Monday, February 27, 2017

BBBC Feb 27th - Nature trail or city street for walking?

Jr. North: Dad, can I be an outdoors man?

Mr. North: You bet bud.

Lucky for the both of us, Grandpa is always scheming out-of-doors trips. Friday night, he asked if I wanted to bring Jr. North on an ice fishing trip up to Lake Mille Lacs. I asked Jr. what he thought and he responded with, "can we fish until the sun goes down?" 

The next morning we were in the car on our way up to the big lake. Snacks were packed, plenty of dry clothes, lunches, tackle, ice house, auger, and minnows. We were and hour and a half from home with a little kid on the the ice all day, it's best to be over prepared in these situations. Mom threw in the tablet (with cartoons downloaded on it) which turned out to be clutch.

Jr. is not much for fishing, what kid is, but he loves drilling holes in the ice and scooping the slush out, throwing snow balls, playing with the minnows, eating junk food, and everything else that goes along with being an outdoors man. We couldn't get him to come into the fish house because, in his words, you couldn't be outdoors if you're in a house. It was 20 degrees F and sunny out with no wind, perfect ice fishing weather. It was cold but we were dressed for it and Jr. didn't complain once.

It was the Perch Extravaganza so we stopped at Johnson's Portside for buttons and Girl Scout cookies before heading out in the ice. The buttons got us into a raffle for fishing gear, a side-by-side quad, or one of three Ice Castles (Google it.) Jr was the only one to win, a bucket full of goodies. Beginners luck.

Over two feet of ice on the lake, any more and we would have needed a longer auger. Most of my day was spent watching Jr. clear ice out of the holes. (and bobbers that never really did much)

Sun shine is good for you!

Our little bay out of Isle, MN. As we were packing up, the puddle in my arms was genuinely disappointed that we were leaving before the sun went down. 

Mrs. North had some out-of-doors plans of her own. On Sunday we drove over to the local nature center and did some hiking. I think we were all really into being outside in the sunshine this weekend. We poked some holes in the ice with our walking sticks (to help spring get here), tackled the summit of mud mountain (a hill in the woods), found a turtle shell, followed deer tracks, and talked about the different plants in the slough (reed canary grass, bulrush, and cattails).

Worthy of note: he wanted to sit on all the benches. All of them. 

Hot chocolate mustache in the ice house. It's good to be an outdoors man.

Thank you for all the excellent prompts all month!

- Ride North

Friday, February 24, 2017

BBBC Feb 17th - Simple pleasure

Friday, February 17th:

Emerging from the office, the smell of warm air fills my face; it's 50 degrees out.

February has been dry, the streets are clean, and the sun is shining. I fully intended to go for a walk over lunch but instead I walked straight to my car and took off. I needed to get some work done that afternoon but I had an hour or so to myself.

Back in my garage, I put the battery in the Triumph, aired up the tires, gave it a quick walk around, and hit the go button. It fired up without delay, charger to charging down the road in under ten minutes. This is the first time I have ever ridden in February. Saint Paul is typically 20 to -15 degrees Fahrenheit this time of year. How or why this miraculous weather occurred doesn't concern me at the moment.

It was a simple pleasure to be out again.

This post (a week late) is part of the Brave Bold Blogger Challenge put on by

- Ride North

Thursday, February 23, 2017

BBBC Feb 22nd - Grey days

The grey days of winter abound with missed opportunities. Heavy doors shut out the wonders of a frozen world, secrets that no one cares to hear. Thawing eyelashes are treated to deep blue grey color fields occasionally organizing themselves into familiar shapes but sometimes not.


This post is part of the Brave Bold Blogger Challenge put on by The goal is to write everyday during the month of February

- Ride North

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

BBBC, Feb 20th - A road close to home

I am blessed with an amazing commute. A to B is three miles, but I manage to extend that as time and two wheels allow. My extended commute starts on the bluffs above the west bank of the Mississippi River. From there I head down into the valley and through Lillydale regional park. heading back up the bluff, I catch I-35E and immediately exit onto Shepard Road. From here I ride along the east bank and pass downtown. Shepard Road becomes Warner road and ends at Hwy 61. Two lefts has me in and out of the commuter torrent, I pop out in Mounds Park. From Mounds Park I have a super secret way into downtown that spits me out by CHS Field, home of the St. Paul Saints.

Go Saints!

The view from up top. 
This is the start of my commute, St. Paul's West Side neighborhood.

Lillydale Regional Park's Pickerel Lake (still in St. Paul)

Mississippi River in spring,that's ice on the river.

