Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
Click on Mark Twain to jump to Troutbirders book review blog

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Biking With Bill

A beautiful weekend and brother-in-law Bill is visiting for our annual bike ride. He does forty mile jaunts per day on weekends and during the week puts in an equal amount on his exercycle. I, on the other hand, go biking at most once a week for never more than ten miles. A perfect mismatch you might say!We opted for the trail that follows Camp Creek from Harmony to Preston. It's hilly farm country at first, then mostly woods and pastures. Bill is a point A to point B cover the miles person.

I, on the other hand, like to smell the roses, see the sights, check out the birds, and incidently catch my breath at every opportunity. There he goes speeding along! Unfortunately, for me, the first couple of miles are a long grade uphill. Thank god for my camera. Stopping to check out good camera angles is essential when your huffing and puffing.. I also catch a woodchuck crossing the trail between us. Bill waits patiently for me every half mile or so. The pastoral setting, the fleeting clouds.... what a glorious day. The people that we pass have a big smile and a friendly hello. Everybody knows that it doesn't get any better than this. As we approached the more wooded areas near the creek, wildflowers began to make their appearance. I noticed a plant about two to three feet tall with long spikes of white flowers. I had never seen it before. Checking my Moyle and Moyle, when I got home, it appears to be Praririe Larkspur, a perennial of dry prairies and open hillsides. There were a number of bluebird houses along the trail and soon I noticed their occupants darting about everywhere. Tree swallows and a rose-breasted grosbeak also made their appearance. I wonder if Bill notices any of this?The next interesting plant to catch my eye turned out to be Tall Meadow Rue. Clumps of the white flowers could be seen all along the trail, often reaching more than three feet tall. If there are "lifers" for a native plant list, I had already gained two in less that four miles. I did decide though that next spring this particular trail might be great for picking up migrating song birds, especially warblers
Things were going well. That is till we came to the top of a long steep downgrade. "You go first," says Bill. Off I go cautiiously heading downhill. The view is breathtaking. The valley, through which Camp Creek flows, is one of my favorite places to fish trout. Then I goofed. I'm so out of practice biking I don't dare turn around to see if someone is behind for fear of losing my balance... but I do keep to the right. Some young guy in a speedo outfit, still pedaling downhill and going probably 40 miles per hour, zips by me yelling "ON YOUR LEFT." Okay that's cool. Several more racers continue the process. I figure these young speeders probably come in packs, so a little bit later as several more come by yelling the same warning, I hardly pay them any attention. I'm watching for bluebirds.
Later, at the bottom of the long grade, I pull over to wait for Bill and have a sip of water. And wait. And wait. And wait, maybe ten minutes. Finally, thinking if he had to go behind a bush or something, it shouldn't be taking that long, I start flagging down bikers coming down the hill and asking. "No," they all say they didn't see anybody waiting along the trail. I figure maybe he got sick and went back to the car.... or maybe a heart attack and fell out of sight in the bushes or.... you get the picture. Then, I start pedaling slowly back up the mountain, in the lowest possible "Granny" gear, straining every inch of the way. Reaching the top, I look around....he’s nowhere to be seen . Then finally I see him coming up the hill. "I waited 15 minutes for you," he is yelling. I'm looking totally dumbfounded (emphasizing the dumb part). He says, "you didn't see me pass you by???? Jeez, I even yelled "on your left" when I passed." God. I think maybe I should stick with birdwatching, it's less stressful. Ok..........this sign is the one they should've had for me

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I grew up on the Eastside in St. Paul. The neighborhood was called Daytons Bluff or The Bluff. Perched, northeast of downtown St. Paul, on the cliffs overlooking the Mississippi, the downtown airport and the busy railroad tracks heading east to Chicago.

We played on those dangerous cliffs, unbeknownst to the mothers, and also in Indian Mounds Park.

I attended Mounds Park elementary school. The same place my father, uncles and aunts had gone to school.

That's me back row 3rd from the left in second grade.

Looking back now it was all rather idylic. How idylic? Well, my mom could safely put me, alone, on the streetcar, to go downtown to meet my Aunt Pearl at the First National Bank, where she worked. Then it was a walk over to The Childrens Room of the St. Paul Public Library. Then a stop a Bridgemans for a malt. It's not too likely a mom would send an 8 year old into the city alone today.
Year round, Indian Mounds Park was the neighborhood playground. In winter, we climbed up to the top of a hill upon which stood, The Beacon Light. Then sledded down two blocks to the bottom. It is the last of its kind still flashing its light every 5 seconds. No longer guiding planes and visitors into the city, it serves as a remember of a bygone era. In memory, I can still see it lighting up my darkened bedroom.

