Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Another Walk in the Park

Today I had a fun surprise after I woke up! There was a message waiting for me from a friend at work asking if I'd join her on a walk when she finished her day shift. Just prior to hearing the message I was getting ready to go to the fitness center, so this was a fun change of plans!

We met up at Myrick Park, which I had never even heard of yet. It was a great spot! It's located right across from the University of Wisconsin -La Crosse and is surrounded by water/marshes, great trails, wide open spaces, and is also home to the local zoo!

The snow-covered trails provided some great exercise. It actually felt a little like walking along in the sand, which if done at a nice brisk pace is great exercise! Here we are about halfway along this particular path. There was a marsh on either side of us and though we were watching for deer, we didn't see any today.

We came upon this huge tree, which looks like it would be pretty fun to climb. Anyone want to join me?

The sunset was amazing tonight. Unfortunately, the best pictures I saw are only stored in my mind. We weren't in good locations during the best part. But, I like this shot through the trees!

After our walk in the park, she asked if I'd keep her company during her one-hour shift selling concessions at the hockey rink where her son plays. I happily agreed! The thought of concessions always reminds me of my summer selling them in Canada, but now I also have the thought of this summer's State Fair experience!

I also have the admittedly far-fetched dream of driving a Zamboni one day, so any chance to be at an ice rink means I should jump at it. Hee, hee! :)

Another fun day in La Crosse!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sightseeing in southwestern Wisconsin

Today has been a great day! It started out considerably earlier than I would've liked, but sometimes my body doesn't know if it's supposed to be asleep or awake. I gave up on falling back to sleep and got in a good workout at the fitness center instead. Totally worth it!

Then I met up with a friend from work. We had been talking about getting together, and decided that today was the day. We met at a great restaurant for lunch, called Hackberry's. I just love some of the restaurant names around here: Hackberry's, Pearberry's, Fayze's, Piggy's, Huck Finn's, and Buzzard Billy's! I haven't been to all of them yet, but will try... Anyway, it was a great place to eat with incredible sandwich options for lunch. After lunch, she was great enough to drive around and show me some of the sights! She and her family live out of town a little ways, in one of the many valleys (I've learned there are even more valleys than I knew about). We went out on 14 and 33 and many other side roads that I couldn't keep track of! I know we hit the towns of Coon Valley and Westby (saw the sign for our LB church there!), but there were a few others that I can't think of. I'm going to ask her to show me just where we went on a map so I have a better idea in my head.

If you look through the trees in this picture, you can see the ski runs on Mount La Crosse.
Not quite the mountains of Montana, but still pretty great skiing anyway!

We saw a few Amish farms, and based off of all the horse and buggy's we saw, there must've been quite a few around.
I guess they all have a big white house, and the ones we saw all had laundry out on the line.

When we got to her valley, we saw LOTS of the wild turkey's that are around!

Unfortunately, just after this picture was taken, the batteries in my camera died! It was a beautiful valley and would've had some great pictures, but no luck... She's invited me to come back when it's a little less snow, a little more like spring. Should be fun! THANK YOU for the great day!!

Weekend at Home

Another weekend off, another weekend at my parents...

I left Friday morning, just after work, to drive to the Cities. The night before, I had a fun email from June out in WA talking about the green grass and the fact that her crocuses were starting to grow. I have to admit, I was a little jealous! We still have LOTS of snow here and it's just been so cold. I snapped this picture as I was packing up to show just how much of the white stuff is around, but I know it's a little hard to tell because there is so much of it! The snow is about at knee level, except where the plows have made the pile higher.

On my way home, I realized that my car would hit the 10,000 mile mark. Since I've only ever owned cars that reach the 100,000 (or MANY more!) mile mark, I thought I'd capture the moment. Well, it turns out I was really into singing Matthew West's song "You Are Everything" which is one of my current favorite songs on the radio. Then, right after that finished, Casting Crown's "Lifesong" came on, and I consider that one of my "lifesongs" so of course needed to sing loudly again... All of a sudden I looked down and realized 10 miles had gone by since the BIG number, so here's what I got instead: [You can see we finally warmed up to 19 degrees. Almost a heat wave! And I took the picture while moving, for my cousin Tim. Trust me, it was a safe situation! :)]

Random question, does anyone know what these are? (click on the picture to see them better)
They're located on County Road 46 (which turns out to be faster than 42) just south of Rosemount. I drive by them each time I head home and have been wondering... Thanks for any insight you can offer! :)

Julie and David came over on Saturday morning while Daddy David rested up (he's been feeling sick). Little David had a great time playing on Grandma and Grandpa's new bed.

