A slice of 1970s Americana: Family trip to the North Shore, Lake Superior circa 1975
Minnesota, known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” is the most northern state in the US aside from Alaska. The twelth largest state in size, it is located in the heart of the Upper Midwest bordering Canada, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa, and has a population of a little over five million people.
The word Minnesota comes from the Dakota Indians who inhabited this part of the country along with other Native American groups, and means “sky-tinted water”. The stem, “mini” or “minne” means water, and is used as part of many other Minnesota places such as Minneapolis (City of Lakes), Minnehaha Falls (Waterfall), and Minnetonka (Big Lake).
Minnesota has a long geological history and contains some of the oldest rocks found on earth known as the gneisses dating back to 3.6 billion years ago. Volcanic activity swept across the lands dramatically effecting the landscape, however, the real significant impact on the Land of 10,000 Lakes was the ice sheets and glaciations 12,000 years ago that formed and carved out the rivers, lakes and valleys that make Minnesota so beautiful and serene.
Minnesota is awash with nature and beauty, having over seventy state parks, large forests (birch, pines, spruce, poplar) and prairies, almost 13,000 lakes (including one of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior) and many rivers (the Mississippi River actually starts in Minnesota). The lakes and gorgeous lands create the perfect habitat for elk, caribou, moose, black bear, timber wolves, bob cats, linx, bald eagles, owls, hawks, loons, ducks and beavers.
Probably what Minnesota is most known for is it’s notoriously cold, long and brutal winter. Yet, what most people who are not from here do not know is that it is the land of extremes. The summers can be hot, sticky and reach a sizzling 100 degrees F while the winters can bear down to 20 below zero plus an additional 10-20 below wind chill. Yet, despite the weather, Minnesotans are quite active and run outdoors year-round.
The winters offer plenty of outdoor activities to embrace winter and enjoy the snow (82 inches of snow last year!) such as ice-skating, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, and snowshoeing.
Summer in Minnesota is fabulous and quite frankly, there is no other place I’d rather be than hanging out at one of the 10,000 plus lakes, breathing in the fresh, clear air and watching the sun set well past ten.
Fall is awash in beauty as the leaves turn their magical tapestry of colors into brilliant hues of scarlet reds, burnt oranges, golds and yellows. The September days are cool and perfect as the sun heats the majestic bright blue sky up to a perfect 70 degrees F. The falling leaves trickle down in the breeze and it is incredibly serene.
Growing up Minnesotan meant a lot of things to me. Summers swimming in the lakes, biking, playing outside until well past ten and eating popsicles, popcorn and brats on the grill. Fall meant our family trips to the North Shore of Lake Superior to see the incredible fall colors in all their glory. Winter meant ski lessons every Saturday in frigid temps, building snow forts and making snow angles. Spring meant rebirth and survival as everyone came out of their hibernation from yet another long cold winter.
<em>How do we do it? you may wonder. Why do we do it? Others say. Because we love it! You must embrace it for all its worth or else it’s time to move!
Here are some oldies but goodies, pictures from my childhood.
Loading up the good old family-mobile, our wood-paneled station wagon, for one of our many road trips:
Our first trip to Brainerd, the Chain of Lakes, circa 1975: