I tried winter camping on Bear Skin Lake near Grand Marais. It was cold. It was me, my wife Erin and our friend KJ. We had a great time and have some friends who live in Grand Marais that helped us out a lot.
When we left we had big plans for setting up camp Saturday, then going on an excursion and building a quincy on Sunday, staying out a second night and going home on Monday. After we got camp set up and made dinner, we decided we were going to try to survive for one night, try to stay warm enough to get some sleep and then retreat to warmth of civilization on Sunday.
Here is what I learned.
Stay aware of how much you are sweating. If you get really sweaty, which is surprisingly easy when you are pulling a sled across the ice (no matter how cold it is) and then stop, you will get cold very quickly. I can see now how one could spend insane amounts of money on high performance cold weather clothing. I'm going to seriously consider buying some nicer long underwear and a middle layer before I try this again.
Along those same lines, give your self lots of extra time to do thing like "get to the camp site" and "set up camp". If you have a plan, then fall behind schedule, then try to "pick up the pace" to make up for lost time. That's bad news. You're just going to get really sweaty and then really cold and it will be no fun. Make sure any "Type A"s going with you are very aware of this and don't set too fast of a pace (conveniently we didn't have anyone like that on this trip but it's all too easy to imagine).
Bring a canvas wall tent with stove. Borrowing a canvas wall tent (with wood stove) and sleds from our friends worked out great. They also loaned us a cot, extra sleeping bags, down "booties" for our feet (while sleeping). These were all great.
Sleep on a cot. I did not get to sleep on a cot (since we only had one) but if I were to try this again I would bring one. They get you off the ice, which melted enough to make a puddle that covered about a quarter of the tent once we got a fire in the stove. Just having one made a huge difference because we could sit on it and store gear underneath it.
Bring 2 sleeping bags. I had an extra blanket (that my wife insisted I bring) and I'm glad I had it, if I did not have that I doubt I would have been able to stay warm enough to sleep. If I had to do this again I'd put my "warm weather bag" on the outside and my cold weather bag on the inside. I would also like to get a colder, cold weather bag, mine …
Carol made it to 200,000 miles on Sunday night (July 31, 2011) around 10:30pm, around 31801 Palm St. NW, Cambridge MN.
I'm really glad Erin was with me. Aside from her being good company, I was kinda tired from all the fun I had, had over the weekend and I may have just have spaced it out, driving right through the milestone without the recognition it deserved, but she reminded me with a couple of miles to spare (we also used her camera for these pictures).
This was a very fitting trip for Carol to hit 200,000 miles on. I probably wracked up most of the 80,000 or so miles I've rode with Carol over the last 6 years going back and forth between Ely and the Twin Cities (when ever possible detouring through Cambridge to hang out with the Selins).
I got Carol back after almost a month at the shop. She's got a new water pump, timing belt, plus a few other miscellaneous seals.
Just 587 more miles to go. I'll be putting at least another 250+ miles this weekend on account of a trip up to Ely so we should be there pretty soon.
I'm not sure what the best to celebrate will be.
My (mostly) faithful car is close to the big 200,000 miles. That's kinda been my goal for the car for the last few years. I had a little bit of a scare yesterday when I saw the temperature all the way to the up. I drove home... slowly... maybe a mistake. I called my mechanic and he suggested I check the coolant. I should have thought of that. It looked pretty dry. I borrowed some from my roommate. We'll if is stays. Hopefully there's not a big leak.
She's at 199293. That's just 707 miles to go.
I figure a couple of trips to Ely and some regular driving around and we'll be there in about a month (maybe two).
I guess it's time to start saving for a new car.
Speaking of millage, my brother and two of his friends are taking their first (of hopefully many) big sailing trips down the east coast. Here's a video of them leaving New York. Hopefully he will have more videos up soon.
They left on Friday. Here's where they were at a little after 7:00am this morning.
