Random thoughts, rants, raves and photo opportunities

2010 - Porcupine Mountains State Park, Ontonagon, MI

I was out on another geocaching adventure today.  The quest for the day was to find a geocache in Michigan's Ontonagon County.  Finding a cache in this distant county satisfies a requirement for another King Boreas geocaching challenge, Minnesota Challenge:  Circle Me Bert  (GC23E80).  The goal of this challenge is to find and log a geocache in each of the counties and provinces outside, but surrounding, the border of Minnesota.  One must find a total of 36 geocaches across five different states and the two Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario.  Believe it or not, Minnesota shares a border with Michigan.  Minnesota's Cook County shares the border with Michigan's Ontonagon County.  Does that sound crazy?  Check it out on Mapquest.  The border lies in the middle of Lake Superior.

During this adventure, I had the pleasure of visiting Michigan's Porcupine Mountains State Park, located along the south shore of Lake Superior.  Words cannot describe this gorgeous park.  One thing is for certain, this park is on my short-list of places to return to with the family.  Besides the south shore, another highlight of the park is the Lake of the Clouds.  Spectacular.

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

2010 - St. Croix State Park, Hinckley, MN

We spent Independence Day weekend at St. Croix State Park near Hinckley, MN.  While this is a gorgeous park with many things to do such as biking and canoeing, it still tops my list of the most mosquito infested state parks I've ever visited.

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

2010 - Minnesota State Parks Geocaching Wildlife Safari Completed

With my visit to Gooseberry Falls State Park, I've officially completed the Minnesota State Parks Geocaching Wildlife Safari.  The adventure, sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, is a three year program to help introduce park visitors to geocaching.  Each of Minnesota's 72 state parks has its own collectible trading card depicting a critter that is significant to the area each park resides.  Trading cards are collected by finding and logging the geocache within each state park.  Collect all 72 cards and you are among a very distinct group that has had the privilege to visit every corner of Minnesota.  The program is scheduled to run from May 2nd, 2009 through May 2nd, 2012.

My adventure started on opening day of the program, May 2nd, 2009 when the state park system held an event at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park to introduce the new three year program.  Since I had completed the 2008 Minnesota State Parks Geocaching History Challenge the year before, I had no interest in visiting all of Minnesota's 72 state parks a second time.  It did not take long for me to get absorbed into the program and within one year's time, I had completed the challenge.

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

2010 - Beaver Creek Valley State Park

I was down in the Caledonia, MN area while turkey hunting and decided to explore Beaver Creek Valley State Park.  This gorgeous state park is located within the Root River Watershed which over time has created a geological wonder.  The area is surrounded by steep bluffs, outcroppings, ravines, underground springs, and in some places, open caverns.  I managed to hike the entire Hiking Club route today and it was the perfect spring day for it.

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

2009 - On the Banks of the St. Croix, Afton, MN

During a visit to Afton State Park, Bart, Molly, Anna, Laura and Teddy stopped for a quick photograph on the bank of the St. Croix River. What a perfect way to celebrate Bart's birthday.

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

2008 - MN State Park Geocaching History Challenge Completed

This year the state of Minnesota is celebrating its susquicentennial, 150 years of statehood.  Beginning on May 11th, 2008, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is sponsoring the Minnesota State Park Geocaching History Challenge.  Using geocaching as a way to attract attention and visitors to the state park system, the DNR has hidden at least one geocache in each of the 72 state parks.  In addition, the state has been broken up into four regions, Metro, Southern, Northwestern, and Northeastern.  If you locate all of the geocaches in a particular region, you win a medallion for that region.  If you find the geocaches in all 72 of the state parks and complete each of the four regions, you win golden medallion to celebrate your accomplishment (pictured at left).  While geocaching is expected to be a new mainstay in the state parks, the geocaching challenge officially ends on December 31st, 2008.  Allegedly, it was originally predicted that only 25 individuals would accomplish visiting all 72 state parks from May 15th, 2008 to December 31st, 2008.  As of September 13th, there has been 21 of the golden medallions handed out.

Click here to see the history cards placed in each geocache

Together with fellow geocacher Norvina, sometimes KBayNPapaBear and various groupings of my children, I have been participating in this challenge.  Our original goal was to just complete the metro region and then possibly visit a few of the state parks in the southern region.  With the adventure to Garden Island organized by Paklid, one thing led to another, and we found ourselves on the path to completing the entire state.  Our obsession started on 05-17-2008 with our first find at Fort Snelling.  By 09-13-2008, we had travelled to every corner of Minnesota and visited each of the 72 state parks.  Tetteguche was the last unique state park that we visited.  But the challenge officially ended for us at Mille Lacs Kathio, after a three mile hike, in the dark while raining, which included crossing two different fens, up to our waists in muck.

While the five medallions we each earned are very beautiful and nicely designed, it will never be possible to justify this challenge in terms of cost, impact to relationships, and heaven forbid, impact to the environment.  I thought it'd be fun to compile as much information as I could from our follies.

Total trips:  13
Autorouting miles:  5200
Actual miles travelled:  5750
Fuel consumed:  316.83 gallons
Fuel economy:  26MPG when driving 2007 Chev Malibu
                       16MPG when driving 2002 Chev Tahoe
Average price of fuel:  $3.77 per gallon
Total price of fuel:  $1,176.05
Total state park caches found:  77
Total caches found:  153

Speeding ticket in Roseau County:  $140.00
Overnight at Warroad Super8:  $89.99
Overnight at Beudette Americinn:  $99.99
Food and beverages (estimated):  $160.00
Charter service from Young's Marina to Garden Island:  $25.00

Cost per state park cache:  $21.96
Cost per cache:  $11.05

Click here to see the finalists of the 2008 Geocaching History Challenge

2008 - Hill Annex State Park, Calumet, MN

Located in Calumet, MN, Hill Annex Mine State Park is another gorgeous Minnesota park rich in beauty and history.  If you visit Hill Annex, be sure to take the guided tour.

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

2008 - Swirly Rock, Soudan, MN

Located on the grounds of Soudan Underground Mine State Park, in Soudan, MN, an unbelievably gorgeous geological formation that local geocachers have dubbed Swirly Rock.  I would love to hear from anyone that can explain the layering of stone in this rock formation.

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

2008 - Garden Island State Recreation Area, Northwest Angle, MN

Garden Island State Recreation Area is part of the Minnesota State Park System.  It is located in the Northwest Angle of Minnesota, you know, that strange little bump up on the top of the state.  There are only two ways to get to Garden Island, by boat in the summer months or by snowmobile in the winter months.  Boating to the island can be done two ways.  The first way requires no international border crossings but requires that you take your life into your own hands by boating across 25 miles of wide open water.  Or, boat out of Young's Bay, which includes two different international crossings and requires a passport.

Wanting to visit the island myself and having no way to get there, I joined the Garden Island Tour with a group of fellow Geocachers, which was being organized by local geocacher Terry Reishus (Paklid).  The goal was to get as many of us together possible and charter a boat out of Young's Marina.  Not only would this help keep the costs down, but it also afforded us safety in numbers.

There were 21 of us on the adventure.  The 12 mile boat ride took approximately 50 minutes each direction.  What a wonderful place this would be to camp.

For those wishing to visit Garden Island out of Young's Marina, you should be warned that there are two international border crossings EACH DIRECTION and a passport is required.  From Warroad, you cross in Manitoba.  Once you approach Minnesota's Northwest Angle, you have to cross back into the United States.  Interestingly, the remote border crossing in the Northwest Angle requires that you speak with border officials via video-phone in a phone booth type of shack located at Jim's Corner.

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