Monday, July 30, 2012

North Shore Dragon Boat Festival

Grand Marais MN (Cloudy and Rainy High 77 Low 59)

One of the best things about traveling the country is that we learn so much. We did not know, for example, that Dragon Boat racing is the fastest growing water sport in the world and because of its extreme popularity in Asia that it is the second most popular water sport in the world according to Paddler magazine. In recent years the sport has taken off in North America with Dragon Boat Festivals throughout the United States and Canada during the summer.

Grand Marais hosts the North Shore Dragon Boat Festival each year on the last weekend of July to support area non-profit organizations. Visitors come from the United States, Canada, and around the world. The festivities take place in downtown Grand Marais and the races are in the bay so we were able to walk which helped us avoid the parking issues. We had to support the fund raising as best we could. We had heard the one thing you had to do is have a world famous fishburger so of course we did.

What is a fishburger you ask? It is a filet of herring on a hot dog bun. With a little tartar sauce it was quite tasty. We also had our first cheese curds and they were also good.

We then sat on a rock and waited for the next heat to begin. Friday night we watched the practices and it was funny the dragon heads were not on the boat then. Here are the boats lining up to start, right in front of where our RV is parked.

Here is the winner of the heat as it crosses in front of us.

Since the boats were starting near our RV and because it was a little hot sitting in the sun we decided to go back to the park and get pictures there and sit where we knew some shade was. Here are the boats lining up for the next heat.

We are glad that we were able to be spectators at the fastest growing water sport and the 9th Annual North Shore Dragon Boat Festival. It was fun and we got to support the work of a lot of good people.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Catching up - Canal Park and Aerial Lift Bridge, Day 1

Grand Marais MN (Sunny High 74 Low 57)

It rained the last couple of days so when yesterday was sunny we just took it easy and enjoyed the outdoors. Jo got a haircut and then we had a great brunch at Naniboujou. We sat outside and read, walked along the lake, sat outside and read, and walked to downtown a couple of times, it was a 'Grand Marais Day'. That give us the opportunity to catch up on blogging, this is from our recent visit to Saginaw Minnesota where we drove into Duluth.

After a great breakfast at Sara's Table at the Chester Creek Cafe in Taran's Marketplace that we blogged about earlier we went to Canal Park, a conversion of a warehouse district into a tourist and recreation oriented area. The highlight of Canal Park has to be the Aerial Lift Bridge.

From our previous posts long time readers know we are fascinated by lift bridges so you can expect to see a lot more photos of this bridge, it is pretty cool.

While walking around Canal Park we got to witness a couple of bridges lifting for a boat, albeit a smaller one than we were hoping for. Here is the Waterfront Plaza bridge raising for the boat.

Here is the Waterfront Plaza bridge fully opened and the boat which we will follow along on its journey.

This boat then headed towards the Aerial Lift Bridge, the boat we have been following is waiting patiently.

The Aerial Lift Bridge then raises and the boat we have been following passes under.

After this we walked around Canal Park. There are a couple of lighthouses at the end of the piers on both sides of the bridge. Here is a red roofed one.

Here is a more traditional looking lighthouse.

From the lighthouse here is a photo of downtown Duluth. The steepness of the hill reminded us of San Francisco or Seattle.

Walking around there is a neat fountain, the fish in the fountain are sturgeon.

We also just sat on the benches and enjoyed the great weather and scenery. We have more to blog about for Canal Park and will do that in future postings.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Where has Herring been all our lives?

Grand Marais MN (Cloudy High 69 Low 56)

We were surprised to see Herring on the fresh fish menu in some of the restaurants in Grand Marais. We tried it and loved it so we decided to do a little more research.

The Lake Superior Herring really isn't herring at all but a member of the Salmon, Lake Trout, Whitefish family. It has been mistakenly called Herring since immigrants caught this shiny fish and thought it resembled the Ocean Herring.

Available grilled or fried this flaky white fish is delicious and not oily like the ocean herring. Other names have been tried to minimize the association with the oily ocean herring like Cisco, Blue Fin, Tulibee (if caught on lakes other than the Great Lakes), or even Lake Herring but none has stuck.

We were in Wisconsin and Michigan last summer all along Lake Superior and never saw Herring as a fresh fish. In fact we had never heard of it at all but we had to give it a try since it was fresh and man we are glad we did. Turns out we are lucky to get Herring at all.

Back in the 1940's Herring in the Great Lakes was almost fished to extinction due to its high demand. Plus the introduction of invasive species, especially the Rainbow Smelt, contributed to its decline. When the Smelt population crashed in the 1980's the Herring rebounded. Commercial fishing was allowed beginning in 2006 and the population has remained strong.

If you are ever along the North Shore of Lake Superior you might overhear, "are the Herring in yet?". If fresh Herring from the Lake Superior (or any of the Great Lakes) is available then give it a try.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

When Glass became Grift and then Cites

Grand Marais MN (Rainy High 69 Low 57) 

We like our Asus Eee Pad tablet, we really do. But there is one annoying thing we still are not used to and that is the autocorrect feature. When you are typing in a word using the onscreen keyboard let's use as an example "typing" you type the "typ" and the following words are suggestions; "type", "types", "typically", "typical", "typing" and so on.

