Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Snowshoe Country Lodge

Up in the north woods of Minnesota, about an hour from Two Harbors on the north shore of Lake Superior, is he Snowshoe Country lodge and log cabin building school.

We headed there from Lake Itasca and met some friends for the weekend. The plan was to build a fire, hang out , grill food and enjoy the cabins.
The cabins had electricity and the water was hand drawn from a well nearby.
Outhouses were also close by, as were the ever-present mosquitoes, who seemed to have a particular liking for my chosen brand of bug spray. We had all arrived there about 3 ish, and it was early evening, after some napping and quiet time, before the silence of the woods had really soaked in.

We lit a fire. The sun was beginning to set and the bugs all came out of the pines to feast on our juicy city skin, so we figured the smoke might keep them at bay.

We had finished a dinner of corn on the cob, potato salad and asparagus grilled on a barbeque pit outside one of our log cabins.As we sat around the fire , frogs began their evening chorus, and the wolves' call and response floated in and out of the deep blue sky around us. it seemed that they were talking to each other from miles apart, and that we were somewhere between, like accidental eavesdroppers.

We put the fire out and headed for bed. Outside the window, the frogs' lazy chirping began to fade and the occasional wolf howl would break the growing silence inside, a bug or two had found their way in, ready for seconds. Some of em got lucky. Some of em didn't.

Lake Itasca

Lake Itasca, where the mighty MIssissippi takes it's first trickling steps on it's two and a half thousand mile journey south, has surrounding it some stunning Jack Pine forest and wildlife and, thanks to the State Park and Department of Natural Resources,some fine family camping and outdoor facilities a the ready - pontoons and bicycles are ready for renting and the trails are breathtaking.

The headwaters of the Mississippi, flowing from Lake Itasca, are a great attraction, partly because it's one part of that great river that can be crossed on a few stepping stones before it gradually reaches it's massive girth many miles south.

The lake was given it's name by Henry Schoolcraft, who took the latin words "verITAS" (meaning "true")and "CAput" (meaning "head") to form Itasca - there had been many previous claims of the headwaters' discovery from many sources, including the Spaniards in the 16th century and many others, but the true head was found when Mr Schoolcraft employed an Ojibwe native as his guide - of course the Ojibwe knew where it was all along, but no one bothered to ask. Henry, however, had been a long time friend of the native peoples:

Also found in abundance along Elk Lake are Minnesota's State Flower ; Lady Slippers:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


From across the sunny street, I heard "'Scuse me, sir?". She was pretty - late 20's/early 30's maybe, blond with blue eyes, and a tanned, weather-worn complexion in old dirty clothes; an over-sized yellow sweater and raggedy jeans.
"Would you have fifty cents for the bus?" she asked as she crossed the street towards me.

As I fished in my wallet I asked "Where you headed?". "Grand and Fairview - my sister's".

I handed her a dollar; "There you go". She said "Thanks." and walked on.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Taste of Minnesota- St Paul July 4th

The grounds of Harriet Island were packed with kids and families enjoying festival food and celebrating the birth of their nation in the warm evening sun - the choices of fatty goodies were endless, and the varieties of fairground staples like bouncy castles and cuddly toy booths went on and on.

But what brought me here was the promise of an Elvis Costello show in the open air, so after my buddy Rob and I enjoyed some fries and funnel cake, we started to gravitate along with the other music lovers towards the main stage, although I did stop along the way for a root beer float made with 1919 Rootbeer. Yum.

Elvis Costello and the Impostors

Elvis took to the stage around 8pm . With the city curfew set at 10, that gave him 2 hours to do his thing, and given the amount of "thing"s Elvis has to chose from, I wondered which one he'd bring with him tonight , being a man that wears as many musical hats as he does.

Of course , being the professional that he is, he brought the hat that fits best - not the astute, eloquent razor sharp troubador that sang to and with the Bob Dylan audience I last saw him perform to, but rather the high energy balls to the wall rock band fronman that makes the funnel cake go sown easy and lets the kids stay up late.

This lady, along with many others , enjoyed Elvis very much.

Elvis and the Impostors played through an hour and a half of Costello classics like "Watching the Detectives" and the occasional cover. The Impostors swung like a big Swingy thing on the planet Swingy, and being a rock show , they indulged in a little extended noodlings on their respective instruments.

Elvis himself was cheerful and upbeat with the crowd, and by the end of the show, I was left with a feeling that I've always experienced at a Costello show, and that is that the dynamic of one large group of people watching four people make a noise had disappeared, and that we were really just all standing in a field together, and four of us were playing some kick ass rock n roll.

The band encored with "what's so funny about peace, love and understanding' which segued gracefully into "the tracks of my tears" and "suspicious minds".

At the top of the show, St Paul's mayor, Chris Coleman, offered: "It's the Fourth of July -what could be better than having Elvis Costello play at your birthday party?"

As Rob and I headed homeward under a canopy of red. white and blue fireworks over the MIssissippi. I had to concur.

America celebrated her 233rd birthday with Elvis Costello, and on July 5th , at 233 and one day, she celebrated in St Paul with..........

The Bret MIcheals Rock of Love Bus Tour!!!!!!!

i got there a little early - I wanted to check out...

Adler's Appetite

- the band built around Guns 'n' Roses drummer Steve Adler. I missed the start of their set, and got their in time to here the singer's last chorus of "So Fuckin' EEEZZAYY!! " come to it's crashing finale. Unfortunately I nissed out on what it was he was having such "EEEZE!" with . If it's that easy, I thought, maybe I should have a go. I'd been toying with the idea of planting a victory garden. Maybe that's what he was referring to.

I watched a few numbers, waiting for the pounding RRAWWWKK rhythms to re-awaken the obnoxious 14 year old metal head that I was sure still slumbered within, but it wasn't to be. I headed back to the root beer float stand, ordered a double, and, thinking I'd be sharing it with the 14 year old within, was left with the 38 year old without, wondering if Heavy Metal was ever what it used to be, and where had I left my early AC/DC records?

I faced into the crowd once more - a crowd made up mostly of teenagers and their parents. The lady in front of me was rather excited about her purchase of some Sham WOW!s ( hey- it's the best shammy in the world ok?)


Steve Adler and his Appetites were leaving the stage. It was about 7ish and the crowd was starting to thicken; some of the more serious punters were doing there damnedest to get as close as they could to the barrier that kept us all about a hundred yards from the stage. Anything inside the barrier was 50 bucks .

Bret's stage needed a little more set-up time of course; the mic stand needed red white and blue scarves hangng from it, and of course they had their own back line of speakers , all emblazoned with BMB (Bret Micheals Band? Bret Micheals' Babes? Bret Micheals' Bus? Bret Micheals is Bald?), and then came the inevitable hanging around, at least for the crowd.
All told, the band weren't ready to hit the stage 'til just after 9. But wait- curfew's at 10. Dang. Y'think they didn't know?

"Awesome awesomeness. Awseome Pawrdy. Y'guyz're awesome..."

BMB tore though a bunch of Poison hits. The band were full on, and Bret is the consummate front man. The crowd was eating out of his hand and by the time he got 'em singing with him on "wunna my fav'rit sawngs", namely "Sweet Home Alabama", he could do no wrong, and he only had about 35 minutes left not to do it in. Sweet gig.

Time for me to wander around the fairground..........

- pretty much says it all.

- guess she's fresh out......

"'sa Titanic...'s fun..."