Category Archives: Minnesota

Minnesota State Fair 2022

It’s been another different year at the fair. We have gone to the fair on opening day since before I can remember. And then we’ve always gone at least one more time, sometimes more. Last year was the first time we didn’t go more than once due to Covid. Okay, 2020 too but there was no fair then. I’m glad that I went last year but didn’t feel very comfortable and wore a mask on the bus as well as in the buildings. This year’s opening day was so crowded! From the moment we entered I could tell it was going to be a very busy day. One reason we like going on opening day is because it’s typically calmer. But I guess since we haven’t had a “normal” fair in three years everyone was excited to go this year? Maybe.

It was so crowded that we weren’t able to view the crop art in the Agriculture building, one of my favorite things to do at the fair. We checked twice and both times the line was out the door to the crop art room. And I didn’t want to wait in the crowd. Bummer. But we enjoyed what we did see: the animal barns, the great art in the fine arts building and a trip on the Sky Ride. And I got my pronto pup as well as a chocolate malt from the Kiwanis stand outside the fine arts building. Best malt at the fair! I have no idea if they’re any different than the malts in the dairy building but I’ve always liked the Kiwanis malts. This first gallery contains photos from opening day:

We decided to go back on the second “seniors day” a week after opening day and wow, what a difference! It was so nice and calm and oh, so much more pleasant! We have always started our day, on opening day, with breakfast. This year our plan was foiled because, did I mention the crowds at the get-go? Oh my gosh. I wasn’t prepared to not have breakfast! We planned to have breakfast at the Hamline Church Dining Hall, the last church dining hall at the fair. Previously we went to the Epiphany Diner but that went away several years ago. Hamline was already packed with a line of about 20 people out the door when we got there about 8:30. Okay, regroup and this was a first: we decided on pronto pups for breakfast! Yum! On seniors day we had breakfast at The Peg, something new for us. It’s the only full service restaurant at the fair and it was great!! One difference I noticed was when the food comes, it is hot! As opposed to the dining halls where you put food on a tray and make your way through the line, find a table and by the time you eat, the food isn’t hot. Perhaps we’ll make The Peg our new annual breakfast spot.

And I may have been the first one in the Agriculture building when it opened at 9:00. Well, I certainly was the first one in that door. And I headed right to the crop art: no line!! There were maybe 3 or 5 of us checking out the crop art. Now this is the way to do it! We perused the flower displays in those rooms of the Agriculture building as well. They rotate every two days so these were different displays than opening day, and we didn’t even venture into the flower rooms on opening day. Just too many people for my comfort level.

Other photos from our second trip to the fair:

One fun thing from our second day was the Sky Ride. We did some shopping at the Grand Stand and we were just about done so decided to take the one way Sky Ride to get us closer to the entrance for our bus home. As we waited I spotted and photographed the Hippie (or Flower Power) car and as it happened we got to ride in it after we made our way through the line! En route inside our fun hippie car we heard a young girl yell out “Flower Power!!” and hubby yelled back “Peace, Love and Ringo!” Too funny. One of the best Sky Rides ever!

We stopped at the DFL booth and a nice volunteer asked if we’d like our photo taken, so there we are with President Biden and Vice President Harris. We were each given a soy bean to vote our most important issue this year. Abortion Access was winning at the fair as well as across the country! The last photo in the next gallery is hubby discussing issues calmly with a volunteer at the Republican lieutenant governor candidate’s booth. This is the way to do it, calmly discuss. Neither could change the other’s mind and they ended their chat positively agreeing that it is important to vote.

All in all, it was a great two times at the fair. Until next year!

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Game Plan for the Great Minnesota Get-Together

This is such a great guide that I’m sharing it on my blog. Minnesota State Fair starts next week!

Travel. Garden. Eat.

