We have returned to one of our favorite destinations, The Frozen North. Oh, yes, it is also called Minnesnowta. We are temporarily residing in Baker Preserve Campground in Maple Plain, MN, about 20 miles west of the Twin Cities. When we first arrived, I was disappointed in finding that the snow and ice had all been removed a few days ago. This was our campground on the day we arrived, a few days prior to the Memorial Day weekend. Let me identify a couple of parts of this photo: a. the grey area in the foreground, which looks like permafrost, is actually… permafrost; b. the non-evergreen trees that you see without leaves are actually trees without leaves; a few have tiny buds on them, and may actually get leaves by July when winter returns; c. the green on the ground was purported to be grass, but I suspect it was actually painted to look like grass; d. the water risers for campers to hook up to for showers, cooking and coffee are invisible (not because they are stealthy, but because the permafrost eliminates the possibility of having unfrozen fresh water at any of the campsites); e. the other campers are also invisible because they are too smart to be out here in tents or trailers on frozen tundra with no fresh water and in groves of trees without leaves. But we Floridians are tough… we are used to brutally cold weather; I actually had to wear a sweater twice this past winter!
Shortly after we arrived, we met with noted naval history novelist William Hammond and his family for lunch at an Irish pub. Here are Bill’s sister Cris and two of his sons, Harrison and Churchill. Suzanne also gave readings to Cris and Bill during our visit, and the Hammond family attended her event that evening as well. See Bill’s web site at http://www.bill-hammond.com/ for more information on his outstanding novels.
Suzanne gave her Making the Connection presentation on Friday evening, and what a warm reception we had from Rev. Pat, Rev. Patty and Connie at Christ Church Unity in Golden Valley, MN, a suburb of Minneapolis. About half of the large, enthusiastic crowd was from their community, and half from other parts of Minnesota. Our good friend Pat Suchan even drove down from Duluth, a 360 mile round trip; thank you Pat, it was great to see you again! Thanks also to Echo Bodine, a famous Minneapolis psychic medium who was so gracious to encourage her many friends and followers to attend Suzanne’s event.
Back at the campground, it actually started to fill up in preparation for the Memorial Day weekend, the traditional beginning of Spring Thaw here in Minnesota. Contrast this photo with the one taken on our arrival… it was tough for Rudy and Gretchen to find any privacy for… well, you know…
As I walked the puppies, I spoke to several locals who claimed that it wasn’t that brutal a winter… as if 30 below zero for a week at a time is a normal occurrence. They even commented that “Oh, it doesn’t get cold down here in southern Minnesota… but it can get downright chilly up north in Ely.” (These guys must be living in a parallel universe…) But you also hear stories that hundreds of native Minnesotans are putting their houses on the market in disgust at the weather and plan to relocate to… FLORIDA. (Yep, Global Warming is a terrible thing.)
On Saturday, we met up with the infamous Terri of the Frozen North for lunch at Wylde Roast and a Segway Magical History Tour of Minneapolis. After a safety video and a safety briefing, and fitting out with helmets, it took only a few minutes to learn to ride the stick with wheels, but those first few minutes were a bit exciting. Here is My Lovely Bride (think Corvette Chick at reduced speed) at our training area, looking a bit nonchalant and ready to get moving.She may have been thinking, “I can do 150 in my Vette… this will be too slow and boring for me…”
You can actually accelerate quickly, turn on a dime, and you simply shift the weight on your feet forward and aft to go ahead or in reverse. Riding the Segways was a blast, and we looked like a flock of ducklings in single file moving at 8-12 mph around the riverfront area. At $7,000 a pop to own, I’m not sure they will replace golf carts in The Villages, but for a day, they were great fun.
Here are the Three Musketeers stooging around on the famous Stone Arch Bridge at St. Anthony Falls. You may note that Terri is not wearing her trademark arctic parka and snow goggles today… it was unseasonably mild on Saturday.
The Stone Arch Bridge is the only arched bridge made of stone on the entire Mississippi River, and was built by railroad tycoon James J. Hill and architect Charles C. Smith in 1882-1883.It served as a railroad bridge until 1978, and became a bike/walking path in 1994.
The Segway tour proceeded onto Nicollet Island, where only 144 residents occupy quaint old frame houses, one painted in garish purple and (incorrectly) reputed to be home of the singer previously known as Prince.
Saturday evening found us at Terri and Pam’s lovely home in Coon Rapids, MN, for snackies and dinner – delicious homemade pasta sauce over spaghetti squash, with a very artistic salad and yummy chocolate dessert. Their cat Gabby was temporarily sequestered in the basement to prevent inadvertent interaction with Rudy and Gretchen, who might have mistaken her for a large squirrel…
I have occasionally poked fun at Terri for the odd name of her current home town. She very thoughtfully designed tee shirts for MLB and myself, with “Someone in Coon Rapids Loves Me” logos, to commemorate our visit!