When I’m away on a trip one of my favorite things to do is hunt for souvenirs that will remind me of my travels. This means that I will skip the kitschy t-shirts, shot glasses, and monogrammed key chains and venture outside to look for my treasures. Gnarly pieces of driftwood and smooth, ancient rocks are always fun to hunt for on Lake Superior. In the scrub brush of Colorado my favorite finds are sun-bleached bones. With these and other natural objects I decorate my house, and as a result am reminded daily of my cross-country travels. This daily dose of memories helps subdue the travel bug until life permits another journey.

jaw bones


more souvenir ideas

2,000 Miles to Paradise

It’s yet another blustery day, and I can’t help but reminisce about sunshine, sand, and sultry weather. Last winter took me over 4,000 miles to the Florida Keys and back. Minnesota was in the midst of days on end below zero, and Key West boasted a consistent high around 80 degrees. It’s got me thinking where this winter will take me. Where will you be going?

florida sunset

Beach-side camping is an option in many of Florida’s state parks in the Keys. The view from your tent can’t be beat.

key west crab

Be transported to warmer days.

On Staying Sane During Winter, Part 1

Today’s post is part one in a series about small things you can do to maintain a modicum of sanity during winter.

Tip #1: Grow plants, any kind you can get your hands on. When I can, I like to trade clippings with friends rather than buy new because that can get spendy. I like it, too, because each plant you’re getting has a story and a history.

aloe vera sun flare

Aloe Vera catching some early morning rays


This Boston Fern shoot off new little curlicues all the time.

wandering jew

The spawn of a Wandering Jew I’ve had since age eleven

floweres backlit

When the outside world is a sloppy mixture of browns and grays, a verdant palette indoors is most welcome. 

Still Standing on the Iron Range

The Engine House is all that remains of Mitchell Yards, a former rail yard established in 1906 servicing trains headed to Duluth, MN. The yard, which is located just outside Hibbing on the Iron Range, was also home to two small towns, Mitchell and Redore. Company towns by all accounts, the inhabitants were railroad men and their families. The towns have long since faded into oblivion, but the Engine House remains. It has not been demolished, nor has it been turned into expensive, industrial lofts. I enjoy it the way it is: rusted, crumbling, and slowly being swallowed by meandering tendrils and fallen trees. Don’t get me wrong; I love to see historic buildings returned to their former glory. But, sometimes, just as much, I enjoy being witness to the unhurried passage of time not subject to human influence.

private property vintage

abandoned shack

car top vintage

The nature takeover continues…

At Home in Colorado

Colorado has a special spot in my heart. It is that spot I have reserved for places that, when I visit them, make me think, “Why don’t I live here?” Colorado has better weather, a more diverse landscape, and an even more bountiful array of outdoor activities. Anyway, I have found that the second best thing to living in a place you love is knowing people in that place and being able to visit them. I’m fortunate to have family and friends in Westcliffe, a charming small town nestled in the Wet Mountain Valley at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and Crawford, an even smaller town in western Colorado embraced by mesas, canyons, and mountains.


sunset over the Sangre de Cristos — Westcliffe, CO

karla ranch

It’s the rancher’s life for me — Crawford, CO

more Colorado dreamin’

Land of Enchantment

As I mentioned in my last post, I also traveled to New Mexico on my autumn road trip. Although my time there was short, the landscape, in all its arid and stark beauty, drew me in. It was a welcome change from the environment that I’ve grown used to. There is less green and more red. Fewer trees and bigger skies. Less people and more back roads. I will definitely return.

Here are a few photos from the couple days I was there.


The outskirts of Taos


part of the Ancestral Pueblo village of Tsankawi at Bandalier National Monument

Come on. Keep reading.