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Diet Code Red

March 9th, 2016 | Posted by meyerjg in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

I felt I owed it to diet Mountain Dew Code Red to title the post after it because without its perfect balance of sweet cherry flavor and high volume of bitter caffeine content, this post wouldn’t exist. So cheers to you. And yes I did just cheers to the very code red that I then drank from the glass that I used to cheers.

Remember when I used to use this blog for things other than random updates about family life and things going on in my life? Those were the days. Now by the time I usually get a few free minutes it’s after 8pm. Also my job isn’t ridiculous like it was at Bemis, so I can’t write posts during the day anymore.

So since terrestrial radio is mainly run by corporations and/or corporate sellouts and they fired somebody who I have listened to for years primarily because he made fun of one-too-many sponsors, I have completely stopped listening to normal radio and I have taken up podcasting. Nerdist and Hardcore History have been my podcasts of choice lately. Unfortunately podcasts usually have much more concentrated content (now THAT would have been a good title for a post) which make them harder to listen to while I work. I like to fully pay attention to them, which obviously doesn’t lend itself well to working.

I preordered Dark Souls III the other day. The guide too. I was on the fence about it and didn’t really know if it was something I wanted to do after such painstaking efforts to finish Bloodborne, but finally I just decided that the quality is too high to pass up. And I know I’ll get it at some point, so it might as well be when it’s new and there’s a big hyped community around the game. Also I stopped playing the Witcher, because I just can’t do it anymore. Too much dialogue, too much minimap dependence and repetitive, undistinguished scenery, and too much time required. I wish I could play a condensed version of the game. I just don’t have 80-100 hours of my life to give, especially if I’m not really enjoying it. I did start playing Dark Souls II though in anticipation of DkS III. Good warm-up exercise for next month.

I have also been listening to too much Blind Guardian lately. That became apparent last weekend when I was seriously ill with a stomach virus. I had one of those fever-driven afternoons that consisted of sleeping for 20 minutes, waking up with stomach cramps, puking my guts out, spending 40 minutes trying to fall asleep, and repeat. During those periods of awakeness when I was trying to fall asleep, I kept having random BG lyrics pound through my head in a sickening repetition. It would just be “Nightfall quietly crept in and changed us all! Immortal lands lie down in agony!” over and over. I mean it’s like I was Feanor or something and I just couldn’t let the death of the trees and the loss of the silmarils go. Right? Right? Psh. So now I’m listening to Tom Petty.

That’s really all I have to say, other than John Wick is probably the best movie of this millennium.

I have no idea why I chose that as a title other than I found a draft post that I wrote last year that just says “Where the water is clear and cold.” No title, just that. I have a number of those. They seem to be moments when I either had a good thought of something to write about….or I was drunk…and I started writing and then got distracted by something shiny.

Just a little family update here. Everything is going well, and the new baby is going to be here any moment it seems. I’m hoping to get Jax’s new room prepped this weekend while Meg is out of town. It somewhat depends on whether she takes Jax with her. If she doesn’t, I might just take him outside with me and work on cleaning the garage out.

He’s been so much fun lately. I can tell he’s starting to test us a lot more and he’s throwing more tantrums, but he’s also just getting a lot more interactive and funny. He’ll hide behind curtains or behind his hands, he’ll run away from us and laugh like crazy, and he’ll follow instructions when we try to get him to do things sometimes.

We also picked up a kids card table and a few chairs and he just loves it. That’s where he eats all of his snacks now. He’ll also just grab a book and then sit down at the table and look at it.

The only things he seems to love more than books are Bender and being outside. Also the firetruck at the Children’s learning center in downtown Appleton. We took him there a few weeks ago and the moment he saw it (we had been there once before, so he new it was coming) he started pumping his fists and going “OOOHHHHHHH!” It was pretty amazing. He loves to climb up in the drivers seat and push buttons and turn the steering wheel.

