Sunday, July 27, 2014

Peaks and Valleys - Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 31

For the 31st week in the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I chose Peaks and Valleys  by Spencer Johnson.

Basically, the book is a parable about a young man who lives unhappily in a valley. One day he meets an old man who lives on a mountain peak. At first the young man doesn’t realize that he is talking to one of the most peaceful and successful people in the world. However, in the course of additional visits and conversations, the young man understands that he can apply the old man’s remarkable principles and practical tools to his own life to change it for the better.

The author said about using the parable format for this book that he really enjoys learning, but doesn't like to be taught. He feels that many people are like that: they don’t like to be told what to do. With a parable, you pick and choose what you find valuable. What you don’t find valuable, you toss it or ignore. You decide what is true based on your experiences. Parables are much more powerful. What we learn lasts longer in our hearts and minds…and we are more apt to use it.

So, I listened to the book on CD since there wasn't a hard copy of it available at the library. There were many good points that are worth noting that I wish I had the actual book to re-read and fully absorb the message.

That being said, I ended up replaying many sections of the book so I could write down what I wanted to remember. These are the concepts that resonated most with me:

- When people know how to make both good and bad times work for them, they worry less and do better.

- It is natural for everyone to have both peaks and valleys in their lives. It's the highs and lows you feel at work or life. These personal peaks and valleys minutes, months, or longer.

- Peaks and valleys are connected. Who is to say where the highest part of the valley ends and the lowest part of the peak begins.

- The errors you make in today's good times create tomorrow's bad times. And the wise things you do in today's bad times create tomorrow's good times.

- People make things better when they return to basics and concentrate on what matters most which is what creates good times for them later. Too many people fail to manage their good times and do not notice that they are creating their own future bad times. They waste too many resources well and get away from the basics.

- How you experience a valley has a lot to do with how long you are in it.

- Peaks are moments are when you appreciate what you have. Valleys are moments for when you long for what you are missing.

- If you want to have fewer valleys, have fewer comparisons.

- You cannot always control external events, but you can control your personal peaks and valleys but what you think and do.

- Choosing a better belief usually leads you to a much better result.

- Look for the good in a bad situation.

- The path out of the valley appears when you choose to see things differently.

- You can change your valley into a peak when you find and use the good that is hidden in the bad times.

- How you manage your valley will determine when you get to your next peak.

- If you don't learn in a valley, you will become bitter. If you do learn, you will become better.

- A plateau can be a time for you to reflect, rest, and renew

- You can have fewer bad times when you appreciate and manage your good times wisely.

- Those who are unprepared for a peak soon fall from it and experience pain.

- Your ego can make you arrogant on the peak and fearful in the valley. It keeps you from seeing what is real. When you're on a peak, your ego makes you see things as better than they really are. And when you're in a valley, your ego makes you see things as a worse than they really are. It makes you think that a peak will last forever and that a valley will never end.

- The most common reason why you leave a peak too soon is arrogance masquerading as confidence. The most common reason you stay in a valley too long is fear masquerading as comfort.

- Most people think of valleys as times of frustration, hurt, disappointment, anger, and failure. Remember what happens when you find and focus on the good that is hidden there. You can change a valley into a peak. But it takes a remarkable person to truly appreciate and use what is hidden in a valley.

- Getting out of a valley means can be done by creating and following your own sensible vision. A vision of a future peak you want to be on. Something as big as you can envision, but also is realistic.

- The pain in a valley can wake you up a truth you have been ignoring.

- A personal peak is a triumph over fear.

- The good and bad times are truly gifts. Each has great value if they are managed well.

- Humility – helps you stay on your peaks longer.

- A valley is an opportunity to grow – to create something better in life. Look for the gifts in a valley it can bring you to a new and better place. Purpose of the peak is to celebrate life, and the purpose of the valley is to learn about life.

- Our fear keeps us trapped.

- What is the truth in this situation? (Ask this question in both times of the peaks and valleys.)

- Save and invest your increased salary.

- Say less and do more.

- If you replace fear with love you will be more likely to be loved.

- Imagine your better self in every detail (e.g., make a difference in the world, never take for granted the people closest to you). Hold this picture close in your mind and heart.

