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Showing posts from 2017

GOP Handbook: Philosophy Principle #50

Don't let current events force you to discuss an issue if your position is weak and is being criticized by the political opposition and its media allies. (Example: Don't enter into a discussion about Climate Change when a Category 5 hurricane is approaching Florida a week after a Category 5 hurricane hit Texas. Just say, "Now is not the time to discuss X.").

Summer Day Trip #5: Whitewater State Park

I have a confession to make. I compare every state park I visit against Indiana’s Turkey Run State Park. Turkey Run is my ideal state park, and although it’s the state park of my childhood, I know it’s not just nostalgia speaking. I have visited Turkey Run a few times as an adult, and it hasn't ceased to impress me. It has a total of ten trails, and to access most of them, you must cross Sugar Creek on an impressive, well-maintained pedestrian bridge. The trails themselves are everything that you might want – they go through narrow sandstone gorges, some require ladder climbing, and others follow “creek beds.” For me, Turkey Run is about the hiking, but I also have fond memories of canoeing down the shallow (sometimes too shallow) Sugar Creek.
But this post isn’t supposed to be about Turkey Run. It is supposed to be about Minnesota's Whitewater State Park, which may well be the nicest state park in the southeast Minnesota region. It is much smaller than Turkey Run, and it only…

Summer Day Trip #4: Lanesboro, Minnesota

Lanesboro is one of my “what if?” places. What if we moved here? What if we opened a coffee shop downtown and lived on the second floor above it? After a recent day trip to Spud Boy’s Diner, my head was full of “what if?” thoughts. A quick real estate search showed that two storefront locations were currently available in downtown Lanesboro. One was right next to Spud Boy’s, a prime location, and it included a one bedroom loft. The other, just off the main street, included a two bedroom apartment. The asking price for both was roughly what we paid for our current house.

Breakfast at Spud Boy's Diner.
I asked Linda what she thought about moving to Lanesboro to open a coffee shop. Surprisingly, she didn’t immediately scream “NO!” Not that this is her typical reaction to my silly “what if?” propositions, but she often is my voice of reason. For this idea, however, she said, “Well, it would be quite a life change, but it would be doable.”

The doable “what ifs?” are the scariest. They ar…

Summer Day Trip #6: St. Charles, Minnesota and the Elba Fire Tower

When you see the little Tower, you're there. 
A few days ago, the idea of climbing the Elba Fire Tower crossed my mind. It would be a good excuse for us to make a pit stop at the St. Charles Bakery, a bakery we had never been to before, and maybe it would make up for the last time we climbed the Tower. The last time we climbed it, I had uncontrolled asthma, and that made it quite a challenge to climb the 633 steps (plus or minus) to the top. A few days ago, I was feeling pretty darn good, but for a variety of reasons, it would take five days before we actually made the drive over to Elba. And, for the last few days, my right Achilles’ heel has been hurting. Just the joys of growing older, although to be honest, I've been dealing with gout and general pain for almost fifteen years now.
A nice day for a climb. Doesn't look that much of a climb from a distance... 
Temperature-wise, it was a perfect day for a climb – about 70, and not too sunny. Before making the climb, we stopp…

Summer Day Trip #3: Jackson, Minnesota

Some time ago in the spring, I found out that David Ellefson, bass player and co-founder of Megadeth, was rebranding the coffee shop in Jackson, Minnesota. Every so often I would tell Linda that I planned to drive over there to check it out, but the morning that I actually decided to drive over there to check it out, I think I surprised her. I’m not sure she thought I would ever do it.
“What else are you going to do over there?”
“Oh, that’s it. Just drive over there, order a cup of coffee, and drive home.”
I had checked out Jackson on Tripadvisor, and honestly, Jackson seemed like it didn’t have much going on. My mind map of southwestern Minnesota was mainly a blank. I knew that I-90 drove through, but I thought perhaps the interstate was a metaphor: Beware ye who enter here, lest ye be on your way to somewhere else.
When I told Tavi we were driving two hours to visit a coffee shop, the idea didn’t seem far-fetched to her. She only had one question, “Do they serve hot cocoa?” I promised …

Summer Day Trip #2: West Concord, Minnesota

West Concord, Minnesota: Population 782 Distance from Rochester, Minnesota: 31 miles Reason to drive there: Only one – Omar’s Café for Sunday Brunch
Sunday mornings in West Concord are incredibly quiet. No one in town is stirring, and except for the few cars in front of Omar’s Café,  you might be forgiven if you thought you were in a ghost town. 

The view in the middle of Main Street looking to the east. 

Why did Omar decide to open a cafe in, of all places, West Concord? I've never asked him the question directly, but I'm sure part of it has to do with the location. Yes, it's a 30 mile drive from Rochester, but maybe that works in his favor. If you want to have Sunday morning brunch at Omar's, you're going to have to make a firm decision to go. It's not a cafe that you end up going to on accident. 
Linda and Octavia heading in. 
Is it worth the drive? Sure it is. We've had Sunday Brunch at Omar's maybe a dozen times over the years, and every time is exac…

Summer Day Trip #1: Caledonia, Minnesota

The Wired Rooster Coffee Shoppe -- Caledonia, Minnesota

I've lived in Minnesota for over ten years, sure, but that doesn't mean I've actually seen much of the state. Like most people, I know what I know, and I go where I go. And that's the extent of it. But once I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to make it to Alaska this summer, it occurred to me that I had plenty of sites to explore in the immediate region.

First stop: Caledonia, Minnesota. Where's that? It's a small town in the southeast corner of the state. Before I opened my Rand McNally Road Atlas, I had never heard of it, and before I punched the town name into Trip Advisor, I didn't know if there was anything there worth visiting.

Distance from home: About 75 miles.

Challenge #1: Leaving by 6:30 a.m.

Challenge #2: Taking my dog, Atticus.

Actually, Atticus is a good dog on a road trip, but the forecast indicated that it was going to get into the 90s. I wanted to leave early in the …

What Can You Do? -- Writer's Poke #451

I wanted to go on an Alaskan cruise this summer, and I monitored cruise prices daily until they finally hit the sweet spot. Unfortunately, once prices hit the sweet spot, I admitted to myself that whether the cruise cost $899 or $1599, it really didn’t matter. The price might be right, but other variables made it next to impossible for me to leave home for the 2+ plus weeks such a trip would require.
So naturally I was a little depressed, and I allowed myself to stew for a few days. What good is having time off when I’m still not free to utilize it in the manner I would like? What good is having the money to purchase the tickets when I still cannot “afford” to go? I was locked into a “woe is me” frame of mind. Don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t angry at my situation, but it would be fair to say that I was disappointed. I wanted to go on an Alaskan cruise this summer, and couldn't help feeling that I should be able to go on an Alaskan cruise this summer!
I’ve felt this way before -- th…