No this is not the end of summer, please don’t send me plea from my children; it’s actually mine. It’s quite unfortunately that summer is already over…didn’t it just start? It is amazing how quickly time flies. I’ll probably be saying the same thing in 10 months when it is June. The only solace I take is that I have yet to hear that annoying back to school Staples commercial. No, it’s not the most wonderful time of the year; if you don’t want you kids any longer, why do you think I do?
Anyway, tomorrow I go back to work. At least I get to be eased back with a PD Day tomorrow. However, I know that day two will be hell, as I’m never tired on the first day, but rather the second. Going back to work is inevitable, but you know where I’d rather be!
My schedule is not too bad to begin the year; two Grade 10 Canadian Histories (Academic and Pre-AP) and a Grade 12 World History. I know I’m dreading it right now, but give me a day and I’ll be right back into the swing of things…it’s like riding a bike. My love and enthusiasm for teaching will come flooding back. I can’t believe that I will be entering my 16th year in the classroom…damn I’m getting old!
September also brings with it the start of football. We’ve already held our usual pre-season meeting and I’m certainly looking forward to getting out on the field. It is always a bit of a crap-shoot when it comes to the composition of the team; we do have a core of returnees, but we don’t know who will be coming up from Grade 8 and who did not play last year in Grade 9. I guess we’ll get an indication at Wednesday’s lunch meeting.
The last few weeks have been a very good and a great way to wrap up the vacation. I spent a good part of it in the states with the family (and unfortunately a technical glitch with my laptop prevented my usual blog post last week). I know the boys really enjoyed the time in Duluth and Minneapolis and so did I. I spent lots of time hanging out with Ethan and Noah, and in some cases, trying to keep my lunch down. The boys love the rides at the amusement parks and the propensity is for the ones that make me want to puke. Case in the point, the Splat-o-Sphere at Nickelodeon Universe; I spent this particular whirl with my eyes closed lest I blow chunks in front of a bunch of kids. Maybe I’ll get better with time!
Upon my return, I made plans for one final summer hike on the railway. I had been itching to get back to Leeblain since my last visit in early August. This trip would be different though, as I was planning to take the boys with me on the long drive to Gunflint Lake. The 146km journey is certainly very interesting, and I forgot how brutal the last 30k was.
When we arrived, we met up with fellow researcher Harold Alanen. As an amateur archeologist, Harold has spent a lot of time around Leeblain looking for Native/Voyager artifacts. We were joined near the railway siding by a few Minnesota friends, John and Joel. John was my host on my Minnesota trip and it was good to see him.
After getting myself (and the boys) ready, we headed north 130m towards the northern rock oven. As we arrived, I happened to glance into the bush just before the oven. I immediately recognized the flat slabs of rock that make up the ovens. Calling everyone over, I charged into the deadfall to identify the “mystery” fourth rock oven. I say mystery because Harold had previously indicated that there might be another oven in the area. However, when he failed to locate it on a previous trip, I was a bit disappointed. I cannot believe that I had never seen this oven before, especially since the brush was thinner before the 2007 fire. Needless to say I am ecstatic over this great discovery.
From there we moved to the ovens closer to the town and eventually said goodbye to John and Joel. Then it was time to go to work. One of my main goals for the day was to locate the 1100 foot spur that branched off somewhere near the ovens. The spur was probably removed after Canadian Northern took over in 1899 as it is not shown on the 1911 map. Google Earth told me that the gravel pit across from Leeblain looked very angular and the distance from the end of the pit to the grade was nearly 1100 feet.
Our first search took us along the eastern side of the pit, where it became obvious that there were no traces of a rail line. As Harold fetched his metal detector, I had a hunch that maybe the spur was in the pit (throwing the gravel into cars beside you would be easier than throwing it uphill). In the northern (drier) end, I noticed a slight mound running down the middle of the pit. Harold arrived on scene with the detector and we immediately began to find spikes, bolts and other bits of metal.
The southern part of the pit is flooded, so our only recourse was to move farther north toward the main line. It was clear that the grade here had been disturbed by the logging following the 1999 blowdown, but the general outline of the spur could be made out. We continued to find items, including piles of spikes and even what appeared to be part of a handwheel. I even found some pieces of coal! It was a very productive day and I’m hoping that Harold and I can team up again to locate more items in the area.
The boys wanted to spend some time on the beach, so that gave me some time to shoot some video of the “mystery” oven. I then chilled out while Ethan and Noah played for a bit; I wish I could have stayed a lot longer…and so did the boys! The drive home would take 2.5 hours, so we had to get rolling early. We were actually making good time until it happened.
As we neared the intersection of the Gunflint Road and Highway 588, it noticed a slight vibration in my truck. I just assumed that my boat rack was loose from the rough road. The vibration got worse and I suspected something was up; it was at the same time that Ethan shouted, “there’s black stuff flying up from the tire!” My driver-side rear tire was a smoking, shredded mess. I lost 40 minutes putting the share on, but Harold happened to drive by and gave me a hand. I’m now on the hunt for some replacement tires; thankfully I have no hikes planned for the immediate future.
Anyway, I better rolling since I need to be up early. As usual I’ll have new stuff to report next week. Until then…