Our Yurt to Yurt Skiing Adventure

‘Cause there’s still plenty of snow during Spring Break in MN!

After several years of talking about heading ‘Up North’ to the Boundary Waters to go Cross Country Skiing Yurt to Yurt, Fatima, Maud & I packed up our gear, hopped in the car and began an epic three night adventure!

We hadn’t had much snow in the Twin Cities area, so all three of us were just itching to get our skis on and enjoy a bit of the great outdoors!

The drive is about 6.5 hours total, so halfway there we stopped for a quick three mile hike to stretch our legs and get some fresh air in our lungs. It was pretty icy that day so we did plenty of bum -sliding down the hill for safety’s sake.

We arrived at the darling Poplar Creek Bed & Breakfast just before dusk and were heartily greeted by owners, Barbara and Ted. After getting settled into our spacious and super comfy rooms, they sent us on our way for a yummy ‘last supper’ at the Trail Center – didn’t look like much from the outside, but it was just delightful & delicious from the inside.

After a great night’s sleep and hand-brewed coffee, ‘Chef’ Barbara prepared a traditional Norwegian breakfast and Ted mapped out the next 21 miles of ‘fun’ for us.

Off we go for our first day of fun! Nine miles didn’t seem too daunting, even with 20 mph winds greeting every stride.  We were thrilled with the sounds of nothing but the swoosh of our skis amidst the beauty of the great northern Minnesota woods.

We made it to our ‘home’ for the night in just under 3 hours and after warming up our feet/hands we began to learn the intricacies of the wood stove and gas lighting from our camp guide, Jim.  After he snowmobiled away with a ‘be on the look out for moose’ last call, we settled in to a night of laughter, popping blisters, card playing  & a delicious spread of our favorite things.

And don’t forget, being out in the woods means the outhouse is your friend. At 3am in the morning, who cares about fashion: just give me a headlamp, some TP and off you go into the great unknown! Hahaha

While none of us got much sleep that night, the early morning brought about warmer temps and the desire to ‘get up and go’ as we had 12 miles to ski to the next Yurt and get back a little closer to civilization.

Day 2 proved to be quite the challenging one. We started off strong then faced a massive down hill slope that I chose to walk down vs. potentially crash. Fatima ever-so-gracefully came flying around the bend and landed at the base…just shy of the freezing cold water! As the day progressed, westarted to notice that our skis were all becoming sluggish and accumulating ice on them with every stride.  We were having to stop every 10 min or so and in essence ‘de-ice’ our skis with the pole tips or a knife. It was very frustrating to say the least and we were getting more tired and a bit nervous with every minute that passed us by. Did we have enough food if it got late, did we have matches to build a fire and stay warm, did we have headlamps to guide us through the dark, how could we call for help if needed?  And sure enough, an hour later, 2 ski poles were now broken from the constant banging of the ice and Maud was down with a sprained ankle. What should have have taken us four hours to complete ended up taking over seven. Thank goodness, Ted came looking for us as he knew something was wrong when we hadn’t arrived hours after our estimated time.  With Maud loaded up on the snowmobile, Fatima & I skied the rest of the way, she with only one pole and both collapsing with exhaustion when we finally made it ‘home.’

Warming up our homemade soup brought us great relief and I enjoyed a nice hot toddy to finish off the night…shut eye was 7:50pm!

The next morning we were up and at ’em, heading for the last ski of the day all the way back to our cars. We made it and were grateful to be back connected with the world and a hot cup of coffee for the long drive home.

Moral of the story: Be a bit more prepared when you are three gals alone in the great wilderness up north.

But would we do it again? Yeah, you ‘betcha!

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Cabin Fever Fades in the Northwoods

Kendy blog 3 1 paddleboard

We recently had our final trip of the summer to the ‘cabin up north’.  When I got ready to sit down to write this blog while I was there, I looked outside and the sun was already setting by 8pm . . . UGH!  And now it’s even earlier . . . Typically, we don’t see the sun go down up north until nearly 9:30pm in early summer.

