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A Special Day in a lot of Ways

Wednesday July 16, 2014
Bear Paw Campground
Itasca State Park, Minnesota



Today is a special day in our family.





July 16 is Matthew’s birthday.  He is Carrie’s fiancé and is 33 years old today!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY MATTHEW!!









the stem cells 005


July 16 is also the day David had his stem cell transplant in 2012.  This is his second anniversary of that difficult procedure and we celebrate that his Multiple Myeloma is still under control.

We are all hoping for many many more of both of these anniversaries to celebrate.






And this year on this day we really get a celebration.  Take a look at this.




Today is also our last day here at Itasca State Park.  It has been a wonderful visit and we are going to round it out with a paddle on Elk Lake which we both personally think is actually the real headwaters of the Mississippi.

You can imagine the smile on my face when this was the first sign I saw as we parked the car.


Off come the boats and into the water we go.  Very nice simple boat launch.  Just the kind we like.  And oh what a glorious day.   The temperature is perfect, the clouds are exquisite, the water is wonderful. 




The lake edges close to the boat ramp are lined with tall reeds and the dragon flies are all over them. They zoom back and forth and all around me as I paddle along the reeds.   I can actually hear them.








Just look at this day!








It’s Chamber’s Creek flowing into Lake Itasca.  Could this really be the beginning of the Mississippi River???  Controversy, controversy.









Oh Boy!



We are paddling along around the lake when David spots the first loon.   Whoohoo!

He’s way out on the lake.  But that’s OK I take off paddling in his direction.    He’s dipping and diving.  Look at the water droplets in the second picture.

I paddle when he’s down and coast when he comes back up.  He can really swim under water.  When he goes down I never know where he will come back up and sometimes it is a long time and a long way from where I saw him go down.  

Time is suspended as I just paddle and drift and watch them.  I count 3.  What a great day.  Loon nesting area is right.   LOVE IT.








And then guess who?


After a while I leave them and head over to the nearest shore.  And then, something BIG flies in right in front of me and I grab my binoculars to see who it is and where he’s going.



Two very different looks.

He twists his head around looking in all directions. Wow can you imagine being able to do that? Twist your head around and look behind you. I am doing tons of shots of him as I drift closer and closer to the tree he is in. Of course when I get too close I will be looking straight up and won’t be able to see him but he takes to the air before that happens and I catch him in flight.





I am so excited. I follow him until he is only a shape in the sky.






The colors are fantastic!


David is still coming around the lake and gets to where I am after the eagle has gone although he says he saw him fly.   When he arrives I am watching a group of Aphrodite Fritillaries on a swamp milkweed flower.  They are sharing pretty well although every once in a while one flies off and he has a hard time getting a spot back on when he returns.  The color combination of the flower and the butterflies is striking.







The reflections in the water make me feel like I’m paddling in a painting.













This is just too much, twice???


Are there two eagles or did he just fly back in and land in another tree on the other side of the lake where we too have come?  He really is so majestic looking even if he is a thief.  <grin>.  He’s not very popular in the osprey circles.








We are about 3/4 of the way around the lake when David points along the shoreline.  At first I don’t see what he sees and then I do.   She raises up her head from eating grass.  We don’t make a move.  She puts her head down.  David moves in closer.  I’ve got a better zoom so I stay out.  She’s cautious   We watch.    Elk Lake on this day has just been a fabulous place.






It just can’t get any better than this, can it?  


Well yes it can.  They have been calling and hooting on and off all afternoon.  Now they are playing together and I’m close enough to see it. How lucky am I!!









I wish I could just stay here until the sun sets.

We’ve been out here now over 3 hours I could stay forever.   But  we have a long drive tomorrow and some pre packing up to do so reluctantly I have to paddle back to shore and call it a day. 

There is just no way to express what a glorious time we had on this day on this lake all by ourselves with only the loons and the eagles, the deer and the dragonflies, the flowers and the butterflies.





Itasca State Park has been a wonderful place to spend 9 days and I wish I had planned even more but I had to make reservations at Rocky Mountain National Park in order to be able to have a spot there and that’s many miles away from here.    But you can betcha that I’ll be back in Itasca and stay longer.



I say my good byes at sunset.  We’ll be leaving first thing in the morning. 

A mallard family is just off shore having a sunset dinner.   I don’t suppose they are the same ones who were over on the mini Mississippi yesterday but it could be since it’s all one big lake with two arms,















If you are in Minnesota, don’t miss Itasca.


  1. Happy anniversary, David! Here's to many more years in remission! We have eagles here, too. In fact, one flew fairly low right over me this afternoon. Magnificent. What a gift!

  2. Oh, my-those are just stunning photos!!! Beautiful!! Rocky Mtn NP very different than this, but still special in and of itself!!!!

  3. wow. . .you absolutely outdid yourself today. . .really great!

  4. Great day all right, love the blue skies and puffy clouds hanging around with a gentile breeze and delightful temperatures with the entire lake to ourselves. I too loved just drifting around looking to see what might show up. Great job capturing the sights! And thanks for remembering my transplant, so glad that is behind us and the medications are still working for me. Wahoo!

