Storms, Sunshine and Smiles

I recently returned from a trip to Tampa, Florida.  This trip was the annual retreat for a dental study club I belong to.

For the second year in a row that my travels to Tampa were impacted by the weather.

Last year a snow storm caused a six hour delay in leaving Minnesota.  To make the most of my time, I walked around the airport.  Fun fact – if you walk to every gate of each concourse of Terminal One at MSP airport, it’s 11,266 steps and 4.6 miles.

This year, the weather in Minnesota was not a problem.  Unfortunately the weather in Florida was not so nice.  Due to strong storms and a tornado, our flight was diverted from Tampa to Melbourne, Florida (on the Atlantic side of the state) landing after 11pm.  The airport was closed, the crew was over their allowed flying time, and there was no other crew available.  After several hours, the airline eventually announced that we would be bused to Tampa but they were unable to tell us when that would happen.  So, at 1 am, with no rental cars available, we took a Lyft ride across the state.  Three and a half hours later, we finally arrived in Clearwater Beach!

Once there, we had a delightful weekend discussing all things dental, enjoying good food and walks on the beach.

On Saturday, we took a glass blowing class.  Great fun!

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George, the owner of Glass Crafters, taught us how to blow bulbs.  Using propane torches, glass frits and stringer and some “hot air”, we each had an opportunity to blow ten items. These could then be used as watering bulbs, ornaments, or just decorations. Some of our group had more hot air than I did.  Exploding bulbs make for some beautiful art!

Being very fragile, I was glad my bulbs survived the flight back to Minnesota intact.

To show them off, I cut the stems off, added bulb hangers, fused some white glass to make a mobile support, strung them with fishline and hung them in my sewing room.

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We had a great weekend, made many memories and a few crafts!

Vail – A Winter Wonderland

Okay, so I really prefer warm weather vacations.  However, having just returned from a week in Vail, Colorado, I will have to admit that the area was breathtakingly beautiful.  I hope to someday return in the summer to see what the mountain landscape looks like without all the snow.

Vail Village is a charming place, with cobblestone roads and picturesque ski lodges. Throughout the town are dozens of sculptures, wall murals and lighted decorations. My first day I spent about two hours walking around Vail Village, Lionshead Village, Cascade Village and Golden Peak.

This was our first week-long vacation in almost ten years where we were not staying someplace with a kitchen.  This meant no grocery shopping, no cooking and no dishes to wash! With restaurants abounding, each evening we selected a different place to eat.

  • Lancelot Restaurant – great weinerschnitzel
  • Almresi – here we had Austrian Hutessen – beef cooked on a flat-iron at the table, kind of a cross between grilling and sauteing
  • Up the Creek – awesome Arugula salad and Tortilla soup
  • Fall Line – the tastiest filet I have ever had!
  • Alpenrose – great German restaurant (forgot to take photos of the food here).Alpenrose

Not being a skier, I took my snowshoes along and went on several long walks.

My first trek was a guided walk through the Ford Botanical Gardens.  This walk was only about 2 miles total but was very educational. The naturalist gave some insights into the trees and plants that grow in the area.  Even though the average annual snowfall in Vail is 169 inches, the area is considered a high desert.  Due to the dry air, the snow sublimates rather than melts.  So, the amount of water available to plants is limited.  Even so, there are many lovely evergreens making the winter scenery prettier than in Minnesota with our deciduous trees.  110

On my subsequent snowshoeing walks, I headed each direction out of Vail Village.  The Gore Creek runs through Vail, so I followed the creek west one day and east the next day.  Each day, I walked for just under two miles and then headed back to the village.

For my final walk (without snowshoes), I rode Gondola One up the hill and then followed Gitalong Road and Vail Village Catwalk back down.  This path, with a few treks to get closer to some wildlife, was just under six miles in length.  Luckily it was downhill.  Unexpectedly, the downward movement made some of my muscles rather sore.

On my excursions I saw lots of wildlife as well.

We stayed at the Gasthof Gramshammer, which featured classic European ski lodge architecture.  Between a 2am fire alarm going off, the room thermostat stuck on high (we slept with the patio door open), and a constant humming noise, it was an interesting place to stay.   

Sunshine in St. Kitts

Spring Break has been a great escape from the snow of Minnesota.

Day One: MSP – MIA – SKBIMG_3215

We left behind the snow in our front yard…

Day Two:

…and after settling into our villa, we awoke to sun, sand and beautiful landscape.

Day Three: Tour of the Island

Overlooking the Southeast Peninsula of St. Kitts

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Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Ocean, Frigate’s Bay and Basseterre.

Basseterre’s sites and Wingfield Estate.

Romney Manor and Caribelle Batiks

 

Brimstone Hill Fortress

 

Convent Bay

Lots of Sheep

Day Four:

My Birthday – Time to relax in the sun

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Sunset Dinner in Frigate’s Bay

Day Five: More relaxation in the sun

And some really cute cats to play with.

