1. Sometimes, over an hour to wait for dinner is definitely worth it.
2. When booking a hotel, try and find out if they are renovating the room right above you.
3. Garrison Keillor is the human equivalent of a bowl of chicken soup.
4. With the proper clothing, a Minnesota Winter is survivable.
5. My iPhone can get run over by a truck and not break.
My Minnesota adventure was a success! Sorry it has taken me so long to write about it, but work has been keeping me busy, and procrastination is one of my major flaws. I promise to work on that… tomorrow.
So, Matthew and I arrived in Minnesota after a lengthy layover in Chicago. Apparently the entire Midwest had been enjoying a mild winter until the Carter’s decided to visit. Then there were drops in temperatures, snow, high winds – basically all the things I hoped to experience while up north.
Upon arrival, we were picked up by my friend Matt G. in the most fully salt encrusted vehicle I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing since living in Boston. See, while we were flying through that Chicago snowstorm, he was driving through it. It was great having a limo service the whole weekend – especially one with child proof locks in the back seat so we could trap Matthew.
After a quick stop at the hotel to drop off bags and clean up it was time for a whirlwind trip of Minneapolis / St. Paul. Matt G. had lived there a few years ago, so we had our own personal tour guide of places he had worked at. If it weren’t for the sub freezing temperatures in the winter, I could see why it would be a nice place to live.
Matt convinced us that we needed to experience a Jucy Lucy (no, that’s not a typo) at the famous Matt’s Bar (no relation to either Matt that I was spending the evening with). A Jucy Lucy is, how do I say? The most freakingly delicious thing that you can eat, but you can’t think about what you are actually eating while you eat it. A hunk of cheese is surrounded by raw meat then pattied out, grilled, topped with onions and served right off a grill that probably hasn’t been cleaned since the Reagan years. At first I was skeptical, but the place was packed and we waited almost an hour to be seated and order. Yes. It was worth it.
Full of Jucy Lucy, we had a quick nighttime tour of Minneapolis and St. Paul, then headed back to the hotel to turn in for a night. We had a big day ahead of us and wanted to get a good night’s sleep. Sadly, the folks at Holiday Inn had different plans. Apparently the best time to start work on renovations on the floor above us is at 4:00 am on a Saturday. We were not thrilled by this, as you can imagine. It became very clear why we were getting such a great rate for the room.
Since we were getting an early start, we decided to hit the gym to train for the 50 mile MS Challenge Walk I have on March 3rd. After a nice work out and a tasty breakfast, we met up with Matt G.’s wife Joann. The first stop of the day was the Mill City Museum where the featured exhibits were “A History of Cake Mix” and “The Rise of Convenience Foods.” Sure, we were skeptical, but Matt G. was strangely excited about it, so we went in with an open mind. In short, it was one of the most entertaining and informative museums I have ever visited. Matt G. and I, being in the tourism industry, are pretty critical of tours, and we both gave it high marks. The highlight was a re-enactor who took us through the history of the Mill on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi from it’s beginnings, through a devastating explosion, its re-building, and then its closing. It was a beautiful building and the rooftop views were wonderful.
After a tasty lunch, we took another spin around the city, to see what it looked like in the day time. We then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the main event – Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” at the Fitzgerald theater. If you’ve read my blog, you know how obsessed I have been with seeing this show live. It was a music heavy show with guests Ann Reed, My Brightest Diamond, and Heather Masse. I really enjoyed the Minnesota based Reed’s folk music, but the quirky songs of My Brightest Diamond, not so much – at first. By the end of the show she had won me over and we were humming her catchy tunes the whole way home. Heather Masse was gorgeous as always, but I did feel the show was a little heavy on the ballads, and I think a sketch or two was sacrificed for time. As always, his “News From Lake Wobegone” was rambling, yet comfortingly soothing.
After the show we headed to Broders’ Pasta Bar for dinner, where the wait was over an hour for a table. This was Matt and Joann’s favorite restaurant (and after the success of the Jucy Lucy the night before) we trusted their judgement. While waiting, it occurred that I didn’t have my phone on me. Before the phantom limb pain could set in, we headed out to the car, but it was not there. No, it had fallen into the middle of the street. Fearing the worst, I picked it up, and except for some dirty tire treads on the case, the phone was fine. Thank you Speck!!
Dinner was amazing, and the conversation and wine flowed wonderfully. It had been a long day, so we went to turn in. Thankfully, the construction crews took Sunday off, so we got a decent night’s sleep.
The next day was Mall of America Day. Now, for some folks with MS, malls can be difficult. All of the visual stimulation causes my double vision to flare up. Add in a ferris wheel, roller coaster, and 520 shops and I was blind in 5 minutes. I still loved it. Highlights were the Legoland Store, seeing Michael Oher (of The Blind Side fame) and the Sephora store. There was a ton of things we didn’t get to see – I understand now how you could easily spend 2-3 days there.
As our Minnesota adventure was wrapping up, Matthew and I remarked on how true everything we had heard about Minnesota was. The people were all extremely nice, the culture interesting, and that the best place to enjoy the weather was indoors. I was happy to check off an item on my Big Adventure List, while also doing some fun activities that were unplanned. I highly recommend you visit Minnesota (maybe in the summer) and if you get a chance to do any of the things we did, you are sure to have a blast!