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Bread & Ink

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Bay Lake, Minnesota: The most beautiful place on earth

We’ve said goodbye to summer in Minnesota and despite the sometimes crippling heat & humidity, it was another perfect season with friends & family. Here are some of the highlights.

Summer in Minnesota Is…

Ten hours at the Minnesota State Fair

Eating breakfast on the patio

Eating breakfast on the patio

Swimming at Lake Harriet

Spending a hot day at the water park

Getting ice cream all over your face

Lazy afternoons at the farm

Picnics in the backyard

Fruit Pizza cooked on the grill

Spending a week at the lake

Growing watermelons from seed

Spending the day with 210,000 of your fellow Minnesotans

Getting a nice tan

Relaxing with a drink before dinner

Al fresco dinning with old friends

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After almost 11 months on & off the road!

The journey is over! We are back in Minnesota! Dan insisted on a picture of the contents of our car to compare with the one we took the night we left for Portland last September. Notice the beer in front. We couldn’t leave the Northwest without bringing home a few souvenirs.

The car ride from Washington to Minnesota was long and exhausting. 6 states in 3 days!  It feels good to be off the road even though I am feeling a bit of culture shock. I’ll post some thoughts on that soon. Below are photos from quick detours to Little Big Horn Battlefield & Badlands National Park. Enjoy!

Montana's native grasses

Little Big Horn

This is why they call it "Big Sky Country"

The Badlands

We have said farewell to the Pacific Northwest and are currently on our way back to Minnesota. Below are pictures from an amazing 4th of July weekend on Lopez Island in the San Juans north of Seattle. It was a weekend of eating, drinking & talking, playing Uno, walking along the beach & watching fireworks over the Pacific. Dan and Dave made amazing breakfasts & dinners with food we picked up from the island farmers market and farm stands – roast lamb, risotto, roasted veggies, clams & spaghetti, poached eggs over mushrooms. . . it was unbelievable. It was a wonderful end to our time out West.

A quiet beach just five minutes from our cabin

Dan and Dave did the cooking

Niki & I did the eating

It’s hard to believe that our West Coast Adventure will be over in one week. I really don’t know how I feel right now. Sad? Excited? Tired? I’ve been so many places in the past two months and felt so many different emotions that I think my powers of contemplation are temporarily broken. It might take some time to process everything. So I won’t attempt reflections until the actual end of the trip. In the meantime, here are a few photos from an afternoon in Carkeek Park in northwest Seattle.

The Olympic Peninsula is just an amazingly beautiful place with an unbelievable combination of mountains, forests, rain forests, ocean harbors, lakes, rivers and waterfalls. Having spent eight months in the Pacific Northwest, I thought I’d seen evergreen trees. But the evergreen trees on the peninsula are breathtaking. And so green. Crazy green. I loved it.

We drove around the southern end of the peninsula and up the western side to the Hoh Rain Forest. The forest gets 12 to 14 feet of rain every year! Lucky for us, it was warm and sunny the day we were there.

This would be a great place for camping and back packing. I was sorry we didn’t have more than an hour to spend in the park.

We also drove through Forks, WA which is the town where the Twilight books take place. I didn’t take any pictures there, but it was quite a trip. No vampires to be seen (it was an uncharacteristically sunny day) but lots and lots of preteen girls and their families. I had heard that Forks was capitalizing on the popularity of the books, but I really wasn’t prepared for the reality of it. Twilight memorabilia stores and tours offered everywhere. I got out of the car to walk around and overheard things like, “Is this the road to La Push?” and “Is there any room on tomorrow’s Volturi Tour?” If you’ve read the books or seen the movies, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It was a little bizarre.

We stayed the night in Port Angeles and then spent Sunday morning in Olympic National Park. The drive up to Hurricane Ridge was beautiful, but it was too foggy to see any mountains when we reached the top.

Our weekend on the peninsula wasn’t very carefully planned. We really enjoyed ourselves, but I wish we’d had more time to explore and do some hiking.

This was my favorite spot on the peninsula.

I could have stood here for hours.

We rounded out the day visiting family friends in Tacoma before heading back to Seattle.

We took a quick trip to Crater Lake on our way back North. It was absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately, it was also snowing so we couldn't see all the way across the lake. It looked like Christmas in Minnesota instead of June in Oregon.

Another favorite stop on our California Adventure was Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Humboldt is a beautiful park, home to the Avenue of the Giants and the Rockefeller Forest Grove. The campgrounds here are very different from most state parks. There’s a lot of open space between campsites since the tree branches are much higher up. The sun’s light and warmth are blocked and it gets very cold at night. We spent two nights in the more remote Albee Creek campground, 5 miles down a one-lane road that curved crazily around the trees. Camping any earlier in the year would have been pretty cold & uncomfortable.

Redwood trees have grown in Northern California for at least 20 million years. They once covered approximately 2,000,000 acres. Today, 95% of all old growth redwoods have been logged and 38,982 acres are preserved by the state & national park systems. These trees are huge. The average in Humboldt is 150 to 250 feet, although some have grown as tall as 370 feet. And they are mind bogglingly old. We stood next to a tree that has been alive for 1,500 years.  These trees thrive in Northern California because the climate is perfect with heavy rains in winter and persistent fog in summer.

Before we visited the Redwoods, I hadn’t given much thought to the idea of preservation. To preserve something is to keep it in stasis, to protect it from any change. But what the National Parks are trying to preserve is not nature under glass. In the Redwood forests, if a tree dies the rangers do not set up support beams to prevent it from falling. Once a tree falls, it is left alone to become a “nurse tree”. It decays naturally and provides necessary organic material to the other plants and animals in the forest. Preservation here means keeping human influence out of the equation. The natural world knows how to take care of itself much better than we do.

The redwoods are such a small piece of our planet, yet they are so unique and important and fascinating. We walked among trees that were here before the Magna Carta, before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, before the events at Lexington & Concord. It gives you a strange and startling perspective on mankind’s place in our natural history.

Banana Slug!