Thursday, February 19, 2015

Spring is Coming??

This morning I woke up about 6:45 AM and amazing, there is some daylight at that time of day. My bedroom and living room windows both face east.

The sun is still rising in the southeast sky and so it is hidden from my view by other buildings in downtown Saint Paul.

The view above is more towards the northeast. The curved street on the bottom of the photo is I-35E entering into downtown Saint Paul.

Both of these pictures show steam -- condensed water vapor -- coming from chimneys. That is always a sign that it is really, really cold outdoors and that is true. This morning around 7:00 AM the outdoor temperature was -10 (-23C). When I came home last evening at 8:30 PM the temperature was just at 0. I'm heading to Florida on Sunday and right now even Florida is cold.

But soon the sun has to win, right???

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Walking at the Mall of America -- again

On Saturday I got up early and drove to the Mall of America for the walk sponsored there by the Twin Cities Volkssports Club. This is an annual event, supported by the Walking Company Store. Smart of them as this time I took a good look at their shoes and may be back there some day for some shopping. The volksmarchers were only part of the people walking here early in the morning. Many, many people show up there for walking. Mall walking is popular here in the winter because one could do good distances without having to deal with cold weather or snow and ice on the sidewalks.

I have done this walk many times now and it's getting hard to find anything new. But I decided i would try to find some new things, or things that were quirky or strange.

I liked the pillow that I saw in the window of the Creative Kidstuff store.

The sign below caught my attention. One thing I truly dislike about this mall is that often I drive around longer trying to find a place to park than the drive between where I live and the mall.

No, I don't use Twitter to find a place; I usually take the light rail which totally eliminates having to find a parking place. However, at 7:30 in the morning finding a place to park was not a problem, but when I left at 10:15 the parking ramp was full .

The sign above was over hand sanitizer. I find it interesting that now stores feel it necessary to provide this-- and it's particularly ironic that we have a cohort of the population that is very germ phobic but at the same time is rejecting vaccines which protect against very much more dangerous diseases than one might find touching something at a shopping mall.

Bloomingdale's pulled out an anchor tenant at the MOA. During this walk I noticed the third level of this space has now been turned into an Exhibit Center. This center right now has a Barbie exhibit, a CSI exhibit, and a Star Trek exhibit. I couldn't figure out from the sign if this is a free area or if one must pay a fee. The signage did speak to getting tour reservations. Well, it will have to be something more interesting than these three shows before I try to try to learn more.

I passed the above video a couple of times. Two thoughts -- I much rather walk and see things than do such a timeless exercise - and secondly, what does this have to do with Verizon products? That is the store in which the video plays in the window.

A fun part of walking of Level 3 is seeing the decorations from the bars and restaurants on Level 4 from a different perspective.

And Level 3 also provides a good view of the robot in the Lego Store.

This walk counted in my distance book and the event book. I also am starting a Walking the Louisiana Purchase book. This book requires one to do a walk in each of the 15 states that have area that was purchase by the United States from France and now known as the Louisiana Purchase.

In a post from a recent Nebraska adventure I wrote about going to the Lewis and Clark Museum in Nebraska City, NE. For readers in other countries -- Lewis and Clark were sent out by President Jefferson to explore just what the United States had purchased.

I'm getting anxious for better weather outdoors to start doing some walks in other towns and parks. Come on Spring!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

From Nebraska to Minnesota

Yesterday I did the drive back from Nebraska to Minnesota. I waited to leave my friends' home until almost 11:30 am for I thought that would let the snow in Iowa to move far enough east that it would not be any kind of problem.

I thought I would again try the 100 mile pictures. The pictures at the start of the drive are from the grounds of the Veterans' Administration Hospital in Lincoln.

Shortly after turning back on 70th Street I came to a stop light. The process of slowing down to the stop caused all the snow yet on the top of my car to slide down the windshield. Thankfully that happened while I was stopped safely. The windshield wipers easily moved the snow off the windshield, but left a huge pile where the hood meets the windshield. I thought the heat from the engine would melt the snow, but that didn't
happen. It was many miles later while actually having crossed to Iowa that I found a rest stop. I pulled in and used the brush which all Minnesotans carry in the car to remove the snow from that area.

My 100 mile mark occurred at another rest stop in Iowa. This one is called a parking only rest stop. One could stop there for a bit of break from driving but there is no toilet facility, and the major Iowa rest stops have history exhibits as well as wi-fi.

This particular rest stop is in the middle of a wind farm area.

 From the Nebraska border to the interchange I mention below, I saw many cars in the snow in the median of the highway awaiting a tow truck to pull them out. Each carried a ribbon which I think must signal to the highway patrol that the car has been noted and the people inside safely removed to shelter. The snowy Sunday night must have been bad out there on the freeway. It is not uncommon for semi-trucks to jack-knife during weather we had, but I saw one semi-truck totally overturned in the median. That is uncommon.

Eventually I came to the interchange of I-80 and I-35 and began the trek to the north. The 200 mile mark became the "lunch" stop. This stop was actually a few minutes after 3 in the afternoon, so I don't know if I should call it lunch. I found an exit that had many restaurants listed on the sign, so followed the directions given and stopped at Culver's, which is one of my favorites.

I was surprised to see the sundae. I always order a hot fudge shake. I don't know if I misspoke or the person at the register made a mistake on keying in the order. Anyway I didn't send it back for a change.

This particular area in which I found the restaurant had many other restaurants and big box stores, but I couldn't see a gas station anywhere. It was getting time to get gas and I thought I shouldn't wait for the major interchange that was yet another good hour north. Well, I knew Boondocks would come up.

Looked up the word Boondocks and found it comes from a Tagalog word. Wikipedia says Boondocks is an American colloquialism that means a remote, rural location. Succeeded in getting gas, but here the temperature was only 15 degrees (-9.5 C) and the wind was blowing, too. Brrr! 

Iowa Public Radio had been saying all the snow in this area had moved on into Wisconsin, and I found that to be true. But while stopped here I picked up a text from my granddaughter saying it was snowing hard in St. Paul.  I didn't like that news, but knew I would arrive in that area after rush hour so that should help a lot.

The 300 mile mark found me in southern Minnesota. Here is another picture from a rest stop.

No one having a picnic here today.

Now in Minnesota I noticed the snow plows were out and again tow trucks needed for some cars that had gone astray. There was just a light coating of snow on the road.

The 400 mile mark was by Buck Hill, a downhill ski area, but there was not a safe place to stop for a photo. The photo shown below comes from Google images.

Buck Hill was busy when I went by about 7 PM. I got home safe, but tired about one-half hour later.

It was fun to get out of town for a few days.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Snow, snow beautiful? snow

As I have said in previous posts, I drove to Nebraska on Thursday last week. The forecasts were good ! I didn't see much snow, just a bit in the side of the road where the sun doesn't hit it.

But Saturday night here started with rain and then very wet snow. It produced some beautiful views.

I did like this view of the lamp in the back yard. And when I put the picture above on Facebook a person from Viet Nam commented "so beautiful."

Yes, it is beautiful.

But it took at least 20 minutes, if not longer, to clean the snow and ice off my car. When I parked I turned my wheels turned the curb because it is parked on a small downhill. I had to run the car and warm it up to be able to change the tires.

Well, it is winter! This is really most of the snow I have seen this winter.