Mini RV Trip 
On Sunday Joe decided we should head out in the RV and go to northern MN. We packed up and left. Our first stop was Eighteen Lake, which is a campground that we already knew was free and where we had internet.

On Monday morning I woke up relatively early so decided to walk the trail that goes around the lake, which is supposedly around 2.5 miles (I think it's a bit longer). My hope was to see some birds and get some photos. Unfortunately, the bugs were really awful and the trail was pretty overgrown on the edges, meaning my legs were completely soaked by the time I was done from brushing up on grass and ferns. I took a couple photos of the loon that was on the lake, but that was the only stopping I did because I would get eaten alive by mosquitoes.

We headed out that day to do some more exploring. We did find a spot where we could let the cats out for a bit. It happened to have a ton of blueberries. We picked quite a few. We got to have blueberry pancakes for dinner that night. After rounding up the cats, we headed back out. One of the roads we were planning on taking ended up being a skinny road! Grass down the center and just wide enough for us. There were some sketchy parts, but we were able to make it the whole way. Since we had found blueberries, Joe really wanted raspberries to mix with them and make a jam. There were tons of plants along one section and the road. I could see how many mosquitoes were out there, so I refused to try picking them, but Joe went anyway. They were so terrible and he barely got any berries. It was pretty sad.

Once we got to the end of that road, we were very near Clara Lake which has a free campground. We stayed there for the night. We left in the morning and found a sand pit to let the kitties out again. Along one of the edges of the pit there were tons of raspberry plants, so Joe got his raspberries. From there we headed down Honeymoon Trail to check out the campgrounds. The first one we saw was a nice one, but no internet, so we decided to move on. The next was just a mile down the road. That one was by a river and we had internet! We tried going on a walk down a gated road very nearby but had to quit after just a half mile because the mosquitoes were really, really bad. We even had bug nets on our heads and I was still being eaten alive through my shirt. The next morning, the only person there was at the very first site (we were at the last one) so we let the cats out before breakfast. Once we got them all in we headed down to Lutsen to meet up with our friend Sarah who had the day off that day. Our plan was to hike up Eagle Mountain.

Once Sarah arrived we drove up to Eagle Mountain for 6 mile hike. Surprisingly, the bugs weren't bad, which made the hike pretty enjoyable. On the way back down, Sarah went for a swim across the lake. We met her on the other side. After the hike, we headed into Grand Marais for dinner. The restaurants were all pretty packed, so it took a while before we got food, but we ate at the Gun Flint Tavern and the food was super good.

Sarah headed home after dropping us off at the RV and we drove down 61 a bit until we found a spot not far off the highway that we could park to sleep. Thursday morning we headed back home. All in all, a pretty decent week.


The loon on Eighteen Lake.

Joe blueberry picking.

Joe raspberry picking with the kitties hanging out with him. Can you spot the three? (click photo for larger image)

Coming back from our walk down the crazy buggy road. Curly did really well following us.

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Eventful Fourth 
Mom mentioned to me that she wanted to do something for the Fourth. Maybe a canoe trip? Joe decided we should maybe check out the next section of the Cloquet River. Last year we canoed from Island Lake down to Munger Shaw Rd. So, this time we went from Munger Shaw Rd to 53.

The trip started out great. The temp was perfect even if it was a bit windy. Eventually, we did run into some rapids. For the most part, they went all right. There ended up being one chunk that was bad enough that Joe had to jump out because we got stuck on a rock. After quite a bit of maneuvering, we were able to work our way further down the river.

There were far more rapids than any of us were all that comfortable with, but we were getting closer to the end and didn't have another problem. Then, there were more rapids coming up that looked like big rocks right across our path. Basically no way through. We tried anyway and Joe ended up having to jump out again when we hit a rock and got stuck. Papa then got out also, unfortunately, when he was trying to put the paddle in the canoe, he missed and it went floating down the river. Joe and papa walked it down until the water got too deep. Then they gave the one paddle to me to get through that section of rapids and they both hopped in. We made it through fine, but ended up seeing yet another section of rapids ahead of us before a landing that we could see that must be near the highway. Since we didn't have another paddle, we ended up heading to shore. Mom and I hopped out and walked through the woods to the road/landing. The rest of the way to the landing looked like it was clear of rocks, but by this time the bottom of the canoe had quite a bit of water in it and I didn't want to risk my camera getting wet.

Joe and Papa continued to the landing without incident. Joe then jogged the short distance to the car. Mom and I came out on the road not far away and we loaded up the canoe to then drive and get their car at the beginning of the river. The entire trip was almost 10 miles and we did it in about 3 hours. We didn't end up seeing any fireworks that night since we were all pretty worn out and wet.


A raptor we saw perched along the river.

A Great Blue Heron hanging out on the top of a pine tree.

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Peregrine Watch 
I just started a new job today! It's only for a few weeks but it's already been a lot of fun and very educational. I'm working for Hawk Ridge, showing people the Peregrine Falcons that nest on the Greysolon Plaza building. Today we helped get the three chicks banded. The parents were not at all happy. The mother was dive bombing the person that was getting the chicks quite a bit. Once they were banded, they were put back and we left, making the parents much happier.

We haven't been doing much traveling, but I thought I would put up something, especially since I got some photos.


The baby getting banded.

I got to hold one!

The mother was not at all happy.

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Short Canoe Trip 
It's been a bit since we went on this canoe trip but I was terrible at getting the photos uploaded. Anyway, Joe, Mary, Teddy and I went to the Canosia Wildlife Reserve with a canoe. When the gate is open, you can drive down near the water, which is what we did to put the canoe in. Teddy did very well sitting in the canoe. We saw more wildlife during that short canoe trip than I think Joe and I have seen on all our other canoe trips we took this summer. This was most likely the last canoe trip of the season since it's getting pretty chilly now.

Teddy in the canoe.

A juvenile Northern Harrier.

Sandhill Cranes taking flight.

Lesser Yellowlegs. I let us get pretty close, then later when it took off it flew around us quite a bit, which we pretty surprising for Teddy.

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This past weekend we headed off to Chicago. We really didn't want to drive, which is why we took the train. It was approximately the same amount of time as driving. The train ride was comfortable. We arrived a couple hours late, but that wasn't a big deal for us. The hotel we were staying at was about a mile away, making the walk not too bad.
The next day, we headed to the Field Museum. We enjoyed the exhibits quite a bit. We were there for 6 hours. Unfortunately, by the end, we were getting information overload. That would be a great place to visit frequently to absorb certain areas instead of trying to take in the whole thing.
That evening we took the train to the area near Wrigley Field. I had a show at the Underground Lounge I wanted to see. It was a great show. Unfortunately, the area around us was basically all bars. When we needed to waste some time because we were there too early, it made it a little tough since we don't exactly like the bar scene. :)
The next day, we headed to the Shedd Aquarium. It was neat, but I sort of wish we had gone to the Planetarium or the Science Museum instead. It was still neat though. From there we took the train to Tinley Park and walked to our hotel there. We headed to the Kelly Clarkson/The Fray concert via taxi. The show was enjoyable. I had decent seats in the 7th row off of center. We left a little early, about 45 minutes into The Fray's set so we could miss the rush. We walked the 2 miles back to the hotel.
The next morning, we headed back to the train and back into downtown Chicago. The train back home was on time, which was nice since we wouldn't be getting back until after 10 as it was. All in all, it was a fun trip. I wish we had a few more days to go to the Brookfield Zoo, the Planetarium and the Science Museum, but I guess that's for another time.


A neat gemstone in the Field Museum.

Purty jelly fish.

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