Saturday, March 31, 2012


This morning: I ran with Katie, my friend from running club last summer!  I'm telling you, if you'd like to have the miles fly by, you ought to pick a running buddy who you haven't seen in awhile with whom you would love to catch up.  It felt like we zoomed around three lakes (Harriet, Calhoun, and Isles) and even stood around in the parking lot for a few minutes wrapping up our chat.

Then: Leftover pad ped curry for lunch, catching up on DVRed programs, and tinkering with some photos on my computer before a happy hour, baseball game, and time with friends tonight.  (Oh.  A nap definitely happened, too. Scintillating to you, I know!)

Last, but most importantly: A very warm and special welcome to the world to a baby girl born early this morning to two friends!  I am excited to meet her and am so happy for her mama and papa.  I believe another couple of friends are still waiting for their own baby news...and I'm thinking of them, too!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Back home

Besides charming Josh by asking every 10 minutes how long it takes for a burned roof-of-mouth to heal (thanks, yesterday's lunch), I have been catching up with life this week.  Coming home from vacation, for me, usually involves a combination of catch-up duties and finding new things to love about coming back home.  It also always reminds me of things on my To Do list.

Cooking. I must have been inspired by a "hot dish/not a hot dish" conversation I had in Arizona, because I cooked two sort of hot dishy meals this week: my beloved chilaquile pie and a easy fake lasagna recipe that involves pasta, pasta sauce, ground turkey, cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese.  (Don't hate it 'til you've tried it.)

Cleaning. This is sort of happening but is definitely not remotely interesting enough to blog about.

Podcasts. Specifically, my ESPN Baseball Today podcast went daily either this week or last - it's weekly during the off-season - and I am loving this for two reasons. First, it means that baseball season is zooming closer now, and second, it is one of my favorite podcasts to listen to while I run. Now I have at least half an hour of baseball talk to digest every day!  (You are thrilled, I can tell.)

Kindle books from the library. A friend (hi, Steph!) recently reminded me that Kindle books are available in the library system nowadays.  I tried this when the e-books first arrived, but was a little discouraged by the limited selection. Now I've either become more computer savvy (very possible) or the library has totally expanded its selection and also made it more user-friendly by allowing one to browse only the e-books that are available instead of getting excited about a book and then seeing that it's already checked out by someone else.  I demolished some Kindle library books while I was in Arizona and am thrilled to have this resource going forward.

Yoga Sculpt at CorePower. I finally got to try this class when my boot camp was on hiatus, and I love-love-love it.  And by love, I mean barely survive.  It is definitely the most challenging fitness class I have ever taken: think yoga moves with weights mixed in with lunges and push-ups and squats and all kinds of terrible things - in a heated classroom.  And with dance music!

To Do 
Updating my 101 list. It's almost April!  That means it's time to take a look at my 101 in 1,001 list to see what new activities I shall tackle this month.

Exploring the Twin Cities.  Spring always brings out this urge for me (and everyone else in Minnesota, I think). I have several exhibits I'd like to check out this spring: the sports exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Mill City Museum, and, well, Farm Babies at the Minnesota Zoo. 

Getting out the sewing machine.  I got my patterns last month.  Now it's time to put them to use.  Fabric shopping, here I come!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Flora and fauna report: Local edition

I knew it was coming, but as soon as I got back to Minnesota, I saw that spring had really arrived. There were leaves on the trees and the grass was green! Today I ran at lunch and headed down one of St. Paul's side streets, which I rarely do. Turns out side streets are much better for plant-watching than the busy thoroughfares!

You know, as much as I love beautiful greenery (as evidenced by the many photos I share on my blog), I really know diddly about plants and plant identification.  That's funny and sort of dumb because my dad had a greenhouse set-up at our old house and my mom continues to be a very avid gardener, so you'd think I could have absorbed some of their knowledge. You probably remember my ambitious quest to grow basil and mint last year and the predators I encountered.  My goal this year is to sustain basil and mint without squirrel-related interruptions.  Maybe I should have included some sort of green thumb goal in my 101 list.

Anyway, what I really want to know is, what are these little blue flowers?

They are popping up around St. Paul this week - sometimes they are scattered around an entire yard!  Does everyone know what they are except me? When I have a yard, I want a whole ton of these.

