Waterworld

National Parks Week begins April 22. Have you ventured into Voyageurs lately?

218,054

Acres in Minnesota’s only national park—Voyageurs—which was established on April 8, 1975. One of the few water-dominated national parks, Voyageurs is also one of the most remote, revered for its towering pines, glacier-carved cliffs, and picturesque lakes—30 in all.

0

miles. Length of the roadways leading into the interior of Voyageurs.

745

Miles of shoreline within the park. In other words, bring a canoe, kayak, sailboat, houseboat, pontoon, or motorboat—or rent one from an outfitter near one of the four main entrances. Floatplanes are welcome, too. But leave your Jet Ski at home.

215

Number of developed campsites within Voyageurs, all of which are accessible by boat only. Most are fairly luxe for this neck of the woods, equipped with a tent pad, fire ring, picnic table, privy, and bear-proof food locker. Camping is free, but an overnight permit is required. And reservations are accepted only for large groups—paddle up early.

150

Approximate number of black bears living within the park. All of which are drawn to graham crackers, Hershey bars, and marshmallows, toasted or otherwise.

2,700,000,000

years. Approximate age of the bedrock you’ll see along the shorelines within Voyageurs. That’s some of the oldest exposed rock in North America. In your face, Grand Canyon.

240

Species of birds living within the park, give or take a warbler or two. You might be lucky enough to spot a soaring bald eagle. Or a pileated woodpecker, ruby-throated hummingbird, great blue heron, or boreal chickadee. Bring binoculars.

Contributing editor Sandra Hoyt loves a canoe with a view.


Things To Do Before…You Open the Turbo Tax Box

1.

Our environment has changed a lot since the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970. Most Americans now have clean drinking water, PCBs have been outlawed, and recycling is commonplace. There’s still plenty to do, though. If you want to get the family off the couch after watching An Inconvenient Truth, bring them to the eighth annual Earth Day Half Marathon Festival on April 22 in St. Cloud. Besides the races—a half marathon, 5K run, and 1K junior run—the event offers a Kids Korner to make earth-friendly art, a health expo, and a pasta feed. Last year’s event included more than 1,700 runners and 4,500 spectators, and raised money for charity. Better the earth, yourself, and your community. —COURTNEY LEWIS

2. Attention foodies: Secure your seat at author Michael Pollan’s April 19 lecture at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. Pollan will discus the ethics and aesthetics of eating, issues he tackled in his New York Times bestseller, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. What you put in your mouth isn’t just a matter of taste—it may determine our species’ survival. Call 952-443-1422 to register.  —RACHEL HUTTON

3. Imagine seeing Duke Ellington, Count Basie, or Thelonius Monk. In a club setting. Right now. Well, you can’t, but you can catch Ahmad Jamal, a jazz innovator of the very same pedigree, at the Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant from April 30 to May 2. If Jamal, in his mid-seventies now, was in rock, he’d be playing the Target Center; thank goodness he’s not. —TIM GIHRING


Woozy Woolies

Area interest in llamas and emus has peaked and dwindled, making way for another novelty animal: the fainting goat. When startled, the bovine’s muscles become rigid, causing it to freeze or sometimes fall over completely. While not truly a “faint” (the goat is fully conscious), the animal is immobile for 10 to 30 seconds before recovering and walking stiffly off. A harmless hereditary condition called myotonia is responsible for the sometimes-comical display. Heavy muscling makes myotonic goats an ideal meat breed, though in Minnesota they are mostly sold as pets. With proper care, “fainters” are just as healthy and long-lived as regular goats, with the added bonus of being more docile and good-natured. These less athletic goats lack the exceptional talent for escape that many of their unruly cousins possess. —ANNA BECKER

The Value of Vino

Three steel vault doors survived a major makeover of the Farmers and Mechanics Savings Bank in downtown Minneapolis in preparation for its late-April debut as a Westin hotel. The bank vault off the main lobby will serve as a wine cellar, complete with a display window so guests can keep an eye on the restaurant’s goods. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. —KATE NELSON

Spilling Your Guts

Residents of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, are proud of their conspicuous bratwurst consumption: two brats, one bun, is the norm. But they may think twice after witnessing the 40 tons of cow intestines recently dumped on the highway outside town after a truck driver became distracted by his digital music player. We smell a truck-driving country song, or is that something else? —T.G.

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