2009 - Year in review

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Wow, 2009 just flew by! As always, our year was full of family, friends, travel and fun.
We started the year down south in Houston, TX. We visited Kim’s friend Mary Linda. On the way down we stopped at the Oklahoma City National Memorial which honors all those who died in the 1991 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building. It was very sad, especially seeing the teddy bears on chairs of two children we assumed were brothers. We saw all the Houston attractions including the zoo, aquarium and NASA space center. We also went to the Texas Bowl and decided to root for Western Michigan since the Rice campus was 2 blocks away. As always our team lost.
In May we traveled to London. We ventured into the English countryside and saw Leeds Castle, Canterbury and the white cliffs of Dover. We attended the play “Madame de Sade” which starred Judi Dench. Afterwards, Kim got to meet her and even had a picture taken with her.
In June, Kim and her mom traveled to the Carolinas. We visited charming Charleston, SC, historic Wilmington, NC and the beaches of Myrtle Beach, SC. We had a great time, but got a little too much sun!
Many of our summer travels included the Great Lakes and/or Twins baseball. Eric mentioned he wanted to see the St. Louis Arch. We picked a random weekend in June and shockingly the St. Louis Cardinals were playing the Twins! We joined Kim’s sister, Nancy and her kids in St. Louis for a weekend of Twins baseball and the Arch and best of all the Twins won!
For the 4th of July weekend we took Eric’s sister DJ and kids to Lake Superior’s Apostle Islands near Bayfield, WI. We went on a kayaking tour of the various shipwrecks around the islands. It was very interesting and fun. We all made it back safely to shore with no capsizing issues.
A couple weeks later, we traveled up Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior with Kim’s family. We stopped at all the state parks along the way, hiking around the cliffs of Lake Superior and viewing the many larger waterfalls, finishing with the largest Minnesota waterfall, High Falls, on the Canadian border.
For our sixth anniversary we spent the weekend in beautiful Door County, WI (the peninsula). We saw lighthouses, took a splash in Lake Michigan and kayaked around the coastal caves.
To finish our summer travels we took a circle tour road trip around all the Great Lakes. We made stops in Cleveland and Toronto for Twins games. We also saw Niagara Falls, Syracuse University and Boldt Castle. After 7 days, 2 Twins games and 2,858 miles, we drove around and touched all the Great Lakes.
Between our travels, Eric works for Centerpoint Energy and referees soccer. Kim works for Ameriprise Financial, plays trombone in the Eden Prairie Community Band and plays volleyball two nights a week.
Swirl, our “fearless” cat, just turned 6 years old. We had a scare in April when it was discovered he has a heart murmur. We had a kitty MRI done and they say he is fine for now. Kim’s nephew, Dylan, now insists on calling him the “little heart patient.” Swirl even made his own road trip in 2009 with a trip to Omaha for Thanksgiving weekend. We visited with Eric’s sister, Bonnie, and brother, Chris, and their families. It was quite the adventure for our poor kitty and he behaved surprisingly well.
We just welcomed our fourth Godchild, Evelyn Rose Stayer, in November and have one more on the way in late December around Kim’s Birthday! J
Hope you had a great 2009 and best wishes for 2010.
Love, Kim, Eric and Swirl 

Share the Warmth Concert 2009

Almost home

Friday, September 11, 2009

...on the road near Pine City, MN

The Edmund Fitzgerald sunk near hear
Well we are almost home, only 90 minutes to go! Woo Hoo! We hadn't plan on driving home tonight but we got to Thunder Bay at 7pm ET and decided what the heck, lets just go home. So here we are. I know I'm exhausted and looking forward to my bed a day early. Today was another day of driving, driving, driving. But today was the most scenic by far and just makes my case even strong that Lake Superior is by far the most superior of the great Lakes....ha, ha, ha I crack myself up. But seriously the beauty around Lake Superior is amazing, the high cliffs, the waterfalls, the rivers and trees make it just idyllic. So we started out heading north on Hwy 17 out of Sault Ste. Marie, ON. Our first stop was near Pancake Bay. This is significant as it is close to the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I'm sure you all know about the Fitzgerald wreck, I mean Gordon Lightfoot wrote a 8 minute ballad about the wreck. I am fascinated by it.

Next we drove through Lake Superior Provincial Park. We stopped by Old Woman Bay beach. The water was of course freezing. What do expect from a lake that is 1,250 feet deep in Northern Ontario? Our next stop was to check out the gigantic Canadian Goose monument in Wawa, ON. Then we stopped for lunch in White River, ON. I was so excited to see an A&W!! Root Beer...yum! They also have a large Winnie-the-Pooh monument. The bear that was the inspiration for the Winnie-the-Pooh series was from White River, ON. It is a really cute story. A soldier on layover in White River bought this orphaned bear cub and took it with him everywhere. He named it Winnie after his hometown of Winnipeg. He eventually loaned it to the London Zoo while he was off fight some war (ok Eric says WWI) and when he came back he found out that his bear was beloved and decided to let the London Zoo keep her permanently. Awe! The rest of the trip was around the northern end of Lake Superior and down toward Thunder Bay, ON. Along the way we stopped at Ouimet Canyon. It was quite quite amazing . Gitcha Gummee! (It is what the Natives called Lake Superior)