If you remember to use it you can speed up your typing after selecting a couple of characters you can select the whole word. But when the word is obscure the more letters you type in the more you forget to use the feature.

That is where "when Glass became Grift and then Cites" comes into play. We did a lot of genealogy research while we were in Idaho Falls and found some name changes for Jo's ancestors. Her grandmother was a Clites but tracing back a few generations it was Glietz and before that Gleiss. So we typed that up in an email message on the tablet to her brother, 'we found out when Gleiss became Gleitz and then Clites', but it came out 'when Glass became Grift and then Cites'. Luckily we reviewed it before we sent it.

Here are some other funny examples, if you don't watch out you can end up with the word you do not want; 

pics becomes epics
pizza becomes piazza
loctite becomes lactate
slideout becomes hideout
pronto becomes printout
and many more

We can turn off the autocorrect feature but it comes in real handy on normal words so we will keep it, but don't be surprised if some weird words show up on future correspondence.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gunflint Trail

Grand Marais MN (Sunny High 82 Low 57)

We recently decided to drive the Gunflint Trail (County Road 12) after a great breakfast at the Blue Water Cafe. The Gunflint Trail goes from Grand Marais westerly to the end about 55 miles to Canada and then back again. Along the way there are scenic overlooks, trails, and lakes. Also along the trail are a ton of lodges and canoe outfitters since along the trail there are many entry points into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

The first scenic overlook showed a view of downtown Grand Marais.

Next on our adventure was the Moose Viewing Trail that takes you to a observation platform overlooking a marshy areas where if you are lucky you will see moose. Like all trails it looks like we are heading up.

Then we head up some more.

The trail then flattens out to get us to the platform. Sadly there were no moose, but a lot of mosquitos.

Here is the observation platform with Bob looking for moose.

And the marshy area where there were no moose. 

The trail heading back was a lot easier and it was mostly downhill.

We then came to the Laurentian Divide Scenic Overlook but when we got into the parking area all we could see is trees right next to the parking area obscuring the view of the lake. We then noticed a short wooden staircase and we figured it was just a few steps down and then we would be at the scenic area. So off we go but it keeps goind down until we arrive at beautiful Birch Lake.

How do we get ourselves in these predicaments, now we have to go back up. Here is the first set of stairs.

More of the trail up.

The staircase that we saw from the parking area.

The view was worth it but it was a ways to go down and then back up. Next up was Gunflint Lake which was also gorgeous and a very easy trail. 

We then came to the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center at the end of the Gunflint Trail.

Chik-Wauk was originally a resort built in 1934 using local granite. The lodge eventually became the museum and nature center where you can discover the story of the seven groups of people who have passed through or lived on the Gunflint Trail. These people are; Prehistoric, Native Americans, Voyageurs, Miners, Loggers, Resorters, Outfitters, and Residents. There were dvd players with many personal stories of these peoples that were pretty interesting.

Here is a display case with the native fish of the area.

A owl hanging from the ceiling.

A Hamm's Beer clock we have not seen in a very long time.

Bob played Broomball in intramurals at college so it was interesting to see a photo, although their brooms were much better than our regular brooms with duct tape.

After our visit to Chik-Wauk we drove back to Grand Marais enjoying the scenery from the reverse angle. Once in Grand Marais we had a great pizza at My Sister's Place.

Great food and scenery and weather, we could not have asked for a better day.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Moving Day - Still in Grand Marais, 2nd Verse

Grand Marais MN (Sunny High 77 Low 56)

2nd verse same as the first!

After two weeks in site 89 we moved to site 90 today, another non-reservable site. The couple in 90 wanted to extend their stay so we walked up to the office together and just swapped sites. We still had to physically move to the new site. We'd like to tell you that we did that just to be nice to them but we had an ulterior motive; Bob is obsessed with getting the best picture he can of the float plane. The cooler temps than the rest of the country and the great food had nothing to do with it.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Missed Kodak Moments

Grand Marais MN (Mostly Sunny High 73 Low 59)

Face it we all have had these moments, when the scene was framed perfectly but no camera. We were sitting at the Pie Place Cafe yesterday for breakfast and saw this great scene, two sailboats and the lighthouse.

For those keeping track we have been trying to get a really good photo of the float plane taking off with the lighthouse in the same photo. We heard the float plane start up and we thought we had a good view but when we snapped the waiter waiting on the outside tables came into view.

That got us thinking of all the times when we had good photos but did not get them. When we got home after the waiter photo another opportunity was there and Bob grabbed the camera and ran to the water and shot some photos. Turns out the knob for camera setting has moved to 'Manual' from 'Automatic' with all the jostling this sometimes happens. This is the photo we got.

Earlier in the week we were walking to breakfast, Bob's phone needed charging and we left the camera. You guessed it already the perfect float plane shot now only in our memories, here is the photo we got.

When Sandra climbed through the hole where the LP detector and we blogged about it here is the photo we got.

We had this bird we had never seen before at our bird feeder and scrambled to get a camera so we could identify it later. Here is the photo we got. 