There was a special structure called the Pavilion in the park. When there weren't enough kids for a ball game, we climbed all over it. I don't recall ever seeing people picnic in it but then perhaps I wasn't there during rainstorms. In any case, a neaby fountain provided the water for the waterfights that usually ensued in the pavilion.

Today, respectful signs and fences remind people not to climb the burial mounds as we did. Progress in the realm of cultural sensitivity for sure. But then we were kids in a different age and "Cowboys and Indians" ranked with "Robin Hood" in our list of games.

I ran across the following picture recently of my beloved pavillion. Time marches on........

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Visitors From Norway

Our good friends Gary and Rosie Anderson’s cousins from Norway arrived in Minnesota recently to visit relatives and tour the Gopher State (with a side trip to Wisconsin). They wanted, of course, to see some of the cultural highlights of our State such as The Mall Of America and Target Field. Shopping, a well known American custom was also to be included in the schedule. . The Troutbirders involvement was to arrange a visit to a "real" American farm. Through the graciousness of our neighbors, the Jahn family, our visitors got to see a Corn Belt hog operation.
Eli Sather Bergstuen is the grandmother. Her home is Biristrand, Norway. This is just south of Lillehammer. The parents are Even and Gerd (Eli's daughter) Taraldsrud and children Henrik and Mina. They live on a farm in Biri which is south of Biristrand by a couple of miles. The Lake Mjosa, part of the Mjosa River (like Lake Pepin is part of the Mississippi River) runs from Gjovik, south of Biri, to just north of Biri. The river continues on up past Lillehammer about 25 miles north of Biri.

Gary and Rosie (on the left) brought their visitors to the Mississippi river town of Winona to a family gathering that featured people from all over the United States. Here on Garvin Heights, high above Winona the Norwegians get a look at the broad Mississippi Valley Traveling by light rail, the visitors checked on the Guthrie Theater, Target Field and the Mall of America.

Mrs T. put on an fine dinner, Minnesota style, after the visit to the Jahn farms in the Spring Valley area. Never had they seen so much corn in the fields and the scale of the farming operation definitely made a big impression. Neighbor Rick Jahn provided a 2 hour tour of the facilities and equipment.
Taking a peek at the baby pigs.
Out in the field the guys have to check out the big Cat hauling liquid pig manure. Perhaps the ladies were not quite so impressed.

We began trooping into one of several large machine sheds. The size of a combine was evident by a tire towering over 6'3" Gary. The general impression was... Wow!

We had a great time meeting Gary's Norwegian cousins. Or as Minnesotans are not always accurately portrayed saying in the movie Fargo. Yah sure! You betcha

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Over the river
and through the woods.

To Mother Natures place we go.

The dog knows the way.

We’re happy today.

Through green and neatly mowed.
Hiking through the woods. With Baron leading the way. O'er the fields we go . Laughing all the way
Bells on the Big Guy ring Making spirits bright What fun it is to laugh and sing A hiking song tonight. Hey!

Over the river and through the woods,Oh, how the wind does blow.The prairie is green. The birds are free. As over the ground we go.Over the river and through the woods To have a full day of play....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a 1,137-acre horticultural garden located near the Twin Cities. It is part of the University of Minnesota's Department of Horticultural Science in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. It is the Upper Midwest’s/largest public garden.

The arboretum's earliest area was established in 1907 as the Horticultural Research Center, which developed cold-hardy crops such as Haralson and Honeycrisp apples and the Northern Lights azaleas. It is the largest, most diverse, and most complete Horticultural site in the upper Midwest with over 5000 plant varieties.
The arboretum features annual and perennial display gardens, plants developed for northern climates, demonstration gardens and natural areas including woodlands, prairies and marshes. It has many specialized collections of plants, shrubs and trees. The arboretum also includes a library and conservatory, as well as miles of hiking and skiing trails. A three mile (5 km) drive through the arboretum takes visitors past many of the collections. Guided tours are available at extra cost, and may be taken by tram, bus, or on foot. All in all a wonderful place to visit at any time of the year. I love it.
We visited there late last spring with Mrs. T's cousin Joe and wife Mary.