The Minnesota Camping Experience

Camping in Minnesota can either be relaxing and quiet, or exciting, depending on what you are looking for. From the rushing rapids of the St. Croix State Park, to the beautiful Gooseberry Falls, and up to the Boundary Waters Canoe area. There is plenty to see and do, just grab your tent and a few supplies and a wonderful weekend is in the making, looking for agates, walleyes and beautiful birds, and perhaps some wild bear, timber wolves, coyotes, beaver, white tail deer. One campground known for its white tail deer population is Jay Cooke State Park. The deer find this rocky outcropping on the St. Louis River a good place to winter as do 45 other species of mammals.

Native Americans discovered that the St. Louis River could not be traveled by canoe so they blazed a 6.5 mile portage around it. Later the fur traders and voyageurs would use this same portage, and it, along with a few more portages became known as the Grand Portage. Once the train made its appearance it was quicker and safer using it and the portages became over grown and unused. In 1915 the Pennsylvania financier, Jay Cooke, who had developed the nearby St. Louis Power Company, and the Northern Pacific Railroad donated 2,350 acres of land to the state of Minnesota which turned it into a state park and as time went on the state added more acreage to the park until its present size of 8,818 acres.

Seismic activity is responsible for the steeply tilted slate, greywacke and exposed brownstone, making this a treasure trove of information for the geology students to study from the many universities in the state. The large dark rock formations jutting up from the ground give you a sense of the Rocky Mountains, which for those not living in a mountainous region conjures up great fun and adventure. With a little imagination you can be climbing up Mt. Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary.

In the 1930’s and 40’s two different CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps.) Camps were established on site and are responsible for building the inspiring swinging suspension bridge and other picnic facilities in the park, facings of these structures are made of the local basalt found here. The swinging bridge was partially destroyed in the flood of 2012, but has since been repaired and is back in service for those young at heart individuals being chased by Masai Warriors across a great gorge with only minutes from being overtaken. Of course, the warriors would cut the ropes supporting the bridge and it is only with the aid of Tarzan that you can make it across safely. Sheesh, that was close!

There are over 50 miles of hiking trails some tying into the Willard Munger State Trail again with some imagination you can be the fur trader Coureur des bois portaging through the rugged land with a 90 lb. pack of furs hanging from your portage strap on the newly renovated trails.

It was in the early 70’s that we as a family traveled to Jay Cooke for the weekend, of course Kobra, my dad’s Leader Dog, traveled with us and could usually be found tethered to the picnic table at the campsite. Also traveling with us was one of my mother’s coworkers, Florence. Florence was a big ol’ gal fond of the stylish muumuus of the day. She had neatly packed up her big old station wagon with all her camping gear and was leaning over the tailgate trying to unload. When suddenly Kobra’s ears perked up as he overheard a commotion at Florence’s car, he watched quietly as Florence swatted the air behind her telling Kobra to knock it off. What? He wasn’t doing anything, and he was quite a distance from her to boot. Again, Florence swatted the air and told Kobra to knock it off, a little more firmly this time. Kobra, shook his head, a little frustrated himself being blamed for something he had nothing to do with. The third time, Florence’s voice was becoming a tad shrill. As she turned she couldn’t help but notice that Kobra was across the campsite from her, so what had been bothering her? She looked down and let out a shriek, here scurrying across the road and down the ditch was the culprit, a handsome raccoon even more curious than Kobra.

