Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gluten free travel weekend: Success again!

This weekend we went north again. The Mike had a 100mile bike race to do and the guy he was going to go with somehow did a face plant of some sort, scrapped up his face and got staph infection. (gee, I'm not sure why J didn't want to go do this ride?, (groans)).  The fabulous Mike had already taken off the afternoon thinking they'd leave early, so he ran some errands, brought me lunch from one of my favorite places (a steak salad with pico and corn salsa, cheese and guacamole), then went to renew his passport for his epic event next summer. 

I almost always get to drive on our journeys and this time was no exception.  As we neared the large metro city limits, the Mike was using the phone and/or findmeglutenfree app to find a place to eat (I'm not sure what he was using, I was driving!).  He picked Wildfire.  This place was a really cool place, easy to find near/at the mall and it had great ambiance: it was a 1940s themed restaurant. Different areas of the place were named different historic rooms.  

What made it awesome for me? The waiter arrived with bread for the Mike and then he said, "your GF bread will be out shortly" Say WHAT?  I get gluten free bread in a restaurant?  The last time that happened it was a Brazilian restaurant and they use tapioca flour, and it was about four years ago!  WOW. I am hooked on this place! Thank goodness it's several hours from us, otherwise our wallet would be looking quite sad.  

My apologies for the dark photo, I didn't want to use the flash in the place!
Photo left: Parmesan crusted fresh Alaskan Cod for Mike, with asparagus.  Middle of photo:  Butternut squash with pecan butter;  Bottom of photo:  Salmon cooked on cedar plank with mashed potatoes.  Sorry, the bread round didn't make it into the photo.   Mashed potatoes were part whipped and part chunky. They must mix the two together to get this fabulous texture. Mike said his fish was quite flaky and definitely fresh.  The squash was really good (when isn't butternut?) and my salmon piece was quite large and very yummy.  We didn't save room for dessert, but they did have GF chocolate cake (flourless). 

On we drove and finally arrived at the hotel.  The clerk let us know there was soup on for arrivals (how sweet is that!, though we weren't hungry at all).  He use to run Ultras. ULTRAs EEK.  Wow. I was in awe of the clerk already!  He said he'd never run a marathon, but he enjoyed half marathons the most and he just liked to run and run and run, so he ran ULTRAs!   He said he gave it up because of back issues, but misses the freedom of running. That's pretty much a great way to describe powering one's own body and having the fresh air hit one's face. 

The Mike 27º temps!
Saturday was bright, sunny, and cccold.  Thankfully, the wind had died down and it was only about 5mph, so not bad at all.  The Mike's race/ride started at 9am. He was thinking to finish around 4pm, so I had most of the day to myself. :-)  YEAH.  

I went out on my 9 mile run [prepped to go in my mizuno breathe thermal top and over coat, smartwool neck gaiter and hat, my whistle/weapon and long running pants for the chilly weather] . . . there was a short paved trail beside the start area, but it only went about two blocks further. Luckily, there was a wide gravel shoulder along the roadway and I ran on that quite easily.  The surface was frozen, so I didn't have to worry about sinking into the soil!  I love rural areas. . . pretty much every vehicle I passed, even though I was on the really wide shoulder, gave me at least half of their lane, putting more distance between me and the autos.  Quite nice. The roadway had a big of a short climb, steady work, and then a descent, then a climb again.  At the top of the second climb, I turned onto a gravel roadway. I was getting freaked out by running on a roadway that paralleled the interstate system! Especially when there was an off-ramp from that not too far away.  The dirt roadway was pretty hard and compact, more sand than just clay and dirt like we have in my state.  It was definitely easy to run along and made enjoying the great wide countryside so much better. 

The only scary part of my run was when I was passing the area of the road with a dead skunk in the center of the lane and the oncoming car was unable to move over because of an oncoming car for it. . . I was freaked it might have hit the skunk, but PHEW, it didn't and I was safe from the smell. 

1737 calories burned Midnight to 11:08am and 18,385 steps taken!  Phew.  

After getting back to town, with no water left :-( , I made up my protein shake, changed clothes at the nice facilities (which is rare to have such nice facilities for such a bike race!) and headed to the outlet mall for COACH sales :-)  . .. and Nike sales and New York & Co sales :-)  Amazingly, I didn't find a pair of shoes or boots I wanted. Did I say I was sooo glad to have gone with Mike this weekend?  

