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Wanderings on the Web

October 8, 2011
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Image courtesy of Pong

What do teleportation, the land mass of South America and Denver food trucks all have in common? They’re part of Wanderings’ first ever internet interview. We sat down with the good folks over at NationalRVParks.com to answer a few questions. If you’re curious how all those things fit together, you’ll have to click over to the interview to find out.

The Great Snow Drift

October 8, 2011
Great Sand Dunes National Park

Yesterday's view from our campground near Great Sand Dunes National Park

Resting in a valley, surrounded by the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains, lies Great Sand Dunes National Park. We arrived here yesterday and were mesmerized by the scenery. The rolling dunes, framed by rugged snow-capped mountains, were like nothing we’ve ever seen. Shannon and I both felt like we stepped out of our car on to a different continent.

Although a brewing storm added dramatically to the atmosphere we were hoping for clear skies to improve visibility. This morning’s agenda included a 750 foot climb to the top of the dunes for a view of the park’s 330 square miles of rolling sand and, if we could procure a sandboard, surfing our way back down.

Mother Nature had different ideas. We awoke to find 4.5 inches of snow on the ground and near whiteout visibility; conditions more appropriate for staying in bed than for sightseeing. Maybe we should just trade the sandboard in for a sled.

Karma is indeed a boomerang. It’s only October 8 and we’re snowed in. I can’t help feeling this is payback for last year’s gloating.

The Great Sand Dunes Whiteout

This morning's view from our campground near Great Sand Dunes National Park

Theodore Roosevelt Delivers

October 7, 2011

Teddy Roosevelt National Park

After awhile we began to lose hope. Mile after mile, hour after hour, we drove past boringly similar landscapes: more hay bales here, another farm there – hey look, a cow! We started to believe the stunning western vistas we’ve seen photographed so frequently were nothing more than a hoax. We traveled clear across North Dakota, nearly to Montana, and . . . “Holy Shit!”

It happened just that fast. One moment we were considering the virtues of yet another grassy hill, the next we’re catching a flash of the rough and rugged landscape of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Our first glimpse of Painted Canyon elicited that exact exclamation from both of us.

One of the things that surprised us most is how green the park was. We had expected brown, arid plains but instead found brilliant shades of moss and sage that reminded us, if only slightly, of the Emerald Isle. Once again, we count ourselves fortunate. Rainfall at the park was four times above average. This lush foliage isn’t typical. It seems as if Teddy Roosevelt dressed up special for our arrival. We’re deeply honored.

Why?

October 5, 2011

Worlds Largest Buffalo, Jamestown, ND

The sign read “Welcome to Jamestown, ND, home of the World’s Largest Buffalo.” At 26 feet tall and 60 tons, the concrete buffalo statue is unquestionably big. But world’s largest? Certainly humanity possesses the engineering capability to build an even larger buffalo. I know the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai rises 2,717 feet in height. With all that’s at stake, I worried for a moment that civilization might be teetering on the precipice of a largest buffalo arms race; with town after town rushing to build ever larger bison for the purposes of, well, what exactly?

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A Pleasant Surprise

October 4, 2011

Prairie Cove Campground

We chose to stay at the Prairie Cove Campground in Ashby, MN for no other reason than convenience. It’s a nine hour drive from Minneapolis to our next major stop at Theodore Roosevelt National Park on the western edge of North Dakota. We don’t do nine hour drives, so we needed a place to overnight. Prairie Cove, immediately off of I-94, was about as convenient as we could ever hope for. We expected it to be a noisy parking lot. What we found instead was a beautiful lake among rolling hills with flocks of Great Blue Heron and Snowy Egrets. Every campground should be like this.

Photo of the Day: Stone Arch Bridge

October 3, 2011
Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis

Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis, MN

City of Lakes

September 30, 2011

With 22 lakes and more than 170 parks, Minneapolis is an outdoor lover’s dream. Its park system has been called ‘the best-designed, best-financed, and best-maintained in America.’ We found ourselves drawn to Lake Harriet, one of seven bodies of water comprising the city’s Chain of Lakes, all of which is found just 10 minutes from downtown city skyscrapers. Awesome.

Photo of the Day: Sleeping Bear Dunes

September 28, 2011
Park Bench at Sleeping Bear Dune National Lakeshore

Park Bench at Sleeping Bear Dune National Lakeshore, Michigan

It’s Japanese to Me

September 26, 2011
Moto-I Minneapolis, MN

Moto-I's award winning Abura Ramen.

They had us at “sake brewery;” but discovering that Moto-I in uptown Minneapolis also specializes in Asian street food made it a completely irresistible stop for us.

Anyone who has followed our travels for any length of time knows we like our drink: beer, wine, scotch, bourbon – it’s all good. We enjoy sake, too, but haven’t really had it often enough to know much about it. What better place to learn, we figured, than at the first sake brewery and restaurant outside of Japan?

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History is Written by the Victor

September 23, 2011

This fresco hangs above the State House of Representatives in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I wonder if they see the irony. Perhaps a better inscription would read “History is written by the victor.”

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