Tag Archives: travel

Travel Tuesday: The redwood forests

We cut down three 70-year-old trees on our property last week, and it made me unreasonably sad.

The Chinese elm trees were mostly dead, and it was time for them to go, but I miss them and it made me think of a trip a couple of years ago to northern California when we drove through the Redwood forest.

You may have sung the lyrics to “This Land is Your Land” when you were a youngster, but a walk through the forest here will have them ringing in your head for days: “From the redwood forest to the Gulf Steam water, this land is made for you and me.”

redwoods

Look up and behold, in a Redwood forest, you feel like you’re in a special place.

California’s coastal redwoods, which grow on the northern coast (the scientific name is sequoia sempervirens), can grow up to 377 feet tall, the tallest living things on earth. Like the related sequoia trees, redwoods are long lived, due in part to their bark, which can be up to a foot thick. That bark protects a tree from cold and from forest fire.

Our trip two years ago through California included a drive and walk through the Redwood National and State Parks, an experience I can’t recommend highly enough. Being there, breathing in the piney air and feeling the silence as much as hearing it, one is reminded of dinosaurs and is tempted to believe in dryads and wood nymphs. The trees are alive, and they might be smiling or frowning or about to reach out and touch you. No wonder one of California’s stereotypes is of tree huggers. Even a logger’s gotta love a tree like that.

Standing among those majestic trees reminds me I am nothing, and my life, however long it is, passes in a blink. The “little” trees we removed from our property are gone, but not forgotten.

If nature is a place of worship, the redwood forests are cathedrals. Worth a trip.

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Exchanging gray for golden

Someone on my Facebook feed posted a bunch of sunset photos this week, and I thought, “I could use more of that.”

Everything about sunsets is good. The landscape is bathed in golden light, and time stops for a second as the sun dips over the horizon. It’s not day, it’s not night; it’s happy hour. In order to enjoy a sunset, you have to take a break for a moment.

I suppose I enjoy most sunsets when I’m on vacation, so I don’t associate them much with winter, and so pictures of the setting sun are a great escape right now when winter seems unending and the whole world is cast in various shades of gray.

fall day

Browsing through my recently organized family photos (prepare thyself for a vacation slide show, friend), I found only one picture of a sunset taken from my house. This shot was taken from the deck of my former house.

illinois sunset

I took this picture while walking my dog around my husband’s cousin’s yard, where we camped for a couple of months in 2017 when we were living in our RV. Cornfields were never so beautiful.

florida sunset

Here’s my most recent sunset shot, taken on my my recent vacation, a short business/pleasure trip to Fort Myers Beach in December. If you look closely, you can see this photo was taken through the screen on the deck.

sunet set selfie in 2015

Here’s another Florida sunset. Oh, those are some of the best, I’d say, what with all the water to reflect grandiosity. This selfie was taken in 2015 along the Florida Keys near Marathon.

croatia sunset

Getting warmer yet? This exotic sunset photo was taken off the deck of a mountaintop restaurant in Omis, Croatia.

2014 lake sunset

I don’t have to travel half way around the world to find a pretty sunset. This picture was taken off my sister’s deck at her lakeside home in central Minnesota. You can practically hear the loon calling over the water.

mom and dad at sunset

One of my favorite sunset shots doesn’t have the sun in it, but you can tell the sun was setting by the long shadow of the photographer (me) in this shot. This is an early spring picture of my parents walking hand-in-hand up the road in front of their house. That’s the Leaf River meandering by on the right, and that slough might be considered a swamp by some. But dripping in the sun’s golden rays, the whole scene gives off a warm glow.

Nonsense and honesty

Felix

Hello! My name is Felix. I’d love for you to take your picture with me, but please don’t touch my head or hands. I’m very old … and I volunteered for this.”

This is Felix. His skin is smooth for how old it is, and his hair! I only wish I could have run my fingers through it! That dreamy look makes you believe in the permanence of Constitution again. We, the people and all that. Felix even has a hashtag: #prezwax

I don’t remember the details of his resume anymore, but I met Felix a couple of years ago at the National Presidential Wax Museum in Keystone, South Dakota (just a stone’s throw from Mount Rushmore), and today, as the snow comes down everlastingly, this picture strikes me as funny. It reminds me of warmer days. And I’m using it as a segue to commemorating Presidents’ Day, which we Americans celebrated earlier this week.

