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Thomas and Logging in Duluth

Scott picked me up from work so we could get to Duluth right away. 

We had plans. Thomas the train was waiting for us in the Twin Ports.

We decided to stop at Tobie's for dinner, we had always wanted to try this place. Meadow had been napping, normally she's okay when we wake her up, but this time she would not stop crying. 

We weren't sure what to order and Meadow was just getting worse. So, we decided to spend our money in Duluth instead.

Since we never did stop for dinner we had pizza in Canal Park at Vitta Pizza. It may be in a touristy area, but its so good.

And super affordable. Plus Meadow can't say no to pizza.

Canal Park isn't all tourists. It also this little house that's somehow survived the years.

After last time we were better prepared for the hike into Blake's campground.

I had everything packed neatly in and on our packs.

Blake was busy working on another crankie for the upcoming Tall Ships Festival. It turns out he would be working late and not coming to his land. 

The walk in wasn't as mucky this time so even Meadow could walk by herself.

She even carried her own backpack.

A couple of weeks ago Duluth had 90mph winds during a thunderstorm that caused a lot of damage to Blake's land. Sadly he lost his new yurt to a tree, thank goodness he wasn't staying here when it happened. 

With the downed trees and no Blake, his forest felt way different than last time.

We ended up pitching our tent near the firepit as it was the only good spot available.

We could've set up camp at the Hipcamp site, but that was farther from the toilet.

Meadow quickly turned the downed trees and bark scraps into toys.

When Blake sent a photo of all the fallen trees we joked he should build a log cabin. 

I was dead serious, actually.

A couple days later he sent me a photo of him and his friends starting to build one. 

His table had been moved over to the firepit area too.

His land was full of natural balance beams.

Brooke just wants to look cool.

After breakfast we headed into town to wait for our friends to arrive and for Blake to get off of work.

I brought Meadow's Duplo picnic kit. She kept herself busy until we figured out where we were going.

Kitchi Gammi Park was just down the hill along Highway 61. It seemed like someplace the ladies would like.

This was a great place to pass some time. Meadow had fun climbing all the rocks.

It ain't Duluth without a container ship off in the horizon.

Before going to bed we discussed maybe hanging up the food we brought so animals wouldn't get in. Previously Blake left his food out, but we didn't feel so sure this time. I had assumed Scott did it while I was in the tent setting up our beds. 

The next morning I noticed our food bag was dumped over and there was a hole in the corner. Our pasta was also open and some was crushed on the ground. Then I noticed Blake had gotten a tough container to hold his food. Oops.

While cleaning up our spilled food I realized our whole loaf of bread we brought was missing.

Instead of eating homemade PB&Js for lunch, we went to Duluth's new grilled cheese joint, Toasty's, for some fancy sammys. Well, Meadow picked the grilled peanut butter and jelly.

But she also got juice and yogurt with her meal.

When Blake was done with work we met up with him at his house.

Hey, that's Daniel, not Blake.

Oh, he was busy playing Pokemon Go.

There was a Pokemon on my shoulder!

Our friends still hadn't arrived so we decided to play some bocce.

Meadow helped hand the balls out through out the game.

Then Anna, Aaron and crew arrived.

We'd just hung with Anna and Aaron plus the Fialas the previous weekend. Lydia seemed really happy when I held her that night. We gave it another try. She wasn't as impressed.

Oh, yeah. We went to Duluth Grill just after they arrived. We figured it would satiate everyone's appetite. We hand't been here for a few trips.

The kids enjoyed watching the fish. 

And their food.

Afterwards we headed over to Bent Paddle Brewing for a beer.

Brooke and I decided to share a flight.

I thought Duplos would district the kids for a bit. It worked, until it didn't.

Every time one fell it made a loud noise on the concrete ground.

The Brauch-Sapp's left after a beer while we finished our flight.

Too bad my crappy cell phone got a better photo of us three.

This time Blake joined us on his land.

Meadow and Brooke hit the hay while Blake and discussed our current life plans.


More oatmeal for breakfast, this time with foraged wild raspberries.

Didn't Blake also treat us to some blueberries?


The real reason we came up this weekend was for "Day Out With Thomas." When we found out Anna and Aaron were going we kind of invited ourselves.

Well, we did offer them a free campsite before the trees came down. Plus, I think they wanted us to go.

Roman was busy playing with sandboxes when we arrived. Wait, what do sandboxes have to do with Thomas?

Of course Meadow had to get a tattoo.

Lydia's almost as tall as the giant Connect 4.

Wait, what does any of this have to do with Thomas?

Then it was our turn to ride Thomas.

Sorry no strollers on the train.

No strollers in my life. They're way overrated.

So many toddlers.

They Brauch-Sapps seemed pretty happy to have Thomas leading the train.

They also knew all the trivia questions.

Meadow enjoyed sitting in the aisle seat more than looking out the window.

Aaron on the other hand enjoyed the window seat.

Hey it's Lake Superior.

After the train ride you get dropped off near the train museum.

I was hoping to look around, but no one was into it.

Meadow and Roman had a blast playing with the train tables. I guess we will need to take her over to Choo Choo Bob's again soon.

I guess this sort of has something to do with Thomas.

They also had trolley rides. Guess I need to also take Meadow to the Lake Harriet Trolley.

The only problem was that the cable kept falling off. We took one of the few successful rides of the day.

Last, we went to Meadow's favorite thing of the day, the bubble area. I think we have an idea for her birthday party next year.

Again, no Thomas connection, but she just loved it.

Since Anna and Aaron were planning on heading back to the cities we decided to have a picnic on the beach.

Wisconsin Point once again.

We told Blake to meet is in Superior to swim, but he took that as Lake Superior and went to Minnesota Point.

Eventually Blake met up with us.

Some of us went swimming.

As in everyone but Meadow.

Blake and Meadow dug up a hole. 

What a great place to swim, but I guess we could've settled for Minnesota Point.

Back on Swamplandia Scott whipped up some beet pasta dish. At least the raccoon didn't like our beets.

Blake and I enjoyed some Californian beer made from hops grown on the Congdon's farms in Washington state.

She told us that Ballast Point made a Glensheen beer. It's just made from hops from the descendents of the Congdon family. It was super hopy, but good.

Turns out brown butter beet pasta is damn good. Brooke went back for seconds before we had firsts.

You guys are too slow.

Before it got too dark I filled up the water for our last day.

Blake recently bought some solar panels and to make use of them he bought some party lights. 

We commenced to party while the kids slept.

Meadow's collection of dirty underwear was getting out of hand.

I took a break from the family to try my hand at creek chub jig fishing. I guess these are great fried up like smelt, but isn't that true of all fish?

Blake and Daniel made us a lumberjack breakfast before our day of logging.

Pancakes, eggs and bacon. Just like Paul Bunyan's Cook Shanty.

I gave up washing dishes with Blake's filter water system and took all the dishes down to the creek.

Then it was logging time.

We all helped strip the bark and then moved the first logs in place.

Blake's friend John is a carpenter. He's got all of the tools and knowhow. Everyone else just brought their muscles.

I helped direct the first tree we had to take down. Only it went the opposite way that I had pushed.

We had Meadow play with toys in the woods while we worked. Blake would bring her random pieces of wood to play with too.

She's such a chill kid when she feels like it.

Then John took down one of the biggest trees that had been cracked at the this base by the blowdown.

Although I mostly cleared branches, logging was hard work.

We took a short lunch break with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Probably should have made something heartier.

They were much appreciated.

Eventually we had to head back home. I can't wait to see the finished result. 

I hope it's not finished. I want to learn some more logging and cabin building techniques.


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