A warmer, greener time.
(Following the previous dam post.)
This is the Mississippi River above the Coon Rapids Dam:
And here is the less tranquil water below:
When the river runs lower, a rocky area is exposed leading out from that island, and people can wade across from the west shore.
Here is the dam itself, viewed from the west side:
Here are a couple of vertical shots I liked. (Click on them for 2112×2816 versions. The others are 2816×2112.) All of these pictures are by me and shared with the Creative Commons “ShareAlike” license.
It’s a free culture, brothers and sisters.
Fishing is popular at the dam.
And here is one more picture from the west side, a little ways downstream:
Not only is Lanesboro the Bed and Breakfast capital of Minnesota, it’s also the official Rhubarb Capital. We stayed at a B&B and we bought Rhubarb Wine from the Scenic Valley Winery, but this isn’t a post about either of those things. (Although I should mention the wine was restful, and “The Inn at Sacred Clay Farm” had a delightful piquant bouquet.)
After breakfast one morning, the innkeepers were telling us about things to do in the area and mentioned Avian Acres, just outside of town. Maybe it came up in a conversation about the bird feeders they had around the house.
We got the impression they had a lot of bird houses out there, which is something my wife has been interested in doing more with. She’s dabbled in bird feeding also, but past experience has caused me to be leery of the ongoing expense, hassle, and mess of this activity. (Not to mention the HUGE burden of responsibility for feeding these creatures in the winter after they become dependent on you.)
But I thought it might be fun to visit. A bird house seemed safe enough, and something I’d be interested in as well. Innkeeper Sandy described a friendly owner and a nice place at the end of a narrow gravel road. It sounded like a relaxing, scenic follow-up to our morning bike ride, and buying a bird house would be a suitable vacation endeavor.
This isn’t Avian Acres; it’s just a nice looking farm we saw on the way there:
Here is the Avian Acres store front. This is part of a large wraparound porch added on to a barn:
We got there around lunchtime. A man called out from a nearby house that he’d be with us in a few minutes, so we walked into the store.
It looked like he mostly had bird feeding stuff, with only a few bird houses. Mildly disappointing. It was nice inside the store, having a cozy “country store” feel, and you could see out large windows to bird feeders and the pleasantly green surroundings, but I felt like we wouldn’t be there long. I often get antsy in shopping situations and want to leave sooner than later.
We were soon joined by Bob Thomas, the owner of the place. Bob is a low-key, likable guy — someone you immediately feel at ease around. We asked about the bird houses and he showed us a few, and spoke knowledgeably about the kinds of bird each would attract.
And then — somehow — the conversation turned more to bird feeders and bird feeding. Through the windows, we watched a steady procession of birds visiting his feeders, including a Pileated Woodpecker. This prompted interesting discussion about the kinds of birds and what they ate.
We visited Lanesboro, Minnesota recently, which is a couple of hours south of the Twin Cities. (That’s primarily how we measure distance around here, by time.)
We’d never been to that part of the state, and… it is awesome. We were, like, so totally awed. Beautiful “bluff country.” A landscape that isn’t flat, right here in Minnesota.
And: miraculously free of mosquitos. We were told this is because it is the only county in the land of 10,000 lakes that has zero lakes. Did you hear that? THERE ARE NO MOSQUITOS. You may be skeptical, but we confirmed it via several harrassment-free hours of hiking in the woods. I’m sure it’s entirely coincidental that the people down there are all happier and friendlier than in other parts of the state.
Lanesboro is “a popular tourist destination.” Not a vulgar tourist trap, but appropriately touristy. I like a certain level of touristy-ness. It makes me feel welcome, as a tourist. You can find a decent selection of logo t-shirts in a touristy town, and cool souvenirs like the bike pictured above. Look! Excepting the pedals, it’s one piece of wire! Isn’t that neat?!
Speaking of bikes, Lanesboro sits right on the Root River State Trail, and biking is big down there. Thanks to the healthy tourism ecosystem, there are several outfitters in town with bikes for rent. Only $10 for two hours. (We wanted to get a side-by-side tandem bike, but some damned tourist bus showed up right before we got there and took all of them.)
