Afternoon Dose of Vitamin D

Breaking free from cabin fever seems to have been the theme this month with some of my fellow northern bloggers.  Earlier this month, Heather from “Our Adventures Up North” expressed the frustration of these often gray winter days, in this post, while Kathy of “Lake Superior Spirit” shared deep-winter thoughts from her side of the Big Lake, here, along with photos of the impressive ice fields resulting from the extended cold temperatures.

Saturday was a window of opportunity of sunshine and warmer temps for many of us craving them, and I was not alone in getting outside to soak up the much-needed Vitamin D.  Heather also enjoyed the beauty of the frozen outdoors on Saturday, from the shores of a different Great Lake, Lake Michigan (enjoy her writing and photos in her post, “A Day in the Sun.”)

Ellingson Island, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park houses both the historic site with the Lighthouse and a lovely set of trails and scenic campsites year-round.  Ellingson Island is located a short distance from the shoreline trail, and only seasonally accessible to foot travel.  In all the years of living in northern Minnesota and exploring Split Rock’s park and trails, I had never wandered onto the island itself.  While I noted the footprints crossing the frozen bay to the island, I initially took the conservative path where the points of land were closest to each other (as seen in the last photo).

Rounding the southern side of the island, the vast frozen expanse of Lake Superior stretched seemingly forever.

View from Split Rock's Ellingson Island

I shared with you a photo of my handsome outdoor companion in this week’s response to the Daily Post’s photo challenge, “Rule of Thirds.” While clambering over the snow- and ice-covered rocky shoreline on the eastern side of the island, we were provided an elevated view of the frozen bay extending to the iconic Lighthouse. Animal and human tracks criss-crossed the ice, creeping much closer to open water than I dared.

Split Rock Lighthouse, Lake Superior

The icicles sparkled in the changing light, as the sun moved across the sky.

Icicles on Ellingson Island, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Corbin and I had planned to make a short stop at Split Rock before driving further up the North Shore to Temperance River or Tettegouche State Park, but we instead found ourselves enjoying a leisurely hike and simply appreciating the frozen beauty surrounding us.

Split Rock Framed by Icicles

The sun sank lower and shadows grew long.

Silhouettes by Split Rock

Soon, the sky began to glow a soft pink and purple with the sunset, and the forecasted return of bitter cold could already be felt in the air again.

Winter Sunset by Ellingson Island

“She felt an enveloping happiness to be alive, a joy made stronger by the certainty that someday it would all come to an end. Afterward she felt a little foolish, and never spoke to anyone about it. Now, however, she knows she wasn’t being foolish. She realizes that for no particular reason she stumbled into the core of what it is to be human. It’s a rare gift to understand that your life is wondrous, and that it won’t last forever. ” ~ Steven Galloway, The Cellist of Sarajevo

Ciao! ~ Kat

Taking Time to Enjoy the Sunsets


The blog has been neglected, but summers are not meant for sitting in front of the computer screen.  Hope your summer has been full of the things summer is meant for:  soaking up the sunshine (although in Duluth, the first 1/3 of summer left us sorely sun-starved), digging in the dirt, playing in the sand, wandering along the trails, reading a good book, learning something new ….

Minnesota sunset

Posts may be a little less frequent over the next month or two, but patiently hang with me, and I will try to make time to stop by your blog, as well …. I always look forward to our conversations and visits.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Top 10 Reasons Duluth is the Best Place to Live

As the last week of voting takes place in Outside magazine’s “Best Place to Live” contest, with Provo, Utah and Duluth, Minnesota going head-to-head in the final round (vote daily at!), I thought I would share my Top 10 reasons why Duluth, Minnesota is the Best Town and deserves your vote.  Let’s begin:

1.  The excitement of watching those 1,000-footers go through the canal and under Duluth’s Lift Bridge never gets old.

Ship Going Through Duluth's Canal

2.  You can experience the thrill of releasing a raptor from Hawk Ridge.  Visit with the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory staff and volunteers during fall migration season and learn about raptors.  Make a donation, “adopt” a hawk or passerine, and help release the newly banded bird with the beauty of Lake Superior as your stage.

