I thought I'd share a bit about Toni's and my recent trip to Minnesota, including photos.
Sunday we drove up to Stillwater, MN, taking the long way through Wisconsin so we could hit Mars Cheese Castle
and the Jelly Belly factory
gift shop just a little over the border from Illinois. The former was okay, but I think I've been in better cheese shops. At the latter we were hoping to replace my very old Jelly Belly t-shirt, but alas, nothing was in stock that was appealing. We did get some cheese at Mars and some jelly beans at Jelly Belly, though, along with lots of stuff from nearby Pepperidge Farm and Tupperware outlet shops.
We stayed right in Stillwater at the Water Street Inn
, since one of the reasons we made the trip was to see Paul & Lorraine (I'd link them, but their domain seems to be offline - they're a quasi-Celtic duo. Lorraine plays fiddle, Paul plays acoustic guitar, and they both sing) play for 9 hours on St. Patrick's Day in Charlie's Pub downstairs and in the Inn ballroom.
Monday, we drove over to south Minneapolis and hit Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Bookstore
. I'd been there back in the early '90s when visiting a friend who lived and worked in Rochester, MN at the time, and it was pretty much how I remembered: disorganized, dusty, but what an awesome selection. We spent too much money, of course. Afterward, we hit a Borders so I could get an updated map/atlas of the area (my previous ones dated from the last time I was there), and had lunch at Big Bowl
, a great Singapore Thai/Chinese fusion place that makes their own awesome ginger ale. And I had salmon pad thai. Then we headed back to Stillwater, hit Valley Bookseller
in town, and I took some photos around the (frozen but cracking thanks to 60-degree temps) river's edge. For dinner we went to Freight House
, which was yummy.
Tuesday we headed back over to south Minneapolis, this time to hit DreamHaven Books
, Neil Gaiman's favorite local bookstore. They didn't open until Noon, so we took our time, also looking for a sign we saw Monday along the way. A tool renter's shop was advertising (that they) "Dump Bodies
". I'm tempted to submit that to Fail Blog. :-) Next, we stopped at Uncle Hugo's again and got more stuff there (of course). Then we went to DreamHaven. They had a different variety than Uncle Hugo's, were a lot cleaner, and seemed to venture more into the comics market. They had the obligatory Gaiman
rack in the middle of the store, where I picked up a few things we didn't have, and it was difficult not
to get signed copies. After shopping trip number two, we went back to the Inn in Stillwater where Toni napped for a little while, and then we headed downstairs to the concert at Charlie's Pub
. Paul & Lorraine played there from 3:00pm until 5:30pm, then relocated to the Inn ballroom where they continued from 6:00pm to Midnight.
The concert was a lot of fun. We met several folks Toni had been getting to know online through Lorraine's blog
("Fiends"). She and Paul are great musicians and know how to entertain a crowd. And IMHO, Lorraine could give Eileen Ivers a run for her money on the fiddle. Toni and I stayed until Midnight CDT, which was way past my usual bedtime. :-) Drove home brain dead yesterday, around Chicago at rush hour (blech), getting back about 7:30pm.Photos are here.
Traditional logic (and likely my advisor) says I shouldn't have gone since I'm working on my M.S. thesis for hopeful defense in late April, but Toni convinced me, and I'm very glad. I needed a break, and I don't think I'm all that behind in my school work because of it, and Toni and I hadn't been anywhere together on a longer trip since I think before I went back to school.