Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bumpkin goes to the Big City

Earlier this week I had to go to Duluth for some medical checks and follow ups. All is well in that department, but there were so many things to do I had to stay overnight. Between appointments, including one for the car, I had a  little time to enjoy the nicer parts of the city. I stayed on the Duluth side of the mini metro area which also includes Superior (or "Soup Town"), Wisconsin.

After my Monday morning appointment I decided to go to the beach. Now this is not an ocean beach as there is little in the way of tides and the water isn't salty, but it has sand and water which is good enough when you're a thousand miles in from an ocean. So I took a walk on the beach. As always, click on the pic to embiggen.

It was nice to have the beach mostly to myself as I would expect on a Monday morning.

I had an appointment early in the afternoon and after that I went over to Canal Park where the St. Louis River flows into Lake Superior and wandered around. There were more people, but it was still very relaxing and uncrowded and the clouds had gone away.

The cormorant didn't care if I was looking at him and the lift bridge was going up.

The harbor is large with room for lots of commercial and private ships and boats. It is a main terminal for shipping products from the Midwestern grain fields and iron ore mines as well as other bulk goods. It is also a great place to hang around and see the history of the area which, thanks to the native population, goes back thousands of years.

The Lakewalk begins at Canal Park and follows the shore for several miles. It is used by walkers, gawkers, bikers, runners, and anyone else that wants a nice place to get out and about in the city.

Even young moms trying to help their kids negotiate rocks. That concrete thing behind them showed up after a rather large storm a few years ago. That might give you an idea of the power of this calm looking body of water.

Since the Lift Bridge fascinates me as well as others, I thought I'd take a walk up to it and get a close up. Just before the bridge was my post dinner destination, the Vikre Distillery. I stopped there after dinner and had their vodka, one of their gins, and two of their Aquavits, just to see what a craft distillery was like. I was not disappointed and came home with a bottle of one of the Aquavits.  I will save it for special occasions. Of course, those special occasions can come around quite frequently and are sometimes called "evenings." A funny thing happened while I was at the distillery (that sounds like the beginning of a joke). I went upstairs to enjoy my samples and my neighbors from across the street are sitting on the sofa enjoying hors d'oeuvres and a drink at 8:30 on a Monday night 120 miles from home. What a coincidence!

After a good nights rest at my hotel I had a nice breakfast and went on the next appointment. When that was over it was time to come home, but I had one more scenic stop. It was time to stop and smell the roses at the Rose Garden of Leif Erikson Park. The Lakewalk passes by this park about two miles from where the walk starts.
That's the North Shore Scenic Railway on the right.

The roses are fading a little as we all do in time, but they are still beautiful and will bring joy to many before the seasons change.



Sunday, September 18, 2016

It's Falling

The nights are cooling down and getting longer, but at this latitude we get a long dusk and dawn. It must be Nature's way of consoling us. All the critters are either fattening up for winter or fattening up to make the trip south.
This is probably one of the last hummingbirds to leave. Most of the others left at least a week ago.

The ships heading in and out of Lake Superior are starting to stay closer to shore for protection from potential intense storms.

Our farrier was here this morning for as few hours getting all the horses hooves trimmed and putting shoes on a couple of them.

The leaves are starting to turn color to what I hope will be a colorful season. It only lasts a few weeks so I hope the days are sunny and the colors vibrant. Here is an Aspen in the front yard.
I had to go to town this morning for a short trip to work to take care of something without being interrupted. It only takes an hour this way instead of a day or more during regular hours. I decided to take the other scenic route home through the maple forest to see if the changes had begun. They had.

It happens every year about this time. Eventually, the trees will be bare and the snow will come. This year I bought a new pair of skis so when I am not working and can see what I'm doing I plan on enjoying the cold and snow. Otherwise, I'll just sit around waiting for Spring and that is a long wait. Might as well laugh in the face of climactic adversity.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Living vicariously

Fifteen years ago today I lost a classmate in one of the World Trade Center towers and had another classmate, a firefighter, respond. I know it's September 11th and it will be more than mentioned a few times everywhere else, so I'll opt for diversion.

