Thursday, January 29, 2009

An early 20th century steamer race on Lake Minnetonka

19th Century Steamer Race on Minnetonka

I took a photo of this watercolor in a downtown Excelsior shopping center. I will update it with the artist and details at a later date. My apologies to the artist and the owner. We all need a warm, sunny day shot as we trudge through the salt-laden streets, and this depicts historic Lake Minnetonka perfectly.
The steamers are heading in from Big Island, in the background, and charging into Excelsior Bay. Watch out for that big post...

From Excelsior Charters Web site:
1st Streetcar boat, 1906 - a total of 6 were on the lake, (The Como, The Stillwater, The Hopkins, The Harriet, The White Bear, and The Minnehaha). 3 were scuttled in 1926. Minnehaha was raised after 55 years.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Icicles build on my back porch roof
Another General Store front photo...

Sorry for the "icicle overload", but I am overstocked in ice related photos.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Low Tech Weather and News

These notes from the handy Farmer's Almanac - and other random, low tech sources.
• January 22-29 will be sunny and mild.... ( I would give them a direct miss on this one).
• Racoons mate at this time of year - in this cold they will need more than furry masks.
• It is Chinese new year today. 2009 is the Year of the Ox (2008 was the year of the rat) ....rats-away!
• In 1938 an ice jam caused the collapse of the "Honeymoon Bridge" over Niagra Falls.
Minneotans still buy ice:
From the History of Ice Skates:
•The first artificial ice rink (mechanically-refrigerated) was built in 1876, at Chelsea, London, England and was named the Glaciarium. It was built near the King's Road in London by John Gamgee.
•In 1914, John E. Strauss, a blade maker from St. Paul, Minnesota, invented the first closed toe blade made from one piece of steel, making skates lighter and stronger.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A General Thaw at the Cottagewood General Store

General Store
Masterbread handle

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Images From Maynards Pond Hockey 2009

Near Excelsior there is a little path that shoots off from the LRT Trail and leads directly to the Bayview Center deck. The very same deck where the 'Polar Plunge' was hosted. I took the path and it and it led me directly to the boating docks and The Pond Hockey Tournament. As I strolled around the various make-shift rinks I found excitement, enthusiasm and some frazzled players. It was Sunday and the highest level of activity was on Saturday... today there was a steady stream of teams and pond hockey vets milling about or cuising off to Maynards.
A Nordic King
Some Spectators had mixed interests....
I asked an affable official if he thought the event went well, and he assured me it was a success: "It got a bit crazy here yesterday, some of the play was a little intense, but we have the Hennnepin County Sherriff right there" ( he gestured to a few police vehicles parked nearby, on the ice).
Wild Pond Hockey, eh!
This photo shows the size of "the boards" - no checking up against these. Note the lack of padding on the player, and the small wooden goal with the 7 inch openings (my estimate) on the sides. - Slap shots are out.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

California Dreaming.... at 22 below.

frozen citrus view

A cold place at the end of Park Place and Western

A Frozen Minnetonka Looking west toward Excelsior Bay.
A Frozen Minnetonka
A wash of snow covers wooden skids.

I crawled over a pile of snow and wandered down to the lake. In the distance a lone black station wagon shot across The Lake leaving a trail of snow and warm exhaust flurrying behind. Wednesday when I took these shots it was windy and about 10 below. Ha! Nothing for the native Minnesotan. Today, at the time of this writing it is 22 below...NOW we're talking cold.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

North America Pond Hockey Championship 2009 @ Maynards

Maynard's and the pond hockey championship
Maynard's of Excelsior is sponsoring the North America Pond Hockey Championship "just off the docks". Yes folks, this is played OUTDOORS, and there is a nearby warming house... which will be needed. It promises to be sub zero city! The warmest people rinkside may be the players. By the way there are no boards in pond hockey - just a ring of snow and some evergreens growing mysteriously out of the ice.
Live music Friday and Saturday starting at 2 pm.

The NAC (North America Championship) will be donating a portion of the proceeds from this years NAC pond hockey event at Lake Minnetonka to Spring Point - a non profit organization focused on finding a cure for Diabetes. Daibetes has been growing into a larger problem for many people today. The financial support to find a cure will help provide hope for loved ones with the disease. Spring Point works with the University of Minnesota and has had some amazing breakthroughs in the search for a cure.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

An Interview On Ice: Minnetonka Break-ins Exposed!

Ice shanties spring up and dot Lake Minnetonka. Every year these little communities arise from frozen terr-unfirma. The ice is 4-5 inches thick and the pointy 6" augers are out in force. I wander out, onto this lawless land where a man is a man, and his fish house is...well, his fish house. I cruise up, in my much-snickered-at aging purple VW Beetle Turbo, to a close cluster of one room shanties surrounded in protective fashion by extended cab pickup trucks and range rovers.

Mainstream Minnetonkascenes: "Hi guys, how’s fishing?”

Ice fisherman: “Hi, - you’re parked on top of my floater”

Mainstream Minnetonkascenes looks, and sure enough, his VW's front wheels are resting on a bulky, not-at-all-stylish looking thermal floater jacket. Sorry, I will just back it up a bit”

Ice fisherman. “Ya thanks, what do you want any way?”

Mainstream Minnetonkascenes: Well, frankly I heard that you guys have had a few break-ins out here. And I was wondering what you could tell me about them - give me the skinny”

Ice fisherman: “Ya sure, well, the other night some duffusses broke into a group of ice houses off Big Island and took a couple flat screen TVs and a full cooler. A FULL COOLER! - The TV was an old didn’t even have a converter box. Won’t be worth nothin' in a couple weeks. Good luck you duffusses.”

Mainstream Minnetonkascenes: “Still, I bet that pissed you off... you gonna kill em if you catch em?”

Ice fishermen: “I doubt it, might use em for bait though.”

Mainstream Minnetonkascenes; “Hennepin County authorities says they’re really more concerned about an over reaction by ice fishermen. They say you should empty your houses at night and leave a deli tray - you would do it for Santa”

Ice house fisherman: “I doubt it both ways. Might punch em though..... duffusses go and take a guy’s cooler, and tackle.....oh, don’t even get me going on the missing tackle!”

Mainstream Minnetonkascenes: ...So you’re really going to shoot em?”

Ice fishermen: ”Are you listening?. - Hey, your foot is in my minnow and tackle bucket! I use em both you know.”

Mainstream Minnetonkascene: ",hey how's fishing?"

Ice fishermen: ‘Pretty good caught a couple bass and a walleye today. Was slow for a while, but at sundown they really get up and going”

Mainstream Minnetonka begs: ”.... er, you’re actually gonna shoot em if you catch them, aren’t you?
... Hey! What is that guy doing to my tires?”

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A house on the lake

Ice house on blocks

Little wooden fish

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Ice Lizzard Cometh

Reptilian ice fisherman

Friday, January 02, 2009

Scenes from the 2009 Polar Plunge in Excelsior

The stage is set.
2009 Polar plunge
waxing profound
Finally - For the 15 Cub Scouts of Pack 116 of Princeton, MN who were plunging to support "Dar" their seriously ill scout leader: Best wishes to you guys.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009 Excelsior Polar Plunge Preview - 7:45 am

Well folks, the frigid diving begins at nine and continues on until 11am. I am heading over to Excelsior with my cameras in hand.
Unlike last year, today's temperature is mild -about 20 degrees. This may allow the participants a little more flamboyant display.