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

Duluth parks: A long history
posted on Monday, Jul 24, 2017
A view of Tischer Creek. | ERIC CHANDLER Duluth—Duluth is blessed with a robust system of parks. According to the City of Duluth website, there are 129 city parks on over 6,000 acres of city land. Trails are everywhere, including 12 miles of paved, accessible trails and a world-class system of bike-optimized, multi-use trails including the Duluth Traverse project. The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) designated Duluth as a Gold Level Ride Center in 2016, one of only six in the world. There are 150 miles of unpaved hiking trails,…

Vikre Distillery: Foraging for good spirits
posted on Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017
Foraging for spruce tips. | VIKRE DISTILLERY Duluth—Duluth’s first craft distillery made a big splash last year. Vikre Distillery was founded in 2012 and started selling gin and aquavit in 2014. It only took two years for USA Today to choose them as the 2016 Best Craft Specialty Spirits Distillery in the Country—Best in the Nation in under five years. That probably helps Emily and Joel Vikre (pronounced “VEE-kruh”) feel good about switching to this career from their previous desk jobs. They produce aquavit, vodka and whiskey, but their three…

Kids and Bikes: The Evolution
posted on Wednesday, Jun 14, 2017
“This is the last bike we’re buying you,” we said to my 11-year old son. He’s bigger than my wife now and has the same size feet as me. His “29er” mountain bike is dangerously close to being nicer than mine. I suddenly realized we’d reached the end of the evolution of family bicycles. Let’s see if I learned anything. Bicycling is a gear-intensive sport. Multiple kids mean lots of bikes. Buying new gear can be intimidating and expensive. Work with your local bike shop, and they will alleviate your…

Where in the World is Daniel Greysolon?
posted on Tuesday, May 30, 2017
I’m fascinated by place names, so I looked into the history of our town soon after we moved to Duluth. The first European to pass through here was named Daniel Greysolon, Sieur Du Lhut. Mangle his title of nobility to get Duluth and suddenly, my address on Greysolon Road made sense. Fast-forward 15 years to August, 2016. My family planned to visit my parents in Maine. We saw a chance at some junior varsity international travel and decided to drive a rental car to Quebec City. Then, I had an…

Hansi Johnson on Duluth: This is Real
posted on Wednesday, May 03, 2017
Good things are happening in outdoor recreation in Duluth and Johnson has been in the forefront. | HANSI JOHNSON Duluth—In 2014, Outside Magazine crowned Duluth as the Best Place to Live in the United States. That summer, Hansi Johnson started a newly created job called the Director of Recreational Lands for the Minnesota Land Trust. The City of Duluth hired Johnson in that role to help the city assess and promote the use of public lands in the city. This summer will mark his third year. He recently learned the…

Wisconsin Waterfall Weekend
posted on Monday, May 01, 2017
Siskiwit Falls below the road. | ERIC CHANDLER When we first moved to Duluth, I bought a book called True North: Alternate and Off-Beat Destinations in and Around Duluth Superior and Shores of Lake Superior by Tony Dierckins. We paged through the book and built little family adventures in our new neighborhood. The North Shore was filled with star attractions, so we took a lot of trips northeast of Duluth. After a few years, we came up with our own ideas. The book disappeared on a shelf. One sunny weekend,…

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…