Bentleyville Lights Up The Holidays

I love Christmas, not just because of the presents but because of all the decorations and lights and the warmth of the season—Ashley Tisdale

Every Christmas there are tons of holiday themed events from light festivals to Christmas Tree lightings. But if you are looking for something that’s a cut above, then look no further than Bentleyville.

img_7216Bentleyville isn’t a place, but an event. It started as a home owner’s annual Christmas decoration display that grew into a phenomenon that is now known as “Bentleyville ‘Tour of Lights’.”

What makes Bentleyville different? For starters, it is strictly native to Minnesota; it is massive; it’s extremely family friendly—even more so than other seasonal Holiday events, and it is completely free.

There is a parking fee of five dollars per car load, or a person can take a train to the event for a slightly higher cost, but the entrance and snacks once inside Bentleyville are 100% free.

The annual festival that has came to be known as Bentleyville has grown exponentially over the years. It’s so large that it is now held in Duluth’s 10-acre Bayfront Festival Park during the frigid months of November and December.

As the sun goes down and a chill starts to move across the icy shores of Lake Superior, Bentleyville comes to life. It runs nightly from Thanksgiving to December 26, with the gates opening at 5 pm.

Visitors to Bentleyville are treated to a spectacular array of brightly lit Yuletide displays, which cover the entire park. Fabulously designed illuminated walk-through canopies crisscross through the park and connect to other sections.

There are several big attractions for kids. Santa Claus is there every night till Christmas Eve. Rudolph is available for pictures, and Mrs. Clause is on hand to tell stories and hand out candy canes.

The free snack stations also draw crowds. The Cookie House with its cookies, coffee andimg_7334 hot coco is a must stop. The Marshmallow Hut and fire pits for roasting marshmallows attracts a lot of people, so does the popular Popcorn Shack. Again…all of these are no charge.

In the center of Bentleyville stands a remarkable animated Christmas Tree. It is a 128′ high manufactured marvel that towers above the festival. The tree has more than 150 thousand LED lights. Its frame is made from 17 tons of iron and 24 yards of concrete. The star that crowns the tree is actually an eight foot ball of steel with 28, three foot long, spikes pointing out of it.

When fully lit the Bentleyville Tree has a cutting presence. It pierces the darkness and welcomes visitors from miles away. It is easily seen from the interstate going into Duluth.

The “Tour of Lights” is a perfect harbinger for the Holiday season. The cold weather enhances the experience and the light displays warm the spirit. Christmas will seem more magical and exciting for adults and children alike after a night in Bentleyville.



Mary Tyler Moore Immortalized In Bronze

A groundbreaking actress, producer, and passionate advocate…, Mary will be remembered as a fearless visionary who turned the world on with her smile–Mara Buxbaum

Mary Tyler Moore’s passing was a huge blow to Hollywood and fans around the world; however, female journalist particularly took her passing extremely hard, but for far different reasons.

The television icon was more than just a ground breaking actress, brilliant business entrepreneur and philanthropist; she was a role model who also influenced a generation of women to become journalist.

Over a long career spanning decades, Mary Tyler Moore’s signature role was Mary Richards from the eponymously titled “Mary Tyler Moore” show.  The 70s sitcom was based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and centered around a young single career woman working as a news producer.

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-9-49-51-pmThe series ran from 1970 to 1977; it received numerous awards for the cast, crew, and the star: Mary Tyler Moore (MTM). In fact, during its run the series won a record 29 Emmy Awards.  A record that stood for 25 years.

In 2001, MTM was immortalized by TVLAND when a life-sized bronze statue of Mary Richards tossing her tam into the air was unveiled. This iconic image captured the exuberance and excitement of a professional woman who ultimately did “make it on her own” in a new city and career.

When interviewed about being immortalized by a bronze statue, MTM said, “Forget about it, this is a unique situation. I never thought I’d have anything like that.”

0012The statue is exclusive to minneapolis and quite popular. Fans from around the state and the nation flock to the statue to pose for pictures and mimic the legendary hat toss.

When Minneapolis put the statue in storage due to downtown road construction, public outcry prompted city leaders to place it back on display.