- Peaks and valleys are opposites. Look at what put you in the valley and do the opposite You’ll get the opposite result.

- Part of the old man was within him and always would be with him.

- To get out of a valley sooner, find and use the hidden good in the time of bad.

- Be of more service at work and loving in life.

- Be humble and grateful.

- Keep making things better.

- Save resources for your upcoming valleys.

- It doesn’t matter where a person lived, but how one lives.

- Wishing leads to new action. Create a sensible vision instead. Envision the vision using all your senses.

- Make reality your friend.

- How is your approach working? If it isn’t working out, then you’re probably not in touch with the truth. You’re living an allusion.

- Is this raising or lowering your energy? If it’s stressful or lowering your energy, then it isn’t the truth. If it’s raising your energy, then you’re living in truth…with integrity.

- Sometimes things are so bad that you can only see the bad – the negative. But if you look for the good, then you will come out in a better place…a place better than you were in before you entered the valley.

- What if we couldn’t do everything we want to do due to a lack of money? What if we just spent time with people doing free things?

- Don’t focus so much on success. Focus more on peace of mind.

- The more grateful you are when you are on a peak, the more you experience a higher energy and the happier you feel. You are almost practicing gratitude on the peak just like when you need gratitude skills when you are in the valley.

- Success is progress towards a worthwhile goal.

Friday, July 25, 2014

101 Days of Summer Fun - Update #9

This week we didn't quite follow the original plan for the 101 Days of Summer Fun that I had hoped we would do. The reality of life and home repairs definitely interfered with what we were able to do. Yet each day was full of things we did - both fun and practical things that are part of real life.

Saturday, July 19 - Since Olivia loves rock climbing, she and I went to Taylors Falls and did the I Can Climb! program that's offered through the DNR. She wanted to do a climb that she tried last year but wasn't able to reach the top. This year she was determined to climb the entire way up.

She stuck with the climb and made it to the very top!

She did another even more ambitious climb that involved climbing around a tree and adjusting the rope around sections of rock that protruded above her.

She did a great job with that climb as well and made it to the top. Rock climbing is definitely her sport!

Sunday, July 20 - Last week when we came back from the trip up north, we noticed a rather significant water stain on the ceiling below the bathroom. The stain on the right is right by the bathtub and the little hole to the left  is below a section of the drain where there's a PVC elbow.

The stain has increased in size and on Monday the bathroom will be gutted and reconstructed.

Until then, we have a quart jar on the dining room table collecting water that is dripping through the ceiling every time someone takes a shower or bath. This can't be good.

Paige took the girls to pick up their projects at the county fair. It was very hot and humid, so although it was fun to see the animals (like the rabbits), it was also nice to get back home to air conditioning.

Monday, July 21 - Today Sophia, Olivia, and I went to the nursing home and helped the seniors play "big bowling." The seniors have a lot of fun doing this, and we are happy to help make this activity happen there.

Although everything is large - the bowling ball and pins - it is still is challenging to get the pins down.

After the seniors were done playing, they wanted to see Sophia, Olivia, Tia (the volunteer director), and I play as well. It was wonder they enjoy this activity so much!

Tuesday, July 22 - Olivia had an appointment with the orthodontist. This is a follow-up to having braces a couple of years ago and then needing to finish the work once all her adult teeth came in.

We went to the library for a bit, and then came back home. Construction on the bathroom continued.

The walls are being removed, part of the floor, the bathtub, and the tiling on the floor and walls. It's a complete tear-out. It seems like the more that is removed, the more bad things are discovered. At least things will be fixed and up to code once everything is done.

Wednesday, July 23 - In the morning, we attended a funeral for one of  the seniors whom we enjoyed visiting at the nursing home: John Jackson. The girls each wrote a memory they had of John on a card and attached it to a hydrangea from our garden.

One of the employees from the funeral home had the girls place their flowers right up front with the beautiful big bouquets of flowers. He was touched by the fact that they wrote memories of John and said that the family will enjoy reading them.

The girls spent some time in the afternoon with their friend, Mary B. She wanted to see and hear about their projects that they submitted to the fair.

