Monday, September 24, 2012

Walking in Austin

Yesterday was sunny, but brought the word, cold, into the vocabulary. The temperature got right down to freezing over night and then came a strong wind.

I decided to drive down to Austin to do the walk there. It started from a truck stop along I-90. A walk across the parking lot brought me to a bike trail that ran parallel to I -90 and then across the freeway on a bridge. This brought me into an industrial area on the left hand side with a railroad track on the right hand side -- safe walking, but not too scenic. A few minutes later I connected to some city streets and then got into a park area long the Mill Pond.

Fall Flowers along the Mill Pond
A bit later in the walk I caught up with some history signs and learned the Mill Pond is made from controlling the Red Cedar River. The water in the pond was originally used to power both a lumber mill and grist mill.

At the end of the pond I walked over to Main Street and to the SPAM Museum.

In front of the museum is statue.

Yes, this is all about pigs.

SPAM is made from pork shoulder. This is a meat that in the United States went somewhat unused. When I heard this I couldn't help but think about the delicious grilled pork shoulder that is made during bonfires at Reymontowka. I've always know about SPAM but on this visit learned the name was hatched at New Year's Eve party. The product was being tested and needed a name and one guest came up with SPAM, taking the first two letters from spiced and the last two letters from ham.

One walks into the museum under a display that may go unnoticed since it's over one's head. The clerk at the reception desk called my attention to the 3, 390 cans of SPAM.

This looks impressive -- a family could eat for a long time with this much. But a bit later in the museum I learned that 13 people can produce 21,000 cans of SPAM/hour!

The product really came into its hey-day during World War II. Because it was canned, it could be shipped everywhere without spoilage. It appears the U.S military lived on this and also introduced it all over.

The figure at the far right is to be Eisenhower. He is standing by a letter in a display.

The letter, dated in 1966, congratulates Hormel on its 75th anniversary. Eisenhower says he ate a lot of SPAM, along with all the soldiers.

The museum is free, worth of the stop if you are in the area, but should be free because it is somewhat an advertisement for Hormel.

One walks into a display of many different products.

Much to my surprise, this product is made in Minnesota.

Somehow I missed knowing that Hormel owned Jennie-O.

Hormel bought Dinty Moore in the 1930s when a change in farm policy left the company with 500,000 empty cans and nothing to put into them.

Herdez is owned by Hormel but the label said the product was made in Mexico.

A woman was walking about offering samples of SPAM.

I looked at the calorie count on this -- definitely not diet food.

I overheard guests saying they liked the samples of this. The staff person explained this product was made primarily for the New Zealand and Australia market, but was being introduced into the United States as well. (Still not diet food!)

After leaving the museum the route took me back along the other side of the Mill Pond, then to the bike trail and back along the industrial area and to the truck stop where I had left my car.

Good exercise -- glad I did this once, but probably won't do this twice!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Surprises on Friday

I set out this morning to do a 5K walk, and couldn't make up my mind about the weather. At first it was rainy, then sunny, and then rainy again. I decided to take a chance. My proposed walk was in Shoreview, MN. The first intersection that would take me to I-35 had a bit of road construction, so I decided to drive down further to my usual corner for work. Was I surprised -- There sat the American Queen.

I found a place to park and then walked back from photos.

The smoke stacks looked quite dramatic against the stormy sky.
Here's the paddlewheel.

 A crew member told me they had arrived at about 3 AM this morning.
I went onto the web site for the American Queen and found it will be back again on September 28, three times in October, and finally again on November 5.

I headed off to the walk location and the weather was sunny. So I went off on the walk around Snail Lake. Next surprise, the battery in my camera was dead. I think actually it is malfunctioning. Thus no photos, not even of the flock of wild turkeys that I strolled by. They weren't the least impressed with humans.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Summer Memories on a Cool Fall Day

Temperatures have last moved to more normal, from the abnormal of +90 degrees.That makes warm drinks sound even better, but truthfully I never give up coffee no matter how warm is the weather.

This summer while in Siedlce, Poland, some of the volunteers were looking for souvenirs and having bad luck being told that "this is not a tourist type town." Then we stumbled into a store on a side street that had the usual tourist things, much to the surprise of some of our Polish friends. (Well, yes, when one lives in a town, you don't go looking for the souvenirs.) That's a long way to explaining how I have a coffee cup with with Siedlce themes.

On top is a stroopwafel. I found a package of these in Schiphol airport. The English translation is Caramel Waffle Cookies. One is placed over the top of the cup holding a hot beverage. The heat from the beverage softens the caramel inside, and it's oh so yummy! Having these things in my kitchen brings back memories and also helps to make the time seem shorter until I can go back again!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Walking around My Home

I've been lots of places in the past few weeks and haven't spent much time seeing what is just out the door. Yesterday afternoon I walked down to Caribou to get a package of coffee. So nice to have Caribou Coffee so close, particularly if I return from being gone from Europe for several weeks and the cupboard is bare.