Day Six:

Ferry to Nevis

First Hotel in the Caribbean and Bathhouse (the water was really, really hot!)

Montpelier Estate – really quaint hotel!

Hermitage Plantation Inn – another really nice hotel.

Lots of old churches – all still active.

Back in St. Kitt’s

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We have one more day of sunshine before heading to back to Minnesota.

Hopefully Spring will arrive soon.

Two weeks in three trips = four scarves

Living in Minnesota, the thought of hopping a plane on the weekend to go someplace warm is very inviting.  This year, I planned two trips to get away to warmer weather.  These trips, one to Clearwater Beach, Florida and one the San Francisco, were on two consecutive weekends.  Then a few days after the planned second trip, I had to make an unexpected trip to Houston.  So, that meant that in fifteen days I had three trips, including seven flights (totaling almost 2,000 miles) and numerous hours in airplanes and airports.

For me, this was a bit more travel than I would prefer.  To pass the time, I brought along some knitting and crocheting.  As a result, I was able to completed four scarves to donate.

Scarf One – Queen Anne’s Lace Crochet Scarf

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Trip One – Clearwater Beach, Florida

Scarf Two – Eyelash Yarn Knit Scarf

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Trip Two – San Francisco

Scarf Three – Cashmere Knit Scarf

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Trip Three – Houston

 

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Scarf Four – Varigated Yarn Knit Scarf

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I am looking forward to a few weeks with no need to travel!

“Throwing a girl fit”

Being a mom of four boys, I have flown with my children at various ages.  The youngest age was when my second son was only two weeks old and I needed to attend a meeting at the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in Atlanta.  But, other trips included a four week old to attend a national pediatric dental meeting, and various trips with the boys at ages younger than one year old.

So, I understand the anxiety of a mom having to fly with a young child and the worry about the unpredictable behavior that that children may exhibit when flying.

Yesterday,  I was returning from a stressful unexpected trip out of town and experienced a very sweet gesture by a new mom traveling with her daughter.  Before the flight took off, this mother came through the entire cabin of the plane and handed out baggies to every passenger (yep – everyone).  In the baggies were some gum, candies, ear plugs and a note.  The note read:

“Hello,
My name is Alice Rose.  I turned 4 months old on February 5, 2018.
I am flying with my mother and grandmother to Minnesota to surprise my great grandmother who turns 92 years old this coming week; and whom I have never met and who has never met me.
I promise that I will try and be good. But my mother is afraid that I will find the plane ride uncomfortable – and that I will be unpleasant – (as she says…”throwing a girl fit”).  I will try my best not to “throw a girl fit”. But, if I do, please forgive me.
Thank you so much
Alice Rose”

 

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This was a very kind gesture by a mom, and a very smart way to preempt any complaints about her child.  Everyone on the plane was very kind back to her and some sitting near her even offered to hold her daughter if the flight proved to be difficult.

Happily, little Alice Rose slept for the entire flight and we arrived in Minneapolis without even one complaint.

History 101, Summer 2017

Summer vacation is over, but it sure was fun. This past week was spent with my youngest sons visiting some of the historical places important in our countries independence.  Along the way, we took in several museums and walk around a few prestigious college campuses.

New Haven Connecticut

Points of Interest: Yale University, Yale Art Gallery, Felice Varini Perspectives  Mural Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, and Yale Center for British Art.

Providence, Rhode Island

Points of Interest: First Baptist Church of America, Rhode Island School of Design, RISD Museum, Brown University, State House, and numerous historical buildings.

Boston, Massachusetts

Points of Interest: Freedom Trail, Harvard, MIT, Mass General Museum of Medical History and Innovation, and fireworks from the Esplanade.

 

New York City

Points of Interest: Storm viewed from our hotel Rooftop Patio, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, including the Modern Native Fashion exhibit.

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It’s all Greek to Me

I have a very good friend who is originally from Greece.  A few years ago, we took a trip together and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sites and tasting the foods.

Today is her birthday – Happy Birthday Venetia!!

In honor of her birthday, I decided to make some Greek cuisine for dinner.

Our menu included (serves 3):img_1922

Kolokithopitta (Zucchini Pie)
1 zucchini, unpeeled and shredded
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 T Olive Oil
1 tsp parsley chopped
1/2 tsp dill weed, chopped
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup feta cheese, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
4 sheets filo pastry, cut in fourths
2 T butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Over low heat, saute the zucchini, onions and garlic in the oil until browned, stirring occasionally. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except the filo and butter.  Butter a 5×7 pan. On the bottom, place 8 pieces of filo dough, each sheet brushed with butter.  Spoon the zucchini mixture over the filo.  Cover with 8 more pieces of filo, each brushed with butter.  Brush the top with butter.  Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.  Cool slightly and cut into six pieces.

Salata (Greek Salad)
20 grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 cucumber, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 T Olive Oil
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 cup feta cheese, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
Combine all vegetables.  Serve with feta sprinkled on top. Most Greek salads have olives on top.  But, since I don’t like olives, I don’t have any in my refrigerator.