He also loves playing on Grandpa!

For those of you who know my parent's house, you might recognize that something's different? Yes, after 27+ years, my parents changed their bedroom! They finally got new carpet (the salesman couldn't believe they had the old stuff for that long -my dad takes care of his stuff!) for both their room and the hallway/stairs. They also moved the furniture around to face the other direction. I'm going to help them build a headboard once we decide what will look best. Watching all those HGTV shows will come in handy!

Jill came to town for the weekend so it was fun to hang out with her! I hadn't seen her since her trip to visit me in Seattle over Thanksgiving. It was great to introduce her to David, and we had a fun day together. We went to a movie (I don't think I've been in a theater in almost a year!) and did a little shopping. Thanks for coming to visit!

Saturday night we all watched the movie "Miracle" (one of my favorites!) and I headed to bed early since my sleep had been pretty messed up all weekend. It was great to be at Oak Hill on Sunday morning, heard a message that was exactly what I had been talking about all week with a friend, chatted with lots of fun friends, and met up with my family for lunch. After getting my stuff packed up, I headed back to La Crosse so I'd have the day around here to do a few things. That's for the next post!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Rest of the Story...

I was able to upload the rest of my pictures from last weekend when my family was here. Honestly, the memory stick and AutoPlay worked all on their own this time, without me doing anything different than I had before. I'm not sure what the glitch had been, but it self-corrected!

Here are the rest of the pictures from that weekend. On Sunday after I was able to sleep for a few hours, David and his parents came over to hang out at my apartment for a while. It was fun to host them! It's still really strange not to have people over all the time, since that's such a big part of who I am.

Here David and I enjoyed a little "Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?" He really likes books, but doesn't always sit in one place too long to get through the whole book!

I posted this last picture to ask a question of all you out there in blog-world. Any ideas on how to help David smile in pictures? He's such a happy, smiley kid most of the time, but you bring out a camera, and he just looks at it with this blank stare. Obviously not all the time, you've seen pictures of him smile, but much of the time. I find that I might snap 10 pictures and get one good one. While I know this is often the case (taking lots of pictures of kids for a good one), I'm just wondering if anyone has any suggestions?? I'm also finding that almost all of my pictures of him are slightly blurry, but that's more of a camera issue. If he moves even the slightest bit the camera produces a blurry shot. I don't have an "action" setting, but it's getting about time for an upgrade!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sunset View

This last weekend my family came to visit me here in La Crosse. It was great to have them here! I was able to show them a few things around town, including Granddad's Bluff. We made it there just in time for sunset!

After watching the setting sun, we headed back down and ate a great dinner at Eduardo's, which is famous for their wood-fired pizza. David loved watching the pizza being made, and it was delicious! Next we went to my parent's hotel to swim or enjoy the hottub. I went off to work while the others slept, and the next morning we met for breakfast at Fayze's, which was also really good! I'm so glad I've finally gotten to some other great restaurants in town!

Mom and Dad left for home and had to drive through a snow storm (Dad loves his 4-wheel drive truck!) and I went to sleep while Julie's family hung out for the afternoon. Once I woke up they came over for the evening, and my little buddy kept us pretty entertained! They were able to stay for one more night and headed home again on Monday. Thanks for coming everyone!

I'll post more pictures sometime, but I actually can't get them off my camera at the moment. I uploaded pictures to my mom's flash drive and some setting changed on my computer and now my pictures are stuck... Knowing how much I love pictures, you can imagine how disappointed I am by this! Hopefully I'll get it figured out soon and free my pictures from their digital imprisonment. Watch for the update, and until then, I'll guess you'll just have to be in suspense!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Weekend Fun

Since this was my weekend off, I got to spend it with my favorite little buddy, David! I drove home Friday morning and slept a few hours, so when they came over Friday night I was still sleepy, but we had fun playing together!

Then on Saturday morning I was able to hang out with my friend, Elizabeth. She was in my small group at youth group in Fergus and we also spent a couple of years in a mentoring relationship. It was so good to see her! I got to see her apartment and then we went out for brunch at The Good Earth. I had the Vegetarian Joe's Eggs (even though I'm not a vegetarian) and it was a great breakfast that I'd recommend! It was really good to catch up a little and hear about life. Thanks for the good time, Elizabeth!

After good food and good conversation, I headed back to my parents and met up with my little buddy. Julie and I ended up spending the afternoon together, along with David. We had a great time together!