My wife and I don’t own or ride bikes, I think mostly because we’ve always had dogs and we wouldn’t want to leave them at home while we ride. They wouldn’t understand, and rightly so. (And I like walking, okay?) So I’ve ridden a bike maybe once or twice or thrice in mumble-mumble years since getting my driver’s license.
Fortunately, you never forget how to ride a bike. You just don’t: there’s that saying. However, you may forget to tie your shoelaces up short enough to keep them out of the chain and sprocket, like I did. But that little incident was early on and at low speed. Disaster averted. Not embarrassing at all.
And then we were on our way, enjoying the gorgeous day and the beautiful trail, my mind at peace and my soul in communion with nature.
Not thinking at all about…
The prospect of operator error or mechanical failure stranding us far from town, maybe with a severe case of road rash, maybe worse, and there’s no cell phone reception. Not preoccupied — not at all — with the question of how far to go. The Root River Trail is infinite in length for our purposes. How far out is a good distance, especially considering our non-optimized riding muscles? What unfamiliar and interesting case of chafing might present itself? And, getting to the essential question, how sore would our butts be if we went “too far?”
Ah, that’s the freedom of the open trail. Letting all your worries go…
Want to read another post about Lanesboro, and birds?
A Brief Fantasy of Freedom
The photo in my last post was from 2002. Maybe I posted it in anticipation of a North Shore vacation last week. We stopped at Canal Park in Duluth, but didn’t see any big ships this time. Instead I enjoyed the sight of our daughter chasing seagulls around.
This here is the historic Split Rock Lighthouse in Two Harbors, Minnesota, taken last Monday on a day of warm sun and cool breezes off Lake Superior.
The park was “closed” because of the state shutdown, so we had to hike about a half mile to get to the shore, a distance made longer by a recalcitrant five-year-old.
I took nearly 50 pictures of the lighthouse as we moved along the shore, which prompted me to leave the camera behind the next day when we went to Cascade River and Temperance River state parks. I wanted to be more in the moment, “hoping I would see the world through both my eyes.” Those are John Mayer’s words in the song, “3×5,” and I think of them a lot when I’m taking pictures, trying to capture something that can’t be caught.
Today I finally overcame
tryin’ to fit the world inside a picture frame
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I’m in the mood to
lose my way but let me say
You should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes
it brought me back to life
I didn’t miss the camera that much, but I don’t know if I was more invested in the moment. I was conscious of the brief time we had to take it in, and I worried a lot about my daughter tumbling on the rocks and falling into the rushing waters.
I did enjoy the contrast of these beautiful parks with my normal Tuesdays in the office. When I look at these gorges carved by water, I feel time in a different way. We have such a short time to live.
I read somewhere that much of the happiness from vacations comes from our anticipation of them. And I was so looking forward to the escape of this trip, but of course inevitably it had to end, and now I’m faced with the grim specter of another work week.
I always have this vague and unrealistic hope that something will change on my vacations. Or on any given weekend, really. That I’ll have an epiphany. I’ll find a better way to live. I’ll finally discover what I want to be when I grow up.
Instead, I usually put thoughts of work from my mind and enjoy a brief fantasy of freedom, pretending that my life isn’t weighed down by the unsatisfying work I do to finance it. I indulge in other fantasies, where I consider calls like this one: “You should probably quit your job.”
Maybe I will. Maybe I’ll change the way I am.
My sister got this fantastic shot the other day with her Nikon:
“Here’s Looking at You,” by Lisa Pertile
Probably the common Red-tailed Hawk?
Note the fabulous composition and use of aperture to blur the background, with the hawk’s eyes in focus.
Thanks, Lisa, for sharing this with the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License!
And here’s a photo I took in 2002 with my old Olympus two mega-pixel camera, not realizing I was seeing the end days of a thousands-years-old formation:
Before the collapse. Bigger: 1600 x 1200
I would hope that the DNR photo, being a government agency and supported by my tax dollars, is in the public domain and free. My photo is most certainly freely shared with the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
We woke up to some beautiful frost on Saturday; all of the trees coated in white. I took a few pictures, but my bland suburban lot and poor photography skills didn’t make for anything share-worthy.
But then I received this in my inbox:
A winter wonderland. I like the lone deer in the foreground.
This was sent to me by my sister, Lisa Pertile, who graciously agreed to let me post it here under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Thanks, Lisa — excellent shot!