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Archive for the ‘autumn’ Category

It took the 11 years and four treks, but I’ve made friends with the North Shore of Minnesota – a stretch of Lake Superior shoreline, highway, infamous landmarks, and seasonal resorts.

Up until now, my travels that direction epitomized the word miserable. Few other places in the country boast about bad weather to attract tourists, but for those in Duluth and points north along the treacherous northwest shore of Lake Superior, bad weather is a piece of nearly every historical moment worth noting. For me, one late summer trip several years ago featured horizontal rain and high winds for two straight days. A second venture resulted in a foot of snow and high winds. The third trip, a late April getaway, included some sun, but the wind blew so fierce it might as well have been the Antarctic. This pattern seems to be the norm.

The vistas and opportunities to hike, bike and relax in the Arrowhead Region of Minnesota are too numerous to ignore…and so away we went on Saturday to kick off Labor Day weekend 2010.

And brother, we hit the weather jackpot.

Two full days of “sunny and mid- to upper-60s farenheit” ruled our short getaway. On Day One, the lofty cotton-ball-esque dotted skies served as a personal tour guide as we hiked miles and miles of the Superior Hiking Trail – enough steps to make our feet, calves, knees and thighs tell us “enough.” If you haven’t stepped onto a piece of the 270-plus miles of this trail, add it to your bucket list. And while you’re at it, make sure to take the Lookout Mountain trail section for a scene unlike any other you’ll find in Minnesota.

That evening we ate and slept in Grand Marais. Our dinner bell rang at The Crooked Spoon, a crowded cafe on Wisconsin Street where the chef served up a wicked lamb tenderloin and the most beautiful leafy green salad I’ve ever seen. And while very much a tourist town, for a Saturday night, Grand Marais seemed very quaint and quiet overlooking a calm Lake Superior.

On a cloudless Day Two, Cheri and I biked the Pincushion Mountain trail, just a couple miles from Grand Marais off the Gunflint Trail highway. Leaving the town, this highway rises over 1,000 feet in just 2.5 miles or so. After completely wasting our legs peddling the mountain bike trail, I coasted back in to Grand Marais – nearing 40 mph on two wheels and barely turning the crank.

Another hike on the Superior Hiking Trail to take in Devil’s Kettle gave new meaning to late summer in Northern Minnesota. As we sat on the rocks of the Brule River watching the falls the color was unbelievable. From the rocks to the sharp dark walls of the river’s gorge to the green chlorophyl-laden shrubs and trees to a clear blue sky. Now that’s what being outdoors is suppose to be about.

Lesson learned. The North Shore may be unforgiving at times with its wind, driving rain and lake effect snows, but pick your moment and place and you can be pleasantly surprised by the gift of such a place. And you may, like me, make friends with a piece of America that you had for awhile given up on.

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Never let anyone tell you that Minneapolis/Saint Paul lack for things to do. In fact, there are so many events coming that it’s difficult to squeeze it all in.

Starting this week, it’s the Great Minnesota Get Together in Saint Paul – The Minnesota State Fair, Aug. 27 – Sept. 8. I’ll go on Friday morning for #smbmsp (search it on Twitter), a monthly gathering of social media gurus in the Twin Cities…and for the Pronto Pups.

Other fun things on the sched:

  • Brandi Carlile performing at The O’Shaugnessy theater at St. Catherine’s University in Saint Paul on Wednesday, Sept. 23
  • David Gray (this will be my third time seeing Gray in Minneapolis) at The Orpheum theater in Minneapolis on Friday, Oct. 30
  • Sister’s Christmas Catechism on Saturday, Nov. 21 at the Ordway Theater

And, perhaps what I’m looking forward to most,

  • Jerry Seinfeld at The Orpheum on Saturday, Nov. 14.

It’s a cornucopia of entertainment opportunities. Seriously.

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An Autumn Canopy

Autumn Gold

Autumn Gold: From the Elm Creek Park Greenway, Oct. 21, 2007

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On Sunday, Oct. 7, more than 15,000 running lovers will converge in downtown Minneapolis to participate in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon or TC-10 Mile Run.

15,000 people. Running. Through the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

While running distance races like marathons is nothing new (in fact, I believe running is one of the oldest sports and past-times on the planet), there is something unique about this particular marathon that very few people are cognizant of. In this marathon, dozens of participants are running with implanted medical devices.

Medtronic, with its headquarters in Minneapolis, has been the title sponsor of the Twin Cities GreenMarathon for two years. As part of its sponsorship, the company developed a unique program to recognize runners who have implanted medical devices who are, in essence, living a full and complete life because of their condition and the therapy they’ve chosen to treat it.  Some of these amateur athletes run with a pacemaker or defibrillator in their chests. Others run with an insulin pump attached to their abdomen. Still others have rods and screws along their spine correcting scoliosis.  The list of conditions is amazing.

What’s most inspiring, however, is that these people continue to achieve their goals, live their lives and serve as incredible moms, dads, sisters, brothers, role models, and mentors to many others afflicted with similar conditions who have similar hopes of living a full and complete life.

They are part of Medtronic’s Global Heroes program, and it has become one of the many attributes of the Twin Cities Marathon that makes it “The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America.”

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It’s mid-September in Minnesota and summer begins its gentle slide into autumn – right on cue.(Photo (c) 2007 Gerald Brimacombe)

 Five tell-tale signs that fall is upon us…

1)      Leaves find their way to the ground…mysteriously and usually only at night.

2)      Windows left open at night mean that toweling off after an early morning shower will result in goose bumps.

3)      From my deck I can hear the cheers and see the Friday night lights of the high school football stadium (which also glimmer on Wednesdays and Thursdays due to JV games)

4)      Thoughts of making two-bean chili become incessant.

5)      Nearby apple orchard signs sport a coat of fresh paint.

Innovation

A recent work assignment involved researching the topic of “innovation” for an executive speech that my VP is beginning to write.  The audience is a group of about 1,000 scientists, researchers and engineers responsible for coming up with new technologies that will ultimately grow the company and help people live life more fully.

During the research phase, it became clear to me that their task, while daunting, is incredibly exciting. Things like nanotechnology and drug-device combinations are on the cusp of emergence. Soon, we may all swallow a tiny drug-coated device that not only treats a condition but then monitors whether we get better or not from the inside and transmits that data to our physician.

Creativity. Collaboration. Innovation. As the average age expectancy of people in the U.S. continues to rise (we’re now, on average, living to the age of 78) these intelligent scientists are cracking the code to ensure we not only live to a ripe old age, but that we live well and capable lives so our latter years are enjoyed not in diapers wheeling around in a nursing home, but in our own homes with our own families, cooking our meals and contributing to society.

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