The Year In Beer – Looking Forward To In 2018

In case you missed the first part of the Year In Beer, click here to read it.

The Woods and The Black Project

Denver is certainly a hot spot for craft beer and with our annual trips to Estes Park I get the opportunity to swing into a few new taprooms now and then.  Being the legendary beer creator that New Belgium is, they also have a quality sour program.  The Woods at The Source Hotel will be a small batch and barrel program in the RiNo part of Denver.  This will be a nice addition that will grant us the opportunity to get the freshest New Belgium beer as we prefer to take the Boulder route to get to Estes Park. Also, since Fort Collins is a bit out of the way to get to their main base of operation this will provide us with convenient access to it.

The Woods won’t open for a few more months so hopefully if we make another trip out to Colorado towards the end of 2018 we can make a stop.  Plus, it is conveniently located on the other side of the parking lot to The Source which houses another barrel aged sour beer outfit’s taproom, Crooked Stave, this will be a regular must stop location when we are in the area.

Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales has me curious as the concept of wild fermentation is full of possibilities.  Its also nice to see this old world concept happening more regularly.  I must admit I don’t always care for these funky beers but it does have a crafty mystic that is respectable in its own right.  There is quality beer to be had in every style, just have to find the right mix that works for you.  Timing hasn’t always worked out for us to visit while they were open so I’m hoping to get in there this year.


The Starkeller

Every now and then I read about an upcoming taproom with intrigue.  Here is another taproom I’ve been eager to get to ever since it was announced.  Since we have been so busy with our project this year and with their limited hours of operation of every other weekend, I have not been able to get down to New Ulm when they have been open.  Schell’s have delved deeper into sour beer with their Noble Star Collection at The Starkeller.  The aesthetics of this taproom is amazing.  The room is adorned with Schell’s relics from their museum and storage rooms.  The towering cedar fermentation tanks rise high on other side of the tables.  Being surrounded with all that history makes this for an impressive taproom.  This article has some nice photos showcasing why I’m so thrilled to take a seat in that taproom.  They exclusively create beers in the Berliner Weisse style which I tend not to be too fond of but as with so many things in life, there is bound to be a good one in there that suits my tastes.  I’ll just have to sit back and hang out in the awesome taproom until I find it.


Opening of Oakhold

The vision behind this operation and all I’ve read on it sounds quite amazing.  As a fan of Saisons, Farmhouse ales and other spontaneously wild fermented beers, this caught my eye.  The fact that it will be for the most part a self sustaining operation on a farm just outside of Duluth puts it in that perfect setting.  While I was disappointed to learn recently that they won’t actually have a taproom at the brewing facility they do have plans to open a taproom in Minneapolis.  Well, at least that is close to home and will be a great addition to the Twin Cities beer scene.


International Taproom Visits

With the expected journey to Germany again, I’d like to get to some more international breweries.  A number of years ago we stopped at the Abbey in Ettal operation but it was a quick visit and had no time for anything but a quick stroll through their courtyard.


Ettaler beer truck – Ettal, Germany


Courtyard of the Abbey – Ettal, Germany

The only other ones I’ve been fortunate enough to step inside and sample their beer was Dawson Trail in Thunder Bay and Brouwerij ‘t IJ in Amsterdam.

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Infrared photo of Brouwerij ‘t IJ – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Of course their is a brewery in Amsterdam with a windmill and is located just over a canal bridge that has a bike locked to it.  A quintessential scene of Amsterdam.


Cheese plate and beer at Brouwerij ‘t IJ – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Even if I’m not trying the beer fresh from the source, its nice to have partake in any beer at a suitable local location.   Drinking a Belgian Trappist beer in an old city such as Ghent makes for an enjoyable and memorable experience.


Westmalle Dubbel at the Foduehuis – Ghent, Belgium


F-Town Moving to Saint Paul

We had a good time down in Faribault at F-Town.  Had a nice talk with a patron and proceed to play some Hammschlagen with him.  F-town is a fairly small facility but as one would expect,  it was packed with people.  I know their operation will be missed in Faribault and we are fortunate to have them take on a new venture here in Saint Paul.  I just hope they will still be brewing that tasty peanut butter porter, Moon Boots.

With the intended location to be an old fire station just off West 7th, I’m sure that space will be very conducive for a brewing operation.  I wonder if they will utilize the theme of firefighters.  Brau Brothers has their taps coming out of a firetruck and Station 26 in Denver is in a re-purposed firehouse.


Brau Brothers fire department taptruck – Marshall, Minnesota

With their plans to step into the food game as well, I hope this can be another great beer and food location like Waldmann, Red Wing Brewery and Tanzenwald.

Bring on the beer in this new year and enjoy it folks!


The Year In Beer – 2017

Allison will sometimes give me grief for the amount of time I spend taking pictures of my beer for my Untappd check ins.  Where as I see it as a way to experiment with lighting and composition.   It is also good to limit the tools at your disposal and force yourself to utilize what gear you have on hand and approach it in a different way, in these cases my cell phone and sometimes a flashlight.  I strive to make somewhat of a different shot if time allows.  Bringing focus on what is happening in that moment or using props at that location to assist in achieving a unique shot.  Sometimes playing off the name of the beer and trying to incorporate it in to the image can be a path I’ll take as well.  Other times it about enjoying the beer with friends and the photo opp takes a backseat.

