Gondolas & North Shore Connections

The North Shore of Minnesota is a feast for the spirit.  When I look out on the thick pine forests, rugged cliffs, and never ending water, all is well within me.  In a way, the beauty reminds me of who I am.

When I published my post “Thoughts From a Cold Boulder” last month, I thought that was my last time I’d get to see the place that is so dear to me.  Thankfully, I have a mom with connections.  She’s a lobbyist by trade and she represents several communities around the state.  Her job is to use the legislative process to get money to help benefit the well being of her clients.  Often times, this involves boosting tourism.

One of Mom’s biggest clients is Lutsen Mountains, the largest ski hill in the state.  Because of her connections, we were able to take a free two-day ski trip during my Spring Break last March.  Which was AWESOME.

Over the past year, Lutsen has put a lot of money into installing a new gondola.  This investment will (hopefully) bring in more people.  As the largest business in the county, this benefits the entire community.

Yesterday morning, there was a big opening ceremony for the event.  Mom decided to attend and, like the little mooch that I am, I tagged along.

We arrived Thursday night.  Mom was invited to dinner with the owners and the local senator (who is also the Senate Minority Leader and the third most powerful politician in the state).  I ate separately and enjoyed a relaxing evening watching Sleepless in Seattle in our room while she rubbed shoulders with the powerful, influential people of Cook County.

My original goal for tagging along was to go skiing.  I mean, what’s the point of going to the largest ski hill in Minnesota without hitting the slopes?  Sadly, due to an unnaturally warm December, most of Lutsen’s runs were closed.  They were making snow like crazy to be fully open by the weekend… but not in time for us.  No skiing for me.  😦

When the time for the ceremony came yesterday morning, Mom and I made our way to the shiny new gondola platform.  We were stopped and informed that it didn’t open for the general public for half an hour.  Mom quirked her head and goes, “Did Charles and Tom go up already?  We’re with them?”  That’s my mom–name dropping like a pro.

The ride from the platform to top of Moose Mountain was stunning.  They’ve been hard at work making snow and the trees were all coated in a thick layer of white.  The gondola cars have wide windows and we could see for miles and miles.  We were riding through the sky above the winter wonderland all the Christmas songs talk about.

The ceremony itself went very well.  Speeches were made, the ribbon was cut, and everyone moved inside to the chalet for coffee and cookies.  I met Lutsen’s owner and his wife invited us to come up and ski with them.  (Too bad I’m leaving the country in a few weeks…)  I met the important senator.  His wife, Laura, was VERY sweet and spent a long time talking with me.  I also met many of my mom’s Grand Marais work contacts–various business owners and such.

I’ve been attending these kind of events–press releases, grand openings, legislative hearings, etc.–since I was a kid.  I’ve learned to be a fly on the wall, following two steps behind Mom while she talks and makes connections.  I speak if spoken to, but usually stay pretty quiet.

After everything was done, we rode the gondola back down the mountain and headed to Grand Marais for lunch.  We had soup at the town’s coffee shop, then stopped by the home of one of Mom’s friends.  He’s the director of the Cook County Chamber of Commerce and his wife is from England!  We stayed for a long time.  The adults talked while I made friends with one of their huskies–a retired sled dog from Scotland.

It was a long four-hours home, but the drive along Lake Superior was beautiful as always.  We went to Gooseberry Falls State Park to see if the waterfalls were still running (they were!) and made a stop in Duluth for coffee.

I love the North Shore.  When I visit, I’m reminded of who I am.  It’s almost like coming home.  From a young age, the beauty has put roots in my heart and become part of me.  I’m thankful to have had so many opportunities to visit throughout my life.  I don’t know when I’ll be back, which makes me really sad.  But no matter where I go, no matter how much life changes, it’s always there waiting to remind me of where I’m from.

On the Road Beyond Hancock

Today, I’m trying something different.  Here comes a poem…

afternoon fog lingers over the countryside

———-

fields do not roll…

they stretch, one after another

after another

after…

———-

the air I breathe is solid and white

it glimmers and the sunshine cannot break its hold

———-

as I pass by,

the silver patches

of tree branches laden with glisten & glaze

loom from the haze

winking

———-

is this real? I wonder

or is it all a dream?

