A Few Final Reflections…

Now that I have enjoyed another #optoutside, I can start thinking about where I’ll go next year to celebrate the fourth annual event.  I have a whole year to plan, and you have a whole year to wait.  In the meantime, do get outside whenever possible and enjoy what nature has to offer to each of us.  And, whenever possible, share the experience with others.  And, don’t be afraid to look at things a little differently.

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The River

Correction: I have mis-identified the Kettle River as the St. Croix River, sorry for any confusion.

The Kettle River is one of several scenic rivers in Minnesota.  From it’s humble beginnings to where it meets up with the St. Croix River, it offers many miles of boating, fishing and hiking.  The section of the river that runs through Banning State Park has peaceful, calm areas, as seen looking upriver from the access point.  But, as the signs warns, up ahead are challenging rapids.

Banning Rocks!

Well, in it’s own way, yes, and it has lots of rocks.  Having been a quarry, there is evidence of quarrying activity everywhere.  There are piles of rock scattered about which are called spall piles, and larger rocks make for bigger piles and you can spot the grooves which are the marks of the churn drills.  Although I didn’t see any running water above the cliff, there must be a lot of seepage to create the ice falls.  A brief moment of sunshine aided me in capturing the imprint of the small trees near the rock face.

 

#Optoutside on Black Friday

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My third annual opting out for Black Friday took me to Banning State Park, which is about 60 miles south of Duluth, in Minnesota.  I’ve driven by the entrance to this park numerous times on my trips to and from Duluth.  On Black Friday, access to all Minnesota state parks is free, so off I went exploring.
One of the things that makes Banning a worthy destination is it’s history as a sandstone quarry.  The stone was  used in many buildings in Minnesota and elsewhere.  To help you learn a bit about this history, I’m sharing images of the signs along the Quarry Loop Self Guided Trail.  As you walk the trail, reading the signs and trail pamphlet, you are serenaded by the sound of the Kettle River running nearby.

 

Up next: rocks!

A Light In The Darkness

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On this day, after the culmination of an election that has exposed the deep divisions that exist in the United States of America, I, like so many others am choosing not to be swallowed by the hateful and divisive rhetoric that has defined this conversation.  Instead, I, like so many others, am choosing to rise above the anger and hate, am choosing to open my eyes fully, open my heart fully and prepare myself for the task ahead.  I am so proud of all the social media posts by those who are proclaiming their choice to stand in the breach and defend those who will be persecuted  as a result of this election.  I am proud of those who have committed themselves to being a light in the darkness, for darkness cannot exist where there is light. Like them, I commit to being one of the lights.  I commit to standing with, between, beside or in the midst of those who will most need our help going forward.  We stand on the precipice of strange times, but if we choose to light the way, we can avoid the falling off the precipice into darkness.  Instead, let us choose love over anger, building over destruction, unity over division.    We have our work cut out for us, but we are capable, we are strong, we have compassion, and we have the strongest tool in the kit to work with, LOVE.

Trying times indeed…

Below is part of what Dan Rather wrote in response to last night’s outcome:

“The world is on edge. The country is deeply divided. The markets have gone off a cliff. World capitals are erupting in anxiety. Huge segments of the American public are in panic – going through the shock of grief. This is the world that is now Trump’s to contend with. Do we really know what we have wrought?
This is a conversation that I need you to be a part of. Do not opt out. Your voice matters now more than ever. I will continue to be here in the days and weeks ahead. And we shall endeavor, together, to find a path forward in the best of America’s ideals.  Courage.”

Shine on my friends!