The following is a true story, only the names have been changed, to protect the guilty.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

North Shore

This summer a big trip with the family was not in the cards. We have been getting out quite a bit for two to three days at a time to places within our own state. It's nice not to drive too far, and we have managed to have lots of fun in our own backyard. This past weekend we headed north to the municipal campground in Grand Marais, the town is one of my favorite places and there is lots to do in the area.

I'll let the pictures do the talking for the rest of this post..........
Got out Friday morning for a short ride in the packraft

Lake Superior was like glass that morning

A little exploring and swimming heading up a small and scenic creek

second water fall on the way up

My Mom and Lynn 

The boys and I have done this creek before but this was a first for Lynn , at least during the summer

The crux, it can be much more difficult when the water is higher

Saturday we went for a ride on the new trails at Pincushion Mountain  

Like mother ,like son , Pincushion Mountain 

North Shore slickrock

Grand Portage National Monument, G man being carried by mom, not feeling well

Dock at the Grand Portage

End of the line, this is the road that used to lead to the border crossing to Canada. On the other side of the van is a missing bridge, the Pigeon River and the Canadian border ..... remote area

Old buildings, near the old border crossing 

Canada is just behind us

On the way home we stopped at Temperance River for a little cliff diving and swimming

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Going Underground

The last two Saturdays were spent caving, my back and sciatic nerve issues have (since May) kept me off the bike as of late, so this seemed like a good compromise. I say seemed, because it still hurt like hell last week when ArcFlash and I did Cold Water Cave in Iowa. Things are healing nicely now and this past Saturday at the Minnesota Speleological Survey's (MSS) Cornfeed at Mystery Cave was enjoyable.
Man made entrance, the river is 90++ feet down  

The platform at the bottom

Good pics are hard to come by down here. The walls are mostly black and suck up all the light and the humidity is 100% so everything gets misty when you breath 
 Cold Water cave is truly amazing. It's an underground river, and as the name suggests it's cold. A dry route does not exist, so anyone entering the cave must wear a wet suit, preferably of the 7mm variety (thick). While 7mm wet suits are nice and warm, they are restrictive and cumbersome. AF and I entered the cave at the Flatland entrance, run by the Iowa Grotto. This weekend was their annual picnic in which they get together and socialize as well as go caving. We were not able to stay for the potluck that evening or join other trips in the area scheduled for the next day, but had a great time on our 4+ hour trip.
Crinoid bed

Good formations are everywhere and become commonplace and taken for granted down here

AF coming up on Big Bertha
 Our route was  a simple one, consisting of a nice stroll in the main passage, up, and then down stream of the Flatland entrance. I have done this route before but was amazed at the side passage our trip leader took us down at the turn around point. It's called Cascade Canyon. It's much smaller than the main passage, highly decorated, many degrees colder, and has crystal clear water. To get through the passage most of our bodies were submerged including our hands. After about fifteen minutes my feet and hands were numb. We turned back shortly after that, and by the time we reached the main passage's 50 deg + water it felt like a warm bath. AF and I are already planning trips back to cold water but with some improvements on gear. The Iowa Grotto is a friendly group and does trips every third Saturday throughout the year. If you have the desire to check out a National Historic Landmark look them up HERE . For good pics go HERE and for more info go HERE.  
Nice and clean

On our way to the Bear Crawl
 This Past Saturday was the MSS's annual picnic known as the Corn Feed. It was held at Forestville/ Mystery Cave State park in southern Minnesota. This is my fourth Corn Feed and would be my first trip going into Mystery Cave as a leader. I was a little nervous but got some help from Paul who is an excellent caver, leading trips down there for years. I really didn't have much to worry about, but I didn't want anything to go wrong on my first real trip. I was pretty much just leading my boys and wife, although I think it would have been much easier leading grown adults :-). Things went well as we explored areas that presented little danger. I avoided anything with deep crevices or pits, there are a lot of areas that could be life threatening in the event of a fall. Places like the Straddle Galleries, the Jump Off, The Incline and the Discovery Route will be off limits until they are a little older.
Inside the Bear Crawl, it goes on this way for a hundred feet or so

Lynn almost finished crawling, she doesn't really like caves 
 We ended up heading out to Dragon's Jaw Lake which was un-passable due to high water. From there we went to the Bear Crawl and The Labyrinth, finishing the day at Enigma Pit. We tried one more time at Dragon Jaw before exiting the cave. A siphon was set up to drain the water just enough to get in the passage without getting soaked. The water didn't come down enough so Super Y, Big D,  and Lynn will have to wait until next time.

Logic......It doesn't count if your finger is not in the glove. This was Big D's idea BTW
 The trip was a a success and a lot of fun. Big thanks goes out to Paul who helped our group avoid the tour group. After caving for some four plus hours, we all relaxed with a good meal and story telling around a campfire.

White Nose Syndrome was just detected in Mystery Cave, everyone's gear needed to be decontaminated upon exiting the cave. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bike Project

Hopefully this bike will get more use with a motor
 I'm almost finished with a project I set out to do over a year ago,.... motorize my Surly 1x1.
I couldn't handle the shitty gas tank that was supplied with the kit so I made my own that tucks nicely into the void at the front of the frame.
More details will follow soon as well as a motorized bike rally coming this fall, ......."The Cheaters 100"

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tall Ships and Chairlifts

A couple weekends ago my family and I headed north to ride the new, lift-served trails at Spirit Mountain. We had been hearing lots of good things and wanted to give it a go for ourselves. Lynn also just got her hands on a new free-ride bike which she broke-in out in Seattle WA. a few weeks prior that was just begging for more downhillage. I might add she placed third in her age class at a free ride competition she did when she was out there.
Ready to roll Saturday morning......rain en-route 

Change of plans,  go see Tall Ships

Tall Ship located
 We got in late on Friday night and were all set to ride on Saturday morning just as the lifts were opening. Mother nature would not cooperate and just before buying our tickets it started raining and would continue to do so, off and on the rest of the day.

It stopped raining Saturday evening, time for a campfire and smashing things with sticks
 All was not lost, the harbor in Duluth was hosting a small fleet of Tall Ships. We decided to head into town with our bikes and ride the bike path to Canal Park. We agreed beforehand were not going to pay to get up close to the ships. We were rewarded several times throughout the day watching them pass under the historic lift bridge and through the canal. The rain continued but we manged to dodge the drops by visiting Dairy Queen and various other shops.....this got expensive.
Timber Twister

Finally some riding
First ride in a chairlft
 Sunday the weather was perfect. We slept in and timed it just right to go for a ride on the timber twister just as they were opening for the day. After a fun, but spendy, ride on the gravity roller coaster we began our assault on Candyland. Lynn and I were a little nervous at first about the boys getting carried away with their speed so we took turns leading and trying to get them to stay under control. They took to it like a fish to water, and soon we were just letting them go, and meeting up at the bottom. It was awesome!
Sponge Bob in da house

Super Y
 We all ended up with 16 runs each and were completely fried by 5pm. Lynn and I took a few laps each on Smorgasbord, another super fun but more technical route. We're all looking forward to a return trip this fall when they will have another trail open for riding. I also would't mind having my own, super cool bike, like my wife's Pivot, Firebird..
My birthday is coming soon, so they got me a skull at one of the shops we visited in Duluth. What more can a guy ask for.