It’s crazy how quickly he’s growing up. That really hit me the other week when I noticed how big he’s getting. I’m trying to really pay attention to the small things now and to take time when I can to enjoy them. For example, Jax has always been really good at self-soothing, which is a good thing, so we are able to put him in his crib while he’s awake and he has no problems falling asleep. That’s great when you’re trying to transition out of the newborn/infant sleep phase, but it’s kind of a bummer now. So I have just been taking 10 minutes after we are done reading to let him snuggle up on my chest and doze off. Sometimes he doesn’t fall asleep, but I still appreciate the cuddle time. Pretty soon he’ll be too big to do that anymore.

First family vacation?

March 9th, 2016 | Posted by meyerjg in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

The question mark in the title is because I’m not sure. I guess this was technically the first?

At the end of February, we headed up the the Grand Lodge in Wausau for a weekend of waterpark goodness. We headed up on Thursday afternoon, got situated, and proceeded to spend the rest of the weekend having a blast. Mom and Dad came up on Friday afternoon as well to spend some time with us and Jax.

Shortly after they arrived on Friday, we headed up to go skiing at Granite Peak on Friday night. Despite the weather being pretty warm, the slopes weren’t too bad. A little icy in spots but overall it was pretty nice and the hill was pretty slow. Jax, Meg, and Mom came to meet us for dinner at the ski lodge after a few hours and we enjoyed some $9 burgers and a $20 pitcher of beer. I earned the “Wipeout of the Night” a bit later in the evening. I noticed a neat looking shortcut through the woods and mentioned to my Dad that he should follow me once we hopped off the lift because I had a plan. We got off the lift and I made a line straight for that shortcut. Unfortunately, the combination of darkness and tinted ski goggles wholly prevented me from seeing that there was a plastic fence blocking said shortcut. I nailed it at full speed, flipping completely end-over-end and getting tangled up in the fence in the process.

It was a really great time though. We stayed until park close and then headed back for some cards and a few beers. The following days were loaded with fun at the waterpark. Jax had an absolutely fantastic time. We bought him a little kid lifejacket from Costco that went over his arms (like floaties) and then just over his chest. He was struggling at first, but by Sunday he had completely figured out how to float. At that point, the only thing he wanted to do was go into the big pool. Any time we went into the kiddie pool he would just flop down onto his stomach and try to float. It wasn’t happening in the 6″ water though.

He also just loved running around the play park area. He’d take off and I’d chase after him, trying to help him dodge the other kids and avoid taking too many nasty spills. He became fascinated with the giant bucket that dumped water on everybody once every few minutes and any time the warning bell would sound, he’d stop and point. Then a few seconds later, he’d be off and running again. He just loved running underneath the waterfalls and through the tunnel. I really wish we could have taken him down some water slides – besides the very small kids one – but unfortunately they wouldn’t let us go. Maybe next year!

Honestly the whole thing was really cool and it really makes me wish we didn’t send the little guy to daycare. After a few days of having fun together I could already tell he and I were a lot closer than normal. If only I could get a little more time with the little guy every day!! We’ll see what we can do about that. At the very least, I’m looking forward to summer when I can actually take him out of the house on weekends and do something FUN!

I can’t say it was relaxing though. I got home and was totally wiped out. I needed a vacation after the vacation, and it was only 4 days long.

They simply disappear.

What a bunch of craziness lately! Random updates to ensue.

Work is going well. I’m splitting time with Informatica administration and QlikView administration. I was offered a job on the infrastructure team, which I turned down. However it did spurn a much needed conversation with my boss regarding the future of my team and my place in that structure. I was heartened to learn that I was put into the Informatica role in part to expose me to a more in-depth ETL application, and not just because the current administrator needed help. And prior to this, I was put into a Business Objects admin role – albeit temporarily – for a similar reason. The reason that this is positive news is that leadership views the future of ASA as being broken into 3 separate sub teams, one of which will be BI/ETL. Having been an administrator of all of our major BI and ETL applications, I am in a perfect position to apply for leadership of this team.