And the trees are going crazy!  They create a beautiful new shadow on the sidewalk, but I'll spare you from more shadows-on-sidewalk photos...for now.

What is this tree?  I'd like to order some of these for my future yard, too.

Finally, I promised you flora and fauna via this post's title and you are probably frantically curious about what fauna is about to swoop in.

This was the best sight of my run - also seen in a St. Paul yard.

A BEAR!!!!!

Happy Thursday, friends.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Part III: Phoenix

Oh!  We reach the end of the trip recap today.  It is not far short of a miracle that I crammed five full days' worth of Arizona into three posts.  Well, I guess I shouldn't toot that horn too loudly, considering I posted small but important details (grapefruit! baseball!) every day I was away, hmm?

We move on.

As mentioned, the last part of my trip was spent in Phoenix with Nathalia and her husband.  His parents live there, and as soon as I began mumbling on this very blog about a spring break destination, Nat and her husband (M, as he is known on her blog!) said they would fly to Arizona for the weekend to coincide with my trip (and some birthdays in the family!).  I worried initially that I would be horning in on their family time, and their response was of the "don't you dare get a hotel room" variety.  I should've known then - but it was shown to me over and over through the weekend that they were the most gracious hosts possible and welcomed me into their home so kindly.

On Saturday morning, the ladies went to hummingbird class at the Desert Botanical Gardens!  Truth be told, I knew very little about hummingbirds before my trip, but it turns out that Arizona is a major birding mecca, with tons of both native species and bird migration routes that crisscross the state. I had figured that this class would be a fun way to putter around the garden for the morning and, yes, see some more cacti up close.

It turned out to be way more intense and way cooler than that.  The first two hours were filled (rapidly!) by a lecture given by this enthusiastic, passionate guy who knew everything in the world, I think, about hummingbirds.  I loved it.  I used to talk about a great professor I had by saying he was an expert on one country in the world and loved that country so much that by the time you finished a semester in that class, you couldn't help but love it, too.  Is that the mark of a great teacher?  If so, this hummingbird expert totally fit the bill.  (Ha!  A hummingbird bill!)

Nat, her mother-in-law and I spent the rest of the weekend sprinkling facts about hummingbirds into our conversations with the rest of the family.  (I'm sure they loved it.)  Did you know, for example, that hummingbirds' hearts beat around 1,000 times per minute during the day, but at night, they enter a state in which their heart rate drops to as low as 50 beats per minute.  (It's called torpor!)  It would be like if your resting heart rate was 80 beats per minute and at night it slowed to three or four beats per minute.  Crazy, right?  I could go on and on.  And did you know that the hummingbird's only natural predator is a roadrunner?

Then we all went into the gardens and practiced identifying the hummingbirds cruising around in their U-shaped flight pattern.  Natty and I got a little distracted by the flora.  There were lots of cacti.  Even heart-shaped cacti!!

And then here's a quick summary of the rest of our time in the garden.  We got to walk through the butterfly garden exhibit (the top left photo below) which was cool and misty and jam-packed full of butterflies fluttering around.  The whole experience was so much fun and I am super grateful to Nat's mother-in-law for arranging the morning!

The other activity I really want to mention from my weekend in Phoenix was the trip Nat and I took on Sunday morning to hike at Saguaro Lake, maybe 45 minutes outside the city.  Even the drive itself was gorgeous and gave me a teeny hint of what it might be like to see the red rocks of the Grand Canyon.

And then we got there, and it was a full-fledged recreation area - with a real lake!

Our hike was pretty low-key.  We stopped often to examine the trail's flora.  Like this time, when Nat picked up a prickly pear cactus paddle.  (Did you know you can cut them up and saute them, and they taste like a regular old green vegetable?)

In many aspects, Natty and I are cut from the same cloth.  We both love, for example, to poke around and explore.  We were apparently checking out this prickly pear bloom for so long that a passerby asked us if we had dropped our rings in the cactus. (?)

But really!  Can you blame us?  So pretty!

And here is my photo collage from our hike.  I should pause here to thank Picasa for this magnificent feature, which is saving you from scrolling through 600,000 huge photos because I can't choose which ones to include.