Ouimet Canyon

Happy 9/9/9!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sault Ste. Marie, ON -

Today was a busy day of driving. We left Toronto and headed north on the 400 towards Sudbury. We happen to find a Costco along the way so we stopped for a box of Coffee Crisp and Maltesers, my favorite Canadian/British candy. Eric even had to take a picture of me kissing my boxes. We stopped at Killbear Provincial State Park for a hike around Georgian Bay (of Lake Huron) and to wade in the waters. It wasn’t too bad. We decided we would stop at Sudbury to fill up and get some lunch. Well that didn’t quite happen…the funny thing about the highways up here is there is no such thing as a gas station just off the road. We went around for circles and eventually found a gas station in Lively, ON. It wasn’t very Lively. They had a Subway though! Along the way we saw a porcupine on the road. I wanted Eric to go back so I could take a pictures but he said NO because it is rabid! I’ve never see a porcupine in the wild before. You could see his quills and all. It was pretty cool. Eric is no fun!

We stopped a couple more times along the way for some views of Lake Huron. It isn’t as nice as the North Shore of MN where you see the Lake the entire way. Here you are lucky if you see it every 100 km. We got to Sault Ste. Marie at about 7pm. An early night! Eric wanted to cross over into Michigan so he can say we visited all the Great Lake States. I thought it would be more interesting to say we visited all the Great Lakes without setting foot in Michigan plus I didn’t want to cross the border again and pay the toll to cross the bridge twice. Well we drove across the bridge and went through US border control. She asked us a million questions and finally searched our trunk. Eric’s lucky, if she would have confiscated my Canadian candy I would have been very PO’d. She said somebody really like their Canadian candy and we were on our way. We went down to the Soo Locks in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. They are pretty cool. St. Mary’s River separates Lake Superior and Lake Huron and the Soo Locks are like the locks on Mississippi. We got to see the Paul R. Tregurtha which is currently the longest freighter on the Great Lakes. After that excitement we filled up at $2.59 a gallon and went back across the border. Gas in Ontario is $1.04 a liter….about $3.79 a gallon…Ouch! Well we checked into a hotel and hopped across the street to Swiss Chalet. I really wish they were in the US. It was really good. Well I’m off to bed.

Twins lose

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Well the Twins disappointed us. We lost 6-3…so sad. It was a very routy game with all the colleges and university students in attendance. They spent the entire evening chanting at each other. The ones we could understand were “UT Sucks” (University of Toronto) and “Past you bedtime” and “whitey.” Not sure about that one. It was very interesting…thankfully they were there to entertain us because the Twins didn’t! Our tickets were great we were in the third row behind first base and the Twins dugout. We got up close and personal with Morneau and the Blue Jay’s mascot. The seats behind us were empty (big surprise at a Jays game) and all of sudden I saw this gigantic shoe on my shoulder. It was the Blue Jays mascot sitting behind us putting his feet on us. I got a nice picture of him with Eric. Mauer had the night off but he pinched hit in the 9th. Unfortunately he could do anything. Earlier in the day we went up the CN Tower. It was cool, but the smog was too thick to see far. After that we jumped on the bus and did a tour of the town. It was worth it because we learned about the history of Toronto and got to see sites we didn’t even know about. After that we took a quick dip in our hotel’s really nice pool and walked across the street to Rogers Centre for the game. All in all it was a good day, not great because the Twins lost. Oh well, tomorrow we start our long road trip home through Sault Ste. Marie, touching Lake Huron along the way.

Time for a swim

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cobourg, ON

Just hanging out at the hotel in Cobourg, ON. Nice place, I'm glad we stayed at a hotel instead of camping...added benefit...I'm going for a swim as soon as I'm done here. We are just over an hour outside of Toronto. Go Twins! Eric is watching to ESPN Canada (go figure) and they are talking about the CFL and the announcer seriously just said aboot! How Canadian LOL! Going for a swim and then off to Tim Hortons for some donuts...Caio!

On the 401

Monday, September 7, 2009

401 near Trenton, ON

just been passed by 3 big rig fire trucks along with a half dozen cops and rescue as we sit on the 401....Canada's version of the I-90. Needless to say we have been sitting for quite a while...so I decided to update the pictures from today's events. Now we had anticipated we would be at the hotel by now. We were going to camp but decided it just isn't fun to drive all day and then put a tent. How long would it really take to drive 150 kilometers when the speed limit is 100 k/hr? Well when you chug along at 10 k/hr. this could be a while. It must be one nasty accident. Anyways, back to the task at hand. Today we left Buffalo, NY for Syracuse, NY. We walked around Syracuse University's campus...oh to be back in school again. They campus has some really cool buildings and of course we stopped at the book store...sorry Dylan I had to by a Syracuse T-Shirt.

