Stuck in Minnesota?

Well, I am really not still in Minnesota, in fact since then I have been to…

North Dakota

Montana

Washington

Oregon

Wyoming

Nevada

California

Utah

and

Idaho

You think I’m missing a few posts?

Yup…

So let me comment on some places I don’t have time to write about right now…

Montana- The most beautiful state in America. Hands Down. They don’t have an ocean, but if seeing Glacier National Park is not on your bucket list…add it. Now!

Washington- They have movie theatres where you can eat dinner and drink adult beverages! That was a lot of fun. Seattle was beautiful and a fun city, karaoke was kind of lame. They like to sing GooGoo Dolls and what not…kind of sappy and slow…but fun(ny) to watch!!!

Wyoming- There are no words. There was a dachshund race, and the dogs I held both came in 1st for their divisions! I saw a Rodeo and I went to a few ranches for the first time and pet horses. I also ate at a restaurant called El Gringos. The menu was both Mexican and Chinese food. Gross. But we met an awesome family who had us over for dinner…much better! But when it was time to leave, I was not complaining! Oh! I also met Texas Jack…at the Wheatland Museum.

Nevada: Reno. Not classy. But I got to see Obama speak again. Good Happy Hours but all old people.

Utah: You know those Polygamy neighborhoods you hear about on the news…yea they are really there.

and

Idaho: Boise is a fun time. Good college town, and huge football fans. The small towns can totally be avoided though.

January 6, 2009 at 1:10 am 1 comment

Rochester, Minnesota

We had a two day drive from Michigan to Minnesota and in the middle of it all we had to stop in Rochester,MN to give a family a ride.

This was a special ride for my co-worker and I. We had been looking forward to it as soon as we saw it on our schedule.

Once again it was my chance to give back.

My grandfather’s sister Eleanor had ALS , Lou Gehrig’s disease, and passed away–very gracefully, she was a strong woman– not too long ago. I was given the opportunity, with this stop in Rochester, to give a family a break dealing with the same disease.

Ann is the mother of 4, she has a 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old triplets–all adorable blondes! She currently has ALS. Her friend requested our presence at their fundraiser for the family and worked hard to get us there. As we pulled into the grocery store that afternoon we were amazed to see the turnout. There were hundreds of people there in support of Ann and her family.

We were just part of the crowd.

After giving tours and meeting the family we took a few spins around the area. Erin, the oldest, rode everytime–and was a professional by the time she exited! The triplets–although only 2– we amazing passangers,  the boys constantly yelled “TRUCK!” “HELICOPTER!” “FIRETRUCK” as we drove above the town. For the first time they were able to see their hometown from above, a little different from their normal view out of their carseats!

Ann was not able to take a ride, but you could see in her face how happy she was to watch her children wave at her through the window.

I know that this experience was overwhelming for the family of 6–being greeted by hundreds of people at the local grocery store is enough to deal with, let a lone organizing 4 young children as they hopped in and out of a large vehicle that had never been to the area before.

Regardless of how hectic the day was for the family it was all smiles and calmness once the kids and Ann’s husband  were buckled in, as we pulled out of the parking lot. We just chatted, about swimming, about fireworks, about enjoying this experience together.

It really was a break for this family. And it was a chance for me to step back from my job and realize the good we all can do everyday. Something simple enough as stopping for an hour in Rochester, MN allowed me to make a little girl feel special–when she is dealing with more than any child should have to deal with– to give back in honor of my Aunt Eleanor and  to help Ann’s friends show her how much they care about her and her family.

Doing all of that was so, so, so easy.

Another lessoned learned.

I can do that everyday for someone, somewhere—I just have to be willing to.

August 10, 2008 at 1:29 pm 2 comments

Sterling Heights, Michigan

Not a fan of Detroit.

Not. At. All.

As soon as I pulled into town I felt a little more stressed.

Add a psychic calling my hotel room’s phone, her trying to scam me out of money to pay for her room  and a not-funny-at-all-SNL wannabe hotel manager to the dirty, stressful city and you have my complete experience.

At least I visited the Henry Ford Museum and got my tourist on–I really should have brought my fanny pack.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the museum was more than just cars. They have an IMAX theatre and a village showcasing ‘merica through the years, in addition to the indoor museum which is home to all things ‘merica. From old stoves, to the Rosa Park Bus, to Abe Lincoln’s theatre chair (yes the chair he was assasinated in).  It was ‘merican history and pop culture at its finest. I loved it.

You could spend two days here, but I only had one so I made the most of it–if you are ever in the area of Deerborn, MI this is a must see.

They even have a chocolate exhibit right now. Mmmmmmm.

