Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No love for the lumberjacks

Check out the story in today's New York Times about how the 50th anniversary of the Lumberjack World Championships didn't get much love this year from national media, unlike years past.

The low prize money explains why Sarah and I spotted competitor with tattoos of their sponsors, like Stihl. That better come with a lifelong paycheck!

Guess I'll stick to my day job and not pursue a life as a lumberjill.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Today, I got my first taste of IKEA (literally...Swedish meatballs...mmmm) before Sarah dropped me off at the airport. I'm impressed! Thankfully, I was able to shove a few things I bought into my duffel.

Earlier today, we browsed the boutiques in Hudson's downtown, which is right on the bank of the St. Croix River - really cute clothing, interior design and art shops.

I'm at the airport now waiting for my flight. Once I land late tonight, I need to haul it on the turnpike to Michigan for a client meeting in the morning...so no Phil for one more night.

This trip with Sarah was great - it was my fourth trip to visit her in Minnesota/Wisconsin. It's always nice to get some time in person to reconnect since we're not so great about staying in touch via phone, e-mail (a little better on Facebook). Our visits are always active...from running the 5k Gopher to Badger race (bridge that connects the two states) to canoeing to kayaking, etc. We both decided that memories from yesterday's kayaking adventure probably takes the cake (at least for laughs). The next time I see Sarah, she'll have another daughter (due on my birthday!).

Phil and I head back to Wisconsin in a couple weeks for a trip to the Milwaukee area to visit some of his grad school friends. Hooray cheese!

More Lumberjack World Champs Pics, Videos

Check out those quads!


Women's boom run (run across logs in the water)

Hello, baby!!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Letter to my future self

Dear 65-year-old Christina,

In honor of my 100th blog post and the reflection that accompanies every good vacation, here are some thoughts to consider about how to spend your retirement.

FYI, you're too old to be a geisha and you don't like camping enough to be a legit lumberjill, but I think you have a real chance to become a stained glass artisan (consider mosaics, too). Maybe focus on amazing stained glass valances, like the one above you saw during the drive back from Hayward, and specialize in themes inspired by your Japan travels, i.e. cherry blossoms and the like.

Also, please fill in the gaps for any states or continents not visited (feel free to skip Antarctica). And, master something more sophisticated than When the Saints Go Marching In on the piano. I'd love, love, love it if you took on violin too.

Your 30-year-old self

Kayak Klutz U.S.A.

Well, in short, the fishermen of the Kinni River in River Falls, Wis., will not forget me anytime soon. The pic above of me kayaking perpendicular to the river pretty much sums it up: I am a sucky, sucky kayaker. (I will say that I did navigate through the tricky gap in the branch on my first try.)

Here is a summary of our 2-hour kayaking experience:

1. Numerous beachings on the river rock (the water often was as shallow as six inches)

2. One loss of paddle (subsequently recovered by doggy paddling in my kayak)

3. Numerous run-ins with branches on the river bank (scratches on my arms and foliage ALL OVER my kayak to prove it)

4. Semi-capsizing after attempting to navigate first eddy while kayaking backward (not by choice) as kayak filled completely with water (no flip flops or sunglasses were lost, just pride)

5. Help from fisherman who is laughing uncontrollably as he dumps out my kayak. While thanking him and blushing profusely, tangle oar in his fishing line

I did get much better kayaking the second half (I swear), and I still had fun. Thank God! we didn't end up kayaking the sea caves on rough Lake Superior. Disaster!

UPDATE: It could have been worse! Sarah just sent me this
article about two guys who needed rescued on the river we kayaked on.

You don't see these in Cleveland...

Lots and lots of woods and log cabins...

It seems like so many people in Wisconsin are endurance athletes (not that snowmobiling is an endurance sport) that thrive in rural isolation.

Just in Hayward, I noticed two combo bar/wildlife museums. WEIRD.

This muskie, more than four stories tall, is home to the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. You know you want to read about it...

Rural dining

My two new favorite meals: fried cheese curds (duh) and lumberjack cakes (sausage-stuffed pancakes).

Based on recommendations, Sarah and I scored great meals at Mooselips Cafe in Seeley near her family's cabins (and our only source of Internet) and Good Thyme, a gourmet restaurant in a Victorian house in the middle of nowhere (see pic of our fried cheese curds and sweet potato fries appetizer). Yum!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Raspberry Island Lighthouse on Lake Superior

Today, we drove an hour to Bayfield for a boat ride on Lake Superior to Raspberry Island where we toured the 1864 lighthouse. I was surprised we were able to climb all the way to the top since the stairs/ladder were a little treacherous. The view from the top was great! The light is now automated and powered by solar.

Sarah, Ella and I hiked the length of the island (about a mile) on the official "road" from way back when, which equated to a narrow trail, sometimes outfitted with a boardwalk. We wanted to get to the beach at the end and dip our toes in the cold water. We had just enough time to make it there and back at a bustling pace. Resilient, seven-months-pregnant Sarah hiked back with two-year-old Ella on her shoulders.