After Mary left, we went to the Scandia Farmers Market today and enjoyed seeing Joanne (a volunteer with the Ann Bancroft Foundation), Pam Arnold, and Ann Bancroft.

We bought a lot of delicious fresh produce that Pam and other farmers grew. It was Wellness Wednesday at the market, so there were samples to taste, music, and activities. Lots of fun!

Thursday, July 24 - This was Aspen's last day of puppy obedience training. She did very well.

She's always so alert at class and is getting more comfortable with the different dogs, people, and activities.

This week there were some basic agility activities for the puppies to try. Plus some different things to do - like putting an item of clothing around the puppy's neck and taking it to a hoop to sit.

The bathroom is coming alone, but we still don't have use of the bathtub yet. However, we are one step closer! The bathtub is in place with its lovely bright blue protective color.

This is a soaking tub so it is taller than the last tub we had, plus has an angled back and arm rests.

Friday, July 25 - Sophia and Olivia worked on their projects for the county fair after we did a cat therapy visit in the morning at the nursing home.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ice Cream Floats for Seniors

For one of Sophia's 4-H projects this year, she made a variety of ice cream floats for seniors at a nursing home where we volunteer. The seniors enjoyed the variety of flavors of floats since they normally only offer root beer floats at activities there.

The first one that she made came from this pin on Pinterest which led to this site:

Creamsicle Float

2-4 cups vanilla ice cream
1 can (12 ounces) orange soda

In a tall glass, put as much ice cream as you want. Tilt the glass to the side and pour in the soda to reduce the foam and bubbles.

She also made a Cupid Float that was on Eclectically Vintage and this pin:

Cupid Float

2-3 scoops French vanilla ice cream
Cherry 7-Up
Whipped cream
Maraschino cherry

Scoop ice cream into a tall glass. Slowly pour 7-Up over ice cream. Swirl whipped cream on top. Top with a maraschino cherry. (For the floats that Sophia made, she didn't include the whipped cream or cherry since it is easier for the seniors to eat without them plus doesn't pose a choking hazard.)

A float that uses sherbet instead of ice cream provided a different taste. The pin led to Home Cooking Memories:

Lime Sherbet Float

2-3 scoops lime sherbet
1 can of lemon-lime soda

Use a clear glass and fill it with scoops of lime sherbet. If you don’t have clear glasses, you can use any cup or glass you might have, but having clear is nice so you can actually see all the green. You could use a pint-sized canning jar if you don’t have a clear glass.

Pour the lemon-lime soda over the sherbet you just placed in your glass.

A classic float, called the Purple Cow, was the first choice of several seniors. The pin for the recipe led to Simply Kierste:

Purple Cow (Grape Float)

2-4 cups vanilla ice cream
1 can (12 ounces) grape soda

In a tall glass, put as much ice cream as you want. Slowly pour the soda into the glass until you reach the top.

And, of course, we can't forget the standard root beer float as seen on this pin that led to Town and Country Magazine:

Root Beer Float

1 pint vanilla ice cream
2 bottles very cold old-fashioned root beer
Freshly whipped cream, for garnish (optional)

Spoon a few scoops of vanilla ice cream into 2 tall float glasses. Pour the root beer slowly over the ice cream and top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

0ne Amazing Thing - Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 30

For the 30th week in the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I read One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni.

The premise of the book is that nine people, who are in the passport office in the basement of the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, are yoked together by fate when an earthquakes hits. After stabilizing everyone and the situation as much as possible, one of the people who is trapped suggests that they share stories about themselves. The storytelling is done not only to pass the time, but to distract themselves from the desperateness of their situation.

The purpose of the storytelling was to share "one amazing thing" from one's life. For that reason, I was anticipating a moving and inspiration novel. On the contrary, the stories were not that unique, uplifting, or amazing. In fact, most the stories are just experiences that happened to the characters...they weren't anything that were so moving that I felt changed by reading this book.

Perhaps the author had a reason for choosing ordinary stories for each of the "amazing" things. Maybe the point was that the stories didn't have to be amazing to others. Rather, they were amazing...important...significant in some way to the teller of the story.

And, essentially, that's what any story is in concept. It has meaning for the storyteller, but not necessarily for the listener. The listener may be moved - or not - by the story s/he hears, but it is often times more important for the person telling the story to be able to share it with others.

