4th of July Drive

DSC_4337It was a day like many others, except it was a holiday and no work – love those kind of days.  Nothing you have to do and no where you have to be.  You can never have enough we time.  I am very fond of we time with my lil grape crush, Cyn.  We very much enjoy our country drives.  Most often we simply wander until it is time to head back for home.  Most of the time we have no destination in mind – more so a general area.  Today was no different.  We took the back roads down toward the familiar Weaver bottoms and the Whitewater River.  It was a beautiful day, nice weather and great company.  The girls were with too.  They love a nice long car ride.

Here are some photos of our 4th of July drive.  More of the wonderful same country roads and scenery it affords.  Happy weekend all!

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Whitewater River – SE Minnesota

One of the many spectacular feature of southeast Minnesota are the pristine trout streams.  The Whitewater River system is no exception.  The valleys of the Whitewater Rivers – middle, North and South branches are a wild and great thing of natural beauty.  This incredible area has been mentioned in my posts a few times over.

Whitewater Way | Photographers in the Mist | Mississippi Sunrise – Weaver Bottoms | Back-roadin’ – Preston/Lanesboro, MN to Red Wing, MN | Goodbye Sweet Face

This river has provided several years of recreation to my friends and I.  Not that long ago we had a long-standing (10+ yrs) tradition of camping the weekend of trout fishing opener; some years arriving the Thursday before the Saturday opener just to spend some extra time camping along the river.  We spend most of our time on a track of the South Branch outside of Altura, MN off 248.  It was always an adventure to travel to our campsite from the main road.

The path

The path was steep, rocky and muddy all at the same time as the minimally maintained road was carved from the ravine-side.  The 400′ decent on the goat path was often challenging and never boring…this was 4×4 access only, but you’d be surprised how many attempted it in a regular car only to be met by extreme disappointment – both theirs and their parents.  Crazy kids.  The farmer on top of the hill has pulled out many from this muddy trout haven no doubt.

We a few years with snow on the ground and many years where it rained more than it didn’t.  It did not seem to matter in our younger years.  We came to camp with friends, our dogs and grill lots of food.  We drank and we were plenty merry.  Most of the time there were more dogs than guys – a pack of wild and crazy Labrador retrievers they were.  No passer-by ever successfully fished the holes around our campsite.  The dogs simply wouldn’t allow it.  If you were not getting licked to death they were splashing around in the stream.  Needless to say, only the true dog lover lasted more than a minute where we were.  I always remember the ride home – stinky wet dog – crashed out on the seat next to me; never saying boo until we pulled in the drive way at home.  This was a favorite spot of my Sweet Face.  Terrah and Kosmo where there from the beginning and their offspring Kramer and Ruby join not long after.  Terrah and Kosmo are have been gone a few years now.  I sure miss those crazy stinky wet dogs.

Somewhere along the line, our tradition was dubbed “trout-o-rama.”  I have heard said that, “All good things eventually come to an end;” I suppose that is true to a degree, but the memories still remain.  I guess we just got old and more accustom to the comforts of life.  Camping in these parts were totally privative.  No running water (unless you count the stream), toilets or showers.  There was a special place off to the side, back a bit among the brush where you never trusted where the toilet paper lie.  You may or may not get that last statement, but if you knew the guys I spent most of my time with back then, you would know there was a joke or two in there and even a special name for that very place.

Those were not only the good times, but they were the best of times.  I think about the trips we had and fun we made; I think of them often as I drive back through this enchanting area.  Thanks Chris, Al and Jamie for all those years of fun.  We will have to plan a trout-o-rama reunion at some point, but lets not wait too long, that place will not be walker accessible anytime soon.

This is preciously why areas like this need to be preserved, protected and cherished.

I Love Farmer’s Markets

Who doesn’t enjoy a farmer’s market?  I simply cannot image anyone that would not.  The hustle and bustle of it all make the market a great place to spend some time.  The wonderful smells of food and flowers, the diverse individuals milling about and the sights and sounds of consuming local wares all contribute to the experience. The Saturday before Mother’s Day, Cyn and I made our way to the St. Paul Farmer’s Market.  We had been earlier in the season, but things were setup in an alley and there were not many vendors present.  This was our first trip of many I imagine.  Right now the market is void of fresh produce, but there is so much more to a farmer’s market than produce.  There were many things available:  lots of flowers, plants, meats, cheeses, sauces and breads to hold my attention for a while. At one point during our walk around the market it began to snow!  It was short-lived and everyone had a good laugh.  Thankfully, that has been the last sighing of snow in our area. I wish we lived closer to St. Paul as I could go every weekend; it is my Saturday morning cartoon equivalent.  We are lucky to have a nice farmer’s market in Red Wing as well.   I foresee a trip there this Saturday in search of The Grateful Bread – I’ve missed it over the Winter season.

In 1853 St. Paul was indeed a frontier town. Dirt streets, log cabins and steamboats were the order of the day. As early as 1852 the Minnesota Pioneer newspaper called for an organizational Farmers’ Market. A Market House, a two-story brick building, was constructed at Seventh and Wabasha streets. It was St. Paul’s first public market. While fresh produce was only available during the season, dairy products, flour, cakes and candies could be purchased year-round. For over 150 years The St. Paul Farmers’ Market has been proud to enjoy the support of the community.  That tradition of support continues today.  For more information regarding the farmer’s market, please visit http://www.stpaulfarmersmarket.com/

Revisited – April 2013

April 2013 was an odd month weather-wise.  I am glad that old man winter has finally released us from his grasp.  The last bit of the wintry-like weather (in May!) was not pleasant at all.  Welcome Spring.  I look forward to milder weather and plenty of sunshine.

Here are a few of my favorite shots converted to black & white with a couple color photos mixed in.  There is quite a variety.  Roaming around Western MN, South Dakota and North Dakota, wildlife, Peyton (2 yrs old – share a birthday with Cyndie), one of the cutest 2 year olds there is and sites of St. Paul.