Psimeno Arni Pilafi (Baked Lamb Pilaf)
8 ounces lamb stew meat
1 T tomato paste
1 tsp oregano
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 T Olive Oil
1 cup brown rice
1 cup vegetable broth
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine tomato paste, oregano, garlic and oil.  Coat the chicken pieces with the mixture and place in a baking dish.  Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Add rice and broth.  Cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes.

Road Trip, Summer 2016

As a pediatric dentist, summer is always very busy.  But, it’s still nice to have some time away from the office. This year, my time off came in the form of a road trip to NYC.  My third son, Ben, will be attending Pratt Institute this fall to study Architecture.  So, we loaded up his college stuff and hit the road.

Day One: Minneapolis to Milwaukee
Beautiful sunset over a Wisonsin farm.

Our first stop was a visit to see my mother-in-law in Milwaukee.  After working until noon, we finished loading and headed out. Unfortunately, I had a horrible migraine that even Rizatriptan could not stop. Thankfully, my son could drive.

Sunrise over Lake Michigan.
Photo courtesy of my son, Dan.
Day Two: Milwaukee to Niagara
An early morning wake up was in order to take the 6am ferry from Milwaukee to Muskegon. Very relaxing start to our day (nap included) prior to driving across Michigan and part of Ontario.
The view from our hotel window.
Day Three: Niagara Falls
The Falls are always amazing to see and are a good reminder of God’s immense power.
If you visit Niagara, I would recommend dinner at Kasbah Mediterranean Qsine restaurant. Starting at 3pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, they offer a prix fixe option for $21 Canadian ($16.15 USD) per person.  The meal included an appetizer plate, soup or salad options, four entrees and desert.  Great food, great value!
Brooklyn Brownstone
Day Four: Niagara to Brooklyn
We set out in the morning to drive across the state of New York. Along the way we made a stop in Corning to have lunch with my sister-in-law, niece and her husband.
When we arrived in Brooklyn at 8pm, the outdoor temperature was 95 degrees. My son’s room, on the fourth floor of one of the historic Brooklyn brownstones, was even hotter!  After numerous trips up and down the stairs, we finally had everything unloaded. I was happy to head to an air conditioned hotel.  My son, however, spent his first night in Brooklyn in his really hot apartment.
Day Five: Brooklyn, Manhattan, NY
Morning shopping at Ikea, Target and a grocery store.
Lunch at Luigi’s.
Dinner at Juice Press.
Evening Harbor Lights Cruise.

Statue of Liberty
Manhattan Skyline
Pratt Institute entrance.
Photo was taken during our visit in April.
Jacket was definitely not needed this time.

Day Six:

Brooklyn to Pittsburg

With orientation starting in a few days and classes starting in a week, Ben, has some time to check out the city and get settled in to his apartment. Kinda makes his mom want to be young again so that she can have the same experience!

But, my youngest son, Dan, and I had a long drive back to Minnesota. So, time to say good bye and head west.

To break up the drive, we planned a few stops along the way.

Liberty Bell

Our first stop was in Philadelphia for a self guided Constitution Walking Tour. Dan has been fascinated by history since he was really young. So, this was an enjoyable stop.

Constitution Hall
Chocolate Overload!

The drive through central Pennsylvania was beautiful. I especially liked the old split stone farm houses that I saw along the way.

For our second stop, I was debating between Lancaster, PA or Hershey, PA. I thought my son would prefer Hershey, so that was where we headed.
Bad decision – way too commercial and far too many people!  I should have investigated this decision a bit more.


Day Seven: Pittsburgh to Chicago

Eight hours of driving and toll road, after toll road. I think this trip cost over $200 in tolls.  I wish I had known that the E-ZPass – probably would have saved a lot of $.

The Ledge

Rain storms off and on throughout the day, from showers to heavy downpours.  We finally made it to Chicago.

Not wanting to do too much, we settled on a ride up to the SkyDeck of the Willis Building. The Ledge is a glass balcony that extends four feet outside of the building on the 103rd floor.  That’s 1353 feet above the ground.  When you look down, you see the city below!

Day Eight: Chicago to Minneapolis

Our day started with a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry. Some of the exhibits we saw:
Coal Mine – history and technology of mining
U-505 Submarine – a German submarine that was captured during WWII
The Great Train Story – a massive model train display that includes Chicago and Seattle
Numbers in Nature – Mirror Maze – this was really fun!
Transportation Gallery – a flight simulator ride with Dan as the pilot and me as the gunner.  I only hit three targets.  But, it’s a bit hard aiming when you are flying upside down.  Dan will need a bit more practice before he joins that Air Force.

After a late afternoon stop in Madison for ice cream with my son, Sam, we arrived home at 10 pm. Happy to sleep in my own bed again.

Accomplishments:
2650 miles driven,
$223.10 in tolls paid,
Nine states and one Canadian province visited,
A few tense moments driving in unknown areas,
One son settled,
History experienced, and
Lots of photos and fun memories.