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MinneSNOWta!!!

In honor of the -38 temp in International Falls, MN, I am FINALLY posting this from Christmas.  I forgot to put it up, but it seemed like such a waste to delete it…

I am chillin (literally) in the greatest state; the North Star State; the home of Prince, Bob Dylan, Charles Schulz, Judy Garland and the Spam Museum, among many other fantastic people and places.  Most importantly, it’s where my friends and family live and where I grew up.

Most people’s familiarity with Minnesota doesn’t extend farther than the airport or what is portrayed by Hollywood in movies like the Mighty Ducks trilogy (love of hockey), Grumpy Old Men (love of fishing) and Fargo, which really just went after our delightful accents.

There is so much more to Minnesota though.  In the spirit of the holidays and in order to share some Minnesota love with you all….I give you the 12 Days of Minnesota!

12 Pucks A-Flying: Minnesotans as a rule just LOVE hockey.  Yes, it was a tragedy of epic proportions when the North Stars were reduced to the Dallas Stars and the grieving “L’Etoile du Nord” was left in a state of no pro hockey team torment for seven painful, painful years.  But, now all is right in the world and we have the Minnesota Wild.  In addition, U of M hockey is incredibly popular (my grandpa has held center ice season tickets since before I was born) and even the high school state hockey tournament will sell out.  Furthermore, there are cheerleaders for hockey games.  They do cheers on the boards, in the crowds and on the ice.  I always thought this was the case for all hockey games.  Only when I moved to the east coast did I discover that it was unusual.  As a personal note directed at the “pucks a-flying” title, I have been hit by pucks at 3 different games.

11 Fish A-Flopping: Being the land of  10,000 lakes, Minnesota inspires a lot of water activities: water skiing, wakeboarding, jetskiing, and of course fishing.  As my family graduated from our tiny aluminum boat that you had to careful maneuver on so as not to tip it, to our current Crestliner speedboat, family fishing has pretty much stayed the same.  There’s nothing better than a day on the lake followed by a fish fry.  Our time afloat also inspired my dad to nickname one of my moves – the Crappie flop.  Apparently whenever I got hurt, I would flop around like a spastic fish out of water.  We even fish in the winter – ice fishing!  Most people have a hard time understanding this one.  Yes, it’s so cold here that the lakes freeze enough to withstand pickup trucks and little icehouses.  Then you use an ice auger and drill a hole so you can fish.  Nowadays the houses are heated so it’s actually pretty warm and you always have good food and a cooler of beer!

Ice Fishing!

10 Sliders Sliding: What’s a slider you might ask…it’s a delicious little burger from White Castle.  Many of the people I’ve met out east either have never heard of White Castle, have  only seen the frozen ones at the grocery store, or think that the place was made up for the movie.  Shame, shame.  I’ve put them at number 10 because I used to be able to eat the Sack of 10, which as you might have assumed, is a bag of 10 burgers.  Of course this would not be complete without the crinkley fries and a chocolate milkshake.  For awhile, every Wednesday was Whities Wednesday and I would tag along with my dad who went to White Castle with his friend to get some burgers and chat.

9 Canoes A-Paddlin’: Whether you love or hate canoeing (who would hate it?!), I think that anyone worth spending time with would love a trip up to the Boundary Waters.  The Boundary Waters is a canoe and wilderness area up in northern Minnesota that is shared with Canada.  Most areas do not allow any type of motor on the water.  It is quiet, pristine and wild.  In high school, I snowshoed five miles dragging a sled of gear and then spent the weekend winter camping.  It was of course freezing and I ended up with frostbite on some of my toes; but, it was incredible. 

8 Bikers Biking: Minneapolis is a major biking city.  In fact, Bicycling Magazine ranked it as the best biking city in the country.  The city is very bike friendly and boasts 46 miles of road with bike lanes and 84 miles of off street bike paths.  Even in the winter, you will see lots of people out on their bikes!  Still not convinced?  This article explores why Minneapolis was ranked number one.  In addition, Minneapolis is the home of Artcrank – a super cool company that puts on events featuring local artists and their bike-themed work. 

7 Ya You Betchyas: We all don’t talk like a character out of Fargo or like Bobby’s mom from Bobby’s World, but…it sounds pretty close.  And of course, some people have stronger accents than others.  I didn’t have a particularly strong one to begin with and now after living on the east coast for seven years, I really don’t have too much of a trace of it.  That is until you get to the “a”s.  Bag, flag, rag, tag, drag, you get the idea.  My two most ridiculous words that have actually caused confusion are dragon and talent.  There are also some of us that do throw in a ya, you betchya or a don’t ya know, or just an “o”.  The “oooo!” rises at the end and can be used to express shock, anger, excitedness, surprise, etc.  And yes, we say pop.  Along with our charming accents, we really are Minnesota Nice.  

6 Boats A-Sailing: Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis has plenty of trails to walk around, sailboat racing, sailboat renting, sand beaches and a sailing school.  It’s incredibly cute to watch the little kids on their sailboats.  There are also tons of restaurants and bars nearby for happy hour and rooftop dining.  It’s always full of people and a great place to go.

5 Juicy Lucy’s: The juicy lucy is a culinary masterpiece which features the cheese inside of the perfectly cooked burger patty!  There are a few restaurants here in MN that make them and a couple that claim to have been the first.  Two of the places and their beautiful juicy lucys were featured on Man V. Food and will not disappoint anyone who enjoys a good burger – regardless of which place you go too.  The 5-8 Club has cheese curds – enough said.  However, I will say that I liked the Jucy Lucy (yes, the spelling of Jucy is intentional) at Matt’s Bar better.  But, there are many cheese options at the 5-8 Club and only one at Matt’s.  So many factors to consider….

