Posts Tagged ‘Winter’

Winter Car Wash

February 7, 2011

Those of you who drive in the winter know the frustration of dirty cars.  The salt, sand and slush that splashes up on the car is bad enough, but it’s not the only indignity.  There’s the constant spraying of windshield washer fluid, which cleans barely enough of the windshield to see through for about 30 seconds – unless you have ice on your wipers, and then it won’t even clean that well. And I dare you to try to walk through a Minnesota parking lot in the middle of January without smearing white-gray dusty dirt on your coat.

The temptation to take the car through a car wash is great. It becomes an obsession – the huge icicles that have built up in the wheel wells (WWIs aka boogers) and behind the tires grow longer each day. And like the crusty salt coating the undercarriage, the dirtiness of the car slowly eats away on you.

And then something crazy happens – the sun comes out and the temperature inches toward 10F. The sun!  It’s noon, the sun is at its zenith, the temperature is relatively balmy and you think…maybe, just maybe I could go through the car wash today.  The sun’s out, it’s less cold than usual…maybe the doors and windows won’t freeze shut afterwards. I could get the salt off of the car, and I’ll have the cleanest car in the state! Mwahahaha!

But this is why you don’t give in temptation: Two miles post-car wash:

The slush, man. The slush will getcha every time. 

But for a brief moment, my car was shiney.  It was brilliant.  It was the cleanest car on the roads that day.  For about 2 minutes.

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Snow Angel or Drunken Stumble?

February 3, 2011

Or both? It can sometimes be hard to pick out the nuances that help determine the species of patterned snow-dent with which you’re dealing. I think the fact that we found him outside of Cause Spirits and Soundbar in South Minneapolis is a big hint, though.

And look – someone bummed him a smoke!

We found him at the intersection of Lyndale and Lake – southeast corner.  Stop by and say hi – he’ll probably be there until spring!

Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival 2011

January 17, 2011

Late Report!  This was actually two Saturdays ago, on January 8th, but there’s been so much cool stuff going on…okay, I was just lazy.  Oh, naughty Zeus!

*****

Recently the Hubby and I went to the 2011 Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival.  I learned about the event over at 22 Words and at the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation website.

Previously on the blog I’m complained expounded on my general disdain for winter activities because…umm… you have to frickin’ freeze to enjoy them.  BUT I am pleased to announce that I had a really great time.  There were no clouds in the sky, the sun was shining and we bundled up to stay warm.  I bundled up a LOT.  I had on gym leggings, jeans, a t-shirt, a long-sleeve t-shirt, a sweatshirt, a coat, hats, gloves and my warmest boots.

We arrived at the festival around noon just as things were starting up.  There were already a few people on the ice and maybe 4-5 kites were up.  It was a pretty nice set-up.  There were several tents and stands and the organizers had arranged a free marshmallow roast, free hot chocolate and cider, they were giving away little plastic kites to kids and they were well-staffed with volunteers.  Pssst: Click on any photo to make it crazy big.

 

The wind wasn’t being all that cooperative, but we managed to get our little kite up for a few minutes.

Okay, I may have been optimistic when I said we got the kite “up” for “a few minutes”.

After the kite flying we headed over to the Minnesota DNR tent where they were holding ice fishing demos.

It was kind of funny to watch; there was a lot of activity inside the tent, probably because it was heated.  There was one guy who looked SUPER into the whole ice fishing deal; he would glare at the hole in the ice and look up in frustration every time a kid would squeal or somebody would brush by him.  Also, we witnessed the amazing flash transformation of super-excited kids into super-bored kids.  They were practically jumping with excitement as they were handed the short ice fishing poles and the line dropped into the water, and after about 30 seconds of not catching anything they’d start to get fidgety, and then the complaining started.  I couldn’t blame them – that’s pretty much how I feel about ice fishing.

