The North Shore Trip

This past weekend the Hubby and I drove up to the North Shore, and we ended up cramming in a lot of activities. On Friday I had to work a half day, and that afternoon before we left the Cities, we took in the Minnesota History Center’s Prohibition exhibit. I did some museum tweeting, which you can see on Storify by clicking the image below. 

storifyprohibition

Then we drove 2.5 hours north on Highway 35 to Superior, Wisconsin, which is right across the river from Duluth, Minnesota. We checked into our hotel and I was ready to crash, but we somehow managed to drag our butts out to see The Monuments Men. It was awesome and totally worth the putting on of pants. [Read more...]

Winter Storm Seneca Blows Through

Last night I participated on panel about Women In Secularism for Campus Atheists Humanists and Skeptics at the University of Minnesota. My fellow panelists were Stephanie Zvan, Niki Massey – who did a guest post for Biodork a few months ago – and Chelsea Du Fresne. It was awesome – there were a lot of thoughtful questions from the (mostly male) audience. We had a chance to talk about microaggressions, how to build and support diversity in organizations, and how to recognize when you might be dealing with an MRA.

The snow had started to fall at about 1pm yesterday afternoon. The snowflakes were big and fluffy and full of water – perfect snowman snow! When we left the panel at about 10pm, we had acquired several inches of snow. But this is Minnesota and the plows were on high alert; many of the major roads had been cleared at least once.

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The Hubby’s 40th

Last Friday we celebrated the Hubby’s 40th birthday. He decided that his ideal celebration would be dinner and a movie with friends, which over a few conversations evolved into renting a movie theater, showing one of his favorite movies of all time, and sharing dinner with ALL THE FRIENDS!

We decided to make the Hubby’s 40th birthday party kind of a big deal.

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Cold, Dark and Slippery

Yeesh! It’s been snowing all day today; a light but steady fall of pretty white powder came down during the work day. I left at 7pm so I missed the rush hour traffic, but even my kick-ass snow tires were put to the test on the drive home. I saw one accident on 35W North near Diamond Lake Road in south Minneapolis. Another car – which had been abandoned by the time I saw it – was at an unlikely angle high up a hill on 212 in Eden Prairie. TwinCitiesTraffic.com is showing FOURTEEN accidents in since 7:42pm (within the past thirty minutes).

Stay safe, all.

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I was outside taking photos of the snow when I heard two horns bellow and squealing tires at this intersection. Cold. Dark. Slippery!

DSC_0080 (683x1024)Fresh snow in the city.

It is pretty though…

It’s our first big snowfall of the winter:

Picnic table with about four inches of snow, trees and snowy lawn in the background

Snow falling in the park behind my work.

Parking lot and work building in the background at dusk

Looking out across the parking lot at work. Snow. Snow everywhere.Bare tree branches covered in fresh snow

Snow piles up on the bare branches of a tree.Tire tracks through the snowTire tracks and a plowed aisle in the parking lot.

I’m On A Bus

With the first modest snowfall coming down in the Twin Cities yesterday, I have now switched to bus commuter mode. I like taking the bus to and from work because it gives me an excuse to be online for an hour before starting my day. And because smaller carbon footprint. And because when the roads are slick I don’t have the stress of driving on them. And because it gives me a morning walking routine; the bus stop is 3/4 mile away.

But mostly it’s the interwebs. Most of the fleet that serves the commuter lines have upgraded to include free wifi.

Wide view of the front of a bus taken by a passenger.

The morning westbound bus is always more full than the evening eastbound. I work out in the boonies and the route is very industrial park-specific, so there are only three morning pick-ups from my neighborhood and they all tend to be full. But I often take the last bus of the evening in from Chaska to Minneapolis, so I have never had to seat-share on the way home. It’s easier to use the laptop when I don’t have to seat-share because I like to flare my elbows out when I type. I have never been good at writing on a cell phone or iPad, preferring to either dictate or get all old-fashioned with pen and paper.

Today one of the fluorescent lights or fans is rattling in the vicinity of the seat behind me. It sounds so much like fapping that I actually peeked into the seat behind me to make sure that the sound was, in fact, coming from the bus. Ah, I did miss public transportation.

Happy Spring From Minnesota!

Here are a couple of pictures of budding trees, tulips and daffodils in bloom, and robins singing in…ah, no. That’s not it.

Spring Dog Walk

A hardy Minnesotan and her hardy Minnesotan dog were taking in the sunny Minnesotan springtime this morning.

Spring Escorting

Me outside of the women’s clinic this morning. Does that look like spring clothing to you? My frickin’ toes about froze off.

Spring Please

I saw this on the Minnesota Renaissance Festival’s Facebook page. This. So much. Please.

Traveling for the holidays.

The Hubby and I have been looking forward to seeing family at the holidays for a number of weeks. The downside is that this year seeing family involves an 11-13 hour road trip to southern Illinois over the winter season, which ended up meaning this:

The storm, part of a system that began in the Rockies earlier in the week, led airlines to cancel more than 1,000 flights Thursday and caused whiteout conditions that left roads dangerous to drive on. It was blamed for deaths in at least five states, with parts of Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan hit with more than a foot of snow. - from CBSnew.com

Ack! As part of our route we have to drive along 35 South, which was closed earlier in the week due to a 25-car pile up that resulted in two deaths and seven injuries. BUT, the storm had moved past by Friday morning, and so we started our journey from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Carbondale, Illinois at 1pm this afternoon.

