Monday, November 23, 2015

A winter night in a summer cabin

The reading room 

I had the occasion to head north last weekend.  I needed a place to crash so I headed to the family cabin in Bigfork, MN.  Its a simple place and made for summer.  I had put it to bed earlier this fall by turning off the power, draining the pipes and otherwise shutting it down.  That said, there I was no water, no bathroom etc.

That means a trip to the infamous Outhouse!  A visit that in a nice brisk winter morning is sure to "wake you up". However sitting there, coffee in hand, listening to the wind in the trees, I have to admit it waxed nostalgic.  It made me think of the times early in my childhood when we would go to this cabin over holidays.  There would be tons of us.  How we all fit in there I have no idea. It was total chaos, the Outhouse was always the bathroom that you were most likely going to end up at because somebody else would be using the "real" bathroom.

Those times have changed.  People have died, people have moved and yet there I was in the Outhouse, thinking of them all while I unburdened myself of other things............

Monday, November 16, 2015

Wherever you are, thats where you will be

It was an interesting weekend.  Margaret was enrolled in a class most of the weekend so I was in Dad mode.

We are guilty of literally running all over the place.  Often times when I describe my schedule to a family member or friend, I get this sort of shocked look.  Truthfully our month is a lot of people year. That is not a bragging thing, that is reality and I tell you this because when I get a chance to stay home and lounge, its a grand thing.

So while I wish I could list off all the insane, amazing things Tae and I did over the weekend, the reality is that we really just stayed home!  We did boy things.  We boiled my deer antlers and cleaned them off so we can hang them on the Sauna wall.  We fired up a Rock Tumbler my uncle Bob gave us, we went to the Peanuts Movie in 3D, as well as hooking up with Margaret after he class to see the 10 November play about the Edmund Fitzgerald.

That however is not the gist of this post.  The last couple of weeks have been weeks of general retrospective.  Syd the cat passed on so there was that.  Also I had to do some deep cleaning in the barn and old memories were dug up in that mess.  One aspect of that was a giant box of old Mini DV tapes.  I managed to find my old Mini DV camera as well and because of that I have started to go through them to see what is what.

One of those tapes held our trip to Korea to adopt Tae.  We watched it with him and man it was like a time warp.  On the screen a pudgy little Korean dumpling, sitting next to me an energetic, raw boned boy...........Add to that experience the tragedy of Paris, of all of the wars in the world, the pain the suffering the refugees fleeing the Middle East.  Also add to that the fact that I am reading a really interesting book about Thomas Cromwell called Wolf Hall.  In that book Cromwell loses his wife and two daughters to the plague in the span of six months.

Needless to say I found myself picking Tae up a lot this weekend.  Picking him up, hugging him and ruffling his hair.  Listening to him, giving him time and just plain giving him my attention.  Perhaps I am too dramatic, but I am starting to feel like this time is the best time I may have in my life and I intend to make sure my son and my wife are not taken for granted.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

My life as a low level bone collector: Homer Deer Hunt 2015

Little Bro rocking the Cogburn CB4 to his stand

So I have been deer hunting pretty much my whole adult life.  It was a gift given to me by my grandfather and by my father.

To me not only is deer hunting about the hunt, its also about family and friends, if not more so for me personally.  Yeah sure its great to talk big bucks and huge horns but when the numbers get too technical and the B&C stats to boring, its backslaps and bear hugs that win the day.

I have had the fun of hunting in a lot of cool places but by far my most beloved is where I grew up in Southern, Minnesota. Land of the "Cow Deer".  Corn fed, unhampered by major predators, there are a ton of them and they tend to have big racks.  As a kid I would jump out the back door, hop two or three fences and hit my stand.  The farmers around my family home would welcome us to hunt there.  We had hundreds of acres of prime SouthE hunting land to hunt.  Streams, ponds, thick brush cornfields, you name it.  We had the food source, the water source and the cover as well as the stands.  My grandfather and my uncle would come south every season and we would have a really fun and classic SE MN deer hunt.  Most folks shot deer, mainly bucks and if they did not they at least saw deer.

That all changed when I was in College.  Our friendly farmers died and passed on the farms or sold them, then the folks who bought into them got into deer management.  No Trespassing signs went up over night and certainly our past hunting heritage had no value in the new world of whitetail hunting.