Visitors to Minneapolis who wish to see the statue can find it quite easily at the visitor center. A Crow’s View suggests taking the light rail to the Nicollet Mall stop. This will allow people to avoid parking hassles and place seekers right at the statue’s location. After exiting the train, the statue is only steps away from the train station on the southeast corner of S. 5th St.

The visitor center’s hours are limited, but the statue can easily be seen from the large display windows if travelers show up after hours. Later in 2017, the city plans to return the statue outdoors for 24-hour access.

Visitor center hours are: 10:00 am–6:00 pm, Monday-Friday; and 12:00 pm–5:00 pm, Saturday-Sunday.


Visitor Center

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

MTM Statue Facts


Skinner’s Butte Recreation Complex

Whenever the sun is shining, I feel obligated to play outside!― Charles M. Schulz

In the heart of Eugene, Ore., just a stone’s throw from the University of Oregon, is a large open space known as the Skinner’s Butte Recreation Complex. It is a large park made up of several major attractions: a park with hiking/biking trails, the Columns climbing area, and Skinner’s Butte Summit, to name a few.columns

Skinner’s Butte Park was dedicated in 1914, making it one of Eugene’s oldest parks. The beautiful Willamette River runs along the park, which has more than 100-acres of land. A great feature of Skinner’s Butte Park is it has a little of everything for everyone.

replicaHistory fans will enjoy the rich history of the site and enjoy the farmhouse replica at the park’s entrance, while Outdoor enthusiasts will find the trails and paths remarkably enjoyable. Those with kids will appreciate the park’s play structures and picnic areas; also, the park has a senior center on its campus.

Another major attraction is the climbing Columns of Skinner’s Butte. The climbing area is a 50′ vertical rock face on the western side of the complex. It’s a great place for people to get exposed to basic rock climbing or for people to hone their skills performing various maneuvers. Non-climbers will appreciate the rugged beauty of the Columns.

panoramaThe pentacle of Skinner’s Butte is its summit. With it’s near 360-degree view of the Emerald Valley, it offers great photographic opportunities for aspiring photographers or for people wanting breathtaking selfies. It’s a prefect place to relax, reflect, and enjoy a bird’s eye view of Eugene.

Skinner’s Butte Recreation Complex has nearly boundless opportunities. It’s a great place to enjoy nature, expose yourself to new experiences, or simply soak in the scenic beauty of the Emerald Valley.

Each attraction is easily accessible and is close to other interesting sites within or near the complex. The Skinner’s Butte area is a place a person can visit several times and not see all that this park offers.

Skinner’s Butte Park


Jackson Street Coffee

“As long as there [is] coffee in the world, how bad could things be?”― Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

img_3748A new coffeehouse recently opened in historic Downtown Roseburg. The business’s name is boldly spelled out using old style font, and its sidewalk sandwich board that colorfully declares the daily specials beckons of a bygone era. With the right breaks, Jackson Street Coffee may reinvigorate an area that’s been withering for years.

This particular area is the last block on Jackson Street’s historic downtown district. It doesn’t spark much interest because the Douglas County Courthouse is too far to generate much foot-traffic, and the businesses along this stretch don’t attract casual shoppers. The larges establishments on the block are Downtown Fitness & Aerobics and an Elk’s lodge. Both are membership driven with a large customer base, but neither inspires downtown spending.

Most businesses on the block are singularly focused on a particular good or service. Hanson Jewelers and the Hub Barbershop are perfect examples. They bring people into their establishments, but once a transaction is finished. The customer will leave the downtown district and may not return for an extended period.

There is a convenient store directly across for Jackson Street Coffee that does foster repeat business; however, mini-markets do not pull people from other parts of town to their location. They serve people already living and working in the area.

All the organizations listed above obviously serve their customers needs extremely well. However, by sheer nature of their business model, none of them are designed to bring impulse shoppers to the area. Owners and employees may recommend another downtown-based firm to their customers, but that’s about all they can do.

That’s where Jackson Street Coffee can make a difference. People who frequent coffeehouses tend to be vibrant shoppers who enjoy browsing various shops and making impulse purchases. And with the power of social media and the Internet, it is quite possible for a coffee-seller to reach potential customers well beyond the confines of a small neighborhood or district.

