Last week is here already!

I posted 7 pics this morning. I have been behind in posting since April, and I thought time would never catch up with me, but here they are already — last week’s photos. I’ve caught my tail!

 

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(7/23/17) The “Southside Sprint” is a day-long series of bike races through our neighborhood.  It’s the second half of the Big Waters Classic, which begins with the “Rondo Rush” in St. Paul a day earlier. There are some very good bikers in these races, and it’s fun to watch them buzz around and around a 3/4-mile route near the 48th and Chicago Ave. area in south Minneapolis. At 2:30, there’s a kids “race”. My two intrepid grandchildren are seen above mentally preparing for the start.  Svea cranked around the course with the same game-face you see here, while Otto scooted his pedal-less glider bike while his dad ran along trying to keep up. Both kids enjoyed getting a medal at the end and were even more excited about the free water bottles.

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(7/24/17) Filling the ammo tank in preparation for soaking Gramps using the blue and red weapons in the foreground. 

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(7/25/17) Columbia Golf Course in N.E. Minneapolis

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(7/26/17) The Happy Hour group met at LUSH in N.E. Minneapolis this week.  Lori shows how she feels about Claire’s color choices, while Krista and Ron prefer to avert their eyes.

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(7/27/17) Life on the Mississippi

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(7/28/17) Roger is looking good as he hits his second shot on the 15th hole at the University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course.

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(7/29/17) Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis

 

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My fickle friend, the summer wind

Week #27 of my photo-a-day project takes us through that peak week of summer, when most of us take a time out, maybe cook some kind of animal on the grill, and find ourselves seeking shade and bodies of water.

It’s the time of year that makes me think of my favorite Frank Sinatra song. So sit back, open a window, close your eyes, feel the breeze, and have a listen.

 

“Like painted kites, those days and nights, they went flyin’ by” . . .

And now, a photo from each day of the week.

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(7/2/17)  Minnehaha Parkway, Minneapolis

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(7/3/17) Roderick Cox conducts the Minnesota Orchestra in Independence Day Eve concert at the Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis. The weather was perfect and the orchestra sounded great.

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(7/4/17)  You thought I was going to have a picture of fireworks, right?  Nope, couldn’t stay up that late . . . but can you think of a more patriotic dessert?   —  RED strawberries, WHITE ice cream,  BLUE blueberries — that’s as American as apple pie!

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(7/5/17)  Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis

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(7/6/17)  I saw this in someone’s front yard while I was running — a very nice twist on the “Little Free Library” phenomenon.  “Blessing Box: Grab a bag, take what you need.”

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(7/7/17) They don’t make ’em any cuter than this.

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(7/8/17) While on a bike ride by the Mississippi River (downtown St. Paul in the distance) we stopped and talked with this young man about fishing.  He told us he usually does pretty well here — once landing a 45-pound catfish!

 

 

From Lanesboro to Ortonville

Week # 24 was bookended by weekend trips — one southeast to Lanesboro and one westward to Ortonville, on the South Dakota border.  In between, a couple of rounds of golf and a little time with the G-Kids made for a memorable week.  I’m a very lucky guy.

Here is a photo from each day.

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(6/11/17) Along the Root River Bike Trail between Lanesboro and Whalen.

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(6/12/17) Jerry and Roger on the 18th at Gross Golf Course, trying to finish under a menacing sky.

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(6/13/17) I have a feeling that rabbit ears are about to pop up.

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(6/14/17) Here’s one that will probably only be impressive to other golfers. Graydon fixes his ball mark, showing where his tee shot landed on a 170-yard par 3. The tee is behind me, so his ball flew past the hole by 3 inches, backed up and hit the flagstick (clank!) then came to rest a foot away (ball marker). 

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(6/15/17) Parking lot behind the hardware store.

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(6/16/17)  Can something be cute and dreary at the same time? Hopeful and sad? Colorful and dull?

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(6/17/17) Rain in the distance on the Minnesota prairie, a few miles east of Ortonville.

 

 

Photo a day Week #19

Question: If a train leaves a station traveling 50 mph 2 hours before two trains traveling 24 mph and 37 mph on the same track, how many weeks will it take Steve to catch up to the current week of his photo-a-day project.

Answer: Not sure, but what difference does it make until he gets there?

Here are the 7 photos from Week #19 of 2017.

Chug Chug.

I think I can.  I think I can . . .

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(5/7/17) While riding down this bike path on Minnehaha Parkway, I saw what appeared to be a sweet, poignant moment happening up ahead.  I got off my bike and grabbed my camera. By then, I could see the two photographers in the shadows behind the blissful couple.  I’m guessing they were friends shooting some pics for the engagement announcement.  It was still a sweet, poignant moment, just not as spontaneous as I’d hoped.

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(5/8/17) This Mama Robin built her nest on top of the pergola that’s attached to our house.  As you can see, she found some colorful material from the graduation season to spice up the nursery.