———-

As I drove across the prairie yesterday afternoon, heading home from a visit to my college town, I found myself on unfamiliar roads in an afternoon fog.  The sun was shining, but I could not see more than twenty feet in front of me.  The land in that part of the state is unbelievably flat, with a big, open sky.  Everything was white–the air felt fathomless and empty.  Even though it was the middle of the afternoon, the trees were covered in hoar frost.  I pulled over to the side of the road, got out of my car, and spent several minutes taking in the view.

It felt like I had been dropped into a fairytale.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

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Thoughts From a Cold Boulder

My coat wasn’t quite warm enough, but I hardly cared.  Perched on my rock, it was not the bite of the wind that took my breath, but the blue of the water stretching for miles before my feet.

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Panorama of my view from my iPhone.

Duluth, Minnesota is an old industrial town.  Perched on the Westernmost tip of Lake Superior, it’s an important harbor and port for ships bringing goods and services across the Great Lakes.  Before settling to soak in the view, I had the pleasure of watching one of the enormous freight ships slip into the harbor, skirting gracefully under the iconic lift bridge.  Strolling along the boardwalk, old manufacturing warehouses and mills (now hotels, shops, and restaurants) on one side and, on the other, the endless lake.  I’ve been coming to this city since I was a little girl.  The boardwalk, the worn brick buildings, the lake–they’re all part of me.

My nose was beginning to run, but I perched along the shore anyways.  In that moment, soaking in the beauty of the sunlight glistening on the waves, a deep peace settled over my spirit.

The past few weeks have been a torrent of upheaval–from persisting unhappiness to my job to arranging to leave the country in January to terrorist attacks and political strife.

It felt so good to get away, to sleep in a bed twice the size of my own, to eat pizza in front of a hotel TV as my brother gushed about Star Wars.  It felt good to look out my window and see city, not forest or fields.  It felt good o walk along the boardwalk, to sit on the rocks, to watch the ships come into harbor.

It blows me away how crazy this world is.  Things are always changing and I am no exception.  I don’t know what the adventures ahead have in store.  I don’t know how my experiences will shape me and who I will become.  This both terrifying and liberating.

I can’t help but think of the quote from which this blog is named:

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien

Moments like these ones, silently dwelling in the places that have known me for so long, give me the courage to take that leap.  The peace that dwells in my innermost being gives me the strength to see what’s out in the world and discover who I’m going to be next.

November Thunderstorm

It’s unusual for rain this time of year.  After a beautiful Fall, November waltzes in tossing sleet and snow like a flower girl at a wedding.  It’s a miserable time–no leaves on the trees, dead grass, and no snow to cover the mess.

Tonight, though.  Tonight I’m taking refuge at a friend’s hundred year-old farmhouse.  Rain pounds on the window and thunder rumbles through the bones of the building.  You can feel the rumble through the floorboards.

Mmmmmmmm.

Thunderstorms are one of my favorite parts of summer.  I love sitting on my front steps with Dad watching the clouds roll in.  When the lightning gets too frequent, we move indoors and listen.

Having a storm in November feels like a belated birthday gift.

Time for tea, a sweater, and a good movie.

Photo from Unsplash
Photo from Unsplash

To a Rainy Day (Writing 101, Day 9)

Dear Rainy Day,

I’m in love with you. The thunder that presses against my windows send a shiver of pleasure down my spine. The pattering of raindrops makes me feel cozy and safe.

Yet… How am I supposed to get anything done with your constant pestering?

You inspire the desire to shirk all responsibility. I can’t stop thinking about you. I want to spend time with you, to stand in your downpour and get soaked to the skin. I want to soak you in.

I want to curl up in a sweater and leggings in a large chair and watch you transform the normally vibrant colors out the window to a mass of fuzzy grey. I want to drink tea and read poetry aloud, letting the cadence of the words rumble in time with your thunder.

Will you wait for me, Rainy Day? Will you linger until my work is done? Will you save up a whisper so, when I crawl in bed tonight, you can sing me to sleep?

All my love,

Amelia

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This post is inspired by an assignment for the Blogging University class Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration.

For a similar post, check out my breakup letter to Virginia Woolf.

