Minnesota 2012

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Friday, December 21, 2012: Jill, Tom, and Debbie headed to Minnesota for Christmas, leaving during the tail end of a blizzard in Indianapolis. We saw trucks in various stages of distress everywhere along the journey, including watching one spin out on the other side of the highway and come to rest completely blocking the road.
The snow made the farms in the distance look pretty.
Oops. Just another of many trucks that slid off the road.
Every time we pass Castle Rock at Camp Douglas, we have to take a picture. It looked even prettier in the snow.
We were at Norse Nook by dinner time, so we had lefse wraps for dinner and picked up some rosettes to enjoy later, then ...
... got back in the car and headed to our hotel near the Mall of America, Best Western Bloomington. The three of us had our own little mini-Christmas when we exchanged presents in our room.

Saturday, December 22, 2012: The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel then headed to Trader Joe's to pick up some naan and syrup, then to IKEA to buy some julmust and Swedish pancakes. The Snoopy statue amused us as always.
We had lunch at Carbone's on Randolph where the greatest pizza in the world is made: the Carbone's Special.
Old friends Jean, Kristine, and Debbie had a great time catching up since our last gathering in 2010.
Kristine's husband John joined us as well.
From there, we headed to Roseville to the home of Debbie's cousin Melissa and her family. Cousin Laura was there with her family, and Debbie's brother was there with his family.
Jill and Solveig played cards. Not long after, we were joined by cousin Terry and his family.
Our nephew Stewart loves to pose for selfies, especially on his aunt's phone.
Here are Tom and Lisa.
Shawn, you will be photographed!
Boys, I swear.
With a full house of cousins, we took group photos of everyone. Here is Melissa's family, ...
... Laura's family, ...
... Terry's family, ...
... Doug's family, ...
... and us. Laura brought Oreo Cookie Dessert for all of us to enjoy and Melissa got out her laptop to play an old family favorite holiday song for us, which shall not be named here.
We left at 4:30 and went straight to the St. Clair Broiler in St. Paul, to enjoy dinner with Jan and Rick. Rick brought along some of his delicious homemade hot sauce and some shallots and castor bean seeds to share with us.
After that, we went to Norie and Bill's home in Minneapolis, but we were too busy enjoying microbrews with them to remember to take a picture, so here's a photo of them from 2013 to mark the visit.

Sunday, December 23, 2012: We had a delicious breakfast at the Pannekoeken Hus, despite Jill's inexplicable decision to order normal breakfast food instead of pannekoekens.
We drove north and took just a little detour along the way to see this giant statue of Paul Bunyan in Akeley.
We sang Christmas music at the top of our lungs as we drove over the river and through the woods.
We stopped at Lake George Cafe ...
... for a very quick lunch.
It was pretty quiet in there and we were thankful to find a local restaurant that was still open.
We reached Itasca State Park in the early afternoon.
There's a wide path that leads from the parking lot to the headwaters so we bundled up and started on our way.
There's a bridge that crosses the Mississippi, ...
... so if you're too cold to go any further, you can stop here and call it a day.
But we were committed. We kept going ...
... and were rewarded with having the famous Headwaters of the Mississippi all to ourselves.
We stood by the famous sign ...
... and we looked at the famous rocks that allow you to walk across the mighty Mississippi if you want. We did not because there is no way we wanted to get wet because it was extremely cold.
It was extremely cold, but we took the time to get a Debbie-stands-triumphantly-near-a-body-of-water photo.
The freezing cold created beautiful crystals on the river's edge.
So pretty. After this, we loaded up on groceries in Cass Lake, drove to Debbie's dad and stepmother's cabin, and cooked dinner (chicken korma) for everyone, none of which was photographed.

Monday, December 24, 2012: It was a classic Minnesota winter day - clear sky and bitterly cold. We provided breakfast.
We also provided sandwich fixings and sides for lunch for everyone, which included Doug, Susan, Stewart, Bob, and Becky, in addition to the three of us.
Debbie's dad, Bob, used his snowblower to create a broomball rink, so we bundled up and went out to play.
Meanwhile, Jill was busy writing her name in the snow.
She added her cousin Stewart's name, too, while she was at it.
Speaking of Stewart, here he is wielding a snow shovel.
Once the rink was ready, a game of broomball broke out.
Here's a view of the cabin from the shore.
Back inside, Tom, Stewart, and Jill played a game of Life.
This far north, the sun sets fairly early. It was about 4:30 when this photo was taken, ...
... and the sun was down by 4:40.
Meanwhile, the moon was rising over the cabin.
Bob brought out his new vaccuum. We never did figure out if he was just excited about it or trying to tell us to vaccuum our room when we left, but it accompanied numerous mentions about the cleaning that Becky's kids do when they visit.
After visiting Becky's family next door, Susan cooked a traditional German meal for Christmas Eve.
We hung out for a bit, ...
... (insert glare at Mom here) ...
... then we opened Christmas presents.
We gave Stewart a money machine, ...
... which consisted of a box containing a long roll of cash, some real and some fake.
Here are Doug and Susan opening the annual Amazing Products box from us.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012: On Christmas morning, it was even colder that it had been.
We left after serving Christmas dinner so that we could get Jill back to Indianapolis in time to leave on her trip to Florida. We got to Duluth at dusk.
We had three more hours of driving ahead of us before we checked into Super 8 Osseo.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012: We left Osseo at 4 AM because we had a long way to go. Even worse, we had a blizzard waiting for us in Indiana.
And here it starts!
But we had bigger problems ahead. A massive accident brought the freeway to a complete standstill.
We got out to photograph the sorry scene.
Yep, stopped cars as far as the eye can see.
Finally, traffic started to move very slowly. We learned via Facebook that one of our friends was in the same mess, but he was much further ahead, so he gave us updates on the situation.
After nearly three hours, we made it past the accident and were on our way home.

** THE END **

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