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(5/9/17) Have they invented new flower colors?

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(5/10/17) Pickin’ and Grinnin’

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(5/11/17) I was walking by the ballfields at Lake Nokomis, taking some pictures of the softball games and this guy made a fantastic diving catch right in front of me. I approached him between innings and told him I had a photo of his catch and I’d send it to him if he gave me his email address.  He looked at me like I was some kind of creep (that part isn’t surprising) and basically told me he wasn’t interested. All I can say is that if I made a catch like this and someone happened to capture it, I’d have it in a frame by now.  Oh well.

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(5/12/17) Barton Open School in Minneapolis has an annual plant sale that raises a lot of money for much needed programs.  It’s too bad that public schools have to do this, but this has become wonderful community event. The school’s website says that their goal was $80,000 for this year.

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(5/13/17) Who’s that behind those Foster Grants? At Lake Harriet Rose Garden, Minneapolis.

More than just Survival

The second week of January is alway pretty quiet in this part of the country. Everyone is solidly back in the daily grind after the holiday season.Version 3

The bulk and the brunt of winter are still ahead, which can be a daunting thought.  A small percentage of  Minnesotans actually enjoy going outdoors in the bitter January air. We all like to brag about being hearty souls, but honestly, most of us merely survive the winter — relatively few embrace it.                                 .
If you venture out in single-digit “high” temps, you might see a runner on Minnehaha Parkway, a cross-country skier on Hiawatha Golf Course, and increasingly over the past few years, grown, intelligent-looking men and women riding bicycles with big fat tires on the snow and ice.

 

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These guys are riding ON the creek.

Seemingly every time I shovel the front sidewalk, the ever-chipper neighbor walking her dog with its little boots comes by and says something about what a nice day it is. Not to be argumentative, I find my self mumbling a semi-agreement. It works for a moment, long enough anyway to remember the bigger picture, that life really is pretty darn good right now.  One day, I even found myself thinking (for a split second), “I’m thankful I can still shovel snow”.

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One of us is better at the embracing- thing than the other.

Being retired brings other, more predictable, moments of gratefulness.  We had a mild snow storm earlier this week and a voice on the radio said the usual, “There have been hundreds of accidents on Twin Cities roads already this morning. If you don’t have to go anywhere today, stay home”.  I did, and I liked it a lot.

I’ve managed to keep my photo-a-day resolution going for two weeks.  According to a survey by a site called StatisticBrain.com, 68.4% of those who make a new year’s resolution keep it going for the first two weeks.  I thought that percentage would be lower, but I’ll take it.  I’m already ahead of 31.6% of the resolution-makers!

With my back still stinging from that self-pat, here is one photo from each day of week two. You’ll that see I did manage to get my butt outside a few times. And OK. . . .yes, it was a good thing.

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(1/8/17) We dropped in to see my friend Graydon Royce do his a radio show / podcast called “The New Frontier Lutheran Radio Hour” (More about this in the coming days.)

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(1/9/17) Svea

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(1/10/17) Karen doing all the work, as usual. (Hey, SOMEBODY has to take the picture.)

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(1/11/17) Catching some rays at Minnehaha Creek

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(1/12/17) 4:40 PM – Stained glass (made by Karen) holds onto the last sunlight of the day.

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(1/13/17) Walking on water . . . a stroll across Lake Nokomis at sundown.

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(1/14/17) The rocks in Minnehaha Creek somehow remember their summer colors.

Great bike rides of the Twin Cities that begin and end at my house #2: The Grand Rounds

(Note: To see my first “great bike rides” post from about a year ago, go here)

I used to think “The Grand Rounds” was a rather pretentious name added in modern times to the more than 125-year old string of parkways that wind through the city of Minneapolis. But I recently learned that the term dates back to 1891, when William Watts Folwell used it to describe landscape architect Horace Cleveland’s masterful proposal made to the newly-formed Minneapolis Board of Park Commissioners 8 years earlier. Now that I know the name is that old, I like it.

Horace Cleveland as a young man. He was nearly 70 when he submitted his design for the Grand Rounds !

Minneapolis has one of the best urban park systems in the world. We would have none of it today but for the vision, forethought, and actions of an amazing string of parks commissioners (along with Cleveland’s detailed plans) in the late 19th and early 20th century, including Charles Loring, William Berry and Theodore Wirth.

I’ve biked most of this route many times, but never as a whole. So a couple of days ago, I decided it was time to grab my camera and saddle up. I’d seen different numbers for the total mileage — usually 50-53 miles, but I also knew that included some dead-end spurs. I decided to just do the main, basic route and see how it works as a loop.

Cleveland’s idea was to tie together some of the most beautiful parts of the city in such a way that you could make the whole trip without ever leaving a park-like setting. For the most part, it does that very well. The Minneapolis chain of lakes, along with the Mississippi River and Minnehaha Creek, are well-known treasures, but the ride also includes some impressive boulevards in the city’s northern areas. Most of the route is, indeed, “grand”, but there’s a short “missing link” of about 3 miles in the northeastern part of the ride that isn’t terribly scenic. Many plans have been proposed over the years to finish it, but so far it’s still missing. A variety of street options traverse the gap and get you downtown to join up with the river.

