A Four Day Weekend – ?!

So last weekend Chris and I lucked into a 4-day weekend. It was a most unusual occurrence and only happened thanks to serendipity, my kindly boss, and generous co-workers. On Thursday, Chris got off at 10 am as he was post-call. He slept until early evening, at which point we set off for… the casino!!!

We didn’t just go for the gambling – the jingle of slots, the smoke-drenched ceilings, the strange combination of normal folks and ne’er-do-wells  that mingle at these places – no, we went for the food! We enjoyed the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet: endless crab legs and a delicious round of Mongolian barbecue. Then Chris went off to play blackjack, and I turned our $50 in free slots into approximately $30 of winnings. I came out ahead, really! Here’s a shot of Chris with his chips:

The next morning I had lemon cheese pancakes… I know they sound bizarre but they were sooo tasty with blueberry syrup. Then Chris played some more blackjack. He didn’t lose any money and got 3 hours of free entertainment!

Afterwards we headed up to a bluff above Red Wing and played a disc golf course. We’d tried it once before but had never finished it.  Here’s a pic of us on the bluff above Red Wing:

We continued on our way, hitting the Falconer and Cannon Falls wineries along the way. We are working on filling up our passport on the Great River Road Wine Trail (http://www.greatriverroadwinetrail.org). The Falconer had tasty pizza, and Cannon Falls is adorable. I’d only ever seen the 52 side of town, but there’s a very nice downtown as well. Here’s a picture with my pizza on the nice deck at Falconer.

We continued into the Cities where we stayed at the Doubletree, aka “The Dark Tower.” We had a snazzy dinner at Chili’s. When you don’t live in a city with a Chili’s you take it when you can!!!

The next day we headed to the Ren Fest with one of my high school friends, Jesselyn and her hubby. I haven’t seen her in over 10 years, since she was my chem lab partner. We had a great time, although the RenFest took twice as long to get to. Since last year they’ve turned a big chunk of the parking lot into Le Quarry. It’s more of a pilgrimage than it was before. But once there we saw all the best stuff- glass shows, turtles pulling carts, pickle vendors, and all kinds of tasty food. Here’s a shot of our “band of pilgrims”…

I decided to do something different and got my hair braided… I liked it!!! I was worried about not washing my hair for a few days, but I could totally get into this! If only I had the hand coordination… or patience… 

After the Renfest, we had dinner with our friends at Brasa, an upscale BBQ-type place with tasty meat and sides.  The next morning we had brunch at the Lowry. Peanut butter waffle for me, huevos rancheros for Chris – if you are in Minneapolis, you have to brave the wait and try this “urban diner”!! Then we headed home by way of a few more wineries along the Great River Road Wine Trail, including one in Prescott, a cidery in Maiden Rock, the Villa Belleza winery, and finally a stop at the Flour Mill in Wabasha. 

Here’s a shot of me on the tire swing at the cidery where we tried a bunch of different delicious ciders. As a Woodchuck fan, this place blew me away. Delicious! 

Our weekend was fantastic but ended on a slightly sad note as we found out my favorite small town book shop, Book Cliffs in Wabasha, has closed. It’s always sad to lose a local bookstore to the inevitable march of Amazon. I found some crazy random amazing books at that store and am sorry to see it go.

Why two posts in one day? Well, we are heading away soon on another funtastic vacation. Then we’ll buckle down to work and school and church and Bible study… I promise. But it’s summer and we are going to drink it all in (literally!) Hope you are having a good end-of-summer as well!  

A Visit from the Grandparents!

Almost two weeks ago my grandparents drove all the way from Colorado to visit. Before they came they had mentioned that they would like to have some donuts from our favorite place – Bloedows in Winona. So we drove all the way there and back with the doggies – and played a round of disc golf on the way back.

We had a great time except sadly WINONA CITY PARKS DON’T ALLOW DOGS. WHO DOES THAT?!!!!! So we had to sit and eat a snack on this random park bench:

=

But oh, the glazed croissants!

