Friday, April 24, 2009

Ah, Spring.

A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away... .

OK, here in Minnesota about 20 years ago, I used to take off work on my birthday, April 1st, to go to Taylor's Falls for a hike. I haven't been able to do that since then because it's always been way too cold and icky. Winter has moved at least one month into spring. Actually, I think all our months, weather-wise, have moved one month later.

So yesterday, when the weather was predicted to be in the 80s, and since I'm being forced to not work (no pay--they call it a furlough and say it's better than being laid off), I drove to Taylor's Falls. Actually, I went to the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix River to Interstate Park.

These might be anenomies.
I gave my flower books to Ben and Steph so I can't look them up.
The white ones look like wild strawberries.

Ah, I love the natural pine smell of the forest floor in the warmth of the day.

These are the ones that look more like strawberries.

Lake O' the Dalles Trail on the SE side.

A view of the river.

A pothole.

I first walked up the Ravine Trail. The map says it's only .5 miles long. For someone who hasn't been hiking lately, and who is just a little over weight, I thought I was going to die from a heart attack. When I saw the 260 feet rise notation on the map, I felt better about myself.

From the top of the Ravine Trail, I turned south west on the Skyline Trail. (I'd wanted to walk the Meadow Valley Trail but it's under water. Actually, the picnic tables just north of the parking lot were in an inch or so of marshy water. And I forgot my hip waders.) Anyway the Skyline Trail is about 1.6 miles and mostly down a very gentle slope. The only green things visible are the flowers I photographed.

Digital photography has given me the option of taking enough shots to be sure to get one or two good ones. Unfortunately, I can't seem to get the camera to focus on what I want to take a picture of when it's in macro mode.

Skyline Trail ended in the Pines Group Camp area. After an outhouse stop (I know, TMI), I hiked a trail that parallels the Eagle Peak Trail but instead of going up it goes down further to the South Campground. I came out on the south end of the campground. Turning back north east, I hiked to the Camp Interstate Shelter where I had my lunch.

From there I headed to the Lake O' the Dalles Trail and walked the south eastern side of the lake. After my afternoon snack and general laziness reading my book, I drove up to the Pothole Trail to do some more relaxing. I thought about knitting but couldn't bring myself to do more than one round.

Around 3:30 p.m. I drove into Taylor's Falls and had some chocolate almond fudge ice cream with a cone.

On the way home, I thought I'd stop at the little bar/restaurant in Marine on St. Croix. Unfortunately, it is closed with a For Sale sign on the door. Too bad. It was a great place to stop, especially when riding the Gold Wing, for a brew and a burger.

One thing nice about this time of year is there are few bugs. There were some black flies when I first started out but they disappeared along the Skyline Trail and never returned. No mosquitoes. Also, no kids and no dogs. I think I only saw about 5 cars.

Being a loaner I like that sort of hike. In my humble opinion, there are too many people in the world and most of them are next to me most of the time. No offense intended. That's just the way I am.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Sorry I took so long

I learned some time ago to throw my own birthday parties. This year was a visit to Jensen's Supper Club in Eagan. The supper club is a restaurant format that has never, ever gone out of style. And Jensen's does it well. The food is excellent, the service attentive and prompt, the atmosphere conducive to conversation. I can't say enough good things about it. (Hint: Their martinis and gimlets are very generous so plan to spend a fair amount of time sobering up before driving home.)

While gifts were not requested nor totally expected, they were welcome and not refused. This is one of two pairs of lovely sock yarn that Betty got for me. Ivy Kettle Hand-Dyed Essential (tm) (75% Superwash Merino Wool and 25% Nylon). Uber soft.

The next is the Bordeaux colorway of the same yarn.

Here are CJ and Sandy, friends I've known since the mid 1980s. That's Ben on the left.This lovely lady is my tai chi chuan teacher, Sifu Phyllis Calph. I've been with her for 16 wonderful years.

Here's my small cut prime rib with a bit of creamed spinach and some mashed potatoes. Very, very good. When I said rare, they did rare. Yum.

Betty is on the far left, then Stephanie and Ben.

No birthday dinner is complete without a very chocolate birthday cake and whipped cream on top.

Back row: CJ, David, Ben, Stephanie. Front row: Sandy, Betty, me, Sifu and her husband Ed.
It's good to have so many wonderful friends. Unfortunately, Nikki couldn't make it as she was out of town.

Typical of Minnesota, the next day was snowy. This was taken at 9 a.m.

David had left the camera on an odd setting, but I think this really speaks to the feeling of this sort of weather on April 2.

It took so long to get these up because my 4 GB card couldn't be read by my old card reader. Had to go get a new reader.