The Great Minnesota Get-Together, 2017 edition

After Thanksgiving may seem like a strange time to post photos from the Minnesota State Fair, and I agree. A broken computer left me without my photos for almost three months, but I’m back now — so without further ado, here’s what I saw on the first Sunday of the 2017 fair.

one of the streets at the fairgrounds, packed with people, with the space needle in the distance

This pileup of ducklings was the cutest thing I saw:

more than a dozen fuzzy yellow ducklings crowded into the corner of their pen

We were at the right place at the right time to see a mini parade of horses:

two Clydesdales pulling a wooden trailer with two women in black formal dresses

The Hamline Dining Hall is always a good choice for a rest from the chaos, and this time it was a particularly inspired choice because it started pouring about 30 seconds after we walked in. I had the delicious Swedish wild rice meatballs and potatoes that were way salty. I mean, way, way, way too salty. My tray was a fun vintage version from Bonanza:

a white tray with a plate of three meatballs, white gravy, a roll, potatoes, a cup of coleslaw off to the left, and a glass of an iced purple beverage

I think it was required of all fairgoers to take a photo of the new ferris wheel, which we decided to ride after I claimed I would be disappointed to go home without doing that. It was fun but only went around one time!

the tall ferris wheel, at an angle at dusk so the colored lights are visible

While on a walking loop I needed to get a closer look at these papers, which turned out to be the results of the Milk Dash 5K run unceremoniously masking-taped to the side of the restroom building:

four pieces of 8.5x11 white paper with lots of words printed, all held to a brick building with lots of messy masking tape

This year we stopped into Monty’s Traveling Reptile Show for the first time, after talking about it every year:

closeup of a tank holding a water monitor at the front looking left, a sign reading the name Hydro and vital statistics such as 6-8 feet, 50-60 pounds

My favorite item in the Creative Activities building was this beautiful Danish bakery, with tiny details like having the building’s address be 2017…

corner view of a white stucco building with red accents, a white border fence, a Danish flag, red tablecloths on three patio tables

…and on the inside, many more perfect details such as pots in the cupboards, pies waiting for their top crusts, and the Scandinavian wedding cake that first caught my eye:

same building, showing one floor with a kitchen scene with an oven, wooden cupboards, cookies cooling on the stove, dough rising in a bowl, and a baker behind the counter

Runner-up favorite item: this “pixellated” quilt of Minnesota roadside attractions, such as Paul and Babe in Bemidji, and the big loon in Vergas:

closeup of the two scenes that look like pixellated Polaroid photos with handwriting descriptions

There was plenty of topical seed art, as usual, such as the changing of the name of Lake Calhoun back to its Dakota name:

framed artwork of a lake with lettering that says Bde Maka Ska

and the eclipse, which had just happened at this point:

a long, short framed artwork with a three versions of the eclipse, including a ring in the center, and August 21, 2017 at the bottom

I won’t include a photo of the wall of honey jars, like I usually do, though it remains my favorite spot at the fair. Instead, given that the holidays are coming, I’ll end on two Christmas photos:

the tree room

many different types of Christmas trees with award ribbons

and fancy decorated cookies.

a display of 14 cookies on sticks, such as a reindeer portrait, a white star on a red background, four decorated trees, and a winter version of the Spoonbridge and Cherry

More from the fair

Advertisements
Categories: Ramsey County | Leave a comment

The gales of October

An early winter storm was predicted to arrive on the north shore late on Thursday, October 26. When I arrived at the Split Rock Lighthouse historic site for a work visit late that morning, the winds were picking up and it was raining off and on.

The view across Lake Superior may appear relatively calm, but whitecaps are forming:

the horizon in the background, water with waves and small whitecaps in the bottom two-thirds

…and starting to crash on the shore:

coastline viewed from above, with a small island in the distance, white lines marking waves reaching shore

I walked down the 171 stairs in the spot of a former tramway to the edge of the lake, where the water was making small splashes on the shore:

Split Rock Lighthouse at the top of the cliff at the top right, mostly woods with a couple thin orange trees, rocky shoreline with wavy water

Watch the Waves at Split Rock Lighthouse video on YouTube

Back up to the lighthouse, and beyond to the northeast side, where sea caves are visible below the lighthouse and create nice, big splashes:

lighthouse viewed from the opposite side at the top of a tall cliff, with a long wave hitting the rockface

Watch the Waves at the Sea Caves video on YouTube

Then I left the historic lighthouse and set off down one of the state park trails. With the light rapidly fading, this is the scene two and a half hours after the first video, farther down the shoreline where perhaps the bigger rocks helped make more dramatic splashes:

the lighthouse farther in the distance, a large flat rocky surface in the foreground, with a curved wave splashing to the left

zoomed-in view of a greenish-blue wave about to hit the shore, lighthouse in the distance

a wave just breaking, a large splash in the middle and extending downward toward the right, with several waves lining up down the shoreline in front of the lighthouse

closeup view to the east with a large wave hitting at the left, another one coming in at the right