My grandparents came in the afternoon and we had a wonderful time. They came over to our house and we went to Beetle’s for dinner. Grandma and I had a couple of our favorite drinks, the name of which I will not post, but I will refer you to Candy Dulfer… 

The next day Chris had to work a call shift. So I did what everyone wants to do when they visit family – took my grandparents to the hospital! We stayed strictly to the visitor areas of course. Chris met us for a brief snack between discharges in the courtyard:

I also took my grandparents to the St. Mary’s chapel. It is absolutely breathtaking… you would never expect such a stunning spiritual space in a hospital. Even for non-Catholics, it is a holy and precious place to pray. 

After that we headed to the mall and then to Applebees for another tasty meal (and sassy drink!) Then we bid our fond farewells. 

Our doggies loved seeing Grandma and Grandpa, and really enjoyed their new toys. They got a “puppy” that has nearly taken the place of Duke’s favorite chicken. Cylindrical toys are very popular in their world. They also like their new beaver. One evening when we were at the hotel, one of the housekeepers had a little doggy.

Doesn’t it look like a mini-Duke?! Don’t get any ideas, Chris! 🙂 

Well, I’ll be posting soon (maybe even tonight) about our 4-day weekend adventures all over Minnesota!!!

Buffalo Bill Days, 2 Ways

When I was growing up we often visited my grandparents in the summer in the beautiful foothills of the Rockies. Golden, Colorado – the home of Coors, of Colorado School of Mines, and of  Buffalo Bill’s grave. 

If you are asking yourself who Buffalo Bill is, I can only say: get thee to Wikipedia! 

Many summers, we were there for Buffalo Bill Days, the only part of which was relevant to us  (as children) being the parade. I remember skittering around the streets for candy – watching politicians shake my grandparents’ hands – admiring the many beautiful horses that went by – being scandalized by the “Shady Ladies” – and enjoying a slice of pizza afterwards across the street. Buffalo Bills Days were part of the summer experience in Golden. 

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I was not surprised when, on one of my first visits to Lanesboro (in Minnesota), I learned that they too had a claim on Buffalo Bill. It turns out that he did his very first Wild West show there  with 6 Indians including 2 Indian maidens, two white men, and a Mr. Man. I was not surprised, because Lanesboro felt a lot like Golden did to me when I was growing up: magical.

When I heard about Buffalo Bill Days, I knew we had to go. At least to the parade. I do so love parades. Moreover, several of my coworkers and classmates are somehow affiliated with Lanesboro and I went to support their fair town.

I enjoyed parades when I was a kid. For some reason, we thought our dogs are like kids and would enjoy a parade. Ha! 

Duke loved it. Duke loves everything. Earl, on the other hand – 

Earl does not like fake gun shots by men in Wild West garb. Earl does not like sirens from ambulances or firetrucks. Earl does not particularly like bag pipes. Earl is alarmed by large horses. Earl does not like having candy thrown at him.  Earl does not much care about beauty queens or politicians, and he doesn’t like popsicles. 

Nope, Earl does not like parades.

In his anxiety, Earl crushed somebody’s flower bed; later, he and Duke downed a kind stranger’s entire bottle of water between them. 

 

Here’s a shot of us in a nice green space we found off to the side. 

After the parade ended, we wandered on down to the Beer & Brat tent where there was a volleyball tournament going on. Man, it looked hot out there!  We had a beer and a brat – and Earl had a little too. He also may have had some pond water. He was calmed down by this point and so cute that little kids couldn’t resist trying to get him to give them pony rides…

What a sweet, patient puppy!

Of course I couldn’t leave without a souvenir for my box collection from one of the antique tents:

 

 

A box shaped like a piano! I couldn’t pass it up!

We came home and gave the dogs dinner… and Earl threw up. He threw up a couple more times overnight and was staggering around like a poor drunk puppy. My understanding boss let me come in late so I took him to the vet where he got a shot, some antibiotics, and a soft diet. Over the last few days he has made a remarkable recovery and is now 100%. I don’t know if it was too much excitement, too much water, too much algae, or what, but I’m glad my “fur-baby” is better! 

Did I just use that phrase?!!

All in all, Buffalo Bill Days rock, wherever you have them… especially the parades! But I think Duke and Earl will be skipping it next year.