Back to the Trail

As a season ticket holder to the Paul Bunyan Playhouse, I was back in Bemidji on Wednesday for the opener of “Dancing at Lughnasa” (a fantastically complex play with superb performances in challenging roles), so Bethany and I decided to get together for a walk down our beloved dirt trail along Lake Bemidji.

We started out seeing not one, but two, goose families, one with tiny goslings and one with older ones. They were pretty cute, and it was a great day for moms and dads to take their kids out to the lake — whether human or avian. :)

I had missed seeing the birds of Lake Bemidji on our walks. We saw a lt of them.

It was really hot Wednesday, but one of the benefits of walking on the trail is that we’re continually shaded by the trees. It was a beautiful and fun walk with, but other than the goose babies, it was relatively uneventful. There was, however, this shirt Bethany came up with.

“Do you want a shirt?” she asked, from behind me, on one part of the trail where I go down and she goes up.

I said no even before I turned to find her holding a dirty Vikings T-shirt, and told her I was surprised she even picked it up. Someone must have been hot on their walk one day!

I was curious about what kind of tree this is. The leaves are curved, kind of like up-side down “scoop”-style tortilla chips.

There is much I do not know about the outside world, I admit. :) But I am often curious, and I often think about getting guides to trees and birds and such.

After our walk, I dropped Bethany off at the Pioneer and killed the hours before the play. I thought it was going to be a long wait, but it was nice to do stuff in a leisurely manner. I had some lunch, took a call about my dad’s life insurance, went shopping, went to the library to check out a book I’d forgotten to bring with me, and sat on a bench downtown and read the book for a while before going into the Playhouse.

It was a great day, and a great evening. I like going to the Playhouse on opening night, partly for the afterglow party (I’m a journalist; free food is always a draw), but mostly because I get to meet and talk to the actors, and I have to say that this cast is probably the friendliest, from top to bottom. Every single cast member was so personable and nice and happy to be in Bemidji, and at least half of them came up to me and started a conversation. It’s also cool that most of them have not been at the Playhouse before; the only cast members I had met were Katie Tiegen and Leslie Ball, and the latter I knew only because I’ve attended her Ball’s Caberet at the Southern Theatre in Minneapolis.

It was really great to walk with Bethany again. We still talk regularly, and visit sometimes, but I miss the day-to-day that we were used to, whether we were walking or not. And every time we walk, we slip right back into the mode of walk-and-talk, like we’d just walked the day before. It occurs to me that while Bethany wrote a goodbye post when I moved from Bemidji to rural Erskine, I neglected to write one myself, so I will soon write a post on what I’ve been up to, including lots of outdoor photos!

Maybe one day Bethany and I will meet at Itasca State Park. We always said we wanted to get out of town for a Trail Mix walk. :)

This is the only photo of me from our walk, taken when I handed Bethany the camera before jumping over the wall of the 10th Street steps to continue along the trail. “Are you kidding me?” I said, laughing, as she lined up her shot. She assured me that she was not shooting the scaling of the wall, since those pictures were never flattering. :)

The Beltrami-Bemidji Wellness Routes are really awesome.

I wasn’t aware of this project, but noticed the signs along our route (not the dirt trail, but once we emerged from the trail and turned around to walk back on higher ground).

We did somewhat the longest route, which goes around the lake and through Diamond Point Park, on our best days, when we used to walk regularly.

Find a map info here and more info here. And visit Active Living Bemidji here. :)

I will leave you with some flower photos!

I think I’ve taken this photo more than once. But I love lilacs, and they’re starting to leave us.

The trail was pretty in pink. :)

As I write this, a day after our walk, it is thundering wildly outside and the rain has just started to fall. It’s a good thing we walked yesterday, because we got to have a lovely day for walking and I get to stay inside and enjoy the thunderstorm!

Take care!

— Laurie

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One last walk

“So I’ve been forwarding … geez, you’ve got to be kidding me!” says Laurie as she struggles to stay vertical.

Today, we took what may end up being our last Trail Mix walk through town, but we spent the first half less walking and more sliding and tip-toeing to avoid falling on our rear ends, due to all the ice.

In fact, Laurie even advised me against going into her house to leave my purse and camera bag. The ice outside of her doorstep was so bad she, herself, had to hug the exterior wall to make it safety to the driveway.

Fun times.

