Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Labor Day weekend in the North Country

I have returned from a spectacular weekend in the North Country.

The weather was really nice, especially in the mornings when it was nice and cool for my running. I got in three runs, an 18 miler and two 5’s. The 18 was my last really hard run before the really hard run in a week and a half! And the 5’s I ran were both very good, with the legs feeling especially fresh on the last day. Great running up there, soaking in fantastic views of Lake Superior, encountering various forms of wildlife, and the joy of running on trails and dirt roads. Does it get any better?

Well, the answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!” In addition to the great running, I had an excellent weekend with my family. My trip reports from home probably sound like a broken record by now, but there was plenty of hiking, golfing, and eating to keep us entertained!

Yours truly, exploring a creek bed



Every day involved hiking, and we enjoyed all that the woods had to offer this time of year. You are starting to see the signs of fall everywhere, with the foliage changing colors on the ridge, and especially the bird migration.

The hawks are starting to migrate, and we saw a large number of Merlins and broad-winged hawks over the course of the weekend. We noticed large flocks of blue jays heading south. (I’m talking hundreds of these guys)

I cannot forget to mention the warblers. They are on the move, and we would occasionally encounter waves of these little birds that I have discussed here before; Nashville, Tennessee, chestnut-sided, black-throated green, parula, black and white, magnolia, and the ovenbird. Of course, some of these went unidentified, as they can be very nondescript in their fall plumage, but it was fun to see them anyhow. And I added a new bird to my life list; the very striking blue-headed vireo. Very exciting!

As for non-migratory birds, our buddy Norris the red breasted nuthatch and his roving band of chickadee friends met us in the woods every day for their handout of sunflower seeds. They are a friendly lot, and they kept us amused for hours.

Norris is cool



I played a little golf with Mom and Dad. We went out for a quick 9 at the Superior National “River Course.” Most of my family and friends know that I worked at a golf course all throughout high school and college (which means I played more than I actually worked!), and while I would not say I was good, I could usually post a score in the mid 40’s for 9 holes. These days, breaking 50 is something to celebrate.

Well, I reclaimed a bit of my youth and carded a 42 this weekend. Not exactly sure what got into me, but the drives were straight, I was hitting some greens in regulation, and I made a few putts. Were it not for a couple of incredibly careless putts on the par 5’s, I was legitimately flirting with breaking 40. Dad referred to it as a ”Caddyshack round.” You remember, where Bishop Pickering was playing in the rain storm and said, “Anyway, the good Lord would never disrupt the best game of my life.”? Yeah, I was hitting it that well. Anyhow, it was a lot of fun, but I have played long enough to know that the next round might not be as pretty!

Bring on Tiger! :)



The meals over the weekend were exceptional. Mom made a baked penne dish with Italian sausage and roasted vegetables (yum), grilled ribeye steaks (delicious), Dad’s signature applewood smoked BBQ ribs (wow), and for Labor Day, grilled burgers and some Italian sausages from Thunder Bay that were unquestionably the hottest Italian sausages I have ever eaten in my life (spicy!). I’m not kidding, pass me the fire extinguisher! These had a serious burn to them, but they were oh-so tasty. What I am saying is we had seriously good eats over Labor Day. Mom and Dad did not disappoint!

The Labor Day feast with a potentially dangerous sausage



There you have the weekend in a nutshell. It is back to the grind tomorrow, and I keep working on my taper for the Walker North Country Marathon on the 15th. The hard work is essentially out of the way, so now I am concentrating on some productive shorter runs and getting some good rest. Only 10 more days to go!

Until next time,

Jean
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