Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Final Burst of Summer

Let me start by saying thank you to you sweet people who either commented or let me know some other way that you still appreciate my writing even though the bold adventures have slowed way down.  That really means a lot!

Okay.  Let me summarize this week chronologically, so I at least have somewhat of a thread.

Early last week my friend Natalie and I went to visit our trail-building men in Duluth.  Both unfamiliar (and slightly afraid) to travel into the actual city, we stuck to the outskirts and hiked the trails the boys were building.  We had to make our move between rain storms, but I guess that's just how it is there this summer!

Here are some naturey shots from the trip.

Snake in the mud!
Mushrooms and moss everywhere

Indian Pipes

I got to see my sweet puppy doggy and my handsome husband while they labored intensely in the mud.  We saw seven sweaty boys out there on the Rock Solid Trail Contracting crew. Better them than me!

Before I exit Duluth, I have to tell you about the most amazing place to eat there: the Duluth Grill.  Aaron always talked about it, but Nat and I got to go try it for ourselves.  They grow their own veggies and flowers on the property, use local meat and eggs, cater to people's allergy needs and make everything taste amazing!  I told Natalie, "I could just sit here all day and eat!"  So kudos to them for becoming the change they want to see.  That place is always slammin' busy, by the way.

We each walked out with two to-go boxes because we kept ordering more food.

I wanted to congratulate the Isle Royal Queen IV for being chosen by the readers of Lake Superior Magazine as having the "Best Boat Ride" on the lake!  The picture didn't take well reflecting off the glass, but you get the idea.

Isle Royale Line has the "Best Boat Ride"

So Friday was another one of Copper Harbor's Art Crawls.  I should have told you before it happened because our rock band performed at our first outdoor venue.  It was great echoing toward Brockway Mountain from the porch of North One Gallery.  People stopped by on mountain bikes, with ice cream from The Berry Patch and with the intention to look at the art inside.

I guess we gave a show to the people at Into the Woods Mini Golf and other residents as well.  At least there were no complaints!  If you are interested in keeping up with our performances, like us on facebook.  Powers of Air, baby.  

Sunday the wind was up.  So gusty and swirly in town that I couldn't really figure out which direction it was coming from.  But it was a lovely day to take pictures of the current wildflowers!

Touch-me-not flowers

Climbing bindweed on the goldenrod

Tansy blooming in the mint (and me with a smudged lens)

Even burdock can be eye-catching

Then Sunday night we had an incredible storm.  If you live in the midwest, you probably got it too.  It was so isolated -- it came in waves with calm air in between the lightening, thunder and deluge of rain.  I enjoyed it.  It's nice to feel that energy.

And the next day was so stinkin' hot that I went swimming in Lake Superior for the first time this summer.  I think my little pumpkin liked it okay.  The temp was refreshing, and the feeling of bobbing through the waves was one I forgot how much I missed.  That was much needed and appreciated.  I'm glad I did it then because, who knows if I'll get to hop in the big lake again this year when it's actually enjoyable?

Also yesterday, a couple from the Keweenaw set out to paddle around "Copper Island" which is the whole Keweenaw Peninsula separated by the Portage Canal from the mainland.  Check out their blog during their 120-mile adventure in a kayak.  They are raising money for the Keweenaw Land Trust.  I hope to make this trek someday myself.  I'll keep it on my bucket list!

Other than that, this is a busy week as I prepare all my duties for the 21st annual Bell's Beer Copper Harbor Trails Fest.  It's a big to-do and a lot of fun for the racers and their families.  For me and the rest of the CHTC, it's a big undertaking, but we make it happen each year.  It's so helpful that the rest of the community pitches in to assist where they can as well.

I can't believe it... last big weekend, here we go!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Shifting Focus

"Finally.  A cool, rainy, gray day," I said last time.  And I think that day marked the end of summer.  I haven't shaved my legs or touched up my toenails since then because those parts need to stay warm and covered.  Well, plus those tasks are getting a bit cumbersome.