I gave Laurie the option today as to where to walk. It was too icy and snowy to hit our favorite trail (the dirt trail that runs along Lake Bemidji) so we were limited, mostly, to downtown Bemidji. We walked along the sidewalks and streets downtown until she got a little bored.

Then we cut across to Bemidji State’s campus and walked home along Lake Avenue, taking in views of the lake (ice).

And the trail.

All the while, we were talking about Laurie’s imminent leave and her future plans. (I’ll let Laurie, herself, tell you about her future plans, but let’s just say her resignation from the Pioneer was a personal/family decision and it means she’ll be moving from Bemidji in the near future. Which makes me sad. Very sad.)

(The sign reads: “Standing on the side of LOVE.” Which I, well, love. I don’t know, does anyone else feel like the world’s been awful negative lately? More so than usual? Maybe it’s just the February blahs, but I’ve been really disheartened lately. So here’s to hoping that March perks me up some now…)

We saw a lot of interesting things today. Most of which we didn’t take photos of. Don’t ask me why, I think I was just out of practice. We passed a rather obnoxious guy riding his snowmobile down the (clear and dry) Birchmont Drive. Then we passed two nice gals skateboarding through Library Park. Signs of spring. Love it.

But we did see lots of other things that we did grab photos of:

(a horseshoe-shaped something-or-other…)

(A dried-up vine-y thing?)

(This is my personal favorite. A wristband for the Shoreview Community Center in Shoreview, Minn., which was a frequent hangout of mine as a middle-schooler. I also worked for Shoreview for a summer or two as a tennis instructor several years ago, through Parks and Rec. So this made me think of “home” – and of warmer days.)

(This T-shirt reminded me that St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. Eeek!)

I’m supposed to run the Bemidji Parks and Rec’s Shamrock Shuffle the day before, on Saturday, March 16. The 5K. Thanks to Parks and Rec’s Couch to 5K plan, I’ve been training for my first-ever 5K. I can do it. I think. I’m up to running (more like jogging very slowly) 30 minutes at a time so I think I can finish it. But I’ve yet to commit. I’ve got the registration form on my desk. Just haven’t had the guts to actually fill it out…

Despite playing tennis throughout high school and college, I’ve never been a runner. I like sprinting, but jogging and I never really clicked. But I am finding myself enjoying it more lately. Probably because it’s helping me in my latest quest to stay healthy, more fit.

I’ve come a long ways since this:

That was at my heaviest.

This is me today.

 About 67 pounds lighter. Woohoo!

But enough on that. Today’s walk wasn’t about all of that.

It was for us, Trail Mix. And saying goodbye to a walking buddy, a friend.

Laurie has been more than just a walking partner. She’s been my “I need a ride to urgent care” driver, my “I need to take my baby to the ER” come-over-in-a-flash babysitter, my work colleague, my friend.

I’m going to miss her.


– Bethany

(almost) goodbye

I’m not confident that a whole ton of people still check on us here, since we haven’t posted in more than a year. Between work and family demands, our daily walks became sporadic walks, which, sadly, eventually became non-existent walks. (I’m to blame. It just got too difficult for me to juggle everything.)

Laurie and I never officially closed this Trail Mix blog, thinking that maybe, someday, we would find our rhythm again.

But that’s not going to happen.

This week, our Trail Mix duo officially splits. After more than eight years with the Bemidji Pioneer, Laurie is moving on.

So why blog again now? Well, on Friday, for old time’s sake, Laurie and I will meet at noon and take one more traditional Trail Mix walk throughout town. And we figure we owe our loyal readers at proper goodbye post or two. So I’ll probably write something Friday, and Laurie will probably follow up this weekend with her own goodbye thoughts.

I don’t think we’ll ever delete the blog. I mean, Laurie will still be coming into Bemidji from time to time (she promised!). So you never know. Maybe not seeing each other every day will make us more eager to meet up and walk when she does swing through town.

Either way, tomorrow, we’ll walk. And for those of you who did check on us from time to time, I encourage you to drop her a line and wish Laurie well with her future plans. (And me, too, if you want. But definitely for Laurie.)

– Bethany

A tag-along day on Lake Bemidji

I tagged along with Bethany today as she covered Polar Daze for the Pioneer. I figured it would make a cold outdoor activity more fun for both of us, as well as give us a rare opportunity to do some walking.

A brisk half-hour walk before the Brrrmidji Polar Plunge worked out well for us; while we were ice-cold earlier, by the time of the Plunge, it wasn’t so bad. We were at  least done complaining that even our foreheads were cold. I had grumbled that it felt like someone was injecting frozen Botox into my forehead.

