Okay, so I haven't figured out the whole new-fangled photo editing quite yet since it involves fiddling with HTML, so for now I revert to my traditional means of adding pictures.
Micah and I spent the weekend in Lutsen on the North Shore and it was really, really fun. I'd been waiting for this for a while! Every so often I get this strange urge to go up to Duluth and that area...there's something about it I love.
Of course, the weather could have been just awful and cold and there's no way to predict it when you make your reservations, but we somehow lucked out and ended up with a weekend that could even be called warm: a consistent 30 degrees.
The Drive Up
Between Forest Lake and rough Sandstone there's pretty much nothing to look at, and suddenly the landscape transforms into something very lovely and dramatic around Duluth. Even huge heaps of coal look starkly beautiful along Hwy 61.
Of course before this, we stopped at Tobies for some artery-clogging delights. Nothing like being the driver and handed huge caramel roll fragments dripping in sin while navigating a sleet storm.
Lutsen Resort. Actually the site on which Lutsen was founded by Norwegian Charles Nelson. The town was named after Lutzen, the spot in Germany were Norwegian King Gustavus Adolphus II (or something) was killed in battle. I can't remember the year the town was founded, but I'm sure it's a year in the 1800s that sounds old in America but is laughably juvenile by the rest of the world's standards. Either way, it felt very quaint.
The resort was very cute and the staff is super friendly. Like friendlier you think they'd deem necessary. They had an onsite spa where we both got massages, and the whole place sits right along Lake Superior.
I'd eaten in the lodge's dining room with my dad and sisters in like, high school, and had thought it was super charming then with its chandeliers that look like stacks of Jell-O. So I knew this is where I wanted to stay when I started planning this trip in my mind a while ago. Plus, they had a highly enjoyable piece of awkward bear taxidermy in one of the back hallways.
Baby's First Snowshoe
So she may not be "on land" yet, but we were definitely a snowshoe party of three. I think (hope) Babe Turman will be outdoorsy because our 80-minute trek up Carlton Peak on snowshoes set off some really fabulous kicking that I will choose to interpret as rounds of applause.
I'd been hypersensitive to the fact that she'd be less active for several days leading up to our trip and was getting a little like "Hello? Are you still there?", but all the fresh pine air and trekking must have revved her up because she was going nuts for the rest of the trip after I took off the snowshoes! It actually got to the point where we could see the kicks.
Exhibit A: what appears to be a non-pregnant snowshoeing person.
Exhibit B: not sure how the illusion from Exhibit A was even possible.
The funny thing is that I've had this Asics vest since my high school cross-country days and it was always a little too big but had elastic at the bottom to make it fit better. Even though I don't usually hold on to things that don't fit right, for some reason even in high school I thought it would probably be something I could wear while pregnant. Well hasn't that ship just come in?
Mitten-Optional XC Skiing
The lodge includes afternoon XC ski excursions in their room rates and they even include gear. So of course we took advantage and headed up Onion River Rd. with Lucas the instructor, and two other couples. Micah, being the champ of coordination that he is, got the hang of it in about 15 minutes and eventually caught up to his 6-months pregnant wife.
To be honest it's been a while since I've truly skied, since waxing combi skis from high school is no longer my ideal way to spend a Friday night. But it does come back to you like riding a bike.
The baby was kicking up a storm before I was even done skiing. Kind of unusual because typically exercise is supposed to rock babies to sleep and they don't move around nearly as much as when you're sitting still. I could read into this, but I'll just say she's adaptable.
This was was one of the best (read: vigorous) workouts I've had lately, and yet the lack of pavement pounding made it seem nearly effortless. I fear my running may be cut short sooner than I'd like because I'm finding that my body is not at all liking even the seemingly gentle up and down of the easiest of jogs anymore. I'm not totally calling it quits yet, but when you rediscover something like skiing that gives you a way better workout and doesn't strain the stomach, it makes you think about reconsidering your options. Maybe I'll be digging out my skis again.
This would be the Finnish pasty (PASS-ty) I had in the cafe at Lockport Market. Yes, most pasties are Cornish, but this is not the land of the English.
I'd somehow never had tried one of these before, nor one of the ingredients: rutabaga. Not that you can blame me. Rutabaga kind of screams "Food you eat when there's nothing else!" But overall it was pretty good. Pretty much like meatloaf in pastry. Improved 20 times over with ketchup. I'll admit I was kind of jealous of Micah's burger, which he proclaimed "The Best."
Gondola at Moose Mountain
I'm obviously not a prime candidate for downhill skiing at the moment, but I didn't want to miss wowing Micah with the view of Lake Superior from the top of the mountains, which he'd never seen before. So we beat the morning ski crowds and took the gondola to the top of Moose Mountain.
It's no Colorado Rockies, but it does instill some state pride.
Try as they might, Lutsen Resort's restaurant rice pudding was bad. Like "Ugh, they put raisins in it!" bad. I was envisioning some nice Kozy Shack and it was instead a hardened puck of pudding with 50 raisins crammed into a standard ramekin, and festooned with enough strawberries and whipped cream to border on corny. A bit incongruous, if you ask me.
That was Friday night. Saturday night, we fared much better. Unbeknownst to us the Bluefin Grille in Tofte was hiding a nice little secret: the chocolate chip cookie topped with ice cream. They don't even advertise the cookie as warm. And what comes out? A mini skillet of cookie batter that barely held its shape, measuring 350 degrees in temperature, covered with a huge scoop of vanilla.
Oh Lord. I'm not usually one to be taken at the mere mention of a warm cookie, but this was heaven. I would have licked the skillet but it would have scalded my tongue. Rice pudding long forgotten.
And of Course:
No vacation is complete without Scrabble.