Entries to Win Afghan


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Winners are: 3rd place- e-book of your choice: Wendy Nystrom. 2nd place- book of your choice, paper or e-book: Sue Ann Crawford. Winner of the afghan: Elaine Hull.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Mesabi Hike - Marble to Kewatin

 

Thursday, August 6, 2009, Marie and I continued north on the paved Mesabi Trail through former iron mining lands. This view shows how the trail has more interest and topography than a simple rail-trail. You can also see the greenery beginning to cover the raw landscape.

Mesabi Trail

Two of our most interesting wildlife sightings happened this day. First we saw a mammal completely new to me at that time, Richardson's Groundsquirrel. It's more commonly called a Flickertail because of it's nervous habit of twitching that tail.

flickertail

Not long after that, a gray fox calmly trotted across the trail ahead of us. Unfortunately, the picture isn't focused well. But I was amazed at how unconcerned the animal was with our presence.

gray fox

I think Marie loves the turtles best of all. This is a common Midwestern Painted Turtle, but it's not covered with pond muck or duckweed, so it was looking nice. I've recently learned that this sub-species differs from the Eastern Painted Turtle in a couple of ways. Easy field mark is that the scutes (plates) of the shell are alternated across it's back.

painted turtle

And, I found another new flower. The blue one. It's Creeping Bellflower, Campanula rapunculoides, and the yellow is Common Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare. Although the blue and yellow are so pretty, both plants are alien.

creeping bellflower

For the days we followed the Mesabi Trail we loved marking our progress with the gateways to each town.

Kewatin sign

Marble to Kewatin, Minnesota. 15.8 miles, 63.6 to date for that trip.

See Grand Rapids to Marble
See Spermophilus richardsonii
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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Mesabi Hike - Grand Rapids to Marble

 
Since I managed yesterday to stumble into pictures of a hike I never blogged about, I've decided to take us all back to this trip in 2009 for the next few days. I even accidentally hit the first day of that hike. There could be interruptions if something exciting happens. Or not.

Anyway, this was the longest continuous time that Marie and I ever were out. I had an obsession with completing the Minnesota miles of the North Country Trail that summer. We began by connecting the Chippewa National Forest with the Kekakabic Trail, a distance of 180 miles. Yesterday, I showed you the road miles that took us from the Chippewa into Grand Rapids (two days). There we picked up the paved Mesabi Trail.

Mesabi Trail

The trail is not a true rail-trail, as many portions are not old rail bed. However, a lot of it follows the former Duluth, Missabe and Northern rail grade. This line opened northern Minnesota for iron mining. A lot of the landscape we saw was great hills of red ore tailings surrounded by lakes formed in the open pits. It had a certain beauty of its own.

Very little active mining remains. the companies are working very hard to reclaim the land, undo the ecological damage, and make the area attractive for recreation. Aspen trees are covering the tailing hills. Nature does heal itself, although sometimes it needs some help.

Mesabi Trail

Along the way, we saw continuous reminders of the former industry, such as this nifty Diamond Reo truck.

Diamond Reo truck

The primary waterway we now followed was the Prairie River, which flows into the Mississippi in Grand Rapids.

Prairie River

Since that time, we have encountered a much longer floating bridge in Ohio, but in 2009, this was the first one we had ever crossed.

floating bridge

You know me... I was greatly interested in the wildflowers. Prairie clover, Petalostemum villosum, was one we had learned in North Dakota, but it always brings oohs and aahs when in bloom.

prairie clover

Culver's Root, Veronicastrum virginicum, can be seen throughout the northeast. It's not just a prairie plant.

Culver's Root

This one had me stumped for a while. Sadly, that's because it's native to the western US, but is considered invasive in Minnesota. It's bigleaf lupine, Lupinus polyphyllus. Yup, pretty much like the common one, only much bigger and much easier to grow. "So who cares which one grows?" you ask. The endangered Karner Blue Butterfly needs the common one for its life cycle. Here, it's gone to seed, busy pushing the native one out of it's natural range.

bigleaf lupine

This was August 5, 2009. Day three of the hike, 16 miles, total 47.8.

See Chippewa to Grand Rapids
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Friday, February 24, 2017

2-24 Game

 
The actual day was dreary, beginning with thundersnow and ice which changed to rain. I worked all day and am soon headed back for the Friday night routine.

But I'm reading a book about conquering fear and hiking. The author mentioned a study where hospital patients healed faster when they could view nature scenes through their windows. Even seeing pictures of natural settings promoted healing!

So, I'm playing that game where you take some numbers and look in your computer files for pictures. The date is 2-24. So I looked on my second SD card after I started taking digital pictures that were stored on them. Here is the 24th picture. I took a chance that it would be something outdoors, and I win that lotto.

This is a multi-use trail in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Marie and I hiked it in August of 2009. It's part of the North Country Trail connections. When I first saw this picture I assumed it was part of the Mesabi Trail, which goes north from Grand Rapids. However, this was the day we hiked into town from the Chippewa National Forest. That was mostly road, but there must have been some small piece of paved urban trail.

Grand Rapids MN Trail

Since I never really blogged about any of this (very hard to get internet connections on the road then), I'll put the picture in some context. As we connected from the Chip to Grand Rapids, we generally followed the route of the Mississippi River.

Mississippi River

That same day we also walked past some lovely wetlands filled with water parsnip (Sium suave).

wetland

If there is any one flower that says northern Minnesota in late summer it's fireweed, Epilobium angustifolium.

fireweed

We camped for several nights at the City Park where the sites were very reasonably priced. The alpenglow on the trees that evening was gorgeous.

alpenglow on campground

The joke was on us a couple of nights later. We found out the park was right next to the speedway race track. On Saturday night we literally could not even stand being in the tent, so we took our book and drove to a different park many blocks away where we read and then talked till long after dark and it was "safe" to return to our tent.

Here's hoping this little nature moment from a few years back made you smile.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Moses Makes Another Appearance

 
My houseplants are pretty much abused, but this one has agreed to bloom again. Just ignore the dust and spider webs.

Tradescantia discolor

It's the one called Moses-in-the-Boat, Tradescantia discolor. When it bloomed before I gave a lot of explanation, so I won't repeat that.

Tradescantia discolor

Instead, I'll show you some previously featured relatives, other Tradescantia.

Wandering Jew, maybe T. pallida

Tradescantia pallida

Unknown, but in the same family.

unknown Commelinaceae

Common spiderwort, a wildflower, Tradescantia virginiana

Tradescantia virginiana

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Not Mine, But...

 
My friend Irene has also been dogless for quite a while now. I shared when Pearl passed on in 2013. Then in 2015, Sandy Fe, the older of the two dogs died quietly. Pearl loved everyone. Sandy was more selective, but I was on her good list. Dogs mostly just like me.

Anyway. Irene is more than ready to welcome another canine into her life. One of these cuties is going to be hers in a few weeks. Here they are at four days old. Yup, another golden retriever.

puppies

And again today at nine days. (Colored spots on their puppy butts are nail polish to tell them apart.)

puppies

I'll get to meet whichever one it is this summer at the wiggly age of about 6 months.

(photos used with permission)

See Puppy Fix
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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Rail Tales

 
Walked to town today to do some errands and came home by way of the railroad tracks. A train came while I was walking. That always makes me happy.

approaching train

Before the train came by, however, I was looking at the hopper cars parked along a siding. Freight cars can come from anywhere, and these are marked Winchester and Western. Well, I think I'm a railroad buff, but this one was new to me.

freight cars

I had to look it up.

Winchester and Western hopper car

Now I feel pretty dumb. It's a short line that runs in Virginia, West Virginia and New Jersey. But it's been in operation since 1916. You'd think I would have heard of it. Probably I have, but the info didn't stick. My railroad fan friend, Irene, will be appalled.

Winchester and Western logo

I took a close picture of the Marquette Rail engine as it went by. See the number? This is the same engine I saw the first time I spotted the new paint scheme after it was acquired by the Genesee and Wyoming line. They now own over 120 short lines!

Marquette Rail engine

The co-op grain elevator used to be serviced by the railroad. The loading chute still hangs in place, unused and forlorn.

grain loading chute

Now, everything comes and goes by truck. I don't know why. The trains run every day.

grain elevator loading truck


See New Owner, New Paint Scheme
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Monday, February 20, 2017

My Trailer - Redo Day 4 - The Furnace Leaves

 
I ended up with only about an hour and a half that I could work on the trailer. I tackled some demolition of the right side. Here's how it looked when I started.

small trailer interior

First I removed that window frame, and the paneling on that side. Then I took all the "extras" off the cupboard: thermostat, 12 V light, and 120 V outlet.

The cupboard is the one thing that was built in really well and may possibly have been part of the original interior. At any rate, even though I'm not re-using it, I'd like to not totally destroy it.

The middle shelf is where the furnace lived. As it turned out, all I really accomplished of a serious nature was that I got the furnace out without damaging either it or the cupboard frame. It took a while to figure out how it had been put in, but I managed.

Then I started trying to separate the cupboard from the furring strips that are fiberglassed to the trailer. I have taken out five big screws that were holding it, but it still won't budge. That will have to be the next day's puzzle/project.

small trailer interior gutted

In other news, I dried clothes outside on the line. In February! Unheard of.

See Redo Day 3
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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Black Vest, Cha Cha Cha

 
I don't know much about dance, but I do believe the Cha Cha has a lot of stepping backwards as well as forwards. That is sure the story of this vest. But I'm calling it done.

black vest
Sometimes making it up as you go doesn't work as well as other times. I had to redo the bind-off row on the bottom because I did it too tight. I had to unravel and re-knit the first armhole ribbing because I did it too tight. At least I had enough brains to do the second one to match the correct version of the first. Then I did the neck ribbing a little too tight. I could wear it, and did so this morning, but it was tighter than I wanted. So I unraveled that and completely re-did it today.

Do I like the finished product? Meh. Don't like black. That's the bottom line.

However, one goal was to do an unusual enough stitch that it has a little bit of interest. After church, the lady sitting in back of me said she'd been studying it during the service and she really liked the design. So that mission was accomplished.

black vest
Of course, the big joke is that it was so warm today I hardly needed a sweater vest. But, doggone it, it was made so I wore it!


See We Temporarily Interrupt These Socks
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