Moving to Minnesota

Stories, photos and thoughts as the Coffrins embark on their adventure in the midwest.

Seth Braves the Boundary Waters

For those of you who don’t know, as I didn’t before moving to Minnesota, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) is a massive stretch of protected land that runs from Lake Superior at the Canadian border down though the Northern part of Minnesota.  There are no roads or motorized vehicles, and access is limited by permits to keep the number of travelers low.  The only way to get around is to pack in everything you’ll need and canoe through the hundreds of pristine lakes.

I was lucky enough to get invited by my friend Keith to join his friends Blake and Nick on a BWCA trip last weekend.  Basically they were in desperate need of a fourth to even out the canoes.  We drove up to Ely on Friday night, discovered a fantastic brewpub called the Boathouse where we learned valuable lessons from the locals (“the fish bite 22 feet below the surface”), tipped more than 20%, and were so appreciated for good tipping that we received 4 poker chips worth a free beer each, which we redeemed on the way out.  We spent the evening in the Voyageur Outfitter’s bunkhouse, i.e. four guys in a tiny room with two bunk beds and Keith’s rancid gas.

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On Saturday morning, we set out for the BWCA.  We rose at 5am, packed our final supplies, loaded up the car and drove 20 miles to our entry point.

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The forecast called for snow and rain all Saturday morning, but to our luck there was no precipitation.  It was about 25 degrees and dark, but we were well prepared for the cold with long underwear, warm synthetic pants, fleece, down, hats, gloves, and a second set of everything.  Blake proved to be an excellent leader and had given us detailed packing lists, so we were ample prepared and used everything we brought.

After a dark, miserable mile-plus portage with a 40 pound Duluth pack on my back and the canoe on my shoulders, we arrived at our put-in point off of entry 33 on Little Gabbro Lake.  We were well rewarded with one of the most amazing views I’ve ever seen - an undisturbed lake with mist rising off of the waters.

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Now it was time to canoe.  We set off, and traveled from Little Gabbro lake to Gabbro Lake to Bald Eagle lake over the next few hours (we figure 10+ miles).  We had a navigation map with markings where we were allowed to camp, so we checked out a few sites before landing on the perfect one on Bald Eagle Lake. It’s one of the red dots on the SW inlet on Bald Eagle (the big one in the center of the map).

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This shot above is our view from the site.  At this point we took the time to set up camp: unpacked our bags, assembled tents, organized the cookware while also cooking breakfast, hung the food out of reach of the bears, and then set out in the canoes again to forage firewood with our hatchets (note to self: pack a saw next time).

The bad weather was on it’s way in, so with camp all set up we had no option than to head back out in the canoes and brave the storm.  We had both rain, sleet and snow so after a few hours of exploring we headed back into camp to re-arrange the tarps, start a fire to warm-up/dry off, and headed straight into happy hour.

The sleet let up shortly after we got back to camp, and we were lucky to get an epic harvest moon rise and a clear night with stars.

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The next morning after breakfast we packed up camp and canoed back out the way we had come, making better time since we didn’t get lost as much and even explored a cave.  As we crossed from Gabbro to Little Gabbro through some rapidly-moving water, Keith and I noticed that Nick and Blake had slowed their canoe down and were inching towards the shore.  There on the shore was a huge mother moose and her child.  Awesome.  We later learned that the Minnesota moose population is quickly declining due to an unknown parasite, so this siting was particularly rare.

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All around an epic trip to the BWCA, and Nick embodies here.

We’ll be back next year, maybe a little earlier when it’s, you know, not 25 degrees out the whole time.  But still well worth it.

Perfect fall morning in Minneapolis!

A couple weeks ago we celebrated the arrival of fall by taking a very classic Minnesota fall drive. We started in Minneapolis, passed thru Red Wing for a quick snack and doggy break, went onto the town of Pepin for lunch at Harbor View restaurant (highly recommended), circled around Lake Pepin back towards the Twin Cities stopping at Pepin Heights apple stand for, well, apples!

It was the perfect way to kick off fall with our friends, Katie and Karl, and our pups! The boys definitely appreciated the healthy servings of super delish food at Harbor View and us ladies loved sampling sweetango apples at the apple stand.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a slice of pie anywhere on the way home, not that we had room for it after lunch…

Let’s do it again!!

Perfect day for a baseball game! (at Target Field)

Perfect day for a baseball game! (at Target Field)

House Update

A big part of moving to minnesota has not only been getting jobs, making friends, new routines but also buying our first home! We have been settling into our 1931 Tudor over the past year. The hubby and I have been trying to mix our different styles - I’m more modern and he’s more conservative - and I think we’re making it work!

We’ve highlighted a few updates to the living room and dining room throughout this blog, but as a quick reminder, here is where we started: http://movingtominnesota.tumblr.com/post/35360748160/we-bought-a-house

Here are some highlights (old and new) as to where we are at in the process.

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(We had some landscaping done out front!)

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imageThe original mailslot

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Our living room…lots of Room and Board love here with touches from Target and one of my favorite local antique shops - Hunt & Gather.

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We love the little built in shelves. Perfect spot to feature a couple plates I got in England 8 or 9 years ago.

