Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Tuesdays Around Mantel Town

My collection of Christmas tins and two lighted houses on the mantel has put me in a holiday mood.  All the careful unpacking was worth it when I finished arranging the tin containers (many decorated as buildings) and turned on the lights in the two buildings (one for the first time).  Even without the tree up, the room immediately became a little more cheerful.  With my wallpapering project on hold, temporary decorations are a nice disguise.  Another bonus:  opening boxes of ornaments and rearranging furniture inspires me to organize my other supplies and start a donation box.  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Two November Mornings

Once we set the clocks back, I finally saw a sunrise before work again....
and a few days later we got our first snowfall of the season. It made for a beautiful snowman-making day.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Tuesdays Around Town - Ely

Here's a preview post: the Steger Mukluk company in Ely, Minnesota. The photo below shows the original grocery store that became the mukluk shop. I will have more details and Ely photos tomorrow.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Happy November, Goodbye October

We've moved into a new month already and I distinctly remember thinking how fast September flew by...but wait: what happened to October?!! After only two blog posts last month, I've decided to challenge myself to do a post a day.  Think I can do it? Stay tuned :) [edit 11/24/2010: so much for that idea!]
Before I start on November, a Halloween recap. The photo above is just some neighborhood yard decor that Mom and I saw on a walk a week ago. Below is the card I made for her with the inside caption: "To My Mummy".

Saturday night, Mom and D&K and I took a "Spooks and Spirits" tour of the State Capitol in St Paul. Costumed characters from the Capitol's past regaled us with stories of its history and construction. The tour has been given for several years, but the refurbishing of the dome this year gave an added realism to some of the stories, ie, the hanging of the "electrolier" (electrified chandelier).
In the room where our group gathered before the tour started, I took this photo of the ceiling before the "no photos" direction was given.
I spent a bit of time on Halloween carving this foam pumpkin using a stencil I found online. Carving a real pumpkin would have been easier, but I had bought this a couple years ago for another project and never used. I taped the stencil in place, pushed pins into the pumpkin along the stencil lines, then removed everything and cut along the pinholes with a craft knife.
I used the first string of lights I could find and wished they'd been the yellow ones, but I think the blueish light is kind of eerie. I covered them with a layer of tissue paper so the individual lights wouldn't show.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Up North Part 2

I'm back with some more North Shore photos. As C and I walked from Gooseberry Falls to Lake Superior, we passed another CCC project - a small pumphouse - at the end of the river. The Gooseberry River (below) was calm, reflecting the waning autumn colors.
The sign describes a sunken barge that is a popular diving site.

C and I had just debated whether Lake Superior was the largest freshwater lake in the world - and this sign confirms it: by surface. A lake in Russia is larger by volume.

I patiently waited to capture the surf pounding against this boulder. I love having an ocean-like body of water within a couple hours drive of home.

After hiking down a narrow path to the lake, we were surprised to see this building with a "reserved for private party" sign outside! Before we had a chance to wonder how the beautiful table settings and cake were transported from the visitor's parking lot, we rounded the building and came upon another parking lot and the road that led between the two! As we started to walk back along the road, feeling ourselves on a slight incline, a shuttle bus driver asked us if we wanted a ride! The drive back to our starting point took only a couple of minutes. The free shuttle bus would be an option for another visit if we wanted to spend more time down along the beach.

Then it was on to Split Rock Lighthouse a few miles away. We arrived after the lighthouse tours had ended, but were still able to take photos as the sun went down...and with fewer people to shoot around!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Up North

I know Minnesota isn't the only place in the country where people say they're going "up north" on vacation, but anyone who's ever been to the north shore of Lake Superior knows how special it is.
Last weekend was forecast as the 75-100% colored leaf weekend. So, brother C and I took a drive to see for ourselves. The first few photos were taken from the car on the way up to Duluth. We agreed: gorgeous!

Around lunch time on Saturday, we arrived at the famous Betty's Pies past Duluth and put our name in for a table. The 45-minute wait went by quickly and we were soon eating fish and chips and chili.

