Christmas break is over, and I’m back in Colorado. Here are some highlights of my break.
Very long drives. I drove straight through from Gunbarrel to the Twin Cities on Wednesday the 22nd in a little under 14 hours (aided by making only four stops the whole way). It’s a loooong drive to make by yourself. My previous longest solo drive was 13 hours, which I did twice in a three-day span in 2006 to go to Daniel & Katie’s wedding (State College, PA to Green Bay, WI, via Huntsville, AL). For the drive back from the Twin Cities I took a different route that was shorter route by distance, but it took me 14.5 hours due to an extra stop or two (minus the hour-long stop I made at Gustavus to say hi to a couple people). I’m glad I won’t be doing that drive again for awhile, it’s exhausting!
Bentleyville Tour of Lights. I met up with Vic & Lindsay in Duluth a couple nights before Christmas. We went to Bentleyville, which is basically a Christmas village in Bayfront Park with tens (or hundreds) of thousands of Christmas lights. It started out with one guy (Bentley) putting up so many Christmas lights at his house in Cloquet year after year that his neighbors got annoyed and Duluth city officials were intrigued. A few years ago he was invited to set up his village in Bayfront Park, and it’s continued to grow every year. It took us about an hour to walk through Bentleyville, but it was quite a pleasant evening, about 20 degrees with only a light breeze. There were also several bonfires here and there along the walk so you could get a quick warm-up. The concession stands were handing out coffee, hot chocolate, cookies and popcorn for free, too! I love Minnesota! I doubt you’d get that anywhere other than the Upper Midwest. After Bentleyville we went to dinner at Blackwoods in Duluth. Only in Minnesota could the three of us each get a different walleye dinner. So delicious! They stayed the night at my parents house in Two Harbors, and Vic brought some of his tasty home brew.
Christmas weekend in Two Harbors. A foot of snow fell earlier in the week, so the landscape was absolutely gorgeous. Nathan & Laura and their family came up for the weekend, and my uncle Gary & aunt Kathy came for Christmas Day. Fun times!
Gustavus physics reunion. The night after Christmas a bunch of us got together for dinner at a deserted pub in Saint Anthony, and then hung out at Zach & Jolene’s house in Minneapolis. More fun times!
Settling for a Settlers winner. I played Settlers of Catan: Cities & Knights one night at Nathan & Laura’s. But when it’s approaching 1am, a ten-year old is pleading to be allowed to go to bed, I’m needing to drive to the Twin Cities in six hours, and when I have no chance of winning, of course I’m going to hand the game to Laura just so the game ends. Even though it means Laura wins yet again. 🙂
Snowmobiling! I got the opportunity to go snowmobiling with a friend down in Goodhue County, Minnesota, in Mississippi River bluffs country. Apart from a short, 15-minute ride 20 years ago, I’d never been on a snowmobile before. So far all intents and purposes, this was my first time snowmobiling. I rode for the first 30-ish miles, then drove for the last 30-ish miles. There was a good mix of terrain, with some narrow, steep, forested trails, and some wide-open fields where I could open it up (I think I topped out at 55 or 60 mph). The snow, scenery, weather, and company were great, and I had tons of fun!
Visiting other friends. In addition to being able to have dinner and hanging out a fair bit with both my best friends, I was also able to meet up with some other friends who I hadn’t seen in years. That’s always fun!
Introducing my parents to Arrested Development. I bought all three seasons on DVD for $45 total, and sat my parents down on New Years Eve to introduce them to the show. And they loved it! We watched six episodes that night. 🙂 They even asked to borrow the DVDs, so they could watch the rest, and then mail them back to me.
Christmas on New Years. My family had our gift exchange on New Years Day. My parents have long wanted to separate gifts from Christmas Day itself. It worked okay, but I’m personally still a fan of having gifts be exchanged a bit closer to Christmas.
It was a good break, good to see family and friends, and good to have some time off work. But I also felt like it was important to get back to Colorado to get back to work, and to get back to the business of trying to make friends out here. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year as well!