Tuesday, August 18, 2009

minnesota chuckles

Mankato is a city ninety miles southwest of the Twin Cities... Maybe we weren't in such a hurry to get back home from our road trip or maybe I wanted to show Jerry my college alma mater, but we took the time to stop in Mankato and hang around there for a while on our way home from Iowa yesterday. I graduated from Mankato State University (now inexplicably renamed Minnesota State University Mankato) many years ago, of course, and some things have changed a lot, some things not at all, but I've always kinda liked Mankato and the university.

After touring the campus a little, we drove into downtown and stopped at an outdoor restaurant on the main street for some dinner... The live entertainment was at the next table: two guys and a girl who were obviously college kids who shared a house. We sat there for an hour or so and listened the whole time to the girl telling the guys what slobs they are to live with and the guys saying they weren't going to change and she was being unreasonable. For an hour! Talking about dirty dishes in the sink! It was hilarious to listen to, they were all so serious and earnest. Made me wonder if I would go back to that age again or not, if I could. Ha! Of course I would.

Mankato is also the place where the Vikings work out in the pre-season.. Didn't see them, but today we are seeing Brett Favre all over the news, as he has arrived here in the Twin Cities today to -- is anybody shocked? -- sign with the Vikings. Oh what a media hog! When will his next retirement be?

So anyway, here we are back at home. A nice little trip.

Monday, August 17, 2009

the monks in iowa

Here is some trivia for you... "Des Moines" in French means "The Monks", and apparently there is no reliable historical account of why this city was named for monks... But here we are, staying in another nicely restored old hotel, this time in downtown Des Moines -- that's the lobby of this hotel (the Renaissance Savery Hotel) in the photo...
and so far we like Des Moines, but our criteria for liking a place usually come down to whether a place has friendly people and some things to see, a diner that serves a good greasy-spoon breakfast... extra points if there is a gay bar or two... So all the cities that we stayed in this trip, La Crosse, Dubuque, Des Moines, met all those standards.
Today we head north, through backwoods north central Iowa -- we are avoiding all interstate highways on this road trip -- back into Minnesota. Did I say backwoods?.. Not many woods anywhere in this state... we'll drive through backfields Iowa.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

a taste of philly in dubuque

Still traveling along the Mississippi... Stayed the night in a beautifully restored old hotel (the Hotel Julien) in Dubuque, Iowa -- a very friendly city, as it turns out... Nice people, a riverboat casino across the highway and a great local place for breakfast down the street... Last night, we found decent cheesesteaks at a strip-mall restaurant called A Little Taste of Philly.... Today we'll do the river a bit more and then start heading northwest and try to find something interesting in interior Iowa... Might be a challenge. Home tomorrow.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

highway 61 revisited

Our long weekend out of town... We ended up heading down Highway 61 along the Mississippi, staying for a night or two in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, do a daytrip further down the River, and from there who knows where.... We of course love living in the Twin Cities, but oh how nice it is to be gone from there for a while...

Other thoughts:

Wisconsin: It's strange to see people smoking in bars and restaurants again.

Football: Oh, how could my beloved Eagles have hired Michael Vick??

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

get out of town, dude

We're thinking we need to be out of town for a weekend -- somewhere.... Just drive out of town, stay somewhere... Be somewhere other than here.

But then, for me, the guy raised on the East Coast, the dilemma is where do we drive to?.. From southern New Jersey, there were all kinds of places within easy driving distance -- the city, the country, the mountains, the ocean...

But from the Twin Cities, in a region where everything is so far apart, what kind of trip can we plan that doesn't include any airplanes? The normal default is up north a couple hours -- Duluth, the north shore of Lake Superior, whatever... It would be so nice to do something different than that for a change, though. How about south? Iowa? Des Moines?.. Well, actually, Des Moines is under consideration. So we could drive and drive through about five hours of corn fields, and what do we have to show for it?.. Des Moines! and what do we do when we get there?... Turn around and come back?

Or travel east through Wisconsin?.. to where?.. Milwaukee? Five hours of driving to see the brewery tours? (Milwaukee is also under consideration, sad to say)

And the option of traveling west is hardly worth even mentioning -- There is nothing but prairie for as many miles as you can even imagine.

Or does a destination even matter? Or should we just stay here and turn off our cell phones for a few days?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

i just adore a penthouse view

What a week, but it is done.
And we didn't move that far, maybe a mile, just across the river to the other side of downtown Minneapolis, but the view, the perspective, is totally different. In our old neighborhood, we had many places to walk to, and now we have new places to walk to and get to know better and feel a part of. And we're above it all, here on our 26th-floor apartment, where we can take stock and figure out what is next. Or maybe not think about what is next, not yet anyway. Maybe just enjoy a simpler life for a while.
Saying goodbye to the old house was emotional, but I'm over it. The move itself was exhausting, but we are recovering. I just want some time to read a book again and to enjoy what is left of this beautiful summer. My feet are propped up on the ledge on our balcony in the sky as I enjoy the view and the sounds of the city. Maybe I can even get my brain working again.