Top 5 Beer Photos (in order of most recent occurrence):


Pliny The Elder by Russian River


Gulden Draak by Brouwerij Van Steenberge


Staghorn by New Glarus

Sierra Nevada

Sidecar Orange Pale Ale by sierra Nevada


Top 5 Consumed Beers (in order of most recent occurrence):


Mexican Peanut Butter Stout by Belching Beaver


Alexander by Brouwerij Rodenbach


Revelation IPA by Revelation Ale Works


Moo Joos, Tiramisu by Brau Brothers


Top 5 Beer Related Experiences (in order of most recent occurrence):

Goat Ridge Brewing Company

The Goat Ridge taproom was a fun space to hang out in.  So many different rooms and areas to settle into and enjoy some beer.  The pizza that was brought in by others looked to be quite nice.  


Choco Raz Stout at Goat Ridge Brewing – New London, Minnesota

The outdoor space was spectacular situated along the high river.  Plenty of nooks to hang out in isolation or as a large group being serenaded by so local musicians.  Plenty of space to enjoy outdoor games as you enjoy the beers from Goat Ridge.  Feel free to read more about this place in our Willmar post.


Revelation Ale Works

We spent much more time getting to and from Revelation Ale Works in Hallock, Minnesota than we did in the actual taproom.  It was a spontaneous excursion in the darkness of Halloween night.  It was a memorable experience that we won’t soon forget.  You can read more about it in our Roseau post.


Revelation IPA at Revelation Ale Works – Hallock, Minnesota


100th Brewery Visited

My 100th brewery stop was made at the recently opened Venn Brewing Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota on December 28, 2017.  I enjoyed their Citra Mosaic IPA, the Citra hop rarely fails me.


100th brewery stop at Venn Brewing Company


Waldmann Brewery & Wurstery

Waldmann is a basically what one would have found in a German immigrant neighborhood of Saint Paul in the late 1800’s.  The taproom is in a 2 story limestone building which is the oldest standing commercial building in Saint Paul.  It was once a saloon back then and it has come full circle and operating as a neighborhood place to relax and enjoy some quality German beers with some German bar food.  The attention to detail in resurrecting this building is remarkable, seeking out methods and material to match as closely as possible to how it would have been back when it originally opened.


Harvest Hefeweizen by Waldmann


Loons Pre Match Parties At Surly

The Loons pre match parties at Surly are always fun, even in the snow at the home opener and in the rain prior to the Seattle match.  Free parking, great beer and good food all to be had before marching en masse to stadium lead by a brass band.  At least we get another year of this fun but I wonder what will happen when Allianz Field opens up in Saint Paul for the 2019 season.  Perhaps these sort of festivities be moved to a closer taproom such as Lake Monster or maybe a new brewery will open up near or on the stadium grounds.


Yoyodyne by Surly


Gathering for the march from Surly – Minneapolis, Minnesota


Nordeast by Grain Belt at the Loons home opener – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Click here to read the follow up article about what I’m looking forward to in 2018 in the world of beer.



Happy New Year!

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1 – Grand Forks (Just across the river from MN)
2 – Two Harbors – Agate Bay
3 – Grand Marais – Shooting Small Paul and Bun
4 – Alexandria – Big Ole
5 – Mille Lacs – Doubling our money
6 – Marshall – Roaming the prairie
7 – Minnepolis – MNUFC Snopener
8 – Darwin – World’s Largest Ball of Twine
9 – Faribault – Selfie with Viktor The Viking
10 – Red Wing – Seth rides a fire truck


It certainly has been an amazing year out on the road seeing so much of Minnesota.  We didn’t get to thoroughly explore all these work based locations because of time constraints but the ones we did you can read up on in the links below along with some other side trips.

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All of our work locations over 2017

Here’s a look back on some of the places we visited in 2017.
21 – Roseau, Minnesota
20 – Fall Brewery Tour With Brian
19 – Pumpkin Train
18 – Eveleth and Duluth, Minnesota
17 – Red Wing, Minnesota
16 – Bemidji, Minnesota – Take 3
15 – Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store
14 – Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
13 – Clinton, Iowa
12 – Paul Bunyans – Smalls and Talls
11 – Grand Forks, North Dakota
10 – Duluth, Minnesota
9 – Willmar/New London, Minnesota
8 – Bemidji, Minnesota
7 – Alexandria, Minnesota
6 – Windom, Minnesota
5 – Grand Portage, Minnesota
4 – International Falls, Minnesota
3 – Grand Rapids, Minnesota
2 – Fergus Falls, Minnesota
1 – Brainerd, Minnesota

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Pelan Pioneer Park – Pelan, Minnesota

Roseau, Minnesota

We thought our far flung travels to the north had ceased for the project but there was one more in store for us.  This was actually to be the longest trek we were to take on this project, over a 6 hour drive. 