I hope you enjoy some of my memories from our time there:

As I write this It’s an absolutely beautiful evening so I’m taking advantage of the screened in back porch to avoid the mosquitos.  I love the sounds of the crickets and frogs chirping, kids splashing down at the lake, and final fishing boats pulling in for the night.  Admittedly, I don’t take advantage of the porch as often as I should!!!  It’s a melancholy time for most Minnesotans as we know summer is swiftly coming to an end.  A big part of Minnesota Culture is Cabin Culture.  We live for our 3 months of summer and trips to the cabin . . . and as the end of August nears, you can feel the Cabin Fever Fading.

It’s easy to understand how Cabin Culture began in Minnesota as there are so many Scandinavians that live here.  My Mother’s family is from Sweden, and on our trips to Sweden and Finland we often traveled to our family’s cottages in the woods to pick berries, hike, sauna, and jump in the freezing cold lake . . . we’ve carried those traditions on at my folks’ cabin as the summer lake jump or snow roll in the winter after a sauna has become the favorite thing to do!

Kendy blog 3 2 dockKendy blog 3 snowAlthough most Minnesotans close up their cabins in the fall, my parents, like true Scandinavians, keep theirs open year round in order to enjoy the Norwegian Kick Sledding, Cross Country Skiing, and Snow Shoeing.

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Minnesotans enjoy their cabin lives for many reasons: solitude, nature, sport, etc. . . .  The main theme is family reunions where family members from across the country gather to partake in the great outdoors, celebrate holidays like the 4th of July, and enjoy Mom’s Home Cookin’!  It’s an awesome time for the different generations to go offline and really connect face to face!

Kendy blog 3 8Kendy blog 3 10Fishing and Food are first priority at our cabin!  The kids love to fish with Papa to get ready for the big Fish Fry with Papa’s Homemade German Potato Pancakes!

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Our puppies love the cabin visit as much as we do . . . they love fishing, chasing the loons, staring at the hummingbirds, and jumping off the dock. Kendy blog 3 15DSC_0156.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

We have to do our best to keep them away from the eagles overhead and the bear on the path!

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The big draw to the cabin is of course the lake . . . after all, we have over 10,000 of them!  Whether it’s diving off the dock, learning how to ski from your expert 75 year-old Grandpa, kayaking, paddle boarding, tubing, or fishing, the day revolves around the lake.Kendy blog 3 25Kendy blog 3 27

Walor Family vacation to Grandparent Kloepfer's cabin in upper Wisconsin. Other relatives that came were Rick & new wife Melody Kloepfer, Brett Kloepfer and Cousin Hillary Kloepfer and son Everest.

I know every state has its vacation spots: ‘down the shore’, ‘in the mountains’, ‘on the beach’, etc. . .  Hopefully one day you’ll have a chance to experience Minnesota’s Cabin Culture some day!  If you’re a Minnesotan, I’d love to hear what your favorite lakes and cabin traditions are!  If you are not a Minnesotan, let me know what your state’s favorite vacation spot is so that I can check it out someday.  Hope you’re all able to enjoy the remainder of summer at your favorite spot!Kendy blog 3 31

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Traditions

kathy blog 2 homeThere is something so nostalgic and a bit romantic about creating great traditions with family and friends. We started going ‘up North to the cabin’ every July with our college friends about 30 years ago.  Back then we were just a group of crazy couples (with even some of our parents), then babies came and weddings and funerals  . . . but we never missed this time together.  Fast-forward to more recent years and it’s back to just us crazy couples – now all empty nesters!  The events of the week have started to revolve around food, what could be better?!

kathy blog 2 beach fireSo picture this . . . lakeside cabin with a great beach, bonfire, loons (the bird not the people) and some great classic rock music . . . and now add in a traditional CLAMBAKE!

Here’s how we did it, and now it’s part of the tradition and everyone can participate.

Start with a visit to your local fish market to get the clams, shrimp, mussels and lobsters!  And the rest is kathy blog 2 lobstereasy.  We wanted to do this on the beach over an open fire, so we started with a huge galvanized tub and started picking rocks out of the lake to use at the bottom of the tub. Filled it with lake water – yep, lake water (a really clean lake) – and then started layering in all the goodies.

