bwca: day 5

bwca: day 5

saturday

  • 2 lakes
  • 2 rivers
  • 5 portages
  • 1 big meal
  • 1 beer
  • 1 shower-less campsite 🙁

i figured out the secret to my sleep pad and had a great-for-camping night’s sleep. we broke camp fairly quickly and set out shortly after 9 a.m. it was a little gloomy, which was ok because it mean no sun – no heat – an and easy, sweat-free paddle. it was a long slog because we camped at the far end of lake agnes, but it was about 5 hours to the trailhead.

mr. beaver was hard at work while were out. not only did we slide up/push through 4-5 dam, but we actually had to get out and pull our canoe over one of them. busy beavers!

i might like canoeing the rivers more than the lakes. the trees are tall and surround you like you imagine they should. maybe hugging the shorelines of the lakes would make me feel differently. the tall pines and aspen are really beautiful.

i wouldn’t have minded paddling longer yesterday for a shorter day today, but that’s ok. steady as the beating drum! unless the portage is short, i really don’t notice the difference between all the distances. it’s all just one foot in front of the other with 40 lbs on your back.

after we got out, it was another hour-ish to ely, where i dropped off the canoe and remembered there was  pandemic happening and forgot my mask when i went to the gas station. we went to a brewery for a post-trip meal, and it was delish. i had a patty melt, fries, and beer and i could’ve died in food heaven.

then it was time to part ways. i had a campsite at judge cr magney and the weather’s not forecast horribly, so i decided to head northeast. looking back, i probably should’ve just gone home.

i stopped in grand marais to hopefully get some pie, but no luck. i stopped at a holiday station for a cookie and a muffin and some tea instead. tomorrow i’ll stop at the rustic inn for a slice.

i realized as i was driving in that the park might not have the showers open. and i was right. —sigh —

so i washed my hair under my water jug and heated water to wash my face and for tea. so here i am in front of a fire with a wet head. i’m excited for my cot and my pillow.

it’s very weird going form almost complete silence in the evenings to a low chatter among people in a campground and the occasional passing car on the highway just down the road. in the BWCA, a jet would pass over occasionally (MSP to…?? toronto to seattle?) it was such a weird, out of place sound. and now i wouldn’t notice.

i just looked up at the sky and saw a lone star among the trees. if the sky continues to clear, more will pop. a commonality among the north.

bwca: day 4

bwca: day 4

friday

  • 2 lakes
  • 1 portage
  • (muddy portage)
  • 1 ginormous campsite – 3.5 stars
  • no moose
  • a few loons
  • lone cignet

i filled my pad a little too full and tossed and turned all night. like i said – i will throw money at whoever makes a decent sleep mat.

this morning was early – pancakes and coffee made it a little acceptable. we headed out in a split team and made good time across lac lacroix.

we headed back a different way through a little side river full of boulders – it was picturesque: just around the river bend! once through the boulder maze, it was time to figure out where the portage was in the muddy marsh. after about 10-15 mins we found it and had to maneuver quite a bit to get the packs and canoes on shore. the portage was a bit of a hike – maybe 1/3 mile – but it was relatively flat and deposited us on lake agnes, skippping a portage entirely. our campsite was almost immediately around the corner from the portage. it reminds me of camping in the hills – tall pines and needles on the ground, wind rusting and howling through the trees, the smell of pines. i’ve been walking around with no shoes on and the bottoms of my feet are just full of sap.

these early camp stops are nice – you do 4-ish hours of non-stop movement, then put up camps, then rest. i’m famished almost all the time. being outside all the time is nice, but it is tiring when you’re constantly packing and unpacking. i do like just one point of “home” when camping. taking down tents is such a drag.

last night was another stargazing night. we were looking at the eastern sky and saw the milky way arc across the whole sky. i took a bunch of different pics of locations of the sky in hopes of doing a composite pic. here’s hoping.

now i’m debating taking a swim. it’s early in the day, and i could use a rinse off, but it’s a lot of work changing in and out of a suit. oh, first world problems. wah wah.

