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

Posted in Uncategorized

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. :)




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.

On the Road Again …

Trail Mix hit the sidewalks again today, finally.

Our schedules didn’t really mesh while Bethany was on maternity leave, so the occasional walking we’d hoped for fell by the wayside. Bethany returned to work Monday, but even then it took a few days. I was out of town until late Monday afternoon, Bethany had an appointment Tuesday, I was gone Wednesday and Bethany did not have time Thursday.

So Friday it was.

We weren’t sure if it was OK to walk across the road work, but it was easily passable, especially for a pair of hikers who normally walk along a dirt trail. :)

We do hope to get back on the trail for a while before the snow falls.

Today, I discovered Bethany’s love of old things. I think maybe she did, too. …

She pointed out the fence above, then later said she didn’t really like old things. But not long after that, she pointed out another fence:

Then she caught sight of this garage, remarking that she liked the contrast of the blue with the red of the window propped against it:

“I guess I like old things,” she said, laughing, “as long as they’re not mine.”

Fences in particular.

I like the blue-and-red mix, too, although my favorite combination would involve a darker, richer blue, perhaps like this house that I also liked:

As for old things, I think I agree to some extent, especially when talking about old dilapidated things that have a certain character.  These are fun things to discover while out and about, and sometimes familiar things you’d miss if you no longer walked past it, but the owners might think, “Huh? This old thing? I can’t wait to replace it.”

Remember this dog? The dog that always barks ferociously at us (but who I’m guessing is actually quite friendly — I just don’t want to test it because he has big teeth)?

Well, this is what he looks like when I make kissy noises and wake him up for a nap. He had no interest at all in barking, or even getting up!

I meant to take some flower pictures today, but there aren’t a lot of flowers left, and I forgot to keep looking. But I did find this lovely planter, with a nice crop of rhubarb in the back corner.

When I lived in Crookston, I had an apartment where rhubarb grew right outside my door. It was really cool to be able to pick a couple of stalks and make rhubarb whatever. (I wonder if there’s an actual recipe for that.)

We capped off our walk with lunch at Cantabria, where we split a Barcelona sandwich, which was grilled ham and cheese with red peppers, lettuce and tomatoes and mayo. We also each had a smoothie; I had mango and she had the Red Monkey (strawberry banana).

It was a nice way to cap off the noon hour, and it’s a really pretty place to be as well.

I suppose it would have been too easy to pick out the sun in the above picture as a puzzler …

I’ll close with another old thing we both liked. :)

Have a great weekend!






Spring: Nature’s amazing style show

We’ve had beautiful weather for walking lately, and today was no exception, as the green keeps filling in and standing out more and more against an awesome blue sky.

Vibrant blues and greens are pretty much my favorite color combination, especially involving water, and I love both blue-green and green-blue and assorted similar hues. Last year, I wrote a vague Christmas list that went something like this: “I collect giraffes. Socks. Always socks. I like green, blue, green-blue and blue-green.”

So as these colors take over the season more and more, I keep finding these breathtaking, indescribable moments of passion for my surroundings — not unlike the thrill of biting into a delicious fudgy brownie or sinking into a nice warm bath. It’s just so beautiful outside, everywhere I look. It’s amazing. I wish I could feel like this all year round.

Of course, there are other beautiful colors that make me feel like that besides blue and green. Another joy of spring is watching the flowers come out at different rates in different yards. I think the pink flowers above are alyssum. I’m sure someone will correct me if I am wrong, which is very possible. But I think I’m safe in referring to the flowers below as tulips.

And, of course, the lovely dandelion sticks around for both spring and summer!

No idea what the little blue thing is.

I love how the gazing ball in the photo below acts as a mirror. I didn’t notice that until I saw the photo at full size on my computer.

Random photo  caught Bethany and a group of children out for a walk or field trip:

These Topsy Turvy (or whatever brand they are) planters made me feel guilty. I have one of the upside-down strawberry planters and two of the tomato planters but have not planted them yet or even bought any plants for them. But look how these are already growing! I’m wondering if the red ones are strawberry planters, because I know the green ones are tomato planters.

I think a clothesline is a great place to hang these things. I am planning to hang a tomato plant and a strawberry plant from either side of the bottom of the fire escape outside my apartment building. By the looks of this, I should really get going!

I got a kick out of this stair rail. I don’t think the two sides could be much different. I kind of like them both. I like to think of them as his and hers, with hers the slim, pretty-patterned metal railing and his the burly. handsome wooden one. :)

I hope you all have fun plans for the Memorial Day weekend and that the blue skies and comfortable temps continue.

A beautiful day for a walk around Bemidji …

We had a beautiful day for walking today. In fact, we were all over the place. We started out downtown and wandered over to 15th Street and then in the Bemidji State University area, finally coming back around the waterfront.

When we were in the BSU area, we both saw what looked like a cat in the back window of a sealed car, which would have been animal abuse on a warm day like today, but it turned out to be a cat of the fake-fur variety.

The sky was blue, the temperature was wonderful and the view was gorgeous. We saw lots of other people walking around town as well.

Even though some trees are still nearly bar, there’s still lots of green out now, and the spring flowers are coming up beautifully. I wish it was like this all year round.

It was just, overall, a nice spring day for a walk.

What more could we ask for? :)

Oh yeah, maybe … instructions on how to make these cute things:

They look like cement and pretty rocks formed in maybe a meat pie tin?

In any case, they’re very cute and it was fun to run across them!