Look close, what do you see??

I turned to hunting in the North with my uncle.  We had some great hunts, but man was it hard.  Pushed onto public land I quickly realized that work was the best way to distance myself from the other hunters.  Typically I would paddle up to an hour on small rivers to gain distance into the forest. Many seasons I went without actually seeing a deer, let alone shooting one and especially a buck.

Nearly a decade later my father happened to be invited by a family friend on their family deer hunt in the Winona area.  He called me the year after and told me how amazing it was, just like old times, only way better.  Better land, more cool folks and for sure a lot more deer.  Eventually my brother and I were invited to hunt as well and the rest is history.

This is the third year I have the extreme pleasure of hunting this particular place.  Finally this fall I was able to breakaway from both family and work to get down to Homer to place my own stand and find my own area to hunt.  It was not a huge scout but it was enough to find a great place for a ladder stand.  My father and I also placed stands for him and for my brother who flies in from Durango, CO every season for this experience.

A deer hunter and photographers dream spot

As you can tell I was pretty damn excited when we loaded up our hunting bikes, early on Saturday morning.  Stoke was high to say the least.  My bro and I rode in at a quick clip.  I had to ride him down to his stand to make sure he found it, then head back a half mile or so to mine.  It went quick and easy but I had not actually had to find my stand in the dark, so I bumbled a bit in getting up in my tree.  By then it was nearly shooting time and I was a bit frustrated.

The "Devil" Tree has become our favorite photo spot 

Back at home as I was reeling out the door I happened to spot a pair of Rattling Horns in a box of antlers my dad had.  What the hell I thought, might work and I had never given that aspect of deer hunting a go.  By all accounts, the rut was happening and I could use anything to my advantage.

About 10 minutes or so after setting down, I had deer under my stand.  First a doe, then of course a small buck.  Both were downwind and catching my scent, but were still reluctant to move out of the bowl I was in.  Finally they did, but as the small buck left I chanced a rattle of the horns.  Sure enough, he stopped dead in his tracks and came trotting back.  Hmm, I thought that does work!

Soon after the two of them left I caught site of more deer.  Only about a 1/4 mile away in an open field.  Not in my range but certainly in the realm of possibility if they were to walk my way.  I watched and waited.  Eventually a really nice 9 point walked in to chase the doe feeding in the field.  Way to far away to shoot but certainly in ear shot of the rattling horns I decided to try em again.  I bashed and rattled those horns as loud as I could, really making up in my head what I thought two giant deer would should like kicking each other butts!

Amazingly, this beautiful deer turned and started running straight toward the noise.  It was so sudden and abrupt I could not believe it was happening.  Indeed I had to remind myself to set the horns down and grab my gun.  Eventually the deer came within 50 yards of me and I was able to shoot it.  Stunning.

As I found him

To say I was shocked is an understatement.  Like I have said, I have hunted my whole life but have not had that experience, but man I will take it!

Rolling home for some good eats!
Our party is about 10 folks.  So later that evening when everybody went back out I was still able to get on a stand.  I was not expecting much as my site was compromised and that was what happened.  Things were super exciting back out our staging spot though.  Matt G had shot what he thought was one of his biggest deer ever.  An amazing 12 pointer, thick in the rack and really an amazing old deer.  It was a super cool moment and Matt was really happy as he should be.  I had a hard time imagining that there could be a bigger deer in the area.

Matt G earning his spot at the Devil Tree 

Ross, though had already done something to help me visualize it.  Almost as soon as Matt had shown us his great big deer, Ross came stumbling up sweating and excited.  He exclaimed he had shot a monster as well, but it was way down in a ravine and he needed help pulling it out.  A posse was pulled together and with beers in hand we loaded a truck and started off into the dark.


Deep down in the darkest of ravines 

Ross and his big buck 

After a long bouncy drive in the back of the pick up and a steep hike into a ravine we indeed saw Ross's monster and a monster it was.  This deer is by far the biggest deer shot in recent memory if ever on the property, however it was becoming obvious that most likely there were more deer of this size to be found in the future.

Another hunter, Chad had also shot a really nice 8 point that morning.  So now seeing Ross and his true "Monster" my nice deer had amazingly become the smallest of four.