i had to wash off my tattoo using dishsoap. 3 days of grim and sunscreen is doing it no favors and it’s still healing. ugh i hope it’ll be ok. i’ve warn sunscreen sparingly except for the tattoo, and no burn but a pleasant looking tan.

i’m bummed that charlie has a tbi. i think he would’ve enjoyed this. too much work for him right now though.

went for a swim!

the weather is warmer than expected. therefore, i packed poorly. but it’s close to 80º right now and the air is warm. the heat is warming the pine needs and the smell is intoxicating. the walk to the vault toilet is like going on a hike through the pines of the black hills – camping at sheridan or custer.

i must be wanting to go to the Hills!

there is a sheer drop off one side of the peninsula we have, but it’s at water lever. like jumping into the deep end of the pool. it’s a good way to cool off. this would be a good site for a larger group. though good for us too!

i was out filtering water this evening and a loon paddled right up, waving his weird foot at me. he hung out for maybe 20 mins, long enough for lori to grab my camera so i could get a few of his pics. he ruffled his feathers, stretched, and gave a lone loon call (after a preliminary meep). finally he decided to swim off. no diving or taking off. he just paddled away, leaving a wide wake.

then i decided to do some fightmaster yog on the granite slab leading to the lake – my fave sequence to bird of paradise. it ended up being hot yoga because it was so warm. it was tough on my knees, but it worked out well.

tomorrow i have to check the weather for the north shore before i head over there. if it’s going to be gross, i’m heading home tomorrow.

bwca: day 3

bwca: day 3

thursday

  • 1 lake
  • 0 portages
  • no breaking camp
  • washed my shorts and tank
  • much hammock time
  • 1 book

today was a lazy day. it started off cool – i was able to use the layers i brought for the chilly nights the (revised) forecast had predicted. eventually, the day warmed with the sun burning away the clouds and the wind dying down a little bit.

i’m surprised by no peanut butter in the food bag or even desserty things, but then o am avoiding the rice krispie treats and fruit snacks (do not need a devils syrups reaction in the woods… or maybe the best place? limited TP with us tho!).

so after pancakes for breakfast (mine had butter and trail mix on it) and a few snacks, we set off for a short paddle on our large lake to check on the petroglyph on a calmer lake and then float through a couple islands on the way through a small bay. we encountered a couple of loons barking at each other. i’d never heard anything like it! they kept diving and popping back up to bark at each other.


the only moose i saw on #moosewatch2020

i also took my camera with on the short trip and was ok with pulling it out – didn’t need it to drop into the drink!

spent most of the rest of the afternoon reading a book in the hammock before scarfing down spaghetti for supper.

my achilles calf area is super tight. hope it figures itself out and doesn’t cause probs on the portages.

tomorrow we star our way back. i’m glad we had this day of “rest” in the middle.

i stink. i’m looking forward to a shower.

tonight greg is going to make bannock bread – looking forward to trying that out! might take a short cruise in a canoe, but it’s turned a bit windy, so we’ll see. lakeside yoga is nice.

the bannock bread was good! it was basically a biscuit but instead of baking it, the traditional way is to wrap it around a stick and roast it over a fire. we also made a few in a pot drizzled with butter, which was much better than the fire bread. definitely could’ve used some PB or honey on them!

BWCA: day 2

BWCA: day 2

wednesday

  • 2 portages
  • 3 lakes
  • 1 rapids (!)
  • petroglyphs
  • wind
  • 4-star campsite
  • sad breakfast
  • very little sleep
  • off the water by 1 p.m.
  • naptime!

now i’m hanging in a hammock from 2 pine trees on an island site with a sandy beach and pine needle-ridden ground. the tents should be on softer ground now. last night was rough. whoever can come up with a sleeping mat that doesn’t cause my hips to start aching in the night will get all my money. i spent $100+ for the klymaloft and it DID stay inflated, but my my hip bones hurt. tonght i’m going to try putting the kush under my butt and try back sleeping. oof.

so today we left a little after 8 a.m. – the sunrise was burning off the morning fog and was nice to check out @6:30.