#WeekendCoffeeShare: Last Hurrah of Summer

If we were having coffee, we would be sitting on a patch of flattened grass munching on deep fried cheese curds watching hoards of people pass by.  That’s right, I spent my day at the Minnesota State Fair.  It’s been four years since I last attended what we affectionately call the Great Minnesota Get-Together.  Nothing has changed much.  The cow barns still smell.  The DNR still has the fish pond.  My dad still spends way too much time ogling antique tractors.  And, despite the fact that you spend the entire day in crowds of thousands of people, you still manage to run into at least five people you know!  It’s still a delight, though.  There’s so much to look at and take in!

One of the biggest draws of the fair is the food.  These days, everything is deep fried and/or on a stick.  Throughout the day, I had a raspberry wine smoothie, an ice cream cone from the Dairy Barn, french fries, and deep fried cheese curds.  I’ve been home for several hours and the thought of eating anything makes me feel sick.  It’s a good thing the State Fair only happens once a year, ’cause I don’t think my stomach would be able to keep up.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am absolutely exhausted.  I can’t remember the last time I was this tired.  I’ve made the hour long trek to the cities and back three days in a row.  On Friday, I had a bachelorette party from 9-11 and didn’t get to bed till 1 AM.  On Saturday, I had a wedding to attend.  Today, as you already know, I went to the fair.  Overall, I had to pass through stop-and-go traffic and massive road construction on the interstate SIX TIMES.  UGH.  Excuse me while I lock myself in my room and don’t emerge for days.

IMG_5660If we were having coffee, I’d show off the fall outfit I spent WAY too much money on yesterday.  I’m kind of obsessed with it.  (See photo on left.)

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that one of my dear friends got married!  Katie and I have been friends for years–starting in early high school.  We’ve had a running joke for years in which we share a brain.  You see, I didn’t have a brain back then, so she split hers in half and gave a portion to me.  When I got the call announcing her engagement several months ago, one of my first questions was,Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset “Katie, what will happen to our brain now?”  That aside, it was a beautiful wedding.  The thing about Katie is that she is extremely quirky, goofy, touchy, and jumpy in the most adorable way.  As she stood at the altar, I couldn’t help but smile at her subtle excited twitching.  During the dance after the reception, I caught her out of the corner of my eye standing alone spinning in circles just to make her dress swish around her.  She’s a beautiful soul and it was so much fun to be there for her special day.

Enough about me.  What would you share if we were having coffee?

This post is part of the Weekend Coffee Share link up at Part Time Monster

Up North

We Minnesotans have a vague term to refer to any vacation at takes place north of the Twin Cities. (Another vague term to refer to St. Paul and Minneapolis.) My mom has meetings and events for work this week that spans much of the northern half of my beautiful state. She let me tag along and I am now enjoying my one vacation of the summer. So here I am… Up North.

This morning, we drove to a little town called Grand Marais on the shore of Lake Superior. Due to meetings taking up her time, I had the chance to wander on my own most of the afternoon.

Guided by my instincts, I found myself perched on a rock along the shore of the vast lake. Waves pounded below my feet. Children laughed and splashed in puddles under the watchful gaze of their parents. Groups of tourists trundle by, heading to the nearby lighthouse.

It has been a hectic few months. I graduated college and plunged myself into a full-time job. Hanging over my head are nagging questions about where the future will lead.

Sitting by the lake, the huge life decisions faded away for the first time in months. For a brief half hour, there was only my bare feet, an encouraging book, and endless water.

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Tomorrow, we plan to hike small mountains, discover waterfalls, and drive five hours to our next stop: International Falls.

River Haze

This past weekend to celebrate my mother’s birthday (which just-so-happens to be on the 4th of July), my family took a boat cruise on the St. Croix River.  Although we live five minutes from the launching point in Taylors Falls and know the owners of the company, I hadn’t been on one of the ferry boats since I was a little girl.

Due to wildfires in the Western U.S. and Canada, the air has been incredibly hazy over the past week.  For days the sky was stained white from the smoke that’s drifted across the continent.  At one point, we could even smell the smoke.It’s amazing how events have a way of effecting everyone–even people hundreds of miles away.

The haze made for some beautiful photos.  I’m no photographer, but I like to dabble with my iPhone every now and then.  Here’s a shot of the Taylors Falls Princess, one of the oldest ferry boats in the country.  Or, as my best friend and I used to say when we spotted it on the river from our school bus, it’s the “Fairy with No Wand”.

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