August 15th to the 18th:
Bye-bye to White Earth and Hello to Zippel Bay and Beyond

Wednesday the 15th, the 12th day of our trip and our 4th day at Roger's was a "chill" day. Betsy read, swam and sunned on the dock, I did web work and took several cat naps.
Mid-afternoon Roger announced he was going into Waubin to run some errands and wanted to know if there was anything we needed. Already being well supplied with beer, I could think of nothing. However, Betsy - wonderful person she is, said if he picked up apples she would make an apple pie. You see, Roger had mentioned several places where he had had good pie so Betsy decided she would make one for him.

Betsy's pies are not run of the mill and she is picky about the ingredients. So, she told Roger to pick up 7 medium sized Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples but if he could not find those, anything but Red Delicious would do. All the other ingredients were on hand except for one critical item - a pie pan. Roger added this to his list.

When Roger returned from the sprawling metropolis of Waubin he had 7 huge apples, 3 single use pie pans, an apple peeler (Roger could not remember if he had one) and a half gallon of ice cream. Given the huge size of the apples, Betsy was able to make two pies. This used up some of Roger's store of flour which was labelled "Best if used by 2007".

For dinner Roger grilled up some chicken and served it with a salad made by Betsy and some sweet corn. As expected, the pie was delicious and made a great dessert.. Betsy and Roger had ice cream with theirs. I did not. To me, this is like gilding a lily and on a par with ruining a perfectly good ear of sweet corn with butter, salt and pepper. For shame!!
Since Roger was having more company later on, he froze one of the pies to serve when they arrived.

After supper we watched a movie via NetFlix. It was entitled "The Cold Light of Day" (Es geschah am hellichten Tag). It seemed familiar as soon as we started watching and then Betsy realized it was exactly like "The Pledge" which we had seen recently. Turns out the "The Pledge" which starred Jack Nicholson and was directed by Sean Penn was the 4th version of the original German film made in 1958. "The Cold Light of Day" was a TV remake which had a softer ending than Penn's "The Pledge" which adhered to the author's story line.
"The Cold Light of Day" was pretty bad. Shallow dialog was delivered with wooden performances. To top it off, it had a happy ending. Bummer, dude!

The next day, Thursday the 16th of August was to be the our departure. We arose 6ish and started to pack up. I worked on another web page and then around 9:00 we headed out the door. The previous night had been rainy and windy. A front had moved through, bringing much cooler temps. It was clearing, but still windy/breezy.

Click on the photos below for a larger image.

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The stormy night made for a lovely last sunrise over White Earth Lake.

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Betsy gets in some last minute relaxin' before we pack up and hit the road.

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A parting shot of the Nordby twins, Doyle and Roger. They had been wonderful hosts, guides and company. We are looking forward to returning again at some point.

Route to Zippel Lake

The 200 mile route to our next stop took us through Bemidji where we got groceries, gas and booze. My, how Bemidji had changed in the 30+ years since I had been there. Traffic! Four-lane roads! Sprawl! This is what some would call progress. I call it a mess.

One of the things I remember clearly when I visited Bemidji in 1978 are the big statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. These mythical folk heroes are given credit for the destruction of tens of thousands of acres of virgin forest. I remember seeing the Disney cartoon about Paul Bunyan. When his axe swung, all fell before it!

Paul Bunyan by Disney

Timberrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

To the north of Bemidji are two big lakes - Upper and Lower Red Lakes. Of the lakes' 285,000 total acres, 237,000 acres lie within the Red Lake Indian Reservation. On the northeast side of Upper Red Lake is Big Bog, a 500-square-mile peat bog which is the largest peat bog in the lower 48 states and covers more area than the state of Rhode Island.

Red Lakes area with Big Bog

Here is the big picture showing both of the Red Lakes and Big Bog to the northeast. Note the brownish "streaks" in upper right.

Big Bog with Islands

A closer look at Big Bog. The brown streaks are the peat bogs and the green areas in between them are "islands" of vegetation, much of which is Black Spruce. The islands were formed by the deposition of material from glacial Lake Agassiz.