Shepard/ Warner Road looking upstream at the Robert St. bridge

Mississippi River looking down stream (from the Hwy 52 Bridge bike path)

Two of the many burial mounds in Mounds Park

The view from Dayton's Bluff

This was taken last Friday! 
It was the first time I have ever ridden in February, but not the last!

- Ride North

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

BBBC, Feb 14 - Happy Valentine's Day

Feb 14th: What does Valentine's Day mean to you?

Cake. It means cake. 

Happy Tuesday ya'll!

- Ride North

BBBC, Feb 13, five natural wonders within an hour of Saint Paul

This post is part of the Brave Bold Blogger Challenge put on by The goal is to write everyday during the month of February and I haven't exactly been keeping up. The bigger drop was not giving credit where it's due.

Thanks Toad Mama for putting this together! 

Today's topic (yesterday's really): open concept or room with walls?

William O'Brien State Park

This state park sits on the west bank of the Saint Croix River, north of Marine on the Saint Croix. The Saint Croix river is a National Scenic River, a designation that protects it from development.

map | camping | trails

Rice Creek Chain of lakes

The Rice Creek Chain of Lakes is seven miles long, located between I-35W and I-35E, just north of The Cities.

map | entrance fee: $5/day

Camping (make a reservation)

Wargo Nature Center
7701 Main Street
Lino Lakes, MN 55038

Spring lake Park

Located between highway 52 and Hastings. A short hike from the parking lot will bring you to +100 foot bluffs overlooking Spring Lake, the impoundment behind lock & dam number 2.

Spring Lake and tree tops

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge/ Fort Snelling/ Minneahah Falls

The Minnesota Valley national Wildlife refuge is the only national refuge system located within a major metropolitan area. Starting in Jordan, the Minnesota river valley winds in and out of the refuge system before converging with the Mississippi River at Fort Snelling. Looking south from the I-494 you'll see the refuge, look north and you'll see Fort Snelling State Park.

Lake Minnetonka 

( Lake Minnetonka Regional Park )

I couldn't make a list of the Twin Cities' natural wonders without mentioning the magical waters of Lake Minnetonka. While I've motored past and fished the big lake to my west, I don't have any specific park or par-like stops to recommend. There is a regional park on the west end of the lake and plenty of places to stop for lunch. Also, the U of M Landscape Arboretum is just south of the lake, off of highway 5.

- Ride North

Saturday, February 11, 2017

BBBC, Feb 11th - National Parks

Kicking around a fly and ride trip to Vegas. It's not cheep but it's not bad and when time is an issue it could really up the adventure per hour. If you really wanted to turn it into an adventure, throw in some open air desert camping.

From Las Vegas you could easily get to Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Death Valley National parks.

Rent a Bonnie for $80/day and they pick you up at the airport. $300 round trip air fair.

And, I've always wanted to carry on a helmet.

- Ride North

Thursday, February 9, 2017

BBBC Feb 9th - Three pics you’ve never shared

 Three pairs of pictures that I've never shared. My garage can, at times be a complete disaster. I'm sorry for what you are about to see...

Oil leak Triumph (pre-triumph really)

Post oil leak Triumph!

About 20 or so years worth of registration stickers on the 1978 Yamaha. 
(most from a previous steward)

A well-earned bath. 

Valve adjustment time. (I need to do this again this spring.)

Smooth Operator and another St Paul sunrise.

 - Ride North

Monday, February 6, 2017

BBBC, Feb 4th - mileage goals and whatnot

My mileage goals are never anything specific. I want to ride frequently enough to keep my skills sharp and work in a trip with my dad. Most of my riding is done to and from work. I'll get an evening blast in once and a while, sometimes it's a morning ride. I would love to wander far and wide but I can't just throw my wife and child on the back and take off to remote locations across the globe. It's just not where I am in my life and that's okay. While I'm always eyeing up this trip or that, I know I'm needed at home.

Mrs. North and I taught our four year old son (he was three at the time) how to ride a bike last fall. A real bike with no training wheels, a free wheel, and hand brakes. (they make the coolest stuff for kids these days) We took him on some paved trails and he did really well. He loves riding his bike and can you blame him! I also took him to the local mountain bike trails. We did lap after lap around the beginner trail, it was awesome. He told me that he loves riding his bike through the woods. So, a big part of my mileage goals will play out in the woods with my son and that's as good as it gets. I can't wait. (We rode down to the mail box yesterday. It was 20 degrees out, -6 Celsius. The kid is unstoppable.

I do have a few local trips that I'd like to make happen. One of them is to ride the Minnesota River valley out to Redwood Minnesota and camp for a night. The valley, from Mankato to Lake Traverse is a beautiful area of the state that doesn't see much traffic. When you think of Minnesota Paul Bunyan comes to mind, lakes and pine trees, maybe canoeing wilderness areas. While we do have all that, Minnesota is also home to the prairie. We have a state park with a bison heard, it's not Custer State Park but they're there.