I guess it rained in Hayward all day, but we had a beautiful day in Bayfield. We went to the art festival right by the water (yay). And, the one time it poured, we were inside a deli grabbing our lunch, so we were lucky to get good weather karma.

Tonight, we're staying at Sarah's cousin's cabin, which is right down the street from the one we stayed in last night.

Tomorrow, we head back to Hudson to Sarah's for some fun on the river.

Learning to share

Would you like to hold my toad?

"Roughing" it

On our trips, Sarah and I usually cover quite a bit of ground. This weekend we’re turbo dieseling it in her retro, supercool Mercedes wagon. As soon as I saw it in the airport parking lot, I knew it was Sarah’s because it suits her perfectly.

We’re “roughing” it in her aunt and uncle’s isolated cabin…no street lights, no Internet, no cell service, no curtains, but lots of bears and these weird fisher creatures Sarah’s been creeping me out about. The cabin is new and beautiful, and it’s located at the mid-point of the Birkie, one of the best cross-country skiing race (lots of Sarah’s family participates each year). It’s so nice we can stay here, particularly since it’s a short drive to the Lumberjack Champs.

Today we’re hauling Turbo Diesel to Bayfield where we’re going to take a boat on Lake Superior and explore lighthouses. Then back to Hayward tonight to meet up with some of Sarah’s cousins and explore some of the combo bar/wildlife museums (I can’t even begin to explain this Wisconsin phenomenon.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

When I grow up, I wanna be a lumberjill

So, I know that before I left for Japan, I wrote that I really want to train as an apprentice/old lady geisha. I still do. However, I’ve also decided that I would like to be a logrolling Lumberjill.

Sarah and I went to the 50th anniversary of the Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward, Wis., and it was incredible. Tix were $10 for an up-close-and-personal view of lumberjacks and lumberjills from all over the world who competed in a number of events. My favs are logrolling (duh) and the 90-foot climb. I have a video of the latter below, but I can’t figure out how to load it vertically, so turn your head sideways when you watch. (Do not count on me adding videography to my list of aspirational careers.) My camera battery died within the first 15 minutes (#$%*), so I have other videos and pics to load of events from Sarah’s camera once we head back home and snag her cord.

There are 114 professional competitors, and 20 of them are locals from Hayward. There’s even a logrolling school here (!). I started drooling when Sarah told me that her Y offers classes (sadly, just for kids). I even met one of the former champion logrollers who's a friend of Sarah’s family.

At the competition, there was a logrolling tank near the stands, and I gasped when I saw it. However, it was barely in the 70s, so I was not diving in with jeans (and a gaggle of kids who could probably cream me). Maybe someday…

I'm not a cheesehead, I'm a cheesebelly

Please don't be shocked, but I am craving lettuce. I've consumed A LOT of cheese.

It's never too early to get your cheese on...

It's never too early to start the day with a bacon cheddar bagel (or a cream cheese moustache).
Sarah, Ella and I are at the town coffee shop in Hudson and apparently just missed the governor. Yes, we're big time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

At least I wasn't featured for a Sex Museum photo...

My little ole blog was featured in a post by Travel Pod about quirky museums around the world! Travel Pod was the original blogging platform I used before switching over the Blogger last year. Here's my original Travel Pod post that was featured.

My post about the Musee Mecanique in San Francisco was highlighted and included a pic of the Grandma fortune teller who told me that I'm a virtuous person, but I have some trouble with the devil (true dat!). Incidentally, there are two devil museums mentioned in the quirky museums post.

Check out the cool badge on the right that Travel Pod sent me to post on my blog. Loves it!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Shabu-shabu in Cleveland?

I miss udon noodles from Japan oodles (sorry, couldn't resist) and shabu-shabu even more. Gina and I thought we could score shabu-shabu in our own backyard at Ariyoshi on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights, but, alas, they recently changed their menu and shabu-shabu didn't make the cut.

No other leads so far. If you know of a destination in Greater Cleveland, please pass it along!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cheesehead Summer

Last night, Phil(!) and I booked a trip to Milwaukee to visit his grad school buddies. They've stayed with us twice over the past four years and yet we've never been to visit them in Howards Grove.

That trip falls on the heels of my lumberjack vacay with my friend Sarah in Hudson/Hayward, so I'm dubbing the next couple months as my Cheesehead Summer. Cheese curds, mmmmm!

I'm down with vacationing in the Midwest during our warm months because you can't beat the weather. And, let's face it, California, Vegas, the southern hemisphere, etc. is made for November-March visits anyway when it's cold and gray in Cleveland.

We'll actually only be in Milwaukee proper for a day, so if you've been, please send some ideas on what to see and do. I'd love to know of a great lunchtime spot, cool brewery to visit, galleries, shops, etc. Someone mentioned a Frank Lloyd Wright house that I want to look into. Suggest away!