Archive for July, 2007


Horse Camp

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

In lieu of drama camp this summer, the girls chose horse camp. For two weeks they went to camp Monday, Wednesday and Friday for appox. 2 1/2 hours.

Jaclyn joined 4 other friends from school and church in her group. Jennifer attended the same camp at the same time but in a different group.

The instructors at Webb Ranch taught them to brush their horse, helped them tack the horse, then gave them lessons on riding the horse. Switching between western, english and bareback riding styles, the girl learned to stop, turn, ride the rail, maneuver around obstacles, 2-point, jog, and trot. On the final day of classes, they did a trail ride around the ranch grounds.

Mike and I really had to discuss whether Jennifer could take horse riding lessons. Jackie had not started until she was 10 years old. Jennifer wasn’t 10 yet and we felt she might do better to wait a little longer. But it was Jackie who convinced us to let Jennifer take lessons also. Jackie said she wouldn’t feel upset or that it was unfair that her sister began earlier than her. She pointed out all the good things about it. When we told Jennifer she could go, she was all smiles and full gratitude.


The Final Party

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

We attended our final Harry Potter launch party at Kepler’s bookstore in Menlo Park. They dressed in black school robes and brought wands and a bag of wizarding supplies. Jaclyn hung around with her friend Nia and Jennifer and I floated around the festivities inside and outside the store.

We joined the extra long line at 11:45 p.m. and were handed our books at 12:25 a.m.


The 4th

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

Why change something good? For the 4th of July we did more of the same – picnic on the grass at Pete’s Harbor at the port of Redwood City, play games, relax and watch spectacular fireworks at approx. 9:30 p.m. It works for us.



Road trip back…back to the heat

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Our return home plan was to visit one of my scrapbook friends who lived outside of Minneapolis on Saturday, spend the night in a hotel along the way, then return to Mike’s parents house Sunday. We had a wonderful visit, including a great meal and great hospitality, with my friend, Sue. It was a delight to see Sue again and meet her family and dogs!

We hit the road, driving down along the Mississippi River and crossing it into La Crosse, Wisconsin. But we hit a snag here. There were no hotels with rooms available. In a town of 50,000 there wasn’t a room to be found. We continued down the road, finding nothing…not even in a few little, off-beaten hotels we found. We did not find a hotel until we pulled into Madison, WI at midnight.

Another snag we discovered at dinner was that I left my purse at Sue’s house. Duh! Mike, master planner for all emergencies, had my passport so we were safe with me being able to board the airplane home. Sue quickly sent my purse back to California were I picked it up a few days later.

Back in the Chicago area we returned to the heat and humidity. We spent Sunday relaxing with Mike’s cousin and Monday just hanging around with Mike’s parents. On Monday, we decided to visit a park with a frisbee golf coarse before the heat hit hard. Mike showed us his killer frisbee throws. We were all surprised by the length between the tees and the location of some of the holes – some over creeks or into the woods.


Despite our plans we didn’t totally beat the heat and humidity. By 10:30 a.m. it was beginning to drain us. Now I remember why I don’t live in a humid place anymore…


The Mighty Mississippi

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

The acclaimed headwaters of the Mississippi start at Lake Itasca so we took a short drive north with my brother’s family to visit Itasca State Park.

We discovered, though, a great deal of controversy on the subject of the true headwater or starting point of the Mississippi River. Wikipedia’s article on Lake Itasca tells the story: Henry Schoolcraft identified Lake Itasca as the river’s source in 1832. He had been part of a previous expedition in 1820 led by General Lewis Cass that had named nearby Cass Lake (which is downstream from Itasca) as the source of the river…The western arm of the lake is fed by two small streams on its south end. Nicolett Creek, which is considered too small to be considered as the headwaters, starts in a nearby spring. Another small stream leads into Itasca from Elk Lake, which in turn is fed by two other streams. In1887 Williard Glazier promoted a campaign to consider Elk Lake, which he called Glazier Lake, as the true source of the Mississippi. These streams, however, are generally considered too small to be categorized as the headwaters of the river. The decision was made by Jacob V. Brower, a land surveyor and president of the Minnesota Historical Society, who after spending five months exploring the lakes ruled that the lakes and streams further south of Lake Itasca were not the true source of the Mississippi.

This led us all to wonder what really did constitute the beginnings of a river. Was it the first trickle of water? Was it the earliest lake from which is originates? Or something else? And we also wondered when rivers join, how it is decided which river it is at that point.

