MN State Park Adventure – 8

(Sidenote – June 10, 2023, is Free State Park day in Minnesota!)

Hayes Lake State Park

This state park holds a special place in my heart. It’s the closest state park to where I grew up. Several relatives have been employed here. Hayes Lake State Park is located ‘within’ Beltrami Island State Forest. The Beltrami Forest was a favorite blueberry picking spot for many folks around the area. Nearby was the famous Bemis Hill, a sledding hill for winter fun.

Hayes Lake officially became a state park in 1967. The lake was formed by building a dam on the north fork of the Roseau River. Both the lake and the park were named for A.F. Hayes, an early resident and an advocate of the lake’s creation.

We stopped at the Ranger Station to get our brochure. Hayes Lake State Park has 35 camping sites in two loops, 18 have electricity. Loop 1 is a great gathering spot for family and friends, we’ve met up with lots of loved ones there. A centrally located shower/restroom building is available to campers seasonally. There are a couple hike-in campsites and seasonal camper cabins.

After the Ranger Station, we went to the Dam.

Several trails meet up near the dam. The Moose Ridge Trail is 4 miles of hiking, horseback riding, or mountain biking. The River Tower Trail is for hiking and horseback riding. Horseback riding connects with the Beltrami Island State Forest. (Bemis Hill Campground is another campsite located within the Beltrami Island State Forest and managed by Hayes Lake State Park. The Bemis campground offers two campsites and four horse campsites, all of which are primitive. Drinking water and vault toilets are available seasonally. In winter, the campground offers an excellent sledding hill, a shelter, and access to snowmobile trails.) The River Tower Trail leads to the Homestead Trail, which is hiking only. The Homestead Trail passes near the remains of the Hendershot homestead and several gravesites. The Pine Ridge Trail is for hiking and is part of the Hiking Club Trail, which leads to the beach and campsites.

Views from both sides of the dam.

At the dam, there’s a boat launch and fishing pier. Rent a boat, canoe, or kayak to get out on the lake. Only electric motorboats are allowed on Hayes Lake. Fisherpersons can try their luck at catching northern pike, crappie, sunfish, and largemouth bass.

Donated bench to sit and view the lake waters at the dam.

In the dam parking lot we saw these ‘special’ butterflies… On our way to this park, we passed my mother and stepfather’s grave site. Mom never liked flowers, but she loved butterflies (and hummingbirds). I placed a yellow butterfly near her headstone. After leaving their gravesites, we went to the park, and there were ‘flocks’ of yellow butterflies.

I tried to get pictures of them as they flew around but it was nearly impossible.

This is one of several wooden maps located around the park.

Next, we headed to the picnic and beach area.

Just past the Park News sign, is the path to the beach.

Behind these trees is the swimming beach. Several families were enjoying the sandy beach. To avoid photographing them, I didn’t take shots of the beach area. A few picnic tables were in shady areas being used to hold people’s belongings and lunches.

Not far from the beach area is a screened-in picnic shelter which is a great place for group get-togethers. The shelter has electricity and can be reserved by contacting the park office.

One source of water near the picnic shelter is a working hand pump.

The Hiking Club Trail is the 2.5-mile Pine Ridge Interpretive Trail. It weaves in between woods and lakeshore, connecting the swimming beach with the camping areas. Pine Ridge is a mowed, rolling hill trail, with interpretive signs. Once you pass the sanitation building, there’s a bog boardwalk on the other side.

In winter, there are 9 miles of snowmobile trails and 5 miles of ski trails. Visitors may snowshoe anywhere in the park except for on the track of groomed ski trails.

Some of the wildlife residents of the park include; black bears, moose, fisher, otter, bobcat, pine martin, lynx, and timber wolves. More common wildlife are deer, fox, raccoon, porcupine, beaver, mink, and skunk. Along the shoreline, loons, herons, grebes, and other water birds can be seen.

The lake is gorgeous! And as with all the state parks, there’s so much more to see and do than can be photographed, and each changing season offers many different views.



