Archive for July, 2013

Great Lakes, Tall Ships

Coming In IP

What is it about Tall Ships® that is so enchanting?  Is it the history?  The romance?  Or maybe it’s the danger; this week alone one sank off the coast of Ireland and another caught fire after being struck by lightning.  Whatever the attraction, you could find license plates from just about every state and Canadian province in Duluth, Minnesota last night as the 2013 Tall Ships® Festival kicked off.

Schooner Hindu IP

Okay, perhaps it’s not just the danger, but the love of speed.  This summer the Great Lakes are giving viewers the photo op of a lifetime; groups of Tall Ships® racing from festival to festival.  If you’ve ever seen one of them in person, imagine what it would look like to have nine of them sailing around you.

Sails Down IP

When they leave the city at noon on Monday, seven of them will be taking part in the Tall Ships Challenge®, racing 316 miles in four days across the length of Lake Superior to get to White Fish Bay in Michigan.   Until then, the festival is estimated to bring a quarter of a million spectators at a projected $15,000,000 economic impact.

Coming Under IP

Flag Unfurled IP

While the vessels are in port they will offer on-board tours and two hour sail-away trips.  This year’s festival is commemorating the military events of the War of 1812, so there will be period-specific activities and many costumes, food, and entertainment.

Big Flag IP

The event is slated as the biggest one of the year for Duluth, and it’s easy to see why.  For a list of events and entertainment, you can check the website.  I personally recommend touring the ships, having a picture or two with your favorite character, and definitely don’t miss Martin Zellar and the Hardways Saturday night; they’re the pride of the state.

THE Pirate IP

And if you happen to see a tall blonde guy named Terry Mattson, tell him thank you.  Without the countless hours put in by the President/CEO and his staff, this event would never have come to fruition.  So to you, Visit Duluth staff and support, thank you and have a great festival!

Tall Ship SPI IP


9 Ways to Soothe Summer’s Sizzle

Hawaiian LagoonI know a lot of people are enjoying the sweltering heat we’re experiencing, but I am definitely not one of them.  I reside “Up North” for a reason, and a triple digit heat index is not one of them.  Now, don’t start ranting about how it’s summer and it’s supposed to be warm; I’m well aware of the page on the calendar.  Yes, I would prefer that it was snowing and below zero.  That is why I live here.  So if you are like me (dwelling in a century-old house with radiators and no central air) and you’re looking for some ways to cool down in this heat wave, here are some ideas.

Close up your house.  Yes, that sounds kind of crazy, but proper window/door management can be a life saver.  By closing the windows and drapes, you can keep out the rays of the sun and the hot air, reducing your inside temps tremendously.  When it cools off at night, open them up and air out.

Invest in ceiling fans.  I know interior decorators on those do-it-yourself shows hate them.  But you know they’re all living with central air, right?!  For us poor schmucks that are left to suffer, ceiling fans can circulate the air and make things much more comfortable.  Just make sure the size is right for your room dimensions (check out for tips), and that the blades are running counter clockwise in the summer–switching to clockwise in the winter.

Avoid the oven and stove as much as possible.  Salads are always a great go-to in the heat.  Experiment with some homemade dressings to mix things up a bit.  We buy a ton of fresh fruit this time of year.  Whatever we can’t consume right away gets chopped, flash frozen, and bagged up in smoothie bags.  Talk about fast food.  Just grab a bag out of the freezer, add it to the blender with yogurt, a little milk or juice, and maybe a handful of spinach, and voila!  Don’t forget about the crock pot and grill; you can get pretty creative out there.  We grill extra veggies and use them the next day, maybe for grilled pizza…yep, pizza.

It probably goes without saying, but staying hydrated is crucial in the sweltering heat.  Try to avoid (or at least reduce) alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks, as they can actually work to dehydrate you.  I have discovered some new favorites this year; the Crystal Light “Mocktail” line is a nice alternative to plain water.  With delicious flavors like Appletini, Mojito, Peach Bellini, and Margarita, you won’t even miss the liquor!

  • Dress the part—opt for loose-fitting, light colored natural fabrics like cotton.
  • Invest in a window fan to help get the hot air out (works better than just bringing cool air in).
  • Try using a box fan with a bowl of ice in front of it—again, sounds crazy, but it brings relief.
  • Run cold water over your wrists or use a spray bottle of water from the fridge to mist yourself.
  • Appliances, small electronics, and standard light bulbs can create extra heat in your house—turn ‘em off!

