Friday, August 26, 2011

Wazee Lake

Last Sunday, Jeff finished his Advanced Open Water dive training (through PADI). He had two dives to complete before his certification would be achieved. The dives were scheduled to be done at Wazee Lake in WI. It's a 2+ hour drive, so we drove out together.

We met the dive instructor and the others in the class at a gas station in Black River Falls before heading to the lake. The lake is a reclaimed mined and one of the deepest lakes in WI (depths up to 350', I believe).

This is a gorgeous lake!

While he did his first dive, I lounged around the car - playing on Facebook and napping.

During his second dive, I decided to check out the beach.

This beach was absolutely gorgeous, with the. softest. sand. ever! The water was perfect, too.
I did feel a little weird hanging at the beach by myself, though, but was worth it to cool off a bit.

After Jeff's 2nd dive, we went for a short dive together. It was only about a 20min dive because we were getting low on air. I'd definitely consider this my first real dive, and it was so fun! It was the longest, deepest, clearest dive of my life. :-)

Here are a couple of my favorite pictures from underwater.

There are a few more pictures in my Picasa Scuba! album, if you're interested.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Swimming with the Sharks

This past Sunday, Jeff and I headed to SeaLife MN.

As a newly certified PADI Open Water Diver, Jeff was excited to get back underwater. I decided I needed a little more time to practice before diving in front of an audience at an aquarium, so I went as an observer this time.

I'll join him next time. :)

The package deal included a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium (I didn't go on this), a dive in the freshwater tank, and a dive in the saltwater tank.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the freshwater tank.

A few from the saltwater...

Jeff had a blast!

Here is what he wrote in an email to a friend:
Diving at SeaLife was frick'n awesome. The sharks and the sea turtles were huge. A couple big sharks went right over my head, and a giant sea turtle came right up behind me and pushed me out of her way. It was sweet. Also, in the fresh water tank, several sturgeon nipped at me with their weird hose-like mouth (it doesn't hurt, just freakie). Clarinda got some great photos of me from the underwater tunnels, and I took some really cool videos inside the tanks.
I haven't had a chance to go through the videos yet, but hopefully I'll get a chance to post them soon in a separate post.

In the meantime, feel free to watch the whole slideshow.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

RAVE - Hastings/Prescott

Yesterday, Jeff, my brother, Dan, and his girlfriend, Chelsea, and I went on a RAVE - River Action Volunteer Event. We grabbed our raingear and bug spray and headed out to Hastings to help with river restoration projects in Lake Rebecca Park.

The four of us in the parking lot waiting to begin
We split into groups. Some groups went to pick up trash; our group got to help with buckthorn removal. Buckthorn is an invasive species that has become very troublesome. It was first brought over from Europe to plant in yards as shrubbery but now plays a part in decreasing biodiversity.

Jeff and Chelsea pulling Buckthorn
Sometimes it was a two person job!
After we finished pulling buckthorns (no, we didn't pull them all - just worked for about 1/2 hour on the project), we donned our PFDs from Wilderness Inquiry and loaded up 6 24-foot canoes to head to an island to pull garlic mustard plants.
All the PFDs had different species written on the back.
While paddling we got to go under this cool bridge and see trains going by. We also saw 3 bald eagles and a huge eagle's nest. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the eagles. :(
The canoe trip was about 3-4 miles. The thunder started while we were working our way down the river. As soon as the last canoe (ours) was unloaded, the skies really opened up and the rain began to fall. Hard. Since it was accompanied with thunder and lightning, they decided to call the event early, and we loaded back into the canoes to head to Prescott, WI, to meet our shuttle to get back to Hastings. Luckily, Prescott was very close by, so we were soon back on shore. I was a little disappointed that we didn't get to pick any garlic-mustard, as some people were talking about taking some home to make into pesto. Yum!

Dan and Chelsea on the shuttle back to Hastings. She claims to have been miserable, but I don't buy it.
Just look at that smile!
We were soaked through and through! Before hopping in the car to head back to St Paul, Jeff and Chelsea took off their pants for the 30 min drive. Have you ever tried to put back on soaked jeans? I'd imagine it would be difficult, so back at our apartment, these two just made a run for it in their skivvies.

Ok. Well, Jeff stopped to pose for a picture.
After we got dried off and cleaned up, we all went to the St Clair Broiler for some dinner. It was delish!