  5. The loon is such a regal looking bird, but the eagle really is King! I just love picture that reflect in the water.

  6. Beautiful pictures!! Great wildlife sightings!!

  7. Wow, the eagle and loons, and such gorgeous skies and the reflections of clouds, beautiful butterflies and flowers - and, to have it all to yourselves!! Yay for David's anniversary and your new family birthday! Thanks for sharing all of this!!

  8. That water must have given your camera magic powers....Awesome pictures.
    You guys are doing well seeing the world and may David have many more. I am happy you are sticking to your plan.

  9. This really has been an amazing place with so much diversity of activities. But this day, on the lake, over the top. Seeing eagles twice. And those loon photos are stunning!
    Happy Birthday to Matthew! Keep it going David!

  10. Just when I think your pictures can't get any more amazing! Just unbelievably gorgeous! I may have to adjust our route and go to Itasca.

  11. Thanks for the ID on the butterflies, I saw the same ones sharing a much smaller flower yesterday at Kettle Moraine. Up early today after a good night's rest on our new mattress and later we'll be off to the Manitowoc Maritime Museum for the first time in over 20 years of living in Wisconsin! Gorgeous day you had for your paddle, you guys paddle like we do not really going anywhere, just seeing what you can find. Every time I read one of your paddle posts I want to get out in mine!

  12. Happy birthday to the dimples; I do like that photo of him. Congrats to Dad- what a life he's had since then! What a terrific day!!! I LOVE loons, especially their calls. And that Eagle shot of his head turned was fantastic! Gorgeous day-flowers, water, wildlife. Amazing!

  13. I agree with Kevin Read - great butterfly shots. And Happy Birthday, Matthew!

  14. Beautiful photos and congratulations on a healthy anniversary.

  15. Oh my, what a wonderful post. I'd have a hard time picking out a favorite picture, but I think the one with the butterflies might be simply because of its simplicity. Minnesota is one of the states in which I've never been and you've certainly whetted my appetite to see it sooner rather than later.

  16. Gorgeous place for paddling. I'm leery of taking my camera when we go out in the canoe, but I know I'm missing some great photo ops.

    Great photos. Loved your comment "The reflections in the water make me feel like I’m paddling in a painting."

  17. What a spectacular way to celebrate this special day!! Happy Birthday Matthew!! Continued good health David!! Wonderful post and beautiful photos Sherry...you really are an "Eagle Eye" ;o))

  18. What a spectacular way to spend the day. Wow. Some of those pictures certainly do look like you are in a painting. You got some wonderful shots of the eagle/eagles. As a kayaker and wildlife photographer, wouldn't it be nice to turn your head like that?

    Happy birthday Matthew and happy anniversary David. I hope you have many, many more.

  19. Absolutely breathtaking pictures of all the wildlife. I still can't get a good shot of our eagle here. Loving you camera, it's on my wishlist :)

  20. yep, what a fantastic day you had...

  21. Wow! What a beautiful way to celebrate David's anniversary!

  22. You felt like you were in a painting and I felt like I was on the lake :-). The eagle was incredible (I am loving your camera) as were the loons playing. The name of the butterflies made me laugh - such a big name for such tiny critters. A perfectly perfect day to celebrate David's "anniversary" - I'm sure it is places like this, shared with you, that keep him healthy :-).

  23. Excellent photos of the butterflies, loons and eagle. A great day, indeed!

  24. You really did have a special day! Congratulations David and Happy Birthday Matthew!
    Safe travels west.

  25. Great paddle! Those loon look like decoys for sure. So pretty! Super shots of the bald eagle:)

  26. Now that kayak paddle was a home run in so many ways! What a day in nature, better than winning the lottery (well, maybe almost). :c)

  27. I didn't hear you honk as you headed for ND yesterday. :) Took me a second try to read this post as the first time it ended in mid sentence before you saw the pair of loons together.

  28. What a perfect paddling day -- your photography is just gorgeous! I had never heard of Itasca before reading your posts, but your adventures make us want to go there. Such a wonderful way to celebrate an anniversary of healing, too. Wishing you many, many more years of the adventures that you love so much. :-)

  29. You sure did have a very special day. Wishing you all many more. The Bald Eagle is just fantastick

  30. What a bonanza for the last day. Great pictures of the loon and eagle.

  31. Great anniversaries! man.. it's hard to see David like that in that picture.. man

    Gorgeous day … for sure!

  32. Everyone before me has said it all.....but I am most thrilled for David and you. All the experiences and photos cannot compare to David's return to health.

  33. Wonderful! Great Pictures and I agree with you, you had one wonderful fantastic day.

  34. Wow did I ever get behind on your posts! Yikes! You're all the way in North dakota. What a treat this post was and I can imagine how thrilled you were with this perfect day. The pictures are amazing- the zoom on your camera is great! Love the dragonflies, butterflies (their name sounds like something fancy to eat) and loons. The eagle shots are over the top! And the sweet deer in the grass- To get to see an eagle once is pretty wonderful but twice! So glad you had such a perfect day. This makes up for the shitty place you stay next. I'm reading the posts backwards. XXXOOO

  35. I know I'm behind but what a great way to celebrate


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