I found that simply knowing this fact was very motivating, and I’ve been making an effort to intentionally provide leadership and direction in the areas that I’m in. That has ranged from really driving our 2016 strategic BI initiatives and timelines to being involved in leading conversations regarding contingent change windows for ETL production migrations. Anyways, I feel good about it all. And I’m curious to see where it goes.

I actually feel like this was a great career move though. I’m getting a lot more headhunters looking for people with BI experience than I ever was with just Citrix experience. So if this place doesn’t work out, it seems like there is still a lot of different opportunities in the Fox Valley.

Apart from work, I also rediscovered my love for Battlefield 4, which I purchased on PS4 earlier this month. Man what a fantastic game. And I have 3 other guys who bought it at the same time, which makes it so much better. Last night a friend and I joined a game in which our team was pushed all the way back into its spawn area. We managed to not only push up and capture the mid objective, thus splitting our opponents and allowing us to flank the near objective, but we also were the ones who single-handedly detonated mid in the late game and recaptured near, securing the victory in the final moments of the game. It was really fun.

I also discovered a history podcast called Hardcore History and I’m wholly engrossed by the history of Genghis Khan and the Mongol horde. It’s really incredible stuff. Did you know they killed over 50 million people in their warpath over the eurasian steppe in the mid 1200’s? Insane. They began riding horses at 3 years old, and could pull back a 160lb bow to shoot down a bird in the sky while at a full gallop. Fighting the horde was akin to fighting a swarm of bees. They constantly rotated the front lines, stinging their enemy with quick attacks, and pulling back into the masses. They would feign retreats and ambush pursuing soldiers. It was unlike anything anybody had ever seen before.

Family life is absolutely great. I can’t believe we’re going to have another child in a few short months!! I’m excited and actually nervous again. But I can’t wait, and it’s going to be a great summer. Jaxson has been so much fun lately too. He’s developed such a great little personality and he seems so big already. He’s trying hard to say whatever we say and is working to communicate with us in other ways.

He figured out how to turn on the water in the bath tub the other day, so that has been pretty hilarious. He flips it on to cold and splashes into it, then looks at us with an angry look on his face like we’re the ones who made the water cold. Eventually the tub almost fills up and he’ll flip over to flop around like a fish.

He absolutely LOVES to read now. We do it just for fun, not even always before bed. He likes to point at things in books and is actually getting pretty good at remembering things. I have been working on showing him two things, and then asking him to point to the first one. He gets it right most of the time. I have no idea how he’s so smart already.  It still just kills me that we have to send him to daycare every day. :( I wish we could have a full time parent at home. Who  knows, maybe that’s coming.

I actually have been spending some time down in the basement with the little guy on weekends. It’s kinda great. He can have fun and explore while I alternate between playing with him and unpacking a few old boxes. He always manages to find a shovel somewhere and push it around. It’s one of his favorite things for some reason.

We also had an absolutely great time up at the Ueber cabin last weekend. It was SO much fun. We drove in late at night on Friday in a snowstorm. Pretty chill night and we just went to bed early. On Saturday we went out twice to go sledding and Jax just had the best time of his live out there. I pulled him around int he sled for hours and he just looked around and put his little hands out to grab at the snow. We also built a mini snowfort and I dug a tunnel for Jax. I got him to go through it twice! I also had a little tiny window that I made and we played peek in the window for quite a while. I love making the little guy laugh.

Family update

January 13th, 2016 | Posted by meyerjg in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

So, great news, we got to see the new baby on Friday!! The ultrasound was great and she (I’m resolved to saying “she” even though we don’t know) was looking good!! I’m pretty excited for this, and a little nervous to get back to how things are with a newborn. Jax needs a lot of attention now so this is going to be tough. But it’ll all work out. I am planning to take off 2-3 weeks of work to stay at home and spend time with the new little one.