But we had it made, compared to the more than 100 people who jumped, walked, cannonballed, belly-flopped, somersaulted, tumbled and in whatever other ways plunged into a giant hole in Lake Bemidji.

One of the coolest things about watching the Brrrmidji Plunge is how the faces change as the plungers enter the water.

Above, we see a happy pair of kids, but as the boy hits the water, a look of shock and disbelief takes over. The girl, meanwhile, is still smiling. That’s because, in the second photo Bethany shot, she has yet to hit the water.

It didn’t take any of the jumpers long to clear out of the water and head for their trailers to dry off and change clothes.

This was the happiest reaction I think I’ve ever seen in a jumper. I have witnessed a few stoic reactions and he-man responses, but I’m not used to people looking *happy*. This guy,  Scott, looked like he’d just won a race. He was pumped. He even looked cheerful as he walked across the ice to the guys’ trailer.

It wouldn’t be the Brrrmidji Plunge without the Bemidji firefighters jumping in together. The first time I saw this event, I was late getting there, and I actually met the firefighters on the sidewalk as they ran from the lake to the Bemidji Fire Department at Fifth Street and America Avenue after their jump.  I wished that day that I’d had a camera, because that run is part of the tradition, too.

With Bemidji’s Paul Bunyan celebrating his 75th birthday all year, it was fitting the iconic lumberjack would make the plunge. Paul, also known as Dr. Mike Headlee of Explore Chiropractic, jumped last year as well, flinging the stuffed Babe the Blue Ox into the water ahead of him then, too. But this year Paul was joined by his wife, Lucette, as illustrated in folklore in Hackensack. They carried a brightly wrapped birthday present, as well as a birthday cupcake Lucette (Lorrie Richardson) handed off just before she jumped.

Jumpers seemed to come out of the woodwork, from solo artists to groups of friends, family members and co-workers.  Some were seasoned veterans of this event, while others did it for the first time.

“It’s overrated,” one man said as he left the trailer after getting dressed. “Once in a lifetime is enough.”

(Zero isn’t so bad, either ….)

My favorite quote Bethany got, and this is more paraphrasing than quoting until I can see her actual article, was from a boy who jumped with his dad and sister: “It was great. I had a lot of fun. I’ll never do it again.”

He seemed to agree with the once-in-a-lifetime guy.

How about you? Have you ever made the leap? If not, would you consider it?


Amazing January

I stepped outside on Thursday, Jan. 5, and walked into October.

Bethany was on her way to my house to go walking, and I hadn’t put my jacket on yet.  I went outside for a moment in my hoodie and was stunned by the immediate realization that my hoodie keep me plenty warm.


We don’t get as many chances to walk as we used to, but this was the best day to do so in a long lines of unseasonably warm days.  The temp was 46 degrees when I got back home, but I later saw in a Pioneer photo that a bank thermometer had read 50 degrees. In January.

What’s really odd for me is that this is my most hated month of the year.  I normally find January to be cold, cruel and depressing.  December is cold, too, but it’s the month of  Christmas.  There are lights and music and business open houses with coffee and cider and cookies, not to mention the family and friends with whom we share the holiday season. January is when it all stops and it just becomes winter.

But this January, it’s been more like fall so far. Granted, we did get some snow Friday, but I still didn’t wear a hat or gloves. In January.

While the snow that started just after Christmas was still on the ground for our walk Thursday, a lot of it was melting, as you can see by this watery sidewalk. You can’t see it in the photo, but the melting snow was glistening all over the house; I thought at first it was the Christmas decorations shining in the sun.

The penguins look happy they finally got snow. I suppose they looked out of place at Christmas!

Bethany not only happily wore her hoodie, too, she also pushed up the sleeves. Here, we were just a few blocks from home.

Not only was it warm, it was a sunny day with blue skies and a bright sun.  It was just a great day to be outside.

Happy January! :)

Sweet snowscape

Someone was in for a sweet snowy surprise Friday when he or she went out to brush the snow off the car windows.  That pretty red rose produced a nice “awww” moment that briefly made the falling snow feel a little less annoying. I can imagine there was another “awww” from the recipient later. That was sure a sweet gesture!

The scenes looked pretty much the same on Friday’s walk — snowy sidewalks along snowy roads. We reminisced about the trail we won’t see again until next spring, and Bethany complained that being pelted in the face with snowflakes was was like when bugs fly into your mouth — although, obviously, not nearly as unpleasant.

