Monday, July 27, 2015

Duluth: More bang for your time spending buck

Brian Pisani doing his "other" sport

The fact of the matter is that you only get so much time on this earth.  You can wax philosophical on that idea, but the reality is that there is an end date.

So the time you spend is valuable.  Its finite and its precious.  There is a fine balance between time for yourself and time for others.  Both are important.

For a time,  10 years or so ago that I used to think hard about why I lived in this town.  I looked at other things going on in other communities and I thought maybe I was missing out.  However instead of jumping ship I decided to dig down and contribute.  So did many others, not just in Outdoor Rec but also in food, in beer, arts and culture.

It has been a long time coming but it was a weekend like this past one that shows what happens when you have a community of contributors.  Of people who take their time and give it back.

This weekend there were so many damn good choices of what to do with "your"time that it was staggering.

Here is a partial list as I am sure I missed something.

1.) Free Range Film Festival
2.) All Pints North
3.) Paddle Mania
4.) Duluth Climbers Coalition kick off climb and Party
5.) Voyageur 50
6.) Ben Weaver and Charlie Parr

Of course all the standing fun as well.  Spirit Mountain Gravity riding, all the trails in general.  Swimming, fishing..... you name it.

I finally had to make some choices.  I needed to get some family time as I had been on the road most of the week working.  I hit the always killer Free Range Fest on Friday night with Margaret and Tae.  Then on Saturday we painted the sauna and then hit the Duluth Climbers Coalition climb on Ely's Peak.

I was super proud of Tae and he went for it on his first outdoor climb.  Always the camera kid he was there when WDIO was on the scene and they captured the whole gig.

The weekend was extremely hot and we also did a lot of swimming and some fishing.

On Sunday we finished the Sauna and then went for a fun paddle on the Louis and then swam in our favorite swimming hole and had dinner.  While it was 90 degrees I was so cooled off I almost had to put on a sweatshirt.

Mission accomplished.

Life lived and all out my door and with family time intermixed.  Thanks Duluth you are helping me spend my days wisely.

The best film festival you can spend a summer night at 

A younger thinner me as a film maker!  FRF is 12 years old.

DCC throwing down

Tae sending it

Tae and Marg tell it like it is

Lots of space on the West side!

Hot and sweaty belay 

Ely's Peak

Tae doing some rock art

Learning a Bow Rudder 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The goods...delivered! Ripping conditions on Duluth Single Track as we speak!

Cizmas sampling the goods on Loki 

In backcountry skiing and snowboarding its blower pow.

In surfing its the overhead wave, the perfect left and the glassy wave.

For Nordic skiing its perfect cord after a night time grooming session.

For Paddlers its either perfect glass on the lake for flat water or its the big rain and run off for the whitewater paddler.

Regardless of the sport there is a prime time condition.

A condition that the true hard core enthusiast knows is about perfect for what it is they love to do.  Now of course that condition is somewhat subjective and personal.  For example, I had an east coast ski bud who used to LOVE, ice.  He would rip it like it was a fully normal day while the rest of us were cowering in our boots, literally.  That is not normal......

In any case, despite personal deviations there is generally a widely accepted condition that means its time to get out and hit it hard.

That time is right now in Duluth for mountain biking.  The trails have dried out, but not too much.  The sight lines are slightly narrow but not too much.  The speeds are road bike fast, but the control factor is bomber.

Call it what you like.  Hero Dirt, Terra-vana, Fairy Dust, braapalicicious,Velcro whatever you want to call it is out there right now....

Much of Duluth riding is on clay.  Clay can be your worst enemy when its wet no question about it, however when clay is drying out there is a sweet spot where you can push in an edge, yet keep abnormally fast speeds.  I would say its akin to laying over a pair nice carving skis on corn snow.  You can just lay over and let her rip, the tires are going to hold and you are going to accelerate around every turn.

Mission Creek is especially perfect right now, but so is Lester and Brewer and Piedmont and Spirit as well.  Its a no brainer time to ride the Zenith City.  I have been hitting it everyday possible and I am starting to get tired as who knows when the weather will change?

Get it while is hot!

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Marchenpark, Marquartstein Bavaria: A trip to visit the Aigners!

I am slammed with a back log of posts so I am going to keep posting this week to clear it up!

The whole reason we went to Germany was to check out the Marchenpark that Meg Huschle and her husband Peter Aigner run in Marquartstein, Bavaria.

These are some images from the Park.

Its truly an amazing place and I would for sure say that if you are the parents of kids in this age range (2- 13?) and you are looking to go to Europe, this is a must stop spot.  I say that for a few reasons.

First is the idea that this is a mostly, human powered park.

The thought being that the parents power the rides while the kids enjoy them.  So you as the parent are spinning gears, or spinning your kids or pumping the pistons that run the rides.  You are literally getting healthy while also creating the laughter and enjoyment for your kids.  A win, win situation...kind of like watching the Minions movie.

Something for everyone!

Tae doing Pre-flight.  The headphones are a great story in themselves, Margaret and I got them as an Xmas perk at a Duncan Doughnuts in Seoul the week we adopted Tae.
This place is also interesting in the fact that you are in a place that is off the beaten tourism path.  Its actually quite close to some of the bigger German and Austrian Tourism attractions.  Its an hour plus from Munich.  Its just north of Salzburg by an hour and a half and very near Berchtesgaden and the Alps as well.

However its relatively quiet during the summer and as a person who has spent plenty of summers on vacation in that region that is pretty refreshing.  While the stumbling hordes of tourists are hammering every castle and museum in white sneakers and Ex Officio zip off sleeves and pants, you can stay at the Marchenpark and actually sip a beer without waiting in line!

Of course the access to Mountain Bike trails and hiking straight out of the Marchenpark parking lot is key as well.  There are several buildings that have multiple apartments that you can stay at, literally in the Park.  Even better.  Margaret and I were taking turns getting up in the AM and either riding or hiking, and then we would all head to the Marchenpark where Tae and his cousin Lilja played until they could hardly stand up.

Win, win....

Alpine Slide 
Marg getting healthy 
Good times

I think this could have possibly been Tae's favorite activity 

Margaret had perhaps more fun than anybody, even the kids in the park

The always popular sea of balls!
Margs Bday celebration at the Marchenpark Cafe where Curry Wurst and Weiss Beer were always ready to go!

While staying at the Marchenpark it was great to actually just park the car and not worry about driving at all.  We either rode our bikes down to the town center or walked.  The Park has its own Cafe that served lunch and dinner and we often went there for beers or coffee and we even celebrated Margaret's birthday there.  A short walk from the Park is also a modern ski lift that can take you up out of the valley to a really cool full service restaurant and a great kick off spot for hiking as well.  Since there was a kitchen in the apartment where we were staying we could cook most of the time which was fun and economical with so many people in our family staying there.  The way the apartments are set up was cool as well, as you could either hang with the mayhem of kids and people, or you could back off for awhile and read a book on the sweet decks that were there.  I highly recommend staying at this place!

Herr Aigner making sure the spray guns keep working!

Peter himself is a marvel.  He has been a part of this park since he was a kid as his father ran it before him.  His brother runs a similar park in another valley very close to Marquartsein as well.  Peter is one of those guys who can fix anything at any time.  A jack of all trades, his inventiveness and creativity are what make the park special.  All of the rides have in some way come out of Peter brain and they are all really unique.  It was fun to see the life that he, Meg and his kids are living at the Park.

What a wonderful way to grow up!  In a kids Park!  The kids had a trampoline set up (not in the official park) that they were practicing inverted air for skiing next winter.  Within an hour they had Tae doing back flips!  Often times during our visit either Peter, my cousin Meg or the kids were pulling time at the Park and were always doing jobs.

For as busy as they were it was flattering the amount of time they spent with us.  There is no doubt they were in the middle of the busy season.  It was interesting to watch Peter work when a pump went down or a new part needed to be added to a ride.  He always had a solution and he also had staff to help him implement it.

The Marg in her Natural Habitat 

The scenery surrounding the Park is stunning in its own right.  However as I mentioned its minutes to all sort of other interesting sights from Marquartstein as well.  One day it was brutally hot so we piled in the cars to go to Chiemsee.

Its a large lake just North of the Marchenark.  Interestingly enough only electric boats or sailboats are allowed on the Lake.  This is a good thing as the lake is seemingly quiet even though its extremely busy.  We rented an electric boat for several hours and went touring around and then anchored up and went swimming in the clear mountain waters.  It was a great day for it and Margaret was right in her was like Gull Lake, only with mountains, Castles and Weiss Beer!

Tae, the night before we headed home.  By the looks of him it was a successful adventure!

We loved our stay with my family at the Marchenpark.  It was perhaps the most fun I have had in a very long time and the fact that my family was there made it even more fun.  We are already planning our return and are thinking Winter might be the next season to experience there!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A soggy, foggy, night ripping with the local yokels at Spirit Mountain Bike Park

Random Image Dump: July 2015 a fishing visual feast

Food for thought 

When the flies fail, go with the Powerbait 
Trout Appy Tweaker 
The following images are from some fishing trips this past couple of weeks.  All of these shots are within two hours of our house and most within 15 minutes.


The first set of images is from Cuyuna Lakes with my brother in law Elmo.  Cuyuna Lakes stocks Rainbow Trout.  They get big, are fun to catch are non native so they are tasty too....

Andy K can throw more than Whips 

Grandads tackle box, exactly after he left it
Mirror smooth 
Contemplating the whereabouts of the fish 
Best friends 
The bluffs of the St. Louis River 
Forest fire sunset 
Up and down 
The Boy Scout Landing is exactly 15 minutes from my barn to put in.  Many nights after work I have been charging down with my boat to throw flies for Smallmouth Bass, Pike and Musky.  So far this season the fishing has been slow.  Regardless the visuals on the river are stunning and most people would never believe that this is in the Duluth city limits.  It was Andy K's first visit on the estuary and he was a believer by the time we pulled in for the night.

Rolling for roll casts 
I tied this fly in the 8th grade.  I found an old fly box from that era when my parents cleaned out my old room.  It was nearly impossible to tie on.  It was so brittle the deer hair was snapping off and it floated for exactly two casts...yet I caught this trout below on it...
The "sucker" caught on my 30 year old, skanky fly 
Bloody and Chaser at the Streetcar after a morning of dabbling 
I love hitting the bigger water with my canoe or my boat and there is plenty of it.  However I also have a lot of great stream fishing by the house.  I can access most of it by bike.  My fave morning is to get up early, roll to several spots and catch Brookies.  They are a most accommodating fish, aggressive and always happy to take my sloppy presentations.  Once done I roll by the Streetcar to get a bloody, a beer and a breakfast burrito all while reading the paper.

Walleye on the fly a rare treat 

Best food on the planet

I am not generally a Walleye fisherman but while fishing another local Carlton County Lake I happened to hook into a school while throwing Woolly Buggers.  I am all about catch and release but if there is a walleye on the hook its a for gone conclusion that poor bastard is going in the pot....