Some Fun and Interesting Photos of Penny and Al

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Fall Colors Get-a-way, September 2014

Here are some photos we took on Minnesota's Lutsen Mountain on September 25, 2014.

It is one of the largest mountains in Minnesota - SAY WHAT????

Yep, Minnesota has mountains - the "Sawtooth Mountains".

Granted they are not as big as the Appalacian or Rockies, but they are full of large rocky hard hills elevation up to 2301 ft! (The highest point in Minnesota is Eagle Mountain.)

The Mountain we were visiting highest point is 1600 ft.

Other little known facts - from our observations as we have lived and traveled throughout Minnesota all of our lives.

There is just about every type of eco-system and landscape in the world found in Minnesota. Say What?? (I think this is cool - I know I'm strange).

Yes, Minnesota has 10,000 plus lakes but we also have Mountains, Rolling Hills, Cliffs, Sea Shore (not salt but fresh), Plains and desert. There are very flat lands with swamps and marshes. Dry flat plains and ones that are lush too. Rivers and streams and so much more.

I believe that Minnesota is one of the few States that has all of the eco-systems from almost tropical (in the summer) to the tundra & boreal forests. We have hardwood forests, conifer forests and so much other wooded land.

Okay, enough for the geology and science lesson. Just enjoy these awesome photos!

Sitting in the Gondola waiting for us to asend the Mountain.





ahhhhhh..... This picture is of the Superior National Golf Course. What you think is "Sky" at the top of the photo is actually Lake Superior. The day was 'hazy' and the clouds were low. The lake is there - if you look just above the trees and before the very top of the photo you might be able to make out the 'water'.

ahhhhhh..... This is the opposite direction of the photo on the left. We are looking up the mountain - at another peak. The blue is actual sky - well - clouds.

Glad there is a railing! This is overlooking a Cliff that goes Straight down for about 300 feet!

The "Onion river" runs through it!


Winter Storm February 20-21, 2014

Retaining Wall out our Lower Level door - BEFORE the storm. Taken Feb 19, 2014 at about 10:00PM

Retaining Wall out our Lower Level door - AFTER the storm.

Our dogs run, under the deck BEFORE the storm

Our dogs run, under the deck AFTER the storm

Looking out the lower level door towards our Garage and Storage buildings. Note: the Decorative irons on the side of the garage door - these are 6 feet tall and the snow is half way up. Part is snow drift but we did get over 16 inches of snow too!

Looking at the Garage and Storage buildings from our Living room window. We have a deck that is 8 feet above ground level. As you see it is filled with snow.

Looking our our Living Room window you can see our 'big Birch Tree', our businesses name sake. And for reference the Hedge row - which stands 4-5 feet tall are almost totally buried in the huge snow fall/drift.

Front Deck looking the opposite direction than previous photo. The Deck railing is 36 inches high. So is the Snow!!

Out of our Bedroom door we have a small patio with decorative iron cranes. Well, as you see - one just has its head barely above the snow drift.

Bedroom door steps. Well, they are there somewhere!!

Out our Bedroom door - the railing and snow piled with this great design.

Our 7 foot high trellis is a little drifted in - don't you think?

Out our Bedroom window - You see our Bird feeders on their 12 foot high wires? The snow drift below now makes the feeders only 4 feet above the snow. Needless to say, it will be a bit before Al gets to them to fill. Thank goodness he filled them all yesterday (Feb 20, 2014) before the snow started.

Another view of the bird feeders. The other photo was taken BEFORE I accidently scared the 50 plus birds away. But on the far left Suit feeder you will see our resident Red Bellied Woodpecker. We call him 'Mullet boy' 'cause his red crown, reminds me of a 'mullet' hairdo.

Closeup of Mullet Boy

Under our deck, just outside our lower level walk out door.

Al is starting to snow throw/blow in front of the Garage.

Al Snow Blowing

Al Still Snow Blowing.

Al still cleaning in front of Garage.