I don't know about the rest of them, but I know I'm looking forward to the next RAVE in July! :)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Cocina del Barrio - Edina, MN

Last night Jeff and I went to Cocina del Barrio in Edina for dinner after our dance lesson at Arthur Murray's studio.

We were in a bit of a rush because we wanted to get back to the studio for a group dance lesson, so we told the host when he was seating us that we were short on time.

Our server, Matt, greeted us at our table, having been informed by the host of our time crunch. He was fantastic. We asked him for suggestions on what would be quick, and he pointed out some areas on the menu of which to steer clear. Before he even left the table, we decided on the Chicken and Black Bean Tostada (per his recommendation) and the Grilled Flatbread.

The tostada came up very quickly - even before our drinks arrived!

At first we were skeptical. We weren't sure how it would taste or even how to go about eating it, but we dug in, and oh wow! It was fantastic!! It was a perfect combination of flavor and texture. Now, I really wish I had taken a picture with my phone.

The flatbread arrived just as we were finishing the tostada. I was pretty full by this time, I must not have been that hungry to begin with. so I didn't savor this dish as much. It was really good, too, but definitely not as delectable as the tostada. If I had to choose one over the other, I'd definitely choose the tostada. Hands down. I believe Jeff would second that as well.

Shortly after the flatbread arrived, our server dropped off our check. We really appreciated that, since we had said we were in a hurry.

Their menu appears to have a good selection of meat, chicken, and fish options. The service was prompt, friendly, and catered to our needs. Overall, we would definitely recommend this restaurant (and the tostada)!

Monday, May 30, 2011


Wow! We've been neglectful in sharing our adventures with you. Naturally, I should be studying for my final while I wait for the rain to stop and the skies to clear, but instead I find myself in blogger.

Jeff and I have done so many fun things that have gone undocumented. I even found 3 posts in my drafts that were never published. They date back to *gulp* last July. I'll start with posting them, so be sure to rifle through the archives to find the following posts:

Camping with Friends - June 2010
Blizzard 2010 - December 2010
Restaurant Review of Capital Grille - March 2011

We've missed posting lots of other things, too. These are just the few that I've begun and never finished. I'll work on playing catch-up over the next few weeks.

I know you've all been dying to know what's been going on with the Dodsons!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Restaurant Review - Capital Grille

I met Jeff at the restaurant after work. I simply gave my name to the host, who immediately saw that Jeff had already been seated. She brought me right to our table, which was a perfect little booth nestled in a corner. After bringing me to the table, she offered to take my coat to the coat check and return with the ticket. What a great start to the evening! The server was wonderful as she made sure to ask if we were headed to the theater that evening or had any other time constraints.

We didn't.
We were just out for an evening of good food and good company together.

It was Restaurant Week, so they had a fixed menu at a really great price. We could've still ordered from the full menu as well, but we both opted for the special.

The food was absolutely succulent. We each ordered the 8-oz sirloin, cooked medium, and it was the perfect combination of flavor and texture. This steak simply melted in our mouths. The mashed potatoes and creme brulee were equally pleasing. The drinks were a little on the expensive side, but the atmosphere and food made it worth it!

If dining here on a normal, non-Restaurant Week evening, the dinner would have been much more expensive. I would recommend this restaurant but probably only for a special occasion, as it is a bit spendier than we'd normally like to spend on just a regular date night.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blizzard 2010

This past weekend was one of the five worst snowfalls in Minnesota history. It was an all out blizzard! We were very thankful that since we no longer own a car, we didn't have to worry about shoveling!

Outside our garage, the snow was knee-deep!

This car across the street from our building was completely snowed-in.

Early afternoon
Same car, later in the evening
Without the pressure of having to shovel, we decided to bundle up and take a walk. It was really beautiful!
Perfect height for Sallie!
This bike owner is going to be sorry
Street corner at Laurel & Cleveland
There's a park bench under all that snow
Normally, this would be a sidewalk up to JRC.
After our walk, we noticed a neighbor stuck in our alley, so we grabbed our shovels to give her a hand. We ended up shoveling and pushing her to get her back out onto the street and into a nearby parking lot.

It was a pretty neat experience because there were a quiet peacefulness lingering in the air, and there were so many people outside walking around with shovels looking to help out anyone who needed it.

Apparently, there's nothing like a blizzard to bring a community together!


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