The thoughts of a writer.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Northwest/Central Minnesota Road-trip

I left home at 9:15AM on Monday, July 23, 2007. I picked up my travel partner and we were on the road by 10:00AM. We arrived in Sauk Centre, MN at noon. The Bear Trap was closed being it was Monday, so we ate at McDonalds. We also toured the location of my parents’ (former) cabin. After a brief stop at Fleet Supply, we continued on to Detroit Lakes.

We got gas and went to the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. It was 97 degrees Fahrenheit, with high humidity. As an added “bonus,” the deerflies were out in numbers that were greater than I ever remember. I had camped in this refuge when I was eleven-years-old, with my Boy Scout troop 500 (on a canoe trip). I remember it being ruggedly beautiful, and full of old Indian burial mounds and houses.

On this day, we limited our outdoor activities and opted for the auto tour. Several hundred deerflies accompanied the car as we drove along.

We returned to Detroit Lakes, MN and got a room at the Budget Host Motel. We ate at Country Kitchen and shopped at Pamida.

On Tuesday, July 24, we enjoyed a complimentary Continental breakfast and were on the road by 9:30AM. We shopped at the Ben Franklin and the Antique Mall, to satisfy my companion’s desire to… shop.

We arrived in Thief River Falls, MN and got gas and ate at Taco John’s. We then went to the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge. We spent a few minutes on the overlook deck, before going to the visitor center to borrow the key to let us climb the fire watch tower. That was 100 feet high, and gave a fantastic view. The wind was very strong up there, and after returning to the ground, we took the auto tour of the refuge.

We returned to our trip and drove to Roseau, and then Warroad. We continued on the smaller roads in an attempt to locate the Zippel Bay Resort. The signs for the resort were missing the closer we got. We surmised that it might be in the state park, but we were not interested in purchasing the $25 state park sticker.

We found lodging at Morris Point Lakeview Lodge, but upon viewing our cabin decided that with no air conditioner, no fan and temperatures in the upper 90’s F, we would cancel and continue on. We ended up finding the Lakeroad Lodge on Hwy 8 and Hwy 172, just off of Wheeler’s Point, near the Canadian border. This motel had a fish cleaning facility and nice rooms with AC.

We ate at the Border View Lodge near the public access. I will be kind and simply give it a rating of 4 out of a possible 10 stars. Don’t go there if you’re in a hurry, and we did want to fish before dark. We fished at the public access using artificial lures. We had a couple of “bites,” but no luck catching any.

The next morning (Wednesday, July 25), we went fishing at 6:00AM, again at the public access (from the docks). By 6:30AM the bait store opened and we purchased some fatheads. We eventually caught several small, Smallmouth bass. These we returned back into Lake of the Woods. Eventually, I caught a small (but not too small) Northern Pike which we kept. I made use of the fish cleaning facilities at the motel and then we cleaned up and left at 10:30AM. We followed “The Avenue of Pines Scenic Byway” on Hwy 46 to Baudette, MN.

Once in Baudette, we got gas and ate at the Northlake Café. We shopped along the way, and also visited the Cut Foot Sioux Visitor Center in the Chippewa National Forest. It was a long, tiring day by the time we arrived in Grand Rapids, MN.

We toured the city and eventually settled on a room overlooking Forest Lake, at the Forest Lake Motel. We shopped at a few stores and then had an excellent dinner next-door to our motel at the Forest Lake Restaurant. After dinner, we went fishing for sunfish off of the Forest Lake Fishing Pier. There was an abundance of small Bluegills, but we had enough of that by the time dark came and the wax worms ran out.

On Thursday, July 26, we left Grand Rapids at 10:30AM, and stopped at several stores and gift shops along the way. We drove through the Savannah State Forest, and stopped at the Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The flies were bad again, and a storm was looming in the distance. We took the (9 mile) auto tour and saw many interesting things, including, huge, linear Indian burial mounds and a Red-tail hawk close up. The storm and rain arrived halfway through the auto tour, which made driving on the narrow dirt roads more interesting.

We left the refuge and drove through the Solana State Forest through a lot of rain. We stopped along Knife Lake at The Crow’s Nest, for gas and something to eat. Our trip home followed Hwy 65, which presented us with a detour. Road construction was, as always in the summer, a part of the trip.

We arrived back home after 7:00PM, and the trip meter read 965 miles.

Kevin J. Curtis

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Corn

I have a single stalk of corn growing on the deck of my condominium. It is in a large pot. I didn’t intend to grow corn, but Dave had to start his corn in pots, because the ground squirrels dug up the corn kernels before they could germinate when he put them directly in the garden. He had extra plants, so I planted some of them in Neng’s garden but the squirrels tore them apart.

Dave still had extras, so I put a couple more in Neng’s garden –which were destroyed by squirrels in short order. I kept one to grow on my deck. My corn stalk is on the very edge of my north facing deck, so it gets “sideways” sun for a short time in the morning and evening. I don’t know how well it will do, and I even found a squirrel on my deck this morning!

