Washington, D.C.

I visited Washington, D.C. for the first time with my family earlier this month. It was a very interesting and educational trip. See some of the sights we saw in our nation’s capitol below. You can click on images to view larger photos.

National mall and capitol

My Minnesota State Fair adventure

Summer is quickly coming to a close. I am ready for school to start up again (except for the whole packing thing), but the end of summer would not be the same without a trip to the Minnesota State Fair.

Second only in size to the Texas State Fair on a national level, the fair is well-run, has interesting attractions, and is well-supported by the community.

This year, I was able to make it to the fair twice, once on the first day (last Thursday), and then again this past Saturday. I spent the first day walking around, attending media broadcasts, checking out exhibits, viewing the animals, and taking in as much of the fair as I could. Nearly every radio/television outlet in the Twin Cities comes to the fair and broadcasts live, making a truly unique opportunity to see how the local media operates, all in one place.

On Saturday, my brother performed in a high school marching band. I attended the fair with my family and uncle to watch him, and see some of the agriculture/horticulture exhibits.

I brought a camera and snapped some pictures on the first day. See them below.

Timber Time!

The first trunk was prepared for removal.

I was sitting in my family’s backyard a few weeks ago when I noticed that one of the two elm trees was loosing leaves. We were a bit surprised, given that it was June. We contacted a tree company who came out and diagnosed this tree and the other elm in our backyard with dutch elm disease. Even though my parents had the trees injected regularly for nearly twenty years, there was little that could be done to save the (likely fifty year old) trees. We were told they would have to be removed. Standing taller than our house and stretching beyond the property limits, we knew that removing these trees would be no small feet.

The tree company that we contracted to remove the trees arrived yesterday to chop them down. The whole operation took two days. The first day they removed most branches from both trees. Their progress was impressive. Near the end of the day a branch landed on some power lines, knocking our neighbor out of service and removing our ground line. Fortunately the power company was able to come out quickly – our neighbor had their electricity back and we had a grounded line within a couple of hours.

On the second day, the tree company worked to finish cutting branches, to cut the tree trunks, and to remove the limbs. While they had initially planned to do this work with a small Bobcat that they brought, they decided to employ the assistance of a crane. The crane was fun to watch as it lifted huge branches over our house. The Bobcat was also quite interesting. It was smaller than a typical Bobcat (and it could fit through our gate), and was quite helpful when for guiding tree limbs down.

The trees are now down. Though we have a little bit of sod patching to do, our backyard looks nice and the inside of our house is much more sunny and lively. I am impressed by how quickly and efficiently the trimmers worked.

I took a number of pictures of the removal process and also a video showing how the crane worked. Follow our 48 hour backyard transformation below!

Up to the North Shore

I just returned from a trip with my family to the north shore of Lake Superior in northern Minnesota. The weather was pleasant – highs were in the mid 70s and raindrops were few and far between. It was a nice escape from the warm 90 degree weather we have had here in the Twin Cities.

We spent time in Duluth, Lutsen, Grand Marais, Thunder Bay, Canada, and at parks and scenic attractions in nearby areas. We enjoyed walking by Lake Superior, seeing the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, checking out small town shops and a small town church, and much more. Take a look at the photos I took, which depict some of the interesting things we saw. Feel free to click on individual images for a larger view.

While we were in Grand Marais, we saw a prop plane (pictured above) take off and land several times. The pilot gives scenic tours in his 1960s four-seater plane (three passengers plus the pilot). He said that he charges $50 per passenger for fifteen minutes of flight, with discounts for additional passengers and amounts of time. It was fun to watch him use the harbor as his tarmac, and I thought web visitors might be interested in this sight. See video of a take-off below.

We had a great time on the north shore!

New Years at the Como Zoo

I had a pretty full afternoon of exploring downtown yesterday, and as if that wasn’t enough, my family decided they wanted to go to the Como Zoo and Conservatory today. My brother is really into animals and had a great time.

Check out the pictures I took at the zoo.

A Journey Downtown

I decided that I wanted to go downtown Minneapolis yesterday afternoon.  After having been on winter break for a few days, I wanted to get out and enjoy the big city atmosphere that we do not have in southern Minnesota.

So, I hopped in the car with my brother, and we headed downtown.  We parked by the Minneapolis Convention Center, and proceeded to walk around town.

Downtown Minneapolis

We didn’t exactly have any big plans; I just wanted to walk around and see the town.  We ended up having a great time.

After just a couple block stroll, I spotted WCCO-TV. I haven’t been by their building since they started filming most of their shows with their plaza in the backdrop. It was neat to walk by and see their studios through the window.

WCCO-TV studios

I also thought it was funny to see their old logo carved into their building’s stone. I guess it’s hard to update something you carve in stone.

Old WCCO-TV logo

Next, we went up to the observation deck on the Foshay Tower. I had heard that they had an observation deck, but didn’t know much about it. We thought we would check and see.

The building is an icon on the Minneapolis skyline. It was the tallest building in Minneapolis when it was built in 1929, but has since been surpassed in height.

Foshay Tower

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Fresh Oil

I was driving home this morning, and passed by some road construction a couple of blocks from my house. As I was about to drive into an area where workers were taring, I saw a sign that said “Fresh Oil”.

The recent gulf oil spill has been in the news alot recently. The media has talked about how oil from the gulf coast might have otherwise ended up in our cars or furnaces, but seldom talks about other uses for oil, such as road tar.

The “Fresh Oil” sign got me thinking. We use oil for virtually everything… plastics, roads, and the list goes on.

Anyway, I stopped back and snapped a couple of pictures of the construction. I can’t wait to drive down the freshly paved France Avenue once they have finished their work!