So Minnesota

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Hello, corn!

Joe introduced me to Mike in 2007. Mike’s company Axia Strategies, a small healthcare consulting firm based in Savage, MN, needed to add a clinician to one of their client teams. That started a nearly 10-year relationship between our respective consulting firms. Mike and I shared a similar client service philosophy and a passion for craft brews, and he shared with me his love for the midwest. Mike’s work travel, a new grand-baby, getting 4 kids off to college, and managing a high-schooler’s sports schedule made arranging a get-together kind of tricky, but we were fortunately able to meet with Mike in Minneapolis for a great lunch. It was so fun to catch up, live, on his turf!

This schedule also gave us a couple of days to explore more of MN. We opted to stay along the St. Croix River where we enjoyed a gorgeous bike ride along the rolling hills near the WI border. And since we were headed toward SD, Mike provided local intel on back roads to see MN prairies. And of course, corn…

Thanks Mike!

Farewell Great Lakes!

There couldn’t have been a better place than Palisade Head, near Silver Bay, MN, on a stunningly beautiful day, to say our farewell to the Great Lakes. On June 19 we were in Cape Vincent, NY, where Lake Ontario becomes the St. Lawrence Seaway, and for the better part of the next 8 weeks we were awed, entertained, and educated on the Lakes. One of the areas in the U.S. that neither Doug nor I had been in, we’re happy that we chose to explore these Great Lakes on our great adventure.

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Bayfront Blues

The blues community in Duluth, Minnesota has been putting on a blues festival right there on Lake Superior every August for 28 years. (I never knew!) When we found out about this year’s festival and noticed how it coincided closely with our evolved and updated route and timing, and how they have overnight RV parking in the adjacent Duluth Entertainment Conference Center (DECC) parking lots for festival-goers, well, there was really no decision left to be made. The only dicey part was that RV parking was first come-first served, but we showed up early in the afternoon on Thursday and we got The Destinator a spot for the weekend.

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On Wisconsin: Pelican Lake and the Apostle Islands

My cousin Jean was 18 years old the day I was born, and she joined the army 8 months later. Two years after that, she married her sweetheart and moved to Wisconsin. Needless to say, I never knew my cousin. We met for the first time at her mom’s memorial service about 10 years ago. We decided we needed to connect and planned to do so at some time in the future which finally happened this week…

Pelican Lake
Pelican Lake

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Simply Superior, part 2, west

The ‘Simply Superior, part 1’ title for the earlier post started out as a joke – I saw it on a roadway sign and thought it sounded cool. Yet, there is decidedly an eastern and a western UP – we’re not sure where the line is. We clearly crossed the line somewhere between Munising and Marquette, MI. Both halves share the beauty of Lake Superior and its shoreline, a penchant for winter sports (the locals talk wistfully about snowmobiling and ice fishing all summer), and the highest average daily spotting of tourists driving around in RVs since we started this adventure. The Hiawatha National Forest with its endless views of flat terrain, scrub pines and wetlands dominates the eastern half and most of the towns cater to tourists whether lake or snow related. The western half is all about mining (and evidence of its related current or former prosperity) and higher education. The terrain becomes hilly and the forests more deciduous. Hard to explain, but palpable…

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Simply Superior, part 1, east

A quick scan of the pantry revealed that we were getting low on grains. As Vermont-hippy-vegetarians, grains are of course a mainstay of our diet and we needed to find a natural food store to replenish. I googled it and found two natural food stores in the UP, the nearest an organic grocery in downtown Sault (pronounced Soo) Ste Marie, the other a coop in Marquette, a few days west. We’d gone back and forth on whether or not to visit The Soo, another post-industrial-turned-tourist city, but nevertheless we needed food and we set a course…

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