After shopping, I headed back to the town, headed to the grocery store and picked up some ham and cheese, along with Pecan crackers for lunch.  I read for a bit and then took a well deserved nap.    

After that, the Mike enjoyed some chili and breads people had provided and then got headed back home.  We stopped at a camping supply store and he picked up a camping/sleeping mat for his expedition next summer. . . For $20 more he bought the THIRTEEN MONTH warranty on the mat!  Wow. He's going to be sleeping on this thing for three weeks straight.  Definitely purchased that warranty!  

Seriously large food!
We were both getting hungry, him from burning sooo many more calories, and me for not having had much of a lunch. . . We stopped at Jason's Deli.  I had seen this before and thought it was more like a subway. . . oooh, how wrong I was!   This was more like a deli, (duh moment) as the name suggests.  The Mike had a spicy chicken wrap with soup and I had a sandwich from their GLUTEN FREE menu!  YEAH!  UDI's whole grain bread, thick sections of turkey and ham, spinach and avocado.  I didn't ask for chips, but it came with them anyway. The manager assured me that yes, they make it gluten free, including protecting the sandwich from the normal work surface.  I know this is a chain and I highly recommend them for GF dining! 

Seriously! HUGE!

Yes. I got a to-go box for half of it! 
End of the day, and drive home!  3,169 calories burned and 26,887 steps taken (must have done a lot of walking at the outlet mall!)  

Home finally Saturday and had a fabulously lazy Sunday. . . Made bacon (Beeler's, nitrate/nitrite free) and from scratch pancakes for breakfast, with a little bit of yard work tossed in for a day!  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Gluten Free change

I've been asked questions about when I went gluten free, how the testing was, and whether the diet is horrible and disgusting or painful or difficult. 

I was raised on a farm and for the most part we had a pretty good varied diet.  We only had fast food occasionally.  We didn't eat a lot of processed food (sloppy joes were usually made from scratch, not Manwich; mac and cheese was made with real american cheese and cheddar, not a dehydrated box; white bread was a treat in our house, we had whole wheat bread or processed wheat bread (roman meal) for the majority of the time; my favorite food was beef liver and mushrooms; breakfast was sausage or bacon or scrambled eggs, cold cereal was also rare. 

I went off to college as a shiny eyed 18 year old who had lost weight my last year in high school by diet and exercise.  My first year in college, I gained that weight back (working in the dining hall and catering (with wonderful food) plus odd hours of sleep and college nightlife didn't  help my body). By the next summer I was having some medical issues, and before the start of my sophomore year in college I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder (there are hundreds of these). For some reason, my body started to fight itself and this manifested with an autoimmune disease/disorder.  

What is an autoimmune disease/disorder?  My description: An autoimmune disease/illness is when your body has a stressor or trigger and your body starts to fight your body.  This stressor can be anything. Sometimes it can be simply the act of being born, it could be a shift at work that is contrary to what your body's natural needs are, it could be having a very stressful job and not having an outlet, and the like. 

[copied and pasted the following: 

Autoimmune disease: An illness that occurs when the body tissues are attacked by its own immune system. The immune system is a complex organization within the body that is designed normally to "seek and destroy" invaders of the body, including infectious agents. Patients with autoimmune diseases frequently have unusual antibodies circulating in their blood that target their own body tissues.

Autoimmune diseases are more frequent in women than in men. . . . Furthermore, the presence of one autoimmune disease increases the chance for developing another simultaneous autoimmune disease.]

I generally try to stick with Mayo Clinic or Cleveland Clinic webpages, but neither described the generality of autoimmune diseases, so I went to another website where I found the above. Source 
If you are interested in a fairly comprehensive list of various autoimmune diseases,check out this Wikipedia link.   

After my diagnosis, one of my siblings sat me in the college library and retrieved medical books for us to read about my illness. Basically, I was thankful to still be alive and I saw that I would be at risk for other autoimmune disorders. I had lost a drastic amount of weight in the summer months. I had multiple blood transfusions.  My thick hair, which had reached below my shoulder blades, had thinned drastically. I had gone to a salon to have the hair cut, but I couldn't face cutting it off completely.  The stylists there made the 19 year old me feel like such an anomaly, which is just so lovely.  It was amazing how many people came up to me, when I came back to campus how many women said, "Wow, you look GREAT. What diet did you use." It was quite disturbing that even after I said there was no diet and that I was deathly ill over the summer, how many women continued to gush on about the weight loss, even saying, "I wish I could get sick like that".  O__O.  Yes. people actually said this. Yes, repeatedly they would say this.  I truly hope these women have grown over the years and they no longer would say this to anyone. Some of them, I doubt.  