Ah, yes, February’s other holiday.

Abraham Lincoln would have been 210 last week, and if he’d stuck around to see what he’d wrought, George Washington would be 287 on Friday.

Isn’t it interesting that the two presidents we celebrate on Presidents’ Day each have legends of honesty associated with them. With Washington, it’s the cherry tree myth, how he confessed to his father that “I cannot tell a lie … I cut it down with my hatchet.” And, of course with Lincoln, he was known as Honest Abe.

With these two great men on my mind, I give you two great quotes:

“A sensible woman can never be happy with a fool.”

~ George Washington

Can we assume Martha wasn’t just a pretty face then? Such handsome jowls, hers. And speaking of pretty faces, this:

“There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.”

~ Abraham Lincoln

This explains a lot about all the selfies I delete.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Mount Rushmore

This is how Mount Rushmore looks if you don’t pay $18 to park.

The tide will come in and out

I woke up this morning to an order from my husband as he set his phone on the nightstand. “I’m going out to blow snow. Answer my phone if it rings.”

He disappeared into the ether of the morning while I lay in bed trying to breathe. I am in the midst of a good winter cold, good meaning one that fills one’s head with snot. When the decongestant of the night before wears off, waking up is just a reminder that one is not “up to snuff,” as they say Minnesota’s high country.

To summarize: It is the middle of February. My Beloved pressed his snow blower into service yet again this season. And I have the sort of blasted upper respiratory infection that keeps Kleenex factories in business. It’s the sort of day that requires one to remember. To remember that no winter lasts forever.

So I dug through some photos of a trip long past (well, two years ago, not that long past), and I found this lovely shot of some healthy thistles on the California coastline.

Tides come and go

And even though a sigh today is one filled with jagged boogers, I’m sighing in relief.

 

Travel Tuesday: Beach chronicle

When you can’t enjoy baseball, go to the beach.

My Beloved and I escaped the dark and cold days of pre-Christmas in the northern hinterlands by making a getaway to Fort Myers Beach.

While lolling around with an unobstructed view of endless sand and sea, we counted how many times we had been to Florida over the years. There was the year of the teepee condo. The time we drove the ol’ 1983 Pace Arrow around the Gulf. Three times in the past decade, he won a trip to Florida for selling lots of insurance. The time we mingled with, shall we say, an interesting crowd in South Miami Beach before a cruise. Spent a winter in the Keys and the 10,000 Islands areas in another RV. Other visits, too. We’ve visited so often they tend to run together now.

Florida is a go-to destination for Disney World and Minnesota Twins spring training baseball, mostly, but also we conduct a little business there. If it’s March, we end up in Fort Myers to root for home runs and consume hot dogs, but last week, it was December and there was no baseball to be found. So for the first time in all the years we’ve visited Florida, we stayed in Fort Myers Beach.

In March, Fort Myers Beach is clogged with sun worshipers and spring break revelers. With one primary road running through the island, there is little escape from the traffic and lack of parking. It’s a hot destination—hot as in hoppin’ and hot as in, well, hot—but it’s not relaxing.

In December, Fort Myers Beach is a different place. Sunny but not hot. Not crowded either. Laid back. Kind of a nice break from house reconstruction and, um, snow.

endless sand

Endless sand.

shell booty

Some of my shell booty.

My Beloved found us a VRBO (vacation rental by owner) on the south end of Fort Myers Beach. The beach is extra wide there, and every morning the tide washes in a new crop of sea shells. Across big Carlos Pass, we could see Lovers Key from our deck.

I’ve lamented in the past about the lack of interesting dining options in Fort Myers (Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, where I enjoyed what was quite possibly the best tropical salad with shrimp in my life, is an exception and it turns out it is technically on Fort Myers Beach, not in Fort Myers), but being on the south end of Fort Meyers Beach, we were actually closer to Bonita Springs, where we found crab Eggs Benedict at The Garden Cafe where, soft-shell Pad Thai at Komoon Thai Sushi Ceviche, and loaded Bloody Marys and grouper bites at Coconut Jacks Waterfront Grille. A Midwesterner can appreciate some of the country’s finest sea food, as it should be on the coast.

sunset

Among the most memorable events in Florida are the beginnings and ends of days. On the east coast, it is the sunrises. On the west coast, it’s the sunsets. (In the Keys, you can get both.) On Fort Myers Beach last week, we watched the sun disappear over the horizon with a cocktail in hand most days. One can’t hurry a sunset. Or make it wait. It’s a daily reminder of time passing and you best savor it when you can.

