northern 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)

#ForestFriday - Snowy & Cold

When you read this post, I’ll be on my way to a cabin off the grid… the one I wrote about on Wednesday. Anyway, I wanted to share some snowy forest photos from the past few times I visited in the winter so you have an idea of what it’s like where I’m at. The forecast is zero or below and lots of snow and clouds, so it’ll likely be less cherry than these, but it’ll be quiet and secluded as always. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

#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 - 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.

#MondayMotivation - After a day off...

I can find myself slipping into the negative “UGH, it’s Monday” routine. I’m fortunate, I get two days off in a row every week which means I can plan my life around a schedule. Some people, however, don’t have that luxury and get sporadic days off or no days off if they have to work several jobs. I sit here, thinking, thank goodness I have job and thank goodness I had two days off. Yeah, going back to work can be a drag after two days off, but Mondays (or whatever your Monday is) is just a buffer zone for the rest of the week. Think of it as the first time you do something, it starts off a little rocky but smooths out eventually. Some weeks never smooth out, I know, but without Monday, Tuesday would suck just as hard. It’s all about perspective. Getting through Monday gets me one day closer to my next set of days off. I’m not saying I’m cheerful and grateful all the time, but I’m really trying today by putting these positive thoughts out to y’all. Have a great week and find something about it you love!