Watch the Bigger Waves at Split Rock Lighthouse video on YouTube

I wanted to stay longer and watch as the waves got even bigger, but I needed to head back to the Twin Cities. It was getting too dark to take many more pictures, anyway. I made it out of town before the storm really hit — and caused a lot of damage in Duluth.

first of three images of the same wave, this one breaking with a large splash

second image of the wave, the tallest part now on the right

third image of the wave, mostly dispersed but with many individual droplets hanging in the air

More about this storm

Categories: Lake County | Tags: | 1 Comment

Maplewood State Park

On our way out of Pelican Rapids on Sunday, we saw a sign that said Maplewood State Park was only six miles away. Even though the weather was gloomy and at times rainy and at times blustery, we jumped at the chance to see this park during its peak season.

cattails in the foreground, lots of orange trees around the edge

As a master naturalist, I loved seeing all the signs marking restored prairies planted in 2011, 2009, 2002, and 1999.

dark brown sign: Prairie Planted 2002, with colorful trees in the background

Our original plan was to simply take drive through the park on Park Drive. But when we saw the sign for the Hallaway Hill overlook, we parked the car and headed up the former ski hill. It’s only a 196-foot vertical climb, but the last part especially gets the blood pumping.

steep dirt path through bright red sumacs

At the top we learned that this park has a wealth of geological features: lakes, an island, kames, kettles, moraines, eskers, and even goat prairies (areas on the hillside that were thought to be too steep for anything but goats). Nice views of the woods and Lake Lida, even on a cloudy day.

two leafless trees in the foreground overlooking a line of sumacs at the edge of the hill, with a lake and island in the background

After descending, we walked out to the swimming beach, where there were actual (small) whitecaps

a picnic table on the sand, rough Lake Lida, and a colorful islet

and then got back in the car for the driving tour.

a paved road with trees lining both sides, mostly green, some yellow

We pulled over for this big tree.

large maple tree with wide-reaching branches with orange leaves

And pulled over again at this overlook on Field Lake.

prairie in the foreground, a lake with a couple trees on the close side, and lots of colorful trees on the far side

And then, just as we were thinking about wrapping up our visit, the clouds started to thin and the sun came out, just before sunset.

sun setting with grasses in the foreground, dramatic purple and blue clouds

And it set the trees on fire. See the difference one second made?

prairie grasses in the front, a straight row of trees, half green and half orange or yellow

same scene with sun shining on the trees

We walked back down the one-way road to the overlook to see the change:

Field Lake from a different angle, zoomed in, with sun lighting all the trees

For fall color, this is a good weekend to visit Maplewood State Park.

More information about Maplewood State Park

Full disclosure: Some of these photos were taken by my husband, since we were trading cameras during this trip.

Categories: Otter Tail County | Tags: | Leave a comment

Capitol M

Many letter “M”s are scattered throughout the Minnesota State Capitol. Here are the ones I’ve found so far.

To the right of the front doors:

carved in stone above a door

On the ceiling in the House of Representatives Chamber:

stencil of a yellow M within the fancy, flowery hat above a small face

In a lunette:

script M painted on a black stone surrounded by olive branches

In the railing:

cipher surrounded by a circle in the middle of a fancy metal railing

Gold M in the Governor’s Reception Room…

small M surrounded by a sideways oval, then by three rectangles, each with lots of fancy embellishments

…and in the same room, a gold M in the curtain:

script gold cloth surrounded by a circle of gold oak leaves, surrounded by a rectangle of leaves, on a maroon velvet(?) curtain above a window

Is this an M in the fireplace grate behind the governor’s podium? I guess not quite.

two curls leaning together, like a script M but without the middle

The Star of the North in the rotunda…

looking down at the floor with a gold, 8-pointed star surrounded by 3 circles and a larger 8-pointed star

…is made up of M’s when turned to the side:

looking down again, from a couple feet over so there are two points up, two each to the left and right, and two points down; each point is the left half of an M AND the right half of another M

Zoomed in, you can see the big pink M, with the smaller gold M below:

close up to focus on the large M facing the correct way

In the four corners of former governor Arne Carlson’s portrait frame:

the University of Minnesota's M logo from the bottom left corner of the frame

More about the capitol

I helped build the MNHS capitol website, so I’m a little proud of that link.

