It has become my tradition to end my blog for the year with a picture from each month. Last year, it was mostly family pictures, so in January, I decided that the photos from this year would be mostly just landscapes and such. I did have to deviate from my plan once or twice.
This first picture is from a trip I took with my Bible study friends to a vacation home in northern Minnesota. We just drove up for an overnight to watch the Viking’s playoff game. (They lost.) None of us are exactly football aficionados, but we like it (and each other) enough to enjoy the time away to cheer them on. If you think it looks like it’s frighteningly cold, your eyes do not deceive you. I think the temps were in the sub-zero range. I only stepped outside long enough to take this picture. The other girls were more ambitious and went out for a walk on the lake. BRRRR!
Since I’m using this blog post to share meaningful and memorable parts of my year, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share a picture to recognize my husband John’s retirement, thus no landscape. The new owner, Dr. Russ Osnes, and John shook hands in the exam room to seal the deal. (Don’t worry, we didn’t forget the legal paperwork.)
The March photo is from John’s retirement party, held just three days before the coronavirus lockdown; John is with his brother, Jim, and his sisters, Peggy and Virginia. John had his optometric practice for 42 years, so his retirement is kind of a big deal.
April’s picture has to be one of my favorites for the year. Since Easter was so unique this year with quarantine in place, I offered to take front porch pictures (at a safe distance) for my neighbors to have as a reminder of this historic time. (Good or bad, it’s still historic.) And then, it went and SNOWED on Easter Sunday. Not just a little bit, but 11.6 inches! This picture is of our next-door neighbors who, sadly, moved away in October. (I’m not sure they were so sad, but we were.)
In May, we FINALLY got to visit our son and his family in Wisconsin. We hadn’t seen them since the retirement party, and we were missing those grandkids like crazy! We went on a walk together through a marshy area. I just found out this is private land that the owners allow the public to use, except for in the fall when it’s closed for hunting. (Nice, huh?) It’s such a beautiful area, and we even saw two great horned owls during our trek.
By June, I needed to escape all the corona craziness for a bit. Our son and his family had rented a VRBO studio apartment in May, and it looked like a fun place for a get-away. There were a couple of available dates left in June, which coincidentally started the day after my 65th birthday. I booked it and told John it was his birthday present to me; thank you very much. On our first morning there, I couldn’t sleep, so I got up around 5:00 to sit outside and see if I could catch the sunrise. I realized after a few minutes that we weren’t in a location to see the sun peek over the horizon, but it’s beauty filled the sky and ALMOST turned me into a morning person. It was so quiet and peaceful, and a couple of deer walked through, gathering their breakfast. It was probably around 6:00 AM when I went inside and back to bed (because I’m really more of a night owl). This picture looks a little blurry to me, but I just have to share the gorgeous morning light.
In July, a couple of our grandkids came to stay for a few days. It was HOT, as July is prone to be here in Minnesota. So, we headed to the closest state park where there is a little river (or is it a stream?) that runs through it, complete with a small waterfall. We followed the path through the playground, down to the waterfall, where the kids and I played in the water under the falls while John sat by the edge guarding our highly prized beach towels. Then, we decided it would be fun (and probably prudent) to get away from the other swimmers, so we walked downstream a bit to explore. It reminded me of when I was a kid, on vacation with my parents, and we’d stop along a river for a picnic lunch. After lunch, we had a little time to walk across the rocks in the river. We had so much fun, but it was a lot more exhausting than I remember it being when I was younger. Go figure.
August was our first time back on an airplane since everything shut down. Though we started with plans to go to Monterey, California, the smoke density from the horrible fires and the outside only dining restrictions in place made us change our minds at the last minute. We went to the Oregon coast instead. I had specifically asked the reservation agent about five times if our room had an ocean view (because that was important to me), and when we got there, we realized we weren’t even on the same side of the road as the ocean! As it turns out, the reservation agent worked from a Florida office and was clueless, but the manager found us a room where we could at least see the ocean–or the bay as the case may be. Coincidently, the resort where we stayed was one I stayed at with my parents when I was younger.
In the travel mode now, we took a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in September. What a gorgeous area! This spot near Munising, MI, is known as Miner’s Castle. I was in awe! We’ll need to go back someday.
We didn’t take any trips in October unless you count a leaf-peeping day trip over the border into Wisconsin. It was a beautiful day, the colors were gorgeous, and our stop for lunch at the Stockholm Pie and General Store made for a perfect day.
We finally made it to California in November to spend some time with my brothers and sisters-in-law. After our family weekend, we drove up to San Francisco and crossed the Golden Gate to stay in Mill Valley, home to Muir Woods National Monument. It’s a curvy, skinny, mountainous road to Muir Woods, but it’s definitely worth the trip. A beautiful path through a forest of Redwoods awaits visitors, making you feel like you’ve entered a magical land. If you find Redwoods as fascinating and beautiful as I do, you might enjoy the book The Wild Trees. It tells the story of some very colorful characters who ascended the trees and learned all kinds of cool stuff. You won’t believe what all is up in the canopy of these trees.
By now, you’ve probably caught onto the fact that being near water and nature is my happy place. It has been a weird weather year here in Minnesota. In addition to that April blizzard, we got around 7 inches of snow on October 20, and then, come December, it was cold (but warmer than usual) and dry. If we have to exercise, we might as well do it somewhere with a great view. Our local county park has a beautiful path along the lake, and on this day in December, the sun was shining beautifully on the bluffs along the lake. The ice was just starting to form on the lake–much later than usual, which bothered lots of people, but I wasn’t one of them.
God has indeed created a beautiful world. All in all, despite the pandemic, we were able to enjoy much of His amazing creation. Just the same, I’m praying for an end to coronavirus in 2021. Happy New Year!