Archive for the ‘Outdoor Activities’ Category

2010 Recap

January 2, 2011

I’d like to take a moment to look back and see how I’ve enjoyed and protected nature in the past year.

• I took up a new hobby in 2010—birdwatching. I was fortunate enough to tag along with a group of expert birders, logging about 40 hours with them. Not only did I see many birds I had never seen, I also visited many local parks I had never visited. Thanks Monday Morning Birding Bunch!

• I enjoyed the company of my husband and my dog during two relaxing camping trips at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area—near Ely and on the Gunflint Trail. Canoeing, hiking, swimming, birdwatching and stargazing were excellent.

• I attempted to make healthy and sustainable food choices by shopping at a local food co-op and supporting a local farm through a CSA membership.

• I watched my 2nd-year native plants garden grow and observed how the butterflies, bees, caterpillars and birds are attracted to native plants.

• In my own small way of trying to get others interested in nature, I gave Toastmasters speeches about the Minnesota Master Naturalist program and about my EcoStrides blog.

• H and I purchased snowshoes for our Minnesota nieces and nephews for Christmas and then we all went on a short snowshoeing and sledding adventure.

• I logged 47 hours of volunteering as a Minnesota Master Naturalist. My projects included:

  1. Pulling invasive garlic mustard at Crosby Farm Park for Friends of the Mississippi River
  2. Weeding at Como Lake’s shoreline for St. Paul Parks
  3. Removing invasive burdock from Como Park Woods for St. Paul Parks
  4. Collecting seed of native prairie plants at Woodbury Conservation Corridor and Lost Valley Scientific and Natural Area for Great River Greening
  5. Supervising teens in stacking buckthorn at Lost Valley Scientific and Natural Area for Great River Greening
  6. Spreading mulch under new shrubs under the Xcel Energy High Bridge for Great River Greening
  7. Cutting and piling brush at Lost Valley Scientific and Natural Area for the Minnesota DNR
  8. Cleaning seeds previously collected for Great River Greening
  9. Talking to visitors about native plants during a neighborhood garden tour
  10. Addressing envelopes for the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota
  11. Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count

Here’s to 2011 and more outdoor escapades!

Most Beautiful Place

December 10, 2010

Where is the most beautiful place you have ever visited? For me, Moraine Lake in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies is the most drop-dead gorgeous location in the world!

Its turquoise waters, tall conifers and snow-capped mountains will take your breath away and make you want to stay forever!

My husband and I visited this glacially-fed lake in June 2006. From the vantage point of the rock pile we saw both a small avalanche and a small forest fire high in the mountains—at the same time! Not something you see everyday—or is it, if you live in the Canadian Rockies?

Renting a canoe to explore this awesome lake was such a treat! I highly recommend it. We also had a lovely lunch on the outdoor patio of the Moraine Lake Lodge. If you have limited time in the area, skip Lake Louise and spend your entire day at Moraine Lake. I must return here! Maybe next time we’ll splurge and stay at the lodge. It’d be worth it.

Please do not use photos without my permission.

Those Nutty Nuthatches

December 1, 2010

08/23/10 — Gunflint Trail, Minnesota — It was a hot and windy day so we opted to hang out around camp instead of going out in the canoe. The Nuthatches were my entertainment for the day. It’s fun to watch them flutter around pine cones, picking out seeds and bringing them to another tree. Their calls sound like nasal beeps.

The Red-breasted Nuthatch was just one of the species involved in entertaining me on vacation. Here is the list of birds I saw on our week-long camping trip at the edge of the Boundary Waters. (One thing I’ve learned about birders is that they like to make lists.)

