Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday. (Well, actually it's tomorrow but because we attend Saturday Mass, it's "Palm Sunday" for us tonight.)
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Tonight is also the first "Scheduled" Mass that both Jonathan and Zachary were Alter Servers together.
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There was one mass about a month ago that Jonathan was scheduled and because it's Zachary's first year in it, he was not on the schedule yet. Jonathan got to the sacristy, and Fr. Yanta asked if he (Jonathan) had any friends or siblings that were servers - the other scheduled server was a "no show". Jonathan explained that Zachary had been through the training, but was not on the schedule yet. Fr. Yanta told Jonathan to get Zachary, and just
help him along as he needed. We were all settled in to our seats when Jonathan ran out and explained the situation. Zachary jumped at the chance, but because we were not expecting it, we did not bring the camera.
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So, in honor of Palm Sunday and the first "Official" mass my boys served together, I'd like to post a couple of pictures.
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Guys, you sure make me proud!
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Happy Birthday Fezzie

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Happy Birthday to Fez Marie Whatley!
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Fez is one half of the Ron & Fez Show - Fez is one of the best (if not the best) radio personality on all satellite or terrestrial radio! Fez works with Ron Bennington (a quick witted, crass, vulgar, comic genius!) Together with their producers "Black" Earl Douglas and East Side Dave (the loveable bumbling idiot - but a HILARIOUS loveable bumbling idiot - the show would not be the same without him!). Together they make a team that makes the Ron & Fez show #1!
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Happy Birthday Fez!! Thank you for the hours of entertainment and laughter you give!
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Your friend in Minnesota
David the "Father-of-Five"!
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And the answer is... (Rollerskating)

