Sunday, August 06, 2006

Relaxation Over

Well, we are back from our voyage into the very heart of Minnesota. Ten glorious days on Big Jessie Lake, which is located about 30 miles northwest of Grand Rapids. Our resort hosts were excellent and my 9 1/2 horsepower Johnson shortshaft outboard motor, a family heirloom, started right off after sitting in the garage for two years.

I wish I could say the fishing was as reliable, but alas, it was not. The dry, hot summer resulted in very high lake temperatures and low water levels. Those factors, combined with an abundance of baitfish conspired to create sluggish, satiated fish. Slim pickings. We did get some excellent crappies and a few Rock bass but all in all, the fishing could have been much better.

For those who might not be aware, Minnesota timber and iron ore were key to the growth of this country. In fact, we knew we had entered logging country when I spied the first of two standout bumper stickers, which read:

Don't like logging? Try using plastic toilet paper.

We visited excellent landmarks of these two trades while we were in the area. The kids and I traveled over 2,300 feet underground at the Soudan Mine to see the interior of one of the finest producing mines around. The iron ore is roughly 68% pure. So pure that, according to our most excellent guide Gary, two rocks could be welded together. My dearly Befuddled did not take the tour and for those that know her that should not come as a surprise.

Soudan is also home to a Department of Energy funded physics lab. It may very well be the source of the Rovian mind melds I have come to depend on and that have driven the conservative blogosphere.

We also discovered a very cool spot hidden within the Chippewa National Forest called "the Lost Forty." The Lost Forty contains acres of "virgin" red and white pine, one of the only places in the state they can still be found. The existence of the forest is due to a platting error in the 1800s, which had the area mistakenly mapped as part of a nearby lake. Walking amidst the monstrous, 350-year-old trees makes it easy to see why they were so coveted for lumber. Massive trunks straight as arrows must have made loggers salivate.

I should have some pictures of both the mine and the forest in the next week or so.

We also visited the International Wolf Center, where I forced a poor intern to change her lecture on wolves and humans. When she began speaking of the possible affects of global warming on wolf populations, I politely noted that global warming may, in fact, not even be happening. To her credit, she readily admitted that the subject was "controversial" and from that moment forward made a point to add the word "if" in regards to the possibility of global warming. Still, daughter #2 was immediately embarrassed when I initially raised my hand, knowing what I was going to say. Daughter #1, always on the look out for reaction, noted that I was the recipient of a very nasty look from a fellow closer to the front when I pointed out the inconvenient truth.

The IWC is very much a ground zero for earth worship and was the site of my other bumper sticker sighting. This one read:

You measure democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists. - Abbie Hoffman

I gave that some thought and couldn't think of a single crackpot that has been silenced by the government. In fact, it looks as though Mother Crackpot is back in Crawford to see the Murderer in Chief. I'm sure the car's owner would be loathe to hear that, based on Hoffman's criteria, we appear to be doing pretty good. I guess the joke is on them.

All in all an excellent vacation. We didn't even think about the world, only fishing. Tomorrow though, brings the cold hard smack of reality as it is time to follow up on this, which was the last thing I covered before we left.

Still, it's good to be home.

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