Monday, November 28, 2011

Great Duluth skiing ahead...just need some snow

Blue blob over MN means cooler temps.

There is a great season of cross country skiing ahead for Duluth. Despite major budget challenges, the city is receiving twice as much money as last year from the state for ski trail grooming. The Duluth XC Ski Club has taken over management at the Spirit Mountain Nordic Center. 

White space over MN means average temps.
The long range forecast still calls for below-average temperatures and average precipitation, which add up to more snow.  

Now we just need some snow.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A North Shore Black Friday

Canadians rushing down Highway 61 to Duluth on our Thanksgiving because their Thanksgiving was last month.

Lines snaking past the kitschy keychains and into the Rubbermaid aisle at Joynes' Ben Franklin. 

And a black-and-white poodle getting all the love on a day known just for the black.

Today was Black Friday, and the North Shore nearly missed it. No doorbusters at the Lake Superior Trading Post in Grand Marais. No controversial midnight openings at Waters Edge in Tofte. Just 20% off all clothing and footwear at Grand Marais' landmark five and dime, Joynes.

All the super good deals must have been in Duluth and places south. Literally two of every three cars driving south on Highway 61 on Thursday had Ontario plates. Their drivers had an obvious sense of purpose, driving straight and fast. Their only stop might be at a gas station for remarkably cheap-sounding $3.29/gallon gas.

Grand Marais' two big retail shops, Joynes and the Trading Post, were both shoulder-to-shoulder busy. The cashier at one said it was just like Fishermens Picnic, the busiest day of the summer. 

In the middle of all this, I picked up some extra-large wool socks and a colorful new leash for Daphne, the parti poodle. On this Black day, the black-and-white poodle pulled in the fans who had exhausted the two superstores:

"What did you mix for THAT dog?"
"Is that a Holstein dog?"
"What's his name?" (everyone assumes she's a he, especially when her pink collar is hidden in unbrushed curls.

A great day for Grand Marais.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Same point, different poodle

I've been trying out the new dog. 

Longtime readers of this blog will remember a certain canine star, the late great Chloe. Chloe left us way too soon last winter. She was a GREAT hiker, bringing the need for speed and a craving for the chase to our woodland excursions. Check out a long, long list of "Poodle Posts" here.

They say every boy needs a dog. Well, just about every hiker does too. Especially when, like me, the hiker has to hike alone. So I've been trying out the new dog. 

Daphne is a "parti" poodle, part black and part white...and all poodle. She was born just two days after Chloe met her fate last February, and she joined our family last spring. She's lovely.

The other day, I took Daphne out to the end of Duluth's Park Point, where Minnesota Avenue meets a gate and a dirt road continues past the Sky Harbor airport and into the pines.

Chloe was a sprinter, running out far ahead to stake her place. Daphne is a laggard, staying back to sample the smells and tastes. 

Chloe would bark out into the world, longing for a response from another barking dog. Daphne is all about the smells, sniffing every conspicuous log for her news of the world. 

On this walk, she stays close by, not quite as sure of her place in the world. This dog is domestic, a lap dog, out for a stroll with her people, not a high-octane wilderness adventure.

Then it's a return walk along the beach back to the parking lot. This dog stays close behind me...nice! Chloe's joy and downfall was her desire to explore and chase. Much to my relief, Daphne shows no inclination to run up the dunes out of sight.

I walked here with Chloe many times, in winter and in summer.

Now it's the new dog. Daphne Delilah Slade, you're testing out okay.