Monday, June 6, 2016

Meeting Notes from April/May 2016

The April and May meetings were chaired by President Geri Fenton. 

We extend a hearty FSSPCC welcome to visitors Lev, Katie and Andrea!

Saturday April 23rd was park clean-up day.  Thank you to those that showed up – your help is much appreciated!

Sunday May 15 Upper Fort Tour was wonderful!  The weather cooperated and about 10 members from the club were allowed access behind the gate where it is not open to the general public.  Watch for the Picasa album and take a look.  If you have any other Upper Fort images, please add them to the Picasa album.

Show-n-Tell – John Plut shared a 1945 photograph of his wife, mom, and grandma at Minnehaha Falls before the bridge at the top of the falls was built.  John C shared some fun(ny) photos of animals on photographers.

Dan and Mary Dreher were the April presenters and shared great stories and photos from South Dakota Badlands, Theodore Roosevelt NP, Yellowstone NP, and Glacier NP.  Coming from Minnesota, the South Dakota grasslands start just after Chamberlain where you might start to see animals such as antelope.  Then the Badlands begin which is where you see the interesting land formations.  You can leave the Twin Cities around morning rush hour and arrive at the Badlands in time for an evening sunset.  The big draw for Dan and Mary, though, are the “critters” such as big horn sheep.  The 40 mile loop at exit 131 goes through the park and if you stay in Wall, it is only 9 miles to the park entrance.  (And the Murdo car museum is also worth a stop.)  If you go in November you can expect to see the second rut of the big horns.  (The first rut is a month earlier, but it draws more crowds.)  You can walk right up to groups of sheep and if you get close enough, you can see growth rings in their horns.  Mary captured some beautiful shots of the sheep and the sunsets.  The Badlands are home to a variety of other animals such as short-eared owls which can be seen along the road at sundown, or sometimes on a fence post.  There are porcupines along the road, prairie dogs, burrowing owl, elk, coyote, Pronghorn antelope, and even white-tailed deer!  Dan and Mary suggest talking to the local rangers for good places to see wildlife.  Mary shared a very cool image of a jumping coyote that must have been amazing to see in action.  In North Dakota there is Theodore Roosevelt NP where Dan and Mary wanted to see the herd of wild horses and planned their trip to coincide with winter snows.  Dan says that if you go, beware it is 220 miles between the north and south parks on a long lonely road!  Note:  There was much more that Dan and Mary shared but I had to leave the meeting early and missed the stories about Yellowstone and Glacier.  L  But many thanks to them both for sharing their experiences, knowledge, and photography.    

Deb Johnson was the May presenter and shared her adventures to New Zealand.  Deb’s nephew and wife moved to New Zealand in 2009 and Deb was lucky enough to visit.  She showed beautiful landscape photos of Christchurch, including a lovely scene with white and blue flowers with the hills in the background.  There was amazing diversity in the photos – sheep, botanical gardens with massive trees, unique flowers, car door art, and even a pink person hugging a tree!  We saw an old church and the snow-capped peaks of Aorai/Mount Cook (the tallest peak in NZ).  Deb visited the Tasman Glacier, by Terminal Lake which had just calved a huge chunk of ice.  Queenstown offered photos of parasailing, more flowers, gondola rides, bungee jumping, and narrow canyon tours.  Milford Sound had Kea parrots, edible ferns, mountains in the mist, and amazing waterfalls including one where the wind is so strong it blows the water back up to the top of the falls!  On Stewart Island Deb found a massive Hydrangea with pink, red, purple, pink, and burgundy blooms – all on one bush.  In Dunedin there were Molaki Penguins, sheep, beaches, seals, and the “Hoiho” or yellowed-eyed penguin which is the rarest in the world.  There were pictures of some strange round alien-looking beach boulders, called Moeraki Boulders.  Also black swans, baby fur seals, blue-eyed penguins – and so much more including Baldwin Street in Dunedin which is the steepest street in the world at a 38.5% grade.  Thank you, Deb, for sharing your trip and photographs of this incredible land.

John Plut is the June presenter.

Challenge topic for May was “Spring Babies” – many cute little ones, which led to an informative discussion on where people were finding babies this time of year.  The June challenge is “Building Art”.