So, yeah.  The days and nights are staying fairly cool.  I can't get (well, nobody can seem to get) a red tomato on the vine.  But it is what it is.  Maybe we already had our summer.  It was lovely while it lasted!

Some people say, "Did you see the leaves on the Covered Stretch???  They are already starting to change!!!"  While that's true, I feel like that happens more often than not.  If it's too cool or dry up here, those maples turn brilliant pinks and reds.  

But don't plan your fall trip around the leaves just yet.

99% of the trees are still green.  And I like the red patches in the leaves.  It helps remind us that nature does her own thing.  All the time.

I am pleased that you are sticking it out with me through these less adventurous times and posts.  My treks, sightings and reporting are not what they used to be.  My energy, curiosity and focus have turned inward toward the little pumpkin in my belly.  It is due to arrive in the fresh air two months from today!  Then the adventures will really cease for a while.  Ha!

Actually, I can't predict that.  But I would assume.  I just wanted to thank you for keeping up with this blog even though it is less exciting than it has been in the past.  But judging from the comments I get from you in person, perhaps you appreciate my tameness for a while.

On Sunday I had a few fine folks inform me that they are avid readers of this blog.  Awesome.  I was signing books at Grandpa's Barn.  It was a great time sitting on the porch talking to other local authors and readers.  I would do that again for sure.

That event piggy-backed off the main one in town: Art in the Park.

The event sign before all the people came

Town was really busy this last weekend.  My mom was up for it, and she noted, "Gosh, Manda.  I've never been here in August before.  There are really a lot of people around!"

Yes.  Yes there were.

The vendors and visitors waded through the mist and damp, cool weather.  We sold a lot of coffee at the bake sale just so people could stay warm!  And we sold out of all the baked goods as well -- just in time.  Thanks to everyone who took part in the efforts to make Art in the Park another success.  It really takes a lot.

Speaking of lots, the Isle Royale Ferry Line parking lot is fun to walk through if you are wandering the town.  The license plates are from all over the country!  Well, I haven't seen Hawaii plates yet, but pretty much every other state.  Even Minnesota, and they have their own ferry service.  It's neat to see how this wonderful National Park captivates people from all over.

And here is a picture of the Queen IV getting ready for departure last week.

Isle Royale Queen IV crew pulling the ropes

As I watched that vessel cart off toward the sunrise that morning, I said out loud, "I'm going there again."  I miss my Isle Royale trips -- two years in a row now.  But I won't fret it.  The next time will just be that much more special.  

Just wait, you beautiful rock, you.  I'll be back someday....

Monday, August 11, 2014


Finally.  A Monday without having to go to town.

Finally.  A cool, rainy, gray day.  I suppose this particularly pleases me because the garden, all plants and I need it.  I got sunburned this weekend, and a break from the sun is essential.

How did I get sunburned?  Was I at the beach?  Was I sipping margaritas on a friend's porch?  Was I reroofing a house?

No, no and no.

I was on Brockway Mountain Drive for 4 hours in the blazing, breezeless heat of the afternoon.  But I had a job: to give water and Gatorade to over 300 grateful, wildly costumed single speed bike riders. They were indeed grateful.  I have volunteered at many types of races in this town, and I have never heard so much "thank you for being here," and "thanks for the water," and "thank you" in general.  It was as refreshing as the sugary red liquid must have tasted to the riders.

And they were indeed wildly costumed.  Again, I have never been to an event where the participants are so free-spirited.  It's almost a competition of flamboyance or a statement of alter-ego.  Here are examples of what I mean.

An afro over the helmet = extra safety

Even the bikes are flashy

I've got some other shots of superheroes and neon boas and men in dresses, but I'm saving those for other publications.  I'll let you know!

But the shenanigans were only beginning during the race.  This is a family blog, so I won't get too detailed, but Single Speed USA is the most interesting culture that's come to Copper Harbor in a while.  "Interesting" and "shenanigans" were two of the words I heard most from people and in my own mind.