lots more lake canoeing today with 2 short portages – they both were rocky and a little treacherous. definitely want to watch the footing.

we made it to our 4-star campsite with a STONE TABLE that people would pay $$$ to have in their kitchens. sandy beach, nice rocky outlook. we got there about an hour before the previous group was ready to head out – we took a little tour of the petroglyphs across the way, had lunch, and got back just in time for them to leave. good news because the lake was choppy due to wind, and no one wants to canoe in that.

now i’m ready for a snooze. maybe more updates later.

we just missed a storm – from our vantage point, it looked like were were in a pocket of solace. after a sprinkle-pocked evening, the thunder rolling away in the distance, no big storms surfaced and we were all in bed by 9 p.m.

i slept 10 hours.

bwca 2020: day 1

bwca 2020: day 1

tuesday

  • 5 portages
  • 1/2 mile: longest portage
  • marshland
  • camp on lake agnes
  • 4.5/5 hours of moving nonstop
  • 2 lakes
  • start at 9:30
  • end at 3:00
  • lunch @ a warm-water sandy beach
  • breakfast at bannon cafe
  • supper: loaded baked potatoes
  • KT extreme tape is useless
  • yoga tonight
  • shoulders angry
  • photos tonight

after working a half day on monday, i left cloud town and headed north to the hinterlands. i trired to get in a state park, but there was no passport stamp to be found at mille lacs kathio park. i tweeted at the dnr with no (immediate)response, so after that fail, i decided to just book it north to ely.

looking back, i should have stopped at vermillion state park to check it out because that is the one park i haven’t seen much of. alas! it was on to the paddle inn for a throwback to the 60s motel scene before heading even more northward to the lakes.

i wrote my update in my waterproof notepad swinging slightly in my hammock between two trees – a pine and an aspen – as a noisy chipmunk chatters at me from his perch. we left ely at 8:30, were in the woods by 10. we started off with a half mile portage, then spend most of our paddle time maneuvering through wild rice strewn marshland.

we crossed nina moose lake, then after more march and a delightful little portage, we spit out on lake agnes and found a 3-star* campsite.

the lakes are quiet, which is odd because everyone as telling us the woods were full (permits sold out). so far we’ve come across two groups and the sites near us are empty. the wind is lulling in the the trees, the squirrels and chipmunks are brave, and the loons have already made a ruckus. i pulled my camera out on the nice portage and as soon as the sun gets a little lower in the sky, i’ll take it out again – maybe try out my ND filters. tonight looks to be the most promising for stars.

*the greg nohner method of campsite ratings is based on a 4-star scale. you need to take into account: shade, flat tent sites, nice canoe landing, rocks for evening sun, swimming options, distance to privy, and seating options, among others.

a lesson in preparation

a lesson in preparation

of course every trip starts with a list. you can’t go wrong.

i pulled out all my gear, cleaned what i could scotchgarded the pack, purchased what i needed to, etc. pushed everything in the living room and thought how i was going to get everything inside the pack.

let’s see what we’ve got!

Nalgene: this is the liquid vessel for the trip. when we went down the river in 2002, i bought this and never thought it would be such an investment. no wonder all the study abroad bennies carried nalgenes with them all over europe. it’s a sturdy piece of equipment.

camera & gear: i got a hard case for my camera and walkaround lens. i has two lenses in the bag but nixed one in favor of space. so now i’ve got the cam, a 24-74 walkaround, 70-300 long, my ND filters, a remote release cord, two extra batteries, 2 32GB SD cards, and one 8GB CF card (well you never know). oh, and a small tripod. stars will hopefully be awesome up there.

Headlamp: yalumi headlamp purchased for night running. it works great, so why mess with anything else. i put new batteries in it.