Imagine a world where we were all healed physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually…

We all suffer from some form of trauma. Looking at our friends, family, and social media feeds, we can see many people carry traumatic experiences with them. Trauma can be caused by so many things – war, accidents, serious illness, disasters, family crisis, abandonment, violence, rape, witnessing death, and many other events…

Most of us, either, use our trauma like a bulldozer to run over everyone with our pain because we’re pretty sure it’s worse than everyone else’s, or we ignore it and pretend we’re fine – because ‘we aren’t crybaby weaklings’, ‘it doesn’t even bother me so stop bringing it up’… But if we dread waking up in the morning, if we find ourselves rage sniping, bullying, intimidating others, trying to disappear, self-medicating with shopping/food/substances, self-harming…

Most likely there’s a trauma that needs healing. Just talking about it is a good first step, but healing takes a lot of hard work and facing the difficult truths. Different types of traumas need different types of care. Just like our bodies – different pain and illnesses need different interventions. A broken leg needs different care than a bullet wound.

Some might say, “I don’t even know where to start, my entire life is trauma.” Most of us have multiple traumas. But when we pick one to start healing, we’d be surprised how easily some of the other traumas begin to heal.

We tend to carry trauma, passing it forward to the next generations. But we also carry Resilience. Look how well we’ve managed our life with trauma and pain.

 Instead of continuing pain cycles, let’s start healing cycles. Life will always have pain, suffering, and death, but imagine how much less misery it could have if we were healthy.

Imagine what more we could be, and do if we were healed. Imagine each of us living life as our very best selves. Imagine the friendships, the creativity, the shared wonder of all life has to offer… Exciting!

Uninvited Guest – Bear 🐻

We had an uninvited visitor for supper the other evening! Bears are common around our part of the neighborhood, but I’ve never seen one actually step upon our porch before.

This is one reason we never leave stinky trash outdoors in a trash barrel, or hang bird feeders this time of year.

He must’ve smelled the cookies I was baking even though the windows were closed. 😊

He was polite enough, as he left when my husband tapped on the window.

MN State Park Adventure – 7

Schoolcraft State Park

After having a lovely lunch at the Country Kitchen (the restaurant was as nice and peaceful as I remembered from 20 years ago), with a Gorgeous Niece and catching up on all kinds of fun news, husband and I went to Schoolcraft State Park.

We lived in Grand Rapids over 20 years ago, so we were familiar with the area.

However, two things to note:

1. We never visited Schoolcraft State Park while we lived there because we lived right next door to the Forest History Center, so we had lots of nature opportunities.

 And 2. Wow, has Grand Rapids changed in 20 years!

Schoolcraft State Park is located on the banks of the Mississippi River near Grand Rapids and Deer River, Minnesota. It was named for the explorer Henry Schoolcraft. Schoolcraft State Park is one of the smaller parks in the MN state park system. Wiki tells me that the only state park smaller is Franz Jevne State Park. Being such a small park, we didn’t have high expectations. But we were pleasantly surprised.

There was no Ranger Station or Visitor Center. The was only this small outdoor station to gather information.

On the other side of the small station were images behind plexiglass, but it was difficult to photograph as the firewood shelter was extremely close. This image shows Minnesota’s State Park Landscapes – Coniferous Forest, Deciduous Forest, and Prairie.

Brief Schoolcraft information behind plexiglass.

An Interpretive Sign with the words of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft as he searched for the beginnings  of the Mississippi River.

Here is one of the rustic campsites in a prime riverside location. There are 28 rustic campsites. There are no shower facilities or electric sites.

Another primitive campsite. There are vault toilets – a type of toilet that don’t use water or flushing and stores waste in a large airtight container located underground.

Hike along the Old Grand Rapids Road. The Hiking Club Trail is nearly 2 miles of mostly flat mowed grass with self-guided interpretive signs. Be sure to protect yourself from wood and deer ticks and mosquitos. Or if you’re there in the winter, snowshoeing is allowed anywhere in the park.

