Lake Maria State Park (Minnesota) 15-May-2022

Yesterday, our state park quest took us south to Nerstrand. Today, with the weather still holding at exceedingly pleasant, we went northwest to Lake Maria (ma-RYE-ah) State Park near Monticello. Like Nerstrand, Lake Maria preserves another piece of the Big Woods in gently hilly terrain sculpted during the Wisconsin Glaciation. The forest up here didn’t seem as leafed-out and there were just a few wildflowers blooming (mainly anemones and violets). But this park did give us a good rolling walk and a summit too! 😉

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Nerstrand~Big Woods State Park (Minnesota) 14-May-2022

Our temporary quarters are fine but a little claustrophobic. This closeness continues to encourage us to go outside as often as possible. Fortunately, after its excesses of last week, the weather seems to be settling down to some approximation of “normal” (whatever that means these days). Hence today was warm and sunny, not humid, and with no bugs (yet). Ideal conditions under which to get on with our state park quest.

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Murphy~Hanrehan Park Reserve (Minnesota) 13-May-2022

The last two days here have been very lively – or at least the weather has. Hot and sultry days interspersed with nights filled with lashing rain, continuous lightning, howling wind, hail, and small tornadoes! 😳 Considering we just came from a place where it hadn’t rained much for four months – and there are no tornadoes – these nights were quite a “welcome” to the Midwest! Thanks, but no need for an encore. No, really. 😬

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William O’Brien State Park (Minnesota) 10-May-2022

The previous two days here were rainy and cold. Rain, high winds, hail, and small tornadoes 🥺 swept across the state north of us. So we stayed in the metro area. Got some insurance issues sorted. Visited a few indie bookstores. Joined a local pub’s loyalty club. 🍺 Not a bad way to get further acquainted with our new home. But the trails beckoned. So, when today appeared as a calm one between storms, we were on our way outside…

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Minnesota Valley SRA (Minnesota) 07-May-2022

Continuing on with our state park quest, we went southwest of Minneapolis to hike in a unit of the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area. There we sought out the Hiking Club Trail that circles between the lowland floodplain and adjacent upland hardwood forests. We added some diversions to see a piece of Minnesota history – the Strait House – and a stretch of the Minnesota River.

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Lebanon Hills Regional Park (Minnesota) 06-May-2022

By now, some might be asking (or not): How could you leave the great hiking (and views from mountain tops) in Oregon for Minnesota? 🤨 Well, as noted in previous posts, we moved here primarily for family reasons. Any hiking that came with this move is just an added benefit – and there’s plenty of hiking around here, simply of a different kind. Possibly a more age appropriate kind, given that our interest in, and capacity for, epic climbs, backpacks, and hikes has faded into the mists of time.

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Afton State Park (Minnesota) 04-May-2022

Today we ventured a little farther east – almost to Wisconsin 🧀 – to a state park along the west bank of the St. Croix River. It apparently won’t last, but today’s weather was almost summer-like: clear, sunny, warm, and gently breezy. None better for hiking. We were glad to be outside and wore shorts to celebrate. 😎

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Fort Snelling State Park (Minnesota) 03-May-2022

We’re stuck in temporary quarters until the current occupants of our new home move and we finish some paperwork. All this moving has really cut into our hiking time. 😥 So we’re going to take advantage of our “on hold” status to do as many hikes as possible between now and when we finally get settled here. The weather is helping with this goal, as it has now turned warmer, sunnier, and drier (at least for a few days).

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Minnehaha Falls (Minneapolis) 02-May-2022

We were informed by the 60 Hikes guide (Hike #16) that these Falls (53 feet / 16 m) are both the most popular natural landmark in Minneapolis and …at the top of the list for first-time visitors... It therefore seemed incumbent on us (as first timers) to go visit them. But the guide also mentioned that the Falls get on toward 850,000 visitors per year. 😳 This seemed like quite a crowd to former small town folks such as ourselves. So we figured that visiting on a cold, overcast Monday morning would lessen our chances of being trampled. This turned out to be a good decision, as we encountered only several dozen other people during our walk to the Falls and along the creek. 😀

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Minnesota! (May 2022)

When we were younger, we moved around quite a bit, mostly for school or work or because of changes in family circumstances.  Didn’t think too much about doing so – just went with the wanderlust and all that.  Even in Portland, Oregon, where we managed to settle for almost 20 years, we lived in two different houses.  So, when talk turned to moving yet again – primarily for family reasons – it didn’t seem like doing so would be all that hard.  Well, it was and it wasn’t.

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Driftin’ Along… (April 2022)

I’ve sung this song, but I’ll sing it again,
Of the people I’ve met and the places I’ve seen.
Of some of the troubles that bothered my mind
And a lot of good people that I’ve left behind, saying
So long, it’s been good to know you,
So long, it’s been good to know you,
So long, it’s been good to know you.
What a long time since I’ve been home,
And I’ve gotta be driftin’ along.
“Dusty Old Dust” | Woody Guthrie | 1935

I was born on the West Coast and, except for career-related postings elsewhere, have lived my entire life far west of the Mississippi. The LovedOne came out West in the mid-1980s and stayed. Living out here has given us the opportunity to – again and again – climb and hike and backpack and raft in many of the most iconic public lands in the United States – Rocky Mountain, Crater Lake, Rainier, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Zion, to name a few of so many. Our best and longest serving (or suffering) friends live out here. And, although our ethos of tough and stupid has taken us on a few adventures we probably should have avoided, it’s all been good – very, very good. We wouldn’t have missed any of it for the world. 😁

We can blame the Pandemic for many things (and rightfully so), but it did get us thinking about being closer to family – most of whom live in Texas or on the East Coast. Then the West’s increasingly burdensome heat and drought and wildfire smoke came into play. As did the helpless anguish of seeing more and more of our beloved forests and hiking trails reduced to ashes year after year. 😪 Eventually family, fire, and heartbreak gathered to push us over the edge and into the arms of U-Haul.

So, after almost 30 years in Oregon, and a lifetime in the West, we will soon be heading eastward to a new home somewhere in the Upper Midwest (details to follow, eventually). We’re making this move with a mixture of sadness 😥 for what we’re leaving and hopefulness 🤩 about where we’re going. It was a hard, hard decision to make as we’ve really (really!) enjoyed life here in Southwest Oregon.

So our adventures (and this blog) will pause for a bit as we devote our energies to packing boxes, loading containers, and driving a long distance with a shedding cat. There’s hiking (and canoeing) where we’re headed, so we hope to be back with new adventures sooner than later. Until then, please be content with surfing the 1,100+ posts we’ve put up over the years about our various Western and other adventures!

See you downstream…