Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Break 2011: Madison & Minnesota

Day 1 Friday:
Katrina takes bus to Chicago
Drive back to Madison

This year Brad and my spring breaks were at the same time, which meant we could both get away from school! Last year I had spring break, then we both had a week of school, then Brad had spring break, so one of us was always in school. Fortunately, UK offered a spring break bus going to the Chicago area. Brad had to drive a little ways to pick me up, thank you Brad! Considering gas prices, the cost was about the same, but I didn't have to put as much wear on my car or be totally exhausted. Plus, I love riding coach buses! Brad picked me up at the Cracker Barrel, where we decided to have the Friday Fish Fry. It was okay...but I think we'll stick to local fish fry's from now on.

Day 2 Saturday:
Breakfast at Farmer's Market
Protests at Madison's capital
St Vincents Thrift Store
Willy Street Coop
Bellinis Italian Restaurant
Movie- "Donnie Darko"

Like always, Brad and my travels are always packed with lots of things we'd like to do. Saturday started off early with a breakfast at the Farmer's Market. The market goes inside in the winter, and a breakfast from all the farmer's produce is made. It was wonderful! We had a spring salad with vinaigrette, sweet potato hash, cornbread, and an egg omelet with salsa. We could really tell a difference in how it tasted with the fresh ingredients.

Protesting at the Capital

After a few weeks of being a part of the protesting at the capitol, Katrina finally had the chance to experience it. It was a very entertaining day with farmers driving their tractors around the square and others marching and singing in protest. We met some friends of mine there and walked around for a bit listening to the protest music and speeches.

Then we made our way up to the capital square to see some protesting. There were some pretty clever signs and a huge crowd! We didn't stay too long, it was pretty cold outside! After a siesta, we went down to the St. Vincent thrift store, where I like to go every time I go to Madison. While we were there we found a deep dish pie dish, which we made cherry pie in later. We then went to the Willy St Co-op for some cherries. It was a lot like Good Foods Coop here at home since they're both part of the Coop, except here it is only $10 to be a member for a year, and if you aren't a member, you have to pay 5% extra on your purchase. In Lexington, membership fees are $200 a year, but non-members don't have to pay extra. Not really feasible for someone like me!

Later that night Brad took me to a nice Italian restaurant near the capital, called Bellinis. It reminded me of Joe Bolognas back home, because both are in an old church. It was pretty cold that night, but it was cozy inside the restaurant with the nice atmosphere.

Day 3 Sunday:
Cook dinner for the potluck
James' home for Dinner

Downtown Columbus, WI

Sunday was a very nice relaxing day. The semester must have caught up with me at the beginning of the week because I just wanted to sleep! Today we had planned a potluck dinner with one of Brad's professors, James, and his friend. We got a few things from the farmer's market on Saturday to cook for the potluck. I really enjoyed waking up late, and spending part of the day cooking in pajamas! In the afternoon we met James (and his dogs!) and took a walk through his small town, Columbus, a small commute from Madison. It has a nice and quiet small town feel. An apartment in the middle of historic downtown is only $270 a month!

Dinner was quite a hit and pretty much everything was eaten. We had baked salmon, baked asparagus, roasted potatoes, coleslaw, Mediterranean spinach salad, bread, cherry pie, and apple cake.

Over the course of the trip, Katrina and I at some pretty good food. I think this potluck was among the best (and simplest) we enjoyed. Getting to see Columbus, WI, visit with some friends, and have great food is an awesome time.

Day 4 Monday:
Meet with Sam, Professor at UW
Lunch w Brad's friend Robbie
State Street
Children's Museum
Dinner- Mushroom Soup/Bread/Salad
Movie- "Willow"

Children's Museum

Today was our last full day in Madison before we left for Minnesota. In the morning I met with a professor from the Landscape Architecture Department at University of Wisconsin to talk about graduate school there. Brad and I then walked around State Street for a while and ate a Mediterranean lunch with his friend Robbie. Then Brad and I went and checked out the children's museum. Admission was only $3.14 since it was Pi day! It was pretty neat, not too much to do for adults (duh!) and there were lots of little kids. I liked the rooftop garden the best where they had a chicken coop!

Unfortunately, I didn't take my camera to the museum to capture any of the cool things they had there. I found myself wishing that my community would have had such a neat place to play and discover things. This one even had some vintage areas, spaces for arts and crafts, and party rooms! I am a bit jealous of the children of Madison...