In the case of One Amazing Thing, as the small group of people trapped in the building comes to realize they may never be rescued, they become almost desperate to tell their stories, to reveal themselves. With some stories, it almost felt like listening to a confessional.

Each of the the stories shared in the book show us that the people were vulnerable and have suffered loss and regret; and they have loved and have hurt. In sharing themselves they could better accept themselves and each other. An angry young man perhaps said it best:

"...having put my story up against others I can see this much: everyone suffers in different ways. Now I don,t feel so alone."

One thing I did enjoy about One Amazing Thing was the rich vocabulary that the author used. There were many words used that are not commonly part of everyday conversation.

Overall, I was intrigued by and attracted to One Amazing Thing by the blurb on the back cover and inner cover. I wanted to enjoy it, but I wasn't that impressed. There have been many other books that I have read this year that have been much more enjoyable and inspiring to read.

Friday, July 18, 2014

101 Days of Summer Fun - Update #8

We are continuing with the 101 Days of Summer Fun. This is what we did:

Saturday, July 12 - Today Olivia and I went rock climbing at Tettegouche State Park along the north shore of Lake Superior.

It was, by far, one of the most challenging mornings of rock climbing that either of us had ever done.

We had done rock climbing at Taylors Falls, but this type of climbing was completely different. You are lowered from the top of the cliff down to where you want to start climbing.

The first climb was very challenging because it was essentially a sheer cliff that you had to make your way up before you got to a section that had more features in it. The features allow you place the tips of your toes or your hands as you make your way up to the top.

Both of us experienced periods on the climb where we thought we couldn't make it. But, we persevered and made it!

It was such a sense of accomplishment when we reached the top of both climbs.

In the afternoon, Sophia, Olivia, and I did some sea kayaking on Lake Superior. The starting point was Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. When we arrived, we changed into wet suits, put on wet shoes, and the girls each wore baseball caps to keep the sun out of their eyes and their heads a bit cooler.

After learning how to put together the paddle and some tips on paddling, we headed out with a group. We went northeast towards the lighthouse and saw a different view of it than we had seen before.

We continued northeast around the cliff and came to a small sea cave.

We kayaked into the sea cave and explored the walls closely and then kayaked back out.

We continued northeast to an area where there was a shipwreck - the Maderia. The ship crashed back in 1905- five years before Split Rock Lighthouse was built. We were able to see large sections from the ship - including a porthole, big pieces of metal with rivets in them, and smaller pieces of the ship.

It was a beautiful and informative kayaking experience that was both relaxing as well as invigorating.

Sunday, July 13 - We drove back home from Two Harbors. We stopped at Tobies in Hinckley for baked goods to bring home.

This was such a wonderful trip and one that was filled with lots of activities and great memories!

Monday, July 14 - The girls relaxed at home and worked on 4-H projects while I visited my mom. I was able to see my brother and two of his children at Culvers where we all enjoyed lunch together.

Tuesday, July 15 - We took Cooper for his weekly agility lesson. He did very well and was focused and excited to be there.

The regular instructor, Diane, wasn't there. So, Sue filled in. She had some great tips and ideas for each of the dogs.

Wednesday, July 16 - The girls entered their 4-H projects in the Chisago County Fair this year - each having over 20 projects.

Each project receives an award that is based on 50% the project itself and 50% the youth's knowledge and interviewing skills.

The girls were pleased with how they did on their projects, and felt relieved when all the interviews were completed.

Thursday, July 17 - Sophia and I went back to the county fair to do two hours of volunteer work in the 4-H cafeteria. This is a requirement for youth who win a trip to the State Fair.

When we arrived, the trips had not yet been announced. So, we came back afterwards and the list was posted. Sophia had qualified to go to the State Fair for many of her projects. Even Olivia won a State Fair trip, but couldn't go since she was too young (next year she will be able to compete at the state level).

Sophia was pleased to see that her display about drying fruit received the Grand Champion award in the food preservation section. She decided to go the State Fair with this project.

Friday, July 18 - Olivia turned 11 1/2 years old today, and we celebrated her half birthday. As requested, I made caramel rolls for breakfast. This is a favorite breakfast of hers on special occasions.