Ice fishing holes!  The first picture is of a hole that was drilled outside of the main tent.  The second picture is of an ice fishing hole that was drilled inside a small black tent.  It turned out to be accidentally cool and Tron-esque because of how the low light in the tent, the bright sun shining in from the open tent bottom and my confused camera worked together.

The other thing happening at the DNR tent was snowshoeing!  The tour guide helped the Hubby and I and another couple with two small boys get our feet into the snowshoes, which was not as easy as it might sound.  But eventually, we did it.

 

And then we were off.  We walked across the ice to a bird sanctuary located on the north end of Lake Harriet.  The guide lead us off trail so that we could experience snowshoeing through fresh snow.  It was a neat feeling; I sunk down further in the snow than I thought I would, but the broad, flat shoe distributed my weight so that I didn’t sink down to my knees as I would have in regular boots.  And, I only fell once.  Ta-da!

The snowshoeing tour was about 30 minutes long.  After we got back to the DNR tent we walked around and did a little kite and people watching.

And to end the day we roasted a few marshmallows:

There were a ton of people with some very pretty cameras on the ice that day – gigantic lenses and camera bags galore!  These websites have some fancy pictures that I suspect were taken with SLR cameras that had…like…zoom…and adjustable apertures…and stuff.

Star Tribune

CityPages Blog

This Flickr Stream

An awesome video that was filmed with an old-timey effect.

The Darkness of Winter

December 2, 2010

I’m not a big fan of winter in this particular part of the country.

 I don’t like feeling cold down to my bones.  I don’t like the treacherous traffic, ruining the hemlines of my dress pants and jeans, having to choose between wearing one pair of ugly waterproof boots all day or carrying a second pair of shoes to work. 

I don’t like that it’s harder to exercise in the winter.  Not only is it less appealing to crawl out of the warm bed at 5am in the morning (super dark AND cold), but add to that the necessity of bundling up in extra clothes, wearing snow boots, scraping the car and driving to the gym on frozen or slushy roads.  Also in the winter I get less “natural” exercise like playing outside and walking places.  I still do all of these things, it’s just more of a pain so I do less of them.

I don’t play any winter sports.  I don’t even ice-fish – me in the land of 10,000 frozen lakes!  I’d like snowmobiling, but I don’t have a snowmobile or anywhere nearby to ride one.  I’ve tried ice-skating a couple of times, but I can’t seem to grasp the art of gliding over the ruts in the ice left by other skaters.  Roller-blading and roller skating I got; ice-skating I do not.  I’ll usually go sledding or snow tubing once or twice each year, and I was in winter running club in high school, but I think I may have joined because I had a crush on one of the other members…

No one in my family ever did downhill skiing or snowboarding when I was growing up, and frankly I’m not too excited to learn how to do either of those now.  First it looks…umm…cold.  And second, every time I think about getting up on skis, I imagine me bundled up like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story, standing at the top of the bunny hill, slowly starting downward, and just as things seem like they might go alright, I trip and bury myself in a snow hill with only my crossed skis left visible in the air above me. 

Nothing like the power of positive thought, eh?

One more thing.  The biggest thing: My evenings are shorter. 

They’re not really, they just feel shorter.  I usually leave work sometime between 4pm and 6pm – that’s the same regardless of the time of year.  The difference is a matter of sunlight.  In the summer I can work until 6pm and know that I have a good two hours left of daylight in which to do “things and stuff” – whatever it is that needs doing.  In the winter I start getting antsy around 3:30pm because I know it’s going to be pitch black by 4:15pm. 

That’s a problem because when it’s dark, it’s very cold.  That means I have to drive home in the Cold Dark, and I have to go grocery shopping in the Cold Dark, I have to go out with friends and family in the Cold Dark.    The Cold Dark is lonely.  Sound is muffled; lights are sharp and hurt to look at.  My cold face, fingers and legs become numb and feel stiff.  All I want to do is huddle under a blanket in front of a fire and let every available light bulb blaze.  I’m not inspired to run errands or leave my house for entertainment.  I feel like I should be hibernating until the sun resumes normal working hours. 

