In September, I met up with my parents and my little sister in Alexandria, MN for a nice, quiet weekend getaway. We did a little shopping, checked in at our AirBnb, and then hit up the Carlos Creek Winery. My sister and I went for the wine tasting, while our parents went for the flights of beer. The wines I tried were pretty tasty, and we got a complementary wine glass after we were finished.
My little sister and I at Carlos Creek Winery. Photo taken by our dad.
This sums up our relationship pretty well, I’m smiling and she’s turned away from the camera!
Carlos Creek Winery was a lovely little place, and it was a gorgeous day for drinking some wine. After we were finished, we headed back to the AirBnb for some grilled salmon supper. Mom brought fresh veggies from her garden to grill with the salmon, and boy was it tasty! We went to bed, several alcoholic beverages and many laughs later.
The next morning, we awoke, packed up and headed 30 miles southwest to Glacial Lakes State Park. Which, by the way, is probably one of my favorite places in Minnesota. We stayed in one of the cabins on the lake, unpacked and had a bit of lunch before going on a nice, leisurely walk. We got back to the cabin, lounged around for a bit, went on a canoe ride around the lake, and had some supper. We had a nice little fire going, as well.
The next morning, we went on another walk before heading home again. It was a beautiful day, and there was sunshine and there were butterflies. And then the drive home, inevitable.
So, this is like, 26 months in the making, but in August of 2018 I went on a lovely camping trip to the Lake of the Woods, a place I’d never been to before. It was a gorgeous campsite, a gorgeous lake, a gorgeous forest, and so on. This blog post will simply be a compilation of photos I took during that camping trip, and since it has indeed been 26 months since that trip I do not vividly remember every little detail. I do know this was the first time we took the dogs camping, so that was an adventure. They did well, only ran off once, and had a nice time swimming in the lake.
And so, as promised, here are a bunch of pictures from Zipple Bay State Park, in very northern Minnesota. Enjoy!
Okay. So the six individuals who are currently following my blog (with a passion, I’m sure) might have noticed that I recently went through a name change. The essence of the blog remains, which is flowers, accompanied as always by words. Words & Flowers. Makes sense, right? I thought so.
As a sort of “grand re-opening” to my blog, I should like to share with you a series of photos I took in the last week or so, of my most favorite of flowers, lilacs and crab apple blossoms! They really do capture the essence of spring, embodying it fully. They make me oh so happy. Seriously, just take a look at them! I’m sure that if you are in a bad mood, you will be totally in a much better mood after spending some time on my blog. Unless you hate flowers and find words to be particularly annoying, then perhaps you should go somewhere else. I’ll bid you farewell now.
For the rest of you that love (or in the very least, tolerate) flowers, hold onto your hats! It’s about to get a whole lot more pink, purple and white up in here.
First up, the lilacs. They’re pretty self explanatory, I should think.
Oh aren’t they just lovely? You can almost smell them through the screen. If you’ve not ever taken the time to go out and put your sniffer to a lilac bush, you’ve been missing out on life. Now, if you are deathly allergic to lilac pollen, I am in no way encouraging you to go out and smell one, for your safety. Obviously. Anyway, they’re all but done blooming in this part of the land. A bittersweet time, spring is. The flowers bloom but ever so shortly, before giving way to plain old leaves. How dull. If you must, take a moment and go back to look at the beauty of the lilacs. I’ll wait.
Okay, now that we’ve twice examined the lilac flowers, let’s move on to the crab apple blossoms, in shades of pink and white.
Don’t they just make you happier than heck when you look at them? I know they do for me! Such happy, cheerful little blossoms, just going along doing whatever it is that blossoms do. Obviously making people happier than heck is priority numero uno for them.
Alright, moving onward to the last section of flowers I’ll be showcasing in this blog. I went back to southern Minnesota for Memorial Day weekend, and there was a whole pasture filled with purple Dame’s Rocket flowers. According to the Minnesota Wildflowers website, this plant is invasive and must be eradicated. Um, no thanks. I like flowers too much to just kill them for being who they are. It’s why I hate to partake in any dandelion massacres as well. They’re only a weed till you get to know them.