Sunday was a really windy and tough day to stand hunt.  There was very little activity and not one nice buck was spotted.  A bunch of folks in our party, were more concerned with filing the freezer than trophies (my usual story as well) and so we decided to do a small drive to those folks.  Feeling already successful I took what I thought was a general blocking spot. More about funneling deer towards the others than shooting.  On the way to my spot I stopped and spoke with my buddy Dusty on strategy.  We spoke loudly and without worry about spooking deer.  I mean we were the end of the drive.  Finally Dusty told me about where to stand and I shoved off.  Nonchalantly I left the field we were in and entered the woods.  Two steps in I looked to my right and saw three doe.  A fourth was also there, only it was having a conjugal visit with a very large buck.  My jaw dropped.  All four doe, ran for the hills.  The buck obviously savoring the moment did not run.  In fact he just sat there looking at me.  It was long enough where it was sort of that feeling of the grouse that won't fly or the duck that lands in your decoys but just swims around.  Eventually however both the deer and my reaction time came to a point and I shot him.  Not the biggest deer I have shot, but certainly an amazing animal.

So boom.  Two days, two shots, two big bucks.  Suffice to say, that may never happen in my lifetime again.....

A- Rod, rattling horns and all 

Pile O' Bones 

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Syd The Cat is sailing a flaming ship to the gates of Asgard.....

Syd Vicious "Salad" days

Syd Vicious is sailing a flaming ship to Asgard.

Along with him on his voyage are echoing laughs and cries, and the victories and defeats of my youth.

16 years with this guy.  My professional life all wrapped up in white and orange fur, purring every night I walked in the door.

I did not start out as a cat guy.  It was forced upon me by my ex-girlfriend Tensy.  One day I was single, the next I had a girl with two cats in my apartment.

Syd came about as a third after a long night clubbing in Burlington, VT.  We had just seen Phish at Nectar's and were stumbling home to our North Burlington dive.

There he was, a tiny kitten, the size of a Tea Cup, his eyes crusted over by disease.  Grubby, wet, pissed off and lost, wandering an alley obviously abandoned, obviously on his own.  I have to admit it was Tensy that made the call.  I saw nothing but trouble (which he was) but Tensy saw a chance to save a life.

The next day at the Vet, she was told not to bother getting immunizations for Syd as he was most likely going to die.  The tough little bastard stuck it out though.  Not only did he live, he remained a super solid fighter to the end, indeed I have never seen an animal with such tenacity.

Feline Bohemian 

Syd lived with me through the end of that relationship and into the new life I built with Margaret and Tae.  He lived in Burlington (Three different Houses).  He lived in Stowe (thanks to Roly who I still owe a leg and maybe an arm), he lived in Madison, WI, he lived in Minneapolis, in Duluth (and Thomson) and for short stint in CT as well.

Syd rode cross country through Canada multiple times, generally sleeping on the dash board of my VW Camper Van.

Syd gained his "Vicious" reputation because of his love of living the party life.  There was a point there, where we used to toss some pretty heroic parties, both in Duluth and in Burlington, the stuff of legend really, and Syd would be right there in the thick of it.  Truly the life of the party.  On several occasions, Syd found and devoured en masse visitors dime bags, seemingly to no effect........

I try not to be to sentimental about things, about cats or about pets, there are some real big problems out there, people enduring real tragedy, but I have to admit Syd's passing has left a hole in my soul.

I think it is for a bunch of reasons.  One because he was truly a unique individual.  I like to call my best friends "pirates."  Mainly because they are swashbucklers, they are untamed, they are creative and they are independent and of course they live life to fullest and maybe, sometimes, not quite up to the norms mainstream society places on them.

Syd was all that in cat form.

He did not play by the standard cat rules, sometimes to his detriment, however always to my amusement and certainly sometimes to my scorn.  There have been times in my life during the span of Syd's life where I was way down.  Down as far as I have been and he was always there, ready to play, ready to hang out, ready to please.  Syd took me from a dog guy to a cat guy without a doubt.

Plus, while was living the rock and roll lifestyle of a Sales Rep, whether it was in the ski industry in VT, or as the Patagonia rep here in the Upper Midwest, I could leave on a moments notice, leave the toilet seat up and pound of cat food in the dish and he was good to go.  Indeed sometimes I think he was stoked to see my back going through the door.