We each ordered a slice of pie to go from the menu board.

I took an interior shot with C in it. Hopefully, I can find a photo of the old Betty's Pies building, taken when C and I drove around Lake Superior ten years ago. If I find it, I will post it to show the charming smaller restaurant that used to be closer to the highway.

Our next destination was Gooseberry falls: 11 miles according to the sign.

Two tunnels along the way.

At Gooseberry Falls there was a statue dedicated to the CCC workers of the 1930s and '40s. Dad spoke of being in the CCC and working up on the Gunflint Trail. I haven't found his name or picture at any of the other sites, but I will keep looking.

C and I walked along the path to the upper falls, seen below.....

And the lower falls in the next photo.

We then saw a sign pointing the way to "the lake" - Lake Superior! C had been to Gooseberry Falls many more times than I but neither of us had ever hiked to the lake....

So, off we went.
Even the ground foliage was colorful.

You can make out the Falls in the distance, showing how far we'd already hiked. It was all downhill.

Just after that photo, my camera battery went dead. Luckily, C had just bought new batteries for his camera and I'll post the next set soon.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Monday, September 06, 2010

Tuesdays Around Town - State Fair

Today, it's off to work after the three-day Labor Day weekend that marks the end of the Minnesota State Fair and the unofficial end of summer. D and I went to the Fair early Saturday, thinking we'd enjoy ourselves just until it got crowded and then leave. The gorgeous weather no doubt contributed to the largest daily attendance EVER, but you'll see by these photos that we had a lot of space to ourselves for much of the morning. "Fairchild" is the name of the gopher mascot. I took the extreme-angle photo above to see if I could block out the plastic bags at his feet.

I don't know if the bags were covering up a repair or ? , but I'm curious to see if they show up next year.
D and I ate a "Peg Muffin" breakfast at the "only full service place" in the Fair.
Then we headed over to the Space Needle for a quick revolving ride to the top. The next few photos were taken on the ride.
The Agriculture/Horticulture Building.
Kiddie Midway (above). Midway (below) - with University of Minnesota, St Paul campus in the background.

Grandstand and giant slide.
Down on the ground again, we stopped by the Alphabet Forest - an activity site set up by artist/author Debra Frasier. We had our photos taken with letter cards stuck in foam tubing.

I took an alphabet game with me to play as we walked around: simply list a word for every letter of the alphabet that represents a sight, sound, smell or experience of the Fair. I finished the game and brought it back for an actual blue ribbon.

When seen this close, the size of a single wind-generator blade never ceases to amaze me! But that sky was no less awesome!
We spent most of our time on Machinery Hill. These old tractors were so colorful and fascinating. D told me the "spikes" on the back wheels are needed to drive over soft earth without getting stuck.

Antique kiddie tractors - they look kind of heavy, but farm kids are strong, right?

I must admit I've never before seen a tractor this old....

Or this big!

This was not one of the many places we ate, but it was too colorful to pass by without photographing.

The wares for sale have gotten more coloful - and unusual - too.

"You don't mess around with Dave..."

Just a shot of the wind turbine blade behind Giggles Campfire Grill, where we ate salmon-on-a-stick.

Smart car with sunflowers and State Fair water tower.

Two lumberjacks competing in axe-throwing.

And tree-climbing.

And running across the logs. The lumberjack fell twice after two logs, but the lumberJILL made it all the way across both times.

She won the log-rolling competition too, even though the other guy was spinning the log with his feet while kicking water at her!

Here's a little-known State Fair landmark. Tucked behind a block of buildings over by the DNR building, it's been around since 1933 and is open to the public.

In the horse barn, this colorful cabinet caught my eye. I could have sworn I took a picture of at least one horse and can't find it.

The newer chairlift with open seats and Machinery Hill at one end.

When I took the photo, I didn't notice the "150" in the lower right corner of this huge mosaic postcard. The last time I was at the Fair was in 2008, the year Minnesota turned 150 years old as a state!