A map of the area on a nearby sign.

This secluded north woods park is the perfect place to unwind. While we were here my husband made the comment about hearing nothing but the wind in the trees. We found similar words in the brochure, “Quiet and peaceful, visitors have only the whisper of the wind through the pines to accompany their thoughts.”

This area was originally scheduled to be logged but a mapping error saved it, preserving these tall gorgeous trees.

A few variations of pinecones.

Views of the Mississippi River from the picnic area.

We found a few feathers and put our iSeek app to the test. The app failed to agree what kind of bird these brown and white feathers came from. At one point the app said the feathers were from a tawny owl (found in eastern Europe, so that wasn’t correct). Then it said the feathers were from a wild turkey. We guessed maybe grouse but are uncertain?

The app said this blue feather was from a Eurasian Jay, which is not found in our country. We knew the app was incorrect, as these blue feathers are from our local Blue Jays.

Directions to the boat landing and picnic area.

The boat landing and dock. The brochure says there are walleye and northern pike in the river.

Our photo of the dock nearly mimics the one in our “Minnesota State Parks” book below:

This lovely little state park is a perfect place to enjoy peace and quiet, to take time out to think, and to truly look out at and value nature.

Best Day of the Year…

Breezy Point Aviation Day is often the first Saturday in May every year. It’s a day I look forward to because it’s so much fun.


This year wasn’t quite as spectacular as usual. As in life, not everything can be perfect all the time. But it can still be good, if we choose to make it so.

This is the first year it rained.

Not as many planes flew in as in previous years.

I had a terrible headache.

We drove by the event, because Planes always make me feel better.

One unusual sighting was a Storm Trooper!  We didn’t get to talk to him, but I bet that would’ve been fun!

We saw a few planes and a few people.

And a Helicopter.

In past years, there have been lots of antique cars to enjoy, but this year it looked like there were fewer than normal. There were several police and emergency vehicles on hand.

This Blue Auto caught my eye on the way by.

Hopefully the weather (and my head) cooperates better next year. It’s always such a fun event.

MN State Park Adventure – 6

We’re slowly continuing our all-weather, all-seasons MN State Park adventures. On a recent rainy day, we stopped at William O’Brien State Park. This park is located about an hour north of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Vehicle permits are required, and the State Park website recommends buying them online. For security reasons, they no longer accept any self-payment envelopes on site. We bought our annual ‘sticker’, for $35US in January 2023 so we’re good until January 2024.

This beautiful St. Croix River Valley area has drawn people here for centuries.

The Dakota and Ojibwe utilized the local resources of the St. Croix valley to survive. There were many fur-bearing animals, wild game, and viable plants.

In the 1600s, European trappers arrived to join in on the fur-trade.

Later, lumberjacks began to harvest the ‘endless stands’ of white pine, and the industry flourished in the mid-1800s until, the valley was cleared of white pine.

William O’Brien was a logger who bought up much of the St. Croix riverfront after it was logged. In 1947, his daughter donated 180 acres to be developed as a state park in memory of her father. The park has grown to around 2,000 acres.

Our first stop was the Visitor Center to investigate what was available at the park.

In the meeting room, there’s an indoor map with information about hiking trails and facilities.

Can you guess which houses are for bats, birds, butterflies, or ducks?

The Visitor Center had several interactive activities for learning, as well as ‘preserved wildlife’ for viewing.

“What did you see at the park today?” Sticky note answers are on the whiteboard.

Lumbering tools of the past.

St. Croix River contains over 40 different kinds of mussels or ‘clams’. It’s illegal to take, damage, or disturb them.

Due to high water and flooding, Riverside Trail was closed. Other trails were open, however they were soggy and muddy, with some snow and ice on shady sections.

