what happens in duluth

…gets a long and rambly write-up.

This past Saturday was Nerd 2’s birthday, and given that we’ve been a thing (’scuse me while I puke a little) for a little while now, but hadn’t really ever traveled anywhere together (he goes to Iraq, I go to Vegas…it never seems to line up), this seemed like a good time to do something about that.

Duluth seems to be the default place to go for Minnesotans who don’t really want to have to plan their roadtrips too thoroughly, and I hadn’t really ever seen the city so the location was fairly easy to decide on.

We drove up Saturday morning (thereby skipping the mad rush that I assumed Friday evening would have been) and made pretty decent time. On the way, we stopped at Tobie’s for caramel rolls that I told myself I wasn’t going to eat right away, but ended up devouring half of one before we even got back to the car. We checked into the Inn on Lake Superior a little early in hopes of upgrading our room (no joy, they were full up with weddings) and headed out on the town. It had slipped my mind that Fitger’s Brewery was based in Duluth, so it was a pleasant surprise when we drove by it in search of something to eat. The food was unexpectedly good, and the beer, well, we maybe walked out of their with 4 growlers (damn those samplers!). After dinner, we made a feeble attempt to work off the calories by walking around the Canal Park — including feeding the seagulls, the Army Corp of Engineers shipping museum, and walking under the lift bridge — and we ended up at the Duluth 10 theaters just in time to catch a showing of the latest Indiana Jones.

Post movie, we headed back to the hotel and partook of our first round of s’mores on the banks of Lake Superior. When I was researching hotels, I’d noticed that the Inn on Lake Superior did a little s’mores thing every evening (they have a couple of gas firepits in their “backyard”, and they basically lay out all the fixin’s and let you go at it) and I thought that it was going to be a total cheesefest. Well, it was a total cheesefest, but it was kind of awesome because everyone there knew that it was cheesy, and we were all having a great time, because hey…s’mores.

Sunday dawned rainy, and we took our time getting down to breakfast. Another cheesy-yet-awesome gimmick of the hotel: make your own belgian waffles. I didn’t believe that they could possibly be worth standing in line for, but after Nerd 2 brought me one I was sold (and planned out a better strategy for the following morning’s meal). After breakfast, we pondered driving up the north shore (too rainy) and ended up just tooling around town garage saleing for a while before we hit up the aquarium.

Fact: seahorses are kind of awesome.

Post-fishies, we lunched at Hell’s Kitchen North (possibly more awesome than the downtown incarnation) and then came a well deserved period of hard core nappage, which I reluctantly awoke from when I started getting text messages asking if I was ok. This confused me a lot until I got on the interwebs (I’d forgotten about them) and realized that tornadoes and hail of various sizes had been reported in my neighbourhood. I spent 20 mins or so trying to find someone in Blaine who would answer the phone and tell me that my house was still there, eventually reaching a neighbour who assured me that there was no reason to come home a day early. This obviously called for celebration, which we did with more s’mores, margaritas from Little Angie’s, and a swim in the outdoor-pool-which-was-really-more-of-a-large-hottub.

Monday morning, we braved the cold at breakfast for a better view of the water, and reluctantly packed up our things for the drive back to the cities. There was lots we didn’t see or do, but hey, that just leaves something to come back for, right?

Final thoughts:

  • Duluth, on Memorial Day weekend, during an unseasonably cool spring, is effing cold. I was pretty prepared with long pants and sweatshirts, but there were definitely some other tourists there who though that shorts and t-shirts would be sufficient. They suffered.
  • Canal Park, for a totally artificial tourist zone, is actually pretty nice. It probably helps that it’s right on the shore of a Great Lake, and the planners used that proximity well with the lakewalk and other attractions.
  • Staying in a hotel whose backyard is Lake Superior is far more amazing than I had expected. Even living in Toronto I never had such close access to the lake, and that view has me longing to go back.
  • The Tobie’s vs. Hell’s Kitchen Caramel Roll taste off will have to wait until next trip.
  • And yes, my house was still intact when I got home.

plants for sale

Plant sale season is kicking into full gear. There were a couple last weekend that I missed, but this week I intend to be at the Ramsey County Extension Barn for their Master Gardener Plant Sale. I’ll probably also swing by the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market for some extra goodies too (I’m looking at you, Dehn’s Garden).

take her to the zoo, rocky

Note to self: never go to the Como Zoo & Observatory on Mother’s Day. It will be filled with whose sense of entitlement has been magnified by the fact that it is their special day, many of these women will be elderly, and most of them will be accompanied by an non-zero number of children.. The flowers will be pretty, but not worth the dose of rageohol that comes with them.

