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Retirement Diaries: Dead of Winter

Oh boy, winter is taking its toll. A few days ago it was fairly mild and I went for a relatively long walk on the roads close to home.  The next day the temperatures were in the teens and that’s where they have been since.  I bundled up and stayed warm on a warm in the colder temps, except for my cheeks.  It is my cheeks that freeze.  I didn’t walk as far as I wanted because my face was too cold.  In other news, I now own snow boots for the first time since I was about 10 years old.  I tried them outside on that cold walk for the first time, with thin socks.  They kept my feet warm and toasty!  I think that will solve my cold feet problem when we are ice fishing, especially since I will be wearing thick winter socks!

And spring will be here in two more months!  I cannot wait.

It is official.  I now have a Minnesota library card.  It is certainly a rite of passage.  My Washington library card has been in my possession since the early 1980s, when our library first started issuing library cards.  I have the original card still, having never lost it.  Several years later they added barcodes to the library cards with a sticker on your existing card, and about 20 years ago they asked me if I would like a new card with the barcode pre-printed on it.  No way!  I am proud to still be carrying around my original library card!  Do other people think like me, or am I weird?  I get this from my dad, who always taught me that you take care of things so they last.

A local brewery had a puzzle contest last week.  We wanted to go but had a conflicting appointment that evening.  So instead we tried at home to beat the winning time of 1 hour, 32 minutes, for a 500 piece puzzle.  Unfortunately, we picked a puzzle that had super frustrating pieces!  They all fit together too well, so we ended up having to rearrange the solid colored areas multiple times to fit the “correct” fit.  I think we would have done better otherwise, but as it were, we finished our puzzle in 4 hours and 17 minutes.  With a time that bad we can only get better!

Yesterday we went to a craft beer tasting and had fun tasting several beers, ciders and packaged craft cocktails.  Of course I liked the ciders best.  We had some yummy jerky too! I’m also now the proud owner of a drinking horn – it’s made from a cow horn.  I never even knew I needed one!  It’s too pretty to drink from though, so I’m going to see if my mom can fashion a beaded chain to hang it.  I liked the one with lots of white on it.  Fun fact: drinking horns used to be made from the horns of Aurochs, a prehistoric cow species that modern cows descend from.  They existed for a couple million years until clear cutting of the forests of Europe and the loss of habitat resulted in the last Auroch dying in Poland in 1627.

I booked a trip back to Washington for a few weeks in February.  I’m so excited to see my friends and family!  And not be freezing!  I hope it doesn’t rain the whole time.  I want to have some beach time, and look for agates!

So that’s my world.  Nothing earth shattering or particularly exciting, but I’m content with reading, puzzles and the occasional social outing.  I hope you are all well!

 

Retirement Diaries: Welcome 2023

Well 2023 is starting off at a leisurely pace so far.

The weather has been pretty decent for the dead of winter in Minnesota, and surprisingly, I am finding myself getting used to the cold.  Yesterday it was 30 degrees though and that’s warmer than it normally is this time of year here.  There are patches of clear gravel here and there and I even found an agate a few days ago.  But in my defense, I went out without a hat or thermals, and went for a walk after dark when the temperature was dropping! The historic train station (now the Chamber of Commerce) without cars parked in front of it was a bonus.

I am definitely hunkered down for winter though.  Generally I’m content to stay home and hibernate.  I suppose that is the difficult part of a cold climate.  I probably need more Vitamin D, but that isn’t any different than the Pacific Northwest, where you don’t see the sun for weeks in the winter.  At least here, I still need my sunglasses sometimes.  I want spring!  I want travel!  I want camping!

Two nights ago I finished a 2000 piece puzzle that I started a few days after New Year’s.  It started off slow with a mostly solid blue border, and sorting pieces took a couple of hours, but once we got started on the middle it went really quickly.  It was a great thrift shop find with all of its pieces!