We left Saint Paul in warm light jacket weather and drove directly north to Bemidji for dinner. It was dark as we were leaving town and immediately it started snowing/sleeting. I was surprised by how much further we had to drive. Eventually, somewhere on the Red Lake Reservation, I realized that 5 plus hours in the car with my snow boots on was too long. I was HOT and I needed those boots off RIGHT NOW. Luckily, I remembered that my sister had given me special car shoes for driving with boots and heels.   


Allison’s driving shoes

Even though I grew up in the country and took many 2:00 and 3:00 am walks to stave off boredom from insomnia, I’m terrified of the dark. Comically so. Ask me about the Robot Zombie Monster noise or the Wild Rabid Chimpanzee scream sometime. Anyway, I was so hot that I found a random place to pull over, got out of the car and switched into my car shoes. Feeling the relief of cooler feet, I took a moment to glance around. We were clearly very remote, it was silent and dark and honestly a bit peaceful. Getting into the car I was giddy with excitement saying “Seth! That was one of the bravest things I’ve done in a long time!” We both laughed at my irrational fear of the dark and I started driving. Not even 20 feet down the road we came across two very large black bears!! I hadn’t realized just how brave I’d been!

Black Bear crossing the road – Red Lake, Minnesota

After our late arrival to our hotel, we headed out right away the next morning, on our first adventure which lead us to the Pelan Pioneer Park


Church and schoolhouse at the Pelen Pioneer Park – Pelan, Minnesota


Schoolhouse at the Pelen Pioneer Park – Pelan, Minnesota

There was a number a buildings that have been brought in to the Pelan Pioneer Park.  Since this was the off season it was just us free to roam the space and take in the history of yesteryear.  


Infrared shot of the interior of the schoolhouse at the Pelen Pioneer Park – Pelan, Minnesota


Infrared photo of the church through a dirty window – Pelan, Minnesota


General Store – Pelan Pioneer Park – Pelan, Minnesota

This was our first harsh dose of winter, it wasn’t our first snowfall of the year. But it was cold and the high winds were unforgiving. It was a good reminder to properly layer for our outdoor adventures this winter.

I had a work call to make so we drove up near the border to Canada and found a nice place for Seth to walk around and take photos. I worked in the warm car while he grabbed a few shots.


Road to Canada – Pinecreek, Minnesota

We took a drive off the beaten path and the paved road turned to a dirt road and that eventually transformed into a grass road with a dusting of snow.  We didn’t venture too far down this road but it was a nice isolating feeling to traverse this road for a brief time.  Out on our adventures that day I spotted a little thief looking for a snack among the cornfield.  A number of birds flew in from the trees across the road and grabbed a midday snack before retreating back to safety  of the high trees.


Black-capped Chickadee eating a kernal of corn – Roseau, Minnesota

After a quick stop to share a sandwich for lunch, we went exploring out near out Caribou, Minnesota to find an old Ukrainian Church.


Ukranian Orthodox Church – Caribou, Minnesota


Infrared photo of the Ukranian Orthodox Church cemetery – Caribou, Minnesota


Ukranian Orthodox Church – Caribou, Minnesota

Roseau is a small town of less than 3,000. It’s located just 10 miles south of the Canadian Border and hours from the nearest large town. One of the smallest towns that we stayed in so far this year. It’s home to Polaris, who has a small historical museum called the Polaris Experience. After working most of the day on Tuesday, we had just enough time to explore and learn about Polaris before our hotel dinner. Yep, you read that correctly, hotel dinner. We hit the small town hotel jackpot with the North Country Inn. They provide a hearty breakfast spread (breakfast burritos! Yum!) in the morning and two drinks and a free dinner for each guest in the evening. It very nice to have this as an option as there are not may restaurant options in town.

Polaris Experience Center – Roseau, Minnesota

About a week before our trip, I stumbled on a video about a brewery in Northern Minnesota, Revelation Ale Works. Since I don’t drink beer, I try to find other reasons to get excited about breweries. With a historic building as number one on my list, atmosphere being number two, a house root beer as a close third, I could tell this was a brewery that we had to visit. Seth already enjoying their beer was just a bonus. So I quickly researched and learned that Hallock is only an hour from Roseau. Stopping at Revelation was now number one on my list. Sadly on the drive north, we learned that Revelation was going to be closed during our whole stay in Roseau. :/

Revelation Ale Work’s Chocolate Milk Stout – Roseau, Minnesota

At some point I came across the hours for that day and Revelation was to be open. Then, I went to verify the hours and setup our plan for the night only to read they were closed. So, I settled for their Peanut Butter Stout with a Halloween treat on the side. I did my normal check in on Untappd and commented on my disappointment of missing out of the taproom visit. A few hours later Revelation toasted it and commented back they were indeed open for a Halloween event until 9pm. An hour drive for us isn’t much of an ordeal these days so we quickly hopped in the car and got there at 8:55 to grab a quick pint.  It was a fairly desolate ride with not many folks on the road anymore.  The moon cast just enough light for us to take in our surroundings.


IPA at Revelation Ale Works – Hallock, Minnesota

Despite our brief time at this re-purposed mechanic shop, it was a lovely experience and a fun day to drop in.  They had some Halloween costume pieces available for posing with a Polaroid camera. I had to get some beer to go from this short excursion so I kept it safe and grabbed a growler of that delicious IPA I just had.  I don’t normally care that much for IPAs but this was worth taking back a full 64 tasty ounces back to Saint Paul.  