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Q: What is the name of that chain of stores??
A: Thornton Melon's TALL AND FAT. (Eric being the winner!)
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I bet you are all asking yourself why this is all that important. Let me digress...
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On Saturday we (the whole family) got together to celebrate Ben's 19th Birthday. Recently Ben has been spending his Saturday Nights at
Roller Garden in St. Louis Park. He particularly enjoys the Saturday Night "Contemporary Christian Music Skate", and has made some good friends from school, Karate, and Skating. When we asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday on Saturday night, he told us he wanted the whole family to go skating at Roller Garden with him, so - we did.
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Back in the EARLY 80's -
Nativity of Mary (my Elementary / Jr High School) used to book a night or two every school year at Saint's Roller Rink. I loved going and always attended the Roller Skating Parties. At least through eight grade that is...
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I have not been on a pair of roller skates since 1982 or 1983, nor have I EVER donned a pair of roller blades. It has EASILY been 23 years since I last got up on a pair of skates... Since Michele's ankle is bad, that left "dear 'ol dad" to play the part of loving father and be out skating with the kids.
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Let me share a few "Father-of-Five" observations I made...
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Observation #1 - I surprised myself. Having not been on a pair of skates in over 20 years, I was a bit... apprehensive... about my ability to keep myself up on skates, let alone try and keep a 6 year old daughter (and her first time on skates) up as well.
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My first few steps on the skates affirmed my worst fears of having "forgotten" how to skate. I was on a carpeted area, so I was hopeful that when I finally flailed my way out to the skate floor, things would be better. The first few steps out on the skate floor were as bad as they were on the carpeted floor, and I was not only fighting to keep myself upright, but I had Rebecca dragging me down as well. I was the sinking ship and it was going down fast! (Much like the Titanic).
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Well, in keeping with the spirit of being the good father that I pretend to be, I stayed with Rebecca, providing her the illusion that I knew what I was doing, and would keep her safe. The first time around the rink involved many falls for Rebecca, and a lot of "wall grabbing", "arm flailing", and stumbling by yours truly (although I did not actuall "fall" (on my arss) once). After making it one whole revolution around the rink we pulled up in front of Michele (who was at the table with Melissa), and snapped a few pictures.
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After our "photo op" we went around one more time together. I began feeling a bit more confident with being back up on wheels. After our second trip around the track I left Rebecca with mom and took off (independently) in search of my skating skills. By my second (independent) trip around the rink, I would reckon that I had about 85% of my skating skills back, and spent better part of the rest of the evening holding Rebecca's hand and moving her further and further away from creeping around the outer wall. By the end of the night she was much better with balance, but still had no "self propulsion" abilities. Overall, not bad for her first time out!
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Observation #2 - (Here is where the movie trivia ties in...) As a (self proclaimed) "potential customer" of Mr. Melon's "Tall and Fat" stores, I can tell you that a lumbering mountain of a man like me with "rusty" (at best) skating skills has NO RIGHT being on a skate floor.
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The night started out with a "younger crowd". I would say most of the skaters were 14 and under (and many of them were about 6 years old). After my two initial "independent - ability seeking" trips around the rink I pulled back up to where Michele was sitting. I mentioned to her that I am fearful of two things. First - If I fell down, I was coming down a lot further, a lot harder, and with a lot more bulk than the last time I fell on skates. This relates to my second concern - God help any of these younger (and much smaller) children that would be in my "fallout zone". Honestly, I think I could crush a small child if I fell on one...
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As the night progressed the crowd got older and older. By the "peak" of the night - the crowd was evenly mixed between adults and children. Most of the "crush-able" children had already left or were pooped out and sitting on the sidelines. This made me less worried that (as a (self proclaimed) "Tall and Fat" customer) I would permanently damage any young children.
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Observation #3 - Not much has changed in the atmosphere of these roller rinks in 20+ years. The oval layout, the old coin-op machines - vintage video games - and air hockey table, the cheap swede rental skates, the overpriced snack bar, the long line at the ONE drinking fountain - all these things (and many more) create an ambience that instantly took me back. It took me back to the days of late 1970's and early 1980's. The days of music from bands like The Bee Gees, Fleetwood Mac, Boston, Journey, etc. (Even though they were not playing any of this music Saturday night, I could hear it playing (like the voices I hear) in my head... )
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Along with the music, the rink took me back to my old friends. Friends I played Atari 2600 and Dungeons & Dragons with - friends I played four-square with at recess, went to birthday parties for, and talked about last night's "Dr. Who" episode with. And the same friends who tried to surpass each other as the ultimate Star Wars Fan.
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Here's another one... Who remembers the "Snowball"?
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The Snowball is a "couples skate" for "pre-dating" school age kids where you get to skate hand in hand (in public) with a member of the opposite sex. At that tender age (around 12 or 14 years old), the time spent skating together during the "Snowball" was the equivalent of a date. When the "Snowball" starts, all the guys line up on one side of the rink, all the girls line up on the other. When the DJ shouts the word ("Snowball") you can leave the wall in hopes that special someone you want to skate with is standing on their side of the rink -or- you stand along the wall waiting for that "someone special" to pick you to skate with -or- if you were already skating with someone it was time to change partners (either picking someone new from the skate floor or someone along the wall to skate with.) Then, there were always those "special couples" who ignored the rules and just kept skating together - signifying their "exclusivity".
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The following day was filled with talk of who skated with whom, and what did that mean. For the group of unpopular kids like myself (who knew NO ONE was going to choose us to skate, and would get turned down if we asked someone to skate with us), the "Snowball" was a chance to "rest", while we watched the girl we wanted to skate with as she skated with someone else. For us, the next day was NOT filled with talk of who skated with who or why - The next day was filled with talk of Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, and Dr. Who! (And that was far better anyway!)
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There was one time (known as the "skating incident") I was chosen by one of the most popular (and in my mind) prettiest 5th graders in my class. I had a HUGE crush on her. That memory (to this day) still embarrasses me when I think about it... But that is a whole post in itself. Just know that for many years afterwards when I thought about it I would sit in a chair with my arms crossed - rocking back and forth mumbling to myself (grin)....

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Actually the girl in question and I ended up graduating High School together, and we were each other's Junior Prom dates (as friends)... At our 5 year High School Reunion, we sat down, had drinks together and talked about old times (including the infamous "skating incident").
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Wow, I can ramble... Back to the topic at hand...
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Final Observation: The Roller Skating night was a total blast for everyone involved, and all present had a great time...

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Even the "Tall and Fat" (wink)!
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D.

























Question for my readers.

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Who remembers the 1986 Movie classic "Back to School" - starring Rodney Dangerfield as Thornton Melon?

In the Movie Dangerfield portrays a very wealthy man named Thornton Melon who owns / operates a chain of clothing stores.

