Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Springtacular Day

Every morning I receive a text provided by the meteorologists from Minnesota Public Radio about the weather for that day. This morning the title was a Springtacular Sunday.

My younger daughter had invited me as well as my older daughter to come out to her townhouse in Stillwater for a BBQ dinner. My granddaughter who lives with me was already out there along with her boyfriend because they went earlier and accompanied my daughter and her husband to church.

I picked up my older daughter and went first to Woodbury so that I exchange some purchases for clothing that I did not want. Then we continued on to Stillwater.

On the table was a fruit salad in a watermelon bowl and lettuce salad. They had been busy before we arrived because burgers, brats, and beef ribs had already been grilled. Chips and baked beans were added. Oh yum!!

Here are my two younger grandchildren.

My younger granddaughter with her big smile will be six at the end of May. My younger grandson will be two years old in mid-June.

Below is my older granddaughter with her boyfriend.

You can see the table is full of good food. And it was lovely to sit outdoors in the pleasant weather.

Last year at the this time we still had snow on the ground with more yet to arrive. I went to Poland last year for the May program walking out of winter and glad to see spring had arrived there. I'm leaving Thursday again for Poland and it seems we have the same weather this year -- spring in both places.

Later in the afternoon there was a walk up the street to a nearby park for a basketball game, but the pictures I took there are not good, full of sun glare.

But it surely was a Springtacular Sunday.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Walking at Snail Lake

This morning I did the 5K walk at Snail Lake Regional Park. This park is called a regional park because it supported by not just  Ramsey County, but also by six other counties in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Those of us who live here use parks in all the areas, too, not just in our home county. Thus it is fairer if the parks such as this are supported on a regional basis. Obviously tax money from Ramsey County, in which I live, are used to support regional parks in other areas.

This walk was sponsored by Twin Cities Volkssports. I am still dealing with the muscle problem in my leg, but this morning I woke up with uncomfortable osteoarthritis pain in both knees. I made sure I had ibuprofen in my backpack.  And so while I did have some discomfort at least I had water and meds with me. I was grateful that this walk included many benches where I could take stop for a rest.

The drive from my apartment to the park was only 11 minutes. Snail Lake Regional Park is located in the St. Paul suburb, Shoreview. My book that I use to research names of places in Minnesota is silent about both Shoreview and Snail Lake. I am thinking Shoreview is called that because there are so many small lakes in this area and so many residences have a shore view. Just a guess. Perhaps Snail Lake is named for its shape.

The photo above a route map within the park shows the shape of the lake is somewhat like a snail.

The walk started from a picnic shelter.

From here the route map took us on a path downhill toward what is called the lower parking lot. Then we crossed under a busy street by walking through a tunnel.

Then it was a pleasant walk along a marsh area. This area was full of geese and ducks apparently trying to find their summer home.

Below is my favorite picture from the day.

The walk then moved to walking along the north side of Grass Lake.

In the middle of the picture is an antenna. This is one of the towers in what is called the Shoreview Antenna Farm. These towers are used by various radio and TV stations in the Twin Cities area. This part of the route was out and back.

Then the walk took the 5 K walkers just a bit out of the park through a residential area. Many of the houses in the area have been built in the last 10 years or so. The house pictured below took my eye.

This home owner is certainly serious about solar power.

Soon I was back to the tunnel and walked to a pavilion right along the shore of Snail Lake. I sat here and did some text messages on my phone and organized my books for stamping. The lake looked beautiful, but after using my phone and then organizing my book for stamping, I forgot to use the camera to take a photo of the swimming beach.

Then it was just a two minute walk back to the start/end place.
For the walk, stamps were put in my distance book, the event book, the Animal Safari book, and the Lakes and Reservoirs book. Then home to put my aching knees up for a rest.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Walking Minnehaha Creek

On Tuesday I did the Minnehaha Creek walk -- and it turned into somewhat an endurance event because I didn't prepare correctly. I wanted to do this walk before setting off to do walks in other states, needing to test out how my right leg muscles that have been giving a problem would handle a walk.

Minnehaha Creek flows out of Lake Minnetonka, which is located in western Hennepin County. Its length is 22 miles (35K). It goes over a waterfall near its end and then the water flows into the Mississippi River. Perhaps it is one of the smallest tributaries for the Mississippi River.

The start of this walk is in a Caribou Coffee Shop. I ordered a coffee and and piece of cinnamon bread and then sat down to study the materials in the walk box. I've mentioned the walk box in other descriptions of walks and so this time I took a picture so you all who read this might have an idea of what I'm talking about when I write that.

Inside one finds a registration sheet, start card -- which one sends eventually to the person coordinating this walk along with the fee for the walk which is usually only $3.00, and a map for the walk. It also has the official stamp for the walk that one uses to mark the walk books. I was somewhat prepared for 10K and wasn't exactly happy when the map said 11K. By the map I thought I would be going about halfway and then into an area of shops and restaurants -- oh what a mistake.

Soon I was off walking on a pedestrian trail along the creek. I started out with a jacket on because there was a stiff cold wind, but took it off and stored it in my backpack when I found a picnic table. The temperature was about 60 (15C).

The creek is very low because this area of Minnesota is experiencing moderate drought. The winter snow fall was lower than usual and we've not had a lot of April showers either.

It is easy to see from this picture that this is early spring, but

the trees are budding and soon there will leaves.

There were others out walking. In the early afternoon it was often women pushing a stroller with a small child. Later in the day it turned to runners probably done with their work day. Most of the time the path is separated from the bike trails. I found a sign along the trail that explained that bikers have been using trails along the creek since the late 19th century. It is good to have this separation because the bikers go quite fast, and often when the trail must be shared for bit, the bikers don't give much warning they are behind you.

