Friday, June 17, 2011

Bear Bones, Deer Ticks, and Blood Root

Couple weeks back I met up with my dear friend Fred in Minneapolis to do a week long canoe trip. We opted for the beautiful St. Croix River, which is a tributary to the great Mississippi and divides Minnesota and Wisconsin. There are parks along most of the river on both sides with primitive campsites that are mostly accessible by boat only. We traversed about 100 miles total doing between 15-20 miles each day. The trip started out late as my flight was delayed and we didn't get into the water until after 8 pm. We had 2 miles to go that night before we reached the first camp site and it was scary.... I do not recommended canoeing in the dark! Miraculously we found our spot with the aid of flash lights and a small map which showed rapids near by that we could hear.... feeeewww weee. We set up camp, skipped dinner, and slept late the next day. We awoke to a beautiful, yet grey day and explored our camp site finding wild ramps and other evidence of Spring coming up. This was all a shock to me as Spring in Georgia had happened long ago, so I got to experience it all over again! Also as we were slowly making our way South each day things were getting more and more green and Spring was literally springing up around us. Each day we managed to make our mileage and have time for a short hike near our camp site. The second day we found a bear jaw. Yes, part of a bear skull! At the time we weren't sure what it was but we took lots of pictures and we able to compare it to a bear skull at theMinneapolis Science Museum. Fred and I took turns sitting in the front or back of the canoe. I got a crash course in how to steer and after spending so much time on the water, I feel like a real expert! The St. Croix River has several class one and two rapids and they were FUN! We saw hundreds of turtles, dozens of bald eagles, beavers, ground hogs, jumping pink fish, sakes, and about a million ticks. REALLY! It was kinda insane. I had a nice time and learned so much. It is so beautiful there, but it was also unseasonably cold and a couple days we got rained on all day... it is par for the course but that part was kinda miserable. We only saw 2 other people the whole trip and had all our camp spots and most of the river to ourselves. It was calm, untouched, and felt like glimpse into the past. Our last day we found Morel mushrooms and giant blood root and finally had a dry night so we woke to dry socks! Its the simple things. Back in the city we went square dancing, out for Ethiopian food, to a great vegan restaurant and potluck. We also went for a nice hike to the Minnehaha Falls!

Architecture and Alligators

A few weeks back I was in my home town for several days. And, even though I grew up there.... there is still so much I don't know about Ocean Springs, Mississippi. This trip, that fact was evident as some friends attempted to educate me about Carrol Ishee. He was an architect who built about 150 homes all over the Gulf Coast. Ishee homes are most known in the area for being minimal with mid century styling and set in a lot that has had little to no landscaping. The homes are actually hard to photograph because they are so surrounded by trees and vegetation. He really believed the outdoor living space should be seamless with both the inside and the surrounding nature. Super large windows, cedar shakes, and extra wide doors help make this possible and really distinguish his design. As far as I can tell very little has been done to document Ishee's achievements. Ocean Springs is also home to several houses built by other famed architects... Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright among others. Some of those homes were damaged by Hurricane Katrina and are still being rebuilt today. My friends who live in an Ishee home gave me a generous tour and let me snap these shots. Hopefully someday there will be a conclusive portfolio of Ishee's designs. It would also be so great to see a website dedicated to the architecture of Ocean Springs.

Here are some pics of Dad and I when we went for a nice paddle in Fort Bayou. Later in the week on my way out of town, I stopped by the gator farm in Pascagoula. Rumor says this place was severely damaged in Katrina and all the gators escaped!!! No biggie though, as alligators are native to South Mississippi anyway!