Western Minnesota: On Highway 27 between Alexandria and Wheaton. Having lived in mountainous areas for four years now, I'm pretty used to them. Flat, open land is now about as novel as mountains used to be. You can see for miles with nary tree nor house. In good visibility, you can see the very edge of the earth, broken occasionally by the very tops of a tall oak, peering over the horizon like a ship's mast. The prarie has much of the same lonely charm as the desert. Driving through here, I rolled down the windows and cranked the radio station up. Nothing comes in out here but country music. I cranked it up high and sang along. Mind you, I detest country, but out here it fits.
Downtown Wheaton Minnesota, population 1600. Unlike many prarie towns, Wheaton has managed to retain most of it's population against the urbanization trend of the past 50 years. The grain elevator still runs, and the Super Valu is still in business. Many of the other stores come and go in the same tired buildings. A surprising number of young people return from college to raise families here. A completely new face, however, is somewhat rare, and grounds for rumor to flare through town. My first time here, Dawn and I went on a walk together, and the number of people staring at the skinny kid holding the Schmitz girl's hand suggested Dawn would get a few inquisitive phone calls soon (she did, too!).
Back in Princeton at the Weigels', the sun rises over our pond (really a swamp) with a light ground fog forming. I took this from our 4-season porch, which is a great place to spend a summer evening with the windows open. As the sky darkens, the pond comes alive with bullfrogs and crickets competing with each other for loudest chorus. It gets loud to the point you'd think you'd be irritated, but it's really quite soothing. You listen to that and feel the warm breeze come through, and look out at the stars, far away from all the city lights - and civilization seems completely overrated.
My brother Steve, rockstar of the family. Now with hot rockstar's girlfriend, Anna! Steve's been the wild, charasmatic sibling for almost as long as I can remember. He's the one who broke the bones, took the groundings, and drove the chicks wild. Steve is 19 and recently moved out of the house to the Twin Cities, where he's much closer to work and the MSP music scene (and Anna!). While I was there, he got together with his friend and ex-bandmate Josiah for a little jam session in our basement.
Back from MN and hitting the slopes! Ironically, the Pacific Northwest is finally getting a taste of winter now that April is here. The snow on the mountain is deeper and better than it's been yet this year. Dawn and I went up to Timberline for a few hours today, which was incidently Dawn's first time on skis in many years. She took a few spills but improved greatly during the time we were there.
Mt. Hood as seen from near Timberline Lodge. This area was completely bare of snow a month ago. Then in mid-March, the weather finally went back into the winter pattern and we've gotten dumped on by storms out of the Pacific ever since. And it was good snow today, too! The last few times I've been up the mountain, the snow has been crap. I might have to drag Andy up to Mt Hood Meadows this week.