At one time Lake Agassiz flooded an area of 110,000 square miles, which is greater than the combined area of the present Great Lakes. It lay mainly within Canada, but covered 15,000 square miles of Minnesota and 6,800 square miles of North Dakota and rose more than 650 feet above the level of Lake Winnipeg. Lakes Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Winnipegosis are remnants of former Lake Agassiz in Canada, as are Rainey Lake, Lake of the Woods, and Red Lake in the United States.

In a lake waves beat upon the shore piling sand and gravel into beach ridges. The highest beach ridge of Lake Agassiz has been named the Herman beach. With each major retreat of the lee, the water area so greatly expanded in the north that the level of the lake fell. At each level where the lake stood for any time a new beach with local sand bars and spits was formed.

Source: Fargo to Valley City road log by F. D. Holland, Jr. 1957

It is not clear to me if the above mentioned "beach ridges" are the same as the referred to "islands" in other literature. But it is clear the islands, which stand elevated above the bog area, allow many species of plants to thrive which could not otherwise tolerate the inundation in which peat moss and other species can survive.

Ludlow Island

Part of the Big Bog is managed by the state of Minnesota as Big Bog State Recreation Area. There are two units - the Southern unit which has a developed area with boat launch and camping. The Northern unit contains a parking area, rest rooms, pavilion and trail head for the mile long Big Bog Board walk. The facilities sit on one of the "islands" - Ludlow Island.

The pond on the upper part of the map is the site of an old gravel pit which is now filled with water.

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When we got out of the van at Ludlow Island, the windy conditions we woke up to were still with us. And, it was cool enough to call for a windbreaker.

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The boardwalk was built using aluminum structural members and high density plastic grate for the walking surface. Very nice and built to last.

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The trail quickly transitioned from the trees and shrubs on the island to more moisture tolerant species.

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In no time we were seeing all kinds of cool plants.
You might not think a plant which is in the same family as Rhododendrons would be growing in a wet peat bog, but we saw two species in the Ericaceae, or, Heath family to which Rhododendrons belong.
The one in the photo above is Labrador Tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum).

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A bit of Labrador Tea was making it's way through the plastic decking of the boardwalk.

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A closer look at the leaves of Labrador Tea. Rhododendrons come in two flavors: Lepidote and Elepidote. "Leps" have small leaves with scales on the underside of the leaf - like Labrador Tea. "Eleps" have big leaves like most ornamental Rhodies and no leaf scales.
As you might guess from its name, it was, and still is, used as an herbal remedy.

The strongly aromatic leaves of can be used to make a palatable herbal tea, rich in vitamin C. As a folk medicine the tea was used externally for all kinds of skin problems. Taken internally, the tea was used to stimulate the nerves and stomach. A syrup made from the tea was sometimes used for coughs and hoarseness. American Indians used the leaf tea for asthma, colds, stomach aches, kidney ailments, scurvy, fevers, blood purifier, and rheumatism. Externally, may be helpful as a wash for burns, ulcers, stings, chafing, Poison Ivy rash.

Source: Diamond Naturals

You might also guess from the name, Rhododendron groenlandicum is a plant of the north. Indeed it is as this distribution maps shows.

Flower truss of Rhododendron groenlandicum

This photo showing the flower truss of Labrador Tea is from WikiPedia. Big Bog must look like it is snow covered when the acres and acres of Labrador Tea are in bloom.

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As we moved off of Ludlow Island and closer to bog level, Black Spruce (Picea mariana) became the dominant woody plant. Note the height and density of the trees.

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When we got down to bog level the Black Spruce were much smaller.

Growth varies with site quality. In swamp and muskeg it shows progressively slower growth rates from the edges toward the center. The roots are shallow and wide spreading with fallen trees are colloquially called "drunken trees", and are often associated with thawing of permafrost. In the northern part of its range, ice pruned asymmetric Black Spruce are often seen, with diminished foliage on the windward side.

Source: WikiPedia

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Despite it's diminutive size (10') this tree is old enough to bear cones.

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The reddish plant in the middle of the photo is Sphagnum moss. Sphagnum comes in various colors depending on where it is growing.