Driving through most of Minnesota was fine – we hadn’t seen any of the storm up by us – but by the time we hit Iowa the roads started getting icy and we were down to about 45-50 miles per hour. Happily there was no falling snow, but the big semi trucks kept kicking up wet slush onto the windshield. It took us four hours and about a full bottle of windshield wiper fluid to reach Waterloo, IA, which is only about 30 minutes longer than usual, but I was DONE. I was exhausted from clenching the steering wheel, switching back and forth between lanes to find the least treacherous path (often one lane was often better plowed or traveled than the other), and swearing at idiot drivers going far too fast for the conditions. The Hubby took over for a little while, but when the sun set the highway became an even less appealing place to be. So we called it and found a hotel.

This:

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Is soooooo much better than this:

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That’s really what the highway looked like in some places!

The hotel has ended up being an unexpected treasure. It’s in the middle of nowhere, but it’s a new construction and clean, quiet, with comfy bed and pillows, very sparsely booked tonight and the staff are all very nice. We had a pizza in the common room (well, my gluten-free self had pizza toppings) and we played a couple rounds of Lost Cities and 7 Wonders before retiring to the room. Tomorrow we’re planning on being on the road at sunrise, but since it’s December that’s not until about 7:30am. We’re hoping that as we get further south and leave the path that the storm traveled the road will be clearer.

Safe journeys to all of you who are also traveling for the holidays.

Twin Cities: First Snowfall 2011

Winter is here, and so is winter driving! Or, as one friend likes to call it: “The Season During Which Minnesotans Relearn Physics.”

Well, we knew we couldn’t avoid it forever. But man, things change fast up here! I mean a day prior it was a typical sunny, cool, fall day. And then on Saturday it was all like:

Photos in order are: 35W South, Driving Across the 35W Bridge, Downtown Minneapolis and the Stone Arch Bridge, Near Hwy 7 & Hwy 100 in St. Louis Park, Lake Calhoun, Uptown, Our Front Yard, and The Hubby in the Snow.

Yuck! But there are a couple of awesome things associated with the first snowfall of the year:

1) I made an appointment to get snow tires put on my car on Friday evening. If I was a day trader I would so have been buying stock in tire companies in Minnesota at the end of last week. I don’t know how Discount Tire in Eden Prairie managed to fit me in, but they did. Off came the worn, barely-acceptable-for-dry-summer-roads tires, and on went shiny new Michilin X-Ice 2s! Considering what the roads looked like at the end of Saturday afternoon, I felt really lucky to have gotten this chore done just in the nick of time.

2) We managed to get the motorcycle put away for the winter on Saturday morning just as it was starting to snow. We didn’t really make it to our storage garage in Mounds View before it got gross out, but we did manage to minimize the damage.

I was the driver for this little expedition and had to get all winter-geared up for the 15-mile drive in 25°F, lightly snowing weather.

I’m wearing thick socks, insulated ankle-high workboots, jeans, carhart overalls, a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, my leather motorcycle jacket, a carhart coat, lined leather gloves, a neck wrap, a fleece hood that covers my nose and mouth, and my full-face helmet.

I’ll start out by saying that we made it to Mounds View without incident. But the ride overall…what’s the word…oh yeah – sucked. The Hubby rode behind me in the car and I slowly made my way up 35W on the light layer of fresh, blowing snow. One thing that I discovered right away is that the snow was heavier and wetter than I had anticipated. I had to keep wiping snow off of my face shield, and near the very end of the ride it started icing over and had to be scraped off. Blergh. But, like I said, this was earlier in the day, so the snow hadn’t started to really accumulate yet and clog up the roads. And now it’s done.

That’s about it. The snow stayed overnight and through the weekend. It hasn’t melted yet, but the temperature is supposed to rise up to as high as 50°F by the week’s end, which should make Black Friday shopping a bit more cheery!

Winter Car Wash

Those of you who drive in the winter know the frustration of dirty cars.  The salt, sand and slush that splashes up on the car is bad enough, but it’s not the only indignity.  There’s the constant spraying of windshield washer fluid, which cleans barely enough of the windshield to see through for about 30 seconds - unless you have ice on your wipers, and then it won’t even clean that well. And I dare you to try to walk through a Minnesota parking lot in the middle of January without smearing white-gray dusty dirt on your coat.

The temptation to take the car through a car wash is great. It becomes an obsession – the huge icicles that have built up in the wheel wells (WWIs aka boogers) and behind the tires grow longer each day. And like the crusty salt coating the undercarriage, the dirtiness of the car slowly eats away on you.

And then something crazy happens – the sun comes out and the temperature inches toward 10F. The sun!  It’s noon, the sun is at its zenith, the temperature is relatively balmy and you think…maybe, just maybe I could go through the car wash today.  The sun’s out, it’s less cold than usual…maybe the doors and windows won’t freeze shut afterwards. I could get the salt off of the car, and I’ll have the cleanest car in the state! Mwahahaha!

But this is why you don’t give in temptation: Two miles post-car wash:

The slush, man. The slush will getcha every time. 

But for a brief moment, my car was shiney.  It was brilliant.  It was the cleanest car on the roads that day.  For about 2 minutes.