Raptor release
Kat’s father releasing a Northern Goshawk (Photo credit: Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory)

3.  As I shared on my Facebook page, where else can you get teens out the door and on the water by 8:00 a.m. every weekday for most of the summer?  The Duluth Rowing Club’s Juniors program makes it happen.

duluth regatta henry 8 7_14_12 (1280x1024)

4.  During the holidays, the outdoor fun continues with Bentleyville, the “Tour of Lights” at Bayfront Festival Park.

Holiday Lights in Duluth

5.  There’s enough room for everyone, and everyone tries to get along.

Dog and Deer on the Lakewalk      Dog and Deer on the Lakewalk

6.  Duluth supports a world-class marathon, Grandma’s Marathon:  Fresh Air, Fresh Water, Fresh Race.

Starting line of Duluth's Grandma's Marathon
The starting line area for Grandma’s Marathon
Grandma's Marathon racers
Some of the lead female runners from along Grandma’s Marathon race course in 2012

7.  Skiing at night under the lights at Lester Park is magical — the crisp, cold silence of the woods broken only by the hooting of an owl, or the swish of skis as they cut through the fresh snow.  Miles and miles of ski trails, just blocks from almost any neighborhood in the city.

Magical Night Skiing in Winter

8.  Do you like to run?  bike?  hike?  Have we got options for you!  The joy of the trails is found throughout Duluth, all year long.

9.  We know all sorts of ways to have fun when it’s a long winter.  You may recall my winter post on blowing frozen bubbles, tossing boiling water … over 70 days of sub-zero temps in one season?!   Bring it on!

Sub-Zero Boiling Water Toss
Boiling water toss in –14°F (-25.5°C) temperatures — just a few degrees off of our high temp that day.

10.  Because every sunrise is beautifully unique …

Sundog on Lake Superior

sunrise on Lake Superior

… and the moonrises aren’t bad, either.

Monnrise by Lester River

I could go on, but you need to vote ….  Spread the word and #VoteDuluth!

Ciao! ~ Kat B.

The Ides of March on Lake Superior

March 15th brings signs of Spring — Minnesota-style!  On a sunny Saturday on Lake Superior, Duluthians were out in force enjoying the ongoing winter weather.  From flying a kite to biking, from ice fishing to ice photography, Minnesotans know how to make the best of a delayed Spring.

Duluth, Minnesota Ice Fishing

Winter kite flying in Duluth, Minnesota

Ice biking in Duluth, Minnesota

Ice fishing in March ~ Duluth, Minnesota

Ice fishing on Lake Superior

Ice fishing on Lake Superior

Photographer on ice ~ Duluth, Minnesota

With hints of open water here and there, the season of frozen sports is sure to end soon enough.  In the meantime, all one can do is continue to embrace its icy beauty.

Ice fishing outside of Duluth, Minnesota

Ciao! ~ Kat

Last Look at the Apostle Islands Ice Caves

Moods were lifted and everyone I encountered today had a smile on their face — amazing what a little sunshine and warmer temperatures can do to the collective spirit of a community!  The snow and ice are likely to be part of our landscape in the weeks to come … what was created over several months’ time is unlikely to disappear overnight.  So, I do not think it unseasonal to post one more set of photos from our frigid hike last Saturday at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Apostle Islands ice caves

Viewing winter visitors next to the rocky bluffs allowed one to appreciate the massive scope of this natural beauty.  But, the details were just as spectacular.

(Click on any photo in the galleries below for a full-screen view.)

Icy openings provided stunning views and memorable seating.

The ice and snow were not the only features of interest.  The rock formations along the shore created layered contrast and diverse textures for Winter’s artistry.

Probably the most awe-inspiring features were the massive hanging curtains of icicles and suspended waterfalls. 

For more photos and links to visitors’ information for the ice caves, check out my earlier posts:

And if you are unfamiliar with the region, here is a Google Maps for context:  Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is located in the State of Wisconsin on the “South Shore” of Lake Superior, while the City of Duluth, Minnesota is located at the beginning of the “North Shore.”

Beautiful regions to explore, any season of the year.  I hope to share signs of Spring with you in the upcoming weeks, but in the meantime, perhaps the blog will revisit some classic summer road trip destinations and dining favorites.

Ciao! ~ Kat