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Our dining room is one of my favorite rooms. Seth’s parents mailed us one of their antique oriental rugs and the farm table came from a friend whose girlfriend didn’t want it when they moved in together (uh what?!?!) - thank you, Emily! Oh, and we love the paint we chose for this room…the color I can’t remember.

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The main floor bath featuring some great Target Threshold finds (curtain, towels and soap dispenser) and two of our favorite wedding gifts - the oil lamps made in Vermont (seth’s home state) from Danforth Pewter.

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We love the original doorknobs throughout the house.

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Our bedroom is pretty simple. A little more Room & Board love and an oil painting of Lake Champlain from Katharine Montstream - another hint to Vermont.

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A few small rugs that I stitched together to create a runner of sorts. (I think we’re choosing the wallpaper on the far right.)

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The animaltastic guest room.

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Who doesn’t love a fat chicken?!

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Owl iPod speaker

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A touch of Oregon…

Anyway, there is still a TON to do to the rooms I haven’t shown here…the kitchen, basement, our bathroom, a couple other bedrooms, office, etc. but that takes money and we only want to do so much. You still gotta live your life, right??

Minneapolis summers seriously rule! I can’t remember a summer with so many fun activities with friends. This is just a convenient sampling from phone pics.

Pictured top to bottom:
Sailing on Lake Harriet with Jesse and friends, Dinner party at our house (yes, that’s our indoor dining table in the lawn!), dinner party wrapping up at night with candles ooh la la, pizza toppings for grilling at Katie and Karl’s, Katie rolling out some dough (don’t hate me for posting that, Katie!), summer cocktails on a patio

Date night in the culture-less West End but still fun! Dinner at Figlio and Elysium at the theater…

Date night in the culture-less West End but still fun! Dinner at Figlio and Elysium at the theater…

Minnesota summers really are amazing! Today took full advantage via stand up paddle boarding on Lake Calhoun/Isles/Cedar, reading in the sunshine and grabbing veggies from the garden for dinner. Xoxo summer! Don’t leave me!

For Robin. Our living room as it sits tonight.

Having fun at the bean!

Weekend Recap - Summer is here!

It’s been officially summer a few days now and I couldn’t be happier! I’ve suddenly blocked out all the awful weather we had from December to May because summer weather is amazing in Minnesota.

The weekend was action packed with a crazy storm, a show at First Ave, tennis and hiking.

We observed the crazy storm with our friend Jess at Gray House, a restaurant on Lyndale and Lake. The wind blew in, torrential rain stormed down and then all of the power went out! Thankfully our food had just finished cooking :) Turns out the storm blew down hundreds or thousands of trees throughout the city and caused the longest power outage in the state’s history! We were only without power until 7 the next morning.

We’re so excited to have kicked off our landscape project with Field Outdoor Spaces. The backyard of this house was completely let go (as we’ve noticed and neighbors have told us!) so were psyched to turn it into something lovely and livable!

This will be a multi year project ($$$$) so this year we’re getting the back yard prepped for a patio, new stairs and minor landscaping. When we moved into the house there was a paver patio and a wood deck (if you could call it that…). There were also homemade steps from the side door down to the garage, made with red bricks, that were falling apart and allowing weeds to grow in.

The demo of the old stairs, patio and deck is complete! So is the grading of the yard (to bring down to the garage level) and new concrete stairs! On the left side of the stairs we will eventually plants flowers. Right now it looks too sterile. This year the backyard will get sod placed, so we can enjoy the space, before laying down a patio next summer.

On Monday the landscape team will be here to lay sod and redo the landscaping in the front of the house. Next year some of the sod will go and in will come the patio.

More updates to come!

Perfection. (at Gull Lake)

Perfection. (at Gull Lake)

Oh Parka how I wanted to love you. My husband suggested Parka, owned by Dogwood Coffee Co, for breakfast this morning. Perfect! Awesome building design and hipster coffee culture - felt like home (Portland). I knew we’d be in for at least a great cup of coffee.

Turns out they have a few growing pains - the model of making each cup of coffee by hand does not work so well when you have quite a few folks wanting coffee! We had great food (eggs Benedict and biscuits and gravy) but never got our coffee :(

Service was not so good - no one checking in on our food (so we could remind them about that delicious black liquid missing from our table) and no one to offer up the little things like fresh cracked pepper for the eggs.

We finally got our bill and asked them to remove the coffee charges. We got a little apology but what would have been even better? Free coffee coupon to not only make up for the lack of coffee this round, but to bring us in again.

Well be back but will give them a few months to work out the kinks.

We went to Two Harbors last weekend in early celebration of Seth’s 33rd birthday. This was our first time that far north along Lake Superior and while we had a good, relaxing time, this is definitely a spot we’ll spend more time again in the summer. Highlights of the weekend included: Kendall’s smoke house (all Lake Superior fish except the Alaskan Salmon), super duper wine sale in Two Harbors at a liquor store there, Split Rock Lighthouse, Gooseberry Falls, A Scenic Cafe (the best meal we had all weekend…maybe all month!), crazy changes in the weather - observe the same view from our room in the above photos for the first day versus the second. On Saturday we had about 6” of snow! Despite the crazy weather, it was great exploring the north shore of Minnesota and Lake Superior. Happy Birthday, Seth!