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Alaska: A Beautiful State To Visit
Living in Sin - Residing in Minnesota’s North Woods
Alaska: A Beautiful State To Visit
By Ed Meyer
The draw of the unknown, unseen and under developed has caused many a person to travel to Alaska. Alaska is 2 ½ times larger than Texas, with weather as varied as Minnesota. There is always another mountain to climb to see just what is on the other side and a glacier to add to the beauty and wonder of this great state.
Mary Lou and I went on a tour that flew to Fairbanks, then motor-coached to Denali, Anchorage and to Skagway for a Ferry ride through the inside passage. We then motor- coached back to Minnesota by way of the Canadian Rockies.
Fairbanks found us panning for Gold (and we panned out $30.00 worth) in the few hours we where at El Dorado Gold Mine. Mary Lou now has a gold locket from Alaska. Next we took a sternwheeler trip up the Chena River to visit an Athabascan Indian camp. We where exposed to Indian traditions that thy have maintained for thousands of years.
Denali (the Great One) is larger than words and the eight-hour school bus ride into the park, revealed just how large it is. Only 20% of the people touring Denali get to see the peak of Mt McKinley and we where part of the 80%.
On the way to Anchorage we stopped at Wasilla, (Sarah was not home) the Iditarod Trail Headquarters. There we got to experience just how powerful a dog sled team can be and how fast they are. When in Alaska try to experience all of the adventure one can.
Anchorage also allowed us a full day cruise along Prince William Sound and its wild life and the up close and personal view of Surprise Glacier. The rain and foggy weather did not dampen the spirit of all the people aboard.
The Alaska Marine Highway (also known as the inside passage) makes many stops on its way from Skagway to Prince Rupert. Our experience on the ferry took us two days and two nights. Being it took us 50 years to go to Alaska we took every advantage of the stops the ferry made along the way.
Juneau (the state capitol) was by far the most interesting inside passage stop for us. Along with another couple we rented a taxi and toured for two hours, seeing the Mendenhall Glacier, the Governors Mansion, Capital building and even the Red Dog Saloon. We also stopped at Haines, Petersburg, Wrangell and Ketchikan before departing the ferry along with our bus at Prince Rupert.
Once we had the bus back on ground we drove through the beautiful Canadian Rockies stopping in Banff, Lake Louise, Calgary and many other splendid parts of the Rockies.
Our Utopia Tour guide was Pam Knutson and her husband Richard; they treated all of us like very good friends. Steve and Elaine (Utopia owners) were along and were a wealth of information and guided us to many places most people going to Alaska never see. We would highly recommend this trip to anyone interested in seeing the real Alaska.
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Living in Sin
Residing in Minnesota’s North Woods
Spoiled outdoorsmen litter the Northern half of the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and many of them don’t know how good they have it each spring.
Big numbers and sizes of all the fish Minnesota has to offer make themselves readily available in many lakes, rivers, and streams. Trout anglers are spoiled by the sounds of trickling water. Even the hikers and bikers get a glimpse of green and are headed for the trails. The hard part about Northern Minnesota is decided how you want to split up your time. Here are a few “can’t miss” events or activities Northern MN has to offer.
Rainy River Walleyes
Every year in late-March anglers flock to the Rainy River between the famed Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lakes. Walleyes begin to migrate upstream in search of perfect spawning conditions, and are ripe for the picking. As soon as the ice gives way in this 85 mile river, anglers are scurrying to get their boats and gear ready. Walleyes of all sizes are caught, and numbers pushing 100 fish in a day are possible. 3/8-3/4 oz. jigs tipped with white plastics are sufficient for a successful day on the water. Make sure you bring your camera and some ice for your sore arms….
Dancing with the Stars
Come Spring, the sharp-tailed grouse begins to bloom with color and anticipation for their breeding ritual. Once April arrives males begin to dance and show off for the opposite sex, a dance of dominance to try to lure in a mate. The loud clucking, cooing, stomping of the feet, and clicking of the tail are enough to make your heart skip a beat. The Sharp-tailed Grouse Society in collaboration with the MN DNR has set out blinds across the state allowing the public to view this amazing ritual. Visit www.sharptails.org for more information and to reserve a blind.
Tangling with Dinosaurs
Another spring tradition is the running of the sturgeon. Giant lake sturgeons infest 4-Mile Bay and the Rainy River to prepare for their spawn come mid-April. The sturgeon teamed with strong current give you one of the greatest fights on rod-and-reel. 3 oz. no-roll sinkers teamed with a 5/0 octopus hook loaded with night-crawlers does the ticket when lobbed accurately behind your boat. Check out www.sportsmanslodges.com for lodging and current fishing reports.
Many anglers in Northern Minnesota are intensely hunting panfish, and they forget all about the lonely trout. The MN DNR stocks numerous rivers, lakes, and streams with rainbow and brown trout. Shortly after their stocking efforts, the fishing is out of this World. Check with your local DNR office to find out where to fish trout in your area. It’s a simple sport often-times. An ultra-light rod with a single sinker and a small hook tipped with corn is all you need to get a few for the pan.
The downfall to being a Mother in MN is that the one day of the year designated for them has been dwarfed by the long-standing tradition known simply as “opener”. This year walleye anglers are being pushed back a week, so we can celebrate both “holidays” sufficiently… Mother’s Day is May 9th this year, and fishing opener is May 15th. The wonderful tradition that is the Minnesota’s walleye opener is probably the most important part of spring in the Northland (aside from Mother’s Day of course). I haven’t missed it since I was young, and I don’t plan to miss it as long as I live in this great state…
A Walk on the Wild Side
Once the forest-floor turns green and the trees and flowers begin to bloom, the hiking trails in Northern MN become alive. The Superior Hiking Trail is one of America’s top-ranked hiking destinations, and it’s located in NE MN along beautiful Lake Superior. Enjoy scenic overlooks, waterfalls, forests, and wildlife on this 275 mile long trail. 81 free back-country campsites are spaced every 5-8 miles. Call or visit the store and office in Two Harbors for info, maps, and a trail guide. (218) 834-2700.
With all of the fun trips and excitement of spring, don’t forget to take a look around once in awhile, enjoy your surroundings, and when you get a chance, give back to Minnesota’s woods and waters.
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