Jax has been great lately. I haven’t posted my “stuff Jax” does stuff in a while so I’ll do that below. Christmas with the little guy was a lot of fun. We went by Meg’s parents on Christmas Eve, stayed home with just the 3 of us on Christmas Day, and spent Saturday with my family. Jax had a great time opening and playing with his presents. It was cute watching him play with Cole, too. They would chase each other around Meg’s parent’s house and laugh and laugh.

We have been trying to keep as busy as possible with the little guy. Our normal weekend routine has been to wake up and eat breakfast, spend a little time hanging out, go out and do something, come home for a nap, then have dinner and hang out until bed time. We have done a ton of fun stuff with him….we went to the kid center in downtown Appleton, where he absolutely loved the fire truck and seriously didn’t want to get out. He also ran around the obstacle room, played in the tree house, and played with some of the water stuff. It was honestly a really fun time for all of us.

We also get out to parks quite a bit because he seriously loves slides. Last weekend we went to Monkey Joes, where he ran around in a few bouncy castles and went down some inflated slides, and we also went to the play area in the mall.

We turned his car seat around for the first time before going to church on Sunday. Boy, was he excited to be forward facing in the car. It’s really need to watch him look around and study stuff. He did great in church too, where he stayed quiet for almost half of the sermon. Eventually I took him out into the lobby area where we sat and read a book and played with my name tag. His favorite part about going is definitely the singing though. He loves watching the band and the people.

Oh! And we took him to his first hockey game on New Years Eve. He was absolutely mesmerized by the game. I think we even stayed for a full 2 periods before heading home. It was SOOO much fun. He happily just sat in my lap and watched the ice, it was really cool.

So here are a handful of things he has been up to lately. Not sure how they’ll come through on the formatting, so I may have to come back and clean this up later. • Saying WOW all the time. Something comes up on TV? WOW! Snow outside? WOW!! Delicious fruit? WOW! • Throwing a ball. He’s getting pretty good! • Kicking a ball. Meg showed him how to smack his Avengers ball around, and he loves to kick it or swype it and chase it around the living room. • Extending bath time. If we ask him if he wants to get out and we put our hands out to grab him, he flops onto his stomach into the water and gives us a sly little smile. • Watching TV. He’s shown interest for the first time!! In Sesame Street too, which is pretty neat. He watched a whole episode the other day. • Snow. He noticed snow for the first time when I had him outside the other day, and tried to grab at some that was falling through the air. I let it land on my hand and he tried to grab the snowflake. • High fives and fist bumping. He’s getting it!! • Shoveling. Oh man, we bought him a shovel for Christmas and it’s his new favorite thing. I took him out with me the other day and he “helped” for a good 30 minutes. • Slides. The kid LOVES to go down slides of all kinds. • Swimming. We have taken Jax swimming twice now at the YMCA and he is a little frog! He loves the water so much. We found this little goofy life jacket for him that allows him to float. He kicks his legs like crazy when we let him sit in the water.

That’s all I can think of for now. More later for sure. He’s a good little boy and a lot of fun. :-) He sat and snuggled with me on the couch for 30 minutes the other day, dozing off as we watched the rest of the Redskins/Packers game. It’s so much fun when we can sit and relax together for a bit.

Hi there

January 13th, 2016 | Posted by meyerjg in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Ah, it’s funny, the lottery jackpot is up to about 1.3 billion and it’s literally being talked about all over the place here. I put my headphones on an hour ago and heard people talking about what they’d do with the money as I flipped on the radio. Then, as I just took them off, the first thing I heard was “don’t take the lump sum, take the yearly payments.” lol. Who knows, maybe tomorrow I’ll make a post here saying that I’m a new multi-millionaire. Everybody from work went in on it and I think we have 20 tickets (10 people). So, after taxes, I think that’d be about 40 million per person if we hit the jackpot. I could finally buy a new couch with all that dough.