And there you have it! Words and Flowers, as promised. Expect to see more of the same soon. Soonish. Probably.
We began our long and arduous journey home at 10 am, Pacific time, after a weird and somewhat cryptic conversation with the store keeper. We preferred his wife, she was a nice woman. This dude was odd as heck. Anyway.
We woke up at 9 and packed up the tent and repacked the car, and then we were off! On the road back out to Ilwaco, we saw A MAMA BLACK BEAR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. Oh boy did we get excited. And then, we looked to the right and there, in the tree, just chillin’, was a little black bear cub! We died, he was so cute. We sat there for about 3 minutes, and then he climbed away and we also climbed away, except we were in a car so it was more like we drove away.
We drove north on Highway 101 for a while, and then I think we took something that may have been a highway 18 or a highway 7. Either way, it took us to I-5, which led directly to I-90. After that it was a straight shot west; it could not have been any easier. We stopped on occasion to use the bathroom, to get some food, and to stretch our legs, which usually happened because the one of the first two were occurring. I drove from literally the coast of Washington all the way to Billings, Montana. A solid 17 hours of driving through two and a half states (I’m totally counting the 80 miles we drove in Idaho as a state) under my belt. After a brief stop in Billings, we continued on our merry way. Jennifer drove from Billings to Dickinson, ND, and then I continued dirving all the way back to Grand Forks. In retrospect, that was probably not a great idea, me driving for like, a bazillion hours with little-to-no sleep. But hey we didn’t die, so score one for us!
We made it back to Grand Forks around 5 pm on Saturday, and by 8 pm we were back on the road. Sara was driving this time; we packed her car and took off for the cities. I curled up in the back seat and slept for about an hour and a half or so, bringing my grand total of hours slept in the past 36 to about two. Woo!
The three of us made it to the cities around 1 am, and after Sara and I said our goodbyes to dear Jennifer, we made our way south to our MN home. We arrived around 3 am, and we didn’t even bother to unpack any of our things. We practically fell into our beds and passed out until 1 pm on Sunday.
The following week was one of rest and recuperation. Sara and I didn’t do much, other than go on long walks and watch American Horror Story: Hotel. If you haven’t seen it, you definitely should. Lady Gaga is queen.
And with that, the saga of our super epic road trip is done. It was a really freaking awesome week, full of mountains and forests and oceans, and while I did put 3700 miles on my Jeep I’m gonna go ahead and say it was totally worth it.
Thanks Jen and Sara, for proving to me that we are adult enough to handle a road trip on our own. Till the next one! 🙂
Oh yeah, here are some more photos of flowers. You’re welcome.
I love Minnesota. It is (in my humble opinion), one of the best states in the united collection of states that is America. But maybe I am biased. I am most likely biased. Nevertheless, I love Minnesota. To express my deep devotion to this state, I decided to make a list of my favorite things about Minnesota.
My home. I may have been born in Sweden, but I was raised in Minnesota. I have made this state my home, and I love it. I love the terrible accent that other states think we have, I love the deeply European roots that can be found in the small communities across the state, I love the changing seasons (even though winter can be a bit excessive at times), I love the emphasis we have on nature and being outdoors, I love the shape of this state, I love that we are home to the headwaters of the second-longest river in the United States, and I love the fact that we all say “Minnesoda” rather than “Minnesota.” Plaid is acceptable year-round, as are shorts. We have several claims to fame, i.e. Bob Dylan, Prince, and Charles Lindberg, to name a few, and we are home to the largest shopping mall in North America. I am proud to be from Minnesota, and I love every bit of this magnificent state.
Ice on the 10,000+ lakes of Minnesota is a great source of entertainment during the bitter winter months. Ice fishing, ice skating, ice sculpting, ice festivals; the list could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. Ice is nice.
