Leave no trace behind except your footprints and your memories

Jacksprinter’s Sunday post is valuable. Something we find and hold near and dear to our hearts.  It could be money. It could be land. It could be freedom. Or it could be memories. For me, there is nothing more valuable than my childhood memories of our annual fall trip to climb Eagle Mountain. A tradition that started a lifelong love of nature, togetherness, family, and hiking.  

Eagle Mountain, the highest point in Minnesota, will always hold a special place in my heart. Located in the northeastern part of Minnesota at the start of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Wilderness, it is one of the best kept secrets in the Midwest. Pristine forests, magical untouched lakes and impressive wildlife are all the wonderful things you will find along the trail.

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

As a child, I hiked this trail every single fall with my family, until I moved away to college. It was a family tradition that I will never forget and is held deep within my most precious, sacred memories of childhood. The fall colors once we reached the top were an artistic tapestry of brilliant hues of pumpkin orange, golden yellow and crimson red. If I close my eyes, I can almost see it now.  Almost.

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A touch of nature along Lake Superior’s North Shore

Our first morning along Lake Superior’s North Shore wasn’t looking too promising.  Dark clouds had rolled in over the lake and we could hear the low rumble of distant thunder all the way across to Wisconsin. I sat out on the oversized verandah, sipping my morning juce (mi gasolina, as it was nicknamed during my recent trip to Guatemala) and listening to the dramatic, haunting call of the loons.

If you have never heard a loon before, then you probably don’t know what their song is like.  One you hear it, you will never forget.  It is perhaps one of the most beautiful, melodic sounds I’ve ever heard. To prove it, see for yourself.   Click below, close your eyes and listen.  It is a cry you will never forget. A beautiful mourning wail…

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A Night on the North Shore

We arrived on the North Shore of Lake Superior mid-afternoon on a Thursday. The weather was perfect and amazingly cool compared to Minneapolis, just a few hours south. We made a few stops along the way to Gooseberry Falls and also pulled over to take a shot of the most photographed site in Minnesota, the Split Rock Lighthouse.

The air was fresh and pure. The brilliant blue waters of Lake Superior glistened in the sun. I could hardly wait to get to our destination, a log cabin along the shores of the lake, and spend a weekend relaxing, hiking and doing what I love best: Enjoying nature and being together with family. There couldn’t be a more ideal place for it than here.

The Split Rock Lighthouse.

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Around the world and back with dad

In honor of father’s day, I thought I’d do this next post on my dad. I made a promise to him that it wouldn’t be sappy or a tear-jerker like the one I wrote for my mom. You know how us women can be!  We love to be emotional, don’t we? So, I will try my best to make this post light and fun, ok dad? 

Picture of my dad and I on top of the world at the highest point along the Annapurna Trek in Nepal in November 2010.

Picture of my dad and I on top of the world at the highest point along the Annapurna Trek in Nepal in November 2010.

Around the world and back with dad.

Adventure Travel Trekking/Hiking

Photography: If a rose could last forever

Remember back in early and mid-Spring, I did a series of posts on the perennial gardens over near Lake Harriet?  (click here to see most recent post). I found some delightful surprises that captivated my soul and I’ve gone back several times since to see what new has come up.

The biggest attraction of all of course is the Rose Garden which blooms each summer in hundreds of colors and types of roses.  When it is in full bloom, it is perhaps one of the most beautiful places in the city.

I’d been watching the Rose Garden often during my daily runs around the lake and nothing  had transpired since the last time I’d checked.  However, Monday was entirely different.  Sophia and I set off on a bike ride along the lakes and on our way home I noticed a blur of color as we passed by the Rose Garden.  I wondered out loud….is it ready?


Destination North Shore: Our first stop along the way of Lake Superior

The state of Minnesota may have some severely cold winters, yet one thing that makes up for it is the fact that we do have lakes.  Lots of them.  Recent estimates have put Minnesota’s lakes in the 11,000-13,000 range, depending on what you count as a body of water.  Lakes not only provide us with water but with everlasting, pure beauty and recreation.  You can hardly drive anywhere without seeing a lake.

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The Meaning of Mom

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.”  – Washington Irving

For this year’s Mother’s Day,  I decided to forego the flowers and use my voice as a gift for my mom.  I wanted to write her a letter to tell her what she means to me.  How much she has impacted my life and how much I love her.

Where do I even begin?  The task is arduous and complex.  There is no simple place to start.  It’s been 40.5 long years since she has been my mom.  How could I possibly due her justice in one simple post?  It isn’t possible.  But I’ll try my best.


We are the world. We are the children.

Why I support Shot@Life…..the children. 

By supporting and fundraising for Shot@Life, with the help of my friends we have raised over $1500 and counting which will be enough funds to vaccinate 72 children in developing countries for life. 

I am not finished.  There is still much work to be done and more money to be raised. 

I won’t give up.  

I have miles to walk before I sleep.

The number of children dying around the world due to lack of life-saving vaccines is equivalent to the half of the children in the United States entering Kindergarten this fall.

We are going to change this fact.

Here is a priceless video of Sophia’s practicing her song for yesterday’s preschool concert.  Click on link below to view.

We are the world.  We are the children.

We are the world.  We are the children.

We are the ones who make a brighter day so let’s keep giving.

There’s a choice we’re making.  We’re saving our own lives.

It’s true, we’ll make a brighter day just you and me.

Stay tuned….this wraps up my series for the UN Global Immunization Week and the launch of Shot@Life.  I will still be working hard to advocate and raise money and awareness for this amazing program.  It has been quite an experience.  I’m heading back to my regular posts ASAP.  Thanks for your continued support and comments!  Nicole

Global Health Global Issues Poverty SOCIAL GOOD

A springtime visit to the Bird Sanctuary and Trial Gardens

Last Friday, we finally had a sunny day!  As they love to say in Minnesota, April showers bring May flowers.  However, this year due to an extremely early arrival of Spring, things have played out a little bit differently. The flora that we would normally be seeing in mid-May has come about a month early and is peaking now.

Remember that post I did on the gorgeous Spring flowers I saw last month in Virginia?  Well, those same lovely flowers such as the crab apple and cherry trees, tulips, daffodils and irises are now blooming here.  Even the wonderfully, fragrant purple lilacs are in bloom sweeping a delicious, sweet smell into my house.  The only thing left to come are the peonies.

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A glance behind the life of a Shot@Life Champion: 1 month countdown till launch

Photo above from Shot@Life Campaign literature. I adore this photo of the beautiful children who look so happy despite their poverty.  They are still just kids.

So what does it take to be a Shot@Life Champion?  What exactly is a Shot@Life Champion?  Why do I care?  Why should you care?

Global Health Global Issues Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises SOCIAL GOOD

A three generational ski trip

As you have probably gathered from my last few posts, I did something very special over the last few days.  Me, my father and my five-year-old daughter Sophia took a three-generational ski trip to Taos, New Mexico.  It was the first time (except when Sophia was a meager four-months old) that I had ever truly traveled alone with my daughter and it also was the first time the three generations got together for a weekend away.  My son and husband were off on their own adventure thus it was just me and Sophia this time.

We picked Taos for many reasons.  First, it is relatively easy for us to access.  It is a non-stop flight from Tucson where my father lives as well as from Minneapolis (where I live).  Second, it is really a cool little trendy ski town.  Nothing at all like the big ski resorts in Colorado or even Utah.  Taos is tiny, tough and has a unique southwestern style and flair that quite honestly can’t compare.  Finally, for some reason New Mexico is the only place in the country this winter that actually has good snow.  Colorado, Utah and Northern California are struggling with terrible snow.  Meanwhile relatively untouristy, trendy Taos has plenty of snow.  That fluffy, powdery, heavenly snow that skiers dream and drool about having.

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