Travel Tales: Minnesota, August 21-25

I took a brief break from the travel tales posts when I headed to Minnesota last Tuesday. It was nice to stay away from the computer for a bit, actually, though I was hardly away from the internet entirely (phone). It worked out for the best, in any case, since my days in the mid-west were a lot more low-key than the ones on the west coast. And by low-key, I more or less mean I didn’t take as many pictures! We still did plenty, and saw plenty!

On Tuesday night I flew in on a pretty turbulent flight, which always puts me out of sorts, even though I know what turbulence is and that it’s generally not an issue. Even so, a plane that bumps around is disconcerting. In any case, I made it there in one piece (and home in one piece, as that’s where I’m writing this from), and Lindsay and Paul (with Albus in tow) met me at the airport. We drove to Paul’s sister’s house, where I met her, her husband and their three daughters. As it was nearing bedtime, everyone was a little tired, so we called it a night.

The next day we hung out with Nicole and the girls, and celebrated Lindsay’s birthday by going out for sushi. Then, Lindsay wanted to go to the Mall of America, which I had no objections to since I’ve never been. My impressions? Yeah, it’s basically a mall, with larger-than-life amusements. But it was fun to see, and I bought pants so it turned out to be a productive visit. We returned to Nicole’s house to pack before we all headed to Lindsay’s friend Olivia’s house, where we would be staying the next three nights. Lindsay and Olivia share a birthday, and so they wanted to celebrate together. Olivia’s mom cooked, and we all enjoyed a meal before once again retiring for the night.

Playing memory with the girls.

Thursday was a big day. It was the opening day of the Minnesota State Fair, and we planned to take it by storm. We definitely succeeded. I have wanted to go to the Minnesota State Fair since Lindsay went a few years ago and told me how much fun it was. And it lived up to it’s name, despite how humid it was all day. We ate our way through the fair – starting with mini doughnuts and ending with fried green tomatoes, with everything from fried oreos, fried pickles and ice cream sandwiches in between. It was fun to walk around among the barn animals, and see the largest hog (and it was large), and the little piglets (some born just that day). There were also some crazy looking chicken, and funny looking angora rabbits.

Me in the pig pavilion (actually they called it the swine barn).

I think my favorite item of the day was the fried pickles. The fried Oreos were good, but I’ll take plain old Oreos any day.

Some of the group wanted to see a concert, so Lindsay and I headed back to the house where I caught this week’s episode of Project Runway (speaking of which, I think I’ll do a recap of the winners and losers for the episodes that were on while I was away, and then take over full force this Thursday with the next new episode).

Friday we wandered Minneapolis for a bit, first going out to breakfast, and then the counter showroom to help Olivia pick new kitchen countertops. We walked around there for a bit, and then headed to the sculpture garden and the Art Center. It was another humid day, so being indoors and driving around in the car were really nice; outside was a little sluggish. Even so, it was nice to walk around and see parts of the city.

That night we went out to eat at the Butcher and the Boar, an excellent, somewhat-family style restaurant where we consumed a ton of meat (the pork chop was amazing). Back at the house we played the board game Lindsay got Olivia for her birthday – Smart Ass. Basically you had to figure out who, what or where something was based on a series of clues that started very general (i.e. “I am a tool”) and became very specific.

Saturday morning we went estate sale shopping, where I got a box of vintage Christmas ornaments to go with my collection, as well as a necklace and some pig salt and pepper shakers. Lindsay and I have determined that we will be going estate sale shopping often from now on. Then Olivia took us to the farmer’s market where we picked up ingredients to make pizzas with Paul’s nieces that evening.

Back at Nicole’s we baby-sat for the girls and made our own pizzas, before settling down to watch the Kit Kittredge movie (yes, it’s a children’s movie, and it’s actually really good; it has a storyline and doesn’t act like children are morons who can only appreciate people falling down or farting). The pizza-making was hysterical – the girls put together their own pies, and then asked for them every minute or so while they were still baking in the oven. And they had barely finished their dinner pizzas when they declared themselves ready for dessert ones (peaches and Nutella).

All too soon, it was time to head to bed, as I had an early flight to catch this morning. Lindsay and Paul generously got up early and took me to the airport. Thus, I now sit at home, finishing off the last of the Travel Tales post for this round. Only time will tell where I go next.

It has been a great three weeks (well, nineteen days). It’s been fun to see old friends, to make new friends, to go to Mike and Shane’s wedding, to visit family, to drive the whole coast and to finally get to see Minnesota. Now I’m home and looking forward to curling up to sleep in my own bed tonight!

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