In less than two weeks I have now paddled in both countries; the United States (Minnesota) and The Netherlands.
The hubby was back to work this week. I am back on my own for the last week of my stateside visit. The last week is always filled with cleaning out the storage unit, preparing the car to put back into storage, and last minute purchases. Always a ton of things to think about, last minute visits to friends, and how to fit those purchases I made into my suitcase for the trip back to Europe.
Demo days are a great way to try to various kayaks and canoes for free. This is also a great time to network with other paddlers or inspiring paddlers.
I was interested in trying out a couple of kevlar solo canoes from Northstar canoe company. Made in Minnesota by Ted Bell and his team, these lightweight canoes are perfect for someone who would like a light weight easy to portage canoe.
The selection of Northstar canoes that were available to demo.
I tried several of these wonderful canoes and would love to own one at some point in the future. The Northstar staff were easy to talk to about the canoes. I felt comfortable and safe paddling these lightweight canoes.
The Demo Day was only part one of the Midwest Mountaineering Outdoor Adventure Expo with activities running all weekend at their store located in Minneapolis. I would recommend stopping by and checking out this event. Talk with any of their professional, down to earth sales staff as they are all outdoors people and knowledgeable about the products they sell.
Enjoy your weekend outdoors!
Copyright The Cedar Journal, 2019, all rights reserved.
Vacation finally, for the hubby, after two weeks working with his team of Dutch co-workers here in Minneapolis. It seems the weather was also going to cooperate with vacation as the snow finally melted, ice off of most of the lakes, and a cleaned out storage unit (one whole day of vacation blown on that).
My prospects of getting on the water for the first time this season this weekend looked great.
Besides catching a Minnesota trout, kayaking was the only other thing on my to “do list” this trip and so far the weather has been a huge hurdle.
The temperature hit 74F yesterday and the lake where we are staying had ice out a few days ago. Imagine the smile on my face at checkin when I knew I would be able to now get my kayak out of storage and onto the lake.
It wasn’t long before I had my kayak ready to head to the lake.
The short walk through the Veterans Rest Camp drew some odd glances from the none walking, golf cart riding seasonal residents. One veteran even stopping as he rolled by in his car asking if I was really planning on taking it out on the water.
Really ? I thought. No, just wanted to see how many stupid questions I would get rolling it around the campground.
Instead I answered that yes, I was taking it out and it wasn’t too cold. I did look at the hubby and rolled my eyes which the hubby instantly understood.
As we approached the beach, there were several workers busy placing the docks back into the water. A loon was close to shore just watching all the activity and not the least bit upset I was about to kayak into his territory.
I got my gear ready.
Then headed out onto Big Marine Lake for my first beautiful kayak paddle of the season. Thanks to the hubby who provided the camera shots for this blog.
©️ The Cedar Journal, 2019, all rights reserved.
The weekend ended with me showing off the picture of my rainbow trout to anyone who would stand long enough to see it.
I know my hubby and his Dutch co workers have had a ton of laughs as I ask each person unexpectedly around our hotel in Eagan, MN if they would like to see the picture of my fish. Now that I have exhausted all friends, relatives, and most of the Twin Cities resident population.
Would you like to see a picture of my fish? Of course!
Maybe a closer look?
This was the trip that had been planned for two years. Last year personal tragedy stopped this trip from happening. This year Mother Nature threw in a springtime winter blizzard to add to my planning anxiety. Even as I traveled to the location on Saturday morning I had my doubts this clinic would still be conducted. This two hour trip from the Twin Cities to Southeast Minnesota had the perfect ending for me, the catching my first rainbow trout ever, in Minnesota, and on my fly rod.
I started my trip to Whitewater State Park with a goal. Cross off getting my first trout by fly fishing on the Whitewater River.
This year I started my plan to visit this river from my office in the Netherlands. While I was researching the Minnesota State Parks events calendar, I saw that a trout clinic was being offered for disabled veterans on trout opener (April 13th) while I was in Minnesota. Luckily for me, I qualified for the program and quickly sent in my personal information needed to participate. I received a quick response that I had been signed up and more information would be provided closer to the event.
It had been two years since I last used my fly rod. That season I was skunked by trout in several locations, but I had fun catching sunfish on my fly rod. I have been itching to get back out and try my luck again.
I watched the weather reports all last week hoping that the blizzard would miss the southern part of Minnesota where the clinic was being held.
As I drove across the flat and rolling hill farmland towards my destination my doubts increased that the clinic would be cancelled once I reached the park headquarters.