Growler of Revelation Ale Work’s IPA – Hallock, Minnesota

The following day we made a drive through Hayes Lake State Park.  I had this park on my list for a few years for a place to camp out out.  We’ll still need to get back there for some overnights and hopefully hear the wolves howl at night. 


Hayes Lake State Park – Roseau, Minnesota

We then headed out to the area where some homesteaders tried to start up a community.  Things didn’t pan out so well for them so there was a number of abandoned structures and all the old homesteaders had their names up on signs where they once attempted a new home.


Old silo from the former homestead area – Winner, Minnesota


Gravesite in the middle of Beltrami Island State Forest – near Winner, Minnesota

There was a couple cemeteries fenced off and a few random gravestones peaking through the snow covered fields.  There was even some fairly recent burials in a few of the cemeteries from just a few years ago.  The one last destination we had was in this remote area of the forest where there is a church that is open for visitors at all hours of the day and night, The Penturen Church.


Infrared photo of the Penturen Church – near Winner Minnesota

Penturen Church – near Winner Minnesota

This building still has many visitors through out the year and even a few weddings have taken place here in recent years. We were the first to visit on this day as our tire tracks were the first to make an impression in the freshly fallen snow.  Nearly 10 years ago, someone stopped by and grab the sign in sheets to make copies as a keep sake and left this note stating their intentions.  It had gone missing for years and then they intended to return it back in 2013 but left it at home. It still hasn’t been brought back since they last stopped in 4 years ago.


Penturen Church – near Winner Minnesota

After we finished up there we had a long haul back home.  But first we had to make it through these slow going forest roads for a number of miles.  I tend to pack too many locations into our day and I didn’t properly calculate or trip time for the journey home.  Again, the solitude felt in this remote area was relaxing despite the quickly fading daylight and urgency to get home.  We had a great time up in Roseau, extremely glad we had the opportunity to take a few days and explore the area.  We have more to see up that way so it will be put on the list for further exploration.


Pond circles – Four Town, Minnesota

Fall Brewery Tour with Brian

We woke up early on Saturday, after running to the Saint Paul Farmer’s Market for the last time this fall. We always get our honey from the bee guy at Wolf Honey Farm and stock up for the winter at the end of each fall.

We got home and didn’t know what to do with ourselves. It was the first free weekend we had had in ages and was also the last one we would have for the rest of 2017.

I decided that we needed to go on an adventure. I texted my friend, Brian, told him that we were going on an adventure and would be picking him up in 30 minutes.

The leaves are a changing, time for a drive down the great river road and head out of this urban landscape to something with more foliage and less steel and glass.

Capella Tower – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Our drive south took us to the Red Wing area where we drove through the quiet neighborhoods of Old Frontenac.  We took in a the scenic vista of the Mississippi river valley at the Frontenac State Park.  The rain was creeping in on us so we made our walk around the park fairly brief.

Frontenac State Park – Frontenac, Minnesota


Frontenac State Park – Frontenac, Minnesota

We made another drive around Old Frontenac upon the bluffs and then down in Florence along the river banks.  There has always been a slight eerie feeling that I get when I’m in Old Frontenac.  The trees and large houses encircled in stone walls remind me of what I’d expect to see in Savannah, Georgia.  I rarely see anyone when I pass through here which adds to my spooky feeling.

Infrared photo – Florence Township, Minnesota

Infrared photo – Florence Township, Minnesota

Infrared photo – Frontenac, Minnesota

I’m not sure if it was the drizzly day or the feel of Halloween being right around the corner, I decided to play a bit of a spooky trick on Brian. Seth’s family has lived in and around Frontenac for generations. Already planning to stop at the old cemetery, I made the decision to “scare” him by not telling him about the family’s lineage. As we drove into the cemetery, I found a gravestone with a similar last name to Brian and pointed it out. Mentioning how creepy it would be if we found one with the same name.

Infrared photo – Old Frontenac, Minnesota

The setting was perfect, it was overcast, drizzly and extremely quiet. After spotting a few headstones with the Steffenhagen name, I found the perfect one, tall, slightly hard to read and near the road, stopped the car and said “Ummm Seth……..Does that grave say “Steffenhagen?”. Seth played along and pretended to be frightened as he replied in the affirmative.  I glanced at Brian’s face in the rearview mirror and noticed a trace of fear. Being the terrible lair that I am and really now wanting to cause my friend any pain, I instantly shouted out the whole story. Seth’s family is from here, his parents even have their headstones already placed here, etc. I did feel a bit foolish after I realized how much more fun it would have been to wait a bit longer. Oh well! We still enjoyed exploring.


Old Frontenac, Minnesota


Old Frontenac, Minnesota

There is a marsh just down the hill from Old Frontanac which is home to many dead trees and bald eagles.  There is an complex upon the hill called The Villa Maria Center.  I recall being creeped out by this place as a kid.  Not in a terrified sort of way but an intriguing and mysterious one.  The architectural design of this facility has me picturing myself across the ocean.  Built in the late 1800’s, this complex once had a church that was struck by lighting and burned to the ground in 1969.  Perhaps all these things combined stirs up these uneasy yet entertaining feelings.