Fast forward six years or so and I started to get a rash on my lower back area. I had literally scratched myself with bruises; eventually, I cut all my fingernails back so I'd not have talons in which to scrap my skin.  I went to the doctor and he prescribed a drug to combat the "itchiness".    

Sometime after marrying in 1999 I noticed I couldn't stomach french fries from the golden arch. I had no problem with the ones from other places. Same doctor said, "don't eat them, they're not good for you". Insert sarcasm-->Wow, what a truly brilliant doctor<   I wasn't trying to eat french fries every day, just occasionally.  My autoimmune care was transferred to another doctor, thanks to health insurance. My new doctor was very nice and continued me on these medications.  The new doctor loved having a patient who educated herself, who took notes in the office, who asked questions. One day I noticed some redness on my sides; I literally had stretch marks appear over night from a medication I was on long term due to this first autoimmune disorder. It would be thirteen years since my original diagnosis before I would be able to go off the medication completely.  In part this was due to a) flareups every time doctors had tried to taper me and b) no other drug being approved by the FDA to assist with my illness. Oh, there were drugs the doctors KNEW would help, but the FDA--for whatever absurd reason-- would not give the okay to be dispensed to people with my exact illness (a handful of these drugs were FDA approved for illnesses quite similar to mine, but not exact to mine). 

Around 2004/2005 one of my siblings finally received answers to plaguing heath issues. After more than ten years (the average in the USA to be diagnosed), she was diagnosed with Celiac.  Around this same time, one of my aunts was diagnosed and another had the DNA test done, but the doctor told her she "couldn't have Celiac since it is a children's illness and adults don't get it" (which is not true).  

What is Celiac disease?  Mayo Clinic has a great description on their website. Here is the primary explanation from that site:  "Celiac (SEE-lee-ak) disease is a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is primarily found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and many other foods containing wheat, barley or rye. People with celiac disease who eat foods containing gluten experience an immune reaction in their small intestines, causing damage to the inner surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients" 

What are consequences of Celiac disease? Again, I think the Mayo website is good with this (weg page description here) One of these is:  "Loss of calcium and bone density. With continued loss of fat in the stool, calcium and vitamin D may be lost in excessive amounts. This may result in osteomalacia, a softening of the bone that in children is also known as rickets, and loss of bone density (osteoporosis), a condition that leaves your bones fragile and prone to fracture."

I recalled the information that I had absorbed after my diagnosis in college wherein I was more likely to have another autoimmune disorder/disease.  I asked the specialist if we could do a Celiac test when I would have another procedure and he said yes. As the time got closer, my care was switched to his nurse practitioner.  When I asked her about the Celiac test she said there was "no way"  I could possibly have Celiac.  I said, 'even with risk factors of multiple aunts with a DNA and Celiac diagnosis and even with a sibling having Celiac" and she said something to the effect of, 'correct, there is no way you could have Celiac'.  

I did part of what any person should do, but not all of what a person should do. I went around this medical provider by going to my primary care physician (PCP) who administered the blood test for Celiac. It came back negative.  Not shocking, since I was on immune suppressant drugs for my other illness. I asked the specialist again and was told no again.   [I also have had the allergy test for food allergies and it came back negative in everything, even the "control" which is suppose to cause a problem in everyone.  This is because of the immune suppressant drugs I take.   As a result, I just avoid foods that I don't think agrees with me]. The part that I didn't do was pushing for the biopsy tests that would have shown whether gluten was impacting my digestive system, the esophagus and the small intestine.  

I sulked, I wondered, I pondered and I started experimenting with baking/cooking gluten free. . . thinking, I need to know how to do this for when my sibling comes back to the state.   

