In Transit | Visiting Friends and Family in Minnesota

I’m going to start this out by saying that many blogger fails have been committed. This post could have had oodles more photos, but even I, yes even the annoying Cassie who snaps photos of you to no end, do take brief breaks from documenting my life.* Sorry about that.

Anyway, our full transition from my in-laws’ place to our guest house in Buenos Aires took 72 hours. Admittedly, it could have been less. But then it would have been way less fun. We borrowed a car, stopped to visit grandparents, stayed with Jordan’s brother, went to Brookings for breakfast, stayed with some friends in Minneapolis, met up with two lovely ladies for breakfast there, and coerced one of the aforementioned lovely ladies into giving us a ride to the airport.

First stop: the grandparents.

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Time passed more quickly than we expected, and in no time (although clearly some time), we were already behind schedule.

As mentioned, after moving on from Tripp/Gregory County, we stopped in Sioux Falls to hang out with some family yet again. The night passed quickly, even though we didn’t have much to do. We played with our nephews, chatted, and got some Indian food. We almost went for Italian before realizing that we’d probably have a harder time finding Indian in Argentina. And we arrived too late to starting cooking.

At one point during dinner, bath time was mentioned. I don’t even know how this happened, but the nephews (and then Jordan and my brother-in-law) started chanting that I was to be the one in charge of bath time. I had been selected. We also got to tuck the nephews in for the night. When leaving the room, Walter slyly asked, “If Henry and I wake up in the night, we can come snuggle with you and Jordan?” Who says no to that?

The next day we went with my sister-in-law to drop the boys off at daycare. Walter seemed so proud to show us his school/daycare. Too adorable to watch him looking at us and waiting for reactions. Thanks to G&K, by the way, for letting us stay with you. Hard saying goodbye to everyone, but these four especially.

The next morning, we drove north to Brookings. First, we checked on our alma mater, SDSU. Second, and most importantly, we met with Jordan’s Master’s thesis advisor and his wife for breakfast. We love getting together with them. They are the perfect dining companions, always prepared with anecdotes and interesting stories to share.

From Brookings, we drove toward Minneapolis. We stayed with Ben, our college friend. It had been entirely too long since I’d seen him. And I still hadn’t met his wife. Of course, I’m hoping it’s the same for them, but Jordan and I really enjoyed ourselves when staying with them (even though so short). Sometimes friends grow apart after six years of separation. But sometimes they just grow in parallel. Our lives are different, but it didn’t seem to matter. We’ve grown as people; he’s grown as a person. Great conversation along with some lovely Minnesota microbrewery stops. The perfect evening.

Microbrewery 1: Indeed. Loved the setting. And the black American ale.

indeed brewery minneapolis

Microbrewery 2: Bauhaus. Loved this setting evening more. I don’t have a great picture of the courtyard, but it’s the industrial look turned hipster (but not frighteningly so) done right.

bauhaus brewery minneapolis

Below is the only photo I got of Ben and Kim. Next time. Next time.

bauhaus brewery minneapolis

bauhaus brewery flight

bauhaus brewery minneapolis

The next morning breakfast with Ally and Laurie came quickly and went quickly. More great conversation. So many topics to cover in so little time. Thanks for meeting us and letting yourself get roped into taking us to the airport!

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And with that, our time in the States had come to an end this go ’round.

One airport hitch,** four airport tacos, two airplane meals, a cab ride, and 19 hours later, we arrived in Buenos Aires. In the most welcoming little corner of the city. I highly recommend the guest house we stayed at: Gus’ Guest House in Recoleta. Can’t say enough good things about the host and his recommendations.

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buenos aires plaza de mayo

Once I get a chance to sort through a few photos, I’ll be sure to have some Buenos Aires posts soon. We are currently in San Luis, where the husband is meeting with other scientists (agronomists, geographers, environmental scientists and the like) at the university. Me, well, I am regrouping from the bus ride, poaching university wi-fi, and scheming to convince Jordan that we need to rent a car to visit Sierra de las Quijadas or make a stop in Córdoba. Wives everywhere, intercessory prayer is welcome :)

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*Since I referred to myself in both first and third person, this sentence is a little confusing. But I am hoping you’ll understand.