I’m the love that you’ve looked for, write to me and escape

A dozen years ago, I nervously dressed for a coffee date. Not too sexy, not too prim. It was a tall order, given the date was in December at a coffee shop in Central Minnesota when down parkas and boots were de rigueur.

I must have pulled it off though because about three sips into my soy latte and small talk, the man who would become My Beloved leaned over the table and kissed me.

I was smitten at that moment. I fell into a deep crevasse, not icy cold but warm and comforting, from which I still haven’t emerged. My Beloved is a big man with a big heart and big dreams. I disappeared, in the greatest possible way, into the whole package. He persuaded me to move away from my home state of Minnesota, he offered me the opportunity to be a mother to his children in a way I hadn’t even realized I would ever want to, he eventually lured me out of a corporate career that had consumed me and he tempts me every day with earthly pleasures like buttery popcorn, bottles—not measly glasses—of wine and juicy steaks (other earthly pleasures, too, but this is a G-rated blog).

My Beloved is a traveler, too, and together we’ve visited so many places. As an international marketing executive, I thought I was well-traveled before I met him. He took me to South America on a cruise; I’d been to every other civilized continent except Antarctica. We marveled at the beauty of the coasts of Croatia, truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. We drove around the Gulf coast from South Padre Island to Fort Myers, Florida, in a 30-year-old RV, and another winter and in another camper, we made our way north from the Florida Keys to Fort Myers over the course of three months. I never spent so many winter days in 80-degree weather as I have since I met him; cold makes him achy, and I benefit when he finds ways to escape it.

More recently, My Beloved used his lion-like fearlessness and beaver-like busyness to rebuild a 127-year-old former Methodist church into our dream home. Renovation projects might spell the end for some marital relationships, but ours is only stronger for persevering through those long dusty days of living in flux and financial juggling.

Back on that first date 12 years ago, we had planned to meet just for coffee, but we ended up walking around the nearby mall, cuddling at a showing of “Casino Royale” and then sharing a table of Thai food. A half-hour commitment turned into a whole day. That great date just flowered without a whole bunch of nail biting and planning and dancing around each other’s predilections.

Our mantra during those early days of our relationship was “If it ain’t easy, it ain’t meant to be.” By easy, I don’t effortless. I mean finding the path with the least hurdles. An extravagant meal, an epic vacation, a whole-house remodel requires effort, for sure, but together, the path has fewer hurdles because we’re headed in the same direction, we bring individual skills to the project and we have each other’s back.

Twelve years ago, I didn’t know I was about to meet a soul mate but I surely did.

And I’m so grateful.

T and me

Practically glowing.

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Todays’ headline is a line from Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Pina Colada Song).” Who needs a designer coffee; I think I’ll celebrate the anniversary today of our meeting with a pina colada. 

Transplant is back, growing in a new garden

Does one still qualify as a transplant if she moves only one state away?

Looks like I’ve found my footing after two years as a vagabond, but in the way life works, I didn’t move far. I’m now living in a 127-year-old former Methodist church my Beloved and I renovated into our home. It’s only about an hour north of our former home in Illinois, just over the border in Wisconsin.

Most people outside the Midwest can’t remember the difference between Minnesota and Wisconsin anyway. Both are far-north States, suffer from long winters and filled with people who like to fish.

Now if you’re from Minnesota or Wisconsin, you know very well the differences between Packers fans and Vikings fans, but the rest of the world, not so much.

I’ve changed the name of this blog back to Minnesota Transplant, and I guess I’ll spend the rest of my life marveling about the differences and similarities. I’ll try to check in more regularly than I have during the past year (let’s be fair, I was busy sawing logs, filling the eaves with insulation and choosing home furnishings for Church Sweet Home, but life is not an episode on HGTV.

You betcha.