The past week and a half has led to new experiences and new destinations for me and friends to the great state of Minnesota, Manitoba and Ontario. The travels started with a trip to Minneapolis to catch a few Twins ballgames.

While traversing across Minnesota, several great egrets, American bittern, mallards, northern pintails, gadwall, ruddy ducks, double-crested cormorants, American white pelicans, great blue herons and, of course, Canada geese. On the return trip back home to Mandan from Minneapolis, a red-tailed hawk nearly became a victim along Interstate 94 has it had been gorging on a ground squirrel on the mainline of the highway before it flared up quickly from its meal to avoid a collision with oncoming traffic.

The next leg of my trip brought an uncle-in-law, a bunch of his friends and myself to the northwest angle of Minnesota and into the southern reaches of Ontario via southern Manitoba. This adventure was my first trip to the northwest angle to Lake of the Woods. What a beautiful and special place to visit. If one has never been, the view is stunning of granite islands with emergent conifers and deciduous trees on a massive lake.

The goal of this trip was to fish for walleyes and whatever else may nip at our jigs. Along with that comes relaxation and a chance to enjoy the great outdoors, away from reality where cell phone coverage is at a minimum. A place where we can disconnect from busy work lives and enjoy some much needed rest and recreation. A cool part of this trip was that we had to load all of the gear we had packed in our vehicles into several boats to get to the island resort. What a coordination of effort.

The following days led us north, into southern Ontario to find some walleyes. While on the daily 20- to 30-mile trips on the water, several water birds were observed. Observations included American white pelicans that greeted boaters to the cleaning station daily, mallards, double-crested cormorants, ring-billed gulls and a single herring gull.

The gulls led us to a fantastic fishing spot on the southeast side of a small island that held loads of hungry walleyes in a drizzle that lasted a couple hours before it became a steady rain. Other birds observed included bald eagles, an osprey and turkey vultures. An unsexpected view of a snapping turtle surprised us as we cruised by from fishing spot to fishing spot.

Finally, during the travel back to Mandan, a lone snow goose was spotted on a large wetland southwest of Carrington. It is always a great surprise to see a snow goose in summer.

Summer is the time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors and feathery friends. With Independence Day fast approaching, there can be no excuses.