After this errand I walked around the corner to the fountain in the Upper Landing Park.This September day had a pleasant temperature and a bit of wind, blue skies and puffy clouds.  You can see the loveliness in the photo below.

Around another corner brought me to this typical fall view.

The trees are still green. In the distance one can see now a quiet tour boat. Near the shore on my side are barges, moored, waiting to be loaded with grain, corn, or soybeans as it is harvested in the Upper Midwest.

A bit down the sidewalk I came to a lovely garden courtyard for one of the nearby condo buildings.

I enjoyed, too, seeing the white wave of the grasses in the wind.

And the day lilies are still saying hello every morning.

The great thing about being semi-retired and only community faculty now is that I can take a walk like this in the middle of a Monday afternoon totally guilt-free!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Minnehaha Creek Walk

On September 3 I wrote about walking around Lake Nokomis. In the same area there is a second walk route for walking along Minnehaha Creek. I decided to do that one this weekend.

This morning I woke up wide awake around 4 AM. I thought to wait to leave home until at least daylight, but about 5, sleeping sounded even better. Thus I didn't arrive in this neighborhood until almost 11 AM. Good thing for the police were just taking down street barricades. I saw lots of signs left over saying the area had been closed from 7 - 11 AM for an "event." This usually means a run, bike race or other such event.

I headed out along a walking path along Minnehaha Creek. The creek flows from Lake Minnetonka located in the western metropolitan area to the Mississippi River. Its last journey is a fall over Minnehaha Falls right before in enters the Mississippi.

It's no secret many parts of the country are experiencing a very dry weather. I just looked up and learned that the Minnetonka Lake is at its lowest level in 12 years; hence not much water is flowing in the creek.

Here's a view of a basically dry creek bed.

 However, despite the low water I did find some ducks that found a bit of place to feed.

 This walk was pleasant but not particularly scenic. I walked through grassy areas with some trees, but the fall colors are not yet appearing in this part of Minnesota. The dry weather has left all the shrubs and prairie flowers looking very bedraggled.

The path went along Hiawatha Lake for a bit, but at a distance. The picture below is about the closest I got to the lake on the mapped out route.

Glad to add another 5 K to my distance book. I will try this walk next spring when hopefully there will be some water in the creek and perhaps some spring flowers.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Early Morning View

Today was the Faculty Conference at Metropolitan State University. I was responsible for staffing two information tables for the faculty attending the conference. The event started with coffee at 8:00 AM and I was asked to be there by 7:15 to get the tables set up. Arrived and found I was way too early. I'll know next time that I can wait until 7:45!! But I looked out the window about 7:20 and was awarded with an interesting view.

A tree in the courtyard was reflected in an interesting way in the puddle in the drive. Behind the tree is the classroom and office building called St. John's. A public university having a building named after a saint may be a bit unusual. This building's name is a remembrance of the fact that St. John's Hospital once occupied this site. There is a still a St. John's Hospital in the eastern metropolitan area, but it is located elsewhere, is larger and much newer.

So I guess the viewpoint in the puddle is a good example of when one has lemons, make lemonade.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September Day

This morning the temperature was around 60 degrees (15-16 C). I thought this a nice change after 95 (35 C) yesterday afternoon. I went out for a walk primarily to check out the rules for using the dog park which is now in front of our building. I have a friend who wondered if one had to get a  permit or license prior to using the dog park -- answer no.

But it is definitely a September day.

The area in back of our building is full of barges.

This is a sign that harvest is underway. These barges will eventually be filled with grain, perhaps a bit further down the river -- by a bit I mean only 2-4 kilometers away, not a huge distance away.

I noticed the sumac is changing to red. This is always a sign of autumn.

I found someone fishing.

I noticed, too, she was talking on her cell phone. We don't seem to get away from the phone anymore!

And this evening a beautiful sunset showed up outside my window.

It's beautiful, these colors seem only to show up in autumn, but also it appeared about 7:30. The long days of summer are behind us.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Walking in Port Washington

The sun woke me up yesterday morning around 7:30 AM. Nice to see bright sun and clear blue skies. I went to breakfast and then hit the road to Port Washington. I found the Dockside Deli without too much difficulty, but managed to fall up the steps from the street to the deck around the cafe. Customers inside saw me and almost rushed to my help, but I got up and went inside and assured them I was OK. Later I tried to figure out why I fell, and I think the rise of the steps was higher than I expected and my foot just caught about one inch below the actual step. (Update -- Feel better about my solution -- I'm watching Holmes Inspection on HGTV and he found a home that had the front steps at the wrong rise and that leads to falls. That's exactly what happened to me. We have it built into our mind-body coordination how high a rise of a step should be!)

I was soon away on the walk, electing to do a 5K after doing a 10 K yesterday.