Then we had a birthday party with their extended family, and then I hopped on a (very full) red-eye flight back to Minneapolis.  I was so tuckered out that I managed to sleep the whole way, which is unheard-of plane conduct for me.

I can't say enough how special the time we spent together was.  It was my first time seeing Nat and her husband since my two trips to California this summer (the latter for their wedding!).  I feel so fortunate that we have been able to share new experiences like hummingbird class and shaved ice at Bahama Buck's and going down a slide intended primarily for use by youths at a steak restaurant.  (No photos exist of that!)  She - and her families, old and new - are just great. I don't think we will have the luxury of living in the same time zone any time soon, but I look forward to many future adventures together.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The rest of Tucson

I hope you have hunkered down with a bag of popcorn and a large soda, Reader, because this is going to be a big post, too.  I'm going to cover the trail ride and my trip to Sabino Canyon (i.e. the rest of my time in Tucson) before we get to the weekend in Phoenix!

Oddly enough, the horseback trail ride was one of the first pieces to fall into place for this trip. I am surely no champion equestrian.  Once, in Girl Scouts, I was the party-pooper who held back my group because I didn't want to go faster than a leisurely trot.  But something about the desert, something about Arizona, just begged to be explored on horseback!

I did some googling and found Houston's Horseback Riding, which not only offers two-hour trail rides but also professes on its website to teach toddlers how to ride, so I knew I was safe.  I booked my ride, and then found out that Josh was able to join me, and our plan was set!

On Thursday morning, we drove out to the ranch on the east side of Tucson, adjacent to the Saguaro National Park.  (The park is split into two districts - the west side, where I was at the Desert Museum, and the east side, where Houston's is.)  

There was a separate group already there, brushing their horses, and we met Liz, our guide.  Liz was a college student home for spring break, and she had been riding at the ranch since she was six!  She was fabulous and super patient with all of my questions.

Oh, yes.  Here's a glimpse of the starting point for our ride:

We met our horses and got the tutorial about commands.  My horse was Maui, a former rodeo horse!  Both Maui and Josh's horse, Bo, were 18-20 years old and were a little less spritely than Liz's Pacifico, who was around six years old.  Don't mistake that as complaining, though!  I was just fine with our docile, sweet horses.

And then we were off!  The two-hour ride took us along a road before we entered the national forest.  Liz talked to us about horseback riding, Gila monsters, summer Arizona monsoons, and of course, the saguaros.  We also saw a jackrabbit, which is a rabbit with enormous ears.

Josh and I were both really happy with the ride.  It was great to have a knowledgeable, fun guide who could explain the sights to us (not to mention help us ride our horses), and it was such a unique experience to have.  It was totally worth it, and like the Desert Museum, I would recommend it to anyone who has a couple of hours free in Tucson.

Okay.  My next recommendation is for Sabino Canyon, which I explored on Friday morning before going to one of Josh's games.  Sabino Canyon is in the outskirts of Tucson in the foothills of the Santa Catalina mountains.  This place is super popular with both tourists (you can either walk to the top or ride a tram) and local hikers, runners, and cyclists.  Thus, it was an activity that I thought safely combined solo tourism - like I wrote about yesterday - and tourism by foot, which I've written about before.

But lest one gets too comfortable...

Venomous wildlife!!?
I drove out to the canyon and parked in the lot, which was quite full already with people doing their morning workouts.  I had planned to combine a run with some hiking and tourism.  There are loads of other trails, but the main Sabino Canyon hiking trail is a seven-mile roundtrip out-and-back, up this narrow two-lane paved road.  It seems like the only motor vehicles allowed on the road are the trams, and even cyclists are barred from riding between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., making it a very pedestrian-friendly experience.

I started shuffling along, my legs sore from the previous day's horseback riding.  It seemed mostly flat for a couple of miles, but I wondered why I felt so sluggish.  (It turned out, of course, that it was actually a low-grade climb the whole way.)  Then the third mile really ramped up.  I took some convenient take-a-photo-catch-my-breath breaks.

I got to the top, just a tiny bit short of eight miles thanks to some meandering I did earlier in the run, and saw this sign:

Anyway, you totally can't read it, but in the midst of all that cactus, it says the Phoneline Trail (another popular route) was one-half mile up the trail.  So I decided to trot along for a few more minutes to get my eight miles.  And then it became so joyously, uproariously fun that I went a little further and ended up with nine.  I like to imagine that I looked like an agile mountain goat scampering along the switchbacks.  I'm sure that's not true.

