July 20, 2006 at 8:34 a.m.
Almost 30 years ago I worked with a guy who said, “Men aren’t much for shoppin, but most of us will drive halfway across town to save a nickel on gas or booze.”
These days, when I travel anywhere, I buy gas if it’s a few cents cheaper, not when I need it. $2.71!! I never thought $2.71/gallon would seem like a good price for gasoline. We were traveling north before The Fourth when we saw a sign advertising gas at $2.71 at a station at the “Y” just south of Walker (that day, $2.95 seemed to be the most common price). I said, “That place must be out of business. Look at the gas price!” But, it wasn’t. I was disappointed when I was only able to put 11.8 gallons in the tank.
Minnesotans who have been “Up North” recently know how dry it is in the northern third of the state. Some of you may remember my “The grass sure grows well near the lake” column from a few weeks ago. I’m going to have to amend that statement. In mid June it took us two mowers, four hours and four tanks of gas per mower to get the mowing done. On the last day of June, it took us one hour and less than a tank per mower to get the job done. It’s crispy dry and things are hardly growing, even by the lake. “With a little rain, grass sure grows well near the lake.”
After mowing at the place south of town, we drove into Bemidji. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I always seem to notice unusual things. We were driving past the biggest Lutheran church in town (as you might imagine, there are a number of Lutheran congregations in any Minnesota city of 12,000) when a I saw a guy riding his bike in the parking lot.
I pulled around the corner and into the lot. We got out of the car and I yelled at the rider, “Do you mind if we take your picture?”
“Go right ahead,” was the response.
This guy was sitting on the handlebars and riding backwards!
“That’s not so unusual,” you might be saying to yourself. “I’ve seen kids do that, before.”
This kid was about 70 AND he was juggling tennis balls.
On to the other place!
That evening, we were the first to arrive at the cabin. This is a big advantage because that meant we got first choice of beds. Nine more people would arrive over the next few days. Finding a place to sit, much less sleep, is a problem when that many people are using an 18x32 foot cabin as home base.
There’s always a lot to do when we’re “At the Lake.”
Eating seems to take on a whole new meaning when we’re there. I’m pretty sure I consumed more calories in four days than I normally do in two weeks. Fried Chicken! Steak on the Grill! Bacon - I rarely eat bacon, but it sure tasted good. Fish - Fresh fish is one of my favorites. We had a walleye, sunfish and crappies...Too many of each. I have a pretty good appetite, but I can’t hold a candle to either of the brothers-in-law who were there. Pork Chops on the Grill - I might even prefer them to beef.
Fishing is a good way to pass the time and there’s always someone to go with. The guy my daughter married would fish forever, if he was allowed to. He loves to fish for bass, but other species are acceptable, too. One of the aforementioned brothers-in-law likes to troll for northerns and anything else that will bite. The other one is primarily a walleye guy. I usually take my boat so I get to choose the intended target. It doesn’t seem to matter who goes with me. We seldom catch a lot of fish. Those guys must not be very good fishermen!
Wildlife Viewing is always fun. Deer are abundant. We just hope we don’t see them “up-close” when we’re driving. If no place else, the township dump is a good place to look. In the spillway at the dam, a mile’s walk from the cabin, we usually see some fish. This time we saw six or eight walleyes in the 3-4 lb. range moving through the rocks in about a foot of water. Apparently, they were well fed. Our daughter also claims she saw a lynx on the way to the dam.
And, of course, there are the birds. When I was a kid people always told me that there was just one pair of loons per lake. I don’t know what changed, but there are all kinds of loons now. We see fleets of six or eight on a regular basis. There was a beautiful Baltimore Oriole swooping through the area. For the first time in my life, I saw a Hummingbird nest.
Our son-in-law spied it among the branches on a tree next to the cabin. A nest is about the size of a golfball with the top cut off. The outside is pasted with a mixture that gives it almost foolproof camouflage. Not only did we see the nest, we also saw mom and the babies. Our daughter climbed up on the roof of the cabin and patiently waited ‘til she was able to get some great pictures of the tiny birds.
Gas was $2.99 on the way home. Not everything turns out as you’d hope.
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