So I realized I haven’t put anything on the website since our trip to the Smoky Mountains. Looking back on my previous posts I think there is a clear trend: we hibernate in the winter so the likelihood of taking outdoor photographs plummets precipitously. Makes sense; the cold air in Minnesota often times hurts my face so why go outside?
Winter is awful in Minnesota. It boggles my mind people live in this climate voluntarily and even immigrate to and stay in twin cities regions from extremely warm regions like Eastern Africa, South East Asia, Latin America, and the Indian Sub-continent.
Weather aside, somehow an interesting culture was built in the Twin Cities / Minnesota which fosters the development of businesses and happy people. Minnesota punches well above its weight in the number of Fortune 500 businesses, intellectual property development, cost of living adjusted wages, and general welfare / health. There is a pragmatic approach to just about everything here and so long as people can cut thru the Minnesota Nice and tolerate the weather it can end up being a pretty neat place to live.
Maybe there’s something to staying indoors for five-ish months a year that makes people industrious and makes people thankful for the small things, like vitamin D.
I have had a couple reprieves from the cold this winter. There were two visits to Chicago, which feels like a tropical paradise compared to Minnesota, and a visit to Denver for the holidays.
It was neat to be back in Chicago for a bit and see familiar sights and smell familiar smells. I don’t particularly miss Chicago but there is an energy to Chicago not found in the twin cities. One evening was even nice enough to make the seven mile walk on the Lake Front Trail from McCormick Place near the South Side to my hotel in the Gold Coast neighborhood. I was the only one who walked from the group and managed to beat my coworkers who were stuck in traffic. I’ve always enjoyed the walk so it was wonderful to have the opportunity to walk along Lake Michigan and weave my way thru downtown to my hotel and skipping the traffic was just the cherry on top.
Of course the visit to Denver was awesome. Denver is a fabulous place and it’s great to see family. The weather was great and I even ended up with a slight sunburn.
Probably the last thing to note about Minnesota is a conundrum I’ve found: I lived in this state for a bit over 10 years without traffic violations or vehicle accidents. In the last four months I’ve had two people hit my car while driving around with my wife with the most recent occurring yesterday. What makes this especially weird is that I drive very little since my work is a bit over a mile from where we live and I don’t drive around very often with my wife. I’m not sure what clicked between departure and return to Minnesota but it’d make me happy if this trend discontinued.
Enjoy the photos 🙂
It’s been a few years since we visited the North Shore and we’re glad we returned! We did things a bit differently because of time constraints. We normally stay in Grand Marais and then hike / sightsee around the area but we found lodging a bit south in Silver Bay via an AirBnB and then drove around the north short area for hikes. Also, we actually looked for things to do in advance instead of just wandering around. We’ve been up to the North Shore a handful of times but it was always ad-hoc and we did whatever we felt like doing so we figured we’d plan just a little bit more this time.
We had a blast and thoroughly enjoyed the hiking around Tettegouche State Park, visiting Naniboujou, and enjoying the other views of the North Shore. It’s neat to see what has changed in the few years since our last visit and to also stop by our old favorites. It was neat to use our State Park Pass. This is the first year we ever invested in a pass so we actually visited the state parks instead of finding ways to sneak into the parks from the road. Well worth the price of admission :).
Naniboujou is a very strange place. The food was alright but the story, decoration, and the location are very strange. We’ve driven by Naniboujou numerous times throughout the years but I’m glad we stopped by simply because it’s such an odd place. After visiting once, I’m not sure I’d return but it’s worth at least one visit.
On an odd note, it’s incredible is how much our travels have changed our expectations and our taste buds. When we first returned to the US we had some troubles when we visited our old favorite places to eat because we’d find out that they just weren’t… good. We thought they were good before we traveled because we didn’t know how the food was supposed to taste or we simply didn’t have enough of that food type to know better. We continually have this occur but we were a bit surprised when this happened to our stop at Toby’s. Whenever we’d drive to the North Shore we’d always stop at Toby’s for doughnuts on the way up and way down. We were sad to find out that we don’t really like Toby’s anymore :(.
