Showing posts from 2013

Third Base Brewery - Cedar Rapids, IA

Third base brewery and pub is located on the north side of Cedar Rapids in the industrial area and is a storefront in a small strip mall.  Not much to recommend it until you come in and enjoy the food and the wing. 
Great beer, some outstanding wings with many of the sauces including their own beers. Kate and I enjoyed this pub with her Brother Bill Crowley and his wife Mary.  Good sandwiches and what a sampler!
Best of all, the beers were all good.  These were my notes - my scales are these - first 1 - 5 light to dark, second 1 - 5 sweet to bitter (think malt to hops), and third how much I like it from 1 - 10.  For an example think Bud, Miller and those other poor examples of beer would be around a 1 - 2 - 3.  Anything over 5 is worth drinking - 5 means easy to drink - nothing outstanding, 6 would be a nice beer with some good attributes, 7 is a beer I would order again, 8 is outstanding and over 9 is on the way to perfection.
Unfortunately we were told that there is a new law in Io…

7 West Taphouse - Duluth

A new dining and beer experience in Duluth with Kate, Alyssa and Troy.

40 beers on tap - great burgers made with their beers, and fresh cut chips and fries.  A wonderful stop - small, nice bar, definitely a place to enjoy with friends.

Northern Cardinals - Kate Crowley

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley We were in Iowa City for the Thanksgiving holiday and while out for a pre-dinner walk I heard a distinctive “CHIP” and knew even before turning to look that I would see a beautiful red bird.  There at the top of a cherry tree sat a male Northern Cardinal and as we watched he plucked a cluster of the still dark red cherries with his sharp beak and carried them away to enjoy in a less busy setting.  This particular call which is described as ‘chip’ in the literature has a slightly metallic sound and it the most commonly heard, though not nearly as exciting as the bird’s spring courtship calls of ‘what cheer what cheer’ and ‘pretty pretty pretty’.  It will be a couple months before we can expect to hear these delightful songs. Male cardinals with their ruby red feathers, black face and chin and reddish beak cry out for attention.  Their feathered crest is the exclamation point on an already striking figure. The female of course is much more subdued in her plumage…

Tree bark - Kate Crowley


We travel to see the world anew. And we don’t have to travel all that far to be impressed by living things we encounter.  For the Thanksgiving holiday we went to Iowa City where my mom lives, 375 miles south of Willow River; best known as ‘Corn country’.  But while on a walk to the grocery store Mike and I paused to look at two kinds of trees we don’t have here in North Central Minnesota; the shagbark hickory and the plane tree (also known by some as the sycamore).  Both of these trees have a very distinctive and unusual type of bark covering their trunks.  We stopped and really looked at the texture and shape of the outermost layer and speculated as to why it was this way. Now that the deciduous trees are bare, we can see their shape and structure; their ‘bones’ as it were. All is revealed, including leftover little nests perched on the lower branches. It is not an overstatement to say that the majority of people take trees for granted.  They stand the…

Poultry - Kate Crowley

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley Right now most everyone is thinking about turkeys; how big, fresh or frozen, brine soaked or traditionally stuffed and roasted.  But I am thinking about chickens.  Not that we are planning to have this smaller fowl for our Thanksgiving feast, but because I am thinking about eggs; locally produced, free range, and fed with non-GMO grains.  It just so happens, Minnesota is in the spotlight for just these sorts of eggs and chickens. A small company called Locally Laid (Lola) could bring national attention to our state and this type of animal husbandry on – believe it or not – the SuperBowl!  Maybe you have seen some of the ads and news stories about Lola and their efforts to win the contest which would result in an ad to be shown on the televised football game. 
But before I describe this effort let’s take a look at the bird (or birds) itself.  Today, the American Poultry Association (APA) recognizes 64 breeds of chicken, but looking at a variety of websites I sa…

