Now that I am back in The Netherlands I have a bit of time to reflect on my trip last month to Minnesota. Once I finally dipped my kayak in the water at Big Marine Lake I spent the last few days I had of my visit exploring the areas around the Southern edge of the lake.
This will be a blog about Minnesota seen through the Dutch eyes and some of the comments during their stay in Minnesota.
After close to six weeks for me and about four weeks for the hubby of being away from our home we were happy to return early this week.
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.