Here’s the recipe I use (not created but use, and it’s perfect every time):

Beach Clambake

1-½ lbs of baby red potatoes                                                                        1 lb little neck clams                                                                                         2 cups water                                                                                                      4 tablespoons salted butter                                                                              2 large yellow onions, cut into eighths                                                           8 garlic cloves                                                                                                   ½ bottle of dry white wine                                                                               1 ¼ lb of kielbasa sausage, cut into bit size                                                    3 lobsters, each 1 1/2 lbs or larger                                                                      5 medium ears of corn, husked and broken in half                                         1 lb of deveined shrimp                                                                                    8 lemons, quartered for serving                                                                 Tons of melted butter for serving                                                     Sourdough bread for serving

  1. kathy blog 2 guysPre boil the potatoes until tender
  2. Fill large bowl with cool, slated tap water and submerge clams for 30-45 min. This way they purge the sand.  Scrub.
  3. Start adding ingredients to the tub in this order (with enough water in the tub to cover the rocks) and steam the ingredients: onion, garlic, wine, cooked potatoes, sausage. Steam for 5 minutes by covering with wet beach towel. Add the lobsters and cook for 6 minutes. Add the corn and clams and cook another 6 minutes. Add shrimp, cover and cook another 6 minutes.
  4. Pour onto a newspaper-covered table and serve with lemons and melted butter and some fresh warm sourdough bread.

The bar is easy, we usually have cold beer in a tub and some crisp, cold, white wine.

We spread newspaper over a picnic table down at the waters edge, throw out a few plates and lobster crackers, and go to town!

Dessert?  That’s easy….s’mores of course!  Enjoy!

kathy blog 2 filled tubs

 

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The Great Outdoors

I’ve never been one with nature.  In fact, the whole idea of interacting with nature has often scared me to into a wild fit of screaming and dancing about like a crazy lady (it all started in third grade with an unexpected visit from a snake . . . eww.  And remind me to tell you about the gecko in Petite St Vincent. I still get shivers up my spine!).  Don’t get me wrong, I love and honor this great planet and respect all living creatures.  They each make this world beautiful and I love observing it . . . from a comfortable distance.

Erin blog 2 swimmingBut every year, my parents, my brother’s family and my family (#TeamNewburg) road trip to northern Minnesota for a week of family time and inevitably becoming one with nature.  This week I’m ‘up north’ with my family and we’re having a blast playing card games, swimming (in the chlorinated pool), taking long walks, snuggling up for movies and ‘unplugging’, as they say.  It’s been an annual trip we’ve taken for the past 8 years.  My boys just love spending time with their grandparents and cousins.  My husband gets more golf in this week than he does all year. My sister-in-law and I eat all Erin blog 2 fishingthe carbs we want.  My dad gets up extra early to take his grandsons fishing and teaches them how to cast and reel.  It really is a special week of family time that I treasure.

It is also a time that brings me insanely and uncomfortably close with the beauty of our great state.  In just a few short days, we’ve seen the following:

  1. Erin blog 2 turtleSnakes basking in the sun on the walking bridge
  2. Turtles taking a break on lily pads
  3. A frog on our grill, just in time for happy hour
  4. A wolf quietly observing from hole #5
  5. A bear, in the ditch watching the cars go by
  6. Eagles circling the pine trees, looking for lunch
  7. A deer surprising us in the gravel parking lot
  8. And more bees, mosquitos, birds, squirrels and chipmunks than we can count!!

Erin blog 2 hand in handIt’s incredible how beautiful a family vacation can be.  Not only for the uninterrupted time together, but also the reminder that even our greatest fears (whether reasonable or not!) can still provide the most amazing beauty.  I sit here in awe of what our great state of Minnesota has to offer and am thankful it provides a place for my family and I to enjoy the simplicity of life.  Lets be clear, I’ll still keep a healthy distance and there will definitely be many more unreasonable episodes of terror.  But, for this one week, I will become one with nature and simply enjoy the great outdoors.

Erin blog 2 fish cleaningI’d love to know how you and your family get away. We’re always looking for ideas for our family.

What do you love most about your state?

What’s your take on the great outdoors? Observe from a distance or become one with it?!?

 

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