Solar Charger: i got this a few years ago, and i’m not sure how well it will keep a charge, but i have it attached to a caribener on the top of the pack. also bringing a phone cord to charge. the phone will be an easy-to-grab camera, and nate said this morning while i was hemming about me yeeting it toward a moose: “it’s cheap enough that it’s ok to fall in a lake.”

entertainment: i brought two books, a skinny water resistant notepad, cards, quiddler, and a crossword book.

toiletries: what you’d expect: toothbrush, lotion, some allegra, contacts just in case. i am NOT bringing the wetwipes. i’m gonna hope that i don’t need to be clean LOL

down vest: it’s supposed to get to high 40s overnight! gotta bring this sucker to stay warm in the sleeping bag.

campsite shoes: i went back and forth between sandals and light shoes, but went with the shoes based on the temps.

sunscreen, bug spray, KT: the sunscreen is reef friendly, so i’m hoping it’s bwca friendly as well! bug spray is 25% deet, and KT tape is for my feet because inserts won’t stay put in my watershoes. gotta tape them up really well!

sleeping bag: this is an amazon purchase to get my stuff more compressed! it’s rated for 4 seasons, so i hope it’ll keep me somewhat warm in high 40s. it’s a mummy style but a little spacious.

fancy sleep mat: i got this from klymit based on how i liked their simple sleeping mats. i used it once on my cot at leech lake, and after figuring out that i needed to clasp something, it stayed inflated for 2 nights. so i’m hopeful for a (somewhat) comfortable sleep. i’ll followup on this one because it’s a $150 mat and if it works, it’s worth it.

fancy pillow: this one i got from coop after reading a crapton of reviews. the pillow was $25 and (red) pillowcase $15. again, i feel like this is a splurge, and i’ll followup on this one as well. i did throw it on the floor and put my head on it, and it felt nice, so i’m hopeful about the ground in a tent.

sitting pillow: this is the klymit cush pillow i purchased on a whim thinking it would double as a head pillow at night, but i decided to get an actual pillow. it’s just a long, inflatable piece that you can sit on, rest on, put on your seat, etc. it’s small enough that i don’t feel bad about bringing it.

towels: so i have a microfiber towel, but it’s actually my yoga towel that i wanted to bring for…yoga… so i went to amazon and got an actual set of appropriately sized towels, which includes a bath towel, hand towel, and washcloth size.

yoga towel mat: what, you think i go to the boundary waters and not do yoga? as if. i had this one hand, and it doubled as something to wrap my camera lens in.

rain gear: after experiencing two different types of rain gear for canoeing, i decided this time i would make an investment. columbia has been my go-to outerwear for a long time, so i got their rain pants. i have 3 stinking rainjackets now, but i ended up going with the anorak i got from costco because it’s just a little bit longer than my two columbia ones and the hood seems to have a bit more of an overhang. here’s hoping on that one. i’m not worried about the pants.

coffee mug: i was going to bring my tin mug but saw an insulated travel short coffee mug at DG last week for $5 and picked it up. i bought a couple stickers from scheels and stuck them on there.

food & creamer: well, rae and greg are really taking care of the food, but i picked up some trail mix and clif bars. i also mixed some powdered creamer for myself, a proprietary blend of french vanilla and hot chocolate.

nuun: these little tabs are handy. you just pop one in your water bottle and get a shot of electrolytes and caffeine. i actually drink some of these before a long run and they work well.

clothes: well wouldn’t you know it’s supposed to be rainy and a little chilly. so, i’m bringing shorts, a run tee, flannel, sweatshirt, and some duluth trading company hiking pants for everyday wear. for night, i have a wool long sleeve, yoga pants, and long underwear.

waterbags: like i said before, nate grabbed these during his time as a repo man. here’s what’s going in the waterbags: camera & gear, which will be at the top of the pack; clothes, which will be wherever it fits.

and then all of this will fit into my canoepack, which i got for the 2002 trip. i have to imagine that probably cost around $100 at that time. it’s actually a brand called woods. i can’t find it online for sale anywhere, so who knows what it would be now.

but, i stuffed it in and it all fit.

then of course this morning, i did something to my back while mowing the lawn. perfect! i iced it and i did some yin yoga, then did this weird thing i found online that sort of helped a little, but now i’m like, well, here’s hoping it just fades away overnight. -_-

months in the time of covid

months in the time of covid

since months mean nothing anymore, here are the months in various orders.

