October 6, 2014

Gooseberry Falls State Park, MN (and a shout out to the CCC)

Gooseberry Falls is known as the gateway to the North Shore of Lake Superior -and many more waterfalls- and one of the most visited of Minnesota's 67 state parks.  (2nd most visited after Fort Snelling, which is located way down within the twin cities grid.)  Located close to the road, Gooseberry's falls are popular for their easy access. 
The park has been modernized quite a bit since I was a kid, with paved walkways and major improvements to the visitor center.  Because of that, I haven't been there much as an adult. 
We were last there when Mason & Eric were about 4 years old and I was expecting Johnathan.   I believe we attempted to stop a few years later after all five kids were born, but the parking lot was pure madness, so we left and continued north. 
But during our Last Hurrah of Summer, a quiet weekday before the Labor Day rush, our younger three kids were able to climb around these beautiful falls at last. 
We arrived after dinner time and there were only a few cars in the large lot.  Perfection.

As you can see, Lilly has entered a stage of not enjoying having her picture taken..  she is so much like her older twin brothers it amazes me. 

Although, they hadn't reached that stubborn stage yet when I took their photo in the same place 12 years before:

A quick photo and she was free to roam about, happy once more. 

Johnathan didn't mind photos at all.  He & I took a separate trail (we took the longer route to a bridge crossing, those in bare toes & waterproof shoes splashed across river rocks.)  Johnathan explores much like I do, stopping to look closer and investigate often.  And to my delight - to take pictures.   

Late summer, nearing fall, water volume was low, making for a quiet river bed, and plenty of climbing in the gorge.  I watched THIS VIDEO back in April of the raging river when ice went out - a different story.   Minnesota is always changing.

Upper Falls, on the other side of scenic highway 61, one of five of the Gooseberry River's waterfalls tumbling down toward Lake Superior:

Gooseberry Falls State Park has many stone structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. 
A major part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, the CCC was designed to provide jobs for young men, to relieve families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression in the U.S. while at the same time implementing a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory.  In nine years 3 million young men participated in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food, together with a small wage of $30 a month ($25 of which had to be sent home to their families).
Principal benefits of an individual's enrollment in the CCC included improved physical condition, heightened morale, and increased employability.  Implicitly, the CCC also led to a greater public awareness and appreciation of the outdoors and the nation's natural resources; and the continued need for a carefully planned, comprehensive national program for the protection and development of natural resources.
During the time of the CCC, volunteers planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed more than 800 parks nationwide and upgraded most state parks, updated forest fire fighting methods, and built a network of service buildings and public roadways in remote areas.
By 1942, with World War II and the draft in operation, need for work relief declined and Congress voted to close the program.

This statue of a CCC worker was enough to get all three kids smiling.  :)

Peace, Love, and State Park Appreciation,

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October 3, 2014


Life is like a cyclone sometimes.  I'm flowing with it. 

The school stomach bug struck, I had a very sick boy this week.  I took another to the doctor yesterday and learned he needs an operation. (hernia. weight lifting. teenage athletes. sigh.)  We're on a many day stretch of lots of running and miles, when mostly I want to be home.  Work is piling up with the loss of my computer.  My old hard drive is being sent away from one facility to another city for intense, expensive recovery efforts.  All good mojo is welcome & appreciated.
If you have precious files on your computer, learn from my anguish.  Please back them up. 
But enough about that.  I'm flowing. 
We've enjoyed the Indian Summer that stayed around most of September.  Life is good.

Speaking of natural disasters, Mitch and the younger kids created a volcano eruption in our kitchen a couple of weeks ago. 

"Sundays go way too fast." -Johnathan, 11 years old.  A September-October kind of quote.

We've had some quality Fall excursions lately.  I'll be able to connect my camera to a new system and share soon.  Images above are from my phone. 
That's Johnathan in swimming trunks last Saturday.  This Saturday forecasts a high in the 30's with snow in the next 24 hours. 
Fall is fully here.

"Peace.  It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart."  
Peace, Love, and Cyclones,

September 24, 2014

Splendor & Mishaps | Autumnal Equinox

We are thoroughly celebrating September this year.  The weather has been notably good.
Leaves will be reaching their fall color peak within the next few days here.  Many are already falling to the ground.

My mom and I took our kayaks out together the afternoon before her birthday last week.  It was her first time in a kayak, and my first time on this particular non-motorized designated trout stream lake.  

Over the weekend, we enjoyed a day of exploring a Minnesota state park, then another just over the Wisconsin state line.  The leaves in that area weren't turning much yet, but the weather was perfect.

Mitch & I spent an evening this week deep in the woods behind our house.  We made our way to a beaver pond, where we watched a majestic pair of swans, busy kingfishers, and some unidentified swimming birds.  I also enjoyed the presence of a chipmunk who was busy stuffing its cheeks. 

A small pond tucked in the woods:

Between all the fall splendor, I accidentally poured a cup of chai directly on my camera while carrying too many things at once.   I had a migraine for a day.. This time of year our to-do list is long, time is of the essence, I hate to have valuable days taken.  And the hard drive on my desktop began to crash.  "Imminent danger of failure" were the words I last saw on the screen.  It's not to be turned on again until all of my photos and files are safely rescued.  (We've mentioned replacing that computer for over a year now.. these things seem to put themselves off until desperate situations strike.) 

My head is better.  My camera survived without major issue, though it's a bit gummy in some of the switches and crevices and will be sent away for cleaning.  And my computer - well with this week's colors and weather being so beautiful and fleeting, I'm not sure just yet when I'll make the 160 mile round trip to the Geek Squad.  I was in the middle of editing grad photos, too.  Unfortunate timing! 
I was able to get some of these pictures of our autumn outings onto my laptop for the time being. 

We're anticipating another Fall adventure this coming weekend.
So much to do, so much to admire - I find myself torn between the two.  :)
I believe last Fall I called this time of year "savoring while we scurry."

Peace, Love, and Falling Leaves,