Archive for October, 2013

Winds of Change

Small Spray

Change.  Small word, big fear.  Well, for most people anyway.  I try to look at it as inevitable, the only other sure thing in this world besides death. I also believe that if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.  In other words, if something’s not working for you, it’s up to you to make the adjustments, don’t just try to ride out the wave.

Curlers

Last week we had a doozie of a storm on Lake Superior.  Living near the largest body of freshwater in the world has some pros and cons.  But one thing is certain, the weather is always changing.  When the sky turned gray I grabbed my trusty Canon and headed for the beach.  As the daughter of a Great Lakes Captain, I have always looked to the water; for solace, answers, comfort.  I appreciate the many moods and changes, and have much respect for its great power.

Rocky Foreground

I’ve heard in the past that wherever a person is, whatever their situation, it’s because that is what they want.  I think that’s kind of over-simplifying things, but for the most part fairly true.  Life is all about choices, and the choices we make move us in one direction or another.  You know, like hurtling at break-neck speed toward a cresting wave with only a camera for protection.

Hillside Lighthouse

Whatever your feelings are about change, it’s bound to happen.  You can yell and scream, make a splash, but it’s still going to come.  Big changes are coming for us next week.  What will it mean?  Ride the tide?  Crash the rocks?  I guess you’ll just have to hold on tight until next week!

Splashing Rocks

**All pictures taken by author.  They are all original full color and untouched by computer programs.

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Planning To Give

Hats, Mittens, and Scarves

If you’re like me you cringe when you walk into a store in October and see the Christmas decorations out already.  I’m all about the holidays, but I don’t want to skip the ones between now and the end of December!  However, there are some things that need to be brought up in advance because some planning is required.

I wrote in an earlier post about a friend of mine, Bill Foussard, who is the soul of Meals on Wheels in the St. Paul area of Minnesota.  He is one of those guys with a heart of gold and his actions speak volumes.  Bill fed nearly twenty thousand people last year for Thanksgiving.  Why bring this up now?  Because it’s getting to be that time of the year.  You don’t just wake up one day and cook tens of thousands of dinners for some folks in need.  It requires planning and a lot of volunteers.  These people are needed in advance, not just on Thanksgiving Day.  Who could you help this year?

Another thing to think about is holiday parties.  Are you planning one?  Have you already purchased your centerpieces?  If not, this story and pictures could help.  Last year we decided to forgo the usual greenery at our Minnesota Lodging Association holiday banquet.  Instead we purchased baskets to decorate and filled them with nonperishable food.

I made a detailed spreadsheet, checked and rechecked food prices at the wholesale club, and then made one big purchase.  We bought baskets from a craft store when they went on sale and used tissue for decoration.  By doing this, we were able to donate over 400 pounds of food to local food shelves.  And no one argued over who got to keep the centerpiece.  Another bonus, now we have baskets to reuse this year.

What else could you do?  How about adding some mittens, scarves, and hats to the baskets?  They could be donated to local churches or community organizations that reach out to the homeless.  I rarely leave home without a skein of yarn and a crochet hook.  (I needed something to keep my hands busy after I quit smoking in 2007.  This is a much better habit!)  This year there will be 75 handmade pieces in the baskets with the food.  There are a lot of people out there like me.  Be creative.  Plan ahead.  Most of all; get involved.

Chasing Sun and Fall Colors

Scenic BywayLast night The Hub and I took a drive before dinner.  We went along Skyline Parkway, a local Scenic Byway through Duluth, up to Hawk’s Ridge and Seven Bridges Road.  With camera bag in hand, we set out to chase the sun and capture a few shots of the fall colors before they disappear.

Bridge

Up The Shore

Last year we had a devastating flood in Duluth that wiped out many roads and bridges.  This part of Seven bridges Road is still being fixed around Amity Creek (yes, I say “crick” when I read/write this) but we were able to get pretty far before it was closed off.  You can see the beautiful colors looking north along Lake Superior.

 Waterfall on Amity Creek

Our adventure didn’t last long, courtesy of earlier sunsets, and we were forced to call it a night and head back for supper.  I decided that if I was up early enough the next day I would try and get some more shots.  Luckily I’m a morning person.