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Q: What is the name of that chain of stores??
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The answer is part of my next entry. I know the answer, but I want to know how many of YOU remember!

Leave me your answers as a "comment" !
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A sad day

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Today marks the end of an era...
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Today Larry "Bud" Melman passed away..
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Calvert DeForest, the dweebish man who gained cult status on David Letterman's late-night shows as the comic figure Larry (Bud) Melman precisely because he was not funny, died Monday in Babylon, N.Y., on Long Island. He was 85.
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He had suffered from a long illness, according to a statement by Letterman. .
For 20 years, DeForest drew laughs simply for being the odd juxtaposition in an industry marked by smooth personalities and polished physiques
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"Everyone always wondered if Calvert was an actor playing a character, but in reality he was just himself -- a genuine, modest and nice man," Letterman said in his statement.
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DeForest's late-blossoming television career began with a New York University student film project called "King of the Zs," which was screened for Letterman before the 1982 debut of his show, then on NBC.
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Letterman asked his staff members to track him down. They found him working as a file clerk at a drug rehabilitation center. He became the first image of "Late Night With David Letterman," before the opening credits on the debut episode.
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He parlayed his "Letterman" fame into other film roles and commercials for a wide range of companies including MCI, Honda, Cheerios and Pizza Hut. His last appearance on "Letterman" celebrated his birthday in 2002.
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He leaves no immediate survivors.
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NEW YORK TIMES
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Now, it must be said that back in the mid 80's, Nativity of Mary Church had the best damn youth group in the world. I made some of the closest friends I have ever had while a member of NYG (Nativity Youth Group). There was John V, Joey W, Tom B, Steve B, Greg B, Lorianne T, Michele S, Pam V, Amy, Joel C - I am sure there are many more - but after 20 years, my memory is just not the same as it used to be...

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Anyway - each year (at the end of the school year and "regular" meetings of NYG we had a big party and gave out Mock Awards, and the big "Larry 'Bud' Melman" award... I honestly do not remember what the criteria for the LBM award was, but it was only given to one person per year. The person who was awarded the LBM award sat on a stage with a "scepter" of a toilet plunger held upright, and a volleyball in the "business end" of the plunger...

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Anyway, in 1986 I was awarded the LBM award! It was one of the greatest feelings I ever had! I felt such a part of a great group of people!!

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I was told to hang on to the award until the next year and I would give it back to NYG and they would give it to the next person...
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Well, I framed it and it hung in my room. No one ever asked for it back, and the LBM award faded off into NYG legend. It stayed hung on my bedroom wall until I got married in 1993. It then got packed up in my "memory box" until I "found" it again in 2002. The award sat in the garage, and (to the best of my knowledge) it is still sitting in a box.
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Back in 2002 - I took it out of it's frame and captured an image of the actual award that was given out all those years ago. (attached pic)
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Yeah, this all sounds kind of geeky, and weird, but when your a teenager, and hanging out with a bunch of great friends, and having a great time - who the hell cares? I didn't.
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So, today marks the end of an era with the passing of Larry "Bud" Melman. As the last known recipient of the Larry "Bud" Melman award, I felt it my duty to honor both the memory of Larry "Bud" and the long lost Larry "Bud" Mellman Award...
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D.
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Molly got a haircut

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For those of you who do not know, we have a family dog. Her name is Molly. Molly is a Cairn Terrier. She sure can be a handful at times... One of these days I'll have to post an entry about Molly..
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Anyway - she is a year and a half now, and has NEVER had her hair cut. She had the typical Cairn hairstyle... Long, matted and like a dust mop... Neither Michele or I like it the way it is, so we decided to take her in and get it all butched off!
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After the haircut she looks like a totally different dog. She looks more like a tiger with stripes than a dog at this point! I think it's pretty cute, and I like it!
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Oh, and a co-worker and I were talking about our dogs the other day, and their worst habbits... Molly's is Digging... Just like the Wikipedia article linked above states

"Like most terriers, they are stubborn and strong-willed, and love to dig after real or imagined prey."
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I think what she was going after here would be classified as "imaginary prey"...
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Cars I have owned or driven

All this recent talk of vehicles got me thinking about the cars I have owned or driven over the years...