This list could go on and on, but we still have gotten a lot of great shots like this one Bob took after he switched the camera back to 'Automatic'. We were sitting outside reading and this photo presented itself without having to move.

Another great day in Grand Marais,

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Friday, July 20, 2012

Our Own Personal Weather Station

Grand Marais MN (Mostly Sunny High 72 Low 58 at the water)

While walking to downtown we noticed this building near the marina just a few steps from our RV.

Looking closer we see NOAA on the side of the building. Turns out this is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Data Buoy Center marine weather station. Officially it is "Station GDMM5 - 9099090 - Grand Marais, MN".

Here is the link if you want to see our weather while we are here in Grand Marais or if you are curious

It is cool to have a weather reporting station so close to us. This is how we have been getting the 'at the water' temperatures that we have been reporting.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's Good to be Flexible

Grand Marais MN (High 71, Low 63, at the water; started out cloudy but then cleared)

Subtitled: Another "Grand Marais Day"

We have heard a saying from fellow full-timers that we have adopted for ourselves, "we have no definite plans", which fits very nicely in our lifestyle. Yesterday we planned on driving the Gunflint Trail but when Bob woke up it was real cloudy and looked like it could rain so we postponed.

We walked to breakfast since it looked like the threat of rain was gone but it was still cloudy. We like this town because we can walk easily to downtown. We had a great breakfast at the Pie Place Cafe. It cleared up as the day went on so we walked around downtown for some shopping and sightseeing. We saw this float plane taking off.

Then we saw the float plane landing. Both these pictures were taken with Bob's phone and it was still cloudy.

It was one of those days that if you were in the sun and no breeze it was kinda hot, plus we both are on medications that we should avoid direct sunlight. In the shade with a breeze it was wonderful. We walked back to the park and put away our stuff and walked to the Pavilion to read and hopefully take better pictures. Here is one of the float plane taking off.

Bob is still looking for the definitive picture, the float plane taking off or landing with the lighthouse in the same frame and the plane above the water. We have a few more days for that to happen.

We are planning on the Gunflint Trail today so we'll see how our "plans" go.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tip - Dawn Power Dissolver

Grand Marais MN (High 75 Low 60 Rain)

Periodically we like blog about some things that make our life easier as full-time RV'ers.

We were recently at a vendor booth for convection ovens and asked how best to clean the inside of the convection oven that has some stains hard to remove. We have tried a lot of things and none have worked. The gal there said to use Dawn Power Dissolver.

It was hard to find, we eventually found it at a Lowe's. We tried it and it works great on the convection oven. The product is really meant for tough baked on foods and we guess it might work on that if we cooked more.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The "Baskerville Effect"

Grand Marais MN (High 77 Low 59 at the water)

Paul and Mary from Bullwinkle's Travels commented on our recent posting about using Weatherbase to find good spots for the summer that they always seem to have unseasonable weather. That got us thinking about our luck when traveling.

Let's call this the "Mythbusters" portion of our blog. There is no global warming, or climate change, or whatever they are calling it these days; it is the "Baskerville Effect". Whenever we arrive at location known for cool temperatures in the summer, like Grand Marais Minnesota our current location, we have found that after almost 3 years of full-timing that you can add at least 10 degrees to the temperature. Sometimes we have set records for high temperatures like we did last summer on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. When we get in a remote place like Grand Marais the whole country has to warm up so that the heat can get as far north as we are. We apologize to the rest of the country for the heat wave this summer.

We just hope that if we acknowledge the "Baskerville Effect" maybe it will be lessened in the future.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Devil's Kettle Falls

Grand Marais MN (mostly sunny High 71 Low 55 at the water)

After another great breakfast at Naniboujou Lodge and Restaurant we drove to the C. R. Magney State Park and more waterfalls. Today's target was Devil's Kettle Falls on the Brule River which has a very interesting twist on waterfalls, disappearing water.

At first the 2+ mile roundtrip trail that takes you along the Brule River did not look so bad.

Then it starts to trend upward.

The trail did have benches but why is it that a lot of benches are in direct sunlight?

Now we got some climbing to do.

Along the way you get nice views of the Brule River. Can you tell how far we have climbed?

What goes up must come down to get to the falls, this time there are steps, a lot of steps. We are dreading the way back.

First you come to Upper Falls.

What goes down must go back up, this time 700' with more climbing to Devil's Kettle Falls.

The reward is Devil's Kettle Falls. The water splits and the water on the right continues to Upper Falls and then to Lake Superior. The water on the left goes into a pothole, The Devil's Kettle, and is never seen again. They have put dye, logs and other things down the pothole and they are never seen again. The theory is that it goes through an underground passage to Lake Superior but that has not been proven.

Here is the Devil's Kettle up close.

Here it is from further down the trail.

We walked back down to Upper Falls and put our toes in the water to cool down for the hike back to our truck.

What goes down must go back up. We took frequent stops along these steps.

Another great day on the North Shore of Lake Superior and full-timing even though we were tired and know we will be sore. We wonder if we will ever know for sure where the water goes.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo