Winter Wonderland – XC Skiing #1 of 2016

We got out skiing at Battle Creek Regional Park on this fine New Years Day.  We went because it’s a known place to use the pulk, but then we messed up and took the intermediate trails – with hills! – instead of our usual green route.  We lived to tell the tale, but the pulk now needs some work.

This morning we went with friends to a huge brunch gathering at Psycho Suzi’s.  I love that brunch (brown sugar babies, anyone?).  Today was a microcosm of how I’d like my life to more frequently be.  The house is under control, feels good even.  We went with friends, we were active.  We didn’t overdo it.  We weren’t focused on stuff – buying/selling/cleaning/organizing/etc.  A great way to kick off the year!

selfie of the family skiing at Battle Creek Park

The family skiing at Battle Creek Regional Park. After we put the phone away Bryce took off and tripped me with the pulk. Baby crying, mama on ground, and I think a broken pulk as a result!

The Chiropractor and The Goodwill Outlet

I went to a chiropractor for the first time ever today.  I was a bit skeptical, having heard the “quackropractor” comment enough times in my life, really, but on the advice of my very trusted MD I decided to give him a shot.  A few weeks ago I did *something* to my back and it hasn’t been healing.  Luckily it’s just an irritation in the SI joint and not a slipped disk or or anything like that.  It’s nothing that some exercises and posture can’t eventually fix.  So I am icing and doing exercises and keeping my fingers crossed.

After the chiro appointment we did some garage sale-ing (no luck) and went to a medical supply store to get me a lumbar cushion (which I will be returning as it is too thick).  Anywho, right behind the store is the Goodwill Outlet.  I’d seen this sign a million times driving home from work, but for whatever reason, always had assumed that it was closed down.  Well, it was anything but.  That place was hopping!

Basically how it works is there are about a dozen humongous tables where culled items, mostly clothing, from Goodwill stores are dumped out.  You have to dig through them and see what you can find.  Then, about every 10 minutes, the staff rotates out the clothing from a group of four tables.  They scoop up all the clothing on the enormous surface and dump it all into one of those ginormous boxes like the ones that produce is shipped in.  These containers are about 6 feet by 6 feet by 6 feet – you can kind of see them in the pic below.  They have to use a pallet jack to move them around, they must be so heavy with all the clothes in them!  Then, once everything is cleared off, they bring over another of these huge boxes and dump it out on the table.  All the people stand waiting politely until they have done this on all four tables, then the staff gives the signal and the digging commences.  (We committed a faux pas and started in on the first table and got some instructions at that point.)  A few shoppers had carts stacked about eight feet high, and then they would park at the edge of the store and comb through all of it.  The clothing was sold by the pound rather than by the item, so there are mega deals to be had – if you have the patience.  There were a lot of things about the place that we couldn’t figure out about how it all worked, but we managed to purchase a few items – about four fall shirts for me, one for Bryce, and a nice pair of rubber boots for him.  We grabbed a pair of Patagonia pants for eBay and an 80s shirt to sell online as well – those were a gamble but at such rock bottom prices it really wasn’t.  If we have to donate them back to Goodwill, well, the circle can begin again.  😉  Interestingly, the clerk I was chatting with said that anything that doesn’t sell gets farmed back out to Goodwill stores!  She said it’s just all about keeping the inventory fresh for people and that there are so many stores that it works well.

I took one quick pic to help you, the reader, understand the scale of the operation, but didn’t want to make a spectacle out of the shoppers, who in some cases appeared to be immigrant families or other individuals down on their luck who truly may be relying on the Goodwill Outlet – so I want to acknowledge that what was a quirky and fun adventure for us could have been a lifeline for someone else.

We’d go back!

Goodwill Outlet at University and 280 in Minneapolis, MN

The Goodwill Outlet at University and 280 – clothing to the right, conveyor belts with hard goods to the left.

The week’s adventures

Have been up to some adventures this week.  It’s so much easier when we’re off work!

  • Some new doggy walking routes
  • Poking around in salvage stores and scoring at least one deal for our house and getting other good ideas
  • Watching fireworks from the in-laws’ deck
  • Putting together the website and initial plan for a new small business:  Crafty Delight.  In my mind I wasn’t going to count anything computer-based as an adventure for this blog, but it was new and it engaged me for many hours this week.  I also designed the logo with GIMP, that was brand new and a bit frustrating, but I have rudimentary use of a design program now, so that’s good.

Off for some camping for a few days!  Yippee!


Inaugural Adventure: Urban Canoeing

I decided about two weeks ago that I would try to have a small adventure every day.  I’m truly a person who needs variety and novelty, and I hadn’t been getting much of it.  Just an hour of something new and different can keep me going through alllllll the rest of the day. When I can’t get that, it might be a mini-adventure or even a micro-adventure – a new recipe, a new route home from work, a new crochet stitch or yoga move from a YouTube video, but SOMETHING new.

Canoeing backwaters of Lake Keller

Keller’s backwaters are lovely.

Today, it was a lovely paddle on Keller Lake, Round Lake and Lake Phalen in St. Paul/Maplewood.  I was first turned on to this idea by this blog post, plopped up a few years ago.  We unlocked the canoe, loaded it up (with a bit of a kerfuffle due to my injured back – it’s a big aluminum sucker), and headed over to the park.  Again, a bit of an issue locating where to unload due to my back and not wanting to carry the boat very far.  We were juuuuuust about to give up when my hubby Bryce suggested we drive up to the Keller end of the chain to see if the parking would be easier (and closer to the water).  We did that and luckily at the lower picnic area (green marker on map) there was ample parking and only a few steps to the water.  It’s not an official put-in but the water was so nice and high that we easily boarded the canoe.

There are some great backwaters connecting the lakes.  Normally canoeists can access five lakes but due to some bridge construction on 36 we could only get to three of them, which was plenty.  The area that most interested me anyway was the channel connecting Round and Keller Lakes.  It was like a creek but without so much current.  I loved the shade and observing the bikers and walkers on shore.  Bryce was disappointed he’d forgotten his fishing rod.  We did spend a bit of time on open Round Lake and Lake Phalen but quickly headed back into the channel.

All in all, we were on the water for about an hour, which was perfect given this danged back – just enough water and sunshine for a perfect afternoon treat.


View Phalen/Keller/Gervais Chain of Lakes in a larger map