Day 5 Tuesday:
Drive to Minneapolis
Mall of America
Mall of America

Tuesday was mostly spent traveling to Minnesota, where we planned to tour around for a few days. In the evening before getting to Minneapolis, we went to Mall of America, which is located about 30 minutes south of Minneapolis. The mall really is huge, but wasn't like I imagined. The outside area around the mall is pretty desolate and surrounded by highways. But the inside of the mall is wild! The mall is a 4 story basic square shape, with an amusement park in the middle. There are 4 anchor stores at each corner, and the shops go round the perimeter up to 3 levels. We think the 4th floor was for reserved for parties or meetings. It seemed a good portion of the stores were for apparel and most were stores you would find in other malls. Visiting the mall was pretty neat. Wouldn't want to be there during Christmas season though!

I would have to say that as annoying as I find shopping malls to be, this was a very fun experience. The exterior and parking was horrible, but the interior was 4 floors of glorious entertainment. Passing through the Mac Store, the Lego Store, and snacking at an Auntie Anne's pretzel were highlights of this visit. It puts any mall that I have ever been to, to shame!

Day 6 Wednesday:
Mill City Museum
Skyways and Nicolett Mall
Walker Art Museum & Sculpture Garden
The Local
Guthrie Theater- "A Winter's Tale"

View of Mississippi River from the Mill City Museum

Mill City Museum Glass Elevator

Our residence for this trip was the Days Inn on University. This hotel had a good rate for its location, and we got a few discounts which made it even better. However, there is a reason why this hotel had cheaper rates... It wasn't anything too horrible (scratchy sheets, funky drain, 8am cleaning duty, flat mattress, no outlets, and smoky smells)...but it did have free parking, internet, a free shuttle up to 3 miles, and a fridge! It was located right by a good pizza joint and a few blocks from the main part of Dinkytown district in Minneapolis.

Today began pretty exciting. We first went to the Mill City Museum, which is were the main flour mill was located (Gold Medal Flour). It had a lot of history within and it had a pretty nice museum, and an elevator theater. I really enjoyed seeing how they blended the historic part of the mill (which a lot had been burned or fallen down) and with the modern structure of the museum and elevator.

Nicolet Mall

Being a history buff, I really enjoyed touring the Mill City Museum and took a walking tour around some of Minneapolis' riverfront and Loring Park areas. It was especially intriguing to see some historical footage of the city and how it was developed. Using the skyways and Nicolet Mall to get around as a pedestrian was a retreat from the cold, traffic congestion of the rest of the city.

Parking Garage outside of Loring Park

Next we walked through downtown Minneapolis along the skyways, which was a really neat concept. You can pretty much walk all through downtown Minneapolis without going outside! We then walked all the way to the Walker Art Museum. It was quite a hike (distance wise and through traffic)...from Mill City where we parked. The sculpture garden was neat, except it was pretty flooded with snow, water, and mud. It would be nicer to see during the summer. We then went inside the art museum, where we walked through the entirety of the museum in about 30 minutes. We didn't really think our experience here was too great. They had some pretty weird things and only a few things by artists we had heard of. Needless to say, we wished we hadn't walked that far to see it. We probably would have gone to the Wiesman Art Museum, except it is being updated with a Frank Gehry addition!

Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden

On our way back we stopped at a bar and grill, The Local, on the Nicolett Mall Street in downtown. It was a nice place to rest and Brad got an Irish beer and me a 2 Gingers with Ginger Ale. We then kept on walking the hike back. It was a great moment when we could rest our feet back at the hotel. We freshened up a bit and went to the Guthrie theater, which is a neat place. It is right by the Mill City on the river. It has a huge escalator! which takes you up 4 flights to the theaters. It also has a cantilevered deck which looks out onto the river. We saw a modern Shakespeare play "A Winter's Tale", which was partly a tragedy and partly a comedy.

The Gutherie Theater

Day 7 Thursday:
St Paul
Como Zoo and Conservatory
Science Museum
Dinner at Origami
Dessert at Annie's

Como Zoo and Conservatory

By Thursday, Brad and I were pretty exhausted from the trip catching up to us, but we were still enjoying our tour. We began the day off at the Como Zoo and Conservatory. It was pretty awesome, and one of my favorite things we did! The zoo was pretty nice, and the conservatory was even better. They had a really nice flower show in one of the rooms. The Como was even more awesome because there wasn't an admission fee, only a $2 suggested donation, even though I would be willing to pay admission!