In more productive news (at least for my Wii-playing homies): Circuit City is having a pretty sweet sale this week, which includes some popular Wii games for BOGO50 (buy one, get one 50% off), and No More Heroes for $20. As you might guess, my trip there on Sunday evening was a little expensive for me, but with NMH, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Mario Kart Wii to occupy me, I don’t think I’ll need to be spending any more on video games for the next little while.

many happy returns

I don’t usually do birthday shout-outs on this particular forum, but given that I good chunk of my traffic comes from his general direction, I think it’s only fair that you guys all go visit Keacher and wish him the happiest of birthdays.

And a happy birthday to he-without-a-blog (aka Kyle).

We miss you both in the Twin Cities these days, and hope to see you in Alabama in this summer.

in which our heroine tempts the forces of nature to smite her

Yeah, so, wallet full of cash + Minneapolis Farmer’s Market + Bachman’s + bright sunny day = expensive + projects.

Last year, I pretty much ignored all things garden (except for a zucchini/pumpkin patch, which was really more about keeping the weeds down than anything). This year, I’m planning to ramp my vegetable production back up (I actually have seedlings that I started from seed that I might be able to plant, and get a usable harvest from) and I’ve also had an uncharacteristic hankering for flowers. So Sunday morning, I headed down to the farmer’s market with cash money and an eye for annuals. I didn’t really do too badly there, $16 on some creeping thyme from Dehn’s (why shouldn’t my ground covers be edible, dammit?) and another $20 on some girly-looking annuals (they are even called pansies…eesh).

The real trouble started when I decided on my way home that it would be a good idea to stop by the garden store to see what their selection was like. It’s possible that I maybe left with two 1gal perennials (they were peonies, that’s like my kryptonite), three dahlias, a sprinkling of alyssium, and one terracotta mushroom (more awesome than words can describe…pictures to come later when I am finished…modifying it). When I finally got myself out of there, it was 3pm on a Sunday and I had a couple hours of digging ahead of me. On the Sunday BEFORE Mother’s Day. A full 11 days before the average Southern Minnesota last frost date. During the coldest spring that I have experienced since moving here.

Yeah, that’s going to work out just great.

In other news, I started reading Then We Came to the End last night…coming into this office this morning hurt quite a bit more than it normally does.

Last but not least (yeah, I know this post is going on forever), remember when I was going on and on about the What Ale’s Thee podcast (well, maybe only Amber remembers). They kinda disappeared after last summer, which made me a little sad but it looks like Jason Alvey (the one with the accent) hasn’t given up on good beer, and is opening a “specialty beer store” in St. Louis Park. I can’t wait to check it out (even if it means cheating on my beloved Cellars).

That’s the news for this Monday kids…think warm thoughts, ‘k?

those catholics, they’ve got a saint for everything

Including Saint Bibiana, patron saint of epilectics, the insane, single laywomen, and hangovers.

If you are a lush, and feel like a little bit of so-funny-because-it-is-so-true this Friday aft, check out The Boozehound Cinephile’s 5 Levels of Hangover + some Chow Yun Fat to Take The Edge Off. And be sure to read the comments too, Pajiba’s commenters never fail to amuse.

where the hell have you been?

A reverse chronology of sorts…

Wednesday – 13 hours at work. Slept like dead.

Tuesday night – knitting, tried to go to Rollergarden, got lost (stupid vernon being at 2 different exits) went home.

Monday night – recovery, clean-up, spontaneous cookie baking.
Sunday – so. much. guitar hero. beat hootkoop’s score on Knights of Cydonia on medium (shut UP…I don’t believe in the orange button…ok?). fascinated a house full of hungover boys with the wonders of oven bacon.

Saturday night – Aliens drinking game (drink for each death – terrible idea). Lit bottle rockets in the wind (worse idea). Drank absinthe (probably the worst idea of all, if I wasn’t sharing a 16oz bottle with another lush). Segued from Sigourney Weaver to Ron Perlman by watching Hellboy after Aliens Resurrection.

Saturday – braved the snow (wtf was up with that) and went to Craftstravaganza where they didn’t believe in heat (or keeping the doors closed). Kept self warm with impulse purchases of Adam Turman coasters from Giraffe and yarn holder from Popsie Daisy. Restrained self (with some difficulty) from purchase of octopus boxers from Cricket Syndicate (link somewhat problematic for work). Lunched at Snuffy’s Malt Shop where I nearly died of ice cream.

Friday – Drove to Apple frakking Valley to find out that I still don’t have syphillus (don’t ask).

Thursday – Discovered Saints North and realized that my new quads really do suck (i.e. it’s not just me). Managed to fall only once, but in a manner so spectacular that I still feel it today. And that, my friends, brings us full circle back today.

Tonight, I’m hitting Saints North again – so if anyone feels like rollerskating, let me know. Tomorrow – Saturday I’m hosting at least 2 of the attendees/exhibitors at the fancy coffee conference deal that is going down this weekend so I’ll probably be attending that at some point too. I hope to be able to do some gardening this weekend – but the forecast is not looking all that great.