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.

Now that’s camping food!

November 3, 2009

Memaloose State Park on the Columbia River, Oregon, June 13, 2009

One-Year Anniversary

October 30, 2009

Today marks my one-year anniversary (and 52nd post) of blogging about nature. Thanks for being a reader!

Double Shift

October 24, 2009
The Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers meet

The Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers meet

I volunteered today at two separate events. In the morning I hauled invasive buckthorn out of the woods and picked up litter in Como Park. In the afternoon I spread native grass seeds in Crosby Farm Park, overlooking the Mississippi River. Working outside makes me really tired — in a good way. Coming home to a hot shower and a short nap is one of life’s simple pleasures.

Running on Empty in the Middle of Nowhere

October 4, 2009

Sentinel Butte, North Dakota, June 11, 2009

Logging the Hours

September 29, 2009

As a Minnesota Master Naturalist volunteer, I have pledged to spend at least 40 hours per year volunteering for the great outdoors. In 2008 I unfortunately failed miserably at reaching this goal. This year I am again struggling to log in that many hours, but I think I can still do it! I will need to devote most of my Saturday mornings to volunteering.

So far this year I have:

  • chaperoned kids on a snowshoeing/animal tracking excursion
  • pulled invasive species: burdock and garlic mustard
  • planted native grasses and flowers on a steep hillside overlooking the Mississippi River (then my legs hurt for 3 days!)
  • collected acorns for planting this fall
  • planted rain gardens at a school

If you are interested in habitat restoration in Minnesota, here are some organizations that host volunteer events. I hope to see you at some events this fall!

Crater Lake

September 21, 2009

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, June 21, 2009. And I thought Minnesota winters were long!

Slow But Sure

September 4, 2009
Plant it and they will come.

Plant it and they will come.

The end of summer is here, so an update is due regarding the native plants garden I started this May. Some species are growing strong, others are just hanging in there. Maintenance consists mostly of saving the little seedlings that get buried under wood chips, plus keeping everything watered.

Great Blue Lobelia

Great Blue Lobelia

Notes from the field:

  • Prairie Blazing Star: The monarch butterflies appeared the first day of the first bloom. If you plant it, they will come.
  • Great Blue Lobelia: Blooming strong and the bees love them.
  • Cardinal Flower: Blooming bright red. A few white flowers appeared, which can happen.
  • Pussy Toes: Spreading nicely.
  • Solomon’s Seal: All the stems broke off almost immediately. I wonder if they’ll re-appear next year?
  • False Lily of the Valley: I am nurturing just a few leaves the size of my fingernail.
  • Columbine: Shriveled up, but now is making a come-back.
  • New England Aster: Getting ready to bloom.
  • Grasses: Doing well; have bloomed with little tiny flowers.
  • Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Bishops’ Cap, and Baneberry: Needed more shade so I moved them.
  • Everything else: Slow but sure.

Last week I couldn’t help myself and purchased 21 more plants from the blogger at Urban Natives. I never used to be a gardener, but now I suspect I have found a new hobby.

Music to My Ears

August 18, 2009

The wind shakes the leaves of the cottonwood tree like a million tambourines

The waves slap the shore like brassy symbols

The woodpecker taps out the beat like a snare drum

And the songbird carries the melody

Wind Power!

August 5, 2009

After reading that my friend over at Striving Green is participating in Xcel Energy’s Windsource, my household decided to do the same. Today we signed up for 100% wind power for our electricity! This doesn’t mean that our particular house is connected to a wind turbine, but the money we pay obliges the utility to invest in more wind turbines for the larger energy grid.

Windsource is the nation’s largest voluntary renewable energy program and goes above and beyond whatever renewable energy requirements are mandated to the utility. Although Minnesota Windsource customers currently pay an additional $3.53 per 100 kWh, they are exempt from the “fuel cost charge” billed to regular customers, so the net cost is about $1.00 per 100 kWh. However, last summer the fuel cost charge was so high that Xcel wind power proved to be a July bargain.

Our average monthly electric usage is 441 kWh. The extra ~$4.41 that we are going to pay is a small price to make the world a better place through renewable energy.