There were gifts to open throughout the day. Lunch time brought a brownie sundae. The brownie is a sea salt and caramel one. Sophia put some ice cream and chocolate syrup on it to make it extra special for Olivia.

After dinner at Olivia's restaurant of choice (Perkins), she opened her final presents at home.

It has been a busy - but very fun - week! 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

0pen Heart - Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 29

Elie Wiesel’s Open Heart was the book I selected for the 29th week of the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge. I read one of his other books, Night, after he appeared on Oprah; and found it to be a moving, insightful, and reflective book. So, with Night in mind, I was looking forward to reading Open Heart.

This book, however, left me feeling both surprised and a bit disappointed. It did not have the depth that I was expecting considering the topic as well as what Mr. Wiesel is capable of writing.
Open Heart centers on Mr. Wiesel’s open heart surgery at 82 years old. Prior to and following the surgery, he reflects back on his life. He thinks about people, situations he’s been in, books he’s written, and his time at concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

It is clear that he feels an immense sense of gratitude and love towards his life, children, and grandchildren. He conveys these eloquently not only for the benefit of the reader, but more so for his family who will read and treasure his words.

He wonders if he has done enough for those who survived as well as those who perished during World War II at the hands of the Nazis. He wrote about his family who also were sent to the concentration camps. Although he spent time with his father at one, his family died before they could be liberated. Yet, as Mr. Wiesel points out, “In truth, my father never leaves me. Nor do my mother and little sister. They have stayed with me, appearing in every one of my tales, in every one of my dreams. In everything I teach.”

Mr. Wiesel’s faith is woven throughout the book. He questions God; reflects upon mankind and decisions people make and their impact; and wonders about justice and tolerance.

I found parts of the book interesting – particularly because they struck a personal chord with me or reminded me of situations that I’ve encountered in my life. The first one was as Mr. Wiesel was nearing the time of the surgery and seeing his family before the nurses were going to bring him to the operating room. He thinks, “Through the tears that darken the future, a thought awakens a deeper concern, a deeper sorrow: Shall I see them again?”

It reminded me of when my dad was going to have two different surgical procedures done at one time many years ago. Before he was going into surgery, he handed me his small leather-bound notebook that had some information in it. I was to hold onto it while he was in surgery and give it back to him when he left the hospital.

When he was in surgery, I opened the notebook. There was a note that my dad wrote that said something to the effect of how – if he didn’t make it out of surgery – that he wanted us to know how much he loved my mom, his kids, and grandkids. Like Mr. Wiesel, my dad wondered if he was going to make it out of surgery and wanted his family to know how much he loved them. As a side note, I re-read what my dad wrote many times while he was in surgery. It meant to me to know that his family was on the top of his mind at such a critical time.

Something I learned was written in the sixth chapter. Mr. Wiesel was asked to count to ten as the anesthesiologist began his work. He asked for a minute before he began counting because as “a practicing Jew, before giving up his soul, if he lacks the time to properly prepare himself, [he] must at least recite a short prayer – a kind of act of faith – a prayer he has known since childhood.”

I liked the advice he shared that was from a Talmudic sage: “It is incumbent on you to live as if you were to die the next day.” That’s such good advice, and worth hearing multiple times. How many times do we waste parts of our day, only to regret it later? It is much better to live intentionally and try to make the most out of each day rather than letting time slip away.

The author shared a bit about his novel The Forgotten which deals with Alzheimer’s Disease and the fear of forgetting. He wrote, “I compare the patient to a book whose pages are torn out day after day, one by one, until all that remains is the cover. I wonder whether this disease could strike an entire community. Or an entire era.”

I have never heart of the analogy of Alzheimer’s Disease to a book, but it is a quite fitting description. I always described the process of Alzheimer’s Disease that I was seeing in my father as one of a beautiful oak tree.

In its glory, the oak tree is strong, large, and has deep and wide-spread roots. It is anchored in the ground and its branches are so beautifully and widely outstretched. Gradually, a leaf falls off here and there. Before long, an entire branch may be revealed…its leaves having fallen gently to the ground – at times, imperceptible to those around it.