Finally the FDA approved a "new" drug for my primary illness. In order to get onto this medication, I had to be off the the medication I'd been taking for almost thirteen years. [While that RX is good generally, my body had started to have issues with it. After seven years or so, I started to have a lot of side effects that 'may occur'; however, the doctors didn't want me off the RX for the good outweighed the bad]. However, before committing to this new drug instantly, we discussed other options with the doctors. They offered a couple of different options on medication. One was a "Class D" drug, meaning that it definitely results in birth defects.  Another was a drug that has "some" success and that is much like the drug I'd already been on for thirteen years.  The last drug was the one Mike and I decided to go with, the one that had been recently approved.  In discussing the care and transfer from one medication to the other,  I told the specialist and NP that I would be doing a very slow taper to try to limit a major flare  of my illness. This is also when I decided to go gluten free full time.  I lost forty pound that summer.  Combined with the new drug and eating gluten free, the painful episodes I use to have were gone. 

After being completely gluten free for three months, I ate pizza when we were out with family. I ate it to be "normal" and to "not cause a scene" or fuss.  I was in agony.  The Mike came up with "is it worth it".  Is eating that gluten product worth the pain and agony for the next week?

Fast forward to today: 
Our house is mostly gluten free. The Mike has some gluten products. I do not allow gluten flour in my house. Any thing I need to bake for a gathering is going to be gluten free. Usually people rave over the fresh taste, the homemade flavor, etc.  I think this is mostly due to the fact that gluten free food is basically preservative free.  Our bread will become moldy if left out, etc.  Take a gluten snack food or sack of bread and you could leave it out for weeks and it will not become moldy! The Mike knows there is no 'double dipping" for mayo or butter or anything if he's already touched something with gluten.  

The years since I have been dedicated gluten free have been a fabulous life.  Three years after telling me that there was no way I could have Celiac disease, my specialist's NP asked me to be tested for Celiac. I asked, quite seriously, if she was going to pay for me to be off work for me to ingest gluten for  multiple weeks and then for more weeks while the gluten is flushed from my system.  The healthcare providers blinked and they were shocked I'd ask such a thing, and then they told me I'd only need to eat gluten for a few days in order to have a valid test.[Most experts agree that you have to have gluten regularly for at least a few weeks for the test to be accurate]. I refused to take the test. I know I'm Celiac--or at least gluten intolerant-- and I refuse to poison my body in order for the healthcare professionals to cover their past ignorance on the matter.  

There are those in the Celiac community who think that no one should ever go on a gluten free diet if they don't have the proper diagnosis.  Sometimes, it's not as simple as obtaining the diagnosis. Those I met at a conference a few years ago had all been lucky enough to be diagnosed within a year or two of having problems.   I, however, am left to wonder if I've been Celiac a very long time (whether it was primary) and whether my autoimmune disorder diagnosed in college was a result of already having an undiagnosed autoimmune, or whether the Celiac is the secondary and the other autoimmune is primary.  I'll never know.  I do know that by eating gluten free, eating a healthy diet, and with exercise and the fabulous drug the FDA finally okayed, my other autoimmune disorder is kept in "remission". 

How has eating Gluten Free/Celiac made a difference for me:  There are so many different symptoms for Celiac in people that it makes diagnosing the illness based on symptoms difficult.  In Europe, doctors often screen for Celiac, in the US  doctors largely ignore Celiac, it is not discussed much in medical school, maybe only a small paragraph or one page in a book, or a blurb in a lecture (per various doctors to whom I have talked).   For me, I no longer am in agony after eating, I no longer have awful pain in my joints. These are the things I primarily notice. The Mike can tell sooner if I have had gluten. I get louder when talking (as if that's even possible!), I get the fog head.  We tend to eat more "pure" food, as I did when I was a kid. Little of our food has preservatives in it. Also, I have found MSG is a migraine trigger for me (I'm one of the few hundred thousand the FDA doesn't believe exists with this phenomenon).

The reality:  At least one out of every one hundred thirty three people  is Celiac.  More may be gluten sensitive, or gluten intolerant, meaning they should abide by and learn to live with a gluten free lifestyle as well. Some people have symptoms and there are a few people who never show Celiac symptoms of any type. They get tested due to low Vitamin D levels, or because a family member was diagnosed. For these people, they'd never know they had an issue with gluten except for some outside force in their lives. Alessio Fasano, MD of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research is one of the premier researchers of Celiac.  I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at a conference. 

The sad reality: Many people who do have a Celiac diagnosis refuse to eat completely gluten free. They may not be able to suffer the increased price in food, they may not be able to find gluten free substitutes for pasta, breads, pizza, etc.  Some people may brush off crouton crumbs from their salad, while others can't tolerate and refuse to accept gluten on their food in restaurants.  