**We had one unexpected issue on the way down. We went to the airport, and foolishly hadn’t checked to see if entry requirements had changed since the last time. We are now required to pay reciprocity entrance fees of 160 dollars each. You need to show that you’ve paid these taxes before you’re allowed to check in. We had no idea. And our fellow lodgers here confirmed that it’s not clearly listed on the US State Dept website, either. Thankfully, MSP airport has free wi-fi and the agent told us that most places will accept the electronic copy as long as bar code can be read. The issue then is that it can take up to half an hour to process (that’s with the extra 30 dollar expedition fee). Be sure to print this in paper, even if you think it’s silly when you have the electronic copy.

Better than a Petting Zoo | A Visit with the Neighbors

wagon wheel

In Montreal, I talked to my neighbors in the apartment building hallway. We lived next to each other for all of eleven months (eleven and a half at the prior place). I met Amos, the friendly young hipster whose mother and some adorable dog visited him from time to time. I met two other young gentlemen in the hallways. They seemed nice, but I promptly forgot their names, knowing I could either ask again if needed or simply make small talk in the stairwell while pretending either of us actually remembered each others’ names. We met the woman across the hall. We smiled and held the door when the other was carrying groceries. And then there was the one neighbor we actually knew things about. An older gentlemen, living with his son, who we chatted with about books, weather, our health, and whatever second-level small talk might arise. If ever (since moving away from our respective homes) we cared about a neighbor, he would be the guy.

But even that extremely (and I’d say many times over) pales in comparison to the relationships that my in-laws keep with their neighbors. They’ve been there for years. The neighbors have babysat their children. They have real chats about real life. They really know each other. Someday, in some city, town, or countryside, I hope to have this type of relationship with my neighbors.

It’s funny how a simple conversation leads to something delightful. One evening while home, Cece discussed how much she liked eggs, and a discussion of where eggs come from ensued. (We left the conversation pre-birds and bees, don’t you worry). My mother-in-law decided it was time to take a visit to the neighbors’ place to find out where the farm fresh eggs they’d been receiving were coming from. She called one night and asked when we might be able to come. The very next day, the ladies and children piled into that handy pick-up, drove a mile or so down the gravel road, and visited the neighbors.

sunset

Earlier, there had been a discussion about taking the kids to a petting zoo. After this trip, a petting zoo seemed almost silly. Sure, if you don’t have access to chickens, sheep, goats, horses, and a donkey, you could go to the petting zoo. But if you have super cool neighbors with all that stuff who will let you bring children over…well, that’s a better bet.

sheep and kids

We spent time meeting animals on the farm, including cats, Rufus the dog, Dream the horse, goats, and sheep. Watching the kids interact with each other and the animals was hilarious. I can’t say I wasn’t ever nervous when a child came running over with a new kitten in tottering tow (poor little kittens), but I can say that all three of the kids seemed to love every minute of petting and holding the animals.

sheep boy

red barn south dakota

baby goat

goat

goat eating

brown horse

red barn with door

kids at farm

two sheep salt block

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sheep

And we really did see where those eggs came from. One of our nephews walked right into the coop and picked up an egg. He made it look like he knew exactly what was happening. Maybe he did. There has to have been some cartoon about egg-laying, right?

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kids gathering eggs

farm fresh eggs

After this, we headed across the street for what was definitely my favorite part of the evening: bringing the sheep/goats in. Okay, it wasn’t so much bringing them in as much as opening the gate and letting them cross the road in some sort of beautifully routine and obedient fashion. Maybe not impressive to those who see it everyday, but super cool for me. And the kids, too. I mean, I didn’t forget that I was there for the kids :)

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donkey and sheep south dakota landscape

sheep crossing dirt road south dakota

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Thanks so much to Bob and Lorraine for letting us come visit. And for being great neighbors. We certainly had a great time visiting. We even heard Walter exclaim, “This has been a beautiful day!” in 100 percent childhood seriousness in the middle of the visit. We didn’t disagree.

south dakota landscape

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One quick note: I’m writing from Buenos Aires! We made it safely and have ingested more delicious facturas (pastries) than we ever needed. And there may also be some ($5, yet quality!) Malbec washing it down. I’ll be updating on Buenos Aires/Argentina soon!

