Minneapolis Mosey

Teeeem and I spent last Thursday to Saturday in Minneapolis.  We put the bikes on the rack and took off at 6AM on Thursday morning.  After dealing with some funky directions around the 35/94 interchange, we made it to within site of our hotel only to be stymied in our arrival by multiple light rail trains.  The streetlight gods wanted us to spend our entire vacation waiting for a green arrow onto SE Washington Ave.  We foiled their plans, however, and eventually made it to the hotel.  We unloaded, pulled up some bike maps on Google Maps, and headed out for a late lunch at the The Lowbrow.  This should have been a fairly straightforward ride, but we did not account for the difficulties in following directions such as “Turn left.  Turn left” at unspecified streets/pathways.  We spent about 15 hungry, frustrated minutes doing circles around the bridge we knew we needed to go over before we found the little secret bike on ramp.

Once over the bridge we were more or less able to find our way to the restaurant.  Beer never tasted so good.  🙂  We had a super excellent lunch at The Lowbrow and then hopped on the bikes again and headed to Lake Calhoun.  We biked around a couple of the lakes, stopping at The Tin Fish for a walleye taco and some water.  We strolled around the Uptown area, buying a pair of socks for me (sockless feet in Sperrys on a humid Mineapolis day is not a good idea).  We ducked into a Surf shop and found a bike map, which helped us immensely for the rest of the weekend.

Minneapolis is both a GREAT place to bike and a super FRUSTRATING place to bike.  There are a ton of bike lanes everywhere, and several cross-town bike-only trails.  However, Tim and I kept running into construction.  A few times I was concerned that we were going to inadvertently bike onto the interstate!  We also had difficulties finding the entry points to some of the bike trails.  We biked to a Twins game on Saturday, using city streets.  After looking at the map, we noticed that there is a bike trail that goes right to the stadium; however, when we tried to find it after the game, it was impossible!  We asked some fellow cyclists, a transit worker, and a transit cop, and all they could say was, “Well, it’s around here somewhere!”  We finally headed out, only to see the trail bracketed by a chain link fence to our right.  We kept taking right turns, attempting to get on the trail, only to encounter the fence.  After traveling 6 blocks or so, we finally found an entry point, thanks to a helpful cyclist.  Very frustrating!

But despite the challenges of biking in a unfamiliar city, we had a great time.  The game was super fun, the weather was beautiful, and Tim and I enjoyed spending time together.

Usually we travel to Minneapolis via Cedar Falls/Mason City.  However, this time we took 52 home and stopped in Decorah, IA.  We had a pint at Toppling Goliath brewery, some delicious BBQ, and then enjoyed the beautiful drive home through the bluffs overlooking the mighty Mississippi.

In summary, if you want to take a little weekend trip to Minneapolis, take your bikes (EVERYONE bikes there), find a bike map ASAP, visit the lakes, eat the The Lowbrow and go home through Decorah.  Oh and see the outdoor sculpture gardens at The Walker Art Museum.  We didn’t make it there this trip, but that garden is a must see!

Celebration of food

Tim and I are having an all-around lovely weekend, and like all lovely weekends, it was capped from start to end with deeelicious food.

Ben and Leah visited us for the weekend.  It’s been months since we’ve seen them – I last saw them before I became an accountant and now I am already almost not an accountant – more on that later, maybe.

Anyway, they arrived Friday night, and we were all starving.  We’ve been hearing good things about La Rancherita in Rock Island, so we headed off.  It was a cool, brightly lit Mexican restaurant with tasty pico de gallo and delicious tacos.  The crowd was very eclectic – a mix of races and styles and party sizes.  We saw everything from hipsters to gangstas.  For dessert we introduced Ben and Leah to the joys of Checkers apple pies.  We got 4 for $2.12, and they were perfectly delicious.

For breakfast on Saturday, Tim made his ultra-tasty egg, cheese, Canadian bacon, and  English muffin sandwiches.  He fries the egg perfectly, so that the yolk is the perfect state of gelatinous.  After doing a little shopping at Greatest Grains and the mall, we returned back to the house for a snack lunch of $7.00 Tillamook cheddar cheese, braunschweiger, saltines and cans of Great River Pale Ale.  While the boys played video games and Leah busted through advanced Soduko puzzles, I made guaucamole using this excellent Allrecipes.com recipe.  The freeze-squeezed lime juice gives it a tasty, fresh snap.  After contaminating all of my dishrags and utensils with tiny bits of chopped cilantro, I made chocolate chip cookies, using the recipe from the Nestle Tollhouse bag.  The trick is to get the butter at the perfect level of softness.  About 2 bursts of 10 seconds in the microwave gets it to the stage where it creates tall, fluffy, chewy cookies.

For supper Tim made amazing tortilla soup from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe.  The soup, paired with the gaucamole, made for an excellent supper and uncomfortably fitting trousers.

While we digested our Mexican feast, Leah and I soundly beat Tim and Ben at euchre and then retired to watch Despicable Me.  About 30 minutes into the movie, Tim and Ben were both sound asleep.

Tim treated us with another delicious meal this morning by making buckwheat pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Ben and Leah are cast iron snobs.  Ben, unheeding my warnings, convinced Tim to cook the pancakes on our fairly unseasoned cast iron griddle (which weighs about 30 pounds).  Ben convinced Tim and that a little butter and oil would cause the pancakes to not stick.  He was wrong – stick they did.  But they were still delicious.  I am right now re-seasoning the griddle and our cast iron pan.  I have already set off the fire detector.  We have several windows wide open, but the whole house is still quite smoky.  It better be worth it.

Besides eating, we spent the rest of the weekend playing video games, drinking excellent beers (Hopalicious!), doing lots of dishes, and just all around enjoying each other company.  Hanging out with family is so awesome.  It really makes me wish that we lived closer to Ben and Leah, and/or my brothers.  Someday…