Eric Chandler

Eric “Shmo” Chandler is a husband and father who cross-country skis as fast as he can in Duluth, Minnesota. Visit ericchandler.wordpress.com to read his published fiction, non-fiction, books and poetry.

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Recent Articles by Eric Chandler

A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking with Kids
posted on Tuesday, Mar 28, 2017
Leo spoils family selfie on Oberg Mountain, 2013. | ERIC CHANDLER My kids and I have walked many miles together in the Northern Wilds. So, instead of lecturing you, I’ll let them take the floor first. Sam’s advice: “Pack a lunch and snacks that you like.” I would even suggest pure bribery to include candy and chocolate. When kids are small, this might be the highlight of their day. But the main thing is to tie the outdoors and fun together in your kid’s mind. Grace says, “Have a positive…

Duluth Folk School begins enthusiastic second year
posted on Monday, Mar 27, 2017
Duluth—Bryan French’s job fell victim to some budget cuts at the University of Minnesota - Duluth (UMD) a few years back. He brainstormed his next move with Tim Bates, a staff member in the Recreational Sports Outdoor Program at UMD. Bryan French told the origin story. “I told Tim we should start a folk school. Tim gets a funny look on his face, pushes his chair back, goes into one of his file drawers, and pulls out a business plan. ‘Funny you should say that,’ he says.” Tim Bates, co-founder…

Altai Hok skis: different and fun
posted on Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017
Tofte—You’ve tried cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. How about something that combines the best of both sports? The Hok ski, by Altai Skis, bridges these two worlds. Hoks are short and wide and include built-in climbing skins. “Skins” used to be actual animal skins that were strapped to the bottom of your skis to aid in climbing steep slopes. Now, they are artificial, but still help during the climb and also help to create a slow, controlled descent. Another interesting feature of the ski is the ability to use a universal…

Historic lighthouses in Duluth added to National Register
posted on Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017
Duluth—Two historic lighthouses in Duluth were added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) last June. They mark both sides of the entrance to the canal in Duluth, near the famous Aerial Lift Bridge. They are instantly recognizable by anybody who has visited Canal Park and have a proud history. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) applied for NRHP status for the lighthouses in February 2016. These applications describe the buildings and their history in detail. The Duluth Harbor North Pier Light was built in 1910. It’s a steel…

The Arrowhead 135 ultra-marathon
posted on Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016
International Falls—The Arrowhead 135 is often listed among the toughest endurance races in the world. This human-powered ultra-marathon covers 135 miles along the Arrowhead State Trail from International Falls to Tower. Competitors can choose to compete in three different categories: bike, foot or ski. Racers must carry a long list of survival gear, including camp stoves and sleeping bags. There are only three checkpoints along the way where racers can stop to warm up. They can’t accept aid from anybody but other competitors and volunteers at the checkpoints. The race is capped…

Christmas Pasts: The Gift of Grace
posted on Tuesday, Nov 29, 2016
Whether it’s recent or from your childhood, it seems everyone has a favorite Christmas or holiday memory; something special that you’ll never forget. Maybe it’s when you finally got that puppy you had been begging for. Or perhaps it was the warm, fuzzy feeling you got while singing Christmas carols as a child at the local nursing home. Curious, we asked a few of our writers to tell us about their favorite Christmas memories. By Eric Chandler I was with Sam at an Early Childhood Family Education class. He was…

Cross Country Ski Trail progress on Duluth's Grand Avenue Nordic Center
posted on Tuesday, Nov 29, 2016
Grand Avenue Nordic Center cross country ski trails
Duluth—John Morton, founder of Morton Trails, and Noah Brautigam, trail designer and GIS analyst with Morton Trails, visited Duluth, MN in October to continue design work on the proposed Grand Avenue Nordic Center cross country ski trail. Morton made a previous visit to Duluth in May 2015 when he laid out an initial “first draft” for this 3.3 km trail working with Gary Larson, of Gary Larson Sports LLC. Morton and Brautigam started their visit early on a Monday morning by walking the proposed loop with Larson and many other stakeholders…

Beer of the Month: Nut Hatchet Brown
posted on Monday, Nov 28, 2016
  Canal Park Brewing Company: Nut Hatchet Brown. | ERIC CHANDLER My son and I swooped through the woods in the Mission Creek mountain bike trail system near Duluth. It was the tag end of foliage season and some bright reds and oranges were just barely hanging on. Kind of like me, just barely hanging on to my kid as we finished up our 20-mile jaunt. When we got home, my wife and I quickly regrouped and headed out in the lengthening fall shadows to the Canal Park Brewing Company.…

Beer of the Month: Venture Pils
posted on Friday, Oct 21, 2016
| ERIC CHANDLER Let’s say a middle-aged dude ran a chainsaw for a few hours building a new mountain bike trail. Hypothetically. Let’s say that same guy worked on bridges at the same trail a few days later. Maybe he (let’s call him “Derek”) doesn’t want an exotic craft beer. Maybe he’s just tired and thirsty. Maybe Derek wants a straightforward Pilsener lager. Bent Paddle Brewing has just the thing with one of their flagship beers: Venture Pils. It has a light gold color and a dense head. It smells…

Leveaux Mountain
posted on Tuesday, Sep 27, 2016
A beautiful fall panorama from Leveaux Mountain. | ERIC CHANDLER TOFTE—It was going to be our fifth time hiking Oberg Mountain. I turned into the parking lot off the Onion River Road and saw lots of cars. I just drove 90 miles away from people in Duluth so I could be around more people? I looked at the opposite end of the parking lot. The end where nobody was going. I suggested Leveaux Mountain instead. My adventurous crew agreed to try something new. My family found the tip of the…