Later that evening, at dusk, the campground was beginning to settle down, you could look across the clearing and see families roasting marshmallows, some quietly singing camp songs, some just visiting, it was a peaceful scene out of a Terry Redlin painting. Quietly behind us we heard a foot step and then a rumbling chuckle. We turned and much to our surprise the Ranger was right behind us. He said, “This is the time of night I love best, time for the fun to begin… watch.” Much to our amazement a family closest to the outer perimeter screamed and their entire group jumped on their picnic table, then the next family, then the next in a straight row across the campground west to east, one after another family was screaming and jumping on their picnic table. What was happening now? “That would be my Fred, he does stir up the campground a bit, don’t you think?” the Ranger quietly explained. But who was Fred? We watched in silence as the Ranger moseyed over to the furthest most camp to the east, then he squatted down and tapped the ground beside himself, out from under the furthest east picnic table waddled a beautiful black and white skunk. No wonder everyone was trying to get to high ground. The Park Ranger then introduced Fred to the campers and everyone had a good laugh. When the Ranger brought Fred over to meet us my dad was lucky enough to hold him, ever since then he wanted a skunk of his own, Mom did not agree.

Camping is a good family bonding experience, or a time to relax and enjoy nature and reconnect with your spouse or significant other. When I was particularly drained after a long hectic week I packed up my 4 man tent some goodies, grabbed my fishing rod and spent the weekend at the park all by myself. When I went home that Sunday I felt refreshed and renewed, and good about what I had done and was able to face Monday with a smile. There is something invigorating about the great outdoors which just is not found behind a TV screen or computer monitor. Remember when mom used to shoo us outside? My mom always said “… to blow the stink off.” Well when we came back in the house for supper we did feel better, finished our chores real quick like, and then headed back out again until bedtime. We slept better and school was not such a downer, it was fun. Get out in the great outdoors and become invigorated. Next time I think I’ll share some of Yellowstone with you

Review of LifeGear Inversion Table

The LifeGear Inversion Table is constructed out of a strong, durable tubular steel frame and is designed to provide you with stability during use, as well as durability. It has manoeuvrability handles which are designed to provide you with hours of safe, carefree use. With this table, you are able to effectively reduce back stress, relieve pressure on your vertebrae disks, as well as stimulate circulation of blood in your body so as to provide relief from stiff muscles.

Athletic individuals are also able to increase body flexibility and notice an improvement in their performance. You can use the LifeGear to limber up before a game of basketball or even to relieve pressure off aching quads after an intensive day of skiing. With this table you are able to enjoy relief from back problems, as well as benefit from overall soothing relief for both your body and mind.

  • Strong, durable tubular steel frame construction available in a scratch-resistant powder coated frame.
  • Nylon safety tether for multiple inverting angles
  • Vinyl side covers for safety
  • Non-skid floor stabilizers – These are unique features designed to provide you with extra stability when using your table.
  • 300-pound maximum user weight capacity
  • 6-foot, 6-inch maximum user height capacity
  • Safety straps and handles – To provide you with added stability while the table is in use.
  • Ergonomically-moulded ankle cushions – These are designed to provide you with comfort and security.
  • Manufacturer warranty: 90 days
  • Owner’s manual and warranty

There are a number of positive aspects about the LifeGear Inversion Therapy table which make me pleased that I bought it. After weeks of shopping around for a good inversion therapy table to help ease my back pain, I was happy to find the LifeGear. It just happens to be one of the most competitively priced tables with respect to what I was looking for in particular. I believe that I have received good value for the money I spent – it’s of a quality that I expect to last me a couple of years at the minimum. Once assembled this inversion therapy table is of a good weight which makes it nice and sturdy. This gives me the confidence of knowing that it will be able to support my weight during use.

One drawback to this table is that it is delivered in many parts which require assembly. If DIY is not your type of thing, you might find it a bit bothersome. A good idea would be to get some help to complete the assembly as having company could make it less tedious. Once assembled, the unit lacks in portability and is therefore inconvenient to move around often. You will also need to take extra precautions with the covers provided for putting over the frame hinges. These cover the hinge lock and could prove to be a safety hazard if you aren’t extra careful. The good thing however is that before using the table, you can easily remove these covers and check that everything has been locked into place.