Feeder Watch - Kate Crowley

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley For many years we participated in Project FeederWatch, a program designed by a Canadian Bird Observatory and now associated with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  We have taken a sabbatical the past few years, but I decided it was time to renew our membership and once again be part of this great Citizen Science project that helps scientists understand more about the bird populations in North America during the winter months. Through data collected by FeederWatch volunteers scientists can begin to analyze the distribution and abundance of more than 100 bird species.  This is important information because it can provide an insight into the population of birds that can’t be found by any other available method.  Since 1976 in Canada and 1986 here in the U.S., data has been collected through the observations of local citizens.  This sort of long term data can show a decline in a particular species and once bird population scientists see this trend, they can evaluate…

November and the snapdragons are in bloom - Kate Crowley

GOING NATURE’S WAY By Kate Crowley November 2 and we still have phlox and snapdragon’s in bloom.  I can’t say I recall ever having flowers so late in the year.  It’s wonderful, but strange.  After a week of grey, drippy, damp weather, the sun came out on Saturday, lifted our spirits and put a spotlight on all the remaining leaves in the forest.  Our silver maple tree still has nearly all its leaves and there are a few aspens with an equal amount.  The oak trees are a rich maroon and they will hang onto many of their leaves well into the winter; just down the road a stand of tamarack have reached the peak of their golden glory. Even on the gray days their needles put out a glow, unequaled by any other tree.  Soon those needles will drop off and we’ll be left with their skeleton forms. We have been waiting for a day like this to complete the outdoor work that so many do in preparation for the coming winter.  For those of us who live in the country, that means putting the garden ‘to bed’ a…

Sabula, Iowa, the Island City

This is an amazing location that I did not know about until I went by on my boat.  Sabula is truly an island city and the only one on the river.  Across the river is Savanna, IL.
Sabula is 1/4 miles wide and 1 mile long and connected by causeways to Iowa and Illinois.  
Legend has it that Isaac Dorman crossed the river on a log and decided to settle here.  Must have been quite a log and a strange wind/current that day.  Sabula was the site of a button factory - clam shell buttons.  Strangely it was also the site of hog butchering.  
Originally the island was surrounded by marshland, but when Lock and Dam #13 was put in the pool flooded the marsh and made the town in to a water surrounded island.  

The Geneology Trails site says: Commercial fishing is engaged in to a considerable extent with about 120,000 pounds of rough fish - carp, buffalo and perch - and about 25,000 pounds of dressed catfish being shipped annually.
The town was platted and recorded in Dubuque in 1837 by Wood, Brown …

Potosi WI brewery

Set in a wonderful hollow just north and west of Dickeyville, WI is Potosi.  Well worth the drive off the major roadway, this small location is home to one to some of the greatest beers to be found. is the website for this terrific location and on the site you can not only get location information but also a history of the brewery:  Welcome to PotosiBrewing Company, one of the oldest breweries in Wisconsin dating back to 1852. The Brewery was re-opened by the Potosi Foundation in 2008 and now, in addition to brewing beer like the good old days, Potosi Brewing Co. 

Famous for its Root Beer which Kate had the best recommendation must come from Kate's brother who comes here with some regularity to buy the root beer for his wife.  The great restaurant helps too and so does the beer.  

We had an excellent pumpkin chili and I had a sampler which was really excellent.  Here are my notes from my tasting: Grades - 1 - 5 color from yellow to opaque  1 - 5 malt t…

Magpies by Kate Crowley

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley I have often spoken of my fondness for all members of the Corvid family (jays, crows, ravens and nutcrackers). Their innate intelligence has been well studied and scientists have noted that in terms of the ratio between brain volume and overall size these birds compare relatively speaking with primates and whales.  Living in northern Minnesota my favorite of the group are ravens, but if I were to move out west, it would definitely be the black billed magpies.  Like their relatives, they are a very social species, often to their detriment because of their habit of roosting in trees in large numbers and disturbing the peace of their human neighbors.  I first saw these striking black and white birds, with bronzy green iridescent tail and rounded wings in the Badlands of South Dakota.  They had taken up residence around the cabins at Cedar Pass Lodge.   Their loud, scratchy sounding chuck-chuck-chuck calls were the soundtrack for our visit.  One of the most impres…

A letter to a small town

This is a letter that needs to be written to many communities who see McDonald's as a boon.