I have some friends and family who get around in this world. I have stolen some pictures from them that have been posted on Facebook mostly, and am posting them here without permission from them. I hope they aren't embarrassed or that they don't sue me for defamation of character or anything like that. They shouldn't be as I have used my great abilities of judgement to post some of what I think are cool photos. If anyone is offended I apologize. Not everyone is included here because that would take more time than anyone might want to spend here. Almost all of these are close family.

Besides, I couldn't think of anything else to write about today. Well, that's not entirely true either, but that's my reasoning and I'm sticking to it. Here goes.

From top to bottom we have Anders and Gunhild Iren at the Vatican, Bente and her dog in the mountains, Eyglo in the wilds of Iceland, Suzanne, Knut, Karla, Anne, and Truls at the hytte, Giske and Pia in the mountains, Gro, Felicia, and daughter at breakfast, beautiful Heidi (on the right) with friends.

Gro in Cuba, Suzanne (Heidi's sister) doing some modeling, Laurie on the beach where I spent my childhood summers, Webjorn's bike in the Italian Alps, Stein Kåre' s bike followed by him, Sverrir bathing in Iceland, Tigerlilje (Kristin) hiking with friends, and Webjorn skiing.
Lars is always fishing.

One last one from yesterday of my favorite local Librarian, Ann, as she climbs the mast on Lake Superior.
When you add up all the fun available in the world it must be amazing. This is just a small group of people and just one fun thing they have done recently. Most of them are still young enough to do a whole lot more. Heck, even I can still do a whole lot of things. So with all the tragedy and nasty crap going on in the world, there are still some mighty fine diversions available for those who seek them out. So don't forget to take the time to smell the roses in your own back yard, your neighbor's, or some stranger's halfway around the planet. There is plenty of joy to be had.


Monday, September 5, 2016

Decisions , decisions

It started raining about five o'clock this morning. It wasn't a gentle rain, either.I noticed the cirrus clouds moving in Saturday evening and by yesterday evening the clouds and wind were out of the South. I could tell the wind was southerly, even with my eyes closed, because of its drawl. All the signs were there and so far we have gotten over an inch (2.54cm) of rain.

"Big deal," you are thinking. Yeah, it's not. I put off going out to feed the horses and letting the chickens out of their coop until I could see better because of the fog and sun not giving off much noticeable light. The Big Question du jour was what should I do for the rest of the morning? Being a National holiday and me not having to show up at work left me with some options. Some of you may remember that I like to read, mostly Nordic mysteries, and in summer I don't read as much because I am outdoors more, etc. Should I reread something or get something new? I don't often read something I already read (unless it is for a discussion or test or something) so I opted for new. I have been reading Swedish stuff lately, mostly Mari Jungstedt, which is set on Gotland, a beautiful island south of Stockholm in the Baltic sea.

I wanted to start reading Ragnar Jonasson's (Icelandic) books in order ( I just have to read books in order), but the first one isn't available on Kindle yet and the libraries in Minnesota don't have them yet. That's why Kindle was my choice, but here's the rub. It won't be available in the U.S. until the first of the new year. However, it is available on Kindle in the U.K.!  I almost did the address change on my Amazon account and try to convince them that I was a U.K. resident (maybe using my uncle's address) and that they should send me the book immediately. If that didn't work I thought I might try pleading:

My Dearest Honourable Sir or Madame, 
I am draughting this from the colonies to beseech thee to post a book forthwith upon which my very life depends! I shan't be able to go on without. I have a tumour of the brain, and possibly haemophilia, and wouldst appreciate thy assistance.
God save the Queen!

Not sure they would swallow that, so I opted to shop for a few minutes and decided to swallow my pride and dig deeply into my wallet for a Jussi Adler-Olsen book, The Hanging Girl. It has been a while since I read the first five in the series and I figured I might as well continue that. It turns out after 3 chapters that it is mostly set on the Danish Island of Bornholm, which is also in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Poland. Jussi Adler-Olsen is a Danish writer.

Maybe I should consider a trip to the Baltic Sea on one of my future trips to Europe. All I need is time and money, both of which may be growing short. There is always virtual or vicarious travel which may be as good as it gets.

I better go read a few more chapters before I head outside. Happy Labour Day to all mah  fellah Merkins!