As time passes, more branches are revealed. Before long, the entire tree no longer has leaves. It is only a complicated framework…a tangle…of branches, large and small.

Eventually, branches begin to fall. Some small. Some large. And then only the trunk – the core of the tree – remains. It is still anchored into the ground – its foundation. Yet, it is only a shell…a fragment… of what was once there. That – to me – describes Alzheimer’s Disease and what I witnessed.

At any rate, Mr. Wiedel’s analogy to a book reminded me of the oak tree. Of my father. Of loss and grief. Of reflection. And, perhaps, that’s the point of this book. It is to make one reflect on one’s life – just like the author reflected on his life.

If that’s the goal, then Open Heart succeeded in doing that. For that, I am thankful that I read this book.

BILL HATFIELD – guy who helped us on Gunflint Lake.

Friday, July 11, 2014

101 Days of Summer Fun - Update #7

This week was definitely the highlight of our summer so far. We took a trip to the North Shore - including Gunflint Trail, Grand Marais. We still have Silver Bay and Two Harbors that we will be exploring over the upcoming weekend.

Saturday, July 5 - In preparation for the trip, Sophia and Olivia focused on finishing their 4-H projects. It was a rather intense day with getting photos and information on poster boards and in binders. With each project they completed, they felt a sense of relief.

Sunday, July 6 - We're still preparing for the 4-H county fair, but managed to take some breaks in between working on projects.

Sophia took Bailey on a walk in the backyard. She enjoyed eating the grass and weeds.

The dogs maintained a safe distance from the horse, but Bailey didn't seem to mind her "backyard pasture" companions.

Monday, July 7 - Olivia made delicious molasses cookies that had caramel sauce drizzled on them. They are for a 4-H project under the "Candyland" theme (a special theme chosen by the ambassadors).

The cookies are very soft and definitely a recipe that we will be making again.

Tuesday, July 8 - We drove to Gunflint Lodge for the start of our trip. After we ate dinner and settled in a bit, we noticed a yearling black bear walking outside our window.

Of course, we all had to go outside for a closer look and better photos than the one above. Unfortunately, the bear was faster than we were and escaped into the woods before we could get better pictures.

Wednesday, July 9 - Today we went horseback riding for about an hour. It was a nice - yet challenging - ride on rocky paths, up and down steep hills, through mud, and through little creeks across the trails.

It was much different than riding on level ground, and we were all challenged (in a good way) with learning to ride through obstacles in our paths.

We weren't allowed to take pictures on the trail. Noise from cameras - or if a camera dropped - could startle the horses and cause problems for all the horses and riders.

So, we settled for pictures of us before we left on the ride.

We each enjoyed the horses we were assigned to, and had a great time.

After the ride, we went to Gunflint Lake and spent time along the shoreline to watch the ducks.

Sophia spotted a butterfly.

Then we took a ride on a fishing boat on Gunflint Lake. It was a bit more choppy than last year when we went. After getting out a bit on the lake, we went faster. Then something happened and the next thing I knew we abruptly went in an almost full circle at top speed, knocking me off the bench and the girls holding onto their chairs. Needless to say, it was one of those times we were very happy to be wearing a life jacket.

Shortly after that, I stopped  to take a picture and to rest my hand from operating the power/steering. I moved my hand too much and the safety bracelet came off of the boat and cut off the motor. We were drifting on the lake.

All of us tried to figure out where the hook attached. We thought we had it figured out, but the boat didn't start.

At this point, as we drifted closer to the rocky shoreline, we decided to start paddling towards the nearest dock. We tied the boat and anchor to the dock and then Olivia and I went ashore while Sophia stayed with the boat.

Thankfully, there was a year-round resident at home who came down to help us. He tried to figure out what was wrong. After some time he noticed that the boat was still in gear. After moving the level to neutral, he got the  boat to start. We learned something new on that boating excursion.

We explored the lake a bit more, and then came back to the lodge. We relaxed a bit and then Olivia and I went to a presentation about snakes.

The naturalist, John, showed us a corn snake while talking about snakes. We learned a lot of facts about snakes.

Olivia had a chance to touch the snake after the presentation.