Beer of the Month: Velo Saison
posted on Tuesday, Sep 27, 2016
We were hungry after mountain biking, so I suggested pizza to the family. My kids chanted, “Thirsty Pagan! Thirsty Pagan!” like they were at a concert. Twist my arm, I thought. We’ll get great pizza, but more important, I get to have great beer. I ordered a Velo Saison (from the French for “bike season”). It was a hazy, gold color, with a thin, lacy head. It had a sweet and spicy aroma and finished smooth. I spoke with Allyson Rolph, head brewer at Thirsty Pagan Brewing, about this Belgian-style…

Beer of the Month: Lollygagger Pale Ale
posted on Monday, Aug 29, 2016
Last year, I took my wife out on a date during Minnesota’s Give to the Max Day. The Bent Paddle Brewing Company hosted the Great Outdoors Party, which shut down the whole brewery. Outdoorsy people gathered to celebrate Duluth’s recreational blessings. Many groups set up booths, including the Duluth Cross Country Ski Club and Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS). The brewers were generous to let active people hang out in their place, but there was more on the agenda. The owners of Bent Paddle handed a check for $9,147.92…

Duluth Rowing Club dedicates new boathouse
posted on Friday, Aug 26, 2016
Duluth—It was a beautiful Friday night at Park Point in Duluth. Members of the Duluth Rowing Club (DRC) and their supporters met on July 15 to dedicate the brand new Joseph M. Krmpotich Boathouse. Joseph Krmpotich joined the DRC in 1967. He passed away in 2011. A generous gift from his estate to the DRC is what made the new boathouse possible. The crowd celebrates after the dedication of the new Joseph M. Krmpotich Boathouse. | ERIC CHANDLER The ceremony began with a ribbon cutting by members of the Krmpotich…

Beer of the Month: Apricot Wheat
posted on Monday, Aug 01, 2016
It was a beautiful summer night, so I took my family down by the big lake to Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth. We had a nice meal and I tried out the Apricot Wheat. This beer is always in the lineup at Fitger’s, so I did some research. It has a nice, light head, amber color, and pleasant carbonation. The apricot flavor is obvious, but nice. It’s light, sweet and straightforward. I sat down the next day with Frank Kaszuba. He’s been at the Brewhouse since 2001 and took over as…

Cabin Life Lessons
posted on Tuesday, Jun 28, 2016
We pounced when a cabin came up for sale on Whiteface Reservoir, 40 miles north of Duluth. No plumbing. We haul water to drink. My two kids can brag to their city friends about the outhouse. Last summer was our tenth at the cabin. It started poorly. My wife Shelley wrote the first entry in the cabin journal: 26 May 2006 Grace fell head first off the dock…She didn’t like that too much! Sam got a leech attached to his toes. Papa had to pull it off as it was…

Beer of the Month: Castle Cream Ale
posted on Monday, Jun 27, 2016
Standing in line, I hurriedly picked a Castle Danger brew without even knowing my choice. Later, I learned it was their Castle Cream Ale. It was a glass of clear, dark gold with a finely marbled head. A clean, straightforward drink that was smooth and sweet, it finished clean with only slight bitterness. I asked Jeremy King, the head brewer at Castle Danger Brewery, what makes cream ale. He said it was the “most American” of beers with a non-barley grain element. King said that they first started brewing it in…

Beer of the Month: Speckled Ghost
posted on Wednesday, May 25, 2016
By Eric Chandler Last year, I caught my first wild steelhead after trying for 10 years. I bought my favorite beer in the world to celebrate: Speckled Ghost by Borealis Fermentery. The beer title is a nickname for rainbow trout, so it was perfect. The beer has a big lacy head and mild carbonation with fruit flavor up front. It has a honey color and 9.0 percent ABV. I talked to Ken Thiemann, head brewer about this awesome Belgian Style Abbey Ale. The beer is bottle conditioned and Thiemann passionately…

DCT launches at Lutsen
posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Lutsen—In a few weeks, a swarm of neon yellow-green jerseys will fill the start chute at the Lutsen 99er mountain bike race. Don’t be alarmed. It’s the riders of the Duluth Composite Team (DCT). This team of high school mountain bike racers will be launching its 2016 season at the event on June 25. Brian Hayden, DCT head coach, has been at the helm since the team began in 2013. The team had 23 riders and finished third overall in the state of Minnesota their first year. The team grew…

Beer of the Month: Or De Belgique
posted on Wednesday, Apr 27, 2016
I was at the Zeitgeist Arts Café in Duluth for my kid’s piano gig. Or de Belgique (Gold of Belgium) by Blacklist Brewing was on tap. The name was fancy, matching my mood. I wasn’t disappointed. Or De Belgique by Blacklist Brewing Company. | ERIC CHANDLER Later, I bought a 750 ml bottle. It had a light-colored head, a deep honey color, and a bright, almost peppery flavor. The carbonation was crisp and there was no mistaking the Belgian character. A strong beer at 9.5% ABV but without the overt…

Chandler Family Road Trip: Part 2
posted on Tuesday, Dec 01, 2015
Team Chandler summits Mt. Democrat near Leadville, Colorado. We drove out of the Black Hills, across Wyoming and through the Medicine Bow Mountains. I screeched to a stop for a picture next to a Chandler ranch gate (no relation), while Shelley rolled her eyes. In Kremmling, Colo., a nice sheriff took the time to pull me over and remind me of the speed limit. We stopped in Dillon for a good topo map of the Mosquito Range since we were shooting to hike a fourteener the next day. After 500…