Sphagnum moss is the source of peat, or peat moss. Commercial peat moss is decayed, dried Sphagnum moss which has been harvested from bogs and then bailed and/or bagged. It is used as a soil amendment to both add organic material and for water retention in dry, sandy soils.
Sphagnum moss (not peat) also has medical uses.

Sphagnum moss has antiseptic properties and can hold up to twenty times its weight in water, much more than cotton. Sphagnum was used as a bandage for soldiers wounded in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) and World War I. By using sphagnum for bandages, cotton could be saved for making gun powder. Source: Copyright 2012 Net Industries

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Near the end of the boardwalk is this area which is devoid of trees and is dominated by grasses. Not much plant diversity here! To me it conjured up images of a utility corridor. The interpretive signed explained the reason for the lack of plant diversity.

My thanks to Betsy for transcribing the text from the above sign.

Taking on the Bog
In 1889, the federal government appropriated almost three million acres of the Red Lake Indian Reservation and offered the land to settlers. There was little interest until 1908, when Beltrami County borrowed money to dig drainage ditches. The plan was to sell drained lands to homesteaders and speculators for the cost of the ditch taxes.

Wet Land, Drained Farmers
Efforts to drain the Big Bog peaked between 1910 and 1916, when 1,500 miles of ditches were dredged along section lines at one or two mile intervals. With scant attention paid to water flow or topography, only a small portion of the bog was actually drained. Settlers struggled. They couldn'tt farm the sodden land or pay their taxes. By 1916, ditch debt was of great concern in Beltrami County.

Bailouts
In 1922, the 5,400 residents of northern Beltrami County formed Lake of the Woods County without encompassing the entire Big Bog and its ditch debts. By 1927, Beltrami, Lake of the Woods, and Koochiching counties lurched toward bankruptcy. The State of Minnesota assumed the ditch debt in exchange for ownership of the tax delinquent ditched lands. By 1932, the State had bailed out seven ditched counties in northern Minnesota. It established the Red Lake Game Preserve. (1.3 million acres of the Big Bog) for the preservation and hunting of wildlife. Another 146,000 acres of Consolidated Conservation Lands (Con Con) were later deemed suitable for farming and sold by the State.

Resettlement
As part of the 1933 Land Utilization Project, the federal government purchased land from struggling Depression era farmers and resettled them to more productive places. The Resettlement Administration was active here for several years, opening resettlement camps at Ludlow Island and Hillman Lake.

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Man the meddler had to give up on this one. What a hair-brained idea!

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One thing I remember about my 1978 trip to Minnesota was the amazing number of native orchids I saw. Some, like the Showy Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium reginae), were common and in full bloom when I was up here in June of '78.

Showy Lady's-slipper - Cypripedium reginae

I took this photo of Showy Lady's-slipper in June of 2010 in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Betsy and I were spending Three Weeks in Michigan to celebrate her retirement.

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Here we have the Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea) - a carnivorous plant.

Like other species of Sarracenia, S. purpurea obtains most of its nutrients through prey capture. However, prey acquisition is said to be inefficient, with less than 1% of the visiting prey captured within the pitcher. Even so, anecdotal evidence by growers often shows that pitchers quickly fill up with prey during the warm summer months. Prey fall into the pitcher and drown in the rainwater that collects in the base of each leaf.

Prey items such as flies, ants, spiders, and even moths, are then digested by an invertebrate community, made up mostly by the mosquito Wyeomyia smithii and the midge Metriocnemus knabi. Protists, rotifers (including Habrotrocha rosa), and bacteria form the base of inquiline food web that shreds and mineralizes available prey, making nutrients available to the plant.

New pitcher leaves do produce digestive enzymes such as hydrolases and proteases, but as the individual leaves get older into their second year, digestion of prey material is aided by the community of bacteria that live within the pitchers.

Source: WikiPedia

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Pitcher Plant usually blooms in June, which would be spring time this far north. I was surprised to see some of the plants in flower.

