Over the River….

I am sure that we will cross at least one river, and we’ll definitely be driving through some woods on our way to Lutsen this morning.  My nieces are scattered around the country (Edinburg, TX; Hollywood, CA; Juneau, AK), so neither my mom, sister, nor I had much interest in putting on a big Thanksgiving Dinner.

So we’re going to Lutsen Resort, on the north shore of Lake Superior.  We’ve rented a condo and made reservations for the Thanksgiving Buffet at the lodge so we’re good to go. If  you were hanging around this blog 4 years ago, you may remember that Lutsen is the sight of the infamous blizzard wedding of Pierre and Kari. (my niece).

In case you missed it, and in honor of the happy couple who now live in Juneau, Alaska, here is a reprise of the blog:


I could be wrong, but unless you were one of a small group of people who attended my niece’s wedding  last weekend, you have probably never heard a bride utter those words into a microphone just before reciting her vows. Don’t worry.  It wasn’t a reference to those upcoming vows, but most likely was a reference to the fact that we were all standing outside along the shores of Lake Superior in a blinding snowstorm.

We Minnesotans spend most of our winter existence walking a fine line between being hardy and insane.  I guess at that moment my niece surmised that we had all crossed the line into insanity, never mind the fact that she and the groom were leading the way. Her statement notwithstanding, however, the consensus among the guests was that it was the most fun wedding.  Ever.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the headlines in the local newspaper read “Beach Wedding in a Blizzard.”  When it was all over, there was a foot of new snow on the ground and a happily married couple.  And, as far as I know, no one caught pneumonia, which is a good thing as well.

To say that the wedding of Kari and Pierre was unconventional would be an understatement.  But then again Kari has never done anything conventional in her life, so there was no reason to expect that her wedding would suddenly be conventional.  To start with, neither of them like to be the center of attention, so the thought of the typical American “princess for a day” wedding was out of the question.  They wanted something that would be fun — for their friends, not just them, and something that would allow all of us to get in touch with our inner Minnesotans.  The logical place then was outside, and in Minnesota, “outside” doesn’t get any better than the north shore of Lake Superior, that greatest of Great Lakes.  And along The North Shore there is no finer establishment than Lutsen Lodge, a historic resort nestled in a cove where the Poplar River runs into the Lake.  Never mind that the date was December 1.

The weekend wedding festivities began on Thursday night, with Pierre’s father preparing a home-cooked Lebanese meal for the families and the other early birds who had arrived.  Stuffed zuchini, pita, bakhlava—all in the heart of lutefisk country!  Friday was a day for “playing” (as the Chinese would say).  Some folks went  to Sven and Olie’s Pizza in Grand Marais, some played hockey, and others just enjoyed the beauty of the shore.  Friday evening, the guests convened again for  dinner at a restaurant at Lutsen Mountain.  Another unconventional aspect to this wedding was that there were no groomsmen or bridesmaids (they didn’t want friends to have to spend money buying outfits they would never wear again).  And since it was to be a short ceremony outside, there really wasn’t anything to rehearse, so instead of this being a rehearsal dinner for members of the wedding party, it was a groom’s dinner for everyone.  Pizza, buffalo wings, and dart-games were the order of the evening.

The wedding announcements had stated that the ceremony would be held outside “weather permitting.” If weather didn’t permit, then it would be held in a conference room in the lodge.  Saturday morning we awoke to news of a major snowstorm headed our way.  A big one.  A “ten-incher.”  Would this be the impermissible weather that forced us indoors? Not likely….that would be far too conventional for this couple. By noon the snow was flying.  By 3pm, it was flying horizontally….off the lake!  Never mind.  At 3:30 all the guests gathered down on the shoreline, sipping coffee and hot chocolate. Then Kari and her dad walked down from the lodge.  I probably don’t need to add here that the ceremony was short, and as soon as it was over we all fled back to the lodge for a wonderful sit-down dinner. I think one thing is clear—this wedding has forever raised the bar on what is meant by “weather permitting.”

After dinner, the plan was to gather around a bonfire on the beach.  But there was this little problem of a raging blizzard.  Could one actually start a bonfire in a blizzard, and if so, would anyone in their right mind actually go out and enjoy it.  Well, we learned that the answers to both questions for this group were a resounding YES.  It wasn’t easy, but eventually Ken became the hero of the weekend and got the fire going.  The bride and groom changed back into their ice-fishing clothes and joined the party by the fire, singing and dancing to Johnny Cash tunes (Pierre had driven his truck down to the beach) late into the night.