And if all else fails think about this—there’s just over five months until Christmas!  Stay cool and summer on.

Fringed and Feathered Friends

Duck at Rest

We had a little excitement today on our morning walk.  As the Schnauzer and I rounded the corner, I spotted a duck resting in the grass.  I pulled the leash in and kept the dog close to me, so as not to frighten our feathered friend.  Then I noticed a neighbor girl, clad in footie pajamas, intently watching the mallard as well.  I thought maybe it was hurt, as it just examined us and waddled around a bit, but after a minute he flew across the street.

Close up

Fritz and I resumed our duty and continued on.  When we had made our loop, coming back to the spot to which the duck had flown for safe haven, I crossed the street so as not to scare it away.  He lay in the cool, damp morning grass, and watched as the traffic passed by.  The neighbor girl had run home, returning on her bike, now clad in helmet and glitter shoes over her footies.  Apparently this duck was quite a draw.

Duck in Flight

I brought the dog back into the house and grabbed my trusty Canon.  For some reason I was almost sneaking back around the corner.  Why I’m not sure, since my two-legged friend was whizzing back and forth, handlebar fringe flying in the breeze, up and down the sidewalk.  Clearly the duck was used to urban noise.  I got a couple of pictures of him resting before he flew across the street to the park.  He really did have beautiful colors and markings.

Duck under Tree

I switched lenses and zoomed-in as he made his way around the tall pines in the park.  Occasionally he would stop and look at me, but he never seemed to be afraid.  After a little while the mallard waddled away, heading for the creek that runs through the park; perhaps looking for his friends.    I made my way back across the street.  My two-legged friend was off.  She was a vision of fringe, flying in the breeze.

Jammy Bikin'

Yooper Musings from Minnesota

I was going to title this post, “Say yah to da U.P., eh” but I think there may be a copyright on that phrase!  It was on a bumper sticker I had for years.  In case you aren’t from around here, the U.P. is Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  The folks who live there are Yoopers, and pretty much salt of the earth kind of people.  I know, I come from a long line of them.

The Deere

Most people, when you mention Michigan, have an image like this one, bitter cold and lots of snow.  Yes it is true they get nearly a couple hundred inches on average, but Yoopers are tough folks and they take it all in stride.

Doe and Fawns

There’s a lighter side to the U.P., like this image of a doe and her twin fawns.  They were taking a break to have a snack in my brother’s yard while we visited.  Apparently the Yooper deer are not shy.  They also like to do a lot of road-crossing, so be alert if you’re driving around up there.

The Porkies

This shot is of the Porcupine Mountains on the western side of the state.  The locals refer to them as The Porkies and spend time hiking around, agate hunting, and of course checking out the numerous mine sites and waterfalls.  It is also home to Summit Peak Observation Tower, one of the highest points in the state.  On a clear day you can see across thousands of acres of virgin forest to Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands.

Houghton Hancock

Heading north to the cities of Houghton and Hancock you can travel over a working lift bridge.  These cities are great for shopping, dining, and numerous other activities.  Hancock is the home of Finlandia University–and you’ll find street signs in both Finnish and English.  Houghton houses Michigan Technological University, and a very active college population.

Lake MI

The U.P. is nestled in between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.  I know it’s not what most people envision as traditional leisure vacation, but the beaches really can be quite nice.  Lake Michigan is warmer and has some great sandy areas for relaxing.  And if you’re a waterfall buff, check out Marquette County, home of 77 waterfalls!

Soo Locks

As the daughter of a Great Lakes Captain, I’ve gotten to take some trips across the lakes on the big ore/grain boats that pass through the Soo Locks.  In case you’re unfamiliar with them, the Locks provide safe passage between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes.  The St. Marys River that connects them has a 21 foot drop–a little treacherous for passage I’d say!  So the Locks give relief and  safety to the many ships passing through.  It also leads to the wreckage of the Edmund Fitzgerald, yes, of the famous Gordon Lightfoot song!

Well there you have it.  A little insight into the world of the Yooper.  As the only person in my family born out of the U.P., I have the privilege of seeing it both as one of them and an outsider at the same time.  I will always love pasties (pronounced pass-tee), the meat pies with potatoes, carrots, onion, and rutabaga.  And mojakka (moy-uh-kuh), Finnish stew.  And no matter how old I get, I will always love a good sauna (sow-nuh…rhymes with COW, not SAW); and cringe when I hear it mispronounced.  Because in my heart, I’ll always be a wannabe Yooper.