Memories in the Making | Family on the Farm

Throughout our week in South Dakota, family activities unfolded like crazy. Some simply passed undocumented (think hours of playing, couch snuggles, grilling, and swim time). Still, a collection of photos documented family activities was quickly amassed.

Early in our sojourn, we wandered around the yard looking for produce until we reached the apple tree, the tomato plants, and the cucumbers. At first, we were just taste testing. The apples were clearly on the sour side (see Cierra’s face below). This meant the apples were perfect for baking, though. We decided to pick a bucketful. Since it’s peach season, my mother-in-law had some ripe peaches on hand and planned on making a pie. If the crust was already being made, there was no way I’d turn down an apple pie. She hates peeling the apples; we (s-i-l and I) didn’t want to make the crust. Apple picking and pie baking made for one of my favorite afternoons on the farm.

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apples on tree

apple picking

girl picking cucumbers

pile of apples

peeling apple

flour sifter

peeled peaches

peach pie

pie crust

caramel apple pie

licking caramel spoon

homemade lattice crust apple pie

lattice work apple pie

A day later, Jordan’s brother, our sister-in-law, and their two boys joined us in Gregory. Because we are a family that loves coffee and can’t help but bother our teenage relative who works at the coffee shop, we all stopped in at Dayspring Coffee in town. Adults enjoyed coffee drinks; the kids slurped on Italian sodas. Everyone  decided it’s the prettiest place in town.

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I adore Cierra’s face in the following photo!

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dayspring coffee courtyard greogry

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All went well while there…until the blob ball “mysteriously” exploded, covering all things within ten feet in a neon pink slime. We tried to clean it as best we could. But don’t be surprised if you visit and find pink slime in the courtyard. Really, we’re sorry.

Later that day (or honestly, maybe the next?), out came the Slip and Slide. I found every single photo that I took of this entertaining, but decided to exercise a little restraint and show only one per child. Sadly, Walter didn’t make many runs, so no hilarious picture of him will be posted here.

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Another day, a group of us went for a mile stroll down the road. A rock-throwing contest started spontaneously. Be sure to check out the tiptoes in the rock toss photo below. Once we tired of that (okay, the adults tired and finally convinced the kids to move on), we became distracted by Fuzzy, or the World’s cutest caterpillar. Do I think he was that cute? No, not really, but I liked hearing the kids squeal that he was.

south dakota ranch scenic

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Finally, toward the end of our week, we realized we really had to force ourselves to take some family photos. Like most families, we’re not always all together. When we are, a photo must be taken to prove it. Since we were enamored with Ranch/Yucca/Photo Hill from our South Dakota Safari, the photo shoot was moved there. We got our big group photo out of the way in the beginning, but broke off into siblings, boys, girls, brothers, and couples. Just because we could. Initially, the logistics of getting all of us ready and moving out to the field were intimidating, but once we got to the hill, everyone seemed to have a fun time.

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Before we came home, we had talked about what we should all do for our family vacation. Whether it be out of laziness, a lack of organization, or wisdom, we decided to spend the whole week on the family farm/ranch. Sure, I love the Black Hills and would have appreciated another trip out there, but I think most of us would agree that we made the right decision to stay in one place, enjoy the farm, and maximize our together time.*

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*Other than the photos in this post and the last, my photos from our SoDak trip are from a farm visit to the neighbors’ place during the week. But I decided I’ll save those pictures for a separate post, because, well, it just seems to make sense to me. And that still counts as together time, even if off the property.

Home on the Range | A South Dakota Safari

This is where my in-laws live.

south dakota ranch

It’s no joke. This is a walk on their land, just down the gravel road.

My parents-in-law live in south-central South Dakota. A week-long visit on a working ranch is the dream of many. I’ll admit that sometimes we take it for granted. Mostly in the winter.

But during mid-August with mild temperatures, there are few places I’ve stayed that seem as beautiful.

south dakota ranch wild grasses

country landscaping russian sage

Usually during visits, it seems like we’ve got so much scheduled in (picture your typical holiday schedule).  This time, although I wouldn’t necessarily classify our time as entirely relaxing (Jordan’s sister described the house as the scene from Home Alone when every room is full of family), we had much less scheduled than we normally do during our short visits.

