Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Fathers Day! A Hike on Barn Bluff

Happy Fathers Day! I hope you had as great a day as I did. I probably shouldn't give away the ending of the story before I really even get started, but damn, what a great day!

Enough bragging. I'm sitting here, in the basement, watching The Rockford Files Season 1 on Netflix streaming. Currently, I'd say I'm obsessed with catching up on this old show. Must be middle age, but I really do miss shows like this.

It's been a long time since I really wrote anything about us, hasn't it. Like I said I while ago, we've been focusing on living life and not just writing about it. Fun times. But today, it's time to share the fun.

The first picture is my new tie crush. It was the present from my wonder wife and kids. I seem to have developed a thing for Jerry Garcia ties. I have to wear ties to work and I think of my Garcia ties as this, if the man is gonna make me wear a tie, I'm gonna wear one designed by the king of the counter culture. This new one, brings together my love of baseball and my need to stick it to the man. Ain't it great? To my daughters and my wife....I love you guys! Thanks!

So, what's the story of what made the rest of the day so great? Well, I figure the best way to share with you the rest of the day is to share it as a photo dump. If you know me, my camera is rarely far behind us when we are out and about doing fun things. I love photography and OhCountess loves scrapbooking. Match made in heaven.

We had arranged to meet my parents at wonderful brunch buffet in my hometown, Red Wing, Minnesota. It's a lovely river town along the mighty Mississippi river. The original idea was to have brunch with them and then  head to my wife's family for some more family fun and then have the rest of the day to focus on this dad's whims. Well, the plan had a monkey wrench thrown in when my wife's family decided to get together in the late afternoon rather then soon after my parent time.

What to do, what to do?

Something I loved doing when I was younger was hiking the trails that lead to the top of Barn Bluff. What better way to spend the day then an impromptu hike up a bluff. Who needs supplies and the right equipment?

We grabbed Cheese Nips, some bottles of water and my camera and started walking up the stairs. Of course the girls brought their camera and absolutely could not go on this kind of adventure without a compass. Keep in mind, this is a publicly maintained trail system and the bluff itself is surrounded on two sides by highways, one side is the Mississippi river and the last part is framed by a city street (where we start). Not to mention we don't have a map...there was no way they would go without a compass. Into my pocket it went and stayed until our return. Sigh.

There are several sets of these concrete stairs located around the bluff. The plaques describe them as built by the local Kiwanis. These things are amazing. There's no visibly means by which to get  the concrete to build them, but yet, here they are.

The journey up to the top is not quite as civilized as I had remembered. Actually, I couldn't remember the trails at all, that's a big part of the reason I had hoped to do this again.

The girls were all real troopers.

We had decided to climb the bluff starting on the South Trail. There's only 3 to chose from and left to right seemed like a good idea. The North Trail is along the river side. It's also going to be the shady side. I prefer cool after heating myself up on the climb. That was the idea.

I figured I could go online and find the trail map after the fact. Hm. No luck. You'll just have to believe me.

The payoff for climbing this far is the view.  The picture above is the view we worked so hard for. I'm probably a little bias, this being my hometown and all, but damn. Look at this view!

We enjoyed the view and took several family photos.We were greeted at the top by as many as 3 eagles flying around. Amazing birds. You have to be very careful exploring the top of the bluffs around here. The slope of the sides can be very steep. A few people every year seem to die trying to be crazy. I tried taking some shots of the eagles but I didn't change to the right lens to really get a good shot. Seems I was paranoid I would drop it and watch it roll down the side.

The south side sees lots of sun. It's mostly dry and covered in grasses and raspberry bushes. The north side is shaded most of the day and covered in thick green vegetation and moss. Somehow, someone built stairs that start the trip back to the minivan. Here's the girls posing.

These stairs went on for quite a while. You might have noticed that OhCountess had the strap to my camera hanging around her neck. These stairs were steep and damp. Also, you'll notice they are a tad narrow.

There were lots of people enjoying Fathers Day doing the same thing we were. Unfortunately, there's no order so people are heading in both directions. Not a big deal today. Lots of friendly people just making room and taking turns. Gotta love it.

When we reached the bottom of the stairs, the girls found this little rock outcropping. Time for a break in the shade.

After catching our wind, we jumped back on the trail and started heading back.

This side has a pretty narrow trail and I'm not as fearless as I was in high school.

Watching OhPrincess2 bound made me nervous.

Note the slope of the ferns on the right. It was gorgeous back here. The lush green hillsides and the damp mossy trail. A person could slip and fall!

Maybe I'm getting to old for this.

The following are some random shots from the trail.

When we almost reached the bottom, the girls spotted this abandoned cave entrance. I was a little nervous about them approaching, not for the cave itself but when hooligans might have left behind inside. There was a little half wall created over the entrance. You never know what these things will hold.

Thankfully, the only thing we found was a cool breeze blowing out of the cave. Ah...that felt good.

 We made it back to the bottom. At the start of trails is an old steam plant generating electricity. This place is still in operations as far as I know. It even has the name of the company that built it. NSP or Northern States Power. The company name has long since disappeared, but this place continues.

I'd love to spend some time shooting it with my camera. For some reason, old rusty things just fascinate me.

Well, that was our adventure in pictures from the afternoon. We had worked up a pretty mighty appetite in the process, headed to a local park and had sandwiches and pudding cups and then head to my wife's family for some chatting and more food. Not too shabby.

Fathers Day rocks. I really do wish it was a 4 day weekend extravaganza. This kind of fun shouldn't be rushed.

Happy Fathers Day! I hope your day was as fun as mine!


Tara R. said...

What a gorgeous place to spend the day with your family! The scenery was amazing and that view was great.