chronological

january
february
march
april
may
june
july
august
september
october
november
december

alphabetical

april
august
december
february
january
june
july
march
may
november
october
september

average MN high temp, hottest to coldest

july (83.3)
august (80.4)
june (79)
september (71.1)
may (70.1)
october (58.4)
april (57)
march (40.6)
november (40.1)
december (26.4)
january (21.9)

number of letters in the name (then alphabetized)

may
june
july
april
march
august
january
october
december
february
november
september

length of word in my blog’s font

july
may
june
april
march
august
january
october
february
november
december
september

general awesomeness

may
october
june
april
july
september
december
march
august
january
november
february

what else have you got?

gear for zen in the bwca in the time of covid

gear for zen in the bwca in the time of covid

in two weeks, i’m heading to the boundary waters canoe area with my aunt rae, uncle greg, and cousin lori! we’ll be there for four overnights, then on the fifth night i’m heading to judge magney state park (must be my destination camping park, i guess!).

the last time i was in the bwca, i was 14 years old! that was 27 years ago! i’m old, peeps. the last time i was on a canoe trip was in 2002, which was closer to 14-yr-old me than current me, so that’s also scary to ponder.

before i start to wax eloquent about time like i usually do, let’s get back to the task at hand.

while i have a lot of car camping gear, you can’t just throw your regular camping gear into the canoe and portage it all. well, i guess you CAN (i’m talking to you, norm wallace), but portaging would just be awful. (portaging is hauling all your gear to the next lake.) as such, i’ve had to buy some gear.

i decided to NOT buy a canoe. lori and i rented a canoe and paddles for the trip. but everything else i either have or have purchased.

what did i have?

  • canoepack from the great 2002 river trip debacle
  • waterproof bags that nate inherited during his time as a repo man. (yes, you read that right.)
  • several camping odds and ends, like headlamp (thanks, ragnar!), rainjacket, small LED lantern, etc.
  • nalgene from the 2002 river trip. that bad boy is still going strong, so it’s coming with.

what did i purchase new for this trip?

  • a pair of rainpants
  • a pair of keen watershoes
  • new, more compact sleeping bag (now nate and i own 5 sleeping bags. don’t ask.)
  • fluffier, more comfortable air mattress (this will work well with my cot, too, for the future)
  • $45 ON A (compressible) CAMPING PILLOW DANG IT I’M GONNA SLEEP WELL
  • a hardcase for my CAMERA because you can bet your bottom i’m gonna take my camera and a small tripod with me. my only dilemma now is if i make do with my one lens, or if i bring a second. and which one? wide angle or long? WHAT IF I SEE A MOOSE AND IT’S FAR AWAY?? what if the milky way is super awesome and i want to supersize it?? any additional lens would require some sort of protection that i haven’t figured out quite yet.

speaking of moose, i’m totally on #moosewatch2020. if this year can do one thing right, it can let me see a moose.

so this morning, my aunt rae sent an email with links to videos from the bwca peeps on how to prep for the trip. it was so calming seeing the lakes, and then they had this calming music in the background. i’m looking forward to having a zen week with no access to internet and news. sigh. so ready for that!

tattoos in the time of covid

tattoos in the time of covid

in april i was browsing instagram because what else are you going to do all day while you’re sitting at home, and i stopped at a painting done by one of the tattoo artists i follow. i had started following her in january after the tattoo convention in minneapolis, where i saw some of her work at a booth. generally at the tattoo con, the tattoos are of the motorcycle or dark kind, but once in a while you stumble across an artist who specializes in rainbows and kittens.

love helen ink was one such artist! well, more like flowers and small animals. but, it was enough that i started following her, and her post in april was something that struck me as “wow i have to have that.” it was a painting for sale, but i asked her if she’d be up for tattooing it. so i had made an appointment in may, but she wasn’t open yet, and today – today, finally! – was my second appointment.

i drove to the cities this morning to be there at 9:30, and we promptly got started. after years of saying, “hmmmm, that’s too big” to my tattoo artists, i said YES GO BIG OR GO HOME and that’s what we did.