Thursday, July 10 - I went on a morning birding hike while the girls rested. Saw a lot of interesting things along the mile or so long hike. One thing that John, the naturalist, pointed out was the orderly holes in pine trees.

The holes are made by the yellow-bellied sapsucker. According to All About Birds,

"The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker makes two kinds of holes in trees to harvest sap. Round holes extend deep in the tree and are not enlarged. The sapsucker inserts its bill into the hole to probe for sap. 

"Rectangular holes are shallower, and must be maintained continually for the sap to flow. The sapsucker licks the sap from these holes, and eats the cambium of the tree too. New holes usually are made in a line with old holes, or in a new line above the old."

After I came back, we put our garbage out in the can by the door of our cabin so that it could be picked up while we were on a trail ride. In less than an hour, we came out to find that the bear cub had returned and explored our garbage.

There were holes in the lid left by the bear's claws and/or teeth.

Around 11:25 we left for the trail ride that included lunch. There was a family of five (two adults and three children) and us - so eight riders plus the two guides.

Sophia and I had the same horses as we did the previous day, so we were used to them. Olivia was given a new horse.

We rode for about 1 1/2 hours, and then stopped for lunch. The chef from the lodge and the naturalist were there with food that we each had ordered the day before. We all had something different, and the chef had everyone's food ready to go when we arrived.

After we ate, we rode for another 1 1/2 hours and then came back to the lodge. The girls went to the beach for about an hour to play with the two other girls on the trail ride.

Then Olivia went with the girls to their cabin for a time and then to ours while Sophia and I went zip lining.

There was quite a bit of equipment to put on for zip lining.

After we were geared up and did some basic training at "ground school," we went on an ATV ride to the first platform.

There were a variety of platforms above tree-top level that we stood on while we waited. There were 5 people in our group plus the two guides, so we didn't have to wait very long between rides.

The longest section was 800 feet. You pick up quite a bit of speed by the middle of the run.

We got to Lookout Point and had great views of Gunflint Lake, Magnetic Lake, and Canada in the distance.

After that view, our next part of the zip line course was "The Plank." You had to walk off the plank (essentially the side of the cliff) and then go on the line. Looking at the picture below, you can't even see the next platform it's that far away.

When we returned, Sophia and Olivia spent some time with the girls they met on the horseback ride. They walked on the beach and talked.

They did some exploring in the water and on shore.

That night, Ava and Olivia R. came over to our cabin and the girls played games, talked, and had snacks until a bit after 10 p.m. Judging from all the laughter, they had a great time together.

Friday, July 11 - Today we awoke to fog. Throughout the morning, there was drizzle, rain, and a downpour. Because we enjoyed the horseback riding so much, we decided to stick with going on the ride despite the fog and drizzle/light rain.

We ended up being the only three riders that morning along with the two guides which was nice. The guides knew us by that time, so that was good. They knew the types of horses each of us was capable of handling, and we were given new ones which provided a completely different experience than the rides we had previously.

We checked out of Gunflint Lodge and then headed down to Grand Marais. We had hoped to go on sailing trip at North House Folk School, but everything was fogged in. The captain wouldn't cancel the trip until 1/2 hour before the departure time, so we had 1 1/2 hours to spend in town.

We ate lunch and then went to the trading post and Ben Franklin store. The girls liked both stores, especially the Ben Franklin one. There were a lot of different things to see, and it felt like walking into lots of stores - Michaels, Joanns, Fleet Farm, Target, etc.

We returned to North House at 2:30, and - sure enough - the sailing trip was cancelled. We asked if we could go out on the dock and take a look at the boat at least. They said we could, so we took a closer look.

Then Mary, from North House, came out and said that she would take us on the sailboat and show us around it. She explained different parts of it - including how the compass worked.

She took us below deck and the girls got to see where people could sleep, eat, sit, and relax.

We are looking forward to returning in the future to go on the sailboat. 

We continued onto Silver Bay where we stayed overnight. The girls swam and went down the big water slide. Sophia relaxed in the hot tub for a bit. Then we enjoyed pizza, breadsticks, and cinnamon bread that was from a local pizza place. 

It was a fun week filled with lots of great memories and experiences!