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Random thoughts, rants, raves and photo opportunities

2012 - Missouri Headwaters State Park, Three Forks, MT

A few years back I visited the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers down in St. Louis, MO.  I've even visited both Mississippi River headwaters at Lake Itasca and the mouth of the Mississippi River near Venice, LA.  Today I was able to visit the headwaters of the historic Missouri River located within Montana's Missouri Headwaters State Park.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2012 - Pompeys Pillar National Monument, Billings, MT

On our way out west we stopped and visited Pompeys Pillar National Monument.  Pompeys Pillar is a rock formation that contains the last known physical evidence of Lewis and Clark's expedition.  Like many of the stops along our journey, this site was fascinating and well worth the visit.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2012 - Badlands of North Dakota, Medora, ND

Located within Theodore Roosevent National Park, the Badlands of North Dakota has to be one of America's best kept secrets.  It does not have other nearby tourist attractions to draw people in like the famous Badlands of South Dakota.  But the Badlands of North Dakota are just as spectacular.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2012 - Hueston Woods State Park, Oxford, OH

Anna's synchronized swimming team made the 2012 national competition located in Oxford, OH.  Rather than having the expense of four nights worth of hotel rooms, we pulled the camper along and camped at Hueston Woods State Park, which is located just a couple of miles north of town.

The park seemed to have it all and the facilities were as nice as anything I've seen within Minnesota's state park system.  The park, located on the shores of Acton Lake, has a swimming beach, a marina, mountain bike trails, hiking trails, a lodge with a swimming pool, and even offers horse back riding (horses provided).  Hueston Woods has a prehistoric side to it where the park is littered with fossils.  The fossils are so plentiful here that it's even legal to gather and take home your own collection.

Hueston Woods State Park was a very pleasant experience.  I believe the entire family had a great time at this park as we could all find something to do.  If the park wasn't 750 miles from home, we would definately visit the park again.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2012 - Turkey Run State Park, Marshall, IN

On our way to Oxford, OH, we decided to swing down 20 miles off the route to go hunt down Indiana's second oldest geocache Turkey Run Stach (GCC6).  Located in the west-central part of Indiana near Marshall, Turkey Run State Park resides within geological formations carved out by glacial meltwaters.  Hiking the trail system here exposes just how spectacular mother nature can be with its gorges and views.  The park also features waterways frequented by paddlers, an abandoned coal mine, and an old covered bridge.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2012 - Enter If You Dare (GC26MDE)

Enter If You Dare (GC26MDE) by bflentje

Anyone who knows me understands that you just can't pass up hiding a geocache in, on, or near, the coolest of geological features.  The cave located along the Cannon Valley Trail is no exception.  Nearly 4 miles east of Cannon Falls, MN on the bike trail, this cave was not created in the traditional way that most caves are.  The cave was the result of erosion of underlying layers whereby a large slab of limestone "broke free". The downhill end of the slab collapsing, the uphill end of the slab still under support, effective creating a cave that resembles a lean-to.  Regardless of how the cave was created, it has many of the attributes you'd expect in a cave.  For example, local wildlife such as bats, raccoons, and bobcats use it for shelter.  And the atmosphere inside the 30 to 40 foot deep cave is cool and damp.

Geocache Enter If You Dare (GC26MDE) is hidden within this cave.  In order to find the .30 caliber sized ammocan, you have to go to the deepest, darkest, end of the cave using your flashlight.  The cache is hidden within a perfectly sized hole covered with a few boulders.  Even as someone that enjoys a good cave, I am always just a little leary of entering as you never know what critter might be inside to welcome you.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2012 - Down Under (GC27AJJ)

Down Under (GC27AJJ) by bflentje

Geocaching power trails are popping up all over the countryside.  The Cannon Valley Trail, which winds from Cannon Falls, MN to Red Wing, MN, is no exception.  In fact, some of the finer hides in the area are along this stretch of the Cannon River, both in the water and on the bike trail.

Geocache Down Under (GC27AJJ) is located in this area and seems to be quite popular with those that can find it. The placement and execution of this cache is what makes it a fun cache to find. Most cachers approach ground zero on the bike trail and wander around in circles flumoxed as to why they're struggling to locate a .50 caliber ammocan.  It is only those intuitive cachers that realize that they're standing above the cache container, a whopping 75 to 100 feet above it.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2012 - Lake Byllesby Regional Park, Cannon Falls, MN

We made a short outing of camping at Lake Byllesby Regional Park this weekend.  Located in Cannon Falls, MN, it's close to home and familiar to us as we're somewhat frequent visitors.  The sites are grassy and right on the water but they are narrow and requires you being extra friendly with your neighbors.  This was the first camping weekend of the season with sun and heat but the wind was not cooperating.  Blowing most of the weekend in excess of 20MPH, the wind helps keep the bugs away.  But the wind wreaks havoc with anything having to do with meal preparation.

We enjoyed the weekend by hanging out, biking the Cannon Valley Trail, geocaching, and even managed to get the canoe in the water for a few minutes (wind, bleh).  Camping at Byllesby is always enjoyable and we'll be back.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2012 - Laura's First Communion

Sunday June 3rd, 2012, Laura celebrated her first Holy Communion.  She celebrated this wonderful day with her cousin Grace at Church of St. Michael, located in Prior Lake, MN.  St. Michaels is the same church that Nene and Bart made their wedding vows back in 1989.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2012 - Swirly Rock, Soudan, MN

I've been telling the family how cool this geological feature is for years ever since I had visited back in 2008.  But describing it with words just does not do it justice and requires that you visit it yourself to see just how wild this formation is.  Located on the grounds of Soudan Underground Mine State Park, this is one of those unadvertised features of the park system where folks generally learn about through word of mouth. There are no signs pointing to Swirly Rock. If you ask a park ranger they'll tell you exactly where it's located.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..