Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter Storm in Minnesota

Last week we headed to Minnesota to visit Joe’s family and to jointly celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with all his family. I lived in Minnesota for almost 8 years and I always feel bummed to have to go back during the wintertime because that was my least favorite time of the year living there. But, because the holidays happen to take place during winter up in the Northern Hemisphere, I had to pack my bags and head to the Midwest for some days.

We were fortunate to encounter unusually high temperatures for December. When the temps are in the 30s in December you really can’t avoid thinking of climate change. It’s weird how some people will actually say they are happy for climate change because it makes days warmer. These are the same people who swear to love winters and who obviously don’t realize the impact the rising temperatures are going to have (and ARE having) on the lakes they love so much.

Climate change jokes are not funny.

Anyway, one reason why I was excited about visiting Minnesota was the possibility of getting some good winter shots and, hopefully, some snow photos. The forecast was predicting some snow for Saturday and, as the weekend approached, the forecast changed to predict about 10-16 inches of snow on a massive storm to hit Minnesota on Sunday.

But, before the city turned white, we managed to sneak some walks downtown Stillwater, the small town on the border with Wisconsin where my in laws live and where Joe is from, as well as some field trips to neighboring towns.

Stillwater is a cute little town with a very cute downtown where you can find several antique stores with awesome treasures. Next time I visit, I really want to go treasure hunting in those stores. I’m not looking for anything in particular, but I know I’ll find something fun!

One of our daytrips took us to a nice park right on the Saint Croix River.  We got to walk around the rocks, into a cave and watch the dogs run around and go in the freezing cold water—I assume it was freezing, I didn’t test it! The river was calm, the trees were bare, and there was some ice on the shore. At this time of year, the river should be somewhat frozen, but instead, water flowed nicely.

After walking around the Boom Site, as this place is called, we headed to Marine on St. Croix, the town where Garrison Keiler gets his inspiration for his show “Prairie Home Companion.” This very small town is home to less than 700 people, according to the US 2012 Census.

At Marine we got lunch and we also stopped at a fabulous chocolate store called St. Croix Chocolate Co. (http://www.stcroixchocolateco.com). Not only do they make mouth watering chocolate, but they also hand paint every single piece, creating truly beautiful works of art.


After Marine, we drove north to Franconia, a very small township with a bit over 1,000 people. Here we visited the Franconia Sculpture Park (http://www.franconia.org/about.html), an innovative community arts organization that houses art made by local and international artists. What’s fun about this park is that most of the sculptures are huge and some you can even climb on! Oh, and it’s free too!

We walked around the Park for an hour or so, until it got too chilly, at least for me! Photographing the sculptures was fun, but also challenging because it’s hard to convey their quirkiness in a single photo. Even trying to show the entire park was very challenging too, but I still tried!

On Sunday we attended a football game at the Metrodome, the big Minneapolis stadium. Sunday was also the day the big snowstorm hit the Twin Cities, as Minnesotans call Minneapolis and Saint Paul. This was my first game ever. I’m not a bit football fan, but more of a futbol fan, that’s soccer for those who are not familiar with it!

The drive to the game was painful and so was the drive back. It took us 2 hours to get back from Minneapolis to Stillwater! The roads were in terrible conditions and we saw several cars that had gone off the road, including a semi truck!

But, snow makes for pretty photos. Before leaving for the game, I managed to snap a few, even as the snow was still heavily coming down. It was super fun! Everything turn from brown to white overnight and the snow kept pilling up to a total of 2 feet by the end of the day!

I wish I’d had played in the snow or made a snowman, instead of the game, but the game was also fun and, if I may say, it was a great cultural experience as well!

Also on Sunday, I had the joy to watch cardinals feed on the birdfeeder my in laws have in their yard. At some point, there were 4 couples of cardinals flying around, their redness even more noticeable in the fresh white snow!

Monday was our last day in Minnesota before flying back to my beloved San Francisco.

That morning we went out to brunch with Joe’s parents and I was able to snap some street shots of the snow, the roads and the whiteness of the place. Click, click, short break to warm up hands, click, click!

I got my snow after all!

A few hours later, we were on our way to the airport. I was ready to shed the winter jacket and to leave the frozen tundra. It’s nothing personal Minnesota; it’s just that I’m a bit more Equatorial and your frozen winters do not sit well with me!

I hope you enjoyed the photos from this week! Also, I made another sale yesterday and I’m super pumped about it!!! For more photos of snow, and not snow, visit my Etsy store at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/WorldPhotosByPaola

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