Snow Bird Christmas

We went to Des Moines for Christmas, and enjoyed some pretty comfortable temperatures. As soon as we got there, we headed straight to the new playground at Witmer Park.

It was such a nice chance to get in some good quality time.

Christmas Eve was so pleasant that we decided to take a nice hike.

Henry was tempted by the ice sheets on the pond, so while the crew played there, I headed up to the nearby Art Center.

Always nice to see the Goldsworthy eggs there. They remind me of ‘recess’ time during Day Camps when I was working in the Education Wing. Kids loved climbing into them.

I enjoyed the Justin Favela temporary exhibit, especially this giant Taco Pizza with a slice missing.

Oh, here it is!

There were no kids at any of our celebrations this year, so the boys had to kind of entertain themselves. They were great sports, though.

Joe and I took a night to go out on a date together, and had some pretty fun places to choose from. Even though we arrived 8 minutes before Bellhop was going to close, they took meticulous care of us.

After days of basking in the sunshine on the front porch, it was a bit disheartening to come back home to frickin’ freezing temps. This was my walk home from the grocery store.

To deal with the shift in temps, a trip to the Zoo was in order. It allowed us to roam the Tropics Trail and chat with Emma and Nora at the same time.

The boys did a good job showing Nora the secret kid passageways.

She, like little Charlie, was most into the ‘fishies!’

I have a new appreciation of the wood required for beaver dens, after the destruction up at the cabin.

Otters!

The snow monkeys were snacking on old Christmas trees, which was pretty great.

I think we tuckered Henry out, because when it was time to sort and fold all the laundry from the trip, he just snuggled on up.

My whole Winter Break was filled with glorious days. I loved loved loved it all, especially the times I got to connect with the people in my life.

My birthday really took the cake, though!

It was minute after minute of all my favorite stuff, and I am so grateful for Joe and the boys, and how good they are to me. After a 90 minute hot yoga session, I was all warmed up for some -7 temps while ice skating. For some reason there wasn’t anyone else at the park…

After lunch at home, we headed to the Walker Art Center.

I was specifically interested in the Julie Mehretu exhibit, and it did not disappoint.

Henry is amazing to look at art with, because he’s so observant and imaginative. He said, “There’s so much to see in art!”

In an upstairs gallery, there was a great frost buildup along the bottom of the door. Good to know I’m not the only one who gets a little lazy about weather-proofing doors.

There was a fun fort-type exhibit that we got to crawl into. I always like when there’s some interaction built in to exhibits.

Thanks to Joe for his documenting of our experience.

Here’s to 35! It’s definitely off to a happy start.

Our Winter Wonderland

I was informed this week that it has been a lot of weeks since my last blog.

“Certainly not!” I replied…but it turns out I just uploaded photos, but never actually wrote or published the post.

My apologies! It was a lot of birthday photos, so perhaps you can ask to see them at Christmas, or maybe I’ll finish it up at some point and do a retrospective. But for now, let’s talk SNOW!

After school on Friday, we kicked off our Winter Break with a 5-hour drive in the dark up Hwy 61. It was long, and ending by driving the Gunflint Trail at 9pm was a bit spooky, but it was all worth it once we arrived at Bearskin Lodge.

This was the view from our bedroom windows

We were greeted by friendly faces and a roaring fire!

The communal area of the lodge had games and puzzles galore, which Henry really dug into.

Of course, the emphasis of the weekend was cross-country skiing.

They went on many-hour runs over hill and dale…and frozen lakes. They were very proud to have made it to the Boundary Waters on their skis.

Most of the group does classic style, but Joe does both classic and skate, so he took a couple of opportunities for solo skate runs.

During one of those windows, a few of us drove into Grand Marais to explore the town and catch up with a good friend and her lovely daughter.

Henry naturally found the highest point around and climbed it. He must be part goat.

Everything around the harbor was coated in a shell of ice. It was so cool! Down by Charlie’s feet in this next shot you can see the individual blades of grass encased in it.

There were icicles to kick, but the tricky part was figuring out how to get down the icy slope without injury. Butts ended up being the preferred method.

The sun setting behind the water was simply a delight to witness

My attempt to capture the full moon behind the pine trees on the Gunflint in a moving car.

The plan was not that the boys and I would ski, but Henry wanted to, and Charlie and I sort of hemmed and hawed before agreeing to give it a try. It helped knowing Melinda was going to ski with us as well, and she’s 8 months pregnant. You can see my hesitation below as we just get our skis on. “Is this right?!”

Oh my goodness. I am SO glad I went out there. We had a rough, hilly start with lots of falls and some crying, but once we got our ski legs, it was pure joy.

Joe was very excited about our being converts!

Jeremy invited Henry and I to try out a bit of lake trekking, which was beautiful

Baby’s first ski!

When the cold sent us back to the lodge, the Hot Tub Hus was waiting for us. That was the most delightful part of the weekend for me. Here we are heading over there.

Most of the time was down time, hanging by the fire, puzzling, gaming, chatting, eating.

Here was the hang out area

The boys received some classic Game Boy games from Jake, and opened them on the drive up, so Charlie led us through the finer points of different games and consoles.

It was such a gorgeous weekend, and the company was outstanding. They all left right away Monday morning, though, so it felt easy to leave once the cabin was empty. The long drive back was not enticing, but since it was daytime, we were able to enjoy the scenery and make stops along the way. We spent a long time oogling all of the fun stuff in a friend’s store in Grand Marais, and popped through Lutsen downhill ski area to see what that looked like.

My hopes for the drive were to get in a little hike, see the Split Rock Lighthouse and experience frozen Gooseberry Falls. Check. Check Check.

The lighthouse and visitor’s center were closed for the week, but the shoreline was open

It was super satisfying to shatter the ice casings off of the boulders, and the boys got very into it. Meanwhile, Joe found a cave and played with ice photography.

It was hard to drag them away, but the next stop was nearby. Gooseberry is such a different experience in the winter! It was a little nerve-wracking with everything being so slippery, but it was all so beautiful.

Partially-frozen Waterfall from the side

It’s always a joy to adventure with these three, no matter where we go.