Of course the other reason I did a great big old man cry when Syd died is because I watched a whole era of my life finally pass.  Syd was a direct link to some of the best moments in my life.  A living souvenir, snuggling with me at night, playing with Tae, watching the birds at the feeder.

The last months of Syd's life were not easy.  I have to say Margaret was the shining light here, she made sure that Syd was well taken care of and that we did everything we could for him.  He fought like the lion he was, but eventually it was obvious that his Cancer was making him hurt all the time and it was time to play god and end his suffering.

I was instrumental in giving Syd life all those years ago in that dark alley in Burlington and damn if I was not also the one to take his life today.........

Post Punk Intellectual 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Universal Klister hits 1,001 Posts!

Some Lake in Canada 

Well as life has been screaming by I looked at my Blogger Stats and realized that somewhere a few posts ago I hit 1,000 posts on this blog.

I guess that gives me some right to reflect.  Maybe not?  Who knows, regardless I am going to reflect.
The first post on this blog was on 10/18/06  So nearly to the day I started this gig, I am hitting 1,000 posts.

At its best this blog has been a muse for me.  It started out as a rant, or a voice as many of these things do, then as my passion for photography and advocacy progressed it became my showcase for those things.  It has been a see saw adventure.  Some times I am posting like crazy and other times it has dwindled and nearly died.  I have always said however that this blog is for me first and everybody else second and because of that I have been able to weather the famine times and come back to this as a way to center myself, tell some stories and of course talk volumes about the place I live and work.

That all said, certainly a note of thanks to the folks that have bothered following this blog.  There is not a lot of you, but certainly those of you that do are encouraging and I enjoy your comments and advice.  Some more stats, the blog in 1,000 posts has had approximately 500,000 views and the most viewed post is 11,000 views.  Not huge by any stretch, but certainly it has had more folks than my parents look at it.

There have been some real high points in the life of Universal Klister.  Perhaps the highest though was when Outside Magazine called it one of the Top 10 Winter Sports Blogs in 2012.  However perhaps the biggest honor is the fact that this blog has influenced many people in leadership here in the City of Duluth and has helped move the community in a direction that promotes its Outdoor Recreation opportunities and that will always be what makes me the most proud of this thingy...

I am re-posting some pictures of the First Post ever on Universal Klister.  It was a post about a late Fall Canoe Trip that Margaret and I took to the Woodland Caribou Wilderness in 2006.  It was an amazing paddle.  We were catching Lake Trout from shore, seeing amazing wildlife and camping in stunning locations.  We also had the storm from hell to finish it all off.  Awesome stuff Margaret!  It is a fitting start to this blog as Margaret has always been super supportive of the trips and the pics I take to make this thing interesting.

Mighty Mouse

All of these shots were taken with the most horrible of point and shoots.  Yet I can honestly say this trip was one of those trips that inspired me to start thinking more seriously about still photography.  Most folks don't know but at this stage in my life I had just come from several years at a Film School in Vermont and had been focusing on the moving image as my creative outlet.  Indeed, in 2007 Cross Country with the Snakes would be in the Banff Film Tour and I would be done with several films including my Switch to Receive effort about an Avalanche my friends and I survived in British Columbia.  However life had different plans for us and my time for long edits and film production was no longer.  Photography however fit the time bill and it has become my creative outlet ever since and Universal Klister a great way to display that passion.

Just some random billion year old vandalism in the woods

Gotta love the fashion here.  Guy Evans boots and IR fleece shorts!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Vote Emily Larson for Duluth Mayor!

So we are one week out on the Duluth City Elections and its time to talk!

I thought that I would toss out my endorsement for the person that is most certainly supportive of the efforts we are pushing in the realm of Outdoor Recreation in the City of Duluth.

These thoughts are most certainly my opinions and they have nothing to do with any official capacity people may or may not think I have in this realm! 

In any case I really wanted to point out that Emily Larson is the best choice for Duluth and its current investments in outdoor infrastructure and the idea that it impacts our community in a broad and positive way.

Over the past year I have been lucky to have a few brief conversations with Emily on the work being done in this regard.  Her responses and her questions made it clear that she is paying attention to both the work being put in, but also the results because of it.  