The first part of the walk was along the dock area for the charter fishing boats. I thought the view of the church on the hill was lovely, but had the sinking feeling that I might eventually end up there and it did look like a climb.

The walk continued around a small park. One feature is a monument to fishermen -- yes, no mention of women who fish -- on the other hand I didn't see a single woman out fishing either.

Here's another view of this area.
The walk continued around the perimeter of a park area. In the middle was a monument to commercial fishermen.

Then the route went to fisherman's dock which was lined with men fishing. It seemed to me that fishing here is a serious business and serious recreation.

I found fish cleaning stations along the harbor area.

The walk route cross Sauk Creek at the point at which it enters Lake Michigan.

I walked parallel to the creek for about one kilometer seeing many bike riders along this route. The route went to the Union Cemetery, this for those who are doing walks under Spirit of Walking Cemetery Stroll Special Programs.

Then it headed back towards the center of the town going past the Teed/Eghart House. This house was built between 1870-1872, and remained a private home until 1969. Now it is a museum, but open only on Sundays during the summer tourist season.

By now I had completed 3K, but the next 2K went up and down in a significant way.The information about this walk was quite clear that it included stairs, but I didn't quite understand what was in store.

The map for the walk explained that Port Washington is built on seven hills with many streets being connected by stairs.

Here's the first steps up -- all 79 of them!

At the top I turned right for about 50 feet and then it was 59 steps down on a set of stairs set at a right angle to those I had just walked up.

Then I went by the Ozaukee County Courthouse and really back into the business district.

Turning on Franklin Street and found the following on my route map:
"Ascend the 85 stairs to St. Mary's Church."  This church, built in 1884, is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The stairs were actually fairly easy to climb, the rise was just right.

The church is French-Gothic, quite impressive with three beautiful doors. Here's one of them.

The route continued around a retired light house.

And since I was very much on top of a hill the lake view was very nice, too.

And of course, next were steps down -- 102 to be exact.

From the bottom of the stairs I found my way back to the Dockside Deli where I had a sandwich. If this place was in my home town I'd be there a lot. The food is very, very good!

Walking in Cedarburg

I came to Cedarburg, both to enjoy this lovely town and to do the 10K Volksmarch here.

I picked up the map on Thursday evening and discovered at about its half way point is ended up back basically back at the hotel. So I decided to break it into two pieces.

I was out the door about 7 AM and oh no! Rain drops! The route went west a bit taking me by public buildings such as the public library and the police station. Then it headed back to Washington Avenue, one of the main streets in Cedarburg. The route headed north up and around Centennial Park. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more had it not been raining. Then back to Washington Avenue.

I walked by the former Woolen Mill building, now an area called Cedar Creek Settlement, full of shops. The sign on the building explained this had been the only mill west of Philadelphia which made worsted woolen, a product in much demand for military uniforms during the Civil War.

At the Interurban Bridge Area the route got more interesting, even in the rain.

There once was an interurban train that ran between Milwaukee and Sheboygan. The trail is now for hiking and biking. I liked this view "up creek."

These are very old buildings and would have been seen by all who rode the train.

The route curved along the creek by the fire station and then across another bridge, and I was back at the hotel.

Indeed after walking for an hour in light rain, breakfast sounded very good.

I lingered for awhile because it looked as if the rain was ending. Yes! I went back to the point where I had left the route and continued along Cedar Creek in a park area. I liked this view of creek, now below the dam.

I continued on through an area of new houses, but it's still wild country. If you look carefully you can see wild turkeys walking between the trees.

The route continued on through a cemetery, a landmark for those doing the special program (see Walking Port Washington above).

The map said the next part was Beech Park. I was expected green spaces such as those I had enjoyed before, but got a surprise. Beech Park is a forest.

About mid-way through I found signs that neighborhood kids perhaps are having fun.

Out of the forest and a couple of turns took me by a Starbuck's where I stopped for a cappuccino. Then up the street again and by the St. Francis Borgia Church.

The sky obviously continued to be a bit stormy. This church marks the southern end of the historic district. Soon I was back to the hotel for a rest.

In the early evening the sun came out and I did a short walk through the route by the hotel in order to get some better pictures than I could get in the rain.

Here's the grist mill in the evening sunshine.
The mill was built in the mid 1850s. The early European settlers were attracted to this area because the fall of the creek looked as if it would provide a lot of water power. At its peak operation this mill produced 120 barrels of flour daily. Now it is a commercial building.

Walking along the path by the creek I saw a scene new to me. Ducks were sitting on the lip of the dam. Never have seen something like that before.

 The ducks blend with the lip of the dam quite nicely, but if you look closely you can see they are there.

And here's a view of the creek from the Interurban Bridge in the early evening.

Cedarburg is certainly a lovely place for a walk -- and as noted in the first posting about this place, has a shop with great ice cream. A wonderful weekend in this area.