Coming at me down the driveway through a 4 1/2 ft drift.

Still coming!

A different view of the HUGE drift looking at the Storage building. Yep we keep lots of great stuff in there!

I've turned around and am now looking down the rest of the 250 ft driveway! It has MANY 4-5 ft drifts for Al to get through.

See this Driveway Marker? It stands 4 feet tall. There are Hedges behind the marker, but of course, they are buried in the 5 foot high drift.

Me standing down the driveway looking at house.

Cleaned out by the house and garage

This is all for now. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to show you a few photos once Al has everything all cleaned up.

It is just after 12 o'clock noon and he has been outdoors for 2 1/2 hours. He is working to get the driveway open so he can go into town to get more gas. He still has the rest of our driveway, my sisters and to keep our son't driveway open while he is at work tonight.

The thing is, it is still winter and unlike folks on the east coast or even further south, you will get some warmer days in the 40-50's. Well, we are headed for another blast of cold - below zero temps so this snow has to be removed as it will not melt for at least 2-3 more weeks!!!

Did I tell you this winter had better bring us a GREAT SPRING?

Hot Air Balloon Ride Sept 1, 2009

Can you believe it? Al and I went on a Hot Air Balloon ride for my 55th Birthday!
(Well, my Birthday is really on September 2, but this was close enough!!)

balloon ride
The Balloon Pilot and Crew arrive - 7:00AM!

Following are just a few photos but as time allows I'll tell the WHOLE STORY but for now here are highlights.

balloon ride
Penny and Al and Pilot Steve starting to inflate the balloon!
This is in our front yard. The sun is just starting to rise in the east.
balloon ride
The fan has the balloon almost inflated.
balloon ride
After blasting with the hot air - (the 'burner' blasts about 15 million BTU's at a blast) The balloon - "April Love" is beginning to rise up!
balloon ride
Time to load up! Can you tell I'm just a little bit excited about this trip?
balloon ride
Looking up about 100 ft inside the balloon to the top. You can see the 'burner' too. It was quiet for the photo! Yep I'm standing in the Basket!
balloon ride
Our son, Phil was our "on the ground" photographer.
Here we are just about ready for 'lift off'.
balloon ride
      LIFT OFF!
balloon ride
We are 'just above' our House at this point.
balloon ride
Phil is taking a picture of me - taking a picture of him - See next photo!
balloon ride
Phil taking a picture of us! (see previous photo) He is standing just in front of our house.
balloon ride
Here you can see our place. Our newly paved driveway, the Swingset, the garage and storage buildings. All around the house. We think we have a pretty lovely place and this view is GREAT!
balloon ride
This is the view looking to the West North West of our place. The Forest in front, before the fields, is our 'forest' and so are the fields ours too. Across the road - just beyond the field is our neighbor that is about 1/4 mile up the road. The White building in the middle of the photo is our son Phil's garage. Their house is hidden from view by the 'forest'.
balloon ride
This is the view of our house looking to the Southwest. Although you cannot see it you are overlooking the Blackhoof River Valley. You can kind of see the depression in the trees for a bit. The river is only about 500 yards from our house. Down a very steep ravine.
We were about to loose view as the winds aloft were a bit stronger than the Pilot Steve wanted - so we had to stay at tree top level. So we descended right after that and were brushing the tops of the trees.
balloon ride
The last photo Phil took before we were out of range and disappeared into the 'forest'.
balloon ride
This is looking Northeast and towards our Landing point. It is about 6 miles away as the 'crow' or is that "Balloon" Flies!! See that white spot in the middle of the photo. You'll see it close up in the next shot!
balloon ride
This is a HUGE propane storage tank. The Pilot having to follow aviation regulations has to stay 500 feet away. Well he tried to catch a breeze that would take us to the right - but just as soon as we went right - we went left again and were headed right for that Tank!!
So in order to stay the 500 ft away - UP, UP, and AWAY!!
With in 10 seconds our Pilot had us over 700 feet into the air. Plenty of clearance for the tank.

