Daybreak in the cornfield_StaatsI woke up in the dark the other morning, crawled out of bed, slipped on my shorts, T-shirt, and hiking boots and headed out the door with my camera.  I’ve replayed this scenario so many times over the years.  About 10 years ago I was living in Washington and would drive to Mount Rainier to see the sun rise over the mountains.  Now I’m in Minnesota and I drive a few blocks and I’m walking through fields of tasseled corn, the temperature already at 80 degrees.  In both instances I’m aware of so much more than the view in front of me.  There are smells (whether of towering firs and cedars or agriculture fields) and there are sounds (of the creeks and streams that flow from the melting snow or the wind blowing through the corn and giving the geese thermals to float on).  No matter where, there is so much that comes to life as the sun crests the horizon and the day breaks.  The smoke from the wildfires in the west has drifted our way, giving our sunrises and sunsets a deeper shade of red and orange.  This early-morning-time is ripe with the promise of the day (and the adventures) ahead.

I have just returned from a week’s vacation to my previous home state of Washington.  Accompanied by unusually cool temperatures and a handful of my dear friends I was able to walk and hike my way through old stomping grounds, and even explore some new ones.  After a 5-mile Rampart Ridge hike at Mount Rainier we found the perfect way to relax — beers on the porch of the National Park Inn with a view up the valley to the mountain.  A few days later I was walking along a 2-mile boardwalk over the Nisqually River delta while the tide was returning.  That was followed by exploring the Lavender Festival and various artist’s studios while in Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula.  And my final “hike” was an urban one around Green Lake in Seattle, followed by a great seafood dinner.  My rainy and cool trip to the Pacific Northwest ended with a late-night flight back to the heat and humidity that’s gripping the midwest.  Traveling east we flew past the mountains and across the plains, leaving the pinks of the sunset behind us.  And with towering thunder clouds and lightning storms off to the north, we landed into the bright lights of the Twin Cities.  A quick trip filled with shared conversations, laughs, great food, abundant memories, and a bevy of best friends!