We didn’t *just* complain about the snow …

Downtown, we ran across a couple of fun window scenes. First, there was the skeleton at Headwaters Science Center, still hanging onto summer fun. Then there was the “purse” at Twice But Nice that comes with a hidden electrical cord. As far as we could tell, it’s a lamp or a night night.

If you’ll notice the “I Gave 10” sign in the Science Center’s window near the skeleton, it refers to the HSC’s fundraising campaign that goes from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15. The Science Center is trying to motivate 4,000 people to give $10 each to secure a matching $40,000 from an anonymous donor. The ultimate goal is to raise $100,000.

See for more.

Getting back to the snow, a quick look at the forecast leads me to believe there won’t be much of it for Thanksgiving travel. The temps don’t look too bad, too, with some highs in the low 40s.  We may manage to get a walk or two in this week.

Happy Thanksgiving week. :)




Dashing through the snow…

(OK, not really. We’re pokey walkers. It was more like meandering through the snow.)

Well, our goal was to get the trail once this fall. We did that last week. But I think we both were hoping to get there once more.

I don’t foresee that happening now.

I know it’s mid-November and that we were due for the snow (I mean, my birthday was Monday and I remember having sledding parties with friends when I was younger). Nevertheless, I’m still adjusting to the idea of bringing the winter wear back to work.

Laurie: “I think no matter when the snow came, we were still going to complain.”

True. It is also true that no matter when the snow came, I was going to be unprepared. I still don’t have an ice scraper in the car and I do not have my winter boots at work. My toes were cold today.

But it was still nice to get out and walk. We keep pledging to do it more frequently but work and life keeps getting in the way.

In fact, it had been so long since Laurie and I were side-by-side for more than 3 minutes at a time, that she didn’t get a chance until today to show me her new hairdo.

The snow offered some new visuals on our downtown walk.

Laurie thought, at first glance, that these were pennies. They are actually the spokes/grips on the sidewalks right where they intersect with a street.

We also are seeing some Christmas/holiday decorations.

Love them.

While I was taking the picture, Laurie noticed other “ornaments” on the tree that were a reflective silver.

Hey, we could get a photo with our reflection in the ornament, she suggested.

She has a lot of faith in my photography skills…

First try: Not bad, but I had the camera in front of my face.

Second try: I chopped off the top… (and I still had the camera right in front of my face)

Third try: Stupid branch got in the way.

Fourth try: Good enough.

We just might have to visit that house one more time this season…

Have a good night.

– Bethany

Happy trail to us

It’s been a long time, trail. It was really great to see you today. Sorry we missed your big show this fall with all the changing colors. I bet it was beautiful. It always is …

This has been a really challenging year in terms of getting out on the trail. We were majorly short-handed at work , we were working in a warehouse during a remodeling project, Bethany gave birth to her second child and I was spending much of my free time helping my elderly parents, who live an hour away.

But I don’t think we ever thought we’d miss so many days. The summer flew by, and fall got busy, and it became easy to skip walking. When we did manage to get together, we stuck to the sidewalks, usually because we didn’t have a lot of time.

It was great to get back on the dirt trail along the lake today, and a lovely day for being outside.

We even saw some green:

And here:

But what really struck me was the pink:

I’ve never seen pink berries. I told Bethany they were as pink as one of her daughter Lola’s princess dresses.

I love pockets of color where we walk, little things you never see in cars. We miss so much when we don’t stop to smell the pink berries and such.

I suppose that would mean more if I actually had stopped to smell the berries. I just don’t think berries have much of a smell. :)


No jackets today — we wore our red sweat pants and hoodies. Bethany got warm and took her hoodie off.

Doesn’t this look like a welcoming set of steps to go jump in the lake?

It seemed that while we’d been gone, others had trampled the earth down in the spots that were challenging for us after the bike trail was constructed. In one spot, we used to traverse the trail by a sort of “surfing” method involving some sliding and gripping trees, but that area is more accessible now. We were able to walk all the way through to the end of the trail where it comes out on the back side of the Bemidji State University campus:

We had a beautiful blue sky today, and beautiful blue water on Lake Bemidji:

The days are getting shorter and, usually, cooler. The seagulls and the Canada geese are hanging out in separate corners, probably thinking about getting out of here soon. We wish we could go, too!

But this is the taste of what we have coming, that bit of snow that is finally almost done melting.

