Minnesota (Mid-July through Early August 2014)

I (Alison) haven’t spent more than a few days in Minnesota visiting family over the holidays or making a quick trip up to the cabin since college.  Ravi has only spent a handful of days in MN between work and visiting family with me.  This summer Ravi and I were lucky to spend about a month in total in my home state.  We lounged like champions at the cabin, paddled our way through the lakes in the BWCA, laughed with family, caught up on the latest TV, cooked delicious meals, enjoyed leisurely runs, read, and played with the dogs.  Initially when we planned our trip (sabbatical/early retirement) we didn’t expect to spend very much time out East or in Minnesota, we thought we would spend most of the time out west.  Not being tied to a strict schedule and being open to the opportunities came our way we changed our plans.  One of the best gifts we’ve given ourselves is the time to spend with family and slowing down.

We did a lot of this at the Cabin. Hanging out with Tom.
We did a lot of this at the Cabin. Hanging out with Tom.
Spike enjoying the pontoon boat.
Spike enjoying the pontoon boat.
One of our many vegan, gluten free, veggie pizzas.  We took advantage of having an oven.
One of our many vegan, gluten free, veggie pizzas. We took advantage of having an oven.
Family get together in Balaton (the girls)!  We were so lucky to hang out with my cousins, their kids, Grandma, and Aunt's and Uncle's in Balaton.  Lots of smiles, laughs, good times.
Family get together in Balaton (the girls)! We were so lucky to hang out with my cousins, their kids, Grandma, and Aunt’s and Uncle’s in Balaton. Lots of smiles, laughs, good times.
Duke and Spike hanging out at the lake, Lower Cullen.
Duke and Spike hanging out at the lake, Lower Cullen. Duke spent hours swimming trying to catch fish. It was pretty hilarious.

Family get together at the cabin and in Balaton, MN.

Family hanging out at the lake. Uncle Mike, Aunt Julie, Cousin Dustin, and Chelsea.
Family hanging out at the lake. Uncle Mike, Aunt Julie, Cousin Dustin, and Chelsea.
Uncle Mike and the newest addition to the family, Noah.
Uncle Mike and the newest addition to the family, Noah.
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Some of the ladies, laughing as usual.
The boys.
The boys.
Cousins. Annie and I used to build forts and tree houses, ride our bikes all over town, play video games all night, make time capsules, and laugh a lot. It was so fun to see her again. Her smiles, energy, and love for life and God haven't changed one bit.
Cousins. Annie and I used to build forts and tree houses, ride our bikes all over town, play video games all night, make time capsules, and laugh a lot. It was so fun to see her again. Her smiles, energy, and love for life and God haven’t changed one bit.
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Family! Dawn (cousin) and new mom to Noah, Mindy and Odessa, Grandma, Ravi.

We haven’t had the ability to really cook more involved meals on our Jet Boil or 2-burner propane stove so we took advantage of the oven and full kitchen at our cabin in Nisswa.  We aren’t gluten-free but we like gluten free pizza crust so we tried to perfect our gluten free, vegan pizzas.  I think we did a pretty good job if I do say so myself.  All I can say is Namaste Pizza Crust, broccoli, garlic, and olive oil.

Vegan veggie pizza.
Vegan veggie pizza.
Vegan Pizza again.
Vegan Pizza again.

We also grilled tofu and veggie shish kebab’s with nectarine salsa on the back porch at the cabin and ate outside as the sun set over the lake.

Corn salad.
Corn salad.
Veggie tofu shish kebabs.
Veggie tofu shish kebabs.
Mango Salsa.
Nectarine Salsa.
Dinner!
Dinner!

And to top it off I made my first attempt at cooking vegan cinnamon rolls.  They were almost too good!  I gave one to my almost 80-year old neighbor at the cabin who is a master cinnamon roll baker and she even approved. She couldn’t believe they didn’t have butter or eggs in them!

FIrst attempt at vegan cinnamon rolls.
First attempt at vegan cinnamon rolls.
Looks like dough. I was thinking making cinnamon rolls would take about an hour....little did I remember that dough has to rise!  Luckily Ravi decided to eat breakfast...and lunch before they were finished.  But they were worth it!
Looks like dough. I was thinking making cinnamon rolls would take about an hour….little did I remember that dough has to rise! Luckily Ravi decided to eat breakfast…and lunch before they were finished. But they were worth it!
These made the house smell yummy!
These made the house smell yummy!
The end product...delicious is an understatement.
The end product…delicious is an understatement.
Finished product. Tasted amazing. Thanks to http://whippedbaking.com/2012/09/03/ooey-gooey-vegan-cinnamon-rolls/
Finished product. Tasted amazing. Thanks to http://whippedbaking.com/2012/09/03/ooey-gooey-vegan-cinnamon-rolls/

Like I mentioned before, we lounged around a lot which is pretty much what you do up North.  We enjoyed evening boat rides, hanging out on the beach, and the couch.  We got a kick out of watching the dogs make themselves at home at the cabin too.  Yep, enjoying the simple life.

Duke getting comfortable at the cabin.  He put his head down right on the pillow and practically crawled into bed himself.
Duke getting comfortable at the cabin. He put his head down right on the pillow and practically crawled into bed himself.
Beer and pizza. I (Alison) biked along the Paul Bunyon trail and met Ravi and Mom afterward.  The server wasn't quite sure what Vegan was but she was very accommodating!
Beer and pizza. I (Alison) biked along the Paul Bunyon trail and met Ravi and Mom afterward. The server wasn’t quite sure what Vegan was but she was very accommodating!
Hitting the range with Tom.  Working on our swings at Grandview Lodge in Nisswa, MN.
Hitting the range with Tom. Working on our swings at Grandview Lodge in Nisswa, MN.
Duke liked the boat too.
Duke liked the boat too.
The usual evening happy hour boat cruise around the lake.
The usual evening happy hour boat cruise around the lake.
One of my favorite places on earth, the cabin in Nisswa, MN.
One of my favorite places on earth, the cabin in Nisswa, MN.
Ravi lounging at the cabin. This is the most comfortable couch with a beautiful view of the lake.  We spent hours here drinking coffee, reading, catching up on our TV, and just watching outside.
Ravi lounging at the cabin. This is the most comfortable couch with a beautiful view of the lake. We spent hours here drinking coffee, reading, catching up on our TV, and just watching outside.
Duke at the wheel.
Duke at the wheel.
Captain Alison driving the boat.
Captain Alison driving the boat.
The beach at the cabin. I started coming here when I was a baby.
The beach at the cabin. I started coming here when I was a baby.

We culminated our time in MN with a couple small town 5Ks.  In the later race, Du Sjodin, we both came in 2nd place in our age group AND we came away with a Jaegermeister bean bag toss from the post race raffle.   I have such a big place in my heart for Minnesota, my family, the cabin, and all the memories this special place has.   Very grateful to share it with Ravi (and the dogs!)  After MN we headed back out west…

Tom rallied and got up early to cheer us on at the Plaid 5K!  Thanks Tom!!!
Tom rallied and got up early to cheer us on at the Plaid 5K! Thanks Tom!!!
Mom hasn't cheered me on in a race for a long time!
Mom hasn’t cheered me on in a race for a long time!
Endorphins at the finish.
Endorphins at the finish.
Our 2nd place medals at Dru Sjodin race in Pequot Lakes, MN.
Our 2nd place medals at Dru Sjodin race in Pequot Lakes, MN.
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