While there were no free samples…boo! I did learn a lot. Did you know that saucers were created for hot chocolate NOT coffee or tea? True story people.

Also, the entire exhibit was in both English and Spanish–both languages were given equal prominence. I think this would have been a great exhibit to see while studying the language because it is amazing to see how much I understand now, it would have been nice to learn something in a different language–as opposed to just memorizing everything. Anyways…

But there were cars—here was my favorite.

The 1953 version of the iconic Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

And here is a little look at Greenfield Village.

This is just one of the many homes in the village. Each “town” was set apart by era and geographic location. My favorite section was the old south section. I had to have some sweet potato fries and iced tea as I heard the old slave stories accompanied by beautiful singing. I practically teared up listening to this woman sing and act—it was amazing.

Thank goodness they didn’t let me sing–but they did let me lipsynch in the 80s showcase. Too much fun dancing in front of the green screen while trying to vogue like Madonna and friends. I chose the robot—it’s always a safe choice!

August 10, 2008 at 1:09 pm 1 comment

Dayton, Ohio

What do people do for fun, during the summer, in the midwest?

Go to a lake house.

But it’s not so easy. You either have to own a lake house or have a friend who does…and since I am a nomad traveling through ‘merica I, it is safe to say that in most states, I am lake house friendless.

So, I do the next fun summer thing.

I go to the mall.

This was just a lunch stop in Dayton on my way to Michigan–but I had to add Ohio to my list of states visited on this trip, so here it is.

As I was leaving the mall I saw this group of girls, and thought “They must be headed to some comic convention.”

Turns out, they were not.

“We thought it would be fun to dress up and go to the mall,” one girl told me.

She must be lake house friendless as well.

Poor girl.

August 10, 2008 at 12:17 pm 1 comment

Lexington, Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky is a beautiful, unique little city full of horses, bourbon, history but not one CVS!

About an hour after we arrived to our fabulous hotel, The Lexington Radisson–equipped with SleepNumber beds (ooooolala!) I headed out the sliding doors to find a CVS to walk around.

After looping around a few blocks (on foot) I realized that this city was made up of restaurants, bars and well, that’s about it! So I headed back to the front desk and enlisted the help of the bell boy. He informed me that there are no drug stores within walking distance.

Interesting…

So what exactly is this city made up of?

I didn’t see apartments on my walk. But I am guessing people work in this city. Hmmmm. Must figure this out!

While in Lexington I had a visitor as did my co-worker.

Mifflin and I attempted to visit Lincoln’s wife’s childhood home, but it was a loooong tour, they only took cash AND she only lived there for a few years…so we decided to go the FREE route and check out the horses.

Turns out its not so easy to see a horse up close and personal in Lexington. If you want to see the horses you have to schedule a visit to a farm and yadda yadda yadda. A lot of effort to pet a horse, so I left satisfied by seeing one run around the track one early morning at Keeneland Race Course.

Instead of horses Mifflin and I learned about the history of Lexington at the appropriately named Lexington History Museum. There were exhibits about Race in Lexington, about Lexington and it’s role as a Neutral state during the Civil War and a lot about the Lincoln family. Good Stuff. Learned a lot. Well, I did. Mifflin already knew it all.

“I’ve been everywhere, LDB. Everywhere. Don’t forget that.” – Mifflin

This was not his first time in Lexington, but it was his first time at the Lexington History Museum!

And he was in Heaven when we walked past the restaurant in our hotel’s window that showcased a Pasta Bar.

Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Cafe on the Park in the Lexington Radisson, every Thursday, is home to an all you can eat Pasta Buffet.

Now, this isn’t a CiCi’s Pizza type of event. No, no, no. You pick all the fresh vegetables you want, meats, cheeses, it’s crazy. Then the chefs throw this in your pan with your choice of pasta and sauce. Then after its all ready you walk about with a plate of pasta that weighs about 5 lbs. And tastes so, so , so good!

And to balance out the healthiness that is pasta covered in rich sauce and cheese there is also Alfalfa.

Which claims to ‘Feed vegetarians and carnivores alike with innovative and eclectic homemade eats for 35 years.”

Now as Mifflin and I walked in we realized this was a “hippy” place. The menu was very vegetarian sounding, which was fine with me but Mifflin is over 6 feet and weighs a good 270 ish. Would we need to stop at Subway after lunch for him to fill up?

We ordered. We both got iced tea, he like the berry with lots of sweetner and I liked the spiced iced tea.

*if there is one thing about the South/Midwest it’s that there is ALWAYS iced tea…I love that!*

When it came to the food I learned something new about Mifflin.

The boy has NEVER had a peanut butter and banana sandwich. And he claims he hates all things peanut butter and banana. So sad… so sad. Anyways after that lesson learned…

He got a burrito (vegetarian) and I got the Alfalfa Avacado Grill (hummus, swiss and cheddar cheese with sliced avocado and tomato grilled to perfection).

And dun dun dun…we were both full!

I left a HUGE fan of Alfalfa. I still crave that sandwich to this day. I’ll be back!

The University of Kentucky is literally up the street from Lexington so downtown Lexington, during the school year, is known for being good college fun. And we all know I love good college fun.

So Mifflin, my co-worker and her boyfriend went to Cheapside, the favorite of college students.

But before Cheapside, Mifflin and I went out to dinner and had a special juggling lesson from a professional juggler in the street and then got invited to watch the World’s Juggling Competition inside a theatre nearby. Tickets were $30. We snuck in and saw a dude from Tokyo juggle it up. For the record Mifflin is a better juggler, he should probably join the circus.

So then we went to Cheapside where the drinks are not on the cheap side–at all. And our server was very confused. Maybe its better during the school year. Hopefully.

The next day we went to the AllTech Brewery where they make Bourbon Beer. So, so, so GOOD! We tried the three different kinds, watched a movie and got a tour of the brewery. I even stuck my finger in this jar of syrup that EVERYONE else from the tour stuck their nasty finger in. I HAD to because Mifflin didn’t. We couldn’t both NOT do it. Gross. I still cringe and he still laughs. Awesome time. Visit the Brewery. AND IT IS FREE!

Geez. I did a lot in Lexington! Sorry for the BOOK.

Afterward for our last night together MIfflin and I went to this hole in the wall Mexican restaurant. You ordered at a window and at first I was not happy with it. There was no one else there. I wanted a waiter. MIfflin was so happy to not see any one. I think he was overwhelmed by the people we met who wanted to talk about my job etc. It was nice to spend time, just us. The food was really good. And their were chips and salsa so Mifflin really enjoyed eating those while we waited for our food.

Overall a great time in Lexington. I am so glad I had a visitor. I hope to visit again in the future. Even if you don’t like bourbon (like myself!) there is PLENTY to do in Lexington.

It now is my 2nd favorite place I have visited.

1. Chicago

2. Lexington

August 3, 2008 at 3:39 pm 2 comments

Springfield, Missouri

Oh, you mean Missourah?

Yea, that state too.

Streets filled with restaurants, shops, nail salons, and OH MY GOSH! a real live mall!

And people were waving, chatting and oh so friendly.

AH!

Civilization.

Although I did not have a day off in Springfield I managed to go to the mall, eat at Thai Peppers (so good! but they don’t serve alcohol on Sundays–WARNING!– AND the picture on the website doesn’t look anything like the restaurant…hmmmm…), have yummy Greek Pasta at Zio’s and visit Ozark Gifts (one of those souvenior shops you follow for miles on the highway with big painted billboards that shout “WORTH STOPPIN’ FOR! and such, love it!).

Although it was a quick trip there is A LOT to do in Missouri.

The exact opposite from Manchester, IA.

Uhhhh. I needed that.

BeepBeep! I’m now in the land of the Blue Grass 🙂

July 19, 2008 at 9:50 pm 1 comment

Manchester, Iowa

After a quick stop and history lesson in Clear Lake, Iowa we headed for Manchester.

Population: approximately 5,000, on a good day.

A very, very small midwestern town. Small enough that I was being whispered about in the teeny tiny Walmart that was about 20 feet from my hotel. I, clearly, was NOT from around here.

To put this into perspective there isn’t even a McDonald’s. And there are only two classy hotel accomodations. The Days Inn or a Super8. Choices, choices.

The “big” fair was starting up in town. But apparently my co-worker and I were the only people excited for it!

We decided to take our lunch break (not that anyone was there to take a break from) to go see “Monkey Time” the monkey show.

Yup! Monkeys in Iowa, I am all about seeing that.

So there were were watching these monkeys. They were great, but the only people clapping were ummmm…us. Rough crowd over here in Manchester!

I got selected as a volunteer and a bird flew right into my hand. I saw a monkey with a red butt and a monkey with a blue butt. I even saw just some regular old, furry monkey butts.

That was probably the highlight of my stay in Manchester, Iowa.

Well I did meet some pretty interesting people. One man even told my co-worker and I that criminals should be, and I quote “castrated and fed it as their next meal.”

I also did a lot of cow and sheep chatting. Anything and everything that would get someone to talk to me in that small town!

Monkey’s are usually the highlight of any event or vacation so I am not really doing my experience in Manchester justice.

Put it this way, for the first time in my travels this year I have found a state where I will never, ever live.

Ever.

Sorry, Iowa.

July 19, 2008 at 9:40 pm 3 comments

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