There was time for swinging on the front porch, sipping a coffee in the breakfast nook, lounging underneath the walnut tree, and strolling out to the corralled horses.

horse nostrils

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horses south dakota

horse by red barn

red shed

red barn window

One of my favorite moments during our time is what could be described as a South Dakota Safari. I wanted to go out for some photos and a bit of nature, and my father-in-law obliged. Soon, there were seven of us (Lola, the dog, included) piled into the pick-up, out for a nature/ranch tour. While on safari, my camera showed no restraint, taking photos of landscapes, plants, livestock, and wildlife.*  We sat smiling in the back of the pick-up, tossing pistachio shells out the back between photo ops, making new memories instead of catching up on old ones.

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south dakota ranch dog in pickup

south dakota ranch gravel road

south dakota ranch dam

south dakota ranch thistle

south dakota ranch scenic view

south dakota ranch cactus

south dakota ranch

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sunflowers south dakota

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angus bull south dakota

beef cattle south dakota

beef cattle south dakota

Sorry, I know there is something entirely too “city person” about taking a cow pie photo, but somehow it seemed appropriate.

cow pie

angus bull south dakota

yucca plant south dakota

south dakota ranch view

south dakota pasture plant

south dakota ranch dog

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At one point, we climbed a hill on the property for a better view. We enjoyed ourselves so much there that we forced the whole crew back up for family photos a couple days later (I’ll share a few soon!). The views were great, the weather perfect, and the mood light.

south dakota ranch

south dakota ranch scenic view

south dakota ranch

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cassie on ranch

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Lola was honored a la Simba by Mufasa Emilee.

simba dedicatino of dog

Alas, we returned to the pick-up, worked on those pistachios again, and made our way back to the house for supper.

south dakota ranch photo

The land truly is beautiful. And vast. And–if you find moments to sneak away down the road by yourself–peaceful.

Tonight, I had the most wonderful jog. During four miles on foot, I met one vehicle and waved at one neighbor. I was chased along the fence by a herd of cattle. I was baaed at by some friendly sheep. And greeted again by two deer and my pal, the rabbit who I continue to see. I loved all of that, but mostly, I was just in awe of the peace that surrounded me in between those moments. If we overlook those South Dakota winds, of course.

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*During our “safari,” wildlife which was spotted includes two white-tailed deer, one rabbit, hawks, woodpeckers, and many other birds.

 

Up North | A Family Visit to the Duluth Area

Up North. It’s a real place. I know because we went there. And everyone we told we were going there understood exactly what we meant. It was even on the t-shirts in the gift shops.

lake superior split rock lighthouse view

After the husband arrived (yea!), my parents and older sister rounded him up into the family vehicle. And then we all went to that place called “up north.” Really, we were visiting Duluth, Minnesota, and the area north of it along the Lake Superior shoreline.

The visit was quick–about a day and a half–but we managed to squeeze in a couple of the main attractions, a couple meals, and some wandering time.

We started the trip by lunching in Two Harbors and then continued on to Gooseberry Falls State Park. Entry is free, by the way. So you have no reason to not go. I did a pretty good job convincing family to be in my photos while here. Their enthusiasm waned throughout the trip, however. Oops.

gooseberry falls

gooseberry falls

gooseberry falls

Check out the girl in mid-jump on the right below.

gooseberry falls

gooseberry falls

gooseberry falls

gooseberry falls

gooseberry falls tree roots

After spending some time on the falls loop trail (short and easy, btw), we went a couple miles north to the Split Rock Lighthouse. The lighthouse and the living quarters have been restored, and the grounds offer beautiful views. You’ll have to pay nine dollars per adult for access (includes a guided tour). I really enjoyed our visit, but I’ve never paid more than five dollars for a lighthouse visit. Just sayin’.

