exploring our amazing natural spaces

Archive for February, 2013

Winter white

The Jackson Meadow development near Marine on St Croix was designed with the outdoors in mind including a six mile trail system on 360 acres of mostly open space. The homeowners association requires a minimalist Scandinavian design on all homes with similar metal roofs and only white exterior paint. A detached garage is also required to prevent residents from coming and going without being seen; a simple way to encourage community and interaction.

Jackson Meadow

Into the fourth quarter

I had to take a break from shoveling to catch an awesome sunrise. Technically there are still five weeks of winter to go and Minnesota has even seen snow as late as June near the Canadian border. But between now and mid March the snow starts to get heavy and thicken, a clear indicator we are in the fourth quarter of winter.

sun after snow

Limited winter lift

The lift portion of the Stillwater bridge sees limited activity during the winter months as snowmobiles can easily glide underneath on the ice covered St. Croix river. This bridge sees 18,000 cars and trucks a day and will be replaced by a new four laner called the St Croix Crossing, basically extending Highway 36 into Wisconsin. That project will start this year and will take three years to complete. Once the new bridge is in place the Stillwater bridge will be limited to foot and bicycle traffic only. A nice retirement for this historic 80 year old.

Stillwater lift bridge winter

It’s melty out there

Each day the sun moves just a little higher in the sky, high enough to melt roof snow on a 25 degree day. Today our sunrise was at 7:18am and sunset is already an hour later than mid winter now at 5:37pm.

melty roof snow on brick bldg

Yes we do

Yes we do drive on our lakes in Minnesota especially on big lakes where getting to your ice fishing shack may require motorized transportation. Our temps this winter have been up and down with several cars going through especially on narrow lake channels. The Minnesota DNR provides good information on ice safety:

  • New ice is usually stronger than old ice
  • Ice seldom freezes uniformly
  • Ice formed over flowing water and currents is often dangerous
  • The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process
  • Booming and cracking ice isn’t necessarily dangerous
  • Schools of fish or flocks of waterfowl can also adversely affect the relative safety of ice

ice house + tracks

City of the Lakes Loppet 2013

What a great weekend for a cross country ski festival in Minneapolis.  This year’s loppet free style ski race had 772 skiers skating from Wirth Park to Uptown. That’s 33k or about 20 miles through the Minneapolis Park and Recreation system’s trails and lakes. As you can see it was both competitive and fun.

elite skiers

pack leaders

around the fireloppet fun

Hay it’s 15 burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrro

These guys looked completely content having their breakfast outside at 15 below zero. The mare was sporting a fashionable blue blazer and the small donkey (aka a burro) a three inch thick fur coat.

15 below