This walk was fairly quiet, not much traffic along the nearby streets. However, at intervals there was noise for it is under the flight path for the MSP airport.

About 25 minutes into the walk I found this "sculpture." That was all the route map said -- it gave no clues.

Here is what I found.

I sat here for a few minutes for a rest.

Then I continued on towards the highlight of the walk, the Washburn Park Water Tower.

I turned and started up hill which surprised me a bit.

Then I thought, "well of course, a water tower is usually built on a high point."

Along this part of the route I was walking on sidewalks by residences. Here I could see the garden areas with these tiny blue flowers peeking out.

At one point I got this blue vista from across the street.
At last the water tower came into view.

This was the first check point for this walk so I carefully read the signs to gather the necessary information. This present water tower is the 2nd on this site, this one being built in 1932. It was placed on the Historic Register in 1983, according to the sign, for two reasons

At intervals around the base there are the sculptures such as shown above. These are called the Guardians of Health.

At the base of the dome are eagles.

The picture below shows how high the climb is to this tower base.

The route takes one down steps to that street and then in about another 10 minutes or so one comes to the 2nd checkpoint.

This marker commemorates the worst airplane crash within the city limits of Minneapolis. This occurred in March, 1950. The plane was attempting to land at MSP and the plane clipped a wing on a flagpole at Ft. Snelling National Cemetary. The pilot was attempting to turn around and still land the plane, but the wing fell off over the water tower and the plane crashed into a house. All on the plane were killed as were two children sleeping in their beds in the house into which the plane crashed.

From here the route was a return to the the start point. I was really regretting the mistake of not bringing water with me -- a mistake I'll never make again. It took some will power to make the returned walk.

My gimpy leg held up OK. When I got to the Caribou again I drank and drank water and then got a mango-orange smoothie. Drove home and jumped into bed and did a group of leg exercises hoping those would eliminate discomfort the next day. That seems to work. But boy, I'll never again assume I understand how the route works -- I'll always take snacks and water with me.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Walking in Watertown Minnesota

Yes, walking! In my last post I wrote about the fact that I was having a muscle problem in my right leg. I've done a month of physical therapy about twice a week, plus by the end assigned 6 different exercises to do everyday, some once and some twice a day. On last Thursday I went in and said I was feeling somewhat normal and wanted to stop the physical therapy visits and wanted continued maintenance exercises to continue to strengthen the muscles that proved to be a problem.

The therapist wanted to know how far I could walk without pain. I told her I had been doing grocery shopping and also did a shopping trip through Target -- a Target shopping trip requires a lot of walking.

So I graduated from therapy. I was all ready to take off for a few days to try walks -- but right before that last physical therapy trip I was brushing my teeth and a crown fell off of one tooth. So now I have to work around dental appointments too to repair this problem. One of my friends sent me an e-mail that says, "I guess when we get older everything falls apart." That's how I've been feeling lately.

But today was a nice day with sun and temperature that was OK. So I headed off for Watertown MN just to see how I tolerated a 5K walk before taking off to do walks further away from home.

It took about 45 minutes to drive to Watertown. After turning off from I-394 all the country roads to Watertown were new to me, scenic and pleasant.

Watertown is a small town of about 4,000 persons. The Minnesota Geographic Names book says the town was so named literally because of the amount of water about it -- 5 small lakes plus the South Fork of the Crow River.  It was founded in the middle of the 1850s.
I believe the Crow River is named about Little Crow, an American Indian chief who I learned, much to my amazement, already spoke English when the settlers arrived in this area. Because of his language skills he was a great helper and friend to the early settlers until the American government reneged on the treaty details and the Dakota- US war began.

The South Fork of the Crow River is about 116 miles long. A bit downstream of Watertown it joins the North Fork of the Crow River and then this river flows about another 25 miles before it joins the Mississippi River.

The walk box for this walk is held at a grocery storm in the town. I walked to a service desk thinking this a likely place to find the walk box, but no one was there. I went to register and asked the attendant for the walk box. She replied, "you want a movie?" I tried again to explain what I wanted and she called the store manager. The store manager said, "You are the second person today who has asked for this."

This walk took place primarily along the river. The walk map directed one to walk behind the grocery store and pick up a trail there and walk along the left side of the river and it moved downstream. Notice there is not a speck of green yet showing on the trees or the grassland.

This walk is interesting because all along the trail there are poster displays about the town's history. The town seems to be quite proud of its history. I searched for the web site for Watertown and found its web page has a link to learning about its history. One doesn't  usually find this on a town's official governmental web site.

The photo above comes from one of the displays and shows a building that formerly was across the street. I was amused to learn this building style in the 19th century was called residential vernacular; I've never heard that term before.

Another poster explained that by 1865 there were no men in town between the ages of 18-65 years. All were engaged in fighting on the Union side of the Civil War. This caused a stand still for this town.

This walk took me up one side of the river, across a bridge, along the downstream side on the other side of the river and then a connection with the Luce Line trail.

The Luce Line once upon a time was an electric railroad. When it ceased to operate the road bed was developed into a recreational trail. Walking a portion of this trail was pleasant on an early spring day. Everyone once in awhile I would meet someone else walking a dog or jogging.

Eventually I was back to the parking lot where I left my car.

The business district of this small town looks to have buildings primarily from the late 19th to the very early 20th century.

 The town hall, shown above, appears to have a new facade and an old cupola and is an example of what I saw.

And here's another building:

Glad to get out walking again. Now to see what my leg "thinks" about today's effort tomorrow!