Just as a farm dog is different from a family pet, my corn is not so much a crop, as it has taken on the role of a plant-pet. Its close proximity to my living space allows for a more intimate knowledge of the corn’s personality than one gets from a field of corn.

One interesting characteristic of corn is that the middle plants always seem to grow stronger and larger than those on the ends of the rows. This was even the case, when I have grown a short row of sweet corn in my gardens that I’ve had in the past.

How will my single stalk of corn handle its isolation from others of its kind? Will it exist happily in its singular situation? Perhaps it is better than being ripped apart by obnoxious squirrels –though that still seems like a possibility.

Why do Animals Run/Hide from Us?

Do you ever wish it was easier to view wild animals in the wild? There is a good reason that it is often difficult.

It’s just thousands of years of being hunted/shot at when they show themselves that has allowed the wary animals to survive and reproduce, while those that were careless perished.

Born to Greatness?

What if you were destined for greatness (sometime in the future)? What if you never realized it? Are some people filled with the talent and skill, yet never afforded the opportunity? Are others presented with the opportunity, but never possess the skills and talent? Do some people achieve greatness due to circumstances?

Certainly we have seen leaders who have achieved greatness in a particular area, due to circumstances. Neither Ulysses S. Grant, nor William Tecumseh Sherman were particularly great in “regular,” peacetime life, while both proved to be exceptionally talented militarily.

In Mark Twain’s, Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven, an interesting concept comes up, as illustrated by this quote,

"Oh, a LOT of people WE never heard of before - the shoemaker and horse-doctor and knife-grinder kind, you know - clodhoppers from goodness knows where that never handled a sword or fired a shot in their lives - but the soldiership was in them, though they never had a chance to show it. But here they take their right place, and Caesar and Napoleon and Alexander have to take a back seat. The greatest military genius our world ever produced was a brick-layer from somewhere back of Boston - died during the Revolution - by the name of Absalom Jones. Wherever he goes, crowds flock to see him. You see, everybody knows that if he had had a chance he would have shown the world some generalship that would have made all generalship before look like child's play and 'prentice work. But he never got a chance; he tried heaps of times to enlist as a private, but he had lost both thumbs and a couple of front teeth, and the recruiting sergeant wouldn't pass him. However, as I say, everybody knows, now, what he WOULD have been, - and so they flock by the million to get a glimpse of him whenever they hear he is going to be anywhere. Caesar, and Hannibal, and Alexander, and Napoleon are all on his staff, and ever so many more great generals; but the public hardly care to look at THEM when HE is around. Boom! There goes another salute. The barkeeper's off quarantine now."

It kind of makes you wonder, does it not?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Cutris’ Imaginary Book Signing

Cutris arrives in a late model sedan and walks into the bookstore using the rear entrance.
The setting is quaint yet posh, complete with little crackers, meat spreads and various cheeses and crap. Cutris complains that the bread is too small. Then Cutris demands that both New York and Chicago style pizzas vie for his attention before he gets annoyed! Pizzas are brought in, and Cutris is much appeased.

Forty-nine readers stand in line, waiting for Cutris to sign their books. Just then, KXLF Radio announces that Cutris is doing a book-signing at Deward’s Discount Books & Stationary. Soon, 8,227 people are in line. The Tonight Show people call. Cutris fakes an English accent and becomes his own agent, Dirk McCoy. McCoy’s two associates, Dingus McHarold and Billy Two-Shots arrive with musical instrument cases, and the people at the store are sorely afraid.

McHarold and Two-Shots give Cutris a guitar and ask him to jam a couple of his songs while they accompany him. KXLF announces the jam session on-air, and another 1,397 people get into line. Cutris begins signing books frantically!

Soon Cutris announces that he is parched. He orders a Mango juice with vodka and ginger ale. After drinking some, Cutris announces that his mouth is happy.

Stephen Hawking is in line to have one of Cutris’ books signed. Cutris is a big fan, and the two have a fourteen-minute conversation about Black Holes and the “Big Bang Theory.” Then Cutris signs Hawking’s book.

Eventually, Cutris signs the last book, and a Hollywood producer asks him to sign a contract to make his novel into a movie. Cutris accepts, contingent on the approval of his attorney (once he finds one).

Then Cutris goes home and watches the news.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Annoying Post-it Notes on Cars

Someone has been putting those annoying post-it notes
on the cars in the parking lot where I live. They advertise,
“Make $CASH$ blah blah blah…”
I have an idea for one of my own…

Learn how to kick the asses of people who put post-it note™
messages on your car! Ask me how!!!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Weekend of Festivals

This last weekend the weather was fantastic. I spent a lot of time outside too.
On Saturday, after going to the Farmer's Market, I attended the Hmong Festival in St. Paul at Como Park. It was amazing how many people were there, most of them being Hmong.
Later that same day, I attended the International Festival in Burnsville, which was also well attended –though the venue was a bit smaller.
Sunday, I went to Canterbury Park in Shakopee, for my annual trip to see horseracing.
There are so many things going on in the summer, and so little time!