The dark blue line shows the Grand Rounds. Note the dotted lines through an industrial and residential part of northeast Minneapolis. The outline of the city limits can be seen where the shade of green changes.

Since I live a couple of block from Minnehaha Creek, I bike and run the southern part of the Grand Rounds a lot, but the beauty of the creek and the lakes never gets old. A quick loop around the lakes or a run around Lake Harriet never fails to lift my spirits.

My grand tour the other day ended up totaling about 37 miles. As I said, there are other ways to do it that add more mileage. The route also intersects with a lot of other bike paths on which you could wander all day. It’s a great city for biking.

Here are a bunch of photos from my trip. Along the way, I somehow lost my little notebook that I was writing the mileage in at photo stops (imagine me losing something), so the mile numbers are from “Map My Ride” and are approximate — also, of course, pretty meaningless unless you start at my house. But if you ever do want to start at my house, give me a call and I’ll go with you. It’s a great urban ride.

0.7 - We drop down into the Minnehaha Creek valley to get started.


1.5 - First look at good old Lake Harriet.


5.5 - Cedar Lake's south beach


6.7 - North side of Cedar Lake. The railroad and the Cedar Lake Trail (not ours) head toward downtown Minneapolis.


6.8 - on the other side of the railroad bridge is tiny Brownie Lake, an often overlooked little gem.


8.3 - Theodore Wirth Golf course. What a view!


8.8 - Statues depicting Theodore Wirth (Minneapolis Parks Commissioner in the early 1900s) with some kids for whom he helped provide a beautiful place to play, are near clubhouse of the golf course that bears his name.


10.7 - Victory Memorial Drive honors those who died in WWI


15.2 - Downtown skyline over the rail yards of "Nordeast".


16.2 - Another peak at downtown from the 10th hole at Columbia Park, another very nice municipal golf course.


17.3 - Quiet, residential neighborhood on St. Anthony Parkway with happy, safe, above-average kids.


20.8 - After a trip through the "missing link", we're downtown.


21.3 - Almost everything you need to know about Minneapolis is represented in this photo -- flour mills, St. Anthony Falls, Mississippi River, hydroelectric plant, barge going through lock & dam, James J. Hill's stone arch railroad bridge. This area is ground zero for Minneapolis .


21.5 - New I-35W bridges show no trace of the terrible tragedy that happened here 4 years ago.


23.2 - Back to green and blue landscape. The Mississippi River from West River Road across from the University of Minnesota.


28.0 - Minnehaha Falls


29.3 - The path hugs Minnehaha Creek


30.2 - Lake Hiawatha


32.0 - Lake Nokomis -
About five more miles and we're home - around the lake and up the Parkway.

Off my butt, on my bike, and out in the country

One of my long-time goals has been to get around the state of Minnesota more and see smaller towns and rural areas. I haven’t done very well with that that until recently.

Two things have helped to get me in my car and on my bike to travel around more.
1. My daughter Emily moved to Rochester a year ago after being away for quite a few years.
2. MinnPost included me in a grant from the Bremer Foundation to do reporting about young people in rural Minnesota.

Last week I was able to use both of those justifications to go to the southern part of the state. Mrs. D and I met Emily at her house and then we drove about 30 miles farther to Fountain, which is one of the trailheads for the Root River bike trail.

The trail begins in open fields

The trail starts on the edge of town and goes through some rolling farmland before descending into the Root River Valley.

Even though the sun was shining, the trail was very wet after a hard rain during the night. We immediately had brown water spots all over our backs.

Mrs. D and Emily

The scenery is beautiful — green and lush. Because it was a weekday, there wasn’t a lot of other bike traffic.


After winding 11 miles through the forested valley, we emerged in Lanesboro, a small town that looks like a small town should.

Everybody seems to love Lanesboro and it appears from time to time on “best towns” lists. Recently it was featured on Yahoo Travel’s “Prettiest Towns”.

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The trail was closed for bridge repair a couple of miles later, so we turned around a little earlier than planned and headed back.

After stopping to do a little window-shopping on the way back through Lanesboro, we had still managed a nice 26 miles by the time we returned to Fountain.

The total length of the trail is 42 miles from Fountain to Houston. Go here for more info and a great map. Plus there’s an 18-mile spur trail called the Harmony-Preston trail that heads southward from about half-way between Fountain and Lanesboro. I think next time I’ll start in Lanesboro and do a 62-mile round-trip to Houston and back.

It’s a great ride, no matter what part of the trail you’re on.

After we returned to Rochester and had lunch, I took off for Owatonna to shoot some video for MinnPost. It was a great day and I might never have done it without my two new reasons for getting off my butt and on the road.