We had a Sunday Funday and went to the brewery a few towns away.  Their Facebook page had a “Fancy Aran Sweater” advertised, which was a Coffee Stout beer (with a very mild coffee flavor), with chocolate sauce and graham cracker crumbs on the rim, then two toasted marshmallows on top.  I had never thought to dip my marshmallows in beer, but it was delicious!  Plus I’m not much of a dark beer drinker, but I really enjoyed it!  So much that I had two.  And we bought the ingredients and a growler of the Stout beer to make it at home.  Definitely a win, and super easy to make!  What a great camping beverage when you are making smores anyway!

I met with my book club last night – it’s a very small group of ladies (generally three, but there were five of us this time!), but they are my first friends in Minnesota.  I hope I’ll be making more soon, but that is a little challenging when you don’t go to work everyday.  It was fun though, and I am enjoying the books we are reading.

Our chickens are laying more and more, now averaging two eggs per day but we have gotten three eggs on a few days.  I have lost count, but I do know we have gotten at least 25 eggs!  I can’t even imagine how many eggs we will have in spring! 

 

 

Circus Trip 2018: Durango, CO and Mesa Verde NP

Day 80, Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Durango, CO and Mesa Verde National Park

That morning, I got up at 7 am and left the campground just after 8; I passed a lot of cute towns on the way and the Aspens were a beautiful yellow.  I stopped along the side of the road several times to take photos of the scenery.  It was so stunning!

I tried to go to Chimney Rock National Monument, but it had just closed for the season!  One day I will have to go back and check it out, because it looked really cool!  For now, the view in the distance will have to suffice.

I got to Durango, Colorado at 1 pm, and stopped in at Animas Brewing Company.  I had an IPA and a Traditional Pastie, with sirloin steak, potato, onion, and carrot.  It was delicious, even though it had onions.  Durango was another town I want to see more of!

After lunch, I drove on, and went through Mancos, a cute town that I definitely want to see more of.  I got to Mesa Verde at 3 pm.  At the Visitor Center, I signed up for the 9:30 am tour on Friday of Long House, one of the Ranger-led tours of the cliff dwellings.  It was a dwelling I had never seen before, so I was excited to get a spot. I also booked two nights in the Morefield Campground, which had plenty of empty sites to choose from.

With a few hours before dark, I drove up to see the view at the Park Point Fire Tower.  It is such a nice view and I lingered there for a while, enjoying it. 

That evening I dealt with the more mundane tasks of living on the road – laundry!  I met a couple from McMinnville, Oregon and enjoyed talking with them while I waited for my clothes.  When I got back to camp at 8 pm it was dark and I was ready for a good night’s sleep!

Resurfacing…

I know, I know… I’ve been missing in action for a bit.  Sorry about that!  I’ve had some adventures going on! 

It’s been six weeks since I left my job, and I’ve been gallivanting all around the country since then! 

I took four days to go camping on the Oregon Coast at the end of September.  I spent two weeks in Minnesota at the beginning of October, spent a little over a week in Knoxville, Tennessee, had time in Washington in between each trip and am now back in Minnesota.  It’s been a whirlwind and I’ve had so much fun! 

I walked miles on the beaches, found a whole bunch of little agates and other small rocks, and tried out some new to me breweries and restaurants.  I camped on the coast and enjoyed the late September weather, which was a little bit foggy but unusually dry for the Oregon Coast.

Minnesota has had sunny days, mostly warm temperatures and pretty fall leaves and a relaxation that I have long needed.  I hiked, and checked out a place on the Mississippi River that is known for its Staurolite rocks; they form in the shape of a cross!  I found one too! It is small and not a perfect cross, but I love it. 

And Knoxville!  Tennessee was a new state for me!  My mom wanted to go to a jewelry convention, so I tagged along to be the chauffeur and sight-see while she was in her classes.  I saw Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, and of course didn’t get to see everything I wanted to so I will have to go back!  I toured most of the historic homes in and around Knoxville and enjoyed them all; there was such a variety of time periods!  I tried out a couple local breweries and had some nearish to Tennessee hard ciders, although the state could up their cider game…  I had such a great time!

