I turned on the heat today. 37 degrees outside, 63 degrees inside. It’s supposed to be cloudy today and not get warmer than 48, so it’s about time. Plus, my parents are visiting and making them sleep in an unheated basement is just mean.
We’ve had a few days here and there, but this feels like we’re entering the first uninterrupted stretch of real fall weather.
The summer of vacation continued in August with a trip just me and the kids to Colorado. We met my parents for a few days in Estes Park, by way of South Dakota, then came home through Kansas for a couple days.
These family trips are always quicker than you want, but there were some great moments.
We took an abbreviated family vacation this year to Madeline Island and the larger Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The islands, featured in The Birchbark House series by Louise Erdrich, are something I’ve wanted to visit for a while. Unfortunately, the only way to really see the islands is from the water. We finally had a chance to do that on this trip, which was truly a trip of islands.
We had some cell phone mishaps on the way that required a detour to Duluth, but we did get to stop at Pattison State Park in Wisconsin for a couple of worthy waterfalls.
This week I took a solo trip to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the badlands of North Dakota. I’ve been to the more famous badlands of South Dakota several times, but I’d never been to the ones in North Dakota. They have the similar look of bleak, eroded buttes, but there’s more green in North Dakota. It’s an awe-inspiring landscape that sneaks up on you after the flat dullness of the prairie.
Two years ago I launched the hyper-local news site West St. Paul Reader. After a few years of getting involved in my local community, starting to write about it here, and then a good several months of writing about City Council, I decided to take it to the next level.
I remember a few months before I pulled the trigger, a friend asked if I’d consider spinning off a site focused on West St. Paul. “No way,” I scoffed.
And here I am. Not only did I launch that site, but it’s working. I was able to get it up and running thanks to the support of 68 people on Kickstarter. Today I’ve got 82 people giving monthly or annual support through Patreon.
That ongoing support really makes this endeavor possible. I spent a lot of time attending City Council meetings, writing stories, taking pictures, and more. I couldn’t do that if I weren’t getting paid. So those folks are making local news happen.
I’ve reflected on the ongoingpandemic a coupletimes, and now that we’ve passed the one-year mark, it seems an update is due. Cautiously optimistic is about how things feel.
We made it through the second wave and the rising death toll in the fall and winter. Now the vaccines are rolling out—truly a miracle how quickly that happened—but it’s a race between vaccine rollout and deadlier, more contagious variants. We’re seeing surges in places, lock downs in Europe again, and worrisome numbers that creep upward.
So there’s real reason for hope, but there’s also that continued anxiety that hasn’t left us for the past year.
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of a new state. And it seems like we’re closer than ever as Congress debates D.C. statehood for the second time in a year. Puerto Rico has also come up a lot lately, and it all makes for some fascinating what ifs.
For my entire life, the U.S. has been 50 states. It’s a nice round number. Makes the flag with 50 stars nice and symmetrical. As a kid, I assumed that was it—no more states because 50 is a round number.
Of course 50 states is entirely arbitrary and we can add states whenever we feel like it.