So, while I was on my road trip (almost 6 months ago now) I took some video (mostly while I was driving). Maybe not the safest thing in the world, but I had some time to kill. I figured I would edit it all together when I get home. Put it to the tune of Mr Space Man. The hi-light of course, being the shuttle launch. Alas, no shuttle launch, at least while I was there, so I kinda lost some of my motivation to finish putting the movie together. I finally made my self finish it though. Nothing amazing, but hopefully it will help me remember how much fun I had (making it sure did).
We had to get up early to get our flight home.
I got to see Clair in the morning during breakfast. Eric told her I did not cry this time when I rode the Metro.
Eric gave us a ride to airport. They have a pretty sweet '84 BMW (that's 2 years older then Carol, but in a lot better shape).
The plane ride home turned out to be a lot better then the one to London. We were a little concerned going through the airport because the lines were so long, we made it through with a few minutes to spare though.
I got assigned an exit row seat (it's amazing how much that little bit of extra leg room helps). I even managed to sleep for a hour or two. Heather hit the jackpot and got upgraded to first class.
Heather's parents picked us up from the airport and dropped me off at my "primary residence".
Extra special thanks to Elysia and Heather. I contributed to the planning for the trip but they ended up doing most of the research, putting together of itineraries, reading of guide books and by the time we got to London we had a solid list of things to do and see every day. We got to go to pretty much everything I really wanted to see and they took me to see a whole bunch of stuff I would never have bothered with if I had gone by my self and it all turned out to be great. I can not think of anything we did I would have skipped.
Also, Elysia is a bit more of a season traveler then me or Heather and she had a "getting by" knowledge of both Dutch and French and general traveling savvy that helped grease our traveling wheels quite a bit.
Also if you happened to notice the lack of grammatical errors normally present in my writing in the posts on this trip, it's not because I've become that much better of a writer since my last trip (someday), it's because Heather edited the posts, and they both helped me get my facts straight for each day and remember everything we did.
Also, Heather and Elysia took almost all the pictures on the trip. I do not usually do a good job of taking pictures they stepped it up though and I think they did good job.
Also, thanks to Eliot and Kristine and Eric and Claire for letting us stay at your homes. We are all very grateful for your hospitality.
It was a great trip. I'm glad to be back home but I miss Paris.
I surprised myself, and woke up just enough to mumble "goodbye" to Elysia as she was going out the door (didn't manage to get out of bed right then though). Then me and Heather slept in longer then we wanted to. We were planning to actually go inside the Louvre today, and considering it was Sunday there might be long lines. We did manage to find time to stop for a croissant before we got on the Metro though (always a good decision). Turns out the line wasn't too long and we got in pretty quick.
The inside of the Louvre was maybe the most mind blowing thing I did on this trip. It was amazing. I'm not going to try to describe it here. There were so many amazing things in there, and I only got to really look at a tiny fraction of it. I spent some of my time just walking through trying to just get a taste of some of the rooms and I don't think I even went into half of them. The thing I was most excited about was a statue I had always admired in my art history text book "The Nike of Samothrace". I made sure as soon as we got inside we went there first. It was incredible. I could go on and on about the things I saw there, so I'm just going to leave it at that. If you want to hear more about it you can ask me.
After an all too short few hours in the Louvre, it was back on the Metro to go meet an old family friend of my parents Eric Kvaalen. We were supposed to meet him by the statue of Charlemagne by Notre-Dame. I was sure it was a statue in a park at the back of the church. So me and Heather went there (we were already a little late). We looked for Eric for about 10 minutes. Then Heather asked me "Are you sure this is the right statue". Of course I was sure, but then I actually looked at it, it was a woman holding a child. Whoops, as far as I know Charlemagne has never been depicted as a woman holding a child. Sure enough around the front of Notre-Dame is a big statue of a guy on a horse, and there was Eric, waiting patiently for us.
Eric started taking us up towards the Jardin du Luxembourg. He had a list of sites to see his son had put together and that was the one that sounded best to me. I recently finished reading Les Misérables and that's where Mario first sees Cosette with Jean Valjean.