That said I am entirely confident that Emily is the right choice, on this issue but also overall for the City of Duluth.  Not only is she talking the right language as to many of the social and economic issues we are facing in the City, I would also add that Emily will actually be able to run the government of the City.  This is no small thing.  If I have learned anything in the past year its learning a small bit of how City government actually functions.  It is a complicated mechanism and while I listen to the comments from the two Mayoral candidates it strikes me that Horton would have zero idea of how to flip the switch and manage the gears and wheels of government while its chugging along.  Emily however has had to work within that structure both as a Councilor but also as Council President.  That in itself is a reason to vote for Emily Larson.

A few other bullet points.

  • Emily and her family are solid and serious cyclists. Perhaps my favorite Emily story is the day I ran into her, her family and her friends riding Candyland at Spirit Mountain.  It was one of their first attempts at the sport and the bikes they were riding were reflecting that.  That said, despite the crashes and the bruises they all had huge smiles on their faces.  Even more importantly, the whole family stuck with the sport and also invested in bikes as well.  Often they can be seen riding on the COGGS trails.
  • Emily's main questions on the work involved in the Outdoor Rec investments had to do with sustainability and in getting kids and non-traditional users outdoors.  In my mind it seems she is thinking about how to make sure things last and that we open doors to ALL of the community.  If that is the case, this is exactly where we need to be pushing forward with the work we are doing and I would welcome that leadership.
  • Emily's votes on the council reflect very publicly that she supports outdoor recreation.  If you were to go back over the record you would see that she has always been in favor of the investments we have made in the Duluth Traverse, the 1/2 and 1/2 Tax itself or a multitude of other recreation related projects.  Also Emily voted in favor of putting Cycling infrastructure on Superior Street.  She was the minority on this vote, but there is no doubt in my mind that she will fall on the right side of history on this issue.
I have lived in the City of Duluth on and off since 1989.  I have seen a whole slate of leaders and leadership styles in that period of time.  Don Ness was a shining bridge of change from the old school Duluth leadership style to what I hope will be the new school of leadership.  Emily has the potential to truly be that new school Duluth leader that the City will need to carry forward from the Ness administration.  Its a political hand off of the baton in a relay that will reinvigorate our community.

Clearly, in the past year the split between old and new in the city has been glaringly exposed.  The support for the 1/2 and 1/2 Tax from the public was overwhelming.  However many of the more mainstream interests in the City are just finally taking note of its potential, its been that off their radar even though the success of the SHT and the DT and the city as an outdoor recreational mecca have been heralded for years. 

The amount of success that Homegrown has been showing has also been telling.  The fight over the Superior Street re-design blatantly showed that the old school businesses in town are not looking at the overall good of the city but only at their own businesses, while the newer, younger, hungry folks have gathered and are promoting Duluth as a whole.  It is not lost on me that these newer businesses are not members of the Downtown Business Council, why not?  The fact that the Downstream Coalition has taken it upon themselves to raise a voice against Polymet is another great example of younger, newer, passionate citizens of Duluth, stepping up to make change as well.

We continually talk and promote the fact that there is a new energy in Duluth.  Well that new energy is from younger, newer folks who truly want the chance to make a difference in this community. They are new business owners, they are club members, they are lovers of the outdoors, they are beer drinkers, music and arts lovers and they are home owners and they are hard workers.  Those in politics or business who choose to ignore them are doing so at their peril as this wave is big and its gathering and its obvious........

Emily Larson is the best choice to take this energy, to harness these peoples dreams and efforts and to take Duluth forward past its stagnation and down a new trail to what Duluth truly can be.


Monday, October 19, 2015

I Remember! Dad, I remember........

I remember Dad!

I remember being a little kid and seeing you pack up your hunting clothes to go on a trip and so wanting to be a part of be a big kid.

The feel of the wool, the sound of the new leather boots as you packed them.  The clean new shotgun shells gleaming in their orderly box.  The car loaded with food, beer and candy, the fact that you were hanging out with Grandpa.

The spent shell you always gave me with the gun powder smell...

I remember the first time you took me in the woods with my pretend gun.  When I got to walk with you on the trail.  The leaves crunching under foot, the sticks grabbing at my legs.  I jumped at every snap and wondered at every animal.  I was so loud!!

I remember the first time I got to shoot the gun.  A big scary thing.  Full of danger and responsibility. So important, so grown up, so final.

I remember my mom bundling me up for the cold October air and then walking with you and being too warm.  The sharp fall sun on my face, the big orange hat cooking my brains.  It felt so refreshing to pull it off and feel the cool autumn breeze stealing the sweat away.

I remember the first grouse I saw shot.  The noise, the confusion the excitement and eventually the realization of death, the sadness, the loss of life.  The fact that there is a final moment, there is an end and the idea that the hunter is responsible for that end.

Yet I also remember the respect the Game was shown and the meal it made after wards and how fulfilling it was.  The warm room, the people laughing and enjoying recalling a great day in the woods.

I remember the fun times we spent together, the goofing off, the freedom of being outside in the deep woods, the candy bars sitting on stumps, the jokes, the lack of structure, the surprises, the unknowns.

Yeah Dad, I remember and I am passing it on every chance I get.

A Quick Rip at the "Head of the Lake"

Sometimes is great to just chuck it all and go for a ride.  All these deep topics, big discussions, the push and pull of advocacy can wear you down. With that in mind, a good night on the trails is just the ticket to get your head back in the frame on why you do this, what it all truly means and refreshes you for the next days campaign..........

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bridging the Adventure Gap 2015: Come and help create a different model of living in an Outdoor City.

Lets talk about comfort levels.

Some people like to push em and some people don't!

Of course different things dictate different comfort levels but certainly there is a personality trait out there that generally has a tolerance for being uncomfortable in a lot of situations.

Personally, I have generally been open to pushing my comfort zones.  Physically, socially, artistically and philosophically.

Lately however,  I have been delving more into race, poverty and disparity and how they relate to outdoor recreation and those things most certainly push my comfort levels.

As an outdoor recreation advocate I have heard many, many people speak about getting more people outside and more diverse, non-traditional users especially.  I have heard owners of billion dollar companies speak to this idea.  Heads of many State DNR's, people in advocacy, retail business owners, conservationists, politicians on and on and on. Its like a cacophony of geese all honking at the same time...blah, blah, blah.

My own voice is a part of that gaggle.  Outdoor Recreation Advocates do a really great job of touting the power of recreation to influence, health, wellness, conservation and to be a positive influence on people who might not have a lot of "positive" in their lives or in the places that they live, or people who have been left out and over looked.

All that said I can count on one hand the number of people in those advocacy roles that have done a darn thing about actually getting the non traditional user outside.  As a community and as a culture, the "Outdoor Rec world" (Outdoor Rec advocacy, Outdoor Industry etc.) is very good at talking a good game but very bad at delivering on it.

Essentially we are the guy that brags the hell out of that big drop and about how "rad" it is but when push comes to shove we pull off the side and take the flowy B-Line.

Like I said, its about comfort zones and if your willing to take the hard line.

What are you personally truly willing to do to make a change in who actually uses your trails?  Are you truly willing to take what you have created and use it for a cause much bigger than the existing outdoor community demographic is composed of?  To truly make that happen?

For sure this is not to downplay the impact that parks and trails have on the traditional user, the 40 year old white guy, or even the slightly less traditional user, the 40 year old white gal and their kids.  Those are great stories and great impacts and I hear them literally every day, in fact those folks are moving to Duluth and helping us recreate our economy.  Yes its working!

However who in our state and our country is going to step up and take it past that comfort level?  Who is going to take these activities into communities that we are not familiar with?

It has to be Duluth.


Because I can honestly say there is not a lot of other communities out there in the good old USA that have the opportunity that Duluth has right now to do just that.

Righ now we have a city investing millions of dollars into outdoor infrastructure within our city limits.

One stat I have heard is that when our trails systems are done, every citizen will live within 1,000 feet of a trail of some sort in Duluth, that is east that is west and that is the Hillside.  We have a wide variety of motivated, organized user groups with the knowledge and skills to promote and steward the activities they are passionate about and we have a bunch of solid Youth and Human Services groups out there that are already doing amazing work.

If we can't get a diversity of folks outside nobody can.  We own it and we need to start acting like we own it and not talk a good game about it, we need to deliver on it.

There is a group of folks in the City that are starting to challenge these comfort levels and open themselves up to spreading our movement much, much wider and making sure that ALL of Duluth's citizens have access.  Thanks to the Northland Foundation and The Minnesota Land Trust there have been monthly meetings of a group that is seeking to bridge what Author James Mills is calling the "Adventure Gap".

