Sunday, May 31, 2015

Gunflint Lodge Day ONE

The day started off bright and early with a mini-hike to get Kolachi all tired out for the morning.  We worked on our canicross/skijoring skills, and took some photos of the North Woods in the spring.

 Meanwhile, Alex and Vera had a deep discussion about ..... well, probably books.
 After breakfast, we headed to the "Wild Edibles" hike, where we had a naturalist lead us on a hike and point out some new plants for us to nibble on/ forage!
 Blue bee lily- (in my wild edibles book, it is identified as the Corn Lily)-  leaves taste like cucumber when they are young.  Do NOT eat the flower!
 Alex enjoys a mid-trail snack-  Justin tried it a few times, but spit it out each attempt.  Just not his thing.
 J's legs gave out fairly early on in this hike (he HAD gone for a very long walk earlier in the day), but Auntie Carrie let us borrow the Ergo. 
 Labrador plant, apparently very rare, although this particular location has lots and lots!  We foraged some leaves to dry at home and make a tea- it is a rich source of Vitamin C (as well as perhaps a lice deterrent and cure for rabies?)
 After our hike, the menfolk relaxed at the lodge, eating complimentary fresh-baked cookies and hot chocolate.  Another perk of staying at Gunflint.
 Vera took an opportunity to visit the ranch and see horses for the first time.  We couldn't get too close, so we didn't get as big of a reaction as we were hoping.  I think she thought they were big doggies.
 Later on it was time to FISH!  Papa Bob helped Alex and Justin troll from the dock.  No bites today, but maybe later...

One of my 'goals' was to see Kolachi's reaction to being in a canoe.  Not surprisingly, she was a bit nervous about the entire situation, but more than willing to give it a go, if that was what I was really asking her to do.  We didn't stay out too long because it was still too chilly to end up in the water.
 After K and I got back, Dave took the kids out for their first canoe ride.  This girl is a great paddler.
This guy was a little nervous about heading "backwards", but he enjoyed himself.  Dave tried to get them to sing some of their favorite Okee Dokee Brothers songs, but apparently neither child wanted to participate.  Too much THINKING going on to goof around!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

North Shore Drive- up to Gunflint Lodge!

We've done a North Shore / Gunflint Trail vacation with the Marotz family for a number of years now, and this year we branched out and tried a new 'home base'- Gunflint Lodge.  It is quite a bit further up the trail than our mainstay, Bearskin Lodge, but it had a one thing going for it that made it our choice.  Number one:  Dog-friendly cabins, outdoor dining and activities.  We ended up really enjoying ourselves (enough to book a 'bounce-back' trip this fall).  The programming was very good-- we took wild edible hikes, nature tracking hikes, learned how to make birchbark crafts and paper, and even enjoyed some horseback riding, paddling and fishing when we weren't busy hiking!

Here is a break-down of Day 1-  From MSP to Gunflint Lodge

Gooseberry Falls State Park:  Kolachi really showed her age (almost 2) here.  She was able to appropriately ignore other dogs (and there were a LOT of them) when we hiked to the falls.  It was SO nice to enjoy this with the whole family!
 Always watching over her kids-

 Auntie Carrie, Uncle Sam and Vera met us in Duluth and we caravanned up to the Gunflint Trail.  Vera was rocking the sun hat!

Next Stop: "Pooh Sticks Bridge" at Lutsen Resort.  The kids HAVE to stop here every trip-- this is NOT an option!

 Miss V got in on the rock collecting as well..... and rock-eating.  Because that's cool, too...

 Finally made it!  The adults (and Kolachi) relax in the HUGE Pow-Wow Lodge at Gunflint.  It was a great 'cabin' (think house) and we had plenty of room to spread out and wait for Papa Bob and Grandma Mary to roll in later that evening.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Children's Farm Picnic

Today was Justin's last day of Children's Farm for the school year.  I can't rave enough about this program.  Today the parents and families gathered with children and teachers to celebrate a wonderful year together.  We started off (in a light drizzle) with some songs. 
 Then it was time to get to work!  Justin zipped off ahead of us-- I barely caught sight of his little blue rain jacket weaseling his way into the barn with the herd of excited kids.  Moments later, he proudly emerged holding the coveted lamb bottle! 
 These were some hungry lambs!

 After feeding the animals, the kids and families had free reign to wander and explore.  The children were supposed to give us a complete tour.  Justin certainly did!  We climbed up into the hayloft of the barn and saw all the neat things up there-- boards and hay bales and lots of room for imagination to run wild!

We visited the new kittens.  It was obvious that Justin is very confident in this setting as he unlatched the chicken coop door, ushered us in, re-latched the door and gently brought out a kitten for Alex to hold.
Then he showed us his prowess on horseback.  I do say that I was duly impressed!

He took us on a tour of the garden-- with blooming chives, and newly sprung potatoes, peas.

 We gathered a little hay for the calf to munch on.
 Sharp, pointy instruments.  All for preschoolers to freely use as needed...... 
 We enjoyed our picnic lunch on the grassy hill overlooking the outdoor classroom.
 I had to grab this photo of one of the 'pounding logs' that is in the outdoor classroom.  Nails, bottle caps and scraps of wood are pretty much always available for the kids to create whatever it is they can imagine.
 Justin's little friend joined us for a short hike to the "pine woods".  How I would love to have a piece of land like this for my kids to wander about on. 
 Beautiful, no?
 We were SO lucky to find this wonderful school, and  are looking forward to Justin's second year in the fall.  I can only imagine how much more confident and self-assured he will grow after another year of hard work and hard play!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Seriously BIG Collection

When we pulled into our herding lesson today, Justin audibly gasped from the back seat of the minivan.  "Mama- look!  Do you think there is a parade?"
 Turns out Ms. Phyllis' husband is an Oliver man.  He collects and restores these magnificent machines!  Justin was over the moon to get to walk amongst the collection and compare/contrast the different models.
 "This is a really big collection, mom.  Seriously bigger than my model tractors.  Or rocks."

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Day in the Life of.... Summer version

Here are some quick photographs from 'a day in the life of Alex and Justin':
Picnic outside after our nature walk (which has morphed into a 'nature' bike ride).  Then we let the bunnies graze for a bit!  They've moved outside for the summer, and it is a much better working relationship now.  I think they enjoy having a room with a view, and they definitely like munching on fresh grass a few times a day!  The neighbor kids also love feeding them fresh dandelions and clover!

Our makeshift bunny tractor.  

 The boys' hutches outside-- they have a great little set-up, and even have their own fan for muggy days.  In order to make it a bit cooler for them, we also keep their coats sheared down.....

After lessons and some outside time watering our flowers, I normally hang out here for a while while the kids ride their bikes again.  I knew I'd be out here a lot this summer, so I tried to cozy it up a bit.  The rabbit statues are normally placed in cute but hidden spots.  Alex and Justin like to play with them too....

 Since the front of the house looks so nice this time of the year:

The three Iris bulbs I brought with me from Prior Lake six years ago have proliferated!  They are particularly lovely this year :-)

Lilac-- the bane of my allergies....but it's so PRETTY!
 After some more school, or housework, or errands-- whatever needs to get done- we might just hit the pool (today was our first visit for the season!)
 Looks like this summer is shaping up quite nicely!