Categories: Ramsey County | Leave a comment

I didn’t walk 125 miles

A year ago, I was excited about the Minnesota State Parks’ 125th anniversary challenge: to walk, bike, and/or boat 125 miles. I even thought that I’d walk 125 miles and bike an additional 125 miles.

But then life got busy. I took a weeklong master naturalist training, and my weekends after that were mostly consumed with volunteer environmental work after that. Plus we spent months on various house projects.

So I didn’t get all the way to 125, but I did get a little more than halfway there, including visiting several new-to-me state parks and trails. Here’s what happened:

Started out strong on April 3 at Afton State Park (4.1 miles hiking). Beautiful early spring day – in the 60s. Lots of people, still some snow at next-door Afton Alps, very little green.

dirt trail through bare deciduous trees with a couple scattered pines

the high point of the park, a brown grassy area with pines in the distance

April 10: Nerstrand Big Woods (4.5 very wet and muddy miles hiking). This was a hike with my friend Sara, and I think it was unfortunately too early in the season to be at this park. Even one week later would have been a lot drier. We saw the waterfall, then hiked back west and did the south loop – first time for me on that path, though I’ve been to this park several times.

path through bare trees, all mud with wet footprints

grassy, waterlogged path through bare trees

April 17: Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail (13 miles biking). Wildflower-lined path from Morristown to Waterville and back, with the sun coming into and out of the clouds the entire time…

at the side of a paved path through the woods, at cement mile marker post 30

up-close view of Dutchman's breeches wildflowers

sunlit paved path with farmland on the left and sumacs on the right

…with a stopover at Sakatah Lake State Park halfway through to get our state park passport stamped.

mostly-cloudy at the lake, with five ducks swimming away

May 14: Rice Lake State Park (2.6 miles hiking). The pictures make it look sunny and pleasant, but that’s deceptive because it was quite chilly – 42 degrees.

burr oak forest:

trail through the woods in full sun, lots of green leaves on trees and small plants

oak savanna:

foreground all bright-green grass, green trees in the background, mostly sunny blue sky

lake:

small sliver of lake in the distance, lots of brown cattails before that, tree branches framing the photo

May 29: Lake Bemidji (4.1 miles hiking along the lake, through the forest, and on the bog loop).

sign for the Bog Trail at the right, the unpaved path in the middle, with people walking away in the distance

lake on the left, beach on the right, cloudy and windy

I spent a week in mid-June at Lac qui Parle State Park for naturalist training – and amusingly enough, even though I was there for such a long time, I didn’t have time to hike. Big storms on the first day and the last day. (0 miles)

lake

I drove through the park to see what was there, though. Perhaps the park’s most well-known feature – besides the lake, obviously – is the huge 3D map, which is big enough that there’s an entire building to protect it.

mostly green relief map with a painted blue river flowing through it, under exposed beams of a large, open building

July 10: Biked the Douglas State Trail on the former Chicago Great Western Railway route between Pine Island and Douglas. Much of the trip was through a deciduous forest. It was a nice, sunny afternoon, which was fine in the shade, but in the countryside portion, it was pretty hot. (15 miles biking)

paved path through thick deciduous forest

cornfield on a partly cloudy day, with blooming milkweed and other wildflowers in the foreground

July 24: Drove through Itasca State Park two days after a huge storm (no hiking/biking, though).

view from the passenger seat on the road through a pine forest, with broken trees on both sides

September 5: Tried to bike the Gateway State Trail but accidentally ended up on the Brown’s Creek State Trail instead. The easy part was biking downhill into Stillwater, but then we had to bike uphill all the way back – and it was really humid. We spotted Minnesota’s oldest surviving stone arch bridge along the way. (12 miles biking)

the creek partly visible at the left with lots of grass and wildflowers on both sides, and a bridge at the right

an overlook showing a stone arch bridge, mostly obscured by vegetation

September 11: Actually made it to the Gateway State Trail and biked east all the way to the end of the paved portion. (8 miles biking).

paved path through the woods, with an unpaved horse path at the left, on a sunny day

paved path with forest on the left, a field and wildflowers on the right, bright blue sky

the trail intersects the highway, and though the trail continues on the other side, it's unpaved

November 13: Lake Maria State Park (5 miles hiking) on a solo walk after a stressful week of national politics. Nice reminder that the world is beautiful, and spring will come again someday.

dark blue, wavy Little Lake Mary

path through the woods, with most of the leaves on the ground

Even with the late push with longer bike trips in the fall, I only made it to 68.3 miles. Rockstar Sara of the Nerstrand adventure, though, completed all 125 miles, and all on foot! I’m looking forward to seeing new parks and trails in 2017, even without a mileage challenge to push me.

Categories: Beltrami County, Lac qui Parle County, Le Sueur County, Rice County, Steele County, Washington County | Tags: | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.