Thursday, August 11, 2005

You gotta love Lawrence

I had to run to Lawrence after work to get a license plate for our van. We need to get legal for our vacation! The first three letters on the new tag are WOW. How cool is that. We have been calling our new van Casper (it’s white) but I’m thinking about changing it to WOW so people will think we have a personalized license plate.

There is no place like Lawrence, Kansas. We attended Emporia State University and our children attended Kansas State University, but Emporia and Manhattan are no match for Lawrence. It is hard to explain—well, maybe it would help to say it is a very liberal town. There is the guy who rides his bicycle around downtown with a sign that says, “Legalize hemp.” Also, lots of long dresses, Berkenstocks, long hair & beards on men, etc. However, I fit in just fine with my extra short graying hair and not so clean mail carrying clothes although it helps that I have an earring in the top part of my ear.

After visiting the courthouse and getting my WOW plate, I stopped by the Farmers Market for some okra. On one end of the tables was an older man playing bluegrass on a fiddle and at the other end was a young man playing classical on a violin. I had the feeling they were dad and son. Maybe it went like this, “Hey, Dad, let’s go down to the Farmer’s Market and see if we can make enough jack to take the fam out for dinner.” I helped their cause.

After the okra, I stopped by the Wheatfields Bakery, 904 Vermont. That place is full of the best looking breads one could ever imagine. Also lots of long dresses, Berkenstocks—you get the picture.

Headed home to make my special Olive oil baked potatoes to serve with stir fried fresh onions and okra. You gotta love Lawrence.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Big Blue Stem

We are finally finished with our baling project. Actually, we have a small patch, but we may leave it as the hot dry weather is starting to affect the quality of the hay.

The acreage we are haying is native prairie grass. It is a healthy meadow. Dan has worked hard over the years to remove brush and rocks. He has also been diligent in his pursuit of musk thistle, sericea lespedeza, and Johnson grass not only on our land but on the Federal land near us. Responsible land ownership is an ongoing job.

Behind our house we have a large area of the glacial Minnesota granite rocks. We have mowed a walking path through this area. The prairie is a fascinating place and the path allows us to observe it up close. Tonight I took a tape measure out to check the height of a cluster of big blue stem. Information on big blue stem tells me it can be blue or purple tinged coloration. This majestic grass would be showy in any planted landscape but is especially beautiful growing wild in the native prairie.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


We leave for our Canada fishing trip in a week and a half. I am starting to get serious about lists, clothes, etc. Cedar Lake Lodge has a list, but it isn’t too specific. The cabins have all the utensils, but we need to provide food. Hopefully, we can count on eating plenty of fish.

I have been reading a journal by the Bray family who is taking a year long road trip around the United States. They have a very large motor home with a towed car. It is a beautiful rig, but out of our reach financially. Another interesting journal is The Fat Man Walking. Steve is walking across America with only a backpack to loose weight and find himself. Very interesting reading, but not something we would undertake.

Both Dan and I have an interest in road trips. As we approach retirement, we are planning short adventures (I like that word), consequently, our fishing trip to Canada. But, we fall somewhere in the middle of the two methods mentioned above. As we chatted this morning over coffee, Dan coined the phrase “ Mobile Backpackers” to label our mode of travel.

This will be our second extended trip as well as several weekenders. We take the back seats out of our Venture van and load it as one might a backpack. We have our double air mattress, small stove for coffee and simple meals, small ice chest and minimal personal items. Our rules are simple. We like to “camp” where there are showers, flush toilets and beautiful scenery. State parks are usually very nice. Our vehicle gets good gas mileage; we go anywhere and don’t make reservations. For our trip to Canada, I have already circled all the camp sites north of Minneapolis that may work for the end of our first day’s drive. We will stop when we are tired or there’s a view we can’t resist.

On the return from North Carolina two years ago, I wanted to see the sun set over the Mississippi River. With the sun getting low in the sky, we were driving back roads heading in the general direction of the river. As we came over a slight rise, to our surprise there was the mighty Mississippi and a simple camp ground. We drove the van up to the bank of the river and watched a gorgeous sunset and awoke to birds and barges.

So, let’s get something going here. Maybe I ought to write a book about how to be a van backpacker. Or, maybe we could sell sheets that fit air mattresses on Ebay. Or, maybe we will just pack up our fishing poles and enjoy an exciting adVenture north in a few short days.