Mike's Meanderings Where is Parker Parked

Where Is Parker Parked to Wish You a White Christmas?

Bing Crosby croons about one. Most kids (and even a few adults) dream about one. The North Pole ALWAYS has one. Yes, there’s something special about a White Christmas. And since it’s that time of the year again, Parker Flatly is stepping in front of the camera to deliver a special Holiday Greeting just for you. But this time we won’t make you guess where Parker Parked himself … the Park Yourself Outdoors gift to you is to Show and Tell where each of these White Christmas greetings are coming from!

Parker at Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry Falls is still beautiful, but a lot less crowded around the Holidays

One of the most iconic state parks in Minnesota is Gooseberry Falls on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Throngs of tourists visit in the summer months and also in September and October to see the fall colors. But come winter and the frozen falls, you can almost have the whole place to yourself!

Snow covered Wabasha, MN road along the bluffs
How can any old man be grumpy with scenery like this?

Wabasha, Minnesota played temporary home to actors Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon during the early 1990’s filming of the “Grumpy Old Men” movies. The bluffs along the Mississippi River are gorgeous any time of year, but a good holiday snowstorm makes those bluffs absolutely stunning!

Parker stands in front of a Red Lake ice shack
If you’re going to spend time on a lake in Minnesota once that white stuff flies around Christmas, this is the way to do it! (You can even sleep out here!)

Ice fishing was a big part of those Grumpy Old Men movies, but Wabasha isn’t the only place in the state to drop a line through the frozen water.  Measuring approximately 427 square miles, Red Lake in Beltrami County, Minnesota is the third largest body of water in the state, trailing only Lake Superior and Lake of the Woods in size. It also happens to be a great place to hook into one of Minnesota’s revered state fish, the delicious walleye. Ice fishing on Red Lake is a great way to turn a White Christmas into a golden (the color of walleye) holiday!

Parker visits the St. Paul Winter Carnival snow carving
The St. Paul Winter Carnival’s snow carving contest helps visitors like Parker Flatly put on a happy face!

What makes any White Christmas white? Why it’s the snow, of course! And a pile of snow is sure to get a native Minnesotan’s mind “drifting” to what can be done to make that snow more fun. From snow angels to snow sculptures like this one from the St. Paul Winter Carnival, that white, fluffy stuff has a way of molding us differently. In our minds, white is bright (and as the song states, merry, too!)

Parker Flatly under the full moon at the Landscape Arboretum
The illuminating glow of a December full moon at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

An entirely different Christmas song declares that there are 12 days of Christmas. Well, on the twelfth day of the twelfth month of 2019, the sky was very merry, bright and white, too. The hazy, full moon at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum lit up this snow-caked Norway Pine (Minnesota’s state tree) in a festive, all-natural glow that definitely delivered the holiday spirit.

Mike and Parker in a tree trunk
There are plenty of huge, old growth trees right in the center of the big city at Fort Snelling State Park

But Norway Pines aren’t the only type of tree that can make you feel right at home in the great outdoors. The amazing hollowed-out trunk of this ancient oak tree at Fort Snelling State Park in Saint Paul, Minnesota not only protected us from the winter white stuff, but it gave us the gift of feeling what it’s like to be placed under the tree around the Holidays!

Log snowmen
Give Parker the proper tools around Christmas and he’ll start decorating … naturally!

Trees are an amazing part of our natural habitat. They not only release fresh oxygen into our atmosphere every day, but also provide wind blocks and other protection for our bodies, bear fruit to feed us, and offer beauty to our eyes while they are living. But it doesn’t stop there. They can also be repurposed in so many useful ways after they no longer have roots in the soil. Lumber, paper, sponges, wine corks, aspirin, rubber … are all byproducts from trees. And when a little creativity is involved, trees can even supply us with some cheerful holiday decorations!

Lighted Arboretum flowers
Most flowers need light to grow. These Minnesota Landscape Arboretum flowers need light to put on a show!

In addition to trees, almost every fan of the outdoors LOVES the colors and vitality of flowers. Parker Flatly is no exception. So, when he got the opportunity to walk among these gigantic lighted flowers in the gardens of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, he was truly energized by the life they gave to the stark white holiday landscape.

Snowfall in Yosemite National Park
Whether it’s bathed in beautiful sunlight or blanketed in a covering of pure white snow, Yosemite National Park is one of Parker’s favorite places to be!

Now this website wouldn’t be called Park Yourself Outdoors if we didn’t include at least one National Park on this post. Might as well include one of the grandest of them all, Yosemite National Park in California. The elevation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is high enough that you can get a White Christmas effect well before or well after December 25th. In our case, the white stuff turned our April trip into a white EASTER!

Sunset on Red Lake in Winter
A White Christmas doesn’t always have to be just white. Some other beautiful colors on Red Lake suit Parker just fine!

When you’re walking on the frozen water of one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes, it’s not unusual to be completely surrounded by the stuff White Christmases are made of. But come sunset (which is usually between 4:30 and 5:00 PM this time of year) there are often A LOT more colors than white to appreciate!

Frozen characters yuck it up with Parker
The scene is always magical at the Mankato Kiwanis holiday light display.

Speaking of frozen stuff, below-zero-degree weather isn’t uncommon during a Minnesota December. Parker just happened to pick one of those negative temperature nights to visit the Kiwanis light display in Mankato, Minnesota. But Elsa and Olaf surely didn’t mind, and Parker didn’t, either!

Sovereign Estates winter light display at Christmas
There’s more than wine to take in at the Sovereign Estates Winery in Waconia, Minnesota.

While walking through The Spirit of Winter Festival of Lights at the Sovereign Estates Winery in Waconia, Minnesota, Parker passed through the 7 levels of the candy cane forest, before immersing himself in a sea of swirly-twirly wine pours (in grown up terms, big glasses of vintage reds AND whites!) Obviously, he never walked through the Lincoln Tunnel, but he did trek through a lighted archway in the vineyard that took him down near the lake (albeit a little zig-zaggy at times!)

Santa Claus celebrates a white Christmas with Parker Flatly and Meandering Mike
Looks like Parker Flatly and Meandering Mike were a couple of good ol’ boys this year!

After all of this exploration, even the outdoorsiest of outdoors enthusiasts needs to duck indoors around the holidays to do a little Christmas shopping. Since we live within 20 minutes of the second largest shopping mall in the United States, we decided to head to the Mall Of America in Bloomington, Minnesota (the largest is now American Dream Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ — opened in 2019.) I guess we’ve been good this year, because Santa decided to grace us with his presence!

All of us at Park Yourself Outdoors hope that Santa also graces YOU with his presence this holiday season! And even if the space underneath your indoor tree is a little bare this Christmas, get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful gifts of nature that surround us every day!


Wondering where Meandering Mike and Parker Flatly are going to park themselves next year? Find out as soon as their latest blog posts hit the Web by signing up for email notifications here!

4 Comment

  1. Well done with the broad travels around our home state, Mike. First time visitor to your blog and I like what you’ve created. Parker Flatly is one brilliant character! Kudos to you, Mike, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    1. Thank You Tom! Hope you had a wonderful holiday and will come visit the Park Yourself Outdoors site again soon!

    1. Terri, Minnesota winters aren’t so hard to sell. If you layer your clothing properly and have some good insulated boots and outerwear, it can be beautiful and amazingly peaceful out there!!!

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