A decade ago this month, I started this blog with a brief welcome post:

Life is a wonderful journey.As we reflect, our favorite memories confirm that the best things in life truly are not things, but rather experiences:travelnear and far, the simplicity of nature found in the garden and great outdoors,and good food with family and friends. Sit back and enjoy — you can always clean tomorrow!

Ciao~ Kat B.

Over the years, my blog contributions and creative energies have ebbed and flowed … but one thing has not changed over the last 10 years, and that is my enthusiasm for the Minnesota State Fair. It checks all the boxes — travel (near), celebrating the abundance of harvest and Minnesota’s great outdoor offerings (garden), and SO. MUCH. GOOD. FOOD (EAT … with a couple hundred thousand of your friends)! With over 300 acres of animals, attractions, entertainment, and food to…

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Art in Bloom – Minneapolis Institute of Art

Every year, except for 2020 and 2021, the Minneapolis Institute of Art holds Art in Bloom. I think it’s the same weekend each year, and this year it was held the last weekend in April, beginning on Thursday, April 28th and ending on Sunday, May 1st. Artists send in applications to be chosen to interpret one piece of art with flowers. It is fascinating and inspirational to see how well the floral arrangements match the work of art.

Since I just retired I planned to go the first day at opening time, rather than on the weekend when it would be more crowded. I guess I should have known that since Art in Bloom hasn’t been held in three years that it would be busy. But I had no idea we wouldn’t be able to park! Their parking lot was full and all the spots on the streets were taken. They were offering valet parking for $20 but we thought we could just come back later. And that ended up being the next day after lunch.

We were driving towards the museum looking for street parking when we saw a man about to open his car door and he was pointing at his car. We drove past him but since there wasn’t anyone behind us we backed up then asked him if he was motioning to us and he said yes! And that our timing was perfect. Excellent! I have not approached the museum from this direction before and I noticed a sculpture of a head lying on the grass outside the north side of the museum. Check it out in the second gallery below. I also chose it for my featured image above. So cool!!

The museum was still pretty crowded but we managed it okay. I’m not a big fan of crowds and there were tour groups that we had to maneuver around, but it wasn’t too bad. We typically don’t spend many hours at museums and my husband describes what happens as “my eyes are full”, meaning you can only see so much art all at once. But we sure enjoyed what we saw. We didn’t have a plan other than to start on the third floor then work our way down. And we just wandered from gallery to gallery looking for floral arrangements. We saw so many pieces that we had never seen before, and all because there were flowers next to them.

We usually see our favorites when we go to MIA and by the time we’ve done that, it’s usually time to go. On our last visit I chose a gallery that we had never seen before and I think I will continue to do that on successive visits. It seem like a good way to try and see everything there because you can’t possibly see it all in one visit.

Most of the photos that I took were the pieces of art where there was a floral arrangement. But since we were in galleries we had not seen before, we perused other artworks too. So, for my photo galleries the first one is for the artworks with floral arrangements and the other with other pieces that tripped my fancy on this visit to MIA. I hope you will enjoy!!

And here’s the gallery of other pieces of art that I saw along the way:

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Our last day on the North Shore

Greetings blogsphere! I’ve been documenting our trip to the North Shore last summer and we’ve reached our last full day. If you missed any of the first three days, you can find them here, here and here. Do check them out if you’re so inclined. We had such a nice time at one of the most beautiful spots in Minnesota. I still can’t believe it took me nearly 30 years to get there!

We awakened to clear skies!! And that made us hopeful that the Greenwood fire smoke blew away again for the day. Our plan was to visit the Grand Portage National Monument in the morning and then do our second hike up Oberg Mountain, the full loop this time, in the afternoon. Since Grand Portage was an hour from our hotel we decided to break it up by having breakfast in Grand Marais, the halfway point.

It was such a beautiful drive along the North Shore! I don’t think the photos do it justice but here’s one that I like so that you can get somewhat of an idea of the beauty along the highway. This was on the way to Grand Marais.