A Portland based Yelp reviewer wrote, “This is a great little coffee shop in Roseburg. I discovered it on a trip between Ashland and Portland….”The review illustrates that Jackson Street Coffee has already made an extremely positive impact for Roseburg’s downtown district.  With any luck, the “little coffee shop” will continue to appeal to travelers and get similar reviews by patrons.

IMG_3751Jackson Street Coffee’s owner embraces modern concepts Donutssuch as fair trade, sustainable living, and buying local. The menu reflects those values as well. Only coffees and teas from respectable companies, with a proven track record of corporate responsibility, are sold. The donuts are purchased from a local bakery chain founded in Roseburg, and sandwiches are handmade with ingredients coming from local sources. A northwest favorite, Mo’s clam chowder is also on tap.

A charming brick and mortar building houses Jackson Street Coffee. The lobby has beautifully designed wood chairs and tables throughout the shop and pays homage to its historical roots by showcasing vintage photos of downtown Roseburg. Modern comforts, such as Wi-Fi and a flat screen television, are also present. There are minor points that could be corrected, like more electrical outlets, but the coffeehouse’s ambiance makes up for any slight oversights.

If you’re passing through the area or just wanting to try a new venue, then Jackson Street Coffee is worth checking out. The proprietress does a great job of providing a comfortable atmosphere, and she makes drinks with the flare of an artful barista. It is definitely a nice place for people to chill out and enjoy themselves.IMG_3750

Facebook Page


The Pacific Northwest: Bandon

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”–Jacques Cousteau

If you find yourself driving down Oregon’s coastline, take a moment and set your GPS to 43.114193, -124.435927, and let it take you to the city of Bandon.

This quaint little coastal town may sound small and boring, but it has a lot to offer. Visitors can choose from crabbing and fishing to golfing, shopping, taking a wine tour or simply spending time at the beautiful boardwalk in “Old Town,” not to mention enjoying spectacular views of Oregon’s rugged coastline.


Morning View Of Bandon Beach

Averill was founded in 1853; however, in 1873 Irish settler George Bennett and his sons moved to the area from Bandon, Ireland. The following year the settlement’s name was changed.

Seventeen years later on February 18, 1891 Bandon was officially incorporated.

The next 10-years Bandon would see its iconic Coquille River Lighthouse built (1896), a jetty constructed (1897-98), and its population swell from low double digits to more than 600 people.

As Bandon entered the 20-Century, it was poised for growth. The town had wood and wool manufacturing, a school district, a post office, churches and a robust cheese making industry.

IMG_3001Within the first ten years of the new century, Bandon’s population would grow to more than 1800 people and its harbor would become a principle port between San Francisco and Portland. With an average of 300 vessels visiting annually, Bandon became a primary tourist attraction on the Oregon coast.

Sadly, as the 1900s rolled on, the municipality would face several vicissitudes that would forever alter its course. A blaze in 1914 destroyed the waterfront and the “Great Fire Of 1936” reduced the city to ashes. Bandon was economically devastated for years to come.

Rebuilding began immediately and concluded in 1946. Over the next 70 years, generations of residence went to work reclaiming Bandon’s status as a resort community. The first step was creating a new tradition, the Cranberry Festival, in 1947.

The ensuing years saw cheese production become a major component of the city’s identity. At one point, when the old Bandon Cheese Factory closed, the city lost a huge part of its individuality.

Steady growth continued for much of the 50s and 60s, and ambitious revitalization campaigns of the 70s and 80s brought upgrades to infrastructure and services; thus, setting the stage for non-pelagic industries to play an essential role in the local economy.

The 90s ushered in significant milestones. Bandon and its lighthouse celebrated their centennial anniversaries and a wastewater treatment plant dedication was held; however, the 2000s weren’t as kind.

The new millennium started with a back eye. Tillamook Dairy purchased the popular Bandon Cheese Factory and eventually closed it. Face Rock Creamery, a new cheese producer, which is built upon the site of the old factory, stated, “This was a sad and upsetting day to Bandon residents and tourists alike.”

