right now

right now

Dec 1, 2009

The Holiday is Over! Warning, a big post!

Okay, here goes!! My family back home is probably dreading this... like the family of a stand-up comedian must feel over the holidays, i.e. "oh, crap, is she going to write about this?", or "quick, hide her camera!" Nope! No blogging about dysfunctionalism, food poisoning, practical jokes or anything of the like! It was all good... this time....

The road trip is finally over! The trip up north wasn't too bad, we made it in 24 hours and managed to drive straight through. The trip back south to VA was awful, however, and took about 33 hours and all of those extra 9 hours were spent near the D.C. area in bumper to bumper holiday traffic on Sunday, yikes! I managed to get everything unpacked and put away, car vacuumed, and laundry done so now I can reflect with a bit of sanity.

We had a great week and were able to visit with family in some fashion every day we were there. The kids enjoyed every minute and were sad to see our visit come to an end. I didn't really get any decent photos of family since my flash indoors is no longer working and there is moisture in my camera still from the Nor'easter, but managed to get a few when we headed outdoors. (the poor quality of these tells me it is time to get a new camera!)

Every time I return home I am stunned by the beauty of where I grew up. I used to take it for granted, but seeing it through my husband's eyes (who did not grow up here) makes me realize it really does look like a movie set, or otherwise unreal! The town I grew up in is Red Wing, Minnesota. It is in Southeast MN on the Mississippi River. We are home to the Red Wing Shoe Factory, and those Red Wing Crocks people still oooh and ahhh over. It is a small town, but being within an hour of the Twin Cities of Mpls/Saint Paul we manage to have all the benefits of urban shopping, arts, music and education. Just thought I would share...

The view of my hometown from atop a river bluff. This is the Mississippi River: Red Wing, MN on the left, the state of Wisconsin on the right. Typical river town with alot of barge traffic and agricultural shipping going on - only nicer!

Another shot of town, river, grain elevators and bridge to WI

We have one of the last remaining boathouse communities. In the center of the picture are unique boathouses that rise and fall on timber poles with the water level or ice-in during winter. Also a great place for teenage parties, as I remember :)

Picture of limestone bluffs on a foggy day

This is Lake Pepin, the one of the widest points on the Mississippi River at over 2 miles. For all you Laura Ingalls Wilder fans - yes, this is the same Lake Pepin where the Little House in the Big Woods was!

Another shot of Lake Pepin in the afternoon from the Wisconsin side of the river.

This brings me to one of our outings on vacation. Loch has just started reading larger "chapter" books, so before our trip I got him a copy of "Little House in the Big Woods" to read since this was one of my favorite books as a child (for obvious reasons!). At halfway through the book we took the kids to see the actual Little House and birthplace of Laura Ingalls, which is only about 20 minutes away. The kids were stunned to see how "little" the house actually was! (And I admit I was stunned by how urban parents would never allow their children to read these books nowadays... really, if you haven't read them in the past 30 years, go back to them. They are full of loaded guns in the house, animal butchering, spankings, and politically incorrect lessons-learned... the good stuff!!)

Click to enlarge and read about the site.

Inside the "Little House in the Big Woods". About 150 sq feet, 3 rooms, loft, and great deep stone fireplace.

Sailor/Husband/Father with the boys outside the Little House

I felt a little guilty about taking the kids out of school for so long for our vacation but honestly I think they learned far more on vacation than they would have gotten at school that week! They got their fill and then some about history, dairy farming, even hunting - it happened to be opening weekend of deer season so they were inundated with Bambi on the tailgate of every passing truck! It turned out to be a great opportunity to explain to them the difference between hunting for food/ donating kills to food banks / population & disease control and flat out wastefulness, poaching, and general unsporting behavior.

Two months ago, my parents bought a home on the WI side of the river and live there now, so we did the Wisconsin thing and went to the local creamery and bought a ton of cheese curds made fresh that day. My son loves all things cow, so WI is a very appropriate place for Grandma to live in his eyes, he gets to enjoy local cheesecurds and see cows everytime we go ANYWHERE, lol! If you haven't had cheese curds before, go to the Ellsworth Creamery's website and order some NOW, they are heaven!