Enjoy the photos!
Fall and spring are the best seasons. While traveling we hit shoulder season almost everywhere and managed to miss most of the extreme cold / heat associated with winter and summer. It was fantastic. Now that we’re back to the US we’ve spent some time enjoying the beautiful fall weather all around the country. I’ve found some great parks in Minnesota to go hiking in solitude and we’ve had quite the indian summer weather. In a different post, I put up photos of Colorado, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. I’ve decided to show a few more photos I’ve taken during our travels around Minnesota and the Washington D.C. area. The leaves are pretty much gone so I figured this is probably the last fall related post this year.
We had a nice little trip to D.C. to see family and enjoy the sights. We flew Spirit Air, at $167 round trip for the both of us, it was a fantastic deal and we have nothing to complain about. It seems as though people don’t like Spirit but all one needs to do is read and follow the rules. The food, company, weather, and views were all fantastic in D.C.! D.C. is probably our favorite city in the U.S. after Minneapolis/St. Paul simply due to all the free things to do. However, unlike D.C., we would not visit Minneapolis/St. Paul for tourism but I’m not exactly sure where else we would live.
The night skies this fall have been very good too! I’ve had a chance to get some neat moon shots and I was able to get a very blurry image of Jupiter and some its moons.
All in all, this has been a great fall. It’s good to back in the USA, it’s been great to catch up with family, and we’re so very happy to be starting our lives up again in Minnesota.
Enjoy the photos!
It’s good to be home, it’s good to be home!
It’s been five weeks since we landed and we’re still a bit nomadic visiting family and friends all over the Midwest. We have signed a lease in our old apartment complex and I almost have a job squared away so our nomadic life is almost over. I am really, really, really, looking forward to a normal life. I traveled 50-75% of the time during my last 18 months of my job, spent 13 months traveling around the world with Jacquelyn, and will have traveled around the US for around two months before finally settling down. After almost three years of being a nomad, my feet are no longer itchy and I’m ready to have some sort of roots!
It’s been fun to hear what we missed during the last 13 months and catch up with the people who mean the most to us. I thought we did OK keeping up with what was happing back in the US but it’s clear we missed a lot. I’m happy we’ve had a handful of weeks to catch up with family and friends before jumping back into real life!
We haven’t had any real difficulty coming back to the US and haven’t had ‘reverse culture shock’ at all. I have a couple theories why: 1) we never had time to fully adapt to a different culture since we moved around so much, 2) we were ready to come home. The most difficult issue I encountered, driving on the correct side of the road, is no longer a problem so I’d say we didn’t have any problems returning and were able to sort of pick up from where we left off.
The weirdest thing I encountered was realizing I have lost A LOT of English words. This has been especially difficult when interviewing for technical positions as there’s a lot of words I haven’t used for some time so I’ve had a difficult time explaining technical/complex problems simply because I’ve lost the words! But that’s not the worst, the worst is forgetting simple words like ’rust’; I’ve had to resort to saying things, ‘that red stuff that grows on metal when it’s wet’. It has been surprising to say the least.
I’m happy we came back to the US in the fall. It’s been great weather so far and I’ve been able to enjoy some hiking, star gazing, and beautiful leaves. Overall, it’s great to be back :).
Enjoy the photos!
Grand Marais is a very small port town on the arrowhead of Minnesota. It’s very close the Canada and a great destination. It took about four hours to drive there from the twin cities so we’d try to get up to Grand Marais once or twice per year.
This year we went up to Thunder Bay Canada. It was OK.
Random shots from around Minnesota and other places. It started with the snowpocalypse in the spring and ended up with a really good summer. We had the chance to see some spectacular fireworks off the High Bridge in St. Paul.
First summer in the twin cities. Little did I know I’d end up spending six years in the twin cities after graduation! This was also my very first Renaissance Festival and destruction derby.