So, winter is here again and I’m finding myself busy with being a recluse. I built a saw horse a month ago so I got that going for me, which is nice. I got a cool hand sander for Christmas but it’s too cold to use it in the garage, so I am not entirely sure what to do with it at this point besides wait. My goal is to build a work bench but who knows if that will happen. I need a miter saw first I think.

November – January was interesting. Meg hit a deer and totaled her car. It was an utter mess, and led to us eventually buying Kia Sorento. She promptly got the hood dented while at a parking lot, and then rear ended somebody two weeks ago. It’s been a bit of a rough stretch for her in terms of driving.

Plenty of baby stuff going on, and plenty of Jax stuff as well. I’ll make a post about that a little later. :-)

We watched the Steven Avery documentary on Netflix and were totally engrossed in it. I agreed to watch the first episode with Meg, thinking that I’d go read afterwards. I was seriously hooked though and I think we stayed up past midnight several nights in a row to finish it. Plenty of people at work and on the radio are talking about it, and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens to him. I think there’s a good chance he’s guilty, but fortunately our legal system is (supposed to be) focused on proving guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. I think he’ll get out of jail.

Other than that, been playing a ton of PS4 in my spare time. Finished Bloodborne and I feel somewhat burned out on it. I helped randoms beat Martyr Logarius for a few hours and then shut it down. The DLC was just too brutal. Plus, my backlog is growing like crazy. Just Cause 3, Witcher 3, Uncharted 1- 3, Divinity Original Sin, and now Black Ops 3 are all on my list. Factor in the games of Rocket League I have been playing with Sean and Zach and I probably need about 400 hours to finish those games. Sooooo maybe in 2-3 years I’ll be done.

Not much else. Work is okay, been trying to learn Unix and Informatica. QlikView is going well and we really shored up this system in 2015. I’m a little discouraged at the compensation for this job, which I hope to talk to my boss about later this month. We’ll see what happens I guess. The kicker is now that I’ll be doing Informatica stuff, on-call will get a lot more involved. Part of the reason I took this job was because my on-call was basically going away.

So yeah, that’s it. It’d be cool to see the Packers win this Saturday against the Cardinals but I’m not too hopeful. I think they always have a chance but they just have been out of sync for too long. But hey, you never know.

Blind Guardian

October 31st, 2015 | Posted by meyerjg in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

I have really been into a band named Blind Guardian lately. They’re officially classified as a German speed metal band, but I think that carries with it an unfitting impression.

I really enjoy the complexity of their songs – especially their later stuff – and I really get into their music. They really rival Rush for me in terms of how much I enjoy their music…when I’m in the right mood.

Here is one of my favorite songs. Hansi has an awesome voice.

Here is a great reddit post titled “a beginner’s guide to blind guardian.” Very cool into to the band. https://www.reddit.com/r/PowerMetal/comments/1j8lui/a_beginners_guide_to_blind_guardian/

 

Close to platinum.

October 25th, 2015 | Posted by meyerjg in Games - (0 Comments)

2015-10-23 16.38.36

Bloodborne will be the first game I ever earn a platinum trophy for, and that includes any game I have ever played on Xbox as well. I seriously cannot get enough of it. I just have to unlock the other endings (which should take me another hour) and then complete a few more of the chalices, which will take….who knows how long.

 

This game is seriously unlike any other game I have ever played before. And it is, without a doubt, 100% worth buying a console for this title alone. It’s so unique that it’s actually hard to describe it to people who haven’t played it before. To try and put it briefly: it’s a punishingly difficult game with an extremely deep story, which the developers intently tried to hide from you. Every step of the game – from the harrowing first major fight at the bonfire, to the defiled chalice which forces you to fight bosses a half health (meaning that if you are hit once, you’re dead meat), to the cryptic messages which allude to some strange backstory which seems to chug along fine whether or not you care to notice it – is drenched in difficulty and obscurity.  But while it sounds off-putting, the effect is quite opposite. I seriously can’t get enough of it right now.