After that we drove up to I-81 to the Canadian Border. Before we hit the border we stopped in Alexandria Bay, NY. It is located in the 1000 Islands Area. Every heard of 1000 island dressing? Well you guessed it apparently came from this area. So we hoped a shuttle ferry to Boldt Castle on Heart Island. It is a beautiful castle now. It has a tragic story. It was started in 1900 by the owner of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. He was building it for his wife, but when she died in 1904, the construction stopped and he let go into disrepair. The restoration is still in process so some of the upper floors are still under renovation. The grounds were beautiful and well kept. After a short ferry ride back we headed to Canada Aye! The border crossing was very slow...again holiday weekend what was I thinking? But it was less that 45 minutes to get across. Funny thing the border agent asked us how long we have been out of Canada. "Um. Well actually we were in Canada yesterday so I guess 1 day." Then came the right questions. Oh well. Hey it is 9:07 pm and we are moving again. Nice 4 car pile up....I don't think all the big rig fire trucks were necessary. Well we are less than 10 kilometers from the Hotel...Good Night!

NY Turnpike

As we are driving down the NY Turnpike on our way to Syracuse University (and I hear Eric's ecstatic...I just saw Delaware!!!), I'm updating my pictures from yesterday (9/6). This is what we did ...In the morning we did a quick trip around Downtown Cleveland. We checked out Brown's Stadium and some how ended up on a frontage road by the airport...big mistake...it was the annual air show. Cars everywhere! It also explains the crazy flying we saw over the Twins/Cleveland game the day before. It was cool to watch but very LOUD! So we said good by to Cleveland and hello PA...for only 47 miles. But we stopped in Erie at Presque Isle State Park. It is a peninsula on Lake Erie. It was very busy (I know big surprise its Labor Day weekend). I hadn't planned on swimming but sitting in the car in traffic trying to get to it made us very hot so we throw on the suits and went for a dip in Lake Erie. It was great! The water was warm considering it is a Great Lake.

Next we ventured to Niagara Falls....again...what was I thinking its a holiday weekend in the US and Canada! Duh! And a million other tourist from all over the world...I can't seem to get away from the Japanese tourist that move in a group like a 6 year old soccer game with all the players hovered around the ball....with their clicking cameras. I thought I was bad. And then of course there are the people from India who stop as people are walking in a queue and we end up tripping over them. Have they every heard of moving over to the side? Oh well. We walked around the state park and viewed the falls from the top. We then went on the Maid of the Mist tour. Surprisingly, we go right on in less than 15 minutes. We don our blue rain poncho with pride as we ventured to the bottom of the falls in a boat. It was cool...we got drenched...thank God for the blue poncho! After that we crossed the Rainbow Bridge to the Canadian side for some food and souvenirs...marking our first border crossing of the trip. The view from the Canadian side is much better, everybody is right! I loved our trip back with the falls lit up in multiple colors and of course I love the US border agents asking what we brought back..."4 candy bars and a magnet."

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Today we ventured first to the West Beach of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. It was interesting. The water temperature was 66o. I walked a bit into Lake Michigan and of course we snapped some pictures. Then we had to speed off to Cleveland. I wasn't all that happy with the $13 in turnpike tolls...you would think that that would mean clean bathrooms and perfect roads...um not at all! It is crazy in Indiana though. Interesting thing...a definite case of price gauging on the Indiana turnpike...the turnpike plaza by South Bend had gas at $2.49. That is about right, however 40 miles down the road it was $2.99. Isn't it amazing that the price of gas jumped 21% in just over 40 miles? Fortunately, we didn't have fill up and the gas prices in Ohio are about the same as MN. We made it to the hotel/Progressive field in plenty of time. Our hotel is basically across the street. Sweet! Our seats were great and the Twins won. Even more amazing...Nathan didn't blow the save. Way to go Joe! Time to live in up in Cleveland...is there such a thing?

On our way...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

We left Eric's work place at about 12:15. Our trip didn't start off right when we stopped at Hardee's and the messed up our order, we got somebody else's order. We didn't get our roast beefs, onion rings or fries...all we got was a small cheeseburger and a Thickburger.. Hopefully this wasn't an omen! We regretted the stop at Hardee's all the way to Milwaukee...their Thickburger is nasty...We got to Milwaukee and picked up Dylan and head south towards Chicago. We had to drop him off at Union Station because he is going to the Notre Dame football game tomorrow with his friend. Anyways, driving in Chicago, especially right by downtown sucks. It was so slow and there was construction everywhere. Needless to stay it took nearly 3 hours to go 70 miles in Illinois. But we made it to our hotel in Indiana.

I Love Judi Dench!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

She was lovely. A woman from Chicago who I met, had been up to her dressing room and asked Judi when she came out if she would take a picture with me. She said absolutely and asked where I was from, etc...! 

London Eye

I LOVE London!!!!!

"The remote is mine" - Swirl