Letter to the Editor,
Another McDonalds.  Just what the world (and Moose Lake)needs.   I know this is a done deal and so it is useless to complain about this franchise that will now grace the Moose Lake exit on I35.  But I still feel it is important to talk about this development and how it will impact Moose Lake. I am NOT anti-development, but let’s not kid ourselves.  This fast food purveyor is not going to contribute money or value to the town.  Yes, there will be some minimum wage jobs for a few teenagers, seniors, or struggling underemployed adults, but that’s about it.  How many people will pull off the freeway for some fast, unhealthy food and then decide to drive into town to see what other businesses they might visit? Think about your own travels on our country’s highway systems.  How often do you venture into the town after a quick stop for gas or food?
What I am concerned about a…

The apple of our eye

There is an apple sitting on our dining room table in a place of prominence, almost like a piece of art.  This is a very special apple and I am treating it as such.  Five years ago I planted six honeycrisp apple trees and one other species (for pollination purposes).  I had high hopes for these trees and tried my best to water them and protect them with fences from the voracious deer.  They grew, but spring after spring not a blossom was seen.  Until this year when low and behold, two of the trees produced about a half dozen blooms between them.  I celebrated their pale pink petals and sent out tentative tendrils of hope.  The long, cold spring meant there were few pollinators flying, so not wanting to take any chances that these long awaited flowers would miss out on the necessary transfer of reproductive material, I went out with a small watercolor paintbrush and swept it over the golden stamens.  Then I transferred the pollen (or tried to) to anothe…

Shifting from Summer to fall - Kate Crowley

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley The curtain is slowly closing on the summer pageant.  I know the next show will bring its own entertainment, but it won’t match the extravagance of the past season. Even as the curtain closes, we know that the performers will not hear our pleas for an encore.  They have pressing and more desirable destinations ahead and we will just have to be patient and wait for their return half a year from now.  So in the middle of September what is happening in the bird world?  Right now I am listening to a sound that for years I equated with this time of year.  It is the sound of the American goldfinch; a repetitive two tone squeak that after a while begins to get a bit annoying.  I should have known it is the begging call of young birds, but only after seeing a parent feed the wing fluttering, completely capable youngster did I make the connection.  Human parents can well identify with these sounds and behavior.  It must have been a fantastic summer for the goldfinch in…

Birds and heat by Kate Crowley

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley In the past I have written about the ways birds survive our deadly cold winters, but I haven’t written about the reverse.  How do they make it through extreme heat waves?  We know how humans suffer when the temperature nears 100F and the serious health crisis that can arise because of overexposure to the heat.  It is probably fairly obvious to everyone that birds are much less active as the sun gets higher into the sky, even on days when the temperature is not hovering in the 90s.  The best times of day to see birds are soon after dawn and before dusk.  This can be hard for those of us who are not ‘early birds’ ourselves, but the longer you wait the fewer you’re going to see.  Even if they remain hidden and inactive during the middle of the day, birds still need to have ways of adapting to the hot temperatures.  You may be surprised to learn that the same feathers that keep them so warm through the long cold winters actually help them cope with the heat too. T…

There is a season - turn, turn, turn by Kate Crowley

GOING NATURE’S WAY By Kate Crowley Recently I have been thinking of the song “Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)". It was an international hit and one of my favorite songs when the Byrds recorded it in 1965, but it was written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s and he was the one who added the “Turn!” lyrics to a verse from the Book of Ecclesiastes, It begins “To everything - turn, turn, turn There is a season - turn, turn, turn And a time for every purpose under heaven A time to be born, a time to die A time to plant, a time to reap A time to kill, a time to heal A time to laugh, a time to weep chorus A time to build up, a time to break down A time to dance, a time to mourn A time to cast away stones A time to gather stones together Chorus A time of war, a time of peace A time of love, a time of hate A time you may embrace A time to refrain from embracing Chorus A time to gain, a time to lose A time to rend, a time to sew A time to love, a time to hate A time of peace, I swear it's …