In better weather, here’s a guide to the trails:


  • Wheelchair Accessible – One and one-half miles
    • The Riverside Trail is an accessible one and one-half mile loop that begins at the picnic grounds. It is self-guided with interpretive signs. There are places to stop and rest approximately every 900 feet, with benches at some of these areas. Trail map and details
  • Self Guided – One and one-half miles, accessible
    • Riverside Trail loop, begins at picnic grounds.
  • Hiking 12 miles
    • Trails range from easy to difficult, and pass through wooded areas, wetlands, and restored oak savanna areas.
  • Paved Bike – One and one-half miles


  • Cross Country Skiing – 12 groomed miles, ranging from easy to difficult
    • Trails are groomed for both classic and skate skiing.
  • Snowshoe – One and one-half miles – Riverside Trail only!
    • Snowshoers are allowed only on the Riverside Trail. No snowshoeing is allowed west of the visitor center.

Other things to do at William O’Brien State Park:

  • Camp at one of 114 campsites in 2 campgrounds
  • Have a picnic
  • Rent a boat and a fishing pole and a tackle box
  • Swim in Lake Alice (Named after William’s daughter, Alice, who donated 180 acres for the park.)
  • View the 100-year old pines
  • Borrow a GPS unit, available at the park, and go Geocaching
  • Play volleyball, horseshoes, or enjoy the ball field with a backstop
  • Canoes, kayaks, and snow shoes are also available to rent
  • Check the Events Calendar and join a Naturalist activity
  • Rent a Birding kit and observe the birds in the park

Flooding near the fishing pier, with a lone fisherman (barely visible on the far right) standing in the rain.

No matter the weather, it’s always fun to check off one more State Park from our lovely Minnesota State Parks book.

Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota

We visited this art park on a weird weather day. It was sunny, cloudy, rainy, hailing, repeatedly. Tiny sleeting hail pellets needle-poked our skin for part of our tour. We laughingly tried to duck and dodge our way through the worst parts of the weather, hoping to find shelter. By the time we found a protective spot, the hail stopped, and the sun popped out.

Interestingly enough, the art was as intriguing as the weather. We didn’t get to see it all. Firstly, there are 50 acres of masterpieces. Secondly, darker clouds looked like they were rolling in, so we saved some art for another time.

Franconia Sculpture Park is located in the scenic St. Croix River Valley of Minnesota. Franconia operates a 50-acre outdoor museum.

There’s also Inside Art to see. Start your Visit Here: to gather information and to speak with the pleasant staff.

Franconia Sculpture Park resides on the ancestral Dakota lands of the Wahpekute in Mni Sota Makoce, along the St. Croix River which also holds significance by the Ojibwe and other Native peoples.

A statement from their website:

We believe that art has the power to change the world.”

THEME: Public Art IS Public Health

Franconia has continued to safely host artist residencies throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, recognizing that many artists have lost personal and professional opportunities to thrive. Some have lost income and the potential to earn, while others have lost access to food, housing, and healthcare, impacting physical and mental health. Studies show that outdoor and public art can be especially beneficial for public health in five key areas: collective trauma, racism, mental health, social exclusion and isolation, and chronic disease. Access to public art is critical in supporting healthy communities.”

For more information about the artwork on display, click here –

Free brochure. Visiting the park is free, donations are appreciated.

My photos will not give these pieces of art the proper respect they deserve. You must go see them for yourself. If you want, I’d love to meet you there. I didn’t get to see everything.

I didn’t find information about this piece of art. Perhaps I missed it somewhere.

A Stele for Peter and Matthew. Wood, steel, found objects. By Connor McNerney.

Rocco. Steel. By Amy Toscani.

Poetry Studio. Fabricated steel, paint. By Bridget Beck (has 2 pieces of art here).

Drawing Machine #6. Steel, concrete, tractor engine. By Vince Donarski.

Bodies Left Behind. Airplane wings, aluminum, fabricated steel. By Pedram Baldari and Nooshin Hakim Javadi. Both artists born in Iran.

A sign we assumed was warning us to stay off certain sections – wild parsnip can burn your skin. But you never know where art may strike, so we took a photo of it.

