North Shore Thanksgiving

For the fifth year in a row, I spent the Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends at the wonderful Lutsen Resort, on the North Shore of Lake Superior. If you have not had the opportunity to explore this gorgeous wilderness area in the heart of the country, put it on your bucket list. Here are a few photos from the weekend to whet your appetite:


Nothing like a Lake Superior sunset.


The sunset reflected in the windows of Lutsen Resort.


Saturday was a gorgeous day to hike the Oberg Loop section of the Superior Hiking Trail.


The beach at Lutsen Resort.


There’s nothing like a lakeside bonfire under the moonlight!

And yes, this resort is the site of my niece’s famous wedding in a blizzard.

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Over the River…

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Lake Superior Sunrise

Friday Photos: Fall Colors in Minnesota

Last week my sister and I drove some friends visiting from England up to Lutsen, a ski resort on the North Shore of Lake Superior. We had heard the fall colors were peaking up there, so even though there were no hotel vacancies in the areas, and the RT drive would be close to 500 miles, we decided to turn it into a very long day trip. As you can see from these photos, it was worth the drive.

Lutsen mountain

Lutsen mountain


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Friday Photo: Dog Sledding

A couple of weeks ago I went up to the North Shore of Lake Superior for a writing retreat. I stayed at the gorgeous Naniboujou Lodge, just north of Grand Marais. No phones; no TV; no Internet — a perfect place to get some writing done.

When I needed a break one afternoon I jumped in Big Red and headed for a drive along some of the back roads in the area.

Where else are you going to see fun signs like this?

dog sledding sign

I love Minnesota!

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Smoke in My Eyes. In Minnesota!

When I lived in Beijing, we often had a weather forecast that was just one word: Smoke! It was usually in the fall, when the peasants in the surrounding provinces of Shandong and Hebei were burning the fields after harvest. The city would be shrouded in smoke, with off-the-charts bad air quality until it rained or the winds shifted to the north.

On Monday it was Minnesota’s turn. Smoke from wildfires burning in northern Saskatchewan descended on our fair state, making the air quality in Minneapolis worse than in Beijing.



Talk about embarrassing!


Image #1: MyFoxTwinCities

Image #2: Cooper, via MyFoxTwinCities


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Keeping Watch

You may have seen this amazing photo making the rounds this Memorial Day weekend. It was taken at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, here in the Twin Cities, the same cemetery where my father was laid to rest.



Our local newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune told the story of this photo in an article published on Saturday:

Amateur photographer Frank Glick was on his way to work when he drove through Fort Snelling National Cemetery early one morning. He spotted a bald eagle through the mist, perched on a gravestone, and snapped shots with his aging but ever-present camera.

Nice shot, he thought.

An acquaintance saw the photo and suggested that he see if the deceased soldier had any living relatives who might want it. Indeed, Maurice Ruch’s widow was alive and well and delighted to receive a copy of the eagle watching over her beloved husband.

You can read the entire article here.

Remembering with much gratitude those who have fallen to keep us free.

Image credit: Frank Glick, via StarTribune


Eye of an Eagle

I have a new favorite day trip out of the Twin Cities — the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN. Here’s how they describe themselves:

The National Eagle Center is a world-class interpretive center located on the banks of the Mississippi River in Wabasha, MN. We are home to five rescued eagles, four bald eagles and one golden eagle. During a visit to the National Eagle Center, you can experience these magnificent creatures up close.

The Upper Mississippi River Valley is home to hundreds of bald eagles. Many choose to build their nests in the tall trees along the river valley. Hundreds more bald eagles arrive here in the winter months, as the Mississippi River remains open around Wabasha year round.

The Center houses a small museum chock full of information about eagles. In addition they are the custodians of 5 rescued bald eagles (“Eagle Ambassadors”), which can be viewed “up close and personal.” Here are a few of my photos:

national eagle center

national eagle center

national eagle center

You can read about each of the eagles here. They are magnificent!

So if you haven’t been there already, get thee to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha! It’s just 2 hours from the Twin Cities.

The Man with the Key

A few weeks back, before the snow started to fly, a friend and I were walking around Long Lake Regional Park in New Brighton, one of my favorite places to walk. As we were walking I commented to her on the random pipes I’ve noticed sticking out of the ground — pipes that have lids on top of them and locks keeping those lids closed. I wondered if she knew what they were and she said she didn’t.

“Someone does,” I said. “In fact, in some office in some building in this county there is a man with a key!”

That was intriguing to me because in China to be in possession of a key is to be in possession of power. When trying to get something done, one of the most dreaded phrases you don’t want to hear is “the man with the key is not here,” which can either be a statement of fact or simply another way of saying “go away, I don’t want to deal with you.”

Where is the man with the key to these pipes, I wondered.

The next week, as I was walking in the park by myself, I spotted a pickup truck just off the path, and a man standing next to one of the pipes.

It was him! The man with the key!

I wandered into the woods where he was working and asked him to tell me about the pipes. He told me that they were old wells and his job was to monitor the water quality. Once upon a time there had been a refinery on the site and the state was making sure that their clean-up efforts were effective. He told me that he checks them twice per year, and when they are sure that there are no more contaminants then they will allow the nearby property to be developed.


It was a great day. I had found the man with the key!