I suppose I can’t always be traveling though, even though I want to.  So I’m hoping to get back to a more regular schedule of posting.  I have so much to catch you up on!

Happy November!

 

Circus Trip 2018: South Haven, Michigan

Day 71, Monday, September 24, 2018
South Haven, Michigan

Monday, my cousin had the day off, so we had the opportunity to take a little day trip over to South Haven, Michigan.  We were ready to have a little cousins relaxing time!

Our first stop was at the South Haven Brewpub for lunch.  I had the Philly Cheesesteak and the Sunset Amber Ale; it was a great lunch!  The sun was warm; by the end our lunch, Megan was already getting sunburned!

After lunch, we headed over to Warner Vineyards for a little wine tasting.  There were lots of options, so Megan and I split our tastings.  Megan and I have different palates for wine; Megan likes the sweeter wines and I like the drier ones.

After wine-tasting, we did a little poking around in shops in South Haven.  I got a Michigan zipper hoodie.  It was fun seeing all the cute items.  

We did one more wine tasting that afternoon, at 12 Corners.  I got a couple of bottles there, including their Aromella, which was really good!  

We wrapped up our day with a walk out to the South Haven Light.  It is a beautiful lighthouse, bright red at the end of the pier!  It was a beautiful, sunny day, but it was so windy!  We had a good time getting selfies with the lighthouse and taking photos of the lighthouse too.  

We ended our day with dinner with my parents, and my aunt and uncle at the Chinese buffet.  It was a good day to a fun day!  

Circus Trip 2018: Marshall, Michigan

Days 70, Sunday, September 23, 2018
Marshall, Michigan

Sunday morning my parents and I had breakfast with my Aunt Elaine, Uncle Richard and cousin Stephanie, and then we were off to the other side of the state to visit my mom’s side of the family.  Mom’s family is much smaller, but I have an aunt, uncle and cousin (and a few other relatives outside of Michigan) who live in Galesburg, Michigan, a small town outside of Kalamazoo. 

We headed over to the other side of the state, but driving separately since my parents had their own rental car.  I stopped in Marshall, Michigan and did a little wandering and shopping.  Marshall is a cute little town with a historic downtown area with shops and antique stores (which unfortunately are mostly closed on Sundays), and several nicely painted murals on the buildings.  

And then my cousin Megan met me at Dark Horse Brewing Company.  If you feel like you have heard of it, you probably have.  They had a reality show there several years ago, but I’ve never actually seen the show.  Megan and I got a beer and a pretzel with beer cheese, and I got a t-shirt!

That evening was pretty quiet, just enjoying a dinner of pork tenderloin tacos with the family, and catching up.

Not every day on the road can be thrilling I guess!

 

Circus Trip 2018: Fort Stanwix NM

Day 46, Thursday, August 30, 2018

Fort Stanwix National Monument, Rome, New York

Construction of Fort Stanwix was begun in 1758 and completed in 1762.  This star-shaped fort was built to protect the British interests at a well-used portage known as the Oneida Carry during the French and Indian War.  What’s a portage you ask?  When goods are being transported by water (especially rivers) there are times when the goods have to be hauled overland in order to get around some sort of obstacle (often a waterfall) along the water route.  It’s along these portages that the goods being transported and the people transporting them are most vulnerable to attack, so that’s where Fort Stanwix came in.

In 1768, the British and the Iroquois signed a peace treaty, to establish boundary lines between the tribal lands and white settlements.  However, the two sides did not include the other area tribes in the negotiations, so it actually inflamed hostilities, which would make things more challenging for both the British and the colonists later on.

In 1776, at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the colonists occupied the fort, and set about rebuilding it.  They also renamed it Fort Schuyler.  Of course, the British weren’t ready to let the colonists go quite so easily, and began a siege of the fort.  Fortunately for the colonists, the British siege was not successful!

In 1781, the fort burned down and was not rebuilt.  The site was designated as a National Monument on August 21, 1935, but it wasn’t until 1974 that construction began on a replica fort.  In 1978, it was completed, and now about 85,000 people visit each year.