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At the very end of the mile long board walk there is an observation deck with benches and the above sign. The club is sponsored by the Minnesota DNR

The Hiking Club combines the best elements of an expedition, a classroom, and a treasure hunt. As a club member, you hike on selected trails which wind through Minnesota's most beautiful settings. Plus, you earn awards as you hike!

Earn a colorful patch after hiking 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 175 and all miles. Hike 100 miles and you'll also receive a coupon for a free night of camping. Complete all the miles and your rewards will include a free night of camping plus an engraved plaque. All you have to do is hike the trails marked with a "Hiking Club" sign, enter the park password in your book (the password is posted at the midpoint of the trail), and you're on your way.

Source: Minnesota DNR

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I thought this was a clever display. It was mounted on one of the posts at the observation deck. For us non-science types, the air temp is 75.2F and ground temp is 53.6. That is over 21 degrees difference. I imagine the early settlers used this temperature difference to good advantage to preserve food during the warm summer months.

At this point, we did an about face and headed back down the boardwalk to Ludlow Island where the car was parked. It was time to continue on north and get settled in for the nite.

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This is looking north on SR 72 as we exit the access road to Big Bog Recreation area. Flat as a pancake up this way. Gone are the bluffs of the southeast and the rolling hills of Itaska. Northwestern Minnesota is a vast plain in the bed of Glacial Lake Agassiz. And that means flat!

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Here - flat is beautiful. Even to a native son of "The Mountain State".

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About 55 miles later near the town of Baudette (the self proclaimed Walleye Capital of the World) we found ourselves on this Birch lined road which leads to Zippel Bay State Park.

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Here we are! We are now a stone's throw away from the border of Ontario.

In 1887, Wilhelm Zippel, one of the first white settlers in the area, took up residence on a point of land at the entrance to the Zippel Bay. By 1909, a small fishing village had grown up at the site. Little, if anything, remains of the village today. In 1959, the Zippel Bay area was set aside by the state to provide lake access and recreational opportunities.

Today the park contains 2,906 acres enjoyed by visitors who camp, hike, fish, cross-country ski and snowmobile in this peaceful and unique landscape.

Source: Minnesota DNR

In 1885, the county area got its first permanent settler when Wilhelm Zippel settled on the south shore of the Lake of the Woods at Zippel Bay. He was a German immigrant who worked as a fisherman. Later in that same year, Alonzo Wheeler settled at Wheeler's Point at the mouth of the Rainy River. Thomas Cathcart came to the border area in 1891 and later joined Joe Beaudette, a trapper who would later give his name to the town of Baudette. In 1901 William Mason and George Williams followed the railroad track roadbed to stake claims at the site which would grow into the community of Williams.

Source: 2009 LAKE OF THE WOODS COUNTY

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Lady Slipper Campground would be our home for the next two days and nights.

Happily, we found the campground nearly empty. We chose site #9, registered and then got down to the really important stuff - Happy Hour! It was after 5:00 and we were ready...

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Barely a 1/3 of a mile from out campsite was this wonderful beach. The perfect spot for our Happy Hour. We felt like we had our own private beach!

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As you can see from Betsy's hairdo, the wind was really blowing.
And check out the wave action! Brrrrisk!

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What a great spot to chill and take in the scenery. But, our stomachs were telling us it was time for dinner so we headed back to the site to pitch camp and get some grub ready.

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Here we are at campsite #9. It was tight, but nicely treed and fairly private. We used both the van and the tent for sleeping so we could have as much room as we needed. Plus, I am an early riser and this way I did not bother Sleeping Beauty when I got up.

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My view from inside the tent. Nice.

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One of the first things we do when setting up camp is refill all our water containers. The well water was icy cold with only a hint of iron.

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Our first course was gone in no time and now for the main event.

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The Main Event. Dinty Moore Beef Stew with French cut green beans.
Cheap, hot , filling and - YUMMY!

 

 

The campground was pretty quiet that evening. The steady wind through the tree branches masked most of the human made sounds. The wind continued throughout the evening and it was like a lullaby to us.
Soon, it was "Nighty-night" at Zippel Bay.