BUT then right after clearing the Tank we had to quickly descend as - our ride was soon done. The propane was at the end limit, but we had to land in one of the closeby fields as if we didn't about 1 mile further and we would be in a rocky gorge and well - you can't land a balloon there!
balloon ride Al, Steve and Jim are deflating the balloon and putting it away.

Our ride was FANTASTIC!

It lasted about 45 minutes. Time literally FLEW by!

After everything was packed up - We popped a bottle of Champange and the Pilot did a Special toast given after a balloon flight!
balloon ride
Here the lonely little Basket waits to be carried out of the Alphalfa!
If you look behind the spruce trees in the back of the photo you can almost see the Big tank we just had flown over!.
This was the BEST Present Al could have given me.

He and I both have a list of things we want to do before we get to old to go on these types of adventures.
This was one of the first ones. We have several more planned and will of course, be sharing them here with you too!

As soon as I figure out our new Scanner I'll get the Certificate of Flight we got from our Pilot!

Vacation August 2008

Al and I just returned from our annual trip to a Northern Minnesota resort/cabin!
Al spent a lot of time fishing and having fun boating on the lake.

He caught (and released) nice Northern Pike, Bass and Sunnies all vacation BUT
on the day before we were leaving he caught the biggest fish he has caught in awhile
and the resort owner said it was the biggest one for his resort this year caught off the Dock!!
So here is his fish - First I took a picture of it while he was trying to bring it in to the dock.
The fish was quite comical as he even jumped out of the water a time or two.
And Here he is holding his 7 to 8 pound Northern Pike.
Very nice, Clean fish. Very Proud Fisherman!
Normally Al "catches and releases", but one of our neighbors at the resort
were having a 'fish fry' with some handicapped kids that evening and they thoroughly
welcomed and enjoyed Al's contribution for their dinner!!

And another photo. Yes - the water really is that pretty sky blue.
Hey, its northern Minnesota - the Land of Sky Blue Waters!!

And what did I (Penny)do on vacation??
I put puzzles together along with fish and read etc. And take picture of Al catching fish!!

May 14, 2008

We had a rude awakening this morning as this fellow
destroyed our bird feeders and is seen here
trying to get into the storage can we have the sunflower seeds in.
He is sitting just below our bedroom window - about 8-10 feet away from us!
We are in the house, looking down at him!

This photo is him returning to the storage can
after we chased him away taking photos.
He is about 15 feet from the house.

He returned later on today (May 14, 2008) to destroy
more of the feeders. (We have removed them altogether now.


He is pretty good at walking on his hind legs!




Al and Penny dressed in their Renaissance Faire Costumes

Getting the entry way ready. Removed old concrete, What a mess!!

Before they start working. One last look at this ?!?!!?

Jason carrying 85 lb. retaining wall blocks.

Austin laying the pavers

The final cleanup of the extra materials.

Our new entrance!

A different view.

A Birdseye view from atop the deck!

For more work done by A Keay Landscaping, Inc of North Branch MN
and to see the Construction of our new addition and new landscaping.
Please Click here - Don't forget to come back!!!

Al riding his Bike-E on his 49th Birthday
January 8, 2003
Unusally warm weather for Northeastern Minnesota for this Date!
It was 48 degrees today - a new record high temp for our area!!

He had such a fun time riding on his Birthday!

It's something you just don't do in our area of Minnesota in January!!!

Here's our Granddaughter Kortnay, Grandpa Al and our son Phil

Grandpa and Kortnay

Daddy and Kortnay Christmas 2002

Below are more photos of us having fun a couple years ago!

Al and Penny Having some fun with the Mr. Snowman
during a snow storm in December 2001!
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Don't you think he is Cute? (The snowman or Al? Both of Course!)


Die hard Minnesotans - Notice we are not wearing snow boots, just our tennis shoes!!

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Please do not use my information OR PHOTOS without my written permission.