American cheese, German engineering

4 Gagillion Shoppers: This part is not for everyone, but it’s worth mentioning since it is a very popular tourist destination.  In MN, we have the nation’s largest shopping mall – the Mall of America, or MOA.  This mall is unbelievably huge and actually kind of overwhelming.  Each year around 40 million people visit the mall, making it one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country.  In the center is an amusement park, which was shown on Mighty Ducks.  For those of you who know, Charlie and Fulton get sick riding the Pepsi Ripsaw Rollercoaster.

3 Boots of Beer: You may have seen them on Beerfest, but the real thing is at Gasthof’s.  Gasthof’s is fantastic for both food and drinking large amounts of really good German beers.  Although, as we quickly learned, it’s not always best to try to do both of those things on the same occasion.

Takes a lot of arm work to raise this glass

2 Feet of Snow: For all the bad things about snow, it does make for a very perfect wintery Christmas!  Minnesota never has a shortage of snow and you never know when it will fall.  When I was little we had a huge blizzard right before Halloween.  Luckily, the local mall opened up for us kids to go and trick or treat.

More recently MN made news with one of the biggest snow storms in the state’s history, which caused the roof of the Vikings’ stadium (The Metrodome) to collapse.

and a Spoonbridge and Cherry: One of the most iconic things about Minnesota is the Spoonbridge and Cherry which sits in the sculpture garden of the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis.

© Heather Freitag 2009

The sculpture was done by Claes Oldenburg, the same artist who did the batcolumn in Chicago, which I discussed in an earlier post.

But, despite the ridiculous amount of snow and that the high on Christmas Day is a scorching 15 degrees Farenheit, there is nowhere else in the world I would rather be.

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Posted by on January 23, 2011 in Family, Food and Drink, Holidays, Travel

 

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Should Have Hitched a Ride With Santa

Everyone knows that with the joys of the holidays comes the dreaded downside of holiday travel.  At the very least you will be confronted with people who travel very infrequently leading to amateur hour at the airport, coupled with slight delays and being stuck in a middle seat sandwich with two “husky,” foul-smelling passengers on either side of you.  This I can handle.  I’m not really big on stressing and can usually roll with whatever debacle comes my way.  And trust me, as a smaller person that gets targeted as a seat mate just as intensely as a trophy buck during hunting season, I have sat next to more than my fair share of less than ideal fellow travelers.  My face must say, “yes, I would love to share my seat with all of your excess blubber that will clearly not fit in your designated space.” However, this holiday season, travel annoyances ranked right up there with my college spring break disaster (when I had to rent a car and drive from Charlotte, NC to Syracuse, NY) as some of the worst travel experiences I have ever had.

Ok, so a huge storm hit.  I get that, and I understand that it’s not the airlines fault.  Buuuuttt, I do think that poor management, under-staffing and horribly unhelpful attitudes not only make the situation more unbearable, but also actually add unnecessary delays and obstacles to getting everyone home safely and in a TIMELY manner.

For example, my Sunday flight was canceled on Saturday night.  I immediately started trying to call Delta to get my other options (maybe a llama trek? Or re-route through Costa Rica?).  To my annoyance, I received a recording about high call volume over and over.  Never an answer.  So then, Sunday morning I get the Delta voicemail alerting me to my canceled flight and telling me when they have re-scheduled me for.  Unfortunately, Ryan’s phone was on silent and he didn’t receive his new flight information.  Now, because they would not answer their phone, we had to drive to the airport to stand in line just to see when his flight was.  This is dumb and takes up time in the line that could be used for other passengers.

Next, Ryan and I get split up.  Ugh!  This I will not blame on the airlines.  We booked separately so there was no way for them to know that we were traveling together.  Still…a bummer.

So, Monday comes along and we get to our gates.  My flight is delayed for slightly over 2 hours due to the toilets on the plane being clogged!  Are you kidding me?!  As a result, I was going to miss my connection.  When I went to the counter, they initially told me I would have to wait until Tuesday to get out to DC.  Only when I got an attitude and told the woman that it was unacceptable and I was already missing a day without pay because of their cancellations did she actually really try to find me a seat – which she did.  Why do I have to be an ass in order to get a seat?!?!?!  I understand that these airline employees are not going to turn into superheros and fly us to our destinations themselves; but, shouldn’t they be doing everything they can think of to get as many passengers on planes as possible, thus freeing up space on later flights for other stranded wanderers?  Apparently instead, they are trained to stare at the screen, pretend to furiously type and scan the monitor and then tell you that you will continue to miss work, weddings, school, etc.

While I’m dealing with the toilets, Ryan has landed in Atlanta and is spending way too much money on less than mediocre airport food.  (Why is it that even the restaurants that are tolerable or good anywhere else will still be nasty in the airport?)  I finally land and try to get standby on Ryan’s flight…no go.  Ryan boards and is off to DC, or so I thought.  Turns out, they waited for a little over an hour because the water wasn’t working in the bathrooms on-board and they are required to have some way for passengers to wash their hands.  Despite offers of baby wipes and hand sanitizers from various passengers, the flight had to wait for the arrival of some handi-wipes.  A half-full box was finally produced by the ticketing agent who bitterly announced that the employees would no longer have clean hands because she took them from the break room.  Apparently the airport doesn’t have water either… As one clever man pointed out to the flight attendant, had they taken off, they would be only 30 minutes away from DC and nobody would have even used the bathrooms. 🙂

Finally, we both made it home around 2AM.  The one positive thing is that all of the Deschutes beer and the Shaker’s Vodka that we had so lovingly packed in socks, towels and a giant ziploc (just in case) made it through without one drop being spilled.

Our Unbroken Booty!

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2010 in Family, Holidays, Travel

 

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