There is a dry moat around the fort and it was interesting to enter and see inside the star-shaped fort.  There is an informative movie about the history of the fort and the engagements that occurred there, and then you have a chance to wander and see the different areas of the fort.

There is a parade ground, living quarters, a magazine, and more!  I enjoyed checking it out!

After Fort Stanwix, I had a beer and a snack at the Copper City Brewing Company.  The Pete’s Pale Gansevoort Ale was a great way to relax a bit before I set off to find my next home for the night!

Home was a campground in Saratoga Springs that was hands down the weirdest campground of my trip.  It was a marina, with a very rough section of dilapidated trailers and other detritus, with some boats in the small marina.  Clearly this was home for many of these campers.  The campground for temporary campers was a field – drive through and pick your spot.  There were picnic tables randomly scattered throughout, with seemingly no rhyme or reason as to their placement.  And the bathroom – that’s another story!  This was the only shower that I said no to during my entire trip!  Not with my flip flops would I step in there!  Hard Pass!  EWWW!!!  But it was cheap, and I did have a nice chat with a woman who traveled a lot in her RV with her dogs…  It’s not a road trip without some good stories right?

 

 

 

COVID Diaries: Day 142

Whelp…  It’s a new month – the jury is still out on whether it will prove to be just another disaster like every month since March. So far we would have already survived the flood three times over…  Let that sink in.

I have continued trying to clear my backlog of assorted teas, and started on a new box today.  It’s one I bought when I went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge last December; it came in a cute little tea tin of Blueberry Icewine Ceylon tea.  It sounded like it would be really good!  Not gonna lie – ugh…  I’m not sure I’ll be able to drink this stuff.  Perhaps I’ll do a taste test to see if this one beats Chamomile on the gross factor.

Work is kicking my ass.  I’m in the final phases of a couple huge projects and one that will be going for a while.  There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but I just need to keep walking…

I have also spent a lot of time wondering how someone can just one day decide they don’t love you anymore and disappear.  You go from being the light of their life to someone who can’t do anything right, to discarded, while you are still trying to figure out why they couldn’t just treat you like they did at the beginning.  I have never been someone who could do that.  It’s an exercise in futility trying to understand people and their motivations, but often I can’t help myself.

I have also decided to try to clear my backlog of assorted beers.  I’m not much of a beer drinker, so I end up with random portions of six packs that will sit in my fridge until the end of time…  I mean who knew my brother is the only man on earth who doesn’t like IPA?  COVID definitely ensures my friends aren’t coming over.  So far that’s going better than the current phase of the tea challenge!

 

Just one more day before the weekend! I can do this!

 

 

Astoria Weekend: A Fort and a Column

Day 3, Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday morning of our Astoria trip, we found a little breakfast place called Arnie’s Cafe, just south of Astoria (in Warrenton) and stopped for a bite. The food was delicious, and there was no wait! We must have gotten there at just the right time though because it got busy after we were seated!

After breakfast we headed to Fort Stevens State Park to explore. I have blogged about Fort Stevens before, home of the Peter Iredale shipwreck, and a historic battery dating from before World War I. We checked out the beach first, and of course explored the shipwreck! The kids had fun writing their names in the sand and looking for shells and interesting rocks. Unfortunately, this stretch of the beach, on the open ocean, isn’t known for having many intact shells.

The kids took off their shoes and waded in the water, despite the fact that it was a pretty cool day! That’s par for the course in the Pacific Northwest I suppose, having your hood up and tightly cinched around your head, while wading barefoot in the ocean. It was windy!

After we had our fill of the beach, and needed to warm up, we headed over to the battery. The Fort Stevens battery was built between 1863 and 1864, an earthwork battery meant to stand as a sentry to the threat of invasion by sea, and to stand guard over the mouth of the Columbia River.  They were more concerned about invasion by the British though, as there were long standing territorial disputes in the region. The fort was expanded and the current concrete batteries were constructed in 1897.