  1. White-throated Sparrow
  2. Cedar Waxwing
  3. American Robin
  4. Black-capped Chickadee
  5. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  6. Dark-eyed Junco
  7. Gray Jay
  8. Common Grackle
  9. American Crow
  10. Common Raven
  11. Ring-billed Gull
  12. Hairy Woodpecker
  13. Northern Flicker
  14. Pileated Woodpecker
  15. Common Nighthawk
  16. Common Loon
  17. Hooded Merganser
  18. Mallard
  19. Turkey Vulture
  20. Osprey
  21. Bald Eagle

Peaceful Paddling

August 17, 2010

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area is a treasure chest full of lakes and rivers, islands and forests. We Minnesotans are fortunate to have a true wilderness getaway in our own backyard. A five-hour drive from the Twin Cities will bring you to a place where there are no motors. A place where you might catch glimpse of a bear, moose or wolf. A place where you depend on yourself and your companions. If you haven’t experienced the Boundary Waters yet, I urge you to go.

Video clip showing the tranquility of canoeing on Lake One near Ely, Minnesota

Perfect Weather

December 8, 2009

If you live in Minnesota and wait for the perfect weather to get some exercise outdoors, you’ll spend a lot of time indoors.

On that note, I’m going to take my dog for a walk in the blustery snow now, and we’re going to enjoy it!

Pup ’n Boots

November 22, 2009

Wild & Scenic

November 14, 2009

Manchas enjoys a swim in the Chetco River of Alfred Loeb State Park in Oregon. This river is designated a national “Wild & Scenic” river with the intent of keeping it free-flowing. Portions of the St. Croix River in Minnesota/Wisconsin share the same protection.

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Congress declares that the established national policy of dams and other construction at appropriate sections of the rivers of the United States needs to be complemented by a policy that would preserve other selected rivers or sections thereof in their free-flowing condition to protect the water quality of such rivers and to fulfill other vital national conservation purposes. (Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, October 2, 1968)

Roadtrip Campsites

November 7, 2009

Take a peek at each of our campsites during our roadtrip from Minnesota to the West Coast in June 2009.

My First Cedar Waxwing

April 13, 2009
Erica Marshall of muddyboots.org

Erica Marshall of muddyboots.org

I spotted my first Cedar Waxwing—ever. A year ago I had never heard of this bird, and now I can say I’ve seen dozens of them. Yesterday there was a flock of them on my neighbor’s silver maple. Today there was another flock of them on my other neighbor’s green ash tree. The distinctive markings of the Cedar Waxwing include exquisite taupe plumage, light yellow belly, black mask, pointed crest, bright yellow tip on the tail, and red tips on the wings. I plan to add a serviceberry bush to my yard to attract this lovely bird.

I’ve started to become interested in birdwatching—learning the species, being observant enough to find the birds and identifying them by their markings and songs. If that’s not challenging enough—try to photograph them! Spring is a great time for birding because the birds are very active and vocal, and the leaves on the trees have not appeared yet, making it much easier to spot birds.

Catching Up: Winter and Planning a Roadtrip

February 26, 2009

Wow, a whole month has passed by since my last post. So much for my goal of blogging every day. It’s snowing like crazy today and I’m glad. It will give me at least one more chance to get out and cross-country ski or snowshoe. This winter I’ve only been cross-country skiing once and snowshoeing three times. I don’t want winter to be over yet because I don’t feel like I’ve taken advantage of it. It has been a cold one and maybe that’s why I haven’t been out much. I’m not exactly a die-hard. Then, we had an early thaw and there was no snow left to enjoy. So, with this new snowfall, I’m looking forward to an active weekend outdoors.

What I have been doing lately is planning a roadtrip for this summer. H and I will be taking the camper from Minnesota to Oregon (and back). The lucky dog gets to come along too! He loves the camper. Sometimes we’ll be sitting outside in a campground on a lovely day and Manchas will cry to go inside the camper. Makes me wonder.

I’m very excited for the trip! We will have the opportunity to visit two of my cousins. It will be great to catch up with them. Apart from the family reunions, some specific places that we’ll be camping are (click to see photo):

This will be a nature-based vacation since we’ll have the camper and the dog with us. I doubt we’ll be found in any museums along the way. But that is the way I like it. I’d rather soak in the scenery than a painting.