A Pink-Eyed Grazer. Steel, foam, wire, paint, plastic. By Milan Warner.

Infinite Play. Painted steel. By Risa Puno.

Freighted. Wood, paint, mirrored glass, earth, vegetation. By Emily Stover.

Parade. Wood, steel, sound and light. By Mike Rathbun.

Saudade. Wood, brick, mortar, steel, copper, paint, cast iron, found wood burning stove, ashes, sand cement, cast aluminum hydrangeas. By Kendra Elyse Douglas.

Solar Tree. Fabricated steel, solar panels, led lights, paint. By Asia Ward. (Also, lovely to view at night when lit up.)

Dazzle. Fabricated steel, paint. By Chris Manzione.

Reclamation. Reclaimed shed, rope, wire rope, steel. By Melanie VanHouten.

I didn’t find information about this piece of art. Perhaps I missed it somewhere.

Playstation. Assorted steel, wood, found objects. By Bridget Beck (has 2 pieces of art here).

Johnny Appleseed. Steel. By Mark di Suvero.

bird. Paint, steel. By Michael Whiting.

We had a ton of fun even though we were pelted by rain and hail. We took this selfie at the end, mostly for our grandson who happens to really like Minecraft. This bird reminded us of that game. Michael Whiting constructed this “from welded steel and colored with bright automotive enamels, drawing from the forms and imagery of early video gaming and computer graphics”.

The MN Horse Expo

Horses make me emotional. It’s difficult for me to be around horses without getting watery-eyed in complete giddy joy – the proverbial child in a candy store. (I have similar feelings around nature, flowers, airplanes, motorcycles… I dunno why these things cause such immense joy…)

Husband and I attended the MN Horse Expo. We were fortunate to see the Parade of Breeds. Even though I loved All The Horses, especially the Friesians, Gypsy Vanners, Shires, and Mustangs – my favorite was a gorgeous Spotted Draft!! I think in part it was the gentle flow between horse and rider, they appeared to be in sync with each other. Things that make me cringe observing horses and handlers: when horse handlers “yank” harshly on the lead rope, when I see whips, when I see an unsure horse get yanked around instead of calmed down, when I see handlers who are rough and appear to have no idea how their horse feels…

A great blog to learn the best ways to treat horses is Anna Blake’s (her Facebook account has been stolen so don’t go there). Anna’s stories are not only fantastic for learning how to treat horses, but are also incredibly insightful for how to treat other humans.

(Please forgive my blurry photos.)

The Fun I Had

Life can be full of pain and misery and suffering. But it also contains fun. Most of us forget about fun when swamped with careers, kids, illnesses, bills, heartaches… I read an article by an author, who was starved for fun and joy. They began keeping a diary of the fun they had during each day. Great Idea! It’s the happier people who can actually change the world, as the complainers are already too busy complaining. This is some of the fun I’ve had in the last couple weeks.