We breakfasted at the Blue Water Cafe in Grand Marais. It was pretty good and we enjoyed a beautiful mural of Lake Superior and the stained glass. And check out the funny sign by the restrooms. Grand Marais is a quaint little town that is well known for its artists.

Grand Portage National Monument: Wow!! A scenic place full of history near the end of the North Shore and close to the Canadian border.

It’s a step back in time to when the North West Company operated the most profitable fur trading business on the Great Lakes between 1784 and 1803. The original buildings were long gone before the site was designated a national monument in 1958. The land was donated by the Grand Portage Band of Minnesota Chippewa(Ojibwe), or Anishinaabe, the original people. There were originally 16 buildings which you can see in the photo of the miniature of the entire grounds. The Great Hall, kitchen, look-out tower and warehouse were reconstructed to give visitors a glimpse of the past. Today the warehouse displays historic items, including birch-bark canoes built by traditional methods.

We started at the Heritage Center which contains galleries about Ojibwean culture and the fur trade at Grand Portage. We saw tee pees made out of birch bark, an Ojibwe carrying a backpack and other interesting displays. We explored the buildings and I especially enjoyed the waffle being made by a volunteer in period dress in the kitchen. In the Great Hall we were treated to a bit of Irish bagpipe music by another volunteer who knew quite a bit about the history of the place.

After getting our fill of the history of Grand Portage, we headed back to Grand Marais for lunch. Then back to the hotel to relax a bit before heading out for our second hike up Oberg mountain so that we could do the entire Oberg loop.

Back to the gondola ride at Lutsen Mountain that I mentioned in my day 3 post. We were driving around a bit on our first day and ended up on Lutsen Mountain taking in the magnificent views. We saw people riding the gondola between Lutsen Mountain and Moose Mountain and decided that would be another great way to experience more scenic views. This was our last day to take that ride but by the time we returned from Grand Portage the smoke from the Greenwood fire had returned and it didn’t make sense to take that ride if the views were going to be obstructed by the smoke. So, we’ve saved that gondola ride for our next trip to the North Shore this summer. We’re hoping for smokeless views this year! I gave a sneak preview of the smoke on our hike, here are those photos again, plus a handful more.

We heard that the North Shore had lots of snow this past winter, and even into April, which means bigger, more voluminous waterfalls than we saw last summer. So, we decided to take another trip this summer to see those bigger waterfalls and visit a couple more state parks that we didn’t have time for last year. We booked different lodging this time, just to try out another place, and we’re going back the last week of June. I can’t wait!

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The North Shore day 3

Remember the smoke I mentioned in my previous two posts about our trip to the North Shore? Before I get to that, if you missed either of my first two posts, I’m doing a day by day synopsis of our trip. You can check out the first one here and the second one here. Brief recap: the Greenwood fire was started by a lightening strike a few days before we headed to the North Shore. Since it was about 40-50 miles from where we were staying, we almost cancelled and I’m so glad we didn’t! The smoke from this fire would come and go with the wind and we awoke to a smoky sunrise on day 3. I love the colors in this photo (taken by hubby) but it smelled really smoky.

We kept checking the air quality since our plan was to visit two state parks today. According to the weather app on our phones, air quality was moderate. After breakfast at Lockport Marketplace and Deli we headed out on the highway to Tettegouche State Park about 30 minutes south of our hotel.

Such an interesting start to the hike as the trail goes under the highway at the beginning. It was a long hike to a waterfall that is more voluminous when we’re not in drought. But at least there was water. And it was pretty. There were paths to other waterfalls and there was one sign that said 200 steps to the bottom of the waterfall which meant we had to climb back up these steps, so we passed on that one. It was a 1.5 mile hike to the High Falls of the Baptism River and it took roughly two hours to go and come back. We passed other hikers on our way back that kept asking if there were waterfalls. We wondered the same thing and we felt rewarded when we saw the waterfalls.

