Monday, October 06, 2008

Fall golfing in the North Country

Fall colors abound! A shot of a brilliant moose maple.



I just returned from a fantastic weekend up north with the family. It involved family, friends, running, birding, great food, fun, and maybe a little too much fun!

I'll start with running. I went on two runs while I was visiting my folks, a 10 miler on Saturday, and about a 4 1/2 miler today.

On the 10 miler, it was all of 32 degrees when I started and maybe reached 40 by the time I finished. While that may sound chilly, I absolutely loved it. One can seemingly run forever on days like this.

While on this run, I was treated to some excellent bird sightings, including a new life lister. There were flocks of Lapland longspurs, which are beautifully marked buntings of the north. The migration was in full force, so I got to see many of them along the dirt roads. I would imagine I had probably seen these guys before but perhaps dismissed them as snow buntings. Therefore, a new bird to check off the list!

There was also an encounter with a ruffed grouse. He was sitting along the shoulder of the service road I was running on. I was perhaps 30 feet away and got to watch him for a minute before he grew wary of me and split. As it was hunting season, I told him to be careful and went on my way.

One of the most exciting moments was seeing two black-backed woodpeckers together. It happened to be two years ago to the weekend that I saw my first black-backed, and on this day I was treated to seeing two of them working over a bead birch tree. I suspected that one might have been a youngster still tagging along with the parent. Whatever the case, I was really glad to witness this, as it adds so much fun to a long run!

Of course, there were plenty of birds up at Mom and Dad's place, too. Norris, the resident red breasted nuthatch, was hanging out close to the house, so he stopped by to say hello. :)

Our buddy Norris



One of the main purposes of this trip was to play in a charity golf tournament for the North Shore Health Care Foundation. Our good friends Marc and Brenda were also coming up to partake in the festivities. This tournament is played at Superior National, and the event is in its 13th year. I would be playing with my Dad, brother Brett, and Marc.

The morning of the tournament, I felt like absolute crap. In an age where it has become fashionable to avoid taking any personal responsibility for one's own actions, I am placing the blame squarely on my brother Brett.

The night before, Dad made an awesome pasta dinner (shrimp and scallops in vodka sauce over spaghetti!) for all of us. There were many laughs over the course of the evening, lots of reminiscing, as well as a few drinks. Needless to say, a great time was had by all.

I was staying with Brett and Blythe, so when we went back to their place, this is where the trouble started. "Should we have a beer?" asked Brett. Of course, I should mention that the beer being offered was an absolutely excellent pale ale straight from a keg in the garage. This beer was home brewed by my brother and some friends. "Amarillo pale ale" they call it, since it was made with Amarillo hops. Just a wonderful beer; flavorful, hoppy, and darker in color than most pale ales I have had. It reminded me a lot of a Summit IPA, for those of you familiar with Minnesota brews.

How can I possibly pass this up?

Fast forward to Sunday morning on the putting green where the world is still spinning. Ugh...damn you, Brett! :)

After a couple holes, I managed to shake out the cobwebs. Following a diet Pepsi and some food, I started to rally and ended up feeling really quite good by the end of the round. We had a great time on the course, and while we didn't shoot as well as we had hoped (-6 in the scramble), we had a much better second 9 where we reeled off 5 consecutive birdies. Considering I hadn't played since last summer, I hit a few decent shots and made a couple of putts, but I had some...well, shall we say "interesting" shots as well (see photos below). Aside from the wind, it was a banner day with temperatures in the 50's (once you get into October, you just never know what you are in for). All in all, a great weekend with family and friends.

Some photos from the tournament, also showcasing some of the fall colors:

Marc, swinging away on the Mountain Course



Dad, Marc, and Brett on the Mountain Course



Where one of my drives ended up. Needless to say, the team opted not to use this shot in the scramble!



The beautiful 5th and 6th holes at the Canyon Course



So, that was the weekend. But, I would probably be in trouble if I didn't mention the biggest news; I am going to be an uncle! My brother and sister-in-law are expecting their first child in March! I think this puts a lot of pressure on me too, because I will be this child's only uncle, so I had better be a good one. :)

Congratulations Brett and Blythe! We are looking forward to his/her arrival this spring!

Until next time,

Jean
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