July meeting moved to the 9th – Moved from the first Saturday because of the July 4th holiday weekend.

July 16-17 – History Center in Rochester is looking for photo booth volunteers to photograph people dressed up in period costumes.  Volunteers get their mileage reimbursed.  Contact John Anderson at the club email for details.

September 7-12 Train Trip to Glacier National Park – Planning meetings continue.  Please contact John Plut at the club email if you are interested in going or have any questions.  

2016 Executive Committee
-Geri Fenton – President
-Endel Kallas – Vice President
-Judy Collopy – Treasurer
-Rose Shea – Twin Cities Area Council of Camera Clubs (TCACCC) Representative
-Patti Deters – Secretary
-John Plut – Event Planner
-Deb Johnson – Webmaster
-J├ínos McGhie – IT Guru / Help Desk

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Big Bog State Recreation Area

 One of the places that I have wanted to go to for a while now is Big Bog State Recreation Area.  I have heard about the boardwalk through the bog and all the unique flora that grows there.  I especially wanted to see the orchids.   

  Since this area is so closed to Canada (about 30 Miles as the crow flies) I wrote and asked what is the best time to see the orchids blooming and was told late May to the middle of June.  When we arrived at Big Bog on May 30th it was 78 degrees.  I had booked a camper cabin because I have many fond memories of my families summer trips 'Up North' and having to go buy sweatshirts/jackets because it was so cold.  78 at the end of May, who would have thought.

Since rain was predicted for the rest of our stay we went right to the mile long boardwalk to see what we could find.  I must say that going looking for wildflowers can be like trying to see the bison at Minneopa State Park.  You know they are there but you can't see them.  I thought since our spring was on the warm side that we might get lucky.  We were a little.

Bog Laurel

There was a lot of Bog Laurel blooming.  As you can see the color makes it easy to see and it is a tall plant.

Arctic Raspberry

We found one Arctic Raspberry, I think.  I looked up all the flowers at Minnesota Wildflowers website.  If you haven't been to the site it is one of the best around.  It was started by a Master Naturalist a few years ago. 

Eagle-eyed Doug saw this one.  It was the only one we saw and grows very closed to the ground.
(The bog boardwalk probably averages 2 feet off the ground.) 

Small Yellow Lady Slipper

Just as we were walking off the end of the boardwalk Doug spotted the Small Yellow Lady Slipper.  It is about half the size of a normal lady slipper.

We did see a few other flowers but I have yet to identify them.

The bog is about 9 miles from the campground. The campground area is just a narrow strip between the road and the Tamarack River.  Although it is called a 'recreation area' there is very little to do there except fish. They do have a few short trails to walk.  If you think about it you can't walk in a bog without sinking up to your knees. When we arrived on Memorial Day the place was full and I think every camp site and camper cabin had a boat trailer.  Did I mention that campground is across the road from Upper Red Lake.  The campsites on the Tamarack River have a dock.  If you want to fish Upper Red Lake this is a great place to stay.

Zippel Bay State Park

Because it was raining the next day we decided to check out Zippel Bay State Park on Lake of the Woods.  There were a few fisher-people there but basically the park was empty.  All campsites are without electricity and it would be hard to get a large RV in some of the spots.

This is a very nice park.  You can feel like you are on Lake Superior without all the people.

Our next stop was Franz Jevne State Park on Rainy River.  This is Minnesota's smallest state park.
All campsites are rustic but it was raining pretty good when we were there so I don't have much to say about the park itself.
On the way there you are traveling along the Rainy river and Doug made a comment at how well taken care of the Canadian side of the river looks.  It turns out that there is a large Canadian Monument area that has had a lot of Native history but we could only look across the river and try to sing "O Canada".

On the way back we crossed the Rapid River bridge and noticed some pelicans.  We stoped to get out and snap some photos.

Well I think that is about enough for this travelogue with just a couple more stops.  We stopped at Lake Bemidji State Park and they also have a mile long bog walk and Crow Wing State Park.  Crow Wing has a beautiful view of the Mississippi from the boat launch.

Photos by Doug Schurr and Geri Fenton