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Our first morning at Zippel Bay broke clear and cool. The wind had calmed down after blowing all night. I was first up and got the coffee going. When it was ready, I woke Betsy and we took ourselves and two steaming mugs of coffee down to the beach to enjoy the early morning sun.

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Like the previous evening, we had the beach to ourselves. The waves had diminished and it was quiet, beautiful and calm.

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Back at camp I model the latest in mosquito resistant gear. Fortunately the unusually dry weather and the natural, end of season die-off has made our trip nearly mosquito free. YIPPEE!

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About mid-morning we decided to go for a walk down along the shore and over to the bay. We walked from our site down to the beach and then took the trail over to the picnic area and swimming beach.

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There were countless freshwater mussel shells all along the beach.

No other country in the world equals the United States in freshwater mussel variety. While all of Europe supports only 12 species, nearly 300 kinds live here, mostly within the vast watershed of the Mississippi River.

Unfortunately, these animals may be the most troubled natural resources in this country. It's estimated that 70% (Williams, et al. 1993) of our freshwater mussels are extinct, endangered, or in need of special protection. Many of their problems stem from how they live and changes that have occurred to their habitat during the past 200 years.

Source: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Mississippi Watershed

A map of "the vast watershed of the Mississippi River" Vast indeed.

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The picnic area and beach has both open and sheltered tables along with toilets, water and changing room.

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This view from the picnic area shows the section of beach we will be walking to get to the bay and inlet.

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Once again, we had the entire beach to ourselves.

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This is Common Cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium). It was growing out in the sandy areas of the beach near the woods line.

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Although this plant is found in every province of Canada and every state in the US, I cannot remember having seen it before. I thought it was a weed and not native. But that is not the case.
However, it is a weed elsewhere:

The origin of X. strumarium is North America. It was introduced in India and spread like weed. It commonly grows in wasteplaces and along river banks in warmer parts.

The whole plant, specially root and fruit, is used as medicine. According to Ayurveda, X. strumarium is cooling, laxative, fattening, anthelmintic, alexiteric, tonic, digestive, antipyretic, and improves appetite, voice, complexion, and memory. It cures leucoderma, biliousness, poisonous bites of insects, epilepsy, salivation and fever. The plant of Xanthium yields xanthinin which acts as a plant growth regulator.

Source: Pankaj Oudhia - Society for Parthenium Management

Common Cocklebur is poisonous and fatal if eaten in large amount. What a nasty way to go.

It was responsible for at least 19 deaths and 76 illnesses in Sylhet District, Bangladesh, 2007. People ate large amounts of the plants, locally called ghagra shak, because they were starving during a monsoon flood and no other plants were available. The symptoms included vomiting and altered mental states, followed by unconsciousness.

Source: WikiPedia

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As we got closer to the bay, the light house came into view. It is a Coast Guard light which is at the end of the rock jetties.

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The rock jetty can be seen more clearly in this shot. There were lots of gulls flying about and hopping along the shore line.

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I scrambled up onto the top of the jetty to get this shot of the channel which goes to the dock area.

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Looking back into the inlet from atop the jetty.

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This igneous rock outcrop is part of the Canadian Shield.

The Canadian Shield, also called the Laurentian Plateau, or Bouclier Canadien (French), is a vast geological shield covered by a thin layer of soil that forms the nucleus of the North American or Laurentia craton. It is an area mostly composed of igneous rock which relates to its long volcanic history. It has a deep, common, joined bedrock region in Eastern and central Canada and stretches North from the Great Lakes to the Arctic Ocean, covering over half of Canada; it also extends South into the Northern reaches of the United States. Human population is sparse, and industrial development is minimal, while mining is very prevalent.

Source: WikiPedia

 

Canadian Shield Canadian shield with rock belts in Minnesota

The image on the left shows the entire extent of the Canadian Shield. The image on the right shows the Canadian shield with rock belts in Minnesota.

Calvin Alexander, Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota had this to say in response to an email inquiry about the Canadian Shield.