Regardless, the headwaters are now officially located at Lake Itasca at a very obvious point. It is obvious because in the 1930’s the Civilian Conservation Corps actually moved the channel of the Mississippi as it emerged from the lake to make a more pleasant experience for visitors. They drained the swamp, dug the new channel and installed a man-made rock barrier to create rapids from the lake to the channel. Now tourists who visit the site wade across the rock barrier.



New Games

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

We’re always on the lookout for new and interesting games. At our resort we found two unique games. The two games, set up in the playground area, involved balls and competition with one other opponent.


In carpetball, two players stand at opposite ends of a long, narrow carpeted table. They set up pool balls on their end of the table. The object is to knock the opponents balls with the cue ball. Each player takes turns rolling the cue ball. We each developed some strategies but none of us became unbeatable at carpetball.


In knuckleball, two players stand next to each other with a paddle. Balls, whiffle or tennis, are played in the playing area and hit with the paddles. The goal is to get the ball on your opponents side and have it roll off. When the ball rolls off, the person on the other side is declared the winner. The difficulty of this games can be changed depending on how many balls or what time of balls are in play.

We had fun experimenting and taking turns playing these games with one another.


Free Time

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

No internet. No TV. No phone calls.

Here we were out in the middle of Minnesota with some real free time. With two full days at the resort we had time to feel free and to relax.

We moved slowly from activity to activity. We would be with different people and doing different things, depending on what each person wanted to do. Here are some of the activities:

  • Swim
  • Canoe
  • Kayak
  • Hang out in the cabin
  • Play games (Carcassone, for example) at the cabin
  • Paddleboats
  • Play games at the playground
  • Visit and talk
  • Relax on the dock
  • Read books


Our Resort

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007


Look at that face. So happy. That’s how Jaclyn and Jennifer felt as we showed them around our resort for the next few days. Our resort, Half Moon Trail, is located near Park Rapids on Boot Lake. The grounds included a private sand beach, docks, gardens, a playground, a lodge, a swimming pool, kayaks, canoes, a paddleboat, and hiking trails. The resort owners provided great service and lots of friendly hospitality.

We stayed in the new 4-bedroom cabin with plenty of beds, rooms, dining space, living space and a large kitchen – more than enough for our family (who stayed upstairs in one room), my brother’s family, my dad and Barbara.

We shared several meals together in the cabin. Barbara fried bluegill fish that my dad had caught earlier in the week in Wisconsin, Gary grilled burger outside on the deck and we put together another meal of spaghetti and sides.

Everyone arrived on Wednesday and left on Saturday morning. I had chosen the resort so I had worried if everyone would like it. From all the comments, I really think everyone had a great time and the resort was perfect for our needs.


International Exchange

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

“Hello Canada!” Jaclyn and Jennifer yelled as they stood on the shore of Rainy River in International Falls, Minnesota. The Rainy river separates the United States and Canada.

The girls enjoyed being so close to another country. They tried to get as close as possible. They threw stones into the river, hoping they would reach Canada. They yelled across the river. They waved to people in boats traveling along the river.

Hello Canada!


The Voyageurs

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

On Wednesday morning, we arrived early at the Kabetogama Lake visitor center at Voyageurs National Park for a north canoe voyage. Led by two park employees dressed as Voyageurs, we learned about the Voyageurs through drama and storytelling.

We learned that Voyageurs were French-Canadians who paddled birch bark canoes from Montreal through this area of Minnesota and west to Lake Athabasca. They brought goods from Montreal and traded them for furs. The North West and Hudson Bay Companies hired men who could not swim so they would have incentive to help keep the canoe afloat and would not steal the goods or furs. Additionally, they rode in canoes made of birch bark, cedar and spruce roots. Every day they would inspect the boat for wear and tear caused by rapids and portaging, then make any repairs. Each Voyageur wore a red or blue wool hat, a brightly colored shirt, a sash to guard against hernias, trousers, leggings to keep leeches from crawling up the body, stockings, and moccasins.

We were each given a sash to wear and a paddle. We boarded our 26-foot canoe, and started out for open water. We tried to sing as Voyageurs were very good singers, but we were not very good. I think we disappointed our guides! Once in open water, we found it a bit rocky so we headed closer to shore. At one point we took a break among the reeds. As we canoed and took a break, we learned a lot about the Voyageurs in an entertaining way.

The views were great and we even saw the Minnesota state flower, the pink and white lady’s-slipper.


June 20