Today is the first official, full day of actitivties at our 2011 CAA Winter Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Which means that yesterday was the day some folks took advantage of the “Early Bird Special”: a chance to meet up with fellow CAA members and enjoy lunch and an afternoon of touring around downtown St. Paul.

Gloria Burgess sent the following photos from the day:

"CAA members exit the Alexander Ramsey House at the end of the 'Early Bird Special' tour. The elegant Victorian home was built in 1872 by Mr. Ramsey, who served as mayor of St. Paul, governor, U.S. senator, and secretary of war under President Hayes. The Minn. Historical Society received the property from the family, complete with more than 14,000 original furnishings." (photo by Gloria Burgess)

.

Alexander Ramsey's original carriage house (photo by Gloria Burgess)

.

"Thursday (Jan. 27) was the first day of the 125th St. Paul Winter Carnival. The 300-pound ice blocks arrived in cardboard boxes. Each of 16 teams has 20 blocks to carve before the end of the next 48 hours (so: 9 a.m. Saturday). Let the chainsaw buzz begin! Judging is based on the complete use of all 20 blocks, creativity, and artistic presentation. The entire sculpture must be no higher than 12 feet or wider than 10 feet. The single-block contest (or as some muliple-block team members call it ... the "quick buzz" contest) occurs from start to finish during the morning hours on Saturday. The Winter Carnival lasts for 10 days." (photo by Gloria Burgess)

.

... and the carving continued into the night (photo by Gloria Burgess)

.

"CAA directors (left to right) Craig Paulsen, Jerry Trapani, and Tom Burgess await the opening of the ice bar. Where is everyone else??" (photo by Gloria Burgess)

.

a carved-ice snowflake (photo by Gloria Burgess)

.

celebrating 125 years of the St. Paul Winter Carnival ... in ice! (photo by Gloria Burgess)