Archive for September, 2010

Catching Up

September 29, 2010

It’s hard to believe how long the Street Parade has been out of action. It’s been a crazy year since the last post.  Here’s a brief overview just to kick things up again.

In March we decided that it was time to move from Cedar Rapids over to Mount Vernon to be closer to school and be more of a part of that small town community. So we spend much of the spring working on our Cedar Rapids house which was in good shape but needed a lot of surface kinds of work in order to sell. Right about the time we got serious about the house, though, we were invited to go sailing in the Virgin Islands with my brother and his family. The timing was crazy, but the trip was amazing. A week of diving every day, snorkeling, sailing, good food and plenty of drinks. Here’s one of my favorite shots of MB at the helm:

Here’s my bro and Captain Jerry at the wheel:

And here’s the gang getting ready to dive:

Really an amazing trip. We got back from the warmth and incredible blue waters (we barely went on land at all for the whole week) to early spring cold rains and began work on our house in earnest. We hoped to sell it while the stimulus tax breaks were still going but it was not to be. We did, though, find a house in Mount Vernon (there aren’t a lot of houses there, so it’s kind of luck of the draw). We’d been half-heartedly looking for a few years but this year decided we really needed to do it. And this ended up being one of the nicer houses we’d seen over the years:

We closed on it at the beginning of June but kept living in Cedar Rapids as we tried to sell that house. I spent most of June painting and cleaning this house and working on the Cedar Rapids house as well. Here’s a shot of trying to figure out colors to get rid of the boring, 40 some year old dirty white paint:

About the time we were getting ready to move to Mount Vernon, I received word that I was chosen as artist-in-residence at both Isle Royale National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park for summer 2010. I had applied for several positions hoping to get one, and was quite pleasantly surprised to get two. It did seem fairly daunting, though, to do both as we were moving and still trying to sell a house. Particularly Isle Royale where I would have no phone or internet access and would be completely in the dark over the house.

On July 1, we moved over to Mount Vernon with minimal furnishings. We left most of our stuff in Cedar Rapids so that the house still looked lived in and would show better, but we had a bed and some chairs and set up camp at the new house. On July 5, I took off for Isle Royale. I drove to Houghton, MI then took a 6 hour ferry ride to the island.  This was my home for my time there:

No electricity, no running water, but as you can see there was propane for a stove and a refrigerator (I took two weeks worth of supplies with me to the island) and there was a large filtration system that I could use for drinking water from water I hauled up from the lake. There was also a “sun shower” I could hang on a post by the cabin or the VERY frigid waters of lake superior for bathing. It was an incredible experience, despite being very stressful in the face of our house situation.

This is the spit of land on Tobin Harbor where the cabin stands. It is buried in the pines at the very edge of the land. I’m looking at it from Tobin Harbor from a canoe:

And here is a view of Scoville Point which is across a cove from the cabin on the other side from Tobin Harbor. I spent much of my time out on the point, writing, hiking, swimming and marveling at the amazing colors of the lichens on the rocks:

Here is a sunrise from water’s edge on the cove side of my cabin, looking out over the vast waters of Superior:

I got back from Isle Royale to learn that MB had managed to sell the house while I had been away. She probably did a better job of it than we would of had I been there–easier for one person to just make the calls, I think, besides the fact that I’m just generally more stressed about financial things than she is. We certainly didn’t get what we’d hoped for for the house but in this market (especially in a generally depressed area like Cedar Rapids) we were incredibly relieved to have it sell. And MB definitely worked out the best deal we could get for it. We waited until all inspections were done and everything was signed off before we moved all our stuff to Mount Vernon, but by the end of July we were moved in. We weren’t closing on the CR house until late August, so the timing worked perfectly for me to still go to Rocky Mountain. I drove out to Colorado on August 1 and found this as my new home there for two weeks:

It was a ridiculously nice cabin. This one had electricity and running water (a much more “civilized” stay–for good and for bad) and actually had traffic (there are no cars on Isle Royale–in fact, I barely even saw anyone on IR) but here was my view:

And here’s where I got to hang out for my view:

Just an unbelievable two weeks. Every day I hiked above treeline (and wore my legs and feet pretty badly in the process–I’m still working through some plantar fasciitis I developed). Here are a few of my favorite spots.

Black Lake:


Rainbow Falls beneath Black Lake:


Mills Lake:


Sky Pond:


Hallett Peak and Tyndall Glacier (notice the ice climber sleeping on the glacier):


Chasm Lake:

Lake Odessa:

And I also got down to Boulder to visit with my cousins. Here we are in Nederland at the Carousel of Happiness:

I’m sure I’ll write more about Isle Royale and Rocky Mountain. I’m just catching up at this point.

I got back to Cedar Rapids in time to settle on our house in late August. It was a great relief to be done with that whole thing, although MB had been so busy at work and I had been gone so much that it didn’t feel like I even really lived there yet–we had barely gotten much out of our boxes yet, so I tried to get some things done at the house before I left again to take students up to the Wilderness Field Station outside Ely, MN.

I have taught several times at the field station, but I was recently named director of the program. So this year I went up as director and not as teacher. A very different experience. But I’m really excited to be part of the program and keep it going, and I’ll teach up there again next September.

Here is the cabin I spent much of September living in:

There is a generator for electricity in the day, but none at night; running water for cooking and drinking, but bathing is either in Low Lake or in the sauna every few nights. It’s an amazing place and a great opportunity for our students, many of whom have never been in the woods before. This is Low Lake with the infamous “swim rock” jutting out from the left:


And here is Low Lake in the lovely early morning fog:


Here is a group study session as students prepare for their mid-terms before heading out into the wilderness:


And here are students preparing for their adventures out into the Boundary Waters Wilderness. Pure chaos the day before:


I did not go into the boundary waters on this trip. I actually got to experience the field station with only a few people there–a nice quiet experience of Low Lake before I headed back to Mount Vernon. And now here I am back in our new home trying to feel settled and stay here for a little while before I take off on sabbatical adventures in the spring. It’s been a whirlwind several months and I’m glad to quiet down for a bit.

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