Downtown St. Paul

Landmark Center

We were quite surprised as we made our way to downtown St. Paul. It was St. Pattie's Day, and evidently there is always a huge parade a celebration downtown. It was really busy, but also somewhat exciting. There were tons of people, all in green, and a lot of them were already enjoying the local fare around the bars and pubs. Because of the event we couldn't make it to the Schubert Instrument Museum since it decided to close, but we did grab a late lunch and went to the Science Museum. We were glad we made it to the museum because we got a big discount since it was Thursday after 5. We got to see the regular exhibits, along with the King Tut special exhibit and the IMAX. We were totally worn out and we didn't even see everything! We made our way back to the hotel, and barely made it out in time for a late dinner at Origami, a really good sushi place. It was located in the Warehouse district. Afterwards, we wanted some ice cream, and we eventually found Lexington's Tolly Ho equivalent. At Annie's we ordered a real hot fudge sundae and a half order of fries. We were astonished at the how many fries were with the half order...they were really good, but we only ate a few since we were so stuffed!

I must say that, besides the visit with Jake, the science museum was my favorite part of the whole trip. I am crazy about history and getting to see the most important parts of that history excites me. This tour was reminiscent of the History Channel specials I would watch with my grandfather. It was an amazing exhibit and would encourage anyone to check it out if they are visiting the cities!

Minneapolis Museum of Science


Day 8 Friday:
Schubert Museum
Shop/Dinner/The Madcapper

Schubert Club Instrument Museum in the Landmark Center

The third day of our tour ended in Stillwater, which is about 30 minutes outside of St. Paul. This is where Brad's friend, Jake, is from and lives. First we went to the Schubert Instrument museum in St. Paul since it was closed the day before due to St. Pattys. The museum was really awesome (and free!). It didn't have a lot of things, but what they had was exceptional. They had a room full of antique pianos and harpsichords, a room devoted to a collection of 200 letters they have that composers had written to various people, a room full of antique music players (which they played for us!), a room with an Indonesian gamelan set (that we could play!), and several sculptures made of instruments (I made Brad find an oboe).

Liftbridge in Stillwater

After the museum we headed to Stillwater, which is a very nice town located off the St. Croix River. It was really busy town! Jake said a lot of people come from out of town to enjoy the restaurants and shops downtown on weekends. There were quite a few antique malls, and specialty stores like a nice kitchen wares store and bead shop. Jake, Brad, and I ate at the Freight House, then stopped by a diner for the After Dinner Mint Oreo Malt, and then to Jake's favorite hangout, the Madcapper. It was a nice place and had all you can eat popcorn! Brad sampled some Minnesota beers and I got a local favorite, the Madcapper (Peppermint Pattie) which is hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps. Jake's wife, Meg, came and joined us for a while and it was fun hanging out with them. Afterwards, we went cosmic bowling with Jake, Meg, and some of his coworkers.

This is my second visit to Stillwater. I find the place very interesting and entertaining. This time around I was able to enjoy a bit more of the night life at the Mad Capper and then bowl with a whole group of Jake's friends. The town sits on the river and make for some interesting open spaces and history, both of which I find very exciting and photogenic!

Hanging out with Jake at the Mad Capper
*A special thanks to our friend in Stillwater (Jake & Meg) for showing us around town!

Day 9 Saturday:
Drive Back
Fish Tacos
Movie- "The Producers"

Saturday was spent driving back to Madison, going by the grocery, and cooking dinner. On the way home we stopped by Culver's for a fish sandwich where Brad tried to order 'a number 7'. The lady looked as confused as I was and said 'Sir, we don't have numbers here". Brad was thinking we were at McDonalds (where the fish combo is really an 11!). It was pretty hilarious. We were pretty exhausted after the trip and decided we needed a break after spring break! Tonight we made some fish tacos, broccoli casserole (which Brad gets to eat all week!), and some chocolate chip cookies.

Day 10 Sunday:
Back to Lexington

Sunday morning Brad and I woke up early to drive to the Chicago area where the bus was picking me up. We couldn't believe how much we had done in the week, and that a week ago we were in our pajamas cooking! Even though we both have to get back into the routine with school tomorrow, there is only about 6 weeks left of it. A good thing, but also bad cause there is so much to do!

The bus trip back was nice. It was strange coming back to all this green, blooming greenery, and really warm temps. It means allergy medicine is going to be taken everyday! I've gotten sick from allergies for the past 7 years this same exact week! Hopefully not this year! I felt funny getting off the bus in a pea coat, hat, and scarf, while everyone here was in t-shirts.

No comments:

Post a Comment