Minnesota in April can be slightly crazy, as we’ve learned this year. This past week there was also some craziness in Wisconsin, as the Husky Energy Petroleum Refinery exploded and burst into flames not far from the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus on Thursday morning. We were in class at the time, but when I came out at lunch, I could see the huge plume of smoke rising high into the sky just like everyone else. It was a sad incident, and common consensus seems to be that we’re all lucky the explosion and resultant fire weren’t much worse.
Unbelievably, UWS cancelled classes for the second time in two weeks (and for the third time this semester already) on Friday, as all students were evacuated off campus and all buildings were shut down. That meant I had a surprise chance to go fishing for steelhead trout for the first time in my life with my lucky day off.
I took my unexpected fishing day to make a day-trip up the North Shore to the Sucker River (a 25-minute drive from our house). But I was in for Mother Nature’s crazy show. No sooner had I left Duluth, getting onto the Highway 61 Expressway, when a snow squall started. Thankfully, I didn’t have far to go up the Expressway, as driving got treacherous fast.
I made it to my “secret” destination, put on my waders, grabbed my fishing tackle, and walked down to the stream in pelting snow. I realized I hadn’t taken the most important piece of gear – a ski mask.
Wading through a gushing river is not easy, but add the whipping, swirling snow, and it just all made my head spin. I took a hike up river, but never did get my line in the water at the first spot. It seemed impossible that any trout would want to leave Lake Superior to come spawn in this snowy, overflowing, murky river bed.
I was having a blast just being out there in the snow, exploring the river.
Eventually though I decided to relocate to the mouth of the river, where I figured I’d have a better chance of catching a fish. To get to the mouth of the Sucker, I had to meander down a mud-choked path that was made even more slippery by the fresh snow. And I had to do in chest waders with fishing gear in my hands.
Still, I made it, and sure enough there were guys fishing down there.
Eventually, I actually started fishing. It wasn’t easy to do anything in the stiff wind coming off the lake, but I enjoyed the challenge. The whole scene felt supremely wild and untamed.
Eventually, after 3 hours in the snow, I got cold enough, and satisfied enough, to wrap things up and retreat to my car. It was still snowing…
I wasn’t done yet though. After a quick lunch in the car, I continued north to Two Harbors, and did some more fishing off the breakwater.
Still no action from the fish, but that was OK. I had spent my unexpected day off just the way a day like this is meant to be spent – doing something outside my normal routine, in an otherworldly atmosphere. Fishing therapy was just what I needed at the end of another long semester.
Our big birthday party for Adriana came on Saturday. We had 13 kids present, plus a lot of adults, and the party was a huge success. I was pleased to see all the kiddos having so much fun together, especially on the climbing wall.
The pinata and ice cream were a hit, naturally, but the wall was what made it an event!
Sunday was another big day for us – garden box day. Building a garden box is becoming an end-of-April tradition for us. This new one isn’t done yet, but we got the four holes dug for the posts, and cemented the posts 22 inches deep into the ground on day one.
It’s a fun project, and the whole family participates. In fact, I can’t think of a better family activity on a late-April Sunday.
The girls added an extra step to the garden box process, painting their faces for good measure.
Overall, we made big progress on our first day of the project, and perhaps we can finish it next Sunday.
We’re doing well with our limited yard, and we’re always finding new ways to enjoy it.
Now let’s see those vegetables would grow big and tall…