Thankfully, invasions never came, but the battery was shelled by a Japanese submarine on June 21, 1942.  The shells fell harmlessly away from the fort, and no damage was done; the Fort Commander did not allow his men to even return fire.  The battery was decommissioned after World War II and the guns were removed by 1947; it became part of Fort Stevens State Park. It is open to the public, and young and the young at heart can climb up on its walls and explore its rooms and stairways.

And if you are like me, you can step off a step, suddenly discover you stepped wrong, twist your ankle, fall down, and skin your knee. Yep. Not often, but sometimes, I’m a real klutz. Oops. It really hurt! Of course, it also hurt my pride as the flash of pain left me unable to get up for a few minutes, and the nice man down below watched me hit the concrete and called up to ask if I was ok? Yeah… I will need to sit here on my butt in the middle of the path for a minute though! I was undeterred in my adventure seeking, and not willing to give up on our day, so I soon powered through the pain and walked it off. OUCH!

Our next stop for the day was the Astoria Column. Built in 1926 as a way to showcase the history of the area and its discovery in 1811, the column is 125 feet tall and has an internal staircase rising 164 steps to the top. You can buy balsa wood airplanes for $1 at the Visitor’s Center; the kids enjoyed climbing to the top of the tower to launch them off the top. What fun and the views are spectacular!

That evening, we endured a long wait at Buoy Beer Company, but the kids were entertained by the plexiglass in the floor that allowed them to watch a huge male sea lion lounging on the dock below. The adults were entertained by the ability to enjoy a beer anywhere in the brewery, so we could relax with a cold one while we waited for a table. The food was amazing – I loved my fish and chips! The Champagne IPA was delicious!

Our last adventure of the day was to catch the sun lowering in the sky, and to drive over the Astoria-Megler Bridge into Washington. The bridge was opened in 1966 and is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America at 4.067 miles long. The sunset was beautiful, and a nice end to a great long weekend, as the next morning it was time to head home and back to real life.  What a wonderful getaway!

Astoria Weekend: Lewis and Clark!

Day 2, Saturday, May 25, 2019

Astoria, Oregon

After visiting Seaside, we decided to head over to the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.  I have visited before, but Jeff and the kids had never been there.

Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery spent the winter 1805-1806 here in this approximate location; they named their camp Fort Clatsop.  When the expedition left the West Coast in the spring of 1806, they gave Fort Clatsop’s structures to the local Native Americans and the fort was eventually reclaimed by nature. A replica was built when the site was designated as a National Historical Park in 1958, but sadly it burned in 2006; a replacement was built in 2007. The replica is thought to be historically accurate, having been built from sketches and descriptions that Lewis drew in his journals.

We checked out the museum in the Visitor’s Center, with its artifacts.  Beaver hats and pelts, a Coastal tribe canoe, grasses and foods that the Native Americans in the area used, as well as historic muskets and examples of clothing that the expedition members would have worn.  It is always interesting to revisit a place.  We also checked out Fort Clatsop, and the kids enjoyed exploring it.  There wasn’t much space for 30 people to spend a cold, rainy winter!  Jeff and I enjoyed wandering and following after the kids, relaxing and reading the signs.

The kids did the Junior Ranger program and got their badges; just in the nick of time too, because it started raining pretty hard!  I didn’t really take many photos since I had visited there before, and apparently I was more into taking selfies!  For more about the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, see my previous post.

That afternoon we went to the Fort George Brewery for pizza and some beer; while we were waiting for a table we checked out some of the nearby shops in downtown Astoria.  The pizza was delicious, and everybody was happy!  Jeff and I tried a couple different beers, it was nice to do some sampling and see what we liked.

Nearby to Fort George Brewery is the Reveille Ciderworks; one day I’ll visit there and try their ciders!  It just wasn’t in the cards that day because the kids were more interested in pizza than some of the “weird food” they have at food trucks.  Traveling with kids is a change of scenery for me!  That said, I was still able to get a couple of oyster shooters at Fort George – nobody else wanted any – it was so strange because they are so delicious!