 

I might post an “in review” entry on it at some point (first one in a while!) but honestly I don’t know how much more I have to say than that. But I’m pumped to see the release of the expansion pack next month, which I’ll link a preview for below. First Hunter Ludwig looks pretty terrifying. And the pizza cutter looks pretty intense.

 

If you’re interested in the story, here is a good synopsis of the game’s background. If you’re interested in more and want to unravel all the mysteries of Yharnam, the Healing Church, and the Mensis Ritual, I’d be happy to link the 90 page article published on the game’s storyline. lol

 

Old Hunters DLC Preview

Stuff Jax does

October 25th, 2015 | Posted by meyerjg in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

One of my biggest regrets in the last year is not being more diligent about filling out Jax’s baby book. In it, there are 12 different segments for things that he was starting to do during each month. Well, it’s never too late to start, so I’m going to jot down some notes about miscellaneous stuff that Jax is doing at the time that I’m writing the post. I think it’ll be fun for me to look back on this every once in a while and see where he was at.

 

So in the September – October 2015 timeframe, he was doing the following:

  • Saying “mama” and “dada” irregularly. Mama seemed to correlate more with food and being hungry, and Dada seemed to just be his general catch phrase and didn’t always seem to refer to me. But hey, we’ll take it. While I was gone backpacking, Meg said she’d say “where’s Dada?” and Jax would go out looking for me.
  • Saying “Daadooo” all the time. We’d point at things in books and ask him what it is, and he’d reply with Dadoo. Sometimes he’d just say it while off minding his own business. We’d here a light “Daaaadooooooo” coming from his general area.
  • Rocking back and forth on his feet. It seems like he gets bored or unsure of which way to go, and then just kinda shuffles back and forth from left to right.
  • Cabinets. He’s into every cabinet he can find. Especially the TV cabinet.
  • Dipping his hand in the bath water and quickly bringing it up to his mouth. It’s pretty hilarious. He’ll just poke his fingers in and then zip them up to his lips, and then look at us like he is being naughty. Hahaha
  • Loving Brownie, Snoopy, and his blanket. He always grabs them for big hugs when it’s near bedtime. If we’re in the bedroom, he’ll walk over to his crib and pull them through the gaps.
  • Getting chased while we’re growling. He loves loves loves to run from us and try and get away.
  • He started saying “uh-oh” and “hi” around the week of October 12th. Not often, but sometimes.
  • Really interested in books. Understands pointing and likes to point out things himself, especially the moon.
  • Blowing raspberries. He literally blew them for 15 minutes straight when we were on the way home from the store yesterday. He just seems happy as a clam doing this.
  • He squeals and runs for the front door any time we open it. He loves going outside soooo much. This winter will be tough!!

That’s all for now. I am sure there’ll be more of these posts in the future.

End of the Trail.

October 19th, 2015 | Posted by meyerjg in Backpacking - (0 Comments)

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After 5 years on the trail, we reached the border of Canada this year, making for a trip of ~220 miles, from Two Harbors up to the Canadian border. At the time that we started the trail, the southern portion near Duluth hadn’t yet been connected to the rest of the trail. It’s also, well, less like a backpacking trail and more like a nature trail. For that reason, we opted not to do the southern section of the trail. Personally I would rather either find a new place to go or I’d rather re-hike favorite segments.

So what follows is a recap of the trip. It’s basically just going to be a brain dump that covers most of what I can remember of things at this moment. I also have notes from two years ago that I haven’t posted. I will assemble them both into a more readable summary at some point but, for now, I want to get this stuff written down before I forget it.

Leading up to departure

Standard approach to the trip. It felt very relaxed this time. We put together a basic list for meals which included lots of tortillas, peanut butter, and some ramen. I also made and froze eggs & sausage to be eaten on the first morning, and noodles to be eaten with packaged tuna on the first night. We also brought cliff bars, homemade energy bars (1c honey, 1c PB, 3c oatmeal), crystal light, and coffee. Lots of coffee.

Unpacked most things the weekend before the trip. Dad arrived at about 8:30 or 9:00 on Monday and we sorted out our gear and hit the sack.

Tuesday, October 13th

Left home at about 4:15. Made it past Fremont when I realized I forgot my phone. Anger ensued, along with a trip back home and a 60 minute delay. Stopped at Wal Mart and Culvers and we were only about 30 minutes late to our shuttle driver’s RV repair shop / antique store. As usual, Harriet was a trip. We walked through the door and she asked us if I was the real John Mayer and then she introduced us to her parrot. Before long, we drove up to Otter Lake Rd and dropped off our car and then drove back down to Kadunce River with Harriet. She told stories about the insane politician who rearranges the rocks around his house and the hippie who runs a beaver skin hat shop with the “open 10-4, unless I’m not here” sign on the door.

Dropped off and hit the trail. We only went about 5 miles the first day, but it was a tough 5. Part of it took place along the Lake Superior coast in the sand. We abandoned that section of the trail and just road walked it up to the next trailhead. It was brutal. Walking in sand is hard enough without a 45lb backpack on your back, and we were pressed for time.

We made it to the South Little Brule river campsite at about 5:30 without too much excitement. Unpacked, gathered wood, ate dinner, sat around the fire, and went to bed at about 8:00. The weather was great. The fuel canister seemed light so we weren’t sure if it had been full or not. Uh oh.

Wednesday, October 14th

Long day ahead of us so we tried to get going early. Ate a few breakfast burritos and enjoyed a few cups of coffee. Hit the trail at about 9:30 with ~14 miles of trail ahead of us. We hammered out the first 6 miles in about 2ish hours and stopped for a rest and snack at the Devil’s Kettle falls at about 11:45. Very very cool, and it was listed as one of the most dynamic falls on the entire trail. There were quite a few campers there from the Judge Magney state park campsite. We warmed up in the sunlight and rested up for a bit before moving on. We were both awestruck by the way the river drained into a huge sinkhole (the Devil’s Kettle) and I still have no idea where that water was going. I’ll be uploading a video to youtube before too long.

We were both exhausted by the time we rolled into camp at about 5:00 (I think). I was 100% ready to say that I needed to stop for about 20 minutes to eat and just relax without my pack on. We were very very happy to see that this site (Hazel) had a bear cable, so no need to hunt down a place to hang the rope up. The one downside was that the water source was 1.8 miles away. Thankfully, we read the book beforehand and knew that was coming, so we filled up an extra 64oz jug and threw it in my pack so we wouldn’t have to skimp on the coffee.

We were running low on fuel during dinner and had to leverage the fire. Looked like we’d only have enough left for a pot of coffee in the morning and that would be the end of it.

We heard a wolf pack howling at night. Twice I heard them all sound off. There had to be at least 6 or 7 distinct howls in the group. It was awesome and scary at the same time. We also heard a massive crashing in the brushes just outside of the firelight as a deer (we think) ran around our camp. Poor guy, he was headed straight for the wolves.

Lots of road hiking today and trails that cut through private land. It was kind of a bummer. Road hiking is way worse than trail hiking because it’s super boring and not necessarily any easier to do.

Thursday, October 15th

Last full day on the trail. We had only 12 miles today so we took our time getting on the trail. Exhausted our remaining fuel trying to warm up water for coffee. We ran into another hiker on the trail who had just stayed at the Carlson site a few miles north and was heading in the opposite direction. Very nice guy and it was nice to chat with him. He gave some tips for places to get some water, and we gave some tips to avoid the very sloped South Little Brule river campsite down near Kadunce.

More road walking today but it wasn’t as bad because they were logging roads/trails and not normal gravel roads. Really nice morning. The weather was a little colder than yesterday, but it was still very sunny in the morning.

