Sunday, December 28, 2014

Adieu, 2014.

2014 started off great with with fireworks at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia.  It seemed like it'd be a pretty good year, and in many ways it was.  In other ways...not so much.  

BOOM sparkle!

I saw the Winter Carnival Torchlight Parade in St. Paul for the first time, despite living in the city for a total of 13 years.  It was, as promised, filled with fire!

Fire and lights make us feel like winter isn't so dark and depressing. 

In sad news my last remaining grandparent passed away in February, but it wasn't altogether too sad.  Her last 6 months were rough.  I'm thankful that she had 91.5 pretty solid years before that.  

For the first time in several years, the ice on Lake Superior was good enough for the ice caves at the Apostle Islands to be accessible!  So of course I selected a weekend when the winchill was -30ºF to make the 5-mile roundtrip trek to the caves.  It was definitely worth it.  

Behold the cold vastness of a frozen Lake Superior.
Icicly goodness!

I also summoned up the courage to drive across the ice road to Madeline Island for the first (and very definitely the last) time.  Glad I did it.  I don't ever need to do it again.  

White-knuckle driving at its finest.

In super tragic news (what was it with winter 2014??), my friend Jenn died suddenly and unexpectedly in March.  I made a trip out to North Carolina for her memorial in April, enjoying a Reese's Peanut Butter egg on the beach in Hatteras Village at sunset. 
This was, appropriately enough, the topic of our last conversation.

During that same trip to NC, I took the opportunity to visit the college I was attending as a distance student for the first time!  

It's an obelisk. That's how you know it's important. 

While in Raleigh, I became acquainted with what is possibly the most delightful food that I have ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth.  Vegan Chicken and Waffles from Fiction Kitchen.  Don't let the lack of meat, eggs, and dairy scare you off.  It was a culinary masterpiece.  I'm totally a chicken and waffles convert now.  I get it.  
What sorcery is this??

I also saw ALL the Outer Banks lighthouses, because lighthouses are cool. 

Yes, they still make them. 
At the Wright Brothers Memorial, the person staffing the gate questioned whether I wanted to pay the entrance fee when they closed in 35 minutes.  I only needed 32.  :^)
First flight, just as the state quarter promises!

Because I could, I drove 7 hours from the Outer Banks to meet up with some friends in SC and eat everything waffle-y and play CAH.  Worth every minute of driving!  Bonus: they live near Congaree National Park, so I was able to check another park off my list! 

The most beautiful swampland!
Back in MSP, I went to the Opera for the first time!  It was magical! And flutey!

I participated in the MS150 for the 7th time this year.  Or, rather, the MS37, as that's when I fell and sprained my ankle and was out for the remainder of the ride.  

But the tape-job was super impressive!
Work took me back to NC the week after I sprained my ankle, so, of course I took the opportunity to visit the Outer Banks again.  Definitely one of my favorite places now.  

Is it possible for this place to get prettier? Because it keeps getting prettier!
This time in the Outer Banks, I visited the dunes at Jockey's Ridge State Park.  Absolutely gorgeous.  Absolutely would not recommend walking up dunes with a freshly sprained ankle! 
Worth it.  Would hobble up dunes again. 

There was some bizarre summer flooding of the Mississippi River.  

Apparently the bike path is now for fishing!
Minnehaha Falls was in rare form due to the flooding!
Due to the flooding, the 4th of July fireworks were moved to the state capitol, which made for a scenic show!

Ooh!  Aah!
In July, I sailed to Isle Royale with my parents and oldest sister.  It was a once in a lifetime trip (which my parents are now going to take again this summer, because once just wasn't enough...)  The crossing from the Apostle Islands took about 16 hours, which we did overnight.  I slept through most of it because bed was much warmer than the outside.  The water temp was 38ºF and the wind was frigid.  But the sights that greeted us on the island were worth it! 

This cannot possibly be a real place. 

By September, I met my ankle-recovery-goal and was able to ride my bike in the Minneapolis Bike Tour!  36 miles!

Perhaps the most exciting thing that happened for me this year is that I finally (FINALLY!) graduated with my masters in materials science and engineering after 5 years.  
Hear that, school? NO MORE OF YOU!

After the end of the semester, I went all out with Christmas-y Christmas stuff, so it was convenient that, the evening after I took my final exam, the Candian-Pacific Holiday Train stopped in St. Paul for the first time! 

Choo choo!

It's been a big year.  A busy year.  A lot to be thankful for this year.  But for now, I kind of feel like this. 

This is mostly what Sydney did this year. 


  1. Nice to see the recap. I remember all of this, and remembered most the ice caves and your friends passing.

  2. I had a nice comment all written, and Google ate it when it asked me to log in.

    If Silicon Valley and the Microsoft campus are all turned into radioactive glass, it was justified.