part of Northern Minnesota. I support Save The Boundary Waters which is a nonprofit set up to promote the preservation of the Boundary Waters. If you want more information, would like to donate to the cause, want to find ways to get involved, and/or need a link to leave a public comment against mining in or near the Boundary Waters, click HERE.

From Save The Boundary Waters homepage - they said it better than I could.

“On December 20, the Trump Administration’s U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced it will renew Chilean mining giant Antofagasta’s Twin Metals mining leases. This action is intended to avoid America’s bedrock environmental laws to allow dangerous sulfide-ore copper mining on public lands next to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for the benefit of a foreign mining company. 

The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters is leading the effort to ensure permanent protection for the Boundary Waters Wilderness, America's most visited Wilderness and Minnesota's crown jewel, from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining. “

Here are some photos from a trip taken in September of 2015. I can’t wait to get up there and snowshoe down to the BWCAW and hide out from everything going on in the world for a few days. Please join me in supporting the efforts to protect this special place. Happy Friday and may you find the forest - even if it’s just through this post.

I'll always be a sunrise guy

There’s nothing like being on a road trip, driving through the night, and seeing that first sliver of light ahead. As you travel further along, the sky opens up and you’re rejuvenated like the cycle of light you’re chasing.

For years, I'd stay up all night and sleep through the sunrises not waking until the sun was at a high noon.  It wasn't until back in college when we started doing road trips through the night that I started to appreciate the sunrise.  I've always had trouble sleeping, so staying up all night was never a problem; I always went to bed as the moon began to set.  Driving all night - be it around Lake Michigan for no reason at all, from Michigan to Seattle (a few nights), or anywhere else we went - allowed me to be awake for the sunrise.

I can remember back to sometime my sophomore year of college, or so, that we did a winter road trip circumnavigating Lake Michigan.  We left Grand Rapids, MI and headed south towards Chicago and up through Milwaukee.  The best part, on each occasion this trip happened, was Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  Up there, I remember seeing the best sunrises.  We did the trip three different years, but the first trip was when I realized I'd forever be a sunrise guy.  Below are three photos of the frigid winter sunrise from Michigan's Upper Peninsula from the early 2000s.

In 2007 my buddies and I started doing these spring break road trips that allowed us to see as much as possible in the least amount of time.  Between the three of us, no one had crossed the Mississippi as an adult nor had we experienced the Rocky Mountains (or any mountains) in person.  This road trip involved many stops but I can still remember that moment when the sun would barely peek over the horizon.  That sliver of a sunrise signaled a new day and regenerated me every time.  I tried to find some photos from the various road trips, but most are blurry or through a dirty windshield.  Take a road trip, drive through the night, and let me know how that first sliver of light makes you feel.

As the years went by, road trip sunrises quickly became one of my favorite things.  If you catch a desert sunrise, road trip or not, it's probably going to be one of the best things you see.  Another favorite sunrise of mine was in 2011 at the Grand Canyon North Rim in October, right before they closed for the season.  This was not only my first Grand Canyon sunrise, it was my first time seeing the Grand Canyon in person.  What a way to be introduced to the place - as it wakes up.

On my most recent trip, to Minnesota, I woke up just in time to see the sun rising over Lake Superior.  Everyone was asleep, even the dog, so I quickly got dressed and crept outside to watch the sun come up.  I walked from the house, through the pines, and ended on the beach.  I could hear the ice moving, see the fog over the city behind me, and see a couple of dogs being walked down the way.  It was an amazing moment in time, to stop and take it all in.

Sunrises may be my favorite, but don't think I wont whip out a camera or phone to capture the sunset just as often.  Every beginning has an end and both are beautiful.