The next morning we bad the bride and groom farewell as they headed off on their honeymoon….to Ely, Minnesota!  The rest of the family loaded up the vans and cars and headed back to the Cities, still chuckling about the beach wedding in a blizzard!

Congratulations, Pierre and Kari.  We love you!

Click here to see more photos of the wedding.

Not surprising for a couple who were married in a blizzard on the beach, Kari and Pierre spent last winter homesteading in Alaska, on the edge of the Aluetian Islands. You can read about their adventures ontheir blog North to Alaska. Now they are living in Juneau, and they blog at Whaleburps. Click on over and check it out.


The Day After

This afternoon I went for a walk in the park near my mom’s place.  Not only did Roseville get all it’s streets cleared, it also got the walking paths in the parks cleaned off.  Now that’s community service!





Of Blizzards and Breakfast

This morning when I woke up, the first thing I did was to look outside to see if the blizzard that the weather forcasters had been warning us about all day Friday had materialized.  It had, and I was thrilled. I love snow and had been hoping, (not so secretly, much to the annoyance of my family and friends) that we’d get a “ten-incher” while I’m in Minnesota this winter.

The second thing I did was to call a couple of friends I was planning to meet for breakfast to discuss whether or not to really go through with it. It will always remain a mystery as to why, but we decided that yes, meeting for breakfast at MacDonalds (!!) in the middle of a blizzard seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

It reminded me of the first blizzard my family experienced when we moved here in 1973.  We were definitely NOT natives, having recently transplanted ourselves from Karachi, Pakistan, where the temps dipped to 75 on a cold winter day. Learning how to handle snow was a big dealbut a blizzard was a downright adventure.  My main memory of that blizzard, in January 1974, was that for some reason, my dad, sister, and I decided we needed to walk two blocks to the Burger King for a burger and fries. My mother of course thought that we were certifiably insane, a judgement from which she has never wavered.

Unfortunately, she was once again proven correct today.

Having decided that our breakfast was on, I bundled up and set out.  Upon opening the garage door and staring out at a white ocean of snow, a sane person would have lowered the garage door and gone back inside.  I didn’t do that.

I backed out into the unplowed street and headed down the small hill that is my mom’s street. When I saw two cars spinning away at the intersection with the road at the bottom of the hill, I was jolted back to my senses and realized that I shouldn’t be going anywhere.  I stopped, somehow got turned around, and tried to drive back up the hill to my mom’s place.  That was a silly thought.  The snow was just too deep for me to get anywhere, so I backed down a bit and off to the side in order to get out of the middle of the road. I trudged back up the hill to my mom’s place, and called my friends to tell them that I was stuck and needed them to come and help rescue my mom’s car.

In the meantime, a neighbor who was coming home after working the night shift made it up the hill and almost to her driveway, but almost wasn’t good enough, so I joined her son in helping dig her car  out and push it up the hill to her garage.  While I was doing that, a police truck  came up the hill, around the circle in the cul-de-sac, and sat for 5 minutes. Given that it said Roseville Police Department Community Service on the side, I was quite annoyed that he just sat there while we were shoveling and never came to offer assistance.  Then he flew off in a blaze of 4WD glory down the hill.

By the time we got my neighbor’s car into her garage, my friends had showed up and were at the at the bottom of the hill surveying my mom’s car.  I grabbed three shovels and the keys and headed down there to begin the excavation of the car.  Unfortunately, when I got to the car and saw the bright pink POLICE TOW flyer tucked under the windshield wiper, I realized what the cop had been doing –WRITING ME A TICKET!!!   I was not amused.

We got to work on the car, and after 30 minutes of shoveling and pushing and shoveling and pushing, we finally got my mom’s car safely back into her garage.

Now what?  Insanity descended once again, and we decided that since we were out, and the main roads were passable, we’d press ahead towards breakfast at MacDonalds.  It was quite the adventure because the wipers on my friend’s car were barely functional, so we had the windows rolled down and were all hanging our heads out like dogs just to see where we were going. This also made it easier to see all the cars in the ditch or spinning out at intersections.  “Stupid people,” we muttered as the snow smacked us in the face. “What are they doing driving around in this kind of weather?’

When we got to MacDonalds and sat down with our pancakes and coffee and suasage biscuits, we just looked at each other and said “we risked life and limb for this?” Fortunately we all made it home safe and sound (well, that’s debatable).

I guess I’ve just got a thing for blizzards and breakfasts.

Hey!  Let’s go for a drive!!