but first, let’s take a look at her space. she’s located in north(west?) minneapolis right next to young joni’s and dangerous man brewing. she has one room in an upstairs space of a building old enough to have woodwork that i’m jealous of. everything in her space made me happy. we both wore masks and washed our hands, etc.; she pasted the stencil on my arm; and then she got out her pots of ink and got started.

you know me – i have quite a few tattoos by this point. one on each foot, one on my thigh, one on my shoulder. this should not surprise me how painful it is, but it’s either a surprise every time that i forget, or my upper arm is very sensitive. (or i’m turning into a pansy in my old age.)

after she was done with the outline, we took a break and she sprayed lidocaine on my arm – a first for me! i have to say, while it worked, it was GREAT. the sad thing is that it only lasted about 30-45 minutes, and she could only spray it on twice (otherwise the ink does not like to lie nicely).

the outline took a little under two hours, and the color took a little more than two hours to finish up. so about half the color time, my arm was relatively numb with bursts of burny here and there, but overall pretty amazingly numb. i’d recommend lidocaine, even if it is pretty limited. it would work great for colorwork on small tattoos.

generally i can try to zen out and force my brain to tolerate the pain of a tattoo gun, but toward the end it just gets to be too much. i think because i know we’re so close to the end and it’s almost done that my body’s adrenaline has just checked out and wants to be done. which is unfortunate, because the end always seems to drag on f-o-r-e-v-e-rrrrr. but i survived 🙂

she pasted the dermawrap on the tattoo and gave me instructions, but skimmed over them because, as helen said, “this isn’t your first rodeo.” (haha) i think it’s interesting how each artist has different recommendations for aftercare lube. when i first started, it was A&D ointment, then i was told aquaphor, and helen actually recommended coconut oil! i might try out the coconut oil, but i did just buy a giant tube of aquaphor just in case. she also had different instructions for the dermawrap than my previous artist. when i left, her next client was waiting (who was also getting mushrooms), and it looked like she was a newbie to tattooing. i wished her good luck and headed out.

the drive home was EXCRUCIATING. i can’t remember being in so much pain post-tatt before. i was almost back to st. cloud before the pain finally decided to subside a bit. when i got home, i took two tylenol (not a blood thinner!) and now i’m doing much better. i’ve got yoga tomorrow morning at a winery, so we’ll see how that goes 🙂 planning on a long run on sunday, but it should be cloudy and cool so i’m not too worried about burning pain on that day.

the only color combo i’m not thrilled about is that gold on purple because i’m hardly a vikings fan! we’ll see how it fades out once the colors subdue a little bit.

**********

of course i promptly went outside to my garden in the beating-down sun when i got home because guess what? it’s PICKLE TIME! currently sanitizing jars for the first batch of 2020 pickles. they’d better be amazeballs.

thus wraps up july 2020, and at least i can say i got one awesome thing out of 2020!

enter august, the most melancholy month.

a bakery review: flour and flower

a bakery review: flour and flower

this morning i drove into st. joe to check out the new bakery, flour and flower, that’s connected to the highly publicized new restaurant, krewe. i don’t know what st. joe’s 15 year plan is lately, but whatever it is, they’re doing it right, because i love everything about that little town. and the little wood-shingled building that houses flour and flower is everything i’d want if i decided to own a bakery.

the little entryway is tiny, and only 3 people could be in there at a time, but it was worth the very short wait to get in.

i nearly passed out from happiness. as advertised, flour goods and flower goods are available. i picked up a bouquet of late summer flowers, grabbed two cookies (both had molasses in them and brown sugar), and added a piece of the chia honey custard pie on my order. coffee was available if i’d wanted, and the shelves behind the counter that holds all the bread was empty – i had arrived too late for bread!

the good news is they’re open at 7 a.m. tomorrow, so i might swing over there again to check out what other baked goods they have, and get a FLOUR POWER shirt that i nearly got today but restrained myself. (i don’t know why i restrained myself.) it’s got a hippie vibe and is just so perfect.

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