We’re back from a week up at Lake Superior, which is pretty much becoming our home away from home (at least it feels that way whenever we go). There is something so restorative about the lake and the surrounding rocky shores, and I often wonder how different my life would be if day after day I was surrounded by so much beauty.

Virginia Taking in the Lake

The early September air was cool and dry. Our hikes around the various parks were accomplished with much vigor (it also helped knowing an afternoon resting by the lake with a cold beer would follow).

Dan Scrabbling

For me, perhaps the most amazing part of our stay were the completely stunning sunrises that greeted us every morning. Each one a little different than the previous:




I consider myself a fairly cheerful person, but I can only imagine that a daily routine of sunrises and hikes and watching the water would have a pretty profound effect on my general outlook on life.

Until the day comes when that is possible, we will just have to get by with frequent getaways. And, once there, allow ourselves to absorb as much as we can of what the north has to offer.

Virginia on the Rocks

Restorative Powers of Lake Superior

We just got back from a few nights away at our home away from home (not sure if the proprietors would completely agree, but as long as we keep coming back, they probably won’t care what we call it). It’s a cabin just a few yards from the shore of Lake Superior, with a commanding view of the moody waters.

Waves on Rocks

The next couple of days were a perfect combination of crafting, hiking, eating and drinking.

Dinner/Craft Table (with view)

We spent the first full day hiking in the Split Rock State Park, with bright birch and aspen trees framing the various views of the lake and surrounding shorelines.

Split Rock State Park

Split Rock State Park

On Thursday morning I woke up at the crack of dawn (actually, a little before the crack) and found myself facing a serenely calm and beautiful display of light and water.



After breakfast we made our way over to Gooseberry Falls State Park, for another couple of hikes. The sky was bright, the sun full (luckily I remembered to wear a hat) and the trails pretty empty in the morning hours.

Gooseberry Falls State Park

Fifth Falls - Gooseberry Falls State Park

Virginia got the prize for most adventurous, hanging out with feet dangling over the Upper Falls.

Virginia by Upper Falls

I stayed a more comfortable distance from the edge.

Dan by Upper Falls

Back at the cabin, we enjoyed the last of our growler (added bonus: the owner decided to open a brewery earlier this year and had several varieties available – I think he brews in 93 gallon batches, so it’s a small operation, but one we were quite willing to support) while sitting by the fire, all the while wishing we had a few more nights booked.

Still, the trip did the trick. We wore ourselves out during the day, slept well at night, worked on some creative projects, and felt ourselves being restored by the powers of that giant lake.

"Harold" and Rainbow

Fresh Air

Lately, it seems the only time I have been outside is to quickly scurry from the back door to the garage, and then the car to the front door of the office, with the weekly beating back of the snow after it falls. So, I was overdue for a leisurely spent day getting some fresh air. As a post-Christmas, pre-Birthday celebration, we spent the greater part of Sunday at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, my new favorite outdoor spot within a short drive from our home.

MN Landscape Arboretum

MN Landscape Arboretum

Under a heavy blanket of snow, the Arboretum still offered plenty to its visitors. The still, 20º air was perfect for a walk along their groomed, outdoor trails. Although, I was a bit jealous of the cross-country skiers who were also taking advantage of the gorgeous, sunny day.

MN Landscape Arboretum

MN Landscape Arboretum

Snowy landscapes have tendency to appear lacking in much detail, but I love looking for little details here and there that offset that perception. For instance, a spot of red on the horizon:

MN Landscape Arboretum

Or, a little tuft of fur on a wintering magnolia bud:

MN Landscape Arboretum

Or, the long shadows cast while the sky is till bright:

MN Landscape Arboretum

This was exactly what we both needed after spending so much time inside. So, thank you to our friends, Dick and Judy, for inviting us to spend the day with them there.

The Travelers Return

After flying 2,852 miles and driving a surprising 1,740, we are back from our tour of the Pacific Northwest. This trip was both a celebration (from last year’s insanity) as well as a break from our current day-to-day activities – a true vacation.

We started out by flying to Portland, OR and jumping in a rental to drive the five hours to Port Angeles, WA. We had reservations for the ferry to take us to Victoria on Vancouver Island, BC early the next day (note coffee in the hand of one of the sleepy travelers).

Virginia Riding the MV Coho Ferry

Victoria Harbor

Victoria offered plenty to do, including lots of leisurely activities (sailing anyone?) and shopping. But, we had other plans and places to be, so we only stayed one night. Our destination on Vancouver Island was the small, remote town of Tofino. The winding drive was incredibly beautiful, scenic. We passed through the MacMillan Provincial Park and took a walk through Cathedral Grove.

Dan in Cathedral Grove

If I was a cathedral-going man, I’d certainly make this my place of worship. The trees were enormous, the space quiet, ancient. It was peaceful. Maybe I am a cathedral-going man.

Our destination in Tofino was a small cabin located on the eastern side of the peninsula, facing the wild forests and mountains across the inlet. Though cloudy and rainy most of the time, the surrounding landscape did not disappoint, and we found plenty to do both inside and out.

View from Cabin

Waves on Beach

Virginia on Beach in Tofino

We debated canceling our future plans and just staying at the cabin for the rest of our trip. The proprietor even offered us a discount, which was incredibly hard to pass up. But, we had more to see, and so we packed our bags after four nights and headed back to the continent.

Columbia Gorge at Sunset

Back in Oregon, we headed through the Columbia Gorge on our way to the small town of Powell Butte. Virginia led the way to the top of Multnomah Falls.

Multnomah Falls

In central Oregon we stayed with my uncle and aunt, who showed us some of the thousands of things to do in the area (not to mention the thousands of beers that are brewed, which we only sampled a fraction of – I did give it a good shot, though). We went hiking at Smith Rock, and had to stop myself from purposely tripping the trail runners that quickly passed us by (hardly breaking a sweat, smiles on their faces).

Smith Rock

As if that scenery wasn’t amazing enough, we still had Crater Lake on our itinerary. We met up with my sister and her super smart (and cute) 3-year old kid and spent the day walking about (most of the trails were still under a pile and a half of snowpack – apparently it snows, on average, 530 inches every year).

Crater Lake

Later in the day, Virginia found the perfect spot for writing.

Virginia Journaling with the Perfect View

And, even later in the day, I found the perfect spot for taking in the sunset.

Crater Lake at Sunset

We spent the rest of our trip in Portland, but I have no photos of that. City life, though interesting, can’t compete with the sense of restoration that happens when surrounded by such natural beauty. We were both fortunate to wake up right before the sunrise at Crater Lake (we splurged, and booked a room at the ol’ majestic Crater Lake Lodge). It seemed to me a good omen.

Crater Lake at Sunrise

Sunrises embody so much hope and the promise of renewal, it’s good to catch them when you can.