Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Villages in Anhui, China

World Heritage Tour has done it again, taking me on a virtual trip to an amazing part of China about which I know nothing - the villages of Anhui province in eastern China.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Evolution in Fargo

We (me, Tim, Lynne, Tom, and James) are in Fargo for a workshop on sustainable engineering. Assuming that the amount of time spent in meeting rooms, the cool damp weather, and the fact that I am here with a lot of other people would conspire to keep me inside, I did NOT bring my camera. (Dumb, dumb, dumb.) So the pictures I'm posting here were taken by Tom Faella. (Thank you, Tom.)

I end up in Fargo fairly regularly these days and I enjoy seeing how much downtown Fargo has come to life in the 20-some years since college. The dirty, run-down and nearly abandoned Broadway I remember is being revitalized, with a few new restaurants joining Old Broadway (although Fargo still isn't much of a food town) and a bunch of funky galleries and shops mixed in with the old bars and industrial buildings.

And there is more to come as housing options increase and the University of North Dakota expands its campus into downtown. There seem to be signs of change everywhere.

The city has put a lot of effort into revitalizing this area over the years and it seems to finally be paying off. Areas that I recall as dusty and empty (and kind of scary at night) are becoming an interesting mix of old and new.

It's sort of surreal walking through this odd mix. . . and that's before we reach the Hotel Donaldson, which is swathed in bras tonight.

(All photos by Tom Faella)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Halloween Will Soon Be Here

Fall is quickly moving along here in Saint Paul, with the leaves piling up on the ground.

Along with the falling leaves, my neighbors have been busy preparing for Halloween.

I guess it won't be long before winter arrives.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

An (Almost) Perfect Saturday In October

Ah, a beautiful fall day. . . what better way to spend it than in one of our gorgeous state parks? So, (a little late in the morning, after completing a few chores) we are on the road with the top down on the Miata..

Our first stop is Stillwater, where we plan to check in with some friends (we forgot the cell phone) and grab a quick lunch.

As we approach town, the traffic becomes terrible and the town is jammed with other like-minded folks. Ugh. Our friends are actually home – but tied up with projects, so we agree to meet them for dinner on our way back through town.

Now, back to lunch. Nothing looks very promising in Marine. Oh well, we’ll eat in Taylors Falls before we head into Interstate Park. Meanwhile, we’ll enjoy the lovely drive.

Even from the highway I can see that Interstate Park is also really busy and that the traffic in Taylors Falls looks a lot like the traffic in Stillwater. I really want to check out the Wisconsin side of the park anyway, so we head across the river and into St. Croix Falls.

We find a cute river town, but not a lot of restaurants that speak to us. However, we do find a scenic overlook with a large bronze sculpture. . .

. . . and a long, gently curving dam across the St. Croix.

We end up back in Taylors Falls, in a huge traffic back-up, without a restaurant in sight.

I’ve had it and insist that we just keep driving. So we do, soon finding ourselves on lovely, bucolic, and serene Chisago County route 16. It is a the perfect place for a fall drive, so we just keep going.

A quick check of the map tells us that Wild River State Park is just ahead. THIS will be our destination for the day.

We have a quick trail mix snack and then we are set off on a little hike.

We couldn’t have chosen a better a spot to enjoy the day!

Hot and tired, we head back south in search of the next good (easy) hike. However, soon the sky darkens and we stop to pop the top up just before the clouds let loose with torrents of rain.

While our hiking has come to the end for the day, a break in the rain lets us enjoy a final view of the brilliantly colored trees lining the river just outside Stillwater.

Back in Stillwater, our friends treat us to a little Pyrat rum and then we are off to Meister’s Bar and Grill for what is reported to be the best burger in Stillwater. (It is a good burger.) While we are eating, lightening flashes and it begins to pour again.

Even with the traffic and the rain and the continually changing plans, it has been a wonderful day. . . and now we know that the new top we put on the Miata is water-tight!