All of Minnesota is underlain by Precambrian/Archean rocks of the North America craton/Canadian Shield. In the northeast part of the state and in the bottom of the Minnesota River Valley those rocks are at or near the surface. From the Twin Cities south and east the Archean basement is covered by Paleozoic sedimentary rocks (the good stuff with caves and karst).

In most of the rest of the state the basement is covered by hundreds of feet of Pleistocene glacial depostis. The "belts of rocks" in the northern half of the state (most of which are covered) are alternating bands of granites and other intrusive igneous rocks and green stones (metamorphosed pillow basalts, sediments and ultra mafic rocks). They are about 2.7 Byr old in the northern third of the state. The rocks exposed in the bottom of the Minnesota River Valley are up to 3.6 Byr old gneiss and schists (meta igneous and sedimentary rocks.)

Source: Calvin Alexander

More about what a geologic shield is.

A shield is generally a large area of exposed Precambrian crystalline igneous and high-grade metamorphic rocks that form tectonically stable areas. In all cases, the age of these rocks is greater than 570 million years and sometimes dates back 2 to 3.5 billion years. They have been little affected by tectonic events following the end of the Precambrian Era, and are relatively flat regions where mountain building, faulting, and other tectonic processes are greatly diminished compared with the activity that occurs at the margins of the shields and the boundaries between tectonic plates.

The term shield was originally translated from German Schild by H. B. C. Sollas in Eduard Suess's Face of Earth in 1901.

Source: WikiPedia

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We continued our walk up the inlet. The "path" narrowed and we were now amongst tall reeds and grasses. At one point we noticed lots of activity like the jumping of many grasshoppers along a grassy path. But these jumpers were not grasshoppers.

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They were Northern Leopard frogs. Hundreds of them! They were sunning themselves on the narrow sandy strip between the tall grasses and the water - the same place we were walking. With every step another dozen or so jumped. Betsy wanted dearly to catch and hold one of them and eventually she succeeded. Cute little things.

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We rarely see anyone when we are out walking or hiking. These folks were taking the same stroll as we were. They were from the Twin Cities and on a get-away of their own. We talked to them for a while and filled them in on where we were from and where our Minnesota trip had taken us so far. They suggested several places for us to visit. I was remarking about all the state parks Minnesota had and the women said no matter where you lived you were never more than 50 miles from a state park.
They also took a shot of us and were going to email it. But, as yet we have not heard from them.

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The big puffy clouds looked photogenic so I took a couple more snaps.

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This is the launch area at the end of the inlet.There were quite a few vehicles with trailers in the lot and it looked like it had been pretty busy that morning.

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On the way back from the launch are we saw this small monument. It was in a small cleared and mowed section adjacent to the road to the launch. I decided to take a closer look.

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"Here lie Ole J. Grovum 1848-1903 and his granddaughter infant Berger."

I tried to find out more information on these two but I was unsuccessful.

Calvin Alexander also has an interest in genealogy and supplied me with this information.

In 1900 US Census Ole Grovrum was the head of a household in Pohlitz, Roseau Co., Minnesota:
Ole Grovrum, head, 52. b Mar 1848 in WI, married 13 yr - parents born in Norway - farmer Maria Grovrum, wife, 45, b Oct 1854 in Norway, married 13 yr. Theodor Grovrum, son, 19, b Dec 1889 in IA, single Anna Grovrum, daughter, 17, b Oct 1882 in ND, single Gina Grovrum, daughter, 15, b Oct 1884 in ND, single Sarah O. Grovrum, daughter, 13, Dec 1886 in IA, single Oliana G. Grovrum, daughter, 5, Sep 1894 in MN, single Ida M. Grovrum, daughter, 3, Dec 1896 in MN, single John Grovrum, son, 2, May 1898 in MN, single.

Source: Calvin Alexander

By the time we got back to camp it was dinner time and I whipped up another gourmet treat.

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After a Happy Hour snack of triskets and horseradish cheese, we had a dinner of keibassi and black beans. Very tasty.

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After dinner I drank and Betsy worked on post cards to send home.

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Afterwards she worked on updating her journal.
Ain't she the (burp) productive one!