Nature. Need I say more? If you are in search of nature, Minnesota is the place to find it. From the open grassland plains of southern Minnesota, to the expansive forests of northern Minnesota, to the shores of Lake Superior, to the bluffs of the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota. State parks, lakes, county parks, lakes, city parks, lakes, and lakes. Did I mention all of the lakes? Pretty sure I mentioned the lakes. We have [really big] hills for hiking, we have trees for climbing, we have grass for laying in, we have water to swim in. Minnesota is the ultimate nature destination.
Nice people. I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Minnesota Nice,” which is a real thing. Minnesotans are genuinely nice people, quick with a smile or a friendly wave. I love driving down the road and getting a wave from the majority of people I meet. It’s great fun, and not at all creepy. For the most part. 🙂
Energy. Specifically, wind energy. In the last few years, an excessive number (yet, still not enough) of wind turbines have emerged on the horizon of southern Minnesota. The energy produced by these giant, white windmills is sent to Minneapolis and St. Paul. The farmers whose land is being utilized for these windmills are compensated, and hundreds of jobs have been created for the engineering, building, and maintenance of these turbines. It is quite amazing, and it is a step in the right direction to protecting our beautiful world by producing energy from a renewable source – the wind!
Springtime is absolutely gorgeous in Minnesota. A wave of green takes over the countryside; the flowers are blooming; farmers are planting their crops (hello again, corn and soybeans); birds are migrating north from their southerly vacations; people are finally emerging from months of hibernation; the wind is not out to freeze your nose off (only to make it slightly chilly); and bare feet are once again acceptable as footwear for the next six to seven months, depending on how tough you are. 🙂
Outdoor activities a-plenty. In a state with such an emphasis on outdoor-ism, it should be pretty obvious that there are no end to the different activities that you could potentially participate in. We have trails for biking, hiking, jogging, walking, cross country skiing, and snowmobiling; and lakes for swimming, skinny dipping, boating, fishing, ice fishing, tubing, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing, and ice skating. We have game trails for hunting anything from deer to pheasants to geese; and we have state and county parks for camping, whether you bring an RV or decide to rough it by sleeping in a tent. There is no end to the amount of adventure you can have in Minnesota. All you have to do is go outside!
Twin Cities, i.e. Minneapolis and St. Paul. The latter is technically the capital of Minnesota, but everyone knows that they are practically a single entity; you can’t have one without the other. The Twin Cities is home to a vibrant culture and several sports teams that all true Minnesotans love despite their terrible track records (the Vikings, the Twins, the Timberwolves.. someone has to lose, that’s just the nature of sports; do we care that Minnesota’s sports teams are always the ones to lose? Maybe a little, but it will take more than just a lack of winning for our love to waver). The Twin Cities was also named the Absolute Best City to Live In (in 2015) by a website called Patch of Earth, which compiled a list of the best cities in America, using data from previous “best of” lists. Minneapolis and St. Paul ranked 7th for the Greenest Cities in America; 5th for the Best Cities to Live in for Foodies; 4th for the Best Cities for Job Seekers; 9th for the Best Cities to Get a Job in 2015 (based on unemployment rates for that year); and 5th for the Best Cities for Walkability and Public Transportation. Pretty cool, huh? I guess the Twin Cities is the place to live in Minnesota!
Apples seem to be Minnesota’s forte. The apple breeding program at the University of Minnesota is pretty neat, and they have released 30 varieties of apples since the program began in 1888. I am sure you have all heard of the Honeycrisp apple; this particularly delicious bit of fruit was named the Minnesota State Fruit in 2006, and they are grown and sold around the world. If you haven’t yet indulged your taste buds to the delightfulness that is the Honeycrisp apple, I suggest you run to the grocery store immediately to purchase one or three or ten. You won’t regret it!
These are a few of my favorite photos from my week-long sabbatical at home in Minnesota. Flowers blooming, suns setting, lakes gleaming.. what more could I ask for?