We stopped at Schroeder Baking Company and got some sandwiches to eat at our hotel while we rested and regrouped for our afternoon hike. We got to Temperance River State Park about 2:00 and of course we checked out the map! This hike was a bit more rewarding in that there were several waterfalls that we found. It took most of the afternoon for this hike. We got there about 2:00 and then back to our hotel just after 4:00. Lots of up and down and lots of treacherous spots. We couldn’t take our eyes off our feet too much to enjoy the views because we had to watch where we put our feet so as not to fall down and crack our heads open. Luckily that didn’t happen! And I did manage to get some good photos.

We had another picnic of smoked fish, crackers, cheese and salads in our room for supper. After all that hiking we didn’t feel like eating out. We had talked about taking the gondola ride on Lutsen Mountain for more great views, but there was no time today. The next day we had more time but it was not to be because day 4 was full of smoke which made for some one-of-a-kind photos! Not a great day to see the views of the lake from the mountain as you will see in the photos for that post that is coming soon.

We had an eagle flying by our balcony the entire time we were there. It was so cool!! And it was this evening on day 3 that I managed to capture him in flight, also very cool!! And so my featured photo is of our eagle buddy and I’ll close with the video that I hope you will enjoy. I’d advise to turn the volume down unless you want to hear my commentary. My next post will be about Grand Portage National Monument so do come back for that. Such an interesting place! We really enjoyed it.

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The North Shore day 2

Continuing my series of our trip last summer to the North Shore, and taking a break from the awful news of late…..time to focus on some beauty in the world, even if briefly. If you happened to have missed my first post about our trip to the North Shore, you can check it out at this link.

On day 2 we had a nice breakfast at Coho Café and Bakery and after a short rest in our hotel room we decided to check out Oberg Mountain. I mentioned our quest to find waterfalls in my initial post, but there aren’t any waterfalls on the Oberg Mountain trail. There are, however, fabulous views of Oberg Lake and Lake Superior. We had heard about our “namesake” (our last name is Oberg) mountain over the years living in Minnesota but until our trip to the North Shore, we had never visited. Finally we got the chance to check it out!

It was a great hike! So many people that we passed on the trail kept saying “great hike!” or “the views are so worth it!” It’s a somewhat treacherous path in that there are many tree roots poking through the ground so you really have to watch your step for those sections. Even so, it’s hard to keep staring at the ground and both of us occasionally would trip over some of these roots. It’s also a gradual climb up the mountain so it’s all uphill, at least on the ascent.

We’ve been asked if we’re related to the Obergs for which the mountain is named. I was pretty sure we weren’t but I did some googling to find out who it was named for. Nothing terribly exciting, unless you’re part of this Oberg family. It was probably named for a commercial fishing family living near Lutsen at the turn of the 20th century. My husband’s grandfather had changed his name from Johansen to Oberg when he came to the United States in the early 1900s. And my father-in-law’s brothers did not live in Minnesota so I was pretty sure there was no relation.

We were actually a bit dumb on the first hike of our North Shore adventure. We were so excited to head up the mountain that we forgot to look at the map of the trail. We didn’t realize that Oberg “loop” actually was a loop that went all the way around the mountain. We figured that out after returning to the parking lot and looking at the map. Of course we had to go back another day to do the entire loop. Unfortunately, or fortunately I guess depending on your point of view, our second trip doing the entire loop was full of forest fire smoke from the Greenwood fire. The fire started by a lightening strike several days before we headed north. We almost cancelled but decided to go anyway and we’re so glad we did!! The wind would blow the smoke in and out so thankfully it wasn’t smoky the entire time. This is why there are some photos with and without smoke. What beautiful places the North Shore and Superior National Forest are!! So serene, calming and relaxing.

Included in this gallery are a few photos from our smoke-filled hike a couple of days later to show the contrast with our first trip up Oberg Mountain. The smoke made for some eerie-looking photos!