But what is true is that the trail went up, up, up with a snap of my fingers.  (Well, and some steps.)  Five minutes later, I was way, way up high.  As high, in fact, as a saguaro, as this photo will demonstrate:
The next picture is a little dark, but can you see that little loop-around in the lower-left corner of the picture?  That's where the paved route ended - again, like half a mile before.

And it just went up and up and up.  Cacti, way up high.

 And I even came across some dead saguaros, which for some reason kind of scared me.

I turned around and minutes later rejoined the paved trail, passing a few hikers on the switchbacks.  Then I learned just how much of a slope with which I had been fighting on the way up.  Oooh weeee, I went a lot faster on the second half than the first half!

Like the horseback trail ride and the Desert Museum: if you are into outdoor activities and looking for a long walk in Tucson, this place rules.  I got to feel like I was out on the trail exploring a new part of the desert, but I always felt safe.  And of course, it doesn't hurt that it was gorgeous.

Afterward, I scurried back to the hotel, checked out, watched a baseball game and then drove up lonely I-10 all the way back to Phoenix, where I would meet Nathalia, her husband, and his parents for the weekend.  More on that tomorrow!  (Don't worry, the cactus parade won't stop.)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 1: The Desert Museum

This post marks the kickoff of Trip Recap Week, which immediately follows Cactus Week at Miles and Laurel.  This post may be particularly lengthy, as its author, fresh off a redeye flight from Phoenix, is watching rain and 40 degrees outside her window and would much rather blog than go out for the run she had intended to do!

I think I will recap in mostly chronological order, okay?

Last Wednesday, I stepped off the plane and onto the rental car shuttle and immediately started seeing cactus after cactus after cactus.  As I noted last week: so many cacti.  It reminded me of how foreign the desert landscape was to me - in fact, this was my first time in Arizona.  I was very excited to explore.

got my car and drove straight to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.  The drive from Phoenix to Tucson is a 110-mile straight shot southward, but adding the museum (on the west side of Tucson) into the itinerary meant a much more interesting route.  I got to drive through the Saguaro National Forest!

I have never, ever, ever seen so many cacti in my life, let alone the giant saguaros.  I pulled a Gigantic Tourist Move and stopped my car to take a photo.
Then I got to the museum.  There was a huge line of people waiting to get in, possibly because the day's forecast was supposed to be the coolest (77 degrees and sunny) of the week. (The museum had stocked bathrooms with sunscreen dispensers next to the soap!  Thank you, thank you!)

All week, the sky was so, so blue.  Obviously, I loved it.

I'll get right to the point and note that the Desert Museum may be my favorite museum ever.  It's appropriate for all ages. There are kids' exhibits and animals mixed in with historical and cultural information and lots of cacti.  It's a mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits, but the best part to me was the Desert Loop Trail.  It's about a mile and a half long and just beautiful.

The trail just curves around and around and looks like this:
The Desert Museum is also wonderful for solo travelers.  I was on my way to meet Josh, who was with his baseball team for the week, so I had a mix of activities planned both with him and on my own.  I used to travel a lot for work on my own, and that really sharpened my sense of solo tourism.  I can't very well go out and trot around a random patch of desert on my own, so this was a perfect introduction to it.

I also chatted with some of the museum's docents. At the start of the loop, one docent was introducing guests to the wonderful saguaro cactus, which you've heard me ramble extensively about already.  First, he instructed the visitors on how to pronounce it: sah-WAHR-oh.  (The "g" takes an "h" sound.)  Then I learned how very old these guys are.  A saguaro starts as a tiny little seed, as small as a poppy seed, and grows and grows.  It has to be around 50-70 years old before it even starts growing little arms.  Later in the week, I learned that they can live up to 250 years or so.  The best way to calculate their age, the docent told me, is by using historical photos to see when a given saguaro popped up in a landscape.

Thus, these little guys in the foreground of this photo are relatively quite young - although they may be older than me!

Doesn't that all blow your mind!?

There is also a stop for a cave.  It might be meant for kids.  I went in and greatly enjoyed it.
That's "unless you are a troglobite, STOP!  Darkness ahead!"
And along the way, there are fun trivia boards, like this one:

The answer is "nearly everything."
I spent at least two hours at the museum before going to my first baseball game of the week, but I could have stayed for hours longer. I almost even went back the next day.

The Desert Museum definitely started my week off on the right foot.  If you find yourself in Tucson, you must go!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Grapefruit bonanza!

When I was thinking about spring training in Arizona, I lamented just a tiny bit that it wasn't Florida's Grapefruit League. My love of grapefruit, after all, is well-documented at Miles and Laurel.  But soon my appreciation for the Cactus League replaced those feelings, and I forgot about them.

Yesterday I was in my hosts' backyard and spotted some yellow fruit up high in a tree. "Lemons!" I said, remembering the lemon trees I saw in California.

"No," my host said, "these are grapefruit."

I nearly fell over with excitement.  There were grapefruit trees (and orange trees!) right in their backyard, and the blossoms smell glorious. And this morning I ate the best grapefruit ever, fresh off the tree.

I am going back to Minnesota tonight, but I will not soon forget these grapefruits.

Spring training!

Today, sandwiched in between hummingbird class and dinner out on the town, I took in my first spring training baseball game!  

Our group of seven headed over to Hohokam Stadium in Mesa to watch the Cubs take on the visiting Padres.  (Another round of thanks to Nat's mother- and father-in-law, who coordinated the afternoon!) A fiercely loyal, very enthusiastic cohort of Cubs fans had packed the stadium to watch some of their favorite players up close. It was great fun to hang out with friends in the stands, see what a spring training facility looks like and eat a snowcone in the shade on an 85 degree day. 

Opening Day is swiftly approaching!

Friday, March 23, 2012

A now-familiar plant

Cactus Week at Miles and Laurel rolls on!

Today's cactus is brought to you by Sabino Canyon, a popular hiking, biking and running spot for Tucson residents (and visitors!). I started the day there with a long, winding run - more on this when I get back, of course! - before a great baseball game and a long drive back to Phoenix. 

Now the next chapter of the trip begins: I'm at the Phoenix airport to meet Nat and Mike, who are flying in for the weekend!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Vacation literature

It should come as no surprise that I think it's very fun to bring reading material for a trip that corresponds somehow to my vacation destination, either in theme or location. I had a blast picking out books for my Kindle through the St. Paul library, but I couldn't come up with anything off the top of my head for this trip. After two days spent with many saguaros, though, I know I really dropped the ball by not packing Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl. It's young adult fiction (which I love, by the way) set in Arizona, and I must reread it when I get home.

P.S. We had a great time with the ponies today!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

They're everywhere!

Oh, friends!

I have exponentially increased my life's collection of cactus sightings today, and it happened within 15 minutes of setting foot on Arizona soil! They are magnificently beautiful and I can say that for sure because I saw about 40,000 today.  Can't wait to share more in a longer recap when I'm back home.

Tiny updates and revelations to follow. Tomorrow I'm heading into the Saguaro National Forest on horseback, so this girl has gotta rest up!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Scrappin' away

So, on a certain 101 in 1,001 list, there is a little line next to #75 that says Print out photos and make a photo album for 2011

2011 was a wonderfully full year: two marathons, two out-of-state weddings, two trips to Colorado, and lots of family events back in Minnesota. It also marked the year that I started blogging and thus started taking a zillion times more photos than I ever had before.  I was scared, though, that they would sit for eternity, in various little pockets of Picasa - or even if I did manage to print them out, in little photo packages all over my apartment.

What to do?  Imagine my surprise when my mom suggested that, for my birthday present, we could take a weekend in March for her to teach me how to scrapbook!

Now, she would deny this, but she is a scrapbooking queen.  She has been doing it for ages and has this magnificent eye for creating beautiful books.  I classify myself as a feeble, few-frills newcomer.  Could I be taught?

First, we went to Joann Fabrics to get all of our gear.  She helped me pick out a little photo-cutter, pretty packs of paper, markers, and this fab tape contraption that makes taping pictures way easier.

Later that night, we started cropping all of my photos - and as I learned later, that wasn't even the half of the cropping I'd do.  Cropping is pretty important and magical because it obviously helps you squeeze more photos onto each page.

I should note that we found inspiration from one of the original great scrapbookers: my grandma.  My parents have loads of her scrapbooks from her travels with my grandpa.  I flipped through two of them, and they are meticulously organized with pamphlets and photos and tickets from every landmark they visited.  They are awesome.

And huge. Once more:

Anyway, here's Mom and me, scrappin' away.  I like to think that my dad was loving this scene.  I also like that we have water bottles near us.  It kind of shows the rigor of the epic project being undertaken.

I had a lot of photos that I wanted to cram into one book, so I wasn't much for making ornate pages containing one photo with lots of decorations around it.  I think what I was doing was somewhere between beginning scrapbooking and introductory collage-making.

It was great fun to sort and organize my photos with my mom by my side.  (She was working on her own albums.)  She saw photos she hadn't seen before and we got to talk about each event. She also provided invaluable guidance and even encouraged me to branch out and try making some photos into ovals instead of just squares and rectangles!

And somewhere in between wondering if I'd get into it and looking at the finished product, I began to love each page.  The colors!  The photos!  The people!  Each page makes me all-out grin.

I could not ever pick a favorite.  Plus, it's not like you haven't already seen loads of these exact pictures in various posts through the year.  But here are a few beloveds:

Nat's wedding weekend!
Family birthdays and parties:
Our trip to the San Juan Islands:
And my trip to Vermont!
By Sunday evening, I had a book that was very large but not quite as packed as my grandma's scrapbook - a (somewhat) succinct summary in photos of 2011: my neighborhood, my family, my friends. Major thanks to both of my parents for such a fun weekend - and to my mom for dreaming up this project!

Consider #75 checked off my list!  I have the feeling, though, that won't be my last adventure in scrapbooking.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Marvelous Monday: Volume 12

This is Marvelous Monday!

1) Sometime soon I will stop prattling on about this warm weather.  Not today!  Besides the warm temperatures, the buds on the trees have really started to get serious.  It's supposed to rain a whole bunch tonight and tomorrow, and I expect the world (well, my neighborhood) to be much greener by midweek.

Look at this scene from this morning's run:

Leaves on the trees are definitely marvelous.

2) It's travel time!  I'm leaving for Arizona later in the week.  I'm making my packing list and picking out books for my Kindle.  I love this part of travel preparation.  I can't wait for the trip and the people I'll see on it!

3) Last weekend, my sweet sister surprised me for my birthday by announcing that she wanted to cook me dinner.  (Yes!  Anytime!)  We met at her apartment last night and she made pad thai and a cherry crumble for dessert. I keep telling her that when I was a recent college graduate, I ate a lot of Hot Pockets and cold cereal, not things like pad thai from scratch.

Look at her!  Thank you, Sis.  I loved our dinner.

4) The Get Lucky half-marathon is in the books!  The race itself wasn't quite marvelous for me - in short, I don't think I really cooled down until about 8:00 that night - but there were marvelous parts: running with Molly, seeing my friend Emily, thinking about breaking down a challenge into more manageable sections, and of course, just finishing a fun race with loads of runners dressed up in their best St. Patrick's Day gear. And not having to run the mile back to our cars afterward, thanks to Molly's husband and his parents, who gave us a ride!  Oh, and I got a gigantic vanilla root beer from the Davanni's Coca-Cola Freestyle soda-mixing machine after the race, too.  Marvelous stuff, just coming out of the woodwork.

5) I finally finished Friday Night Lights today over lunch on a bench outside.  The last 50 pages were my favorite. Beautiful storytelling.

So, what's up, Reader?  Anything you're reading that you'd like to recommend?  What's marvelous about your day?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fauna report

This morning Mom and I headed out for a walk before serious scrapbooking got underway. (Much more on this later in the week, I promise.)

Yesterday we saw a sunset.  Today we saw swans!

Hope your weekend was a delight!

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Forget the massage table. Forget the ice bath. When recovering from a hot half-marathon and feeling a little bit googley, the best place to visit is Mom and Dad's.

More on my visit later, okay? But just one thing now: Mom and I went for a walk after dinner. It was dusk and about 75 degrees.  I consider these trails to be among the most beautiful and soul-replenishing that the world has to offer. Seriously.

Good night and happy St. Patrick's Day if you're celebrating!