David loves playing with Grandpa: and here he was having fun with coasters. Who needs toys around when you have such fun things like coasters?? It also looks like Grandpa is trying to pass on his love of Coca-Cola.

After hanging out with Grandpa, David got a bath. He loves playing in the water!

He was being SO silly playing on Grandma and Grandpa's bed! He's such a goofball!

You can tell from those last pictures how long his hair has been getting! Fortunately, his parents finally agreed it was time to do something about it. I met up with them this afternoon to be either a distractor or photographer for the big event, David's First Haircut! He really did remarkably well! Julie's hairstylist has experience with kids, so she was up for the task.

He did so well, just sitting there quietly and without squirming. He looked at the clippers for awhile at the beginning, but soon pretty much forgot about what was happening and just played with his toy. I'm sure it was because he had such a good aunt/distrator around! :)

The finished product!

There are weird lines from the mini-blind shadow, but you can see that his hair is shorter!

Such a handsome little fellow!

Thanks for the fun weekend!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pure Bliss

Between yesterday and today I spent 15 hours in class. I was able to take the ENPC, which is the Emergency Nursing Pediatric Course. This is a class that is usually for emergency room nurses on how to deal with their pediatric patients, but there were four of us that were pediatric nurses learning how to deal with the emergencies that can arise. I was a little nervous about the class because while much of the information is stuff that I use on a daily basis (ie: what are normal baselines for kids versus adults) the emergency information is fortunately not stuff I use reguarly. There was a big written test at the end, along with a couple of skills stations. I'm happy to report that I passed!

As a little reward for myself, I decided to stop by The Pearl, that great little ice cream/confectionary I found in downtown La Crosse. I had decided I only needed to get one treat, so I spent some time drooling over the case of goodies and ended up with this:

The Chocolate Mousse Truffle. Mmmm..... It was pure bliss! I love anything with chocolate, especially when it includes either mint or peanut butter, but just pure chocolate, wow! It was great to really savor this one little piece of bliss!

A while ago I stumbled upon a food blog. It was actually one of the blogs on the front page of Blogger and I accidently clicked on it. It was a fun surprise! The guy happens to be from Minneapolis and posts pictures and recipes of things he cooks or bakes. It turns out he's just a guy who decided that he wanted to eat better so he started learning how to cook. I haven't tried any of his recipes yet, but from what I can see, I'd say he's been successful! If you're looking for something to make for dinner tonight, check out www.desertculinary.blogspot.com and look through the recipes to see what you can find! Good luck recipe-hunting!

By the way, can anyone tell me how to put a link right in my message, so readers can click on that link and be brought directly to another website? [Thanks, Andy!!]

Friday, February 1, 2008

Just a Walk in the Park...

Today I was able to spend a little time looking around La Crosse some more. I started out by going on a tour at St. Rose Convent Chapel which is home to the Fransiscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. These are the sisters that started the hospital I'm working at, and the chapel is right across the street. It has interesting architecture and when I said something to a co-worker, she mentioned that they offer daily tours. I didn't take any pictures inside (I wasn't sure if that was allowed) but you can do some imagining based off of this:

After that I was able to hit a few of the downtown shops I've been wanting to stop in but haven't found open when I'm awake. It was fun to wander in and out, and I was thankful it was a balmy 22 degrees out so I could wander freely without being chilled to the bone. Pathetic, isn't it? :)

Next I returned to Riverside Park to grab a few shots:

The birds that braved the winter found the one little bit of open water in the otherwise frozen river.

Ever since the very first day I was in La Crosse, people have been telling me to go to Grandad's Bluff. La Crosse is surrounded by bluffs and Grandad's is the tallest and also closest. There have been many nights where I was at work, realized I wouldn't be too tired in the morning and have made plans to go. Then, I've stepped out into the bitter cold and realized that bed is the only place I wanted to be! When the thermometer reads -6 (and often colder) and the wind chill makes it feel even colder, I've had no motivation to go exploring on some bluff! So, even though today was cloudy, since it was warmer and I had the time, I knew right where I wanted to go. Grandad's Bluff overlooks all of La Crosse, and across the river to both Minnesota and Iowa.

Walking out to the point, this is facing southwest. The top right of the photograph is Iowa.

If you enlarge this picture, in the very middle of it you'll see a large building which is the hospital where I'm working. You can also see the three rivers flowing through the valley, and the Minnesota bluffs in the background.

Now that I know the view, I'm excited to see it on a clear day. Maybe at sunset?

I finished up the day going back to Pettibone Park, a place I've enjoyed a few times.

Hope you enjoyed the little tour around La Crosse. Want to come join me in person to see the sites?