I knew the sunburn would be worth it.

Like I told you before, Art in the Park is this weekend in Copper Harbor.  One extra to-do for me (besides running the bake sale.  How did the pregnant lady get in charge of a bake sale???) is that I am signing books at Grandpa's Barn on Sunday the 17th from 2-4 pm.  Check out what other local writers will be there on the poster below!

Pretty cool, eh?  Maybe I'll see you there!  If you come, make sure to tell me that you read this blog.  It keeps me believing.

Also, the Copper Harbor Improvement Association holds BINGO every Wednesday night during the summer from 7-9 pm, but players must purchase their cards before 6:50 pm.  Why am I telling you this?  For one, it's fun.  For two, you can win some moola.  For three, I am the number caller for most of the nights!  That's right.  I will B12 and N41 you until someone shouts "BINGO!"

See all the fun I get to make for myself these days?

Boy, oh boy.  What else can I say?  If you have any requests, please let me know.  I guess this whole nesting thing is more instinctual than I realized.  But it's not forever!

See you next week.  Get out and pick some berries, if you can!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Little Gifts

Oh, boy.  I must have been tired this week.  I feel like not much happened, and I can't even remember it.  Good thing this is a free blog; you can't have high expectations!

But I do remember that I have to tell you about the rare plant species that was found.  It's the same one I found this past winter while descending one of Brockway's cliffs.  And it's the same one my wildflower enthusiast friend, Harvey Desnick, and I rescaled one of Brockway's cliffs to find -- only to find no new growth.  

Well then a friend was walking her dog along the Fort Wilkins trails, and she found it, asking out of curiosity.  Pinedrops.  Pterospora andromedea.  It's a parasitic plant that doesn't make its own chlorophyll.  Here are a couple shots I took of it.


Up close and personal

My wildflower friends and I were geeked.  I'm so glad that I am among others who thoroughly enjoy this sort of thing.  And now we don't have to scale the mountain side while being eaten by mosquitos again!

Way back in the 1800's, Fort Wilkins had a garden behind what is now the Grant Township Park and Copper Harbor Trailhead.  This plot, that used to grow potatoes and probably other roots, is now the community garden whereupon you have watched me groom my plot.

I am pleased to say that section of fertile soil is treating us quite well.  I just picked my first ripe and delicious cherry tomatoes yesterday.  I've been eating cucumbers for weeks.  The bell peppers and heirloom tomatoes are waiting for some midnight warmth so they can turn red.  The zucchini is blossoming.  And the salad greens are more than I can eat -- even eating for two.

Yesterday, as I stepped back with the watering can after giving the plants a good dousing, I just took a moment to be grateful.  Grateful that I was gifted this plot to work, the seeds to sow, the plants to tend and the food to take back home with me.  I didn't realize how much I missed having a garden.  It is truly a blessing.

Okay, sorry for getting all sentimental on you.  But it is a magical part of da Harbor!

I had some friends visit me this weekend.  One thing we did that I haven't done in years was play mini golf at Into the Woods.  It was fun.  Lots of laughter both at ourselves and each other.  If you are up, and have some time to bide, I recommend it.  Staci, the owner, is always trying to keep things fresh and progressive.  It's a beautiful spot to spend an afternoon.

I could go on about the events in town, but do you know what?  CopperHarbor.org  already does a darn good job of that.  So if you are curious, click that link or the one above in the left column (if you don't read this on a mobile device).

Honestly, I wish I had an adventure to share with you.  It's just getting harder for me to think of one and then actually execute it.  Incubating another person is hard work enough.  

So contrary to my usual pictures, here is one of me with that little energy-stealing bundle of joy in my belly.

The Little One and me, 6 1/2 months along

That baby is getting a good taste of the wild berries.  I'll have to pick some blues, thimbles and a few more bils this week.  Just a some more little gifts in my life.

See you next week!