Also, I really want to add attending a group ride or rally event to my list of goals. It's something I've never done and if I say it out loud, here, then maybe I'll make some time for it.

I've always had a deep rooted goal of making time for the important stuff but it's not always easy knowing just what that stuff is. It is clear to me that having some saddle time in my life makes me a better husband, a better father, and far easier to live with. So the motorcycles and mountain bikes are here to stay.

- Ride North

BBBC, Feb 6th - Your favorite motorcycle gadget/gizmo

I'm skipping ahead, to the present, but I've been know to backtrack.

I have this memory from my childhood where I was out skating (skateboarding/ sk8ing) with a bunch of people (hoodlums, because these are my people). This older kid comes over to my group of friends and asks us who our favorite skater was. This kid was really good, we all looked up to him, now he was sizing us up. I remember thinking, "Shit. (I was 14, my vocabulary wasn't as diverse as it is today) I need to come up with an answer." I rattled off the first name that popped into my head and he gave us hell for it (which he would have done regardless of what we said). But that's not what sticks out for me. What I remember most clearly is thinking that the answer was, "Me. I'm my favorite skater." The pros are great and all, and I have much respect for them but I'd rather be out here skating than at home watching it in the videos. Twenty years later, my only amendment to that teenage thought is that my true answer is that these guys, my friends, are my favorite skaters.

If I'm being honest with myself, a gen-Xer, my favorite moto-gadget is probably email, and to a lesser extent Facebook. It's how I stay in touch with buddies and plan rides. Everything else is just farkle, which is nice too. My second favorite is any GPS unit that will show me the road names as they are coming up and a compass. How did we wander the back roads before GPS? I know I did a lot of backtracking.

Love yourself first I guess.

- Ride North

Saturday, February 4, 2017

BBBC, Feb 3rd - Least favorite household chore

Laundry. I will never beat Mrs. North to a pile of dirty clothes. On the rare instance that I do laundry I will be asked: "What do you want?" or "What did you do?" Something at subconscious level prevents me from seeing dirty clothes. Also, I can not fold clothes to save my life; it's not for a lack of trying. (I have a similar problem with wrapping Christmas presents.) I have seen a fitted sheet folded but it's not within my skill set to do so.

I do however enjoy doing dishes. It's a mindless task that I seem particularly well suited for.

- Ride North

Friday, February 3, 2017

BBBC, Feb 2nd - A special memory

It's seven AM on May 5th. After a long winter of routine, family life, and four doors I'm finally on the road again. The cool morning air is filled with the aroma of damp earth and manure. It enters my helmet at 70 miles an hour, I soak in its complexity. For the first time in a while, I am not needed and there is no where to be. A short list of suggestions are scribbled on an envelope tucked neatly in my breast pocket. I stop when I'm hungry. I consume the landscape on my own terms. I am sharply aware of the juxtaposition of my daily schedule against this new state I find myself in.

- Ride North

Brave Bold Blogger Challenge 2017 - Feb 1, 2, and 3

Thank you for putting together another Brave Bold Blogger Challenge, 28 topics in 28 days! (my first) I will probably never write a novel in a month but a blog post a day is something I can tackle. I think my best is five in one month so here goes nothing!

Today is February third so I have some catching up to do.

Feb 1st - State you most hope to visit this year


I'm the child of a Democrat and a Republican. I work for an environmental agency at the state of Minnesota. My family is a Police Family (Milwaukee PD). We hunt. We fish. I feel that I'm in a position to be a bridge rather than a wall.

I by no means condone hate speech, and I view the discrimination of any group as an un-American act. While all men and women may have been created equal, we've never treated them equally; now our cards are on the table and we are no longer playing it close to the vest. I have faith that good things will come of this. Is it possible that regular Americans are more politically engaged than ever before? It seems that we have more eyes on the Trump administration than any previous president.

In communities founded on industry and mining the shut down of a factory or mine is devastating to the people. The time-honored formula for making a living and raising a family has been upended. In these communities, industry and mining fuel the service, consumer goods, and housing sectors. People are out of work, life savings are being lost, and your children are leaving the community and not coming back. It's in this stew of upheaval that the idea of "jobs above all else" is rooted. ("Polaris currently assembles both Indian and Victory bikes at its Spirit Lake plant, which will now double down on the Indian brand." - DesMoines Register)

With all the political division and hateful rhetoric being pedaled this year, my goal is to keep my mind and ears open and gain some perspective. Be the bridge.

So that and Iowa. I don't know what it is about Iowa but I love Iowa.

- Ride North