As I write this post, I am sitting in a conference room in Duluth awaiting the arrival of the rest of the staff who will present an information session about my current place of employment – Minnesota Virtual High School (not to be confused with Minnesota Virtual Academy High School – if you want to see all of the virtual/online possibilities in Minnesota, go to http://mnola.org). I have spent my day working my way up the beautiful I-35 and enjoying my time getting here.
My first stop was in Forest Lake where two former colleagues and their babes met me to have a mini-reunion. To say that it was great to see them is truly an understatement. I shared with them my recent love of hiking and state parks, and they both directed me to Jay Cooke State Park. I was not disappointed. If I would have had my daughter’s camera along, pictures would be included in this post.
My phone and I are not being friends right now, but I have a deadline to meet.
When I left home this morning, I had an inkling that I might do something adventurous. I wore Stacy-style hiking clothes, packed a bag with my work clothes and what I thought I would need for a shower (hoping that I would find somewhere to shower, of course!), and headed out the door. Twenty minutes later as I sped toward Forest Lake, I realized that, although I wore flip flops and had intended to do so for driving, I had completely forgotten to grab any form of shoe appropriate for hiking. I texted the pastor, and he said I should just buy some need Keens. How sweet of him to offer! But – I don’t really need new Keens, and I had just recently invested in some new tennis shoes recently. It seemed wasteful to buy new shoes simply because I didn’t plan well. My friends assured me that I could see beauty at Jay Cooke in my flip-flops as there is a well-groomed trail from the parking lot to the Swinging Bridge and along the edge to beautiful waterfalls.
My time at the state park was short as I had wasted time at the outlet mall in North Branch, but I stretched my time as much as I could figuring that I could take a shorter shower if necessary. I found the path easily (with the help, of course, of the park ranger), and I was amazed at the beauty that was literally 50 steps from the parking area. Seeking a bit of a thrill, I decided to climb on the granite rocks that line the water’s edge in order to get some better angles for pictures. My flip flops were fine on the trail, but they didn’t fair so well on the rocks. Having grown up visiting Rhode Island’s Beavertail Lighthouse with similar rocks to those in the state park, I knew that I would be better off in bare feet.
I would love to detail my time on the rocks, but I fear that some may shudder at the fact that I was doing what I did. Suffice it to say that I loved every minute of my adventurous time in the state park, and I will do it again sometime soon. I may even have to consider snow-shoeing (sp??) there this winter en route to a court date in Carlton, MN, which is literally a stone’s throw from the park.
I wrapped up my day with my first-ever shower in a truck stop. Who knew that spending $8 could feel so good? They even provided me with a wash cloth and a towel! Unfortunately, in addition to hiking shoes, I had also forgotten my shampoo and conditioner. I shrugged that off, thankful that there was hand soap in the shower that I used even in my hair. I left for my work engagement feeling refreshed, tanned, and full of gratitude that I can grasp the fun in life in these small, random snippets even in the middle of a work day rather than on a vacation day (which I am out of as of tomorrow).
Adventure rarely happens passively to us. Rather, it awaits to be found by those who seek it. I think I will plan to pack my hiking shoes every day. I never know when a trail off the unbeaten path awaits my seeking of it.