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We were not planning on dessert that night. But the fella from the adjacent site talked Betsy into coming over for some watermelon which she thoroughly enjoyed.
The Watermelon Fella was camping with his grandson and 20 something daughter. If they had not been there, the entire campground would have been nice and quiet. But, the complaining, whiney 20 something mom wanted to make sure everyone knew all about her problems and personal life by talking so loud she could be heard anywhere in the entire campground. Unfortunately, this went on late into the night.

After Betsy finished up her dessert it was off to the beach for a refreshing skinny-dip in the clear, cool waters of Lake of the Woods. We got there just in time to see the sunset.

 

This reminded me of a painting I had seen once.
But, I cannot recall the title or the artist. Lovely.

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The next morning I got up bright and early and walked down to the beach to enjoy the sunrise. We would be leaving the area today and I did not want to miss this opportunity. Who knows, I may never be back this way again.

When I got back from the beach, I set about the task of breaking down camp. Betsy was still sleeping so I quietly took down and hung up the tent and started to pack and organize all the miscellaneous camping paraphernalia which was lying about.

Then, we said our good-byes to campsite #9 and it was off down the road again. First stop: MickyD's for some grub and more coffee.

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"The Difference between men and boys is only the size of their toys!"
These pricey toys were sitting in the lot next to MickyD's.

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What will they think of next!!

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Betsy ordered one of these little gems and it will be here in time for winter.

While we were in MickyD's we picked out our route for the day. We would be driving east and would follow SR 11 and US 71 along the Rainy River. The Rainy River is the border between the US and Canada. This route would take us through a sparsely populated area along the river and through the poke and plum town of Loman and then on to International Falls and east to Voyageurs National Park.
Our final destination for the day was still to be determined and we decided to play it by ear.

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We drove through more flat-as-a-pancake country as we headed east along the Rainy River.

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We made a stop in the tiny town of Loman (Koochiching County) when we saw they had a small park with rest rooms,water and kiosk.

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This is Betsy exiting the outhouse. I have heard of a "brick shit house" but never a log cabin one.

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This is a shot of Loman Park. There is a loop road behind this area which has camping sites.
Note the continuously running water tap with no valve. We saw these in the UP of Michigan and it turned out the water source was from an artesian well.

Artesian Well

This is why an artesian well works without the need of a pump. No matter how big the water supply is it still seems wasteful to me to let the water run 24/7.

We continued on east and then stopped for groceries at International Falls. Lots of people have heard of International Falls because it is often in the national weather reports as being the coldest place in the US. Here is a rundown on the weather courtesy of WikiPedia.

International Falls, with its relatively central position in the North American continent, has a humid continental climate, with long, bitterly cold winters and humid and warm summers.
January averages 2.7 F (-16.3 C), and lows are 0 F (-17.8 C) or below on approximately 64 nights per season. Highs only reach the freezing point 1213 days from December to February, and in combination with a seasonal snowfall of 68 inches (173 cm), snow cover is thick and long-lasting. Spring, and more especially autumn, are short but mild transition seasons.
Average summer highs peak at 79 F (26.1 C) in July and August, with relatively cool nights. Precipitation averages nearly 24 inches (610 mm) per year, and is concentrated in the warmer months. The all-time record high temperature is 103 F, while the all-time record low is -55F, a range of 158 degrees.

International Falls has long promoted itself as the "Icebox of the Nation"; however, the trademark for the slogan has been challenged on several occasions by the small town of Fraser, Colorado.

Source: WikiPedia

International Falls is home to the Boise Cascade paper mill which had it's 100th anniversary in 2010.


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It is a big operation and spans the river into Ontario.

We left International Falls behind and continued on towards Voyageurs National Park. Our plan was to find a place to stay near the park and do some hiking and boating. However, when we arrived at the park we found all the parking area clotted with vehicles and boat trailers. It was then we realized Voyageurs was a motorized park. If I had done my homework, we would have known that and simply bypassed the area.
But, since we were there we thought we might as well check out the visitors' center.

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The visitors' center had this elaborate diorama showing the "trappings" of a Voyageur and his (presumably) Native American "wife". They had a tough life.

