The 2003 Labor Day Weekend at Quadna Mountain

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It was a weekend long overdue.  A weekend of fishing, hiking, more fishing, and of course…eating… and loads of cleaning up…little kids are really, REALLY neat and tidy ya’ know.


The place where we stayed is owned by Deb’s Boss, Doc Klausman. He uses this townhouse as a place where people from his clinic can go to vacation just like we did this weekend.


We set out on Friday afternoon, wanting to get out by 12:30 and finally leaving town by about 3:00 PM.  Typical for us, usually a couple hours late is par.  Traffic was a usual nightmare leaving a big city Friday afternoon for Labor Day Weekend.  Finally getting away from the bulging lanes of traffic we stopped off at a Dairy Queen for some treats.  Everyone was happy -- even the darn dog got an ice cream bowl from the nice gal at DQ.


We finally rolled into Quadna at around 7:15 or so.  The place was great!  A one bedroom townhouse with a big living area, a small kitchen, a back deck with walk out to a yard then woods, a couple bathrooms and a fireplace and a couple pull-out couches.


We, of course, went WAY overboard with the food, and Deb, of course, challenged “we’ll see how much we bring back”, and I, of course, was all over that challenge, though to her defense, she’s usually pretty good at gauging consumption…usually…but not this time.


We hauled in ALL the food and decided to make a quick meal and get everyone in bed to rest up for the big weekend ahead.


Trip and I had other plans though which had to be delicately presented for them to pan out. Trip was to ask Mom if he and Dad could go fishing that night to “The SPOT” which I had been telling him all about. She, as predictable as ever, said “No Bleepin’ Way!”  Then the Smooth Talker came through…convincing her this was actually a good thing, that we would get the fishing out of our system right away and we can do other stuff for the weekend.  Besides, the SPOT is only 30 miles away and we would fish for no more than a couple hours and be back in no time. – RIIIIIGGGGHTT!


So we had a great mac n’ cheese dinner with sliced hotdogs (for those who have forgotten how great this dish is, I recommend you try it again.  Yummy!)  Trip and I threw on our warm clothes, boots, and coats for a crisp early-fall night of fishing in the Mississippi River in northern Minnesota.  We were off at 8:30 and had to make a stop for some last-minute supplies, then more driving.  FIFTY miles later we finally reached the SPOT at 10:00 PM. Yikes! I knew I was in trouble already. Well, it was pitch-black dark, but we had a head light and some press lights.  The sky was totally clear and we could see every star and galaxy in the sky, quite a sight.  At The SPOT the river is about 40 feet across and the water is crystal clear as the river had just left big Lake Winnebegoshish.  At about 10:20 I caught our first walleye of the night, about a two pounder.  Trip was very excited.  His reel and line became tangled more times than I could count, but that was expected as this was the very first time he had ever been casting a reel to fish. This was real fishin’ for him and he had loads of fun. 


We kept on fishing and I caught another four Walters, progressively increasing Trip’s frustration with each fish.  He was determined though to catch something, but he never got one on. At 1:00AM we called it a night when some kind of really big bird (at least I think it was a bird) on the opposite bank of the river let out a loud, medium pitched, scream – which scared the bejeepers out of me!  It didn’t phase Trip at all… until I was dumb enough to say ‘did that scare you as much as it scared me?’  Dumb Dad.  Trip immediately stopped fishing and came over to my side scared.  Way to go Dad.  It was time to leave anyway, so we packed it in and headed back.  At 2:00 AM we rolled in and Trip was off to bed, and I had to then clean all these fish.  Of course I’m well seasoned at fish cleaning (NOT).  I was being a total pansy trying to fillet these fish while they were still flapping.  Anyway, I got that done and we were set form good eat’n Saturday night.


Saturday we started off with some great cereal and coffee and a nice fire, then headed to the pool for a dip.  After that we thought we would head up to Grand Rapids for a picnic by the Mississippi River and maybe try our luck at fishing again.  Trip was still fired up about catching a big walleye.  We wet the lines again while Deb and the little ones enjoyed a picnic and some hiking around.  Fun!  Didn’t catch any Walleye, but Trip caught a perch and a sunny.


That afternoon we went and played some miniature golf at the resort for some more relaxation and explored the resort grounds.  Really a pleasant day.


Came back home and cooked up the Walleye dinner which was wonderful.  The kids were most impressed that Trip and I caught dinner!  Afterwards we went for a short hike down to the lake about ¼ mile away and threw in a bobber to try our luck one last time for the day.  Not even a nibble.  Headed back and hunkered down for a great Saturday night.


Sunday brought another beautiful sunny and warm day. Another fire for breakfast and then we headed off for a great hike near Quadna Mountain.  We started off at the base of the old alpine ski hill which looked to be in pretty rough shape and has long-ago closed.  We started out on a dirt road but soon I, of course wanting none of the standard ‘road hiking’ steered the family off the beaten path…and pretty soon we were full-in, breaking trail, in the thick of the north woods.  Henry wanted none of it!  Trip was a reluctant enthusiast.  Mom was game… for a while… with Josie strapped on her front.  And I had Evie on my back.  It was fun for about 20 minutes but quickly became a Dad-let’s-get-back-to-the-road-right-now quest.


We finally made it back to the road and hiked the other direction looking for a trail I just knew was there… somewhere, until I decided I’ve tortured my family long enough.  We headed back to the car and when we were close to the ski hill again I convinced Trip to head up to the top with Evie and me.  Deb wanted back to the car, and it goes without saying Henry was ready for this hike to be OVER an hour ago!  So we split up and trekked our separate ways.  Trip, Evie and I busted through the woods to the top of the mountain (all 400 feet of it) and enjoyed the view.  Then a couple minutes later, and much to our surprise, Deb and the others made it up too…’Great to see you here!’  Took some pics and off we went to finish our hike to the bottom of the hill. More fun!


Had some lunch, then Henry, Trip and I headed into Hill City (a little Podunk town right nearby) and went fishing off the dock.  We each caught a fish and had much fun.  Had another terrific meal of homemade pizza that evening. Yummy!


Trip and I decided we would try our luck one last time on the Mississippi again before sunset.  This time we would head a little ways south to this little town.  Got there and decided to leave 30 minutes later because there were no bites, besides skeeters, and no real promise of anything.  As we headed back, though, we got caught up in counting all the deer we could as it was dusk and all the critters were out in the farm fields.  We counted 37 deer with no more than 6 in any one sighting.  They were everywhere!  Trip was most impressed.


On the way back we found a little boat launch and tried one last cast or two before the sun went down.  Again…nothin’.  But it was fun…and then the skeeters REALLY came out in a big way.  We were outathere.


Headed home for another good night’s sleep, ready for the journey home on Monday.


One last fire on Labor Day morning and then it was time to pack up and clean up.  It only took a couple hours to get all our junk together and leave.  What a joke! And, it appeared we had MORE food coming back that we had coming up, however that could have happened…And off we went for our 3+ hour drive home. 


What a fun mini vacation.  It was a welcome time away from home which we all really enjoyed …and now you know how we spent Labor Day Weekend 2003.