A look back

Over the past couple of years, I will admit that I’ve become less and less enthusiastic about blogging my travel experiences. But it still shocked me to see that I hadn’t posted anything for an entire year. Really? What the hell?

But all this sheltering in place the last few months has left me longing to travel. I am heartbroken that the Covid-19 pandemic caused RAGBRAI to be canceled this year; driving that route and blogging about it has become one of my favorite Iowa activities every summer.

Given that there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do, I decided to take a look back at some of the un-blogged travel experiences I’ve had in the last 12 months. Looking at these photos and remembering the places I went, the food I ate, and the people I met was almost as much fun as the travel itself.

I’ll start with this trip to Washington, D.C.:

 

Washington, D.C.

 

I took a quick trip to Washington, D.C. in early September for a VISIONS magazine feature. I stayed in Georgetown at a little Airbnb row house (on a hill so steep I once had to chase my roller-bag down the sidewalk and into the street), so I kind of felt like a local.

I walked something like 12-16 miles every day, met with 10 Iowa State alumni, visited the incredibly moving National Museum of African American History and Culture…

… hung out on the national mall and with the monuments and statues…

… speed-walked through the revamped National Museum of Natural History…

… and the always-wonderful National Portrait Gallery between appointments (hello, Barack and Michelle!)…

… and ate some great food. I mean, like really great food. Here I am with my combination vegetarian sampler at Das Ethiopian restaurant, served on a spongy bed of injera:

I also sat next to the kitchen and watched pizza dudes create mini-masterpieces at Pizzaria Paradiso, ate crazy little late-night tacos at Chaia, lingered over a fabulous patio dinner at Kafe Leopold, stood in line for coffee and pastries at Baked & Wired, discovered equally good coffee and pastries just around the corner at Grace Street Coffee, and found the MOST drool-worthy pastries at Boulangerie Christophe just before heading to the airport. I should have taken more pictures of my food.

My alumni connections got me some cool insider’s tours of the U.S. Capitol, two Senate buildings, Ford’s Theatre, and the Air and Space Museum. I also interviewed an alum at the Washington Nationals ballpark. (The story got better a month later, when the Nationals won the World Series.) Here I am with some awesome ISU alumni:

 

Northern Minnesota

 

My youngest daughter, Lauren, moved back to Iowa in September after living for nearly three years  in Colorado. She and I drove up to a cabin in northern Minnesota in early October. It’s one of my favorite and most-visited places, but it was her first time up there. We probably ate too much pie at Betty’s Pies (below) and hiked too little, but it was a lot of fun.

I always love to stop at the Split Rock overlook:

Lauren and I took a walk to Palisade Head, overlooking Lake Superior in Tettegouche State Park…

… and followed the boardwalk to Grand Portage falls, all the way up to the Canadian border:

I took a wonderful morning hike on one of my favorite Superior Hiking Trail sections, to Alfred’s Pond. Here are some images that make me long to go back:

 

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