Fictional Undertaker’s Suspenseful Journey of Deceit, Death, and Desire – Tethered by Amy MacKinnon

Boston area bred, debut author Amy MacKinnon, uses her hometown surroundings as the setting for undertaker, Clara Marsh’s suspenseful life experiences, in Tethered (Shaye Areheart, 2008).

Clara is employed at the Bartholomew Funeral Home. The Home’s owners, Linus and Alma Bartholomew, befriended Clara when she moved to Brockton, Massachusetts upon completing mortuary school. The couple lost their only child, Elton, soon after high school graduation. Clara’s familial void and their parental need established affinity.

“Nature’s Bounty: The Care, Keeping and Meaning of Flowers,” is referenced throughout Clara’s narrative; educating readers about floral sentiments: “When the time comes, I’ll bury her with white violets (unabashed candor).”

Clara discovers a mysterious child named Trecie, approximately eight years old, frequenting the parlor. Trecie’s neglected appearance, and her inquisitive nature about the undertaker’s childhood (an avoidable topic), cause Clara distress. Then, one day, Trecie disappears.

Is Trecie’s absence linked to Brockton’s unsolved savage crime three years ago? A young, unidentified, decapitated girl, christened Precious Doe at her funeral; was found in a string of woods stretching from Brockton to Whitman Massachusetts.

When Brockton’s Charlie Kelly dies, Clara is sent to retrieve his body. Brockton Police Detective, Mike Sullivan, arrives to sign off on Kelly’s death; since he was a friend. While there, disturbing sexual videotapes of a young girl and a man are found. Clara is shocked when she realizes the child in the footage is Trecie.

Sullivan befriends Clara to help find Trecie, identify Precious Doe, and her killer. Sullivan is no stranger to heartache himself. Around the time of Precious Doe’s discovery, a drunk driver killed Jenny, his beloved wife, and unborn child. Both rest in Colebrook Cemetery across the street from the funeral home. Clara frequents the grounds after dark, honoring her self-imposed obligation to tidy the graves of the unloved. It’s there that she often secretly sees Sullivan paying homage to his family’s headstone. Precious Doe rests nearby.

Haunting memories of Clara’s past tarnish her ability to show affection and love. Born illegitimately, Clara lost her mother in a car accident when she was seven years old. Raised by her grandmother, a religious zealot; the only books permitted in-house were the Bible and Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. Clara’s “sins” were often punished by her grandmother’s use of a boars-hair brush forcefully tugged through her hair. Her most egregious transgression occurred in high school, igniting her grandmother’s furor. Her resultant hair clipping required a decade of re-growth.

Mother Greene (the 85 year-old parent of Reverend Greene, a close friend of the Bartholomew’s) presciently tells Clara about two men who will impact her life, “One will die trying to save you, and the other trying to kill you.”

Tethered reminds us that people aren’t always who they appear to be, as revelations about its main characters surface. Harm does befall Clara in the story’s resolution, as Precious Doe’s identity and killer are revealed, and Trecie’s disappearance solved.

Mackinnon’s literary talents shine, as she details Clara’s vacillation between consciousness and unconsciousness, and her will to live or die: “All at once I need to breathe, but can’t. The pressure inside my chest explodes against my lungs. Pain is everywhere. I’m carried along deeper, faster, and I’m so very, very cold.”

Mackinnon shares, via her website, childhood recollection of her uncle’s funeral parlor. She was privy to his basement workspace of concrete walls stripped bare, and steel tables angled with their feet tilted toward porcelain sinks. Steel shelves with jars of formaldehyde and other foreign substances also prevailed. These and other elements enabled MacKinnon to authenticate an undertaker’s workday.

MacKinnon’s writing is finely displayed in her first offering; and is an author worth discovering. Read Tethered and join MacKinnon on what promises to be an exciting literary journey from its inception.

Visit the author online at Tethered was discovered via the Read It Forward Program. Here, forthcoming books by new authors are distributed free of charge. You participate, agreeing to pass the read on to someone else to enjoy once finished. Learn more at