Yesterday Roy and I set out on an adventure to see the Soudan Iron Ore Mine which is about 90 minutes from Kabetogama and the Bear Sanctuary which is only 30-40 minutes from here. I was a little apprehensive about getting in a tiny cage elevator with twelve other people and going 1/2 mile below the ground for the tour. Most of the pictures I’d like to have taken I couldn’t because of the darkness and also my phone camera doesn’t have a flash. I’ll have to be better prepared for occasions such as this in the future. We toured all of the mine buildings that were above ground first and went into the engine house where the massive equipment is housed that runs the elevators bringing people up and down. It was comforting to see a human man operating the equipment and how much equipment there was to ensure our safety. We toured the location where the huge pieces of iron ore were crushed into tiny pieces for transporting. The Soudan Mine was first opened in 1882 and during its operation there were very few accidents compared to other mines. The mine stopped operating in 1962 and was donated to the state of Minnesota by the steel company in 1965. There is still plenty of iron ore there but it became much cheaper to produce something like ore in a different location.
We watched a video about the tour and then were given pretty blue hard hats to wear for the tour. We went outside and twelve of us at a time were loaded in the tiny cage elevator for the trip down below. The window in the elevator was maybe 6 inches from the wall of the mine so you saw the wall flashing by all the way down. We went down at a rate of 10 mph however it seemed like we were flying down and it never seemed to end until finally we saw light again and we were down to the 27th level which is a half mile below the surface. We were then loaded into this little train like thing with several compartments sort of like the miners would have been carried around in. The roof and walls are all screened in and reinforced with these massive steel strips and bolts. The temperature below as 50 degrees but we knew about that and had come prepared with a couple of layers of jackets, two pair of socks and gloves!! It felt quite comfortable dressed like that especially when the little train started going through the tunnel and the air going by us was very cold. Our ride lasted several minutes and covered almost a mile of track. We arrived at a location in a huge open cave which was the former working area of the mile. We learned from the guide who was a geologist about the working conditions of the miners and their remarkable mining methods. This mine is called the Cadillac of Mines and he explained to us that this is because its and excellent working conditions at the Soudan Mine.
Many dummies were set up throughout the open cave representing the miners doing various tasks. The guide demonstrated to us how dark their working conditions were when he turned off all the lights and only had his one candle lit for the whole cave. This was the conditions that they actually worked under which makes all they accomplished remarkable. He blew out his candle for a few seconds and we got to see absolute darkness. Your eyes don’t adjust to that and it was a little freaky! After the tour underground we road the little train back to the tiny caged elevator and went up the half mile trip to the surface. I must admit that the trip up was a whole lot less frightening than the trip going down! This was a very interesting tour that I’d highly recommend. It run very hour on 10 am and 4 pm and costs $12 per adult. Not sure how much for children.
I’m going to write next about our adventure to the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary operated by the American Bear Association. Ya’ll come back now ya’ hear!!
I met a lady today at the resort who lives in northern Minnesota. She told me about what all they do up here during the winter and the snow is so deep and the lakes have three feet or more of ice on them. I’ve seen in movies pictures of these little tiny shacks that are on top of the ice and the fisherman are huddled around a hole in the ice fishing. She said that she and her husband have a fishing house that has two full bedrooms with queen size beds in them, television (with a satellite dish) and a living room and kitchen that they keep in a lot by the lake and when the ice gets at least a foot deep they move it out on the lake and go there at least 4 days a week to fish and stay out there. They have holes already cut into the floor and they just cut the hole in the ice directly below that. She’s in an area with several other houses and one of the owners has a plane that he flies on the lake and lands the plane. I had to share this because it goes so contrary to the ice fishing shack I saw in movies.
Our new co-workcampers are very nice and are settling in well. Their names are Glenn and Hazel and they have been workcamping the last six summers and spending the winters at their home in Oklahoma. In April they started RVing full time and I think they are around our age. She was telling me today about their workcamping jobs in Alaska that sounded pretty nice. They have a Montana Fifth Wheeler that is parked next to us and they have a Chihuahua named Coco. Their arrival allowed our work schedule to go back to working four shorter days and being off three days. While it was nice to be off four days the two 14 hour days were very tiring. Also on Saturdays I don’t work 4-8 in the evening, just 4-7 and while that may not sound like much, I don’t have to do the clean up and it allowed me to be sound asleep at 9 pm and ready to head off to early Worship Service on Sundays without feeling like I was still in a coma from the hard work Saturdays. It also helped us get finished the cabins faster on Saturday morning. They hired two high school guys to come in and make all 65 beds before we clean each cabin and that saved us some time and a lot of stretching and working. I really appreciate the extra help on Saturdays so the day isn’t quite as grueling as it was! Hazel and I both work Monday and Tuesday and have some time that overlaps between our shifts and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her and hearing about their travels and experiences. They were going to the Methodist church we go to and are also Baptists. How nice it is to have someone to talk to about God and the Bible!
Roy is out on the lake fishing on the hydro-bike right now. Hope he brings home some fish for supper!
My amazingly wonderful ex-boss and dear friend Donna Methvien is celebrating her birthday today and I want to say a very big HAPPY BIRTHDAY DONNA! to her. Birthdays in our office always meant the girls getting together to enjoy a special dessert or cookie cake in her office but this year they are celebrating without me 😦 I hope her day is as special as she is!
Roy and I went to Minneapolis this week. It’s a 5 hour drive south from Kabetogama.
One of the things I noticed quickly as we got close to Minneapolis was that the road side grass and weeds in the city along the highway didn’t seem to have been cut all summer. I thought, Goodness even in poor little Louisiana the roadsides get cut, especially in the bigger cities which Minneapolis is. When we returned to the resort I shared this thought with Beth (one of our co-workers here) and she told me that it is a law that they don’t cut the grass because it is a nesting place for pheasants. Once the pheasants have finished nesting they cut the grass. Those pheasants sure have a lot of nice nesting places. I googled to find out more and this protection of the pheasants nesting place is true. They even have another law that says they CAN cut the first several inches next to the highway for safety so the high grass isn’t right next to the highway.
The city of Minneapolis was a very pretty one with some beautiful buildings and the traffic even though it was noon on a gameday was not too bad. Here are a few pictures of the city we saw either walking or driving through.
Even though the Atlanta Braves are our team, I hope to be able to visit other ballparks throughout the country as we travel. The Minnesota Twins home ballpark is in Minneapolis and we went there to see them play the Kansas City Royals this week. I, of course, wore my Atlanta Braves jersey to the game and surprise, surprise I was the only person there in one! We were surrounded by swarms of Minnesota Twins jerseys. Their park, Target Field, is new and very nice. I am partial to Turner Field in Atlanta and feel it has much more character than this new field but that will come in Minneapolis over time. The Twins lost the game but we had fun cheering them on when they made great plays, even wearing the Braves jersey! Our seats were behind right field and were very good seats. Here’s some pictures of our visit to Target Field.
Roy and I just came back from picking raspberries down the road. We got about a cup full which will make a nice topping for some ice cream or maybe some raspberry muffins! Somehow, all this fresh picked fruit seems to wind up in something sweet and fattening.
Blueberries, blueberries and more blueberries! We’ve heard about the delicious wild blueberries up here since we first arrived and they have finally ripened and are ready for pickin!
Roy and I went out twice this week to pick some. They are much tinier than regular blueberries but they taste just as great. We’ve picked a total of 3 cups so far and have enjoyed some delicious blueberry pancakes and I froze the rest. We’ll be going back this week as the season doesn’t last long and this will probably be the last week.
We hung a hummingbird feeder on the awning outside and have been enjoying seeing the hummingbirds come to feed. They also feed off of the hanging plants and make such a beautiful humming sound when they fly. We’ve learned that they are very territorial as they fight off other hummingbirds who happen upon the feeder at the same time they do. I tell them not to fight as they are probably brother and sister and there is plenty for everyone but they keep fighting.
I’ve shared with ya’ll about the chipmunks who live here at the resort. Well there are a couple that visit our RV quite often and like to play around our feet. Yesterday I was outside reading with my shoes off and I felt something tickling the bottom of my feet, when I looked down there was one of the chipmunks nibbling at my foot. As soon as I jumped he scurried off. That shows how friendly they are. Last week one day Roy and I were sitting outside and Roy put a few peanuts on the ground and sure enough two squirrels came to visit. They weren’t quite friendly enough to come up close but we did get pictures of one of them nibbling away at his treat.
Back at our sticks and bricks house we never would have sat outside long enough to appreciate a the birds and chipmunks and we are really loving this aspect of RV life. If I can stay up late enough for it to get dark and the fire flies to come out again I’ll try to take some pictures of that. They are all around us and really light up the evening with their glows. God’s wondrous work all on display for us to see and enjoy.
Tomorrow is Sunday. If you have breath in your body and can walk out your door, make you way to church somewhere tomorrow. God is so good, get to know Him and find out!