October 31, 2015

Apple picking and dog walking.

I quickly learned that when you live in Minnesota, you visit an apple orchard at least once during the fall apple season. Apple season begins around mid August and ends toward the end of October. Apple varieties available for picking vary over the three month period of time - from crabapples in late August to Red Baron, McIntosh, Haralson, Honeycrisp and Honeygold in early September and Spartan, Empire and Connellred in late September to early October. Who knew there were so many kinds of apples?

Matt and I decided to check out Minnesota Harvest, which is located in Jordan, Minnesota, a town just a few miles south of Chaska. 

Minnesota Harvest not only has apples, but during their peek season in October, they also sell pumpkins (which they have in abundance). After purchasing an 11 pound "picking bag," Matt and I boarded a wagon that took us to the apple orchard. Each tree was marked with a ribbon that indicated its varietal. 

Matt and I decided to go for the yellow ribbon trees, which contained Connellred, and the blue ribbon trees, which contained regent.

We made sure to taste the varieties before choosing our favorite...

What does 20 pounds look like? Matt had to hold the bag with two hands...and we made sure to pile a few extra apples on top (and in our pockets).

Our first apple picking experience was delightful and will most likely become a fall tradition...

We had a dog waiting in the car while we were picking apples, so after we were done picking, we headed for Lake Minnewaska Regional Park for a hike walk. The trail started paved, but eventually turned into a dirt trail that ran adjacent to the lake. 

Rio was very happy to be out of the car and outside, and looked beautiful running on the trail chasing after birds, squirrels, leaves and just about anything else that moved...

After about three miles of walking and a somewhat tired dog, we headed back to the car and drove home, snacking on an apple during the ride.

October was a beautiful month this year in Minnesota, and it was great having a couple buddies along to share in a few adventures. 

Happy Halloween!

October 12, 2015

New housemates.

The first week of October brought some major changes to the Matt + Karen + Rio + Lucky clan. On October 3 Matt + Rio arrived in Chaska, accompanied by Matt’s dad, Ron. Matt + Rio left Anchorage one week before, on September 26, after calling Alaska home for more than nine years. Driving from Anchorage to Haines, Matt + Rio then hopped on the Alaska Marine Highway System destined for Prince Rupert, British Colombia, Canada. After a day and a half on the water, Matt + Rio landed in Prince Rupert and drove to Calgary, Alberta, where Ron joined them for the rest of the drive. Three days later the three of them arrived safely in Chaska.

Rio...being camera shy...

Lucky loves watching all the action from high places...

Matt is also warming up to the idea of sharing space with a cat…and more specifically, a black cat

This past weekend called for unseasonably warm weather in central Minnesota, so Matt and I took full advantage of the temperatures. We rode the Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail, which follows an old railroad route from Hopkins through Chanhassen. We added 16 and 8 miles on each end of the route for about a 40 mile bike ride.

Our first pit stop was in Hopkins at The Depot Coffee House, a popular stop along the River Bluffs Trail. This coffee shop is housed in a renovated train depot and is student-run; often offering live music. We had a few snacks and then headed on our way again.

Our next stop was in Excelsior at the Excelsior Brewing Company. One of my favorite breweries in the area, I was excited to share the place with Matt. Excelsior Brewing Company was celebrating Oktoberfest, or unique to Excelsior, Docktoberfest, so I enjoyed a seasonal brew while Matt sipped on a flagship favorite.

We then hopped back on our bikes for the last 11 miles of the ride. We had a great time enjoying what is likely the last day of “summer” in Minnesota…and, I truly enjoyed having my favorite cycling companion with me for the ride.