Suddenly the landscape changed from farmland into a sandstone bluff valley as I came to the edge of the park. I crossed a river, turned right towards the park headquarters and saw that the river was lined with trout fishermen. Trout opener seems to be a “Big Deal” here!
Pulling into the park headquarters and inquiring what I needed to do for the clinic, I received a strange look, was asked if I was a veteran, and then was instructed that I would have to take a rough road to get to the group camping where the two day clinic was being held.
Maybe, the park employee seeing I was a women and still dressed in my city clothes had his doubts that I had been on many unimproved roads in the past. I laughed to myself as he explained I could have trouble getting to the site. If I could only show him an instant mental download of all the crazy trail roads I have taken vehicles in my adult life (not mentioning my military career) he might have retracted his caution comments to the well dressed lady who stood in front of him.
I exited the park headquarters opened the hatch of my Subaru and changed into my fly fishing Wonder Woman outfit to prepare for the “rough road”.
I arrived without issues at the group camping site nestled along the Whitewater River between the sandstone bluffs.
What a perfect location! I thought, as I walked up to the cabin that contained the sign up desk.
I was warmly greeted by a group of volunteers and Sara Holger the Whitewater State Park naturalist.
This clinic was offered to disabled veterans as a 100 year celebration of Whitewater State Park in conjunction with the veterans group Project Healing Waters, Minnesota Trout Unlimited,and Fly Fishers International (FFI) . The purpose of the clinic is to get disabled veterans out into nature and introduce them to the sport of fly fishing.
I loved this weekend of fly fishing with fellow veterans and will write more about my experience in a future blog.
Thanks again to all who helped me catch my fish.
One more picture for those who missed it. As this beautiful trout will not see a fry pan.
©️ The Cedar Journal, 2019, all rights reserved.
Before the weather turned back to winter conditions this week I took a short hike at one of my favorite places, The National Wildlife Refuge along the Minnesota River Valley.
The temperature hit 70F (Obviously that is not today as a howling blizzard is going on outside the hotel window), I decided that I would start the day with a hike at William O’Brien State Park located along the St Croix River. Then follow the St Croix River to Hastings, Minnesota where the river finally enters the Mississippi River. I would find a couple of new treasures along the way.
On Saturday (30 March) I was on a time schedule, I had to meet a friend in Hinckley mid afternoon. I had Wild River State Park on my “to do” list last year, that didn’t happen and so I was pretty determined to hike it this Spring.
The weather was crystal clear blue sky, temperature in the low 30s F with a wind chill of low 20s F. That didn’t stop me from hiking. After layering my clothes, I headed North to North Branch, Minnesota.
I have never driven highway nine before and was surprised at the size of some of the farms along that road. It is always fun for me to experience a new part of Minnesota.
As I got closer to the Park I had to turn North in Almelund. I almost got the feeling I was on the wrong road. It seemed pretty remote, no traffic, very little besides the occasional farm. I drove three miles, the road ended at Wild River State Park entrance.
I stopped at the visitor center where they were producing maple syrup. I have seen the maple trees tapped before but it was interesting to see the cooking process. I talked to the volunteers who were watching the cook down by keeping the wood stove fueled.
The visitor center has a wonderful deck overlooking the St Croix River Valley. Without the leaves on the trees you can see far down the St Croix River. The sun was wonderful on the deck and I sat and soaked it in for awhile.
This State Park hosts a variety of terrains. The bluffs have a wonderful grassland that on Saturday held migrating blue birds. The bright blue males popped out of the brown backgrounds of tall grasslands.
The real reason for stopping at this park was to check out future kayak/canoe possibilities. Currently the road is blocked due to Spring flooding on the St Croix River.
I hiked the short trail leading into the river valley at the site of the old Nevers Dam.
The trail is an old hand built dam that crossed the St Croix River in order to control the flow of pine logs down the river. Built in the late 1800’s it saw the millions of board feet of timber pass down river to the saw mills located at Marine in St Croix and Stillwater.
The long dike trail is high and is a great place this time of year to see wood ducks and geese that are swimming in the marsh’s created by the St Croix River overflow.
When I got to the end of the trail there is a wonderfully built deck that looks over the river. On that day I could see chunks of ice floating past as the Spring melt cleaned the landscape further upriver.
I would recommend this out of the way park and its remote trails to anyone wanting to escape the Twin Cities for the day.
©️ The Cedar Journal, 2019, all rights reserved.