The Voyageurs were the people who engaged in the transportation of furs by canoe during the fur trade era. Voyageur is a French word which literally means "traveler"

Voyageurs often rose as early as 2 am or 3 am. Provided that there were no rapids (requiring daylight for navigation) early in the day, they set off very early without breakfast. Sometime around 8:00 am they would stop for breakfast. Lunch, when it existed, was often just a chance to get a piece of pemmican to eat along the way. But they did stop for a few minutes each hour to smoke a pipe. Distance was often measured by "pipes", the interval between these stops. Between eight and ten in the evening, travel stopped and camp was made. Voyageurs were expected to work 14 hours per day and paddle at a rate of 55 strokes per minute. Few could swim. Many drowned in rapids or in storms while crossing lakes. Portages and routes were often indicated by lob trees, or trees that had their branches cut off just below the top of the tree.

Source: WikiPedia

We asked at the desk about hiking and were directed to a trailhead behind the Visitor Center. We found the trail unremarkable with signs of overuse.

Since staying here was not going to work for us, we decided to push south on US 53. Two of the state parks we wanted to visit were near the town of Orr, so we decided to make that our destination for the night - providing there was lodging.

Orr is on the shores of Pelican Lake which is a hot destination for Blue Gill and other fish. It had 3 motels, bar, grocery store and outfitters.

The first place we passed was the Americ Inn Lodge & Suites. Rates? From $100 to $260 per night. OUCH
The second place we checked was the North Country Inn. 85 bucks a night. Less painful
The third place we checked was Normans. It was associated with the bar and "One Stop". Rates? $60 with tax. Sold!

The room was on the end of the building and away from the highway. It was clean and roomy and the windows opened. Ahh... a breeze into the room.
We got settled in and then noticed it was starting to get dark. Darker than it should. Then the wind picked up, then lighting and thunder, then heavy rain, than hail! It was quite a boomer and the west side of the lake lost power. We decided to enjoy the storm so we set up our Happy Hour station outside of the door under cover of the canopy.
We snagged a few outdoor chairs and a passing house keeper went and got us towels to wipe them down. She did this without our asking. This is a 4 star place now!

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Here is the rainy view from our Happy Hour station. Note the train. Very busy tracks in both direction. But, in our room we hardly heard a thing. Thank god for that!

As we sat there having our drinks, an emaciated old codger walked by and I asked him how he liked this weather. That started a conversation about the weather from where he was from - SE Indiana. He said it had been so hot it was hard to get anything done. And, on top of that he had recently had one of his lungs removed. Poor guy.
He then crossed the parking lot to his truck and got out a portable oxygen container and disappeared into his room. A little later he reappeared with one of his buddies and they sat down on the bench in front of the room. Then, he did something I could scarcely believe. He reached into his front shirt pocket, took out a pack of cigarettes and lit one up. And he only had one lung. This is one of the reasons we have a health care crisis - stupidity and irresponsible behavior.

While having our drinks, we discussed our dinner options. Neither of us wanted to drag all the cooking gear out of the van and set it up on a soaking wet picnic table. Plus, it was still windy and the temp had dropped about 30 degrees.
So we walked up to the conveniently located bar, sat down and ordered from their menu. They had pizza, pizza and pizza. So, we ordered a pizza. And, I must say, for a frozen one it was not too bad.

While we waited for our pizza we talked to a guy next to us. He was curious about where we were from so we gave him the run down on our trip. He was up to Pelican Lake from St. Paul and was staying on a rented house boat.

When the pizza arrived we sat there at the bar enjoying our dinner and people watching. There was one young couple on the other side who were having a big nite out. We watched them have 5 drinks each in the space of about 45 minutes. Then they left. But only to go outside and have a smoke. I hope they walked home.

We ate half the pizza, got a to-go wrapper and then retired to our room. The low was supposed to drop into the 30s, so we opened the window wide and snuggled in for the nite.

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The day's route - 138 miles and 7 leisurely and interesting hours.

 

Next stop - heavenly camping in the piney woods.