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Brain Candy (All Natural)

Minnesota Hiking

Brain Candy, All Natural

There are trips you take to read. Trips you take to write. And then there are trips you take because. Just because. And if that trip involves good company and good conversation, even better. But sometimes you just need to ‘be’. Soak up the surroundings. Listen to the lake haiku and the chorus of the wind through the trees.

Hiking near Gran Marais
Hiking near Gran Marais

Northern Light, in the Land of L’Etoile du nord

Better known as the land of 11,842 lakes no wait a new survey just came out make that 11,843. No, wait again, freakin beavers, 11,844. 45… I’ve seen a lot of ‘I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here a fast as I could’ license plates. Nary a one for Minnesota. My best friend Alan is from Minnesota. And he’s fine with that. And after several magical trips to the state, I think I am, too. I enjoyed Lengs (sigh) , and the Blue Water Cafe is good (but not Lengs). But most of all, there is… there are… the lakes:

Northern Light Lake, Minnesota

Northern Light Lake Minnesota_bluesky

Northern Light Lake Minnesota_sunset

Slack-jawed Miles from Moose Jaw

Okay. I’m never at a loss for words. Polite words, sometimes, as my inner snark too often becomes my outer ‘did I really just say that?’ So imagine my surprise and the surprise/shock/worry of my best friend Alan when, at the Canada Border Services Agency, my brain drops transmission completely. The CBSA Agent was Canada Cute and Canada Friendly. And we are talking about Canada, land of Hockey, Curling, Strange Brew, RUSH, and Saga. Heady stuff. But my passport is well stamped, my left hand happily wedding banded. And yet:

CBSA Agent: “Welcome to Canada! First time here?”
Link, twitching and bobbing his head: “Thbbft!” Awkward pause.
Alan: “First time to Toronto, but we’ve both been to Canada before.”
CBSA Agent smiles: “Well welcome back! What brings you to us this time?”
Link, turning pale blue, head lolling to the side: “Ack!” Awkward pause x2.
Alan: “Hockey Hall of Fame, then a run around the ‘Lakes and finally some fishing at Nipigon.”
CBSA Agent smiles again: “Anything to declare?”
Link silently mouths: “Durhhey?”
Alan, grinning: “Apparently not.”
CBSA Agent: “Welcome to Canada and bonne journée!”
Link, showing signs of life, mumbles: “Mastershake?”
Alan: “Thank you! You too!”

Miles and minutes later, Alan turned to me and basically asked “What was that all about?” My reply? Finally?? “Yes. First time.”

Some Canadian Trading Post.

Poutine, The Ultimate Comfort Food

Growing up south of the Mason-Dixon line, I was no stranger to gravy fries. And Bob Evans two-thirds of your daily sodium Sunrise Skillet works in a pinch. But in Canada, Mac and Cheese and Pecan Pie met their match in a comfort food chimera known simply as ‘Poutine‘.

What is this wonder food? Well, what isn’t it? It’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack, a desert… Add some scrambled eggs. And Ham. Throw in a handful of olives and garlic. Spam? Bring it. Lutefisk? No. Let’s be clear about this: Lutefisk is right out. But pretty much everything else is fair game. Poutine is the cosmopolite potato polyfood that refuses to be pidgen-holed (yes, I appreciate a little alliteration. And I have a weird definition of ‘little’.)

So see Minnesota. Slip across the border and sample some of the wonders of our Northern Neighbor. And take your time.

There’s enough poutine for everyone.

Grand Portage
Grand Portage

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