Villa Maria Center – Frontenac, Minnesota

When we set off on our adventure, I’d hoped to wrap all of my favorite fall fun into one weekend, apple picking, pumpkin patch visit followed by carving party, hike to see fall colors, maybe a cozy apple cider moment and a brewery stop or two to keep the boys entertained.


Pepin Heights – Lake City, Minnesota

The cold rainy day spoiled those plans pretty quickly. With both Brian and Seth eager to get to some breweries, I drove us straight to Pepin Heights. It the best one stop shop for everything fall and it’s largely indoors, so I knew we could stay dry.


Pepin Heights – Lake City, Minnesota

Despite the mud and rain, I found the perfect craving pumpkin. Even better? It was FREE. The store gave everyone with a $30 purchase a free pumpkin. Let’s be honest, it’s hard not to spend $30 on apples, apple cider, gourds, dip mixes, cheese sticks, baked goods and home decor items.

Seth and I had fun watching Hocus Pocus while carving our pumpkins. I love Seth’s scary pumpkin design and cannot take the credit for “my” Minnesota pumpkin. My beautiful, seemingly perfect pumpkin, was too hard for me to carve on my own, the skin was very hard. So I scored the shape I wanted and Seth cut it out for me.


Our carved pumpkins – Saint Paul, Minnesota

We headed back north on highway 61 and made a quick stop at Marshall’s Lake Pepin Winery.


Marshall’s Lake Pepin Winery – Lake City, Minnesota

As the day grew on we were getting hungry and in need of food.  We continued further north on 61 because we had to make another stop at the Red Wing Brewery for that amazing cheeseburger pizza with a pint on the side.


Anderson Wheat at Red Wing Brewery – Red Wing, Minnesota

Now that we are fueled up we took a drive just shy of an hour towards the west and made a stop at Chapel Brewing in Dundas, Minnesota.  This is a rather small place but it is storied place that has seen many incarnations.  At one time it was a church, a jail, a town hall, a photography studio and now a brewery.  As expected, it was bustling with people and an open table was hard to come by.  A couple offered us their table as they were about to leave and as it turns out the lady was the previous owner of the building and she ran her photography business there.  It was nice having a chat about the space and how she utilized it in comparison to now.  The bartop was built from a solid piece of wood that was once part of the structure of the building.


Belgian Blonde at Chapel Brewing – Dundas, Minnesota


Chapel Brewing – Dundas, Minnesota

Another one of my favorite breweries that serves good food is Tanzenwald Brewing Company.  This recent establishment was added to the growing list of Minnesotan breweries this past year.  It is located in Northfield which is just a few minutes up the road from Dundas.  Earlier in the year I made it down here as I was excited about what they had to offer.  My affinity for the woods and my German heritage was a good pairing for me.  The name is German for dancing forest and they serve German food and German inspired beers.  The light brick walls with exposed wooden rafters and black trim is very aesthetically pleasing to me.


Tanzenwald Brewing Company – Northfield, Minnesota

I recall the brats being very exceptional and I’ve been meaning to get down here for another helping of it.


Tanztoberfest and brat at Tanzenwald Brewing Company – Northfield, Minnesota


Chandelier of branches at Tanzenwald Brewing Company – Northfield, Minnesota

Since my last voyage to Northfield another brewery has opened up, Imminent Brewing.  I really enjoyed this taproom, it was once a mechanic shop of some sort.  Those always seem to make for a good transition to a brewery. 


Cannon Valley Pale Ale at Imminent Brewing – Northfield, Minnesota

I’ll be stopping back at any of these joints when I’m in the area.  Whether that be if I’m just passing through or with the sole purpose of making another visit to one of this breweries.

Pumpkin Train

My friend’s kid turned 7 today. Which is WILD, he is growing up so quickly. Every time I see him I’m completely shocked to see a lanky kid rather than the chubby toddler I expect. It’s such a privilege to be a part of this little person’s life.

This year we decided to do presents differently, we are giving experiences. For A’s birthday I thought that a train ride could be pretty fun. While researching options I stumbled upon the Pumpkin Express. The trains are run by the Minnesota Transportation Museum from the Osceola, Wisconsin train station.  This entails a short train ride on some historic cars and then arrives at a fall festival with a pumpkin patch.


The old timey feel of the old train cars and the gorgeously restored (maintained?) train depot helped to create a certain kind of magical feel around the day.


The Pumpkin Express is so popular that it sells out in advance. We arrived early and decided to wander around the Depot while we waited for our departure time. By the time we boarded, there were many people milling around, created a lovely hubbub that helped the train experience feel very authentic.


Something about trains really makes me feel like I’m on an adventure.  These folks added lots of fun touches like conductor hats for the kids and a railway newspaper.


The train ride out was quite leisurely which was nice for us to fully take in the experience. We had A keep his eyes open on the hunt for various things. My lookout list included; a tree with red leaves, a tree with no leaves, a tree that had not changed colors yet, etc. A was more excited to spot an old tire, an old rusty pail, a small bent children’s swimming pool and other debris.


It started raining just as we pulled up to the Dresser train station where the fall festival was waiting for us. At first I was super disappointed. The fall festival had a large pumpkin patch, and various tents with food, face painting, balloon animals, games and a live band. It would have been so much fun on a dry day.

We encouraged A to go into the haunted station as a way to pass the time, figuring that we would just get back on the train afterward. We walked not even two feet into it and A grabbed my arm and said he wanted to leave.

Any other day I would have walked right out with him. (It’s likely that I’m more frightened of haunted houses than he.) But it was raining and I was pretty sure that this was the only activity we were going to do, so I held him close and walked a bit further, ready to turn and leave as soon as anything scary happened. Luckily it was a very cute and very kid friendly experience. A liked it so much that he kept running back through over and over again.


There a lot of minimally creepy items set out amongst other fun elements such as a fog machine, projected images and strobe lights.


The whole thing opened into an open space with music for a mini kids dance party.


It was so fun that we could have happily spent the whole time in there. However, we decided to brave the rain and see what the rest of the festival was all about.

Maybe it was the rain, maybe it was the band, maybe it was the feeling that we had truly taken the train on an adventure, no matter the reason the fall festival was enchanting.

Our first activity was to ride a small trailer attached to a hand crank train car. After we sat, it started raining even harder than it had. We all laughed at how miserable we must all look sitting in the rain on the slow moving trailer!


After the ride, we decided to warm up by the fire while A cooked up a couple of marshmallows.

A amazed me with the strength it took to have fun in the pouring rain.



Silly Miss Tilly provided a good 25 minutes of entertainment for A. He loved watching her make balloon creations. Eventually he was brave enough to ask for one and chose a red skeleton.


By this time the rain was really coming down and we were all feeling quite cold. As we waited for the next train to take us back, we quickly passed through the other activities; faec painting, carnival games, and pumpkin “picking”. (Each child received a pumpkin with the purchase of a train ticket.)


Of course A took his time to look at every pumpkin and choose the largest! 🙂

On the train ride back to our car, A entertained himself by looking for the same debris he’d discovered on the ride out.


His red skeleton balloon hat was a huge hit with the other kids on the train and the many children who watched as we exited the train. I have a feeling that Silly Miss Tilly made a few more skeletons that day.


It had finally stopped raining by the time we pulled back into the Osceola Depot. Since we had over an hour to drive, we all ran around to burn off some energy before setting out for home.


It was a lovely day and one that we will likely want to replicate next year. Though maybe without as much rain. 🙂


Eveleth and Duluth


The second week in September we were up in Virigina, MN for work. It was my first time to the Iron Range of Minnesota, Seth has ventured that way before. Our first stop was at BoomTown in Eveleth. It’s seriously yummy. If you ever find yourself up in the Iron Range, make sure to stop for wood fired flatbreads, smoked meats and the best pretzel sticks you’ll find in Minnesota.


Nearly everyone we chatted with told us to check out the big stick in town. We soon realized it was a gigantic hockey stick and puck. This is a BIG Hockey town, it’s even home to the US Hockey Hall of Fame.


World’s Largest Hockey Stick – Eveleth, Minnesota

To be honest we had no idea what we were looking for, other than a large hockey stick.


Small Paul and Bun with the World’s Largest Hockey Stick – Eveleth, Minnesota

It was fun to find these gigantic hockey items in a small park near a picturesque downtown.


World’s Largest Hockey Puck? – Eveleth, Minnesota


Since we can never resist the call of the North Shore (and there was a new brewery that Seth wanted to check out), we decided to make a detour down to Duluth on our way home.


Aerial lift bridge – Duluth, Minnesota

I’ve had Hoops Brewing on my upcoming breweries to open for a while so now that they’ve opened it was time to make it over to check out the new spot.  All of their beers are numbered instead of a pun or some random name.  They have a nice large space down along the harbor in an old brick building in Canal Park.  Plenty of games to play with plenty of space to accommodate plenty of patrons who can consume plenty of different pours of beer.  Next time I’ll have to challenge someone to a round of ping pong while sampling a beer from their plethora of options. With all of these different brews to offer at any given time, I’ll be stopping back again next time I’m up here again.  My favorite of the day was the Keller Pils, No. 39.  It was a rather hot day which made this one so refreshing.


No. 15 which is a Pale Ale at Hoop’s Brewing Company – Duluth, Minnesota

Keller Pils

No. 39 Keller Pils at Hoop’s Brewing Company – Duluth, Minnesota

After the brewery I wasn’t quite ready to get back in the car. So we took a quick stroll around the Canal Park area.


Duluth Harbor – Duluth, Minnesota

I love this bridge it reminds me of canal lift bridges in Amsterdam.


Duluth Harbor – Duluth, Minnesota

With our year on the road more than half past, we have been floating ideas about what’s next. During this part of September I was trying to convince Seth to live on a house boat. Even after looking at all the boats in Canal Park, Seth still wasn’t convinced. 😉


Someone else must have coiled that hose – Duluth, Minnesota

Luckily we still had time to stop at Gordy’s Hi-Hat on the way home! They were closing for the season that weekend. It was a gorgeous fall night and the whole town of Cloquet must have been out for their last burger fix of the year. The burgers are so good and were well worth the long wait.