1. 1976 Ford Granada (actual photo of my car)



2. 1984 Ford Ranger - "Forest Green" with a tan interior






























3. 1984 Toyota Corolla
(not an acutal photo of my car - it was dark blue without the luggage rack)




4. 1990 Olds Cutlass Calais
(Yup, that is the Olds being hauled away to "Cars for Courage")





5. 1994 Ford Escort



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Other cars I did not drive "reguarly"... (wife's car(s))


1. 1990 Ford Tempo (no photo yet)





2. 1996 Ford Winstar (actual Photo)



3. 2005 Kia Sedona (Actual Photo)




A couple of quick updates

#1 - Snow Caves -
Wow... Not much left of 'em





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#2 -
Replacement Vehicle...

Originally I found the Kia Rio intresting.
But I found another option in the
Hyundai Accent.

Compare them against each other
HERE



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#3 - Boombox

Oh, one other thing.. I bought myself a little "treat" the other day. My little MP3 CD boombox bit the dust a few months back. It was great because I would record my favorite XM Radio program - The Ron and Fez Show (Love that East Side Dave!), and burn them on CD-RW's. Then play them while I was at work... Alas... the boombox bit the dust, so I started using a MP3 CD walkman with a small FM Transmitter. But the CD-RW's starting failing (you can only use them so many times) and the batteries I went thru seemed pretty wasteful.

I started researching other options, and found the Coby CD-475. It did all that the last boombox did, but this one has a USB port on the front! I only need to upload my radio shows (173mb woth) on to a thumb drive, and then I can play them right thru the Boombox! I cant wait!!!

I have a very busy week comming up, and more overtime than I have seen in a very long time. You may not here much from me in the next week or so - wish me luck!
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Another Change

Well, as of two days ago, I have had to make a "significant" change to the introduction of my blog. (I am actually making the change today.)

"I am keeping this blog as a collection of thoughts for my children (but others are welcome to enjoy too).... Someday I hope they have they chance to read this. My work, and our single income household keeps me very busy. I hate to admit this but sometimes so busy that I don't spend as much time with my kids and family as I want to, or as I should.... Although I am not always with them - they are ALWAYS with me...."

I need to change
"My work, and our single income household keeps me very busy"
to
"My work and our hectic family lifestyle keeps me very busy".

Yup, after a three year hiatus from the working world, my wife has now returned to work. We are no longer have a "single family income"! My wife went on maternity leave when Melissa was born, her employer lost their lease, and therefore went out of business. We made the decision at that time to have Michele stay home, and raise Melissa - living off of just my income. I gotta tell you, it has not been easy. We have "made due" and "done without" a lot of things. But, on the other hand we have been able to do some things, and have "done with" the things we have needed too!

One of the biggest "hurdles" during this time is when our mini-van died and had to replace it (going from no car-payments to having a car payment again). It was not easy but we are nearly a year and a half into the loan. The problem is that my car (a 1994 Ford Escort with 190,000 miles on it) is beginning to fail (I cross my fingers ever time I start it, and give it a pat on the dashboard wispering "good little car" every time I reach my destination. Don't get me wrong. This is a great little car, and has been "trouble free", and gets (on average) just under 35 mpg. It makes a GREAT commuter car, but has reached the point that the costs assoicated with repair are not worth putting into it. It will not be long before I will have no choice but to replace it. I will still keep this car, and drive it till it "drives-me-no-more". In the mean time, I am going to start socking some $$ away for a down payment on a new car, and start searching around. One of the front runners for a replacement is HERE. But I hope to have the summer months to spend with my little Escort, while I check into it's replacment... That's not what this post is about, so enough on that (for now).

Back to the new burst of income... This is great news, but (at least for a while) does not change a whole lot of things. When Michele went on maternity leave, we had all credit cards paid off. Over the past three years, we have had (at times) to get a little bit of help from those cards. We are not "maxed out", and I have always paid more than the mininum payments (frequently double), but then I charge almost that same ammount back on, so it's sort of a "trade off". We have decided that priority #1 is to get back to where we were 3 years ago. Without too much difficulty we should have that done in less than a year. It will feel good to clear that all up again, and then move on to having that extra disposable income!