This large box of squeaky-fresh curds I bought is clearly not enough! Half were consumed on the ride home. I found out they ship, so we are golden! I intend to see how their cold packs fare by shipping some to my husband's aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf this spring. I will report back on their condition upon arrival, lol! I purchased a children's book on Wisconsin Dairying and will be sending that in to Loch's class along with a bag of cheese curds to try, although I am not sure if they will actually make it past his teacher: she's from Wisconsin, lol!

This gorgeous lady is my niece, Nora! She is 9 months now, and full of personality and smiles. She will be spoiled, since she is the only little girl in an extended family of all gross-stinky-boy cousins :). We got to see her several times during our visit, but she's like a little cheese-curd, you can never have too much 'Nora'!

On a whole 'nuther level is my husband's fascination with "up-north" outdoorsy stuff. He absolutely loves everything about back home. In past years he became obsessed with wanting to kayak and canoe the Boundary Waters (and who wouldn't?), Muskie and Walleye fishing, hiking, and now.... HUNTING????? I guess it was only a matter of time. When faced with bumper to bumper opening weekend traffic all up I-94 in WI, every truck and trailer loaded to the gills with ATV's, gun racks, deer stands, and platforms for the carcasses, he about lost his mind. And I must admit, compared to our deer here in Virginia, the deer back home are huge. He did live for awhile in Alaska when he was young, so his appetite had been whetted at an early age! We'll see how long this lasts... (And there's the whole snow-machine thing, but he hasn't even thought about that one yet...!)
Upon seeing the sign at a local bar he quickly spoke and said
"Look, honey, there's stuff for you to do, too!"

Sailor/Hubby checking out ice fishing stuff at a local sporting goods store. What's next?

He was taken aback by the wide selection of "freeze your ass off" entertainment some of us Minnesotans take part in (as in the ice fishing shacks pictured above).
I had to tell him, "Really, it only sounds like a good time...."

Wow, I'm long winded today, but I missed you all! I was reading all of your blogs while on vacation but unable to comment on my iPhone without typing unintelligible things on that keyboard! We had one other event while we were back home, but that one will be a post in itself! Hope you all are getting your act together for the holidays, can't wait to see some decorating and winter pictures!


  1. I'm so glad you had fun!!! Family vacations can be the best if everything goes right. I'm sure the traffic wasn't a blast, but I'm glad you made it home safe.

  2. Ugh! I remember DC traffic from the drive from V's parents in PA back to Richmond. That and beach traffic are the worst.
    Glad you had a good time and made it home safely.

  3. Even though you spent too many hours in the car, the important thing is that it was all safe!

    Wow, towns along the Mississippi are beautiful, aren't they. Thanks for sharing your pictures.

    You were missed while you were gone but it sounds like you had a really nice time. How lucky for you that hubby likes what he's seen of Minnie-soda!

  4. Bravo and welcome home. Loved this post, felt like I really had a mini vacation reading it - and the Ingall's cabin and cheese curds could it get any better - thanks - peace for all

  5. Uh, you have me welling up. I started when I saw a small corner of WI in your photos, then the cheesecurds hit and I was all done. I really hope to bring my family there one day to show them where I spent a decade of my childhood. I was just telling my husband about the deer season the other day, that is one thing I DON"T miss about the mid-west: dead deer everywhere you look!

    I am glad you had a nice visit, awesome you shared the L.I.W. homestead, that was my favorite show as a kid. I am in agreeance, the crap we shove done our kids throat on the tube is worse than any tale of the prairie.

  6. Glad you had a fun trip! Red Wing is a really nice town, I like the pottery shops and the B&Bs there a lot!!

  7. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip! It's nice to hit the road once and a while...a reminder of how people used to travel before airplanes became more accessible to everyone.

    Great pictures! I've never heard of that book but will have to google it.

  8. What a great trip-it's always great to reconnect with family. And while you have been up north, I travelled down south, and gotta say-Virginia is freaking GORGEOUS. Oh, my husband wanted to stay forever. Why have you been keeping this a secret??????????????
    Anyways, glad you made it home safely. Have a great week....

  9. Jo, I keep meaning to actually stay at one of the B&B's while we are there and do it "tourist-style", but haven't gotten around to it yet! And Sue, I am willing to bet you went through the Blue Ridge Mts, they are beautiful, but there's no place like home!