Friday, September 22, 2023


I'm getting ready to head north to International Falls tomorrow.  So I should be packed.  I'm not.  Most of my camping stuff is on the floor of the living room, but I really have to dig in and get packing.

This is not unusual for me.  When I was getting ready to leave home for the Peace Corps, my Mom was super frustrated at my not packing weeks ahead.  So I let her pack my stuff, and she packed, unpacked, repacked, and by the time she was done, my stuff was beautifully packed, and she was far less frustrated.  And I didn't have to pack.

But today I have to pack.  Really.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Practice Run

I don't camp nearly often enough.  Or something.

When I talked to the guide about camping at Voyageurs, I asked about temperatures, and he said I could expect 40 F or so at night, and 60s during the day.  60s during the day is nice enough.  But 40 at night can be a bit chilly.

So I started trying out my sleeping bag, well, one of my sleeping bags, which is down and rated to 45.  It's super cozy and comfortable, and was quite nice down to 60 as it was in my room with the window open and fan on.  But the other night, it was supposed to get down to 40, so I decided to practice.

I went to dinner with friends, so it was a bit dark as I started to put up the tent, which was fine, since I'd put it up once before.  (This is a newish backpacking tent.)

Degression: whoever is designing tents these days deserves kudus.  They're so much easier than before.  This tent is even easier than my car camping tent, which has cloth tube-like things to put the aluminum "poles" through (the "poles" break down into foot or 18 inch pieces that fit together like magic).  This tent has hooks that fit over the "poles" so they're even easier.  And the poles fit into the tent bottom so that it's not a struggle to get them bent up at all.  (My old one is a bit more of a struggle, though I've gotten pretty good at it with practice.)  And the rain fly fits more closely to the tent than with the old one, which could be good or bad: less air flow which can be good or bad, depending.)

End digression:  I put up the tent, and took extra clothes for over my base-layer, and an extra blanket.  And in the night, I woke up cold enough to pull over the extra blanket, but not cold enough to want more clothes.  So I think I'll be okay down to below 40, if I take the extra clothes just in case.

I feel better having checked it out, and slept outside again the next night, which was a bit warmer, and things in the tent were great.

A few years ago, I bought an earlier version of this little solar lantern, two of them, and they're just so helpful in all sorts of ways!  Worth the weight!

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Next Adventure

 For a few years now, I've been looking at Voyageurs National Park and thinking I'd like to visit.  But Voyageurs is sort of unique, different from most National Parks.  Most parks, at least the ones I know more, you can drive in and there are camping spots, maybe a lodge, so you can car camp or even, if you're a backpacker, park at a trailhead and hike into the backcountry to camp and hike more.

But Voyageurs is pretty much set around a couple of lakes and mostly, you need a boat to get to the "frontcountry" spots (the sort of spots one might normally drive to and car camp), or a boat to get to a trailhead to hike to backcountry spots.  There are a couple backountry spots that you can park at a trailhead and hike to, and I considered those.

Digression:  I remember being in the backseat when my family was on a trip, I think along Highway 1 in California, probably south of San Francisco, and seeing a biker with a backpack and panniers, and thinking what a cool, amazing person that biker must be, and wishing I could do that sort of thing.  But my family didn't do much like that.  I biked in the way kids bike, all over my neighborhood for hours on end.  We car camped but only as a way of going waterskiing at Berryessa or Trinity.  

I remember us once, probably when we rented a houseboat on Shasta, taking a short ranger hike.  But that's the only hike I remember taking with my family.  

In fact, when I went with my Mom on a trip to The Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion (part 1, part 2, part 3) and my Mom mentioning that she didn't realize people actually wanted to hike.  She was 81 at the time, and we went on short walks in the flatest areas we could.  (I really like that I can look back at trips with blogger!)

End Digression

The point of that was that as an adult, and especially now as a retired adult, I can be my version of that biker if I want to.

So, anyway, I've been really hesistant to make plans to go to Voyageurs.  I don't think my kayak can fit my camping stuff and don't feel confident that I could paddle however far I'd need to to get to a camping spot.  I kept telling myself that I should make some calls to the guide companies the park lists, and to the park, and figure out how things work.  On Friday, I finally did it!  And the upshot is that I've made arrangements with a guide's taxi service to get a ride to and from a campsite and a tour of Rainy Lake, and have reserved a recommended camp site (the guide was super helpful: this site looks North across the lake, and should have a great view IF the Northern Lights are visible, and great views of dawn and dusk.)

I'm a little anxious because I'll really be alone out there, but I'm also excited for a totally new challenge.

Friday, September 01, 2023


 Last night, I had my third academic anxiety dream in recent weeks.  They've all been basically the same: I'm trying to figure out my schedule or where my class meets, or something similar, and I can't get the scheduling records system that shows such things to work.  So in a way, it's a technology/computer anxiety dream, more than an academic one, but it doesn't feel that way.

Today, I tried and was able to get the scheduling/records system to work, so maybe that will solve that dream?