Upper Mississippi ValleyThis winter has been seemingly long.  We are into the second week of April, and this morning, as we headed out the door for work, there was a heavy, wet snow covering much of everything.  The slow drive into work with its heavy snow fall was punctuated here and there with flashes of lightening and cracks of thunder.

Don’t get me wrong, unless something goes radically wrong, this spring, my 32nd spring, will eventually turn into warmer weather with plants starting poke through the brown and grey landscape.

A shipment of fruit trees – apple, cherry, cold-tolerant peach, and plum trees – strawberry stolons, and asparagus and hops rhizomes – and a bundle of raspberry canes arrived three days ago.  The rhizomes/stolons are in the kitchen refrigerator taking up a bunch of room.  The trees and canes are still in their box, outside, under an eave of the house.  Our order of chickens will likely arrive next week – around the time state and federal taxes are due.  This year’s order of honeybees will be in late – most likely after May 1st.

Even with the impending arrival of spring and the associated outside activities of spring, I have not been really thinking of spring, instead I have been driving; mostly north and then south after a couple days.  Visiting my parents in Hibbing, visiting people in Duluth, looking out at Lake Superior.

Several weeks ago, I needed to be in Duluth, MN.  For those of you who have forgotten, Duluth was once my stomping ground.  I have many memories – fond and not so fond associated with the town.  Having sold our place in the area last summer, I had not been up to the old place very much in the last while.  I missed the town, the region, the lake and the general location.

My meet-up in Duluth was not until 9:30 AM, but having made up my mind the previous night, I was determined to make it to Duluth by sun-up.

3:30 AM on a Friday came too quickly.  My alarm pumped out SKRILLEX’s Bangarang; I was up and out of bed.   A quick breakfast and I headed up highway 61; I had packed my travel bag, cameras and miscellaneous things the night before.   In addition to the brief day-long trip in Duluth, I was having Dinner in Two Harbors.

Driving through Carlton, I could see to the east that the sky was getting ever-so-lighter; it might be the sun, or it might be the city illuminating the underside of a light cloud cover.  I pushed on toward Duluth.

I rolled into Canal Park, there was a sliver of light on the horizon.  I sipped my coffee for a bit.

The sunrise was gorgeous.  The entrance to the harbor had a bit of ice; the air was crisp, a very slight wind blew in off the lake.  Even though it was chilly, it made me smile.  I am still finding my place in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area; I will find it, it will simply take time.

The meet up went without a hitch; lunch was with my parents at Lake Avenue Cafe in the DeWitt Seitz Marketplace building.  We mused over how the restaurant had change a bit since we had first eaten there some twenty-one years ago.

My parents headed back to Hibbing; I headed up the shore to Gooseberry Falls State Park.  The falls were mostly frozen and the area was swamped with college students from Iowa.

Gooseberry Falls State Park - Bay

By this point, I had driven a mere 200 miles.  Back to Two Harbors are dinner with a friend of mine from high-school/early-college-years. The rest of the travel went something like Two Harbors to Duluth, Duluth to Hibbing, [end Friday] Hibbing to Crane Lake (via Angora, MN), then to (just outside) International Falls, back to Hibbing (via the Side Lake, MN) [end Saturday], down highway 65 to Mora, Mora to Hinckley, Hinckley to St. Paul.

Melissa had some things to attend to with friends in Racine, MN.  It was then off to Racine…and back to St. Paul [end Sunday].

The entire trip involved approximately four petrol refills, one roadside assistance for the Volkswagen (a solid road-side shoulder was not too solid), a few snacks, and many, many podcasts of Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell and Real Time with Bill Maher.

…and just this past weekend, I was up to the Iron Range, yet, again.