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. We visited Pipestone National Monument, the sacred Indian mines. And since we were headed toward SD, Mike provided local intel on back roads to see MN prairies. We And of course, corn…

Thanks Mike!

More photos of So Minnesota and Pipestone National Monument

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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All things Mackinac

Although we’re not much for planning our itinerary, we did plan to stay at Straits State Park on the shores of the Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Straits, and visit Mackinac Island on a weekday. The State Park is a destination in itself – gorgeous views of Mackinac Straights, Lake Huron and the Mackinac Bridge just a few steps from our campsite. It’s also walking distance from downtown St. Ignace, home to 3 ferries, 2 Native American museums and several nice restaurants.

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NW Michigan, aka Jula’s Corner

Recall from a previous post, we put friends’ recommendations for places to visit in MI on a map and tried to visit most of them. Jula, a friend from VT, suggested several, including 3 in NW MI – amazingly varied, totally cool places to visit. Thanks Jula, you nailed it!

jula's corner

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Happy 4th!

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Hailing from Warren, VT – the Fourth of July Capital of the Universe – we’re thinking of friends back home today.  Hoping everybody has a great 4th!

Recall from our last post that selecting a place in MI to spend the 4th of July weekend was a bit like throwing a dart.  It (mostly) worked! We’re celebrating in Harrison, Michigan, on Budd Lake, right in the middle of the state (or the knuckle at the base of the middle finger, if you’re from here).

Harrison, MI Independence Day Celebration Continue reading “Happy 4th!”

The Thumb

‘Nobody ever visits the Thumb!’ said the manager at the Lighthouse County Park Campground.  That’s why we’re here.

When we first started talking about this trip, many people suggested their favorite places in Michigan to visit. We put them all on a map and noticed suggestions for everywhere except the Thumb.  (Look at a map and it’ll be obvious. Or ask anyone from MI and they’ll start pointing at the back of their left hand.) Our wish list included most of the suggestions, visits with a few friends and a couple of concerts. To make it all work, we had an open week, and it included the 4th of July.

We opted to head for the Thumb, see what there was to see, and take some time to figure out what to do for the 4th.

Brilliant!

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1000 Islands

Well, it’s not really true…  There’re actually 1,864 islands (this year) within a 50-mile stretch of the St. Lawrence River between Ontario and New York State.  The border zigs and zags among the islands, intentionally keeping each island wholly within either the US or Canada. Although there is a greater number of islands in Canada, several in the US are larger, rendering the total acreage of all the islands about even. The count changes periodically since there are rules to qualify as an island. Each land mass must have at least one square foot of land above water level year-round and support at least two living trees. Some of the smaller islands come and go.

Smallest island
Smallest island

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