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Finally got Mom in a photo!

split rock lighthouse

split rock lighthouse

split rock lighthouse

The rest of our trip was spent in the city of Duluth. I’d been there once or twice as a teenager to do some volunteering, but hadn’t ever explored there. It’s cute! And works well for strolling. Jordan and I really enjoyed the lakewalk that lets you walk from the Fitger’s building to the main waterfront district. We also liked the free maritime museum, which will announce when a boat will be coming into or out of the harbor. Naturally, I acted like a nerdy ten-year-old whenever the horn sounded to let us know the lift bridge would be rising to let a boat pass. Yeah, I even got excited for the sailboat to go under.

duluth waterfront district

split rock lighthouse lakewalk

duluth waterfront

duluth waterfront

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duluth waterfront

duluth waterfront

duluth waterfront

duluth waterfront

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duluth waterfront

duluth waterfront

duluth fitger's brewery

duluth fitger's

At one point while being “up north,” I looked over and saw the photo below. I told my mom that it looked like Canada to me. She said, “I suppose that’s nothing new for you, then.” No, maybe it wasn’t new, but still lovely. And oddly, made me miss my new temporary home to the north. I’m sure British Columbia will be one really beautiful “up north.”

splitrock lighthouse beach lake superior

Friends at the Farm

Meet Jenny and Finn!

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You might’ve seen them on my Instagram account a few days ago. Jenny is one of my dearest and best friends. It had been a full two years since we’d seen each other, and that was a meager four hours. Since then, she has added a member to her family. Jenny and Finn sojourned for six days on the farm.

We did play in a volleyball tournament while she was visiting, but besides that, we kept our schedule pretty free. No agenda was needed; we simply wanted to enjoy each other’s company. We walked the country roads, chatted, cooked together, and visited the sheep.

Naturally, I had the camera handy and enjoyed having new and willing photo subjects. The photos below are farm photos and photos from our strolls during their visit.

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Love his baby double chin in the next photo!

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dad on tractor

black sheep

sheep ram

sheep against barn

sheep red's baby

farm view wisconsin

farm red barn wisconsin

july corn wisconsin

july corn wisconsin

old truck wisconsin

wisconsin july field

wisconsin soybean field cat

horsesold white barn wisconsin

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old white barn

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Wish I knew what he was thinking here:

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orange lilly

hay wagon

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cherry tomatoes on vine

bee on daisy

weeds against red tin shed on farm

kohlrabi being cut

cherry tomatoes in hand

By the time they had to leave, we realized we’d better document the fact that we were together!

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Six days seemed to fly by. I’d be lying if I said my eyes didn’t water a bit at the airport. So thankful she and Finn made the trip to visit. Jenny is my person. I dream of a day or situation when I can see her and her family on a regular basis.

sunset on farm in wisconsin

Quilting Circle | A Morning in Sand Creek

It’s been over ten years since I’ve spent as much time with my grandmother as I have this month. Sadly, the 17-year-old version of me was less appreciative and didn’t grasp how much those moments were to be cherished. I also knew this month was going to fill up with activities (and has  it ever), so when I had a day without anything scheduled and my grandma mentioned her Monday-morning quilting group, I asked if I could come along.

demin quilt

I think she and my aunt were maybe a bit surprised at my interest. I am a bit younger than the average quilter and have never actually made a quilt from start to finish. It was determined that none of this actually mattered. There would be something I could do, people I could talk to, and pictures I could take.

quilting group

A group of about 20-25 women (sometimes fewer, sometimes more) meet up at 8 A.M. on Monday mornings, quilt in Ford-like assembly line fashion for two hours, break for coffee, and work again until noon. The quilts they make go toward families or people in need, often locally, but also overseas.

john deere quilt

They also take time to chat with the newbies. Of course, I expected people would be nice, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed the conversations that I had, even if they were squeezed in between conversations of color choices and backing.

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quilting sewing machine

quilting squares

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quilting

Turns out I wasn’t even the youngest quilter in attendance. :)

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quilting

quilting

After what I estimate to be 25 quilts in four hours, lunch was in order.

Most ladies found their way over to the kitschy Sand Creek Cafe, their usual lunch spot. I was definitely happy to have had the camera in hand.

sand creek cafe

sand creek cafe

sand creek cafe

sand creek cafe

sand creek cafe

sand creek cafe

sand creek cafe

sand creek cafe

Before I knew it the morning had turned into afternoon and the time had passed. I had a great morning. Thanks, ladies!

This entry was posted in Update.