Bridge through Shrubs

Just past 6:30 I rolled one eye at the clock.  Glancing around the room I was able to see that it was still dark out, the sun was yet to rise.  I jumped up and ran for my camera bag, barely taking time to brush my teeth before running out the door.  You know, just in case I had to talk to someone.

Enger Drive

I raced the impending ball of fire across town to get up to Enger Park, the highest point at which you can see everything in the cityUpon reaching the entrance I found the gate not yet open.  The sign said closed from ten at night to six in the morning.  I figured that meant it was open.  I hopped out of the car, flung my camera bag around my shoulder, and took off up the hill, hoping that my car would still be there when I returned.

Birch

Brush Turning

As I hurried up the road to the park I couldn’t help but hear a great deal of rustling in the fallen leaves.  I tried to pay more attention to my pounding heart and reassured myself frequently that it was just squirrels.  Duluth is an urban forest where bears, wild cats, and wolves are known to hang out.  I crossed my fingers again that these were just squirrels.

Enger

When I got around the corner, the sun was just popping up, absolutely illuminating Enger Tower perfectly.  Some good shots there, then off to the path overlooking the city; breathtaking.  I could see the brush turning colors looking toward the Aerial Lift Bridge in Canal Park and the opposite direction over west Duluth.  There were some flowers trying unsuccessfully to hang on to the last of their petals.

Yellow TreeLeaves on PathThere was an eeriness being up there all alone, or at least without other people.  I felt very aware of every movement around me.  I snapped a few more photos of the naked birch, an empty path, and even looking up into a bright yellow tree before an employee drove up.  I made my way back down the drive,  relieved when my car came into view.

Looking over West Duluth

Flowers

Rose Garden

Crossing back through downtown I noticed more colors in Leif Erickson Park.  I hiked around a little more, getting a great view of the rose garden in autumn splendor and a good shot of the Lakewalk along Lake Superior.  I wondered why I was getting odd looks form the early morning walkers.  Perhaps it was because even though I brushed my teeth, I forgot to comb my hair.  Oh well, at least I changed out of my pajamas.     

Lakewalk Thru LE

Large and In Charge

Charging UnitIn the not-so-distant past, a six foot structure for plugging in electric vehicles might have looked like something out of a futuristic cartoon.  But this week in Duluth, Minnesota the Holiday Inn & Suites unveiled just such an investment; the first privately funded one of its kind in the city.  With the ability to charge four vehicles at a time, the hotel has made a clear statement of its commitment to sustainability.

The U.S. Department of Energy lists 77 non-residential charging stations in Minnesota.  Many of these are public parking facilities that collect fees for use of the charging station.  However, with over 100,000 plug-ins operating in the United States, it makes sense that hotels get on board.

The Holiday Inn & Suites is the largest full-service hotel in Duluth.  Their downtown location is perfect for a day-traveler who needs a charge as well as the many overnight tourists who are drawn to the area on Lake Superior.  And the hotel’s location in the city’s skywalk system makes it an ideal charging location for anyone attending events at the convention center or around downtown.

Cars in StationThe two stations installed at the hotel are somewhat of a toe-dip into the charging pool.  General Manager Gerry Goldfarb says they are prepared to add more as demand grows.  “We’re always upgrading our facilities to ensure our guests and others enjoy every modern convenience available,” said Goldfarb.  “These electric car charging stations are just another way of expanding on that commitment.”

The hotel’s charging stations are the newest models manufactured by ChargePoint.   Based in California, ChargePoint boasts the largest network of electric vehicle charging stations, operating in over a dozen countries.  They can fully charge an electric battery in four to eight hours, depending on the type of vehicle.

March Snow 2013The stations are set up to be very user-friendly.  They are free for hotel guests, but other users can pay at the charging port by use of a video screen that communicates in English, French, and Spanish.  They accept credit cards or ChargePoint passes.  Another great feature of the charging station is the fact that the buttons can be operated with gloves on.  If you’ve ever experienced winter in Duluth you know that is an important feature.