Gordy’s Hi-Hat – Cloquet, Minnesota


















Red Wing, Minnesota

This week we were fortunate enough to travel to Red Wing for work. I grew up in a small family that is far removed from each other. So one of the things I love about Seth’s family is that he not only has a large extended family, they mostly all located in one place. And that place is just outside of Red Wing.  After 8 months on the road around Minnesota, it was honestly very nice to slip in a little family time. We were able to have Seth’s parents and uncle join us for part of the work day.

We don’t usually mention anything about work on this blog. However, this photo was too fun not to share! When Seth heard that we would be a part of a police and fire department procession, his first question was “Can I ride in a fire truck?” I had no idea that they would be so happy to oblige. So here is Seth getting ready for his big fire truck debut! 🙂


This may have been the happiest moment in his life.

As many kids, I was very intrigued by firefighters.  I loved stopping in at fire stations on our travels while growing up.  Seeing all the different fire stations with their varying designs and layouts was a highlight to my early travel days.  I would peer into the windows to get a better view of the rigs and equipment.  Stopping in at open houses provided an opportunity to climb around on the trucks but I never thought I’d take a ride in one.


Inside Engine No. 2 – Red Wing, Minnestoa

My first impression of being inside one again after all these years was that it still is a very larger open space, despite being an adult now and not a little kid.  The smell of smoke permeated the space and the smoke charred equipment. The ride was way bouncier than I expected, it was difficult to get photos and videos of the trek over.  Fortunately these firefighters kept their rig sparkly clean so I had an expansive and crystal clear view.

By late afternoon it was raining so we stopped at Red Wing Pottery to warm up.


Pottery Place Antiques – Red Wing, Minnesota

It had been probably 10 years since we’ve been there, not remembering the antique stores, they were a pleasant find. Each store had so many unusual treasures, I could have spent the whole day there.


Wooden viking bust – Pottery Place Antiques – Red Wing, Minnesota


Vintage phones captured by a modern day phone – Pottery Place Antiques – Red Wing, Minnesota


Seth’s family had this same portable TV – Pottery Place Antiques – Red Wing, Minnesota

While we are exploring the antique stores, Seth’s uncle called and told us about his grandkids soccer game that evening. So we hopped in the car and drove down to Lake City.

As we walked up to soccer field, we spotted both of his cousin’s kids on the field, his cousin, her parents and another set of Seth’s Aunt and Uncles. The weather turned warm and it was an idyllic evening with family. Super magical to me to have 8 family members in one place on a random week night.


Underwood Park And Fields – Lake City, Minnesota

A short time ago I put together a map to keep track of the breweries I’ve attended and what is available in my area of travels that I can cross off the list.   Click here to view the map.  

My brother has mentioned this brewery in Red Wing before and figured it was fairly new.  Much to my surprise this place has been open for around 5 years.  


Remmlers Royal Brew – Red Wing Brewry


I drive to Red Wing every winter to shoot the eagles in Covill Park. Next time I’m in town photographing the wintering eagles I’ll stop in here to thaw out and fuel up.

IMG_7678b - cropped

Bald Eagle at Colvill Park – Red Wing Minnesota


The crust is the foundation to a good pizza.  This is just right, not too thick and not too crispy it had a nice chewy quality.  The cheeseburger pizza has been my preferred pie of choice, no doubt.  Each month they offer a new specialty pizza with appropriate toppings and theme for the corresponding month.  


Jordan Creek IPA with the best cheeseburger pizza, period.


Will need to come back for some more of these pizzas and beer.

Along with the North Shore, this part of Minnesota is one of our favorites.  With all the bluffs that frame the Mighty Mississippi and the multitude of times traveling along them to visit family in this area to gazing at the fishing eagles along the frozen waters, this area always has something nice to offer.

Bemidji Take 3

Before we headed out on our next excursion, we decided to stay home an extra day and did a much needed deep cleaning. It felt really good to prep our home before the busy fall season started, so good in fact that we wanted to complete a few final items before getting a late start on the road.


Lake Bemidji – Bemidji, Minnesota

After a busy spring and an even busier summer and a much needed couple of weeks off the road, we were back in the Bemidji area the week of Labor Day. Since we wanted to ease ourselves back into the hustle, we decided to splurge on a lake front hotel room.


Lake Bemidji – Bemidji, Minnesota

We arrived in Bemidji just as the sun was setting, so we checked in to our hotel and went straight out to their docks and lakeside walking area.


Crookston Lumber Company Ruins – Bemidji, Minnesota

We have a penchant for old buildings and ruins and we thrilled to stumble upon these old structures.


Crookston Lumber Company Ruins – Bemidji, Minnesota

Since we were just out for a walk, Seth didn’t bring his camera. I think this is pretty good for a phone camera shot!

That night Small Paul and Bun really enjoyed our hotel, they even had their own bed!






View of Lake Bemidji from our hotel room

The next morning I woke up early because I couldn’t wait to meditate out on our balcony with the sounds of the waves and the fresh air. Only to open the door and discover that the warm lovely evening had turned into a blustery cold and extremely windy morning.

