Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota

After fleeing the bugs of eastern Montana and an adventure in urgent care in North Dakota, we were happy to move on to another state. Although, truth be told, my first day in the Twin Cities was spent in a benadryl stupor, waiting for the steroids to kick in. We had decided to take a couple of days there, thankfully, and by the next morning I was feeling better enough to wander around the Mill District. It was a sunny, sparkling fall day, and despite the fact that I could still feel welts rising up on my hands,  I decided I wasn’t going to let that keep me from my Mary Tyler Moore moment. 

We ate some of the best pizza anywhere at a place called Punch.  The pizzas cook up in a blisteringly hot oven in about 80 seconds.  They taste like the pizzas we had in Italy—that crazy good.

After lunch and a little neighborhood shopping, we were feeling our shopping groove so we decided to take on The Mall. You know the one. The Mall of AMERICA. As if it isn’t normally crazy enough, there was some sort of scrapbooking convention, which was INSANE.  These people had wheeled storage for their photos and papers with seats on the top of them. There were seminars on a variety of scrapbook pages, from a variety of vendors. It was fascinating.
Scrapbookers--a tiny portion of them.  There were many halls like this.
We also went to the Lego store, being of the Lego generation (sure, it's a thing). It was pretty impressive, even for someone who isn’t so much of a brickhead.
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Lego Art
We were pretty tuckered out after a day of shopping, so that was about it for us and Minneapolis. We headed back to our room to make some dinner and watch a movie.

The next day we drove around the Lake of the Isles area and hit what I can only assume is the largest Target store, since it’s at their headquarters in downtown Minneapolis. I mean, if you’re in Minneapolis, you might as well see the Target, right?

After heading out of the MSP area, our goal was to get to the Upper Peninsula for the night, where I’d booked a hotel in Escanaba. But you can’t cross Wisconsin without making at least one stop for dairy, can you?  And when the Burnett Dairy Cheese Store is on the road you’re on, well, I rest my case. It's a dairy case. Full of cheese. Get it?


The really don't understand the meaning of small cone in this part of the country

We didn’t, however, buy the Cajun pickled herring. You have to draw the line somewhere.
 What next, Cajun-style kimchi?
SGP4_2012-09-17 17.42.19We were fortunate enough to see some beautiful fall colors while traveling through the Chequamegon National Forest.  We had some rain, as well, but I think it only made everything more beautiful.
It was a long day of driving, and I’ll admit to getting a lead foot toward the end of a day of slow traffic on back country roads. So I have no one to blame but myself when I was pulled over for speeding just outside of Mellen, Wisconsin.  I was speeding, I was trying to get the heck out of town, and he nailed me.  When he asked me why I was going so fast, I shook my head and said I was looking around at their pretty little town and not paying attention to my speed (ok, so it was as much flirt as I could pull in a situation like this). But after giving the back of our car and all its contents sidelong glance and asking where we were headed, he checked my ID and let me go with a warning to slow down and a few directions to make sure we were on the right road to Escanaba.  I can’t say enough good things about the people of Wisconsin.

By the time we did get to Escanaba, it was after dark, and it’s possible there was some moonlight, but we crashed and burned upon entry, so I don’t recall.  However David took the car over to the local quick lube oil change in the morning and chatted with the nicest bunch of guys about how low the oil was (gotta watch that), and so we did get to meet a few Escanabans. They’re great folks.  The Upper Penninsula of Michigan is definitely rural and it does have a hunter’s safety kind of orange glow to it, but the people are lovely.  Just like over the border in Wisconsin.

Up next: remember how Montana was eating me alive? Well, I decide to pay that forward by eating everything in Michigan. And it ain’t pretty either.