We can’t complain too much that it’s snowing in mid-November (we’ve had at least a dusting of snow in October most years), but the longer it waits, the shorter the winter feels.

“Today reminded me just how much I miss walking every day… I totally have to do better. Just leave work.”

Bethany’s words say it all. You have to make time for things like this. When we started walking, in February 2009, it was almost a given that we would walk every day — and that was in weather where it was understandable that we might want to skip a day here and there.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to hit the trail a few more times before the snow comes back to stay.

Have a happy weekend and enjoy what is left of the fall. There’s still green grass out there!

Meandering jaunt produces walkers, tree sweater

Today, we were about as scattered as the seagulls we saw over the water by Library Park. (OK, fine, they’re only flying because I ran toward them to scare them skyward for a photo.)

We ended up starting out from my house four times, each time going a different direction. We had one dead camera and then two additional cameras, each, as it turned out, with no batteries. Finally, I just bought a big pack of batteries at Pamida, where I asked the checkout guy if he could cut the package open (I hate those horrible packages).

“No,” he joked. “I can’t do that.”

“They don’t trust you with scissors?” Bethany said.

“Maybe he has to watch a training video first,” I suggested.

So finally we were on our way, after having also learned we needed to look for a photo for tomorrow’s paper.  It’s a rather wet, drippy day today, so we seemed to be the only ones outside doing anything interesting, but then we ran across Pam Papp and Joann Gardner walking through Library Park.

They work at Bemidji State University and walk every day during their lunch breaks.  So they’re way more consistent than we are. :)

We had no notebooks with us, so I texted their names to Bethany. At first thought, that seems not very professional, but journalists often have to think on their feet, so let’s go with resourceful. 😉

We were dumbfounded by this tree sweater on Third Street. What a fun idea! We are really curious who did this and how the idea came about, so if you know, send us a message!

I thought maybe it was a Master Gardener who has a crafty thumb as well as a green one. The Master Gardeners take care of the downtown planters every year.

We were also curious about how the sweater was placed on the tree, so we circled around and found a back seam, which we are guessing was closed after putting the sweater over the tree.

In any case, the sweater is in nice fall colors. :)

I thought this spine outside Explore  Chiropractic was cute, but I really had to stop and take a photo when I saw the giraffe, since I collect giraffes and this is a nice one!

“Do you have a giraffe neck or a banana neck?” the sign in the window reads.

I imagine I have a giraffe neck. First, because giraffes and humans have the same number of vertebrae (seven, which I remember being very surprised by when I heard that years ago.

And second, because like the song says, bananas have no bones. :)

Here’s a Halloween window display for you …

Have a great rest of the week!


Fall goes back to beautiful

Our introduction to fall in this area was pretty cold, even before it was officially fall. But now that autumn has officially arrived, the weather has been beautiful, with pretty blue skies above us.

The colors are changing, too. I really didn’t notice this until Saturday, when I was driving to Thief River Falls for my granddaughter’s birthday at the water park at Seven Clans Casino. I took state Highway 92 to U.S. Highway 59 instead of going down U.S. 2 to 59, and it was a nice scenic route with lots of golden leaves and some orange ones as well.

Today, we meandered a bit again, going down this trail:

and then ending up on the paved trail that once led us to getting not quite lost, but too far away to walk back in a reasonable time. This time, when we reached the highway, we turned right instead of left and got back to Fifth Street:

Sorry that my directions aren’t any better or I didn’t take more pictures of the route, but along the way, we did see some pretty wetlands:

and …

And again, you can see the fall colors surfacing.

This appears to be the scene of the demise of a bird.

All we found were feathers, but lots and lots of them, so we figure the bird was carried off for dinner by some animal.

There were more feathers here than you can really capture in a photo. It makes me sort of wish we were a planet of all non-carnivores!

Now here’s something you don’t see every day:

Apparently someone really wanted to tell Sarah they found her car!

This is apparently done with that marker-like product meant for writing on glass. It never occurred to me to use them for sending messages. :)

Here’s a curious “Stuff on the Ground” item:

I have lost a few gas caps in my lifetime, but never along a sidewalk near downtown.

Did it dangle from the car until it finally fell off? Did someone run out of things to fling at someone they were angry at? Or did someone drop a gas cap they had just purchased?

These things we find laying on the ground often make us curious …

I thought this was a nice fall touch!

Happy Monday! Enjoy the week. It sounds like it will be a mostly pleasant one, at least weather-wise.