However, the 2000s did have some high points. The population ballooned to 2800 people, all open streets within the city were paved, and highway 101 was widened to include a turning lane; also a new water clarifier was built at the treatment plant.

A seminal moment occurred in May 2013; Face Rock Creamery opened its doors and heralded in the return of a primary attraction: cheese making.


Today, Bandon has a lot to offer visitors besides its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Obviously, its location is a major selling point for tourism and the backbone of its economy, but golf, cranberries, wood products, cheese and wine making have also developed into an integral part of the city’s future too.

Thanks to outstanding foresight, Bandon is once again a vibrant community.

The next time you’re in the Pacific Northwest, or just visiting the Oregon Coast, take the time to explore Bandon. The beaches, lighthouse, and city will provide you with lots of options to enjoy your stay.

City Of Bandon Website

Bandon Cheese History

City of Bandon/History

Bandon Dunes Golf

Bandon Crossings Golf

Roseburg’s Overlooked Park: Micelli Park

Micelli Park SignIt could be a walk in the park, it could be a ride on your bicycle. It does not have to be an organized team activity… Be as creative as you want, but find a way to get your exercise in.–Ron Jaworski

For most people living in the Roseburg, Ore. area, Micelli Park is often overlooked. The reasons may be due to its obscure location or because it is located in what is traditionally considered a sketchy part of town. In either case, it’s a shame because it is a beautiful park with a lot to offer.IMG_3127

Micelli Park rests on six-acres of open-space that overlooks the beautiful South Umpqua River. Its campus houses a baseball diamond and a large grass field for various recreational activities. The park’s Northwest corner also provides a nice play area for kids.  IMG_3120

Other amenities include paved parking, clean restrooms, beautiful landscaping, and picnic tables sprinkled throughout its grounds.

IMG_3117-0Despite having a venue that is considered obscure or sketchy, Micellin Park’s location has some advantages. For example, park goers can take a short walk to a spacious dog park or explore the trails that run along the South Umpqua River’s bank. There is also a boat landing nearby and plenty of places to fish.

Whether a person wants to have a picnic, get some exercise, explore nature, fish or play games with her children, Micelli Park has something for people to enjoy. A Crow’s View encourages people to checkout this park.


Micelli Park

Yelp Review

Discovering Roseburg’s Discovery Garden

“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.”―Erol Ozan

IMG_1889On the outskirts of Roseburg lies a beautiful attraction that escapes most people’s detect. Ironically, hundreds of people will pass it twice daily while visiting one of the city’s biggest draws: River Forks Park.

Upon first glance, Discovery Garden appears to be a small private garden, which is probably the reason most people miss it. But observant drivers will notice that’s not the case and stop in.

Those attentive drivers who decide to check it out will be treated to top-notch garden designs and spectacular floral views, and in the process find the prefect place to read a book, contemplate life, or soak up the ambiance.

Discovery Garden was established in 1999. It is maintained by community donations and volunteer master gardeners. The Oregon State University Extension Master Gardeners also provide research-based instruction in gardening techniques.

Visitors of Discovery Garden are treated to several cultural gardening styles within its confines. A Japanese garden, a rock garden, a functioning herb garden and more are a short stroll from each other. Chances are you will be impressed with a number of displays.

The garden isn’t just for adults; kids will enjoy Discovery Garden too. Its Children’s Garden features a human sundial, hopscotch, a Clematis Archway and a hiding mulberry tree with a peek-a-boo fence. These interactive child-themed displays, along with other kid-friendly sculptures, will unquestionably become favorites for young families.

Discovery Gardens’ mission is “to enhance and preserve the beauty and quality of the environment by using sustainable gardening practices, and to inspire and educate others.” It is the opinion of A Crow’s View that Discovery Garden exceeds that goal. The photos below are a small sample of the sights that awaits future visitors.

IMG_1920 IMG_1921IMG_1892 IMG_1893 IMG_1891IMG_2039IMG_1918IMG_1924 IMG_2034

IMG_2035IMG_2025IMG_2033IMG_2036 TripAdvisor Discovery Garden

OSU Extension Discovery Garden


Yelp Review