But first, an introduction. We rented a vacation home on the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix River, close to Stillwater (which is on the Minnesota side). This was our second time there, and we couldn't have asked for better weather: it was sunny and warm, but not humid or overly hot. And the best part? There were almost no mosquitos. Hallelujah!
We spent our ten days relaxing in the cabin, shopping, swimming, and doing a bit of sightseeing. Spending uninterrupted time with my family was amazing--now that I'm employed, I value vacation and family time even more. No phone calls, no computers, no work shifts, nothing. Just us. I even took a break from writing.
On to the motley tales! Prepare for copious amounts of pictures.
Day 1 (Thurs. July 30)
Woke up early, loaded the van, and drove all day. We reached the cabin in time for a late supper and watched Bolt afterward. (We rented a pile of movies to bring along, but didn't watch nearly all of them.)
Relaxed on one of the cabin's many decks in the morning, during which time I finished the book I started on the drive the day before. In the afternoon, we did a little shopping, then had supper at Quickfire Pizza in Stillwater, MN. If you're ever in the area, stop there--they serve drool-worthy pizza.
|Me and Mom|
I took the opportunity in the evening to sketch, something I've done very little of recently.
We were blessed with beautifully warm weather for swimming at Square Lake.
Big homemade breakfast of bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, and toast. This was a Sunday, so we listened to a CD of a message from church. Then more chilling, reading, and sketching (on my part), and afterwards--shopping again.
There's a trail behind the cabin that leads down to the riverside. Steep and full of switchbacks, it's a good quarter-hour hike. My dad and siblings and I armed ourselves with walking sticks and started out. Now, this trail is no big, bad mountain of a climb--but even so, it's enough of a workout and enough of a novelty that I couldn't help feeling like some intrepid explorer.
|Me and Cece (that's her nickname)|
|Me and Dad|
|Kitty (also a nickname) is not|
cooperating with my selfie ;)
|Five intrepid explorers!|
This day continued to be eventful, for in the afternoon, all six of us went tubing down the Apple River--something we've never experienced before. We lashed our tubes together, and after much squealing over the water temperature and flailing about as we dumped ourselves in, we floated off. Soon we mastered the art of steering around the riverbends . . . most of the time. Some of us got very close looks at trees hanging out over the water. (I kid you not, I was nearly impaled.)
Over two hours later, we came to the rapids. We'd been warned about them, but had been told they were short and fairly mild, so we chose not to cut our ride short by taking the exit. We wanted adventure, of course! Unfortunately, this adventure involved an accident. Josiah's tube had loosened somewhat from our bunch. Near the end of the rapids, he somehow lost balance and flipped backwards--headfirst--into the water. You know when you see someone falling or dropping something, and time seems to slow down? You see it vividly, you want to reach out and stop it, but you can't because it's happening too fast. Seeing my brother fall out was like that--a moment of frozen panic. I yelled something as we kept rushing downstream, leaving him behind. Dad jumped out, braced himself against a rock, and held onto our connected tubes. (Totally the kind of hero-fighting-the-current thing you see in movies.) Drenched, stumbling over rocks and struggling to stay upright in the current, Josiah made his way back to us.
Other than a few scrapes on his feet and the loss of his glasses, he was fine, thank God. The water was only waist-deep, and the way he fell headfirst, it's a miracle he didn't hit his head on one of the many, many rocks beneath the surface. We all felt a little shaken, but by the time the three-hour ride was over, we were starting to make jokes about the incident.
And then, as a rather fitting conclusion to our adventurous day, we spent the evening watching The Adventures of Tintin.
Mall of America. All day. Lots of walking. Lots of shopping. I myself had only a few purchases to show for it, which was okay. It was my fourth time at MOA anyways.
|Cece, me, and Kitty|
The best breakfast EVER: cinnamon buns from Cinnabon and coffee, partaken of out on the deck in the morning sunshine. It was heavenly, I tell you.
Ate out for breakfast and spent the morning being totally touristy on Stillwater's Main Street, which is beautifully quaint, with all its little shops.
|Looking down on Stillwater|
|I snapped this on a|
different, non-rainy day.
More of the same out and about stuff mixed with cabin time. The sun came out in time for ice cream at this little place called Nelson's. Their portions are deliciously ginormous and nicely priced.
Homeward bound! It's good to go on holidays, but it's also good to come back.
Some miscellaneous noteworthy things . . .
|Nothin' better than a homemade burger.|
|White chocolate berry mocha|
|I'm a big fan of Cherry Berry's|
The exchange rate between Canadian and US dollars is not so good for us Canadians right now, so I didn't spend a whole lot. But I did buy a couple movies and some music (Lindsey Stirling's Shatter Me, Owl City's new album Mobile Orchestra, and The Battle of the Five Armies soundtrack). And of course, books.
- Illusionarium by Heather Dixon (Deb, I bought this because of you!)
- The Sorcerer of the North by John Flanagan (I'm collecting the series entirely out of order. Nine bought, three to go!)
- The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker (As much as I don't want to compare her to her father, Ted Dekker, I suspect I will be. But I'm fully expecting she'll be her own writerly self, and that her book will be awesome.)