After meditating warmly inside (with the balcony door cracked just enough to still hear the waves). I bundled up with what we could pull together, Seth’s socks, two layers of leggings, the hoodie I slept in, and one of the emergency jackets we started keeping in the car after unexpectedly being caught in the cold. Like the time I had to buy slippers to wear as boots in Grand Rapids.


My cobbled together outfit

I was not going to let the cold or the winds ruin the trip. I was determined to get out on a canoe. My summer checklist had two MUST do items that had not been accomplished; canoeing and going to a drive-in. This was the day after Labor Day weekend, the first unofficial day of fall. My final chance to get in a canoe.

After working for much of the day, we went down to the boat rental building at Diamond Point Park. The person working asked if we were skilled at canoeing. I immediately said that we were, thinking back to the many weekends spent on the river with my father as a child and later with the Boy Scout Explorers and church youth groups on long canoeing/ camping trips. The response was “Oh good! Being that this is lake canoeing, with high winds and very cold water, I wouldn’t risk sending anyone out that may go in the water.”. This stirred a momentary niggle in the back of my mind that maybe this wasn’t the best idea. But I pushed it out of my brain remembering that my dad doesn’t like lake canoeing because it’s both boring and extra work to pull yourself without a current.



Canoeing on Lake Bemidji – Bemidji, Minnesota

So we geared up with life jackets and paddles, grabbed a canoe and pushed off into the water for an hour long leisurely paddling trip, where we watched fish jump, birds fishing and listened to the water lapping the side of the canoe.


Canoeing on Lake Bemidji – Bemidji, Minnesota

Just kidding!! It was so so so so so stressful! If you ever want to truly test your marriage, go canoeing with them on a windy cold day in a lake. Preferably having the more skilled canoeist be the weaker member of the party. I sat in back because that’s where the steering happens and I put Seth in front because I assumed he had less experience than me.

It wasn’t until we were out on the water (and things weren’t going well) that I asked Seth how many times he had been canoeing. Turns out that he went out once with my dad (who I’m sure did all the work) and once with his friend while they sort of just messed around.

Every time Seth moved the whole boat shook like it was going to flip over, every time we tried to go any where, we just went in circles because Seth is so much stronger than me. In the end we did have an enjoyable moment or two when we sat extremely still (like not even breathing still).


In the end, our marriage survived and I was able to cross canoeing off my Summer 2017 checklist. Just in time. 🙂


Allison scans the horizon at Diamond Point Park – Bemidji, Minnesota

Not wanting to waste the last couple hours of daylight we decided to stick around Diamond Point Park for a walk and and to observe the wildlife.


Common Mergansers at Diamond Point Park – Bemidji, Minnesota

Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store

At the beginning of August we were down in Mankato for the afternoon. Since we had a bit of time to spare, we decided to stop at some of the roadside attractions that have caught my eye on our trips along 169, south of the Twin Cities, this year.


Our first stop was Jerry Dutler’s Antique Mall. Funnily enough, I’d mistaken it as a vintage bowling alley, when we arrived we discovered that it was a vintage bowling alley….converted into an antiques mall. I’m not sure where I got the idea that it was still a bowling alley. Maybe the sign was recently updated from BOWL to MALL? It was a bit of a disappointment, I was super excited to go bowling. Love love love the sign though. They just don’t make signs like they used to.


Our next stop was just up the road. Happy Chef. The smiling statue has amused us on our frequent trips south along 169 this year. This time we finally had a chance to stop.


Since we had just eaten (I thought we would have worked up an appetite while bowling) we decided to have a taste of one of the desserts.


Loved the old neon sign inside the restaurant.

It was good, super rich, really just a bit or two was enough. I would recommend sharing.


As luck would have it, our next stop, the W. W. Mayo House,  was also closed. The house is run by the Minnesota Historical Society and only open on weekends.


The good news was it was still a cute little stop, there was a lovely statue next door and it was interesting to read about the Mayo Family. The town of Le Sueur is worth the short jaunt off the highway.


By the time we were back on the road, it was getting late. We decided to drive straight through to our next stop.


Since it was Vikings Training camp, we saw many barns, silos, and businesses showing their support.


Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store was a completely different experience than I had imagined. Of course there was a lot of what I had imagined; nostalgic candy, toy/candy novelties for kids, taffy, etc.



What I hadn’t expected was the selection of non-candy items, the large selection of soda, and the, seemingly random, cast of characters and other movie/tv decor items.




Just coming back from an adventure, or whatever the Tardis does. Nerdy enough to know what it’s called and that it’s from a show called Dr. Who, not nerdy enough to know what it does.

We ended up spending hours in the store. I looked at every possible item for purchase. Here is what we came home with:


  1. Bar Mix
  2. Dill Pickle Chips
  3. Sweet Cream Pimento Chips
  4. Root Beer
  5. Ginger Beer
  6. Cajun Cheese Curds
  7. Cat shaped pasta
  8. Stropwaffels
  9. A puppy prince chocolate bar
  10. Peach rings
  11. Pop Rocks
  12. Cinderella Pez Dispenser
  13. Kinder Bar
  14. Peanut Butter Crisp