In my next post I’m going to include photos of the waterfalls that we found, so I hope you’ll come back for that. In the meantime, please enjoy my gallery of our hikes up Oberg Mountain, a few others from Lutsen and the moon rise over Lake Superior our second night. So beautiful!!

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The North Shore of Lake Superior

I’m finally getting back to posting about our trip to the North Shore. I had started this post a month after our trip but it’s been sitting in drafts all this time.

I’ve lived in Minnesota nearly 30 years but until last summer, I had never visited the North Shore. “North Shore” is a bit of a misnomer in that it’s not the north shore of Lake Superior, rather it’s north of Duluth and forms the northeast side of Minnesota. But technically this section of Lake Superior is really the western shore.

When it looked like the pandemic might have been on its way out of our lives last May, we decided to travel within Minnesota because neither of us wanted to travel by air just yet. I began looking for places to stay and already places were booked up! But I did find a place right on the Lake where every room has a balcony and a view of the lake. Cliff Dweller was perfect! It was so nice to listen to the lake lap against the shore as we fell asleep. And the location was great for exploring the area.

We nearly cancelled because of a fire that started from a lightening strike the Sunday of the week we were traveling there, the Greenwood fire in the Superior National Forest. But we decided to go and take our chances. The fire itself was about 40 miles from where we were staying so we felt we were fairly safe from the fire. But it did become the focal point of our time on the north shore as the winds would change and bring smoke to the shore at times. It made for some eerie-looking photos!

I attempted to see if the fire ever went out but I didn’t search too long. I did find this post with an interesting video about the fire so if you’re inclined, do take a look. While it shows the damage done, it also reveals the beauty of the area. I would imagine that the snowfall this winter did put out the fire.

We went on several hikes in search of waterfalls. I had seen something on Facebook from the Department of Natural Resources that there were indeed waterfalls, that reports of no waterfalls were not true. Minnesota has been in drought all summer which I guess prompted conspiracy theorists to create nonsense. Typically the best views of the waterfalls are in spring after the snow melts, but there were still lovely views to be had, even at the end of summer and during a drought.

Mostly we went on hikes in state parks. The first one we visited was en route to our hotel the first day. Check-in wasn’t until 4:00 so we set out about 10:00 with a few stops on the way. First stop was lunch in Duluth at the Blackwoods Grill. We had been there years ago so we knew it was a good spot. And its location at the beginning of the scenic portion of highway 61 was perfect! It was a nice break from being in the car.

I had never been north of Duluth so I was pretty excited to finally see the North Shore! I read about Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse which was right along the way on our drive to the hotel. We decided to get some smoked fish and brought some salads and cheese and crackers to have a picnic in our room. We thought this would be a great way to unwind from a long day of driving. We were right! It was perfect. Oh except I forgot to grab some paper plates. I remembered forks and spoons and napkins but not plates. But we made do and the fish was great!!

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park was next on my list of places to see on the way to our hotel. And it didn’t disappoint. Here’s something from their website explaining why the lighthouse was built:

A November gale that wrecked nearly 30 ships in 1905 prompted this rugged landmark’s construction. When the U.S. Lighthouse Service completed Split Rock Light Station in 1910, it soon became one of Minnesota’s best known destinations.

Nestled in a Minnesota State Park, Split Rock Lighthouse is one of the most photographed and visited spots in the state, with a drama-filled history and breathtaking Lake Superior views. If you haven’t visited lately, now is the time to pay homage to a true North Shore icon.

The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1969 but the lantern is still operational. Every November 10th there is a lighting ceremony to commemorate the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975. Music lover readers will remember that Gordon Lightfoot wrote a song about this disaster.

I decided to do a chronological posting of our trip so this is the first one. I’ll close with a gallery of photos that I hope you will enjoy. Please come back for more posts about the North Shore coming soon! Click on any photo to see the gallery with larger images.

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