On our way up there though we stopped by the Pathéon. Where we met Eric’s daughter Elizabeth and her boyfriend Jonathan. The Pantheon had a whole bunch of big murals about this history of France and Paris. They did not know …
We slept a little later than usual (that's usual for this trip, not usual for me), then we headed over to one of Paris's premier art Museum's the Musée d’Orsay. On our walk to the Metro we stopped at a fruit stand and a bakery for breakfast. After that I decided I would try to eat at least one croissant a day.
The Musée d’Orsay was awesome. It's an enormous converted train station with a huge glass roof. I had not heard of it (or if I had, I had forgotten, I'm bad with names, especially those from romantic languages). Elysia thought the art there would be something more manageable in a short time then the Louvre's so we decided to go there before Elysia had to go home.
Everything was in French so we all decided to get audio tours and split up. There was no way we were going to have time too look at everything (and we didn't), and we figured that way we could each see the things we were most interested in. I saw a lot of great stuff I'm not going to try to enumerate it. I left wishing we had more time, but that was true about everywhere we went in Paris.
After Musée d’Orsay we met a family friend of Elysia's, Nathalie. She's lived in Paris for a long time and we had lunch with her at a crêpery that specialized in a style of crepe from a region of France called Brittany. The crêpes were delicious. We all had a savory crepe and we all got dessert crepes which we shared. During the meal we drank a couple different ciders (traditional to drink while eating crepes) from Brittany that were also delicious.
After lunch and a quick stop at our hotel, we got back on the Metro and headed to the the Arc De Triumph. It is a very impressive monument. It was strange to think of the Nazi’s marching through it 70 years ago. While we were there a wedding party in a horse drawn carriage with a whole bunch of cars following it went around the huge roundabout that surrounds the arch. Everyone in cars was hanging out the windows, had music turned up and dancing; it looked like a good time. After that we did a little "promenading" on the Avenue des Campes Elyseés.
Then we took the Metro back towards Seine and walked up to a square that Nathalie had recommended we take a look at in the area. We also tracked down a grocery store and bakery. We bought food for a picnic. During our bike and boat tour we had seen thousands of people sitting by the Seine eating and drinking and we figured that looked like a good time.
Before dinner we stopped for a look inside of Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. It was …
Got up early to catch our train to Paris. One last breakfast at the hotel before checking out. I kinda like Netherland's breakfasts. It's mostly just bread, meat and cheese. At first it did not really feel like breakfast food, but after a few days I started looking forward to it.
We got on the tram and headed to central station (fortunately no strike that day or if they did strike again it was later in the day).
The train ride from Amsterdam to Paris was great. I've decided I like trains better then airplanes, at least for shorter trips. No security, seat belts, you can use your electronic devices whenever you want and you can get up and walk around whenever you want. The only downer is, it costs about the same as taking an airplane. They also offered Internet access, but it was too expensive to justify buying. I've heard parts of Europe have better Internet access then the US, but everywhere we were Internet access was hard to find, expensive and not very fast.
I did not see a whole lot of Belgium when we rode through it. I spent a large part of the trip catching up on sleep. The parts I did see though were very picturesque farmland.
After a very restful train ride we pulled into Paris du Nord. We had checked the weather forecast before we left and we were not disappointed. It was 70 F and sunny. Perfect weather in my opinion, we were especially grateful for it, England and Holland had both been warmer than Minnesota when we left, but 70F felt great.
We did not have enough small change in Euros to buy tickets from the ticket machines so we had to stand in a line for a while to get metro tickets. Eventually we got them though and headed to Ajiel Hotel where we checked in. I really liked our room on the 4th floor overlooking rue de la Convention, and we had a nice view of what turned out to be a fairly typical street in Paris, but a typical street in Paris is about 10 times classier than almost any street in Minneapolis.
After checking in we headed for what we had been told by several different people as the best view of Paris, Sacré-Cœur (Church of the Sacred Heart). So we got back on the metro and headed up there.
On our walk up I was feeling a little peckish, so I bought a sandwich. The sandwich was delicious but it felt like a mistake because it made me a bit of a target for all the various panhandlers and peddlers of trinkets I did not want. I got past the first couple no problem, but I almost got drawn into the "friendship bracelet scam". In fairness I tried to get by him a couple of times. I …