Dining out and why it petrifies Celiacs:  It's always *delightful* (note sarcasm) when dining out at a restaurant and ordering a gluten free salad, then having it presented with a giant gluten breadstick across the whole salad. Another favorite is requesting a gluten free hamburger, no bun, and having it served with a bun.  Then sending it back and having it returned within a minute with magically no bun, only to find bread crumbs under the hamburger or around the plate, highlighting that the wait staff or chef only removed the offensive material and tried to re-serve the same contaminated product. Another time we went to a restaurant on a non-busy day.  I asked for a gluten free menu, they had none. The waiter said they don't have anything that is gluten free. I asked, 'Do you add flour to your hamburger, or can I have a hamburger with no bun as that would be gluten free', along with a baked potato and a side salad, no croutons, no dressing.  He came back from talking to the chef and said what I requested was do-able.  Sometimes, it is that the place has no concept of what dining gluten free really means. I realize that maybe their kitchen area wasn't gluten free, that maybe the chef was concerned, but I figure that any time I am not preparing the food myself, I am taking a chance on what I will be served. 

This is why we generally stick to a cooler of packed food for our road trips, or heading to restaurants we know have gluten free menus and these places tend to be a little harder on the wallet.  

Celiac FAQs from the University of Maryland Celiac Center.   

What I've learned:  I have learned to embrace things that are not considered "normal" to mainstream people. I eat exotic foods like Quinoa (keen-wah) grain, bread made from tapioca and brown rice flour, along with fruits and vegetables.  (though I do try to limit the starches/carbs from gluten free flours). I've learned to have fun with my food in preparation and to embrace the fabulous foods I may never have tried otherwise. Finally, I always try to have snacks in my purse, whether it's a Tanka Bar, a Larabar, or a applesauce packet. I know that if I need some food, it's going to be easier to go to what I know is GF than trying to find a GF product available at a convenience mart.

Do you have any questions or comments or concerns, I'll be happy to answer them, or attempt to do so!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Duluth "Up North"

The end of September took us to the "up North" country of Duluth, Minne-snow-ta.  We missed out on snow (they had some just a week later), but we did get to be leaf peepers with the beauty nature provides for us.  We stopped at  Milltown Cycles in Faribault, MN and got some tips for dining and things to experience in Duluth from Ben.  One of the first recommendations was At Sara's Table, or Chester Park Cafe and then he said, 'it goes by a third name, too'.  It did, had "Tahran's" on the outside of the building, but we found it with no problems. It is fairly cloes to Chester Park, though not across the street as one might expect from the name.  They offer gluten free bread for $1 more with the meal. 

This fabulous omelet is the Vegetarian, and I asked them to add ham to it as well.
Small zuccini, peppers and even julienned carrots!

After breakfast we decided to walk to Chester Park.  We got to the edge of the park and went back for the car and then drove through here. Parts are still a work in progress/recovery from the June 2012 devastating rains and fierce flood waters.
Beautiful tree we peeped at Chester Park.
Next we  drove north to Two Harbors along the old highway with a gorgeous view of Lake Superior. About two miles from Two Harbors I realized this is the road along which Grandma's Marathon is run! It was a very nice highway. We went to the old train depot and then to the lighthouse at the harbor. A very cold day with temperatures in the 40s with enough of a breeze off the lake to drop the temperatures for this non-'Up North' person!

Burl-ly trees near Lake Superior at Two Harbors lighthouse walking path.

After a day of cold and walking, we did more walking, down from the hotel to Pizza Luce.
Pizza Luce downtown Duluth
Dinner at Pizza Luce in downtown Duluth. They have a gluten free crust and about half their pizza offerings are GF. A very yumming evening. I had the Spanish Chicken pizza which their menu describes as "I’m a renegade on a Western front; where the dust never settles…I’m topped with mushrooms, smoked gouda, red onion, marinated chicken, toasted garlic and mozzarella cheese on red sauce. Some call me the Spanish Chicken, and others, well, they run…”"

The appetizer we ordered the sampler, spinache-artichoke dip, marinara, olive tapenade, and bruschetta. It was served with two hot gluten free rolls that reminded me of Schar's brand, but we didn't find out what brand they were.

Mike's race, Heck of the North, started at 8am on Saturday. It was a free race with a huge turnout!  This is a view of most of the racers, but I still couldn't get them all in my photo.  My photo perch was on a pile of woodchips. . .

Heck of the North start
After the race started, I talked with Bob whose son was racing and tests bikes for Salsa.  I need to find his blog. . . his dad said that Tim's writing was really great and even non-cyclists are reading it.  After an hour of great conversation, we parted ways and I headed back to the hotel to do my three mile run.  I was suppose to have done this on Friday, but we hiked and hiked and I decided to run on the day Mike would be racing too.  I am ecstatic to say it took me three hours to finish my run. Okay, okay. It only took me the time it should have to do the three miles. However, I had run to the pier and stopped a few times to take some photos, then hung out at the pier area and visited more areas, shopped a bit and then walked back to the hotel, at which time three hours had passed.

One of the many lighthouses at the Duluth Pier area.
I ran both sides of the canal area---fascinating history on the building of the canal. Perhaps you'll visit one day, see the museum and the sign of how the canal was finished.  It is amazing. . . or if you ask, I could answer.

Not at Grandma's restaurant near the aerial bridge, but near the shopping area is the finish for Grandma's .   One runner/cyclist told me that it's hard as you're running the highway because you see the bridge every five miles or so as the road twists and turns, but you still have a ways to go to the finish.
Does this count as a Grandma's finish?
After the race, we went to the Zeitgeist Arts Cafe for the after party event.  This was an amazing place we went to and, sadly, we had walked by it many times and didn't realize what it was exactly. The name Cafe isn't quite right. They have a full bar and a couple of dining areas, plus art and a theater attached as well.

The photo isn't too good, as I didn't want to use my flash.  I asked for a burger with no bun as I eat gluten free and the waitress says, "we have gluten free buns" ooooh, okay, give me some of that goodness I haven't eaten for a while!  Then she says that the fries are gluten free too. Double YUM!  I hadn't seen anything but fries on the menu that would contaminate the oil, but I did ask as well.  Mike had a Guyere ased mac and cheese.  For dessert, we shared a gluten free/flourless chocolate cake and whipped cream. It was good, but we told the waitress, who agreed with us, that it needed raspberries to help cut the decadent chocolate cake. It actually reminded me of the America's Test Kitchen raspberry chocolate torte recipe, minus the raspberry and almonds. I highly recommend this place!
The amazing GLUTEN FREE dinner at Zeitgeist Arts Cafe
Mike suggested watching a sunrise over the lake.  I agreed and with one night/one morning left in the Up North country, we decided to get up at FIVE in the morning and drive north to Split Rock Lighthouse.  On our drive we could see red highlighting the morning sky through clouds and thought we might end up missing the sunrise.  We drove up and up and up and watched the car thermometer drop drop drop to 35º and the window instantly fog over as we neared one of the two road tunnels along the route.  Definitely reminded me of being out West in August.

We got to Split Rock area, paid the park fee and drove down to a picnic/hiking area to watch the sun welcome us to the new day.  It took a long time for the sun to finally gain the horizon, but once it did, it reminded us of how quickly the sun rises or sets over the ocean. A blink and then two of the eye and it seemed the sun had completely come above the horizon, making it hard to look at the lake.
Sunrise over Lake Superior at Split Rock lighthouse (which is to the very left of the trees in photo).
Split Rock Lighthouse is amazing. It has beautiful hiking paths around the base of the rocks/cliffs and a 171 step staircase from the lake to the lighthouse grounds where they use to bring in supplies. 

We drove around trying to find a place for breakfast early on a Sunday morning. . .  . driving Southy, we ended up  at the Rustic Cafe in Castle Danger, MN area near, Gooseberry Falls State Park. Mike was smitten with the piping hot Rhubarb Coffee Cake.  I had an amazing omelet and hashbrowns to his breakfast skillet.  Afterwards, we went north the few miles to Goosberry Falls State Park. This is a beautiful water fall area, multiple falls areas. Not so bursting with water this dry drought year/time of year. However, there was a photo in the gift shop of the raging waters and swollen ravine areas that came with the June freak floods. From the photo, one could not even see where the ravine would have plummeted for the falls!

Lastly. . . a selling point in the gift shop:
Really? Beavers have hands????
I had heard my friend from Soroptimist talk about her home area as "Up North". . . I didn't realize it was a term like the UP/upper pennisula of Michigan until being up in the are "Up North" area of Minnesota and seeing all the items with those two words. 

Beautiful area of America.