season is in full swing here, bolstered by the unseasonably cold weather that Grand Forks has had since the start of December. Today has actually been the warmest day of December so far with the high temperature reaching into the upper 20s. The temperature during the first eight days of December never got above 15°F and, actually, the high on both December 4th and 5th was just a measly 4°F. The low temperatures have also been necessarily cold, getting down to -10°F on the 4th. While these temperatures were nowhere near record shattering, they were still a good twenty degrees below what they should be for this time of year. Not much snow has been accompanied with this weather, however. It snowed on and off pretty much every day during the first nine days of December, but only about an inch to an inch and a half has accumulated. The rest of the snow that Grand Forks has on the ground came from the tremendous blizzard on November 28th that largely spared Grand Forks but pelted Fargo and western Minnesota with freezing rain and snow.
Yesterday was the final day of classes for the fall semester here at UND, thus ushering in the start of finals week. Today is actually “reading and review day,” a day set aside for students to get some rest and do some studying for the finals that will begin on Monday morning.
I’ll be taking three finals next week: one on Monday and two on Wednesday. Monday’s test is in German and, considering how easy that class has been for me all semester, should be no problem at all. I’ll probably end up studying for an hour or so – if even that – on Sunday evening, just to make sure I know everything fully. Although there were a few things I learned this year that I never encountered while in the now-fated
German program in the Brainerd School District, on the whole, everything covered in German 201 this semester was a review of what I had learned in either German 4 or AP German in high school. I do like taking German here, though, since the upper level courses place much less emphasis on learning grammar and more on interacting with actual German literature and music.
The two finals I have on both Wednesday morning and Wednesday afternoon, respectively, are for calculus and chemistry. Neither test should be particularly hard, but I still need to go back and review some of the material that was covered early on in the semester. I think I’m going to go back and read the two chemistry chapters that talked about molecular structure, as that concept is a bit abstract, and I never read the chapters the first time around. I did really like my chemistry class this semester and, as a consequence, I am eager to embark on learning the more advanced subjects of organic and physical chemistry.
Technically, I also have a final in my Honors “Inquiry in the Humanities” course, but, rather than a regular test, the “final” in this class just involves writing some reflections that discuss how I enjoyed both the class as well as my first semester being involved in the Honors Program. It won’t be that hard at all. I’m still expecting to get a B in that class, however, because I didn’t exactly do that well on one of the essays I had to write. I don’t really care all that much, though, so long as I don’t get anything lower than a B.
So, because I got lucky this semester and will be done with my finals on Wednesday, I have earned the opportunity to begin my holiday vacation on Thursday rather than Saturday. I am, of course, going to take advantage of this by heading home sometime on Thursday afternoon. But rather than going directly from Grand Forks to Brainerd, I will veering off to Elbow Lake in order to see Canadian Pacific Railway’s 2005 Holiday Train
. If you’re an avid reader of my blog, you may recall that I went to Annandale last year
to see this wonderfully decorated train that navigates Canadian Pacific’s tracks in both the United States and Canada helping to raise both funds and food for local food shelves. I liked seeing the train enough last year that I’ve decided to make seeing it an annual tradition, so long as I can fit doing so into my schedule. I’m actually really fortunate to be able to leave Grand Forks on Thursday, since Thursday is the last day in which the train will be anywhere near where I will be. By Friday, the train will be way off in central North Dakota making its way to the North Dakota/Saskatchewan border.
For those of you in other parts of Minnesota, I’m going to post a complete schedule of where and at what time the Holiday Train will be stopping this week. What can you expect if you go to one of these stops? Well, first of all, some entertainment. Canadian Pacific signed Canadian Country Music Association award winner Tracey Brown
and daughter Kelly Prescott, Celtic-pop trio the Ennis Sisters
, and Folk singer/songwriter John Gorka
for the United States’ version of the train. Besides entertainment, you’ll also see both Santa, who shows up to pass out train whistles to children, and a lot of community pride at any one of the train’s stops.
Here are this week’s stops:Sunday, December 11
La Crosse, Wis. – 5:10-5:50 p.m. – Amtrak station, 601 Saint Andrew St. Benefits WAFER
Winona, Minn. - 6:30-7:20 p.m. - Amtrak depot, 65 E. Mark St. Benefits Winona Volunteer Services food shelf.
Lake City, Minn. - 8:50-9:30 p.m. - Hearth-n-Home Technologies, 800 W. Jefferson St. Benefits Lake City Food Shelf.
Red Wing, Minn. - 9:50-10:40 p.m. - Amtrak depot, 420 Levee St. Benefits Red Wing Area Food Shelf.
Monday, December 12
Hastings, Minn. - 4:50-5:40 p.m., Canadian Pacific Railway Depot, 500 E. Second St. Benefits Hastings Family Service food shelf.
Cottage Grove, Minn. - 6:00-6:50 p.m. - The Belden Street railroad crossing behind the Marathon gas station on Hadley Avenue South (under the Sieben bridge on Highway 61), Benefits Friends in Need Food Shelf.
St. Paul, Minn. - 7:10-8:00 p.m. - Upper level of Central Parking System ramp at Broadway & Kellogg under the Lafayette freeway bridge and east of old post office, lowertown St. Paul. Benefits Second Harvest Heartland.
Minneapolis - 9:10-9:50 p.m. - Canadian Pacific Railway yard, 2800 Central Ave. NE. Benefits Salvation Army.
Tuesday, December 13
Loretto, Minn. - 5:25-6:15 p.m. - Hennepin County Road 19 crossing/Chippewa Trail across from the Choo-Choo Bar & Grill. Benefits Hanover Area Food Shelf.
Buffalo, Minn. - 6:40-7:20 p.m. - 612 NE Third Ave., behind McDonald's on Highway 55. Benefits Buffalo Food Shelf.
Annandale, Minn. - 8:05-8:45 p.m. - West side of downtown park over Oak Avenue crossing. Benefits Annandale Community Food Shelf.
Brooten, Minn. - 10:00-10:50 p.m. - Main Street crossing (County Road 18). Benefits BBE Area Food Shelf.
Wednesday, December 14
Mahnomen, Minn. - 5:45-6:35 p.m. - 300 East Jefferson Avenue by Shooting Star Casino. Benefits Helping Hands Food Shelf.
Thief River Falls, Minn. - 8:05-9:00 p.m. - Depot/City Hall, 2017 Highway 59 SE. Benefits Thief River Falls Area Food Shelf.
Thursday, December 15
Elbow Lake, Minn. - 4:50-5:40 p.m. - Main Street crossing. Benefits Grant County Emergency Food Shelf.
Hankinson, N.D. - 6:45-7:35 p.m. - Former depot site, 410 First St. SE. Benefits Richland-Wilkin Emergency Food Pantry.
Enderlin, N.D. - 9:25-10:15 p.m. - CPR depot, 101 Harvest Lane. Benefits Ransom County Food Pantry.
By the way, I’d really like to get out and about with my new camera and create something similar to a photo tour of Grand Forks. But before I do that, I need you to post a comment telling me whether or not you’ve ever been to Grand Forks. What you tell me will affect what I take photos of.