This group is composed of the folks and clubs who are helping to create and steward our new outdoor rec infrastructure and also of those people who are currently working with Duluth's minority populations, its lower income children and its challenged neighborhoods.

The idea has been to move past talk and truly make connections and ultimately get folks outside and enjoying what Duluth has to offer.

So far the focus has been on kids and especially disadvantaged kids.  The first big accomplishment pushed was the Duluth's Children's Charter.  This Charter states that all kids have the right to go outside, this was accepted and voted on by Duluth's City Council.  This charter is a foundation, or a base that a lot of other amazing programming can rise from.

Secondly, we are putting on the 20/20 Presentations with speakers from other places in Minnesota that have done more than talked.  People like John Munger III who has in his work with the Loppet Foundation influenced countless kids in North Minneapolis to ski, bike and walk in the outdoors  We will also hear from Tom Orourke and Hartley Nature Center, Russ Salgy from Valley Youth and Scott Pilate who authored the Duluth Children's Charter.

Granted these two things are truly just sticking our toes in the water.  However we have taken the shoe off and we have moved toward the pond.  Our hope is that by creating this space for the conversation we can create fertile ground for action and tie these great outdoor amenities we have in the City to a much broader group of folks who can benefit from them.

So step out of your comfort zone and meet us on October 20th at 6.30pm at Zeitgeist!

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Duluth single track Goods...right now, fresh, tasty and in limited supply!

And we shredded while the rest of the world sat in the morning commute just below us

The fact of the matter is that Winter is coming and its coming in fast.  Now is the time to play, hard and ride a lot.  The trails are ripping fast and tacky.  The temps are absolutely perfect, the trees works of art in themselves and the sun is warm and friendly on your face.  This is fleeting, this is temporary and this is the gift we are given, right dang now.

This weekend will be the perfect Duluth MTB weekend.  If you have heard the hype or you have thought about getting North to find the goods, there will be no better weekend conditions wise to do it.  Spirit Mountains gravity party is on the hook for Saturday and plenty of group and personal rides going out all over the weekend as well..........Get some!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fall 2015 and why I missed the GGG....

Cast and Blast 
I learned long ago that conditions dictate everything in being outside.  While most folks call our outdoor activities "Sports" I call them tools for living.  Meaning that when conditions dictate, I pull out another tool and go to work.

When it rains a lot, I move quickly away from the bike and the trails here in Duluth.  Not only is it destructive to our tread, its just plain not fun.  So its to canoes, kayaks and fishing or this time of year hunting.....or all them together!

So that was the call this year.  With nearly 4 inches of rain in three days it was obvious that the DT was going to be a muddy assed mess.  Andy K. and I have been hitting the Bigfork area every season for four seasons to hunt ducks and we had planned to both hunt and ride this year.

However with the horrible wet weather, we realized that it was time to make lemonade with the lemons the week had turned out to be.

First I had the pleasure of capturing some great images of the D-town Creeking crew hitting the Lester for a rare fall runoff event, that was a great way to start the weekend.....

We hunted close to home and camped out over night to boot.  By morning we were feasting on Duck and Crappie, all while sitting in our blind peering through the fog to see anything that might be flying.

It was pretty amazing, sitting with your gun on your back, fly rod in hand catching Smallies and shooting and Mallards....Cast and Blast ala Montana style.

After a super fun morning both Andy I packed it up and headed home.  Andy to go to Ryan Mallek's wedding and me to get in a quick fish with Dave Dawkins on the Louie.

Double D laying it down for the Smallies 

At the end of the day we headed for Bigfork and the Fairview Cabin.  Life was sweet up there.  We paddled a ton, hit a huge amount of wild rice and shot a fair amount of ducks.  The numbers though were way down in the rice, we had to work hard to find them but when we did it was super fun and we both had our fair share of shooting.

We also hauled the boat along and hit some fishing and after some work managed to find where the Crappies were schooling and added some panfish to our Duck dinner once again......

I returned home totally beat.  I think I am still recovering.  I am super thankful to have found a good hunting partner in Andy.  I have always been about the hard work of the hunt and its rare that you find other folks that are willing to put up with it.  On our last day alone we paddled close to 20 miles of jump shooting.  It was amazing to see and experience but we were worked at the end of it.

Thanks again Andy.  The numbers were not as large as previous years but we worked hard and delivered!