Occasionally I do find myself admiring the Cold Dark.  Not so much that I appreciate its presence for a full three months, but if I could have it for a week every year…I think I’d like that.

Take last night.  I left work yesterday at 6:15pm, later than most of my coworkers.  I work in a suburb, in quiet, sparsely-inhabited industrial park located on a lake near a golf course.  There is never a lot of traffic, and the trees and open lake make the world seem very big and wild at night. 

I bundled up in my many layers, and as I walked outside I noticed that a fresh layer of snow had carpeted the concrete walkways and asphalt parking lot.  I had left by a side door, and only a few sets of foot prints tracked from where I was standing.  They walked side-by-side, only diverging and disappearing into other footprint traffic at the end of the walkway as they split off to find their respective vehicles. 

Everything was so…still.  I took a deep breath and the air was cold in my nose and throat.  Outside smelled new, fresh, clean.  The parking lot security lights cut through the blackness, creating cones of light if observed individually, and together casting a dome of brilliance which gently faded at the edge of the lake shore.  The buildings across campus seemed to be Hollywood cutouts, backlit by unseen street lights, empty and flat.  If I walked behind them I wouldn’t have been surprised to see unpainted wood held upright by enormous 2×4 beams.

My warm breath fogged up my glasses, obscuring the silent world and shaking me out of my reverie.  The magic of the moment was further dispelled when I reached my car and had to use two hands to force the frozen door open.  The cold leather of my car seat quickly penetrated my coat and dress pants, and on the curved exit of the parking lot I lost traction under my tires, swerving gently sideways before regaining control of the car.

But for a short time, the Cold Dark had been regal, majestic and bigger than slushy roads, the wet gloves and my ennui.  For a moment it was beautiful, and I was happy to be in it.

Off to Madison, WI!

February 12, 2010

I’m off to Madison, WI with some friends to hang out with some other friends for the weekend.  I won’t have access to a computer, so no new updates until Sunday night!  Unfortunately, Madison isn’t far enough removed from Minneapolis longitudinally to escape the snow.  In honor of snow, this I leave you this bit of inanity from Letterman (click to view video at gawker.com).  It’s here…it’s LOTS of snow..Is it the snowpocalypse?  snowmageddon?  snow-mega-don?

Also, this dude!  Way to fuel the panic!  FREAKOUT!

Snow Tubing

January 16, 2010

Saturday 09:45

We’re going to Eko Backen today to experience the northern activity called snow tubing [snoh too-bing].  Assuming I don’t crash and die I’ll post a pic or two when we get back later this evening.  Check out the video on their website – great marketing material…you can actually here the guy say “Ah shit!” on the way down, lol.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9otnWDWRmvk&feature=player_embedded

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Saturday 16:28

We just got back from Eko Backen – I didn’t die, and we had a blast.  The weather was warm (for winter) and sunny.  There were these tows ropes that pulled you back up to the top of the hill!  You know…snowy fun without any of the cardiovascular benefits.  Seriously though, the tow rope wasn’t exactly easy.  We had to grab the slick, slushy rope and hold on tight – good workout for the biceps!  As my gloves got wetter and my muscles more tired with each progressive tow, it became difficult to hang on, and sometimes the rope would slide through my fingers and leave me stranded halfway up the hill.  Then I had to move out of the way quickly (so I didn’t screw up the person behind me) and schlep up the hill the ol’ fashioned way.

The hills were definitely sufficient; there were options from “family” to “expert”, so you could choose your own steepness and speed.  What I really liked is that the park wasn’t over-regulated.  There were employees watching things, but no one was playing snow hill dictator.  Everyone was responsible for their own fun.   I went tubing with Hubby and my Little Sis, Ashley.  Ashley and I were paired together through a mentoring program two years ago and it has been quite the experience!

Hubby and Ashley about to go down the hill:

Me and Ashley going down the hill:

Ashley and I being towed up the hill:

Hubby and I in front of the lodge at the top of the hill: