Jay Cooke and Banning

Two more state parks checked off the list as visited.

First thing that comes to mind re Jay Cooke: Swinging bridge
First thing for Banning: Quarry on river

Hike in Jay Cooke: first half--gorgeous, rocky, rooty, packed dirt, shady, river view. Second half: grassy (at times very long), swampy, buggy, did I mention grassy? Very grassy.
Hike in Banning: buggy, lots of off-shoots to the river, ruins of the quarry, dark places, mostly flat and packed dirt.

Down in the Arkansas

My baby is going to serve a mission. The letter came surprisingly on a Monday. 
Katie of made the cake in just a few hours (I frosted it, which is why the ocean part looks like an amateur job)
And he's going to Little Rock, Arkansas! The bestest thing in my mind is that my sister lives in this mission! If Matt serves in Memphis, Jenni might be able to see him! 
We don't know much about Arkansas, but Jim has been looking up pictures and it seems to be a scenic state with several national parks and many state parks. We like that kind of thing. 
It may get really hot (which Matt did not want) but at least there will be winters to cool him off. He'll get good food and friendly people. And he won't have to struggle through learning a language. We can send him packages without worrying if he will get them or if they will take forever to get to him. 
I can't believe this kid is old enough! He will leave just days after his 20th birt…

Hike up to Magnetic Rock

In planning for this trip, Jim and I looked at places to hike. We chose several, and ended up doing none of them. We did do this 3 miler (round trip) up to Magnetic Rock.

Up north

We went up north for a few days for a sibling reunion (there were some who did not go, so it wasn't everybody). Jake and Mike rented cabins for us on Poplar Lake near the Boundary Waters. What joy to get away from work for a week and just do stuff I want to do.

Like get up at 6 AM and make a time-intensive breakfast, which I never do at home, unless it's Christmas or Father's day, and then it's the standard eggs, sausage, bacon, cinnamon rolls, and juice. No, this time, I planned ahead. I printed recipes for breakfasts I wanted to try. Our cabins had full kitchens, although they did not come with a cast iron skillet or an instant pot, both of which I based my breakfasts on and both of which I brought up myself for use.

I made Instant Pot apple dumplings, peach oatmeal, skillet hash, and berry biscuit dumplings. And eggs, sausage and bacon, because we like protein.

Two mornings, I took plates of breakfast over to Mom who, for those two days, was staying in her own one b…

State parks

I got my MN state park passport!

This means I get a stamp for every state park I visit. This will help keep track of the parks I've visited in my quest to visit all of Minnesota's state parks. I am going to have to revisit some because I went before I had the passport and so I don't have the park stamp. I'm not too sad about that. Tettegouche, Judge CR Magney, Split Rock Lighthouse are worth a revisit. We have a state park year pass as well, so we can visit as many as we want for only $35. (We've almost visited enough to break even)

Master James

Ah, Jimmy! Who now is known as James to his friends in Spokane, but whatever, I'm still calling him Jimmy, because even when I was mad at him when he was a little kid, I rarely, if ever, yelled out for James Warner Evans! because that was his dad's name too, and I was never mad at the both of them at the same time.

Jimmy, who had difficulties in elementary school. Was he ever going to learn to read? Would he settle down and learn how to take turns? Would he ever stop dawdling and almost missing the bus? Would he ever stop being wacky and goofy? Yes to all except maybe the last one.

Now he's almost done with his MASTER'S degree. He went through the graduation ceremony last weekend to appease his parents who NEEDED to see Jimmy attain academic heights such as this.

If I could go back in time and tell my young mother with a sort of difficult second child and whisper some encouragement, this is what I would tell her:

Don't worry to much about if he'll do ok in the f…

And now, Spokane

Jimmy, who hasn't been blogged about much for a while, is getting his Masters in Biz Admin at Gonzaga in Spokane. Who knew Gonzaga was in Spokane? Not me. I would have guessed it was a southern US school.

Graduation ceremonies were last weekend and Jim and I took the opportunity to see Jimmy don special weird robes (Jimmy fussed about the sleeves in the gown. Yes, they are weird and long and we don't know why they look the way they do. Just put it on and wear it without fiddling with it too much, please?) and have his name read out loud in the same space that Gonzaga basketball games are played.

Jim and I were there for two full days and Jimmy showed us around.

The following picture dump is only from Friday (and possibly from Thursday? We'll see what pictures I post). I'll post the actual graduation another time.