"Normal" Is A Dryer Setting

Parenting A Child On The Autism Spectrum


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Devil’s Kettle

We need the tonic of wildness. ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Four times a year I slip out over my lunch hour to have my hair cut. This may not sound like much, but for me it is a wonderful indulgence. I go to Urban Village SalonSpa, which is nestled in the heart of Cathedral Hill. My hairdresser and I have been together for seven years, and she is the only person in the entire world who is capable of taming my fine, frizzy hair into layers of manageable waves.

Over the course of our relationship, my hairdresser and I have discussed several subjects, ranging from our mutual love of cats to new recipes we tried to how both of us grew up near farmland in the Midwestern United States. One topic she mentioned that I found particularly intriguing is a geological mystery tucked away near the northernmost part of Minnesota’s North Shore: Devil’s Kettle. In addition to seeing an amazing natural phenomenon, my hairdresser recommended this as a must-do on my next trip Up North due to rumors that this remote area was a gangster hideout in the 1920’s and 30’s.

Devil’s Kettle is a gigantic sinkhole located in Judge C.R. Magney State Park, Minnesota. Judge C.R. Magney State Park, located 14 miles northeast of Grand Marais on Highway 61, has the Brule River flowing through the middle of it. Over the course of 8 miles, the Brule River drops 800 feet, creating several waterfalls. At Devil’s Kettle, the Brule River forks at a rocky outcrop of rhyolite, creating side-by-side waterfalls. One half of the Brule empties into nearby Lake Superior. The other waterfall is where the intrigue begins – the river pours into the kettle but we have yet to determine where it comes out.

As curiosity is part of human nature, we like to try to explain what we do not understand. An abundant number of theories exist about Devil’s Kettle, including underground caves, rivers, fault lines, and hollow lava tubes. Each theory, however, fails the test of reason due to both lack of evidence and the geology of the area. Rather than copy what others have written before, I included some websites at the bottom of this post for additional reading about the how and why of this phenomenon.

Tim and I decided to have an adventure last August during our annual trip to Grand Marais, and we checked out Devil’s Kettle. Devil’s Kettle is about a 1.5 mile hike from the parking area at the park entrance, and there are signs along the path and places to rest. While the hike is not a long one, and the path is well-maintained, there are a couple of staircases along the way. Recommended items for the hike include trail shoes, mosquito repellent, a wide-brim hat, water, and sunscreen. We also do a tick check each time we finish hiking through the woods.

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When we were half a mile from Devil’s Kettle, we arrived at the Upper Falls. The Upper Falls is easily accessible from the hiking trail, and you can walk down on the rocks by the Brule River. Tim and I took video of the Upper Falls, several photographs, and climbed around on the rocks for a while. You can pull up the videos we took by clicking on each of the following three pictures.

Upper Falls

Click on the picture to see video of the Upper Falls.

When Tim and I hiked the last half mile to Devil’s Kettle, my favorite part was hearing the waterfalls before actually being able to see them. Devil’s Kettle can be viewed only from a lookout point at a distance from the waterfall, probably to prevent visitors from throwing objects into the sinkhole or falling in themselves. Devil’s Kettle was beautiful, mesmerizing, and large. How often in our lives do we have two waterfalls in a single line of vision? The water was flowing so quickly and with such force that I did find myself wondering where all of it goes.

Devil's Kettle

Click on the picture to see video of Devil’s Kettle.

We also took a close-up video of the double waterfall to see the split more clearly.

Devil's Kettle close up

Click on the picture to see Devil’s Kettle close-up.

Can’t get enough waterfalls? Mother Nature Network has a must-see list of 14 amazing waterfalls located all over the world. If you are in the northeast United States, Niagara Falls is definitely one to visit. Having been on both the Canadian and American sides of Niagara, while both are breathtaking, I tend to agree with the common opinion that the Canadian falls are the better ones to visit. Next on my list are Havasu Falls located in Grand Canyon National Park. My boyfriend suggested we go as part of a romantic Western getaway, and I can hardly wait. However, while he lived in Grand Marais for a few years after graduating from college, he has never explored north of the town. When I found this out I told him that we should put Devil’s Kettle on our list of places to go and have an adventure in our own backyard.