There are a couple of down sides to all this. Firstly, it has been nice to have my wife home as much as she has been. It allows me flexibility to work overtime, and work what ever shift I want. That is going to change a bit. I will be back to working evenings. Secondly, we will be working "tag-team" or opposite shifts - like two ships passing in the night... That is one of the hardest parts of this... I have come accostmed to spending time with her, and will miss not having time together like we have...

Well, we are going to give this a try, and see how it all goes... If nothing else, we can get most of our bills paid off before we are going to find out it does not...
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Anticipation.

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I was informed today that another friend of mine (who's writing style I enjoy reading) will be starting a blog shortly.

I am very eager to see it, and with their permission, may become a perminant link in the "Friend's Blogs" list that you see to your left.

More news on this later.
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The Secret Snow Caves of Jordan

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Many of you may not know about the secret snow caves of Jordan, Minnesota…
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Their locations are a well guarded secret, but (being the “adventurer” that I am) I am going out on a limb here to tell you about my “once in a lifetime” opportunity to not only find the caves, but to photograph them, and then - get up close to the mysterious occupants (the infamous Snow Creatures) of the snow caves!
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The story starts out today while outside in “white out” blizzard, I had lost my way. I wondered around the Timberline Forest in snow deep enough to cover every trail and their markings. I had wandered past a park bench that was half sticking out of the snow. I could tell by the snow depth that I may never find my way home again.
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After passing the park bench, I continued wondering thru the zero-visibility conditions (completely lost). After what seemed like hours, I came across a couple of unique sightings. First, I saw a small snowbird. This was not an unusual sighting as the landscape of the Timberline Forest has many unique formations that encourage the growth of the snowbirds. After passing a couple of “routine” snowbirds, I came across one of the largest snowbirds I have ever seen. This snowbird hung over the edge more than two feet. It was layered like a humongous tree fungus mushroom!
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As I passed the snowbirds in awe, I had completely lost track of the path, and found myself wandering thru drifts of snow waist deep. I was still trying to find my way in the “white-out” conditions, and was completely lost was when I first saw them! I could not believe my eyes. Could it be? Was I facing the lost snow caves of Jordan, Minnesota?
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I approached carefully. I had heard rumors of the Snow Creatures that were believed to live in these caves. As I approached the caves, the first thing I noticed was that they were empty. I was relived as, who knows what could have become of me if these caves were occupied.

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I started taking some photographs, and noting some of the characteristics of the caves. Both were large enough to hold a small child. One was oblong and deep, like a huge cocoon. The other was like a letter Y. It had one entrance and two cocoons going off at opposite angles. There would be room for two Snow Creatures in this cave! Both were fully covered, and had only a small opening compared to the rest of the caves, and both look like they had been rudely cut from the snow bank by hand.
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One other quick observation I had. The area surrounding the single cave had been nicely cleared out. It appeared as if someone had recently groomed the area, and it was very clean and easy to walk through EXECPT the area where the cave had been burrowed out and all the debris from building this cave had been left in the nicely (and recently) cleaned area. I wonder who cleaned the area up, and I wonder who messed it by digging out the cave. Even more interesting to me - I wonder how the person who cleared the area (just prior) felt about having it all messed up with snow cave debris?? (Grin).
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After taking some quick photos, I hid in the snow hoping to see the occupants of these caves. My waiting had paid off! It was not long before the two Snow Creatures returned to their homes and nestled in.
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In fear that you, my beloved readers, would not have faith in my unbelievable story, I felt it important to try and document the once in a lifetime opportunity to actually photograph one of these magnificent snow creatures in their natural habitat. I slowly snuck up to the first cave, peeked in (with my camera at the ready), and just as the snow creature poked her head out. I quickly snapped a picture, and fled before she knew what had happened.
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I ran as fast as I could until I reached the second snow cave. There (just like the first cave) I snuck up to the entrance, and peered in (camera at the ready - as usual). I was faced with another one of these snow creatures. This one was much deeper in the cave, and all I could see is a head peering out of one of the niches in the cave.
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This was almost a miracle. I actually saw two of the snow creatures! I was in such awe that I actually have no idea how I got back to the safety of my own home, or how long it took me. All I know is that I was soaked from head to foot. My shoes, socks, pants, coat, gloves and hat were all dripping wet.
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I hope this story has been as enjoyable for you to read as it was for me to experience!
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David
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