  • One night I dreamed I was walking through a lovely, clean, well-lit mall where flowers were growing everywhere. Suddenly from my left, up above me, a large White Buffalo came running down the stairs, Smiling at me! It acted as if it knew me and missed me. I was so happy to see it! I hugged its head as it nuzzled against me. Fun Level – 9 (I took this as a sign from the Universe – that I’m loved, that things are changing for the better, that my future looks so good…).
  • My husband slid a Love Note under the bathroom door while I was in the shower. Fun level – 9 (He is the Sweetest!!! Infinite heart emojis).
  • I read an old blog post of mine on My Perfect Life. Fun level – 7 (I forgot how big my dreams are. Now my brain is wracked with the question: How do I make that life come true?
  • Went to my grandson’s birthday party at his other grandma’s house. Fun Level – 8 (to see my grandson so happy with friends and family was a great joy!).
  • Spending time with my oldest granddaughter at the same time. Fun Level – 8 (I love our bond!).
  • Seeing photos of a little granddaughter celebrating her 3rd birthday in a state far away. We sent her and her little sister, their Birthday/Easter packages a few weeks ago. Fun Level – 7 (I miss her and her family so much, but was so happy to see her have a good time!).
  • Listened to a TED talk that said Life Needs Novelty. Novelty drives up dopamine and norepinephrine, brain systems associated with focus and paying attention and rewards. Novelty is so important to well-being that researchers have identified “neophilia” — the desire to have novel experiences — as a predictor of longevity. Fun Factor – 7 (Learning is fun. And this invites me to seek out novelty.).
  • Played hooky one afternoon. Originally, we set time aside to go to granddaughter’s track meet, but then she didn’t go, as she’s young and new to the sport. Anyways, since she didn’t go this time, we took that timeslot for ourselves. We went on a lovely drive, in a different direction than usual, stopping at a different store than usual. Fun Factor – 6.5 (the sun was shining, I was with my true love. Even though I had some pain, I still enjoyed this spur of the moment adventure.).
  • Went for a walk during a wellness meeting. Fun Factor – 6.5 (It was great to walk and talk, and listen to the frogs and the ducks, and practice yoga poses.).
  • Researched European locations like Prague, Dresden, Vienna, Budapest. (Husband has a work trip coming up late fall, which we plan to extend for a vacation). Fun Factor – 8 (I always dream of seeing the world, and any opportunity to explore is purely delightful!).
  • My oldest grandchild is becoming a teenager today! She’s already received her birthday gifts from us when we saw her last weekend. She plans to have a sleepover with friends this weekend. Fun Factor – 7 (I’m so happy for her and hope her birthday is Awesome! But I’m also a little sad that time is going way too fast. My oldest grandchild is a Teenager!).

Drying Flowers – Results

On March 15,  I began a flower drying experiment.

March 15, 2023 – first day of drying.

Ten days into the experiment, I took photos. The flowers seemed to be drying quite nicely.

March 25, 2023 – 10 days of drying.

A close-up of the roses.

Close-up of Pink Alstroemeria/Peruvian lily/lily of the Incas.

Suddenly on March 26, the Pink Alstroemeria/Peruvian lily/lily of the Incas, dropped all of its petals and pistils. Photos of the dropped petals and pistils, and close-ups are at the end of this post.

On April 4, 2023, I took the roses down from their drying location.

I placed them in an older painted canning jar. They have a lovely ‘vintage’ look.

On March 26, 11 days after I began drying the flowers, the Pink Alstroemeria/Peruvian lily/lily of the Incas, dropped all their petals and pistils. I’m not sure if there was something I could’ve done differently to keep them together. I researched a bit online. The only thing I found that I might like to try next time is to press and dry them in the microwave. Otherwise, I didn’t find any lily drying tips, and maybe this is why: they fall apart.

The petals and pistils fell to the floor in clusters.

I separated the petals and pistils.

The individual petals were so pretty and delicate.

I hope to find an art project worthy of their beauty.

The stems were interesting in their odd shapes.

I definitely wish I had a microscope. I’d love to look at them more closely. This bulbous end of the Lily would normally grow and swell and contain the seeds for future crops.

At this point I have lots of questions:

  1. Since I dried the lilies, does that mean there will be no seed pods and no seeds?
  2. If so, why would that be? If left outdoors over winter, wouldn’t they dry up anyway? If left outdoors during winter, would they still be gathering nutrients in order to grow seeds?
  3. Should I keep the stems just in case seed pods appear?
  4. If I opened the bulbous end of a stem, would I see seeds? Or would I need a microscope to see seeds? Or would there be no seeds to see?
  5. How difficult is it to grow Peruvian Lilies? In my flower beds, I have several types of yellow and orange day lilies, and tiger lilies, they’re strong plants that have blossomed every year no matter our never-ending winters with umpteen feet of snow and cold. My lilies have tubers and are willing to grow wherever I transplant the tubers. I’ve never started a lily from a seed before.

Separated petals, pistils, and stems.