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Mitch's Blog


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Scenic State Park

A couple of weekends ago, I took a trip to Scenic State Park near Bigfork, which is about 35 miles north of Grand Rapids or 123 miles north of Brainerd. Other than satisfying a desire to travel deep into the coniferous forests of northeastern Minnesota, there wasn’t really a particular reason why I chose to go to Scenic out of all the state parks in the area. I just looked at a map of all the state parks in Minnesota, read that Scenic was noted for having a virgin pine forest, and decided to take off from there. Scenic became the 10th Minnesota state park that I have visited.

Before I share some photos, there was something else I’ve been meaning to write. While I went to Scenic State Park two weekends ago, I went to the Twin Cities to visit family three weekends ago. Along the way, I stopped in at the University of Minnesota bookstore in Coffman Memorial Union. My intention in going there was to see the selection of international newspapers and magazines available for sale. What I wanted to get was something like Der Spiegel, which was one of the magazines clearly pictured on the newspapers, journals, and periodicals portion of the bookstore’s website.

It turned out that the selection had been pared down for the summer, and there weren’t many international magazines available. There was, however, a copy of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a newspaper from Frankfurt. It’s not exactly what I wanted, but I made sure to buy it anyway since it was the only German-language publication that I could find.

But that wasn’t the best part, since I also found a really interesting book in the linguistics section called The Languages of the World. Written by Kenneth Katzner, it’s a very handy reference book for anybody who has a casual interest in languages like me. The book covers virtually all of the languages spoken in the world today by devoting about two pages (sometimes more, sometimes less) to covering such aspects of a particular language as which groups of people speak it, where it is spoken, what "family" it belongs to, what (if any) words it has given English, and any other tidbits or quirks worth mentioning. Each language's description also contains a sample piece of literature in the original language and script followed by an English translation and, if neccessary, a transliteration. Click here to view the book’s purchasing page at, or click here to read a completely random excerpt from the AmazonOnlineReader. Hint: clicking the "surprise me" link allows you to continually see random excerpts.

Back to Scenic State Park, here are some photos that I took. I really enjoy the photos I was able to get, but I am disappointed that two of the park’s attractions that I really wanted to see – the interpretive bog walk and soaring fire tower – were closed indefinitely due to safety concerns. Judging by the shape the bog walk’s boardwalk was in, it will take a massive influx of monies from St. Paul to get either attraction opened again.

Still, I would entitle my trip "finding Minnesota’s state symbols," since I got the chance to see the three big ones all within close proximity to each other:

State Tree: Red Pine (Pinus resinosa)

State Bird: Common Loon (Gavia immer)

State Flower: Showy Lady Slipper (Cypripedium reginae)

Here are the other photos I took:

This is Sandwick Lake

This is Coon Lake - the closed down fire tower is visible high above the trees

I saw three boats out on Sandwick and Coon Lakes (they connect with each other)

I caught a spider building an elaborate web above Coon Lake

This butterfly was on the shore of Coon Lake

Scenic State Park is the place to go to see conifers of all varities - here is a mass of ceder trees

Besides the Showy Lady Slipper, there were a lot of other wildflowers in bloom

This frog was "hiding" along the path leading to the bog walk - perhaps it was hiding from the snake I later saw in the area slithering along the damp, mossy ground

I don't know what flowers these are, but they looked nice

This flower was also pretty, and it had a bee on the back of it

The bog walk isn't a very pretty sight, however

Now these weren't taken in Scenic State Park, but I wanted to share them anyway:

All of the highways near Bigfork look like this - a lot of hills and conifers but very few signs of civilization

There's a scenic former open-pit mine right in the middle of downtown Nashwauk

Sandy Lake near McGregor was an important gateway to the Mississippi River for the Ojibwe who once lived in the area

A couple people were enjoying a Sunday evening out on the water

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Crazy Walls

So I watched the live television coverage of graduation on Brainerd’s public access channels this evening. It looked like it may have been a little wet outside on the field…

Actually, I thought it was pretty funny, in a schadenfreude sort of way of course, when I looked at the radar image taken 5 minutes before the scheduled beginning of the ceremony and saw this:
rainy radar picture

There was simply no way that the heavy downpours, as the National Weather Service was calling them at the time, were going to bypass Brainerd. It was nice that a beautiful rainbow appeared after the showers passed through, though.

On another note, out of the five graduations that have been broadcast live so far, this year’s definitely featured the worst audio and visual quality. There was something wrong with the exposure settings of the telecast, so not only was all of the video horribly overexposed at times, it was so overexposed that it was causing a fairly constant buzzing and cracking sound in the audio. And the audio itself wasn’t anything great either; in fact, there wasn’t even any sound – except for the annoying buzzing – for the first 20 minutes or so of the program.

But anyway, the real reason for this post is because I found a couple of pictures to share. I don’t know why I never got around to posting them back in April when I took them, but, in any event, now you have something to look at during the next lull in posting. Both pictures were taken inside this small lounge area inside the Center for Innovation on the western fringe of the UND campus. It’s a large office building that the university rents out to different people and businesses so as to provide assistance to innovators, entrepreneurs, and researchers to launch new ventures, commercialize new technologies, and secure access to capital from private and public sources.

The pictures show the wildest looking wall I think I’ve ever seen. Click on the pictures below to view the full-size images as PDF files and notice how many different colors you can see as well as how many things – ranging from a functioning calculator to a couple of coffee mugs – are embedded into the wall.

crazy wall 1

crazy wall 1

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The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of Mitch Wahlsten and the participants
Mitch's Blog began on December 23, 2001