This was the first day on this trip that we got some great views. Some high points gave us nice scenery of the lake and surrounding area. After descending from a peak into a lower valley in which most of the trees had been knocked down, I heard a bunch of crashing in the woods. I signaled to my Dad and we waited for 5-10 minutes to see if we could see it. It was definitely BIG. Either a bear or something. We didn’t hear anything else so we though maybe it was a beaver pulling a tree through the woods. The sky looked ominous and it was starting to rain a bit, so we went on our way. At the clearing we saw fresh moose tracks and realized that we had missed an opportunity to see our first moose. We were bummed.

A few minutes later and it was raining hard. We scrambled to get rain gear on and then kept hiking. It only rained for a bit and then quit. We arrived at camp mid afternoon and started to set up right away. First priority was getting some pine boughs to lay beneath the tent to help keep things dry, and then to set up the tent. Second was firewood, which took forever. Third was to get water. It started to rain while we were getting water so we hoofed it back to camp to get our stuff covered up. It rained for about 30 minutes and then got very cold. We were super soaked, so we built a fire to try and dry off. Overall morale was a little low but we were able to get a fire started easily enough that it picked right back up. Glad to go bed and get warm.

Friday, October 16th

Woke to weird looking water droplets on the tent and very cold air. Eventually sat up and started to get moving at like 7:30. We realized the water droplets looked weird because they were frozen. Also my shoes, which had been left outside of the tent in the vestibule, were frozen solid. Everything outside was covered in frost, which persisted (even in the direct sunlight) until mid afternoon. We got a fire going again and did our best to get warm. Thankfully we had dried our gloves the night before or we would have been in sorry shape.

We shook all the ice off the tent and worked hard to collapse the frozen poles. Hit the trail around 10:00 with only 7ish miles to go on the day. We both hiked in our new Marmot jackets, which were actually rain gear, but stayed extremely comfortable in the cold weather. They were a huge surprise. We took our time on the way out and stopped for lunch to eat our last few tortillas. Not a lot of excitement on the trail, other than the cool sight of falling leaves and frost & ice covered ground. The rain seemed to have frozen on everything before evaporating the night before. We reached the highest point of elevation on the trail (1850 feet) but there wasn’t anything super spectacular about it. There were a few good views along the way.

The last leg of the trail was on an old logging road. As we got near the cars without knowing it, we saw a mini tornado / whirlwind of leaves on the road. It looked cool and when we realized it wasn’t stopping after a few seconds, we both stopped and stood and watched it. It approached slowly and dissipated at our feet, which was very awesome. We took a few more steps and realized that we had made it to the car.

We loaded up the packs and started the mile trek up to the 270 degree overlook. Walking without a pack on seemed so easy. Before long we were at the overlook and it was really awesome. We found the border marker and stood with one foot in Canada and one in the US. Lots of great pictures with some very cool sights in the distance. We couldn’t believe the landscape into Canada. It was a great way to end the trail.

After this we headed up to Thunder Bay where we were totally underwhelmed by the town. We decided to head back to Grand Marais to get a hotel as that was more of our scene. After literally hours of searching, we FINALLY found a hotel room in Silver Bay. The AmericInn gave us the “hospitality suite” which, as it turns out, is a super great room that borders the pool, has no deadbolt, has no actual beds, and costs $100. Haha. But it served the purpose and we slept on a pullout couch and roll-away bed. It was a nice change from the ground, and there were hot showers there. It went just perfect with a belly full of nice hot pizza.

Saturday, October 17th

We enjoyed breakfast at the hotel and grabbed some shirts in Two Harbors before we hit Duluth. We spent another few hours looking for a hotel and couldn’t find anything. Apparently this is a tourist hotspot in Minnesota and there isn’t a single hotel room available for hundreds of miles of highway. We had a few beers at the Broken Paddle brewery and went into Superior. Here we found a single room available at an old run down hotel. But hey, it was within walking distance of The Thirsty Pagan Brewery, which is where we spent the next 6.5 hours drinking beer and eating pizza. We had a good time, got drunk early, and were in bed by 10:30. It was a great way to wrap up all the years of effort out on the trail!

 

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