Thankful for Family and Old Camping Memories near Lake Superior, MN

Northern Minnesota is one of the most beautiful and underrated places I have ever been.  Being a Minnesotan my mom, sister, and I would go camping at the state parks on Lake Superior where we would skip rocks on the lake and see who could stay in the water the longest. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Lake Superior, it is the coldest fresh water lake in the United States where the average temperature is about 45-50 degrees. It is also one of the largest lakes in the U.S extending into Canada with tons of amazing parks and camping opportunities. My sister and I would have contests of who could lay down in the water longest, we rarely made it past 15-20 seconds.

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One of the most fun parts about going camping up in this area is the drive up. We would often stop at Tobie’s on Interstate 35 to get cinnamon buns and snacks, even though the drive is only about 5 hours from Minneapolis. We used to have an Alaskan Husky named Toby so I think it just became a tradition to stop there and honor our late pup. All along the way we would comment on the newest construction and sing along to Brooks and Dunn, even though we all are completely tone deaf.

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Lake Superior is different, especially the beaches. There is no sand. If you don’t like rocky beaches, skip this lake. But, seriously, who couldn’t like rock beaches? They are fantastic and so much fun. We would play ‘rock people’ and set up entire villages made of rocks and pretend that the families were on vacation camping out like us. After spending a couple hours relaxing on the rocky, breezy beach we would head back to our site to build a campfire and cook dinner. We always got the hike in sites so our car was about 1/4-1/2 mile away in a separate parking lot. My mom and sister are all about camping as far away from everyone else as you can, they hate the hustle and bustle of the bathroom and hearing people partying all night. The best part about this is when the sun falls beneath the horizon and all the stars come out, it truly is rewarding. Sometimes we would walk down to the edge of the lake and just listen to the waves (it sounds similar to the ocean) and watch the stars.

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These are some of the best family memories I have from being a child, I am a very lucky woman to have a family that loves me so much. They also love travel and adventure as much as I do, so we never just sit around and wait for life to happen. We go seek it out, and photograph it all along the way.

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****The first two photos were taken on the way to the North Shore of Lake Superior, on the Mississippi River. The last three photos were taken on Lake Superior and the waterfall is just inland from a river heading towards the lake (I can’t remember the name of the river, I want to say the Baptism River).

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El Páramo, Mérida, Venezuela

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Venezuela is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. I studied abroad in Mérida, Venezuela for Spring semester of 2012, this is a beautiful city that sits on a plateau about 5,000 ft above sea level.  One of the first weekends we arrived in Mérida we took a bus with about 20 students up into El Páramo, an area in the mountains with small villages and tons of exploring space. We stopped along the way to get ice cream and take pictures of the beauty that surrounded us. I pretty much looked out the back window of the bus and took over 100 pictures as we drove along the windy roads higher and higher into the Andes. The sun grew warmer and the air grew cooler as we tried to hold back our motion sickness from the crazy drive.

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As we made our way up to where we would start our hike, we saw the villages alive with buses, people walking about, and even a procession for a popular Catholic saint. One thing I loved most about the small villages was all the color everywhere; here in the United States I feel like we shy away from anything colorful and see it as ‘trashy’. For me, I embraced the color and thought it was a great way to bring life somewhere.

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After parking the bus we all got out to quickly take pictures and enjoy our surroundings. I love this picture particularly because it really captures the happiness that we were all feeling on this day.  We were free from everything, simply enjoying the discovery of new places and the smell of the mountains. The day started out pretty warm, but turned cool in the afternoon making it difficult to dress appropriately. Either way, we had a lot of fun this day.

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There are many days where I wish I could go back to this particular day and moment. Everyone hanging out, laughing, and wandering through a land so different from what I have always known.  Some people even drank directly from this stream thinking it was fresh mountain water, even though we had been side stepping cow patties for the past two hours. After our long walk through El Páramo, we stopped at a local restaurant and ordered hot soup and drank Ron (rum) to warm our bellies.

4 Short Days in Denver, Colorado

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I was only in Denver, Colorado for a short period of time, four days to be exact. Which, in my opinion, was nowhere near enough time to explore all the things I wanted to do. I was there on business and had conferences all day, but I was lucky and was able to plan in some extra time to wander the streets of downtown and soak in the warm sun. Coming from Austin, TX it was actually a relief from the heat since it was July, 80 degrees felt like a much needed cold front. Most of my time was spent in front of the capital reading and lounging in the grassy areas with all the other backpackers and homeless people.

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I was disappointed because I didn’t feel like I got to experience the culture that Denver has to offer, since most of my time was spent wandering by myself or holed up in the Marriott I didn’t get to meet too many new people. But, something tells me that wasn’t my last time in Colorado nor Denver so I am content to keep adding places to my bucket list knowing that I will have time to do more exploring.

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What is your favorite thing to do in Denver?

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