Here is additional reading for more information on the mystery of Devil’s Kettle:

I hope you have yourself a happy exploration!

 


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Boulders

You can never make the world over to protect the ones you love so much. But you do not have to defend your having tried. ~ Joanne Greenberg, I Never Promised You A Rose Garden

I am trying to squeeze in as much time with my son as possible before the summer ends. Once school starts up the easygoing child I know inevitably transforms into a gargantuan ball of stress. As his mood changes, so does his appetite, his sleeping patterns, and how much time he starts spending in his room by himself. As he grows older, a lot of what we struggle with during the school year becomes easier, but there are also different challenges and expectations that come as well.

The start of our hiking trail.

We decided to explore the Wisconsin side of Interstate State Park this past weekend, located near picturesque Taylors Falls. The day was perfect weather, with low humidity, clear blue skies, and not too hot. Whenever we go to the Minnesota side, we look across the St. Croix River and see what looks like Wild Kingdom on the other shore. There are rocks begging to be scrambled across, and bluffs waiting for us to tromp up and down their peaks. My son was upset when we passed the turnoff for the Minnesota side of the park, but I told him we should try the other side. This was mostly because I actually missed the Minnesota turnoff and was too lazy to turn the car around and backtrack. He retorted that he didn’t want to try the other side, that he wanted to go where we usually go. I told him to keep an open mind, and if we don’t like the Wisconsin side, we can always hop back over to the Minnesota side and do our usual routine.

My son jumping for joy at the bottom.

After paying our entry fee, we drove through for a few minutes and decided to park near the Summit Rock Trail. My son wanted to climb down to the river first, so we hiked up to the top of the Dalles of the St. Croix. We started on gravelly trails which evolved into dirt paths covered with pine needles which then disappeared altogether. After climbing over boulders for a few minutes, the treeline cleared and we could see down the river for miles. I told my son I think I like the Wisconsin side of the park better, and he agreed. He vanished while I took a photo, and then I heard him calling to me from somewhere far away. When I finally located him, he was nothing more than a speck jumping up and down on the rocks by the river.

A spectacular view from the top of the Dalles.

I climbed down the boulders to join my son, and we sat on a flat rock for a while and watched the world go by. If you would rather enjoy the Dalles from a distance, you can catch a boat tour on the Taylors Falls Queen. The best part is how spending time in nature tends to bring people closer to each other. I have wondered how and why this happens, and I am not sure that anyone knows. The brain is a complex organ, and there is so much of it that we do not yet understand. My son and I did not do a lot of talking that afternoon. We weren’t even in the same places at the same time often since he was literally springing from one rock to another, but being together outdoors surrounded by greens, browns, and blues was time well spent.

Perched on a ledge watching the tour boat leave.

As we were hiking up to a different view of the St. Croix River, I told my son that if I was in a position to homeschool him, trips like these would make up a large portion of his science class. He told me that it would also count for his physical education class, and I laughed in agreement. The desire to shelter and protect my son from what he views as a confusing and unpredictable world becomes overwhelming at times. I am feeling that now with increasing intensity as another school year is starting in two short weeks. However, if I hide him away, how will he learn to walk his own path? To forge his own trail? To climb up and down the boulders life throws at him?

Part of what I struggle with, and I am guessing other parents do as well, in all sorts of child-raising situations, is the feeling that I am not doing enough for my son. I know this is not true, but there is a nagging voice in the back of my mind that rears its ugly head from time to time. That voice needs to stop because it makes me a worse parent for the wear. It makes me second guess my instincts at what is best for my son when instinct is all I have. As my son grows older, I see more and more that he does not want me to smooth the path before him. He does not want my interference. What he does want is my presence and my support as I watch him make his own way, the way I watched him climb over rock after rock by the river.