It’s another Lund Travelogue.
But instead of photos and descriptions from far off lands like the missus and I used to visit and post about when hosting tours, we are back to the real world of “Stay-cations” which, as you know, is a made-up word for not having the money for fancy schmancy globe trotting and keeping what you spend close to the vest and where you go close to home. In our case, this time, that was Minneapolis, St. Paul and Stillwater, Minnesota with lots of small town stops along the way and on our return. When I say “our” that means long time friends and traveling companions, Denny and Joanie.
Our usual excuse for these getaways is the close proximity of our anniversaries and Denny’s birthday but this time we had extra incentive. More on that in a bit.
First, of course, is what vehicle do we take..which translates to..whose going to drive? I, being the baby of the group, feel most qualified being statistically the farthest away from onset dementia. (Ah, boy..I’m gonna catch it for that.)
Actually, I don’t mind driving if for no other reason than to see how far we can push Big Red. He’s 15 now..but doesn’t look it because Lincoln still makes similar models for limos. One reason is because the body style is timeless but the main thing I think, is because the trunk is so dadgummed big. That’s a big deal for us too; loads of room for the girl’s make-up bags (kidding) our coolers (not kidding) golf clubs and a few suit cases.
Denny loading up Big Red’s big trunk with room to spare..including the spare which we have left at home before figuring nobody gets a flat tire these days and we need the space.
Big Red now has over 182 thousand miles and has performed admirably and flawlessly both to the Black Hills in June and the Cities this past week. Oh, he decided to blow out a power window motor to the tune of 300 dollars just before departure but it wasn’t quite the dollar figure my insurance company would consider for the vehicle to be totaled so repair him I did.
And..we’re off. (please don’t make comments about the 1-SR license plate. Thank god we get new ones next year. Maybe I’ll just go ahead and order those that say geezer.
It was our conversation with Denny and Joan about what a joy it was attending the Lund family reunion in the Black Hills that got us talking about the importance of keeping in touch with the family we have left.
Joan was an only child and Denny has just one brother; Ron..ten years younger who he hasn’t seen in about that many years. They talk by phone occasionally and get along great but just don’t get together. “We really should do something about that.” I said to Denny..with the loss of my own brother still fresh in my mind. Within, minutes, we were on the phone talking with Ron and his lovely wife Rhonda making plans to head East.
Our first overnight destination was Red Wing. Well, actually, Treasure Island Casino a few miles north of Red Wing. I have no pictures of that place although we left a few pictures of dead presidents there so the tribe could add on another smoker’s wing to the hotel and maybe buy a new bike rack for the school.
Somehow during the night and without my noticing, it managed to rain between four and five inches. Still, we trudged on into Red Wing where we enjoyed a fantastic breakfast and a quick tour of this historic town known for it’s pottery and work boots and then headed for St. Paul.
It turned out, there was still quite a bit of rain left in the clouds above and it came down in rather frightening intermittent torrents until we reached what some consider to be the more civilized of the Twins.
Our first stop was the Minnesota State Capitol building which, like our nation’s capitol, is surrounded in scaffolding for repair work.
So we drove around the streets of St. Paul for a while and it’s nice. I loved seeing the Fitzgerald Theater where Garrison Keillor does so many “Prairie Home Companion” shows..and the real diner just down the street where a couple scenes from his movie were shot. Then it’s off to the tech heavy metropolitan sports lovin’ happin’ other Twin..Minneapolis where our plan was to see the downtown..find a place to stay..catch the light rail to Target Field for the 7pm game. I’d heard that our old favorite Nye’s Polynesian Room restaurant and lounge had given in to pressure from customers and fans and decided to remain open until January of 2016 so I thought we’d cross the bridge and have a drink there. But..no luck..closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. So as I was frustratingly headed north looking for a place to turn around we came across a place called “Legends Bar and Grill” where they make Bloody Mary drinks that…well, see for yourself.
Joanie came back from the Lady’s room to discover about a quart size jar filled with a delicious Bloody Mary mix that included a rib of celery, a dill pickle a Slim Jim, two large olives, a big shrimp on a stick, celery salt on the rim and a pony beer chaser. We just had one..but boy was it gooood.
Oh..there was a pepper in there too. We also talked to a nice couple who lived in the area. We asked them for ideas about a place to stay. It turns out he was originally from Sioux Falls and recognized me from TeeVee and she was from Lake Hendricks. We decided their ideas were a little spendy so we stuck with our original plan and drove all the way out to the Mall of America where we got a Super 8 at a reasonable rate then headed over..parked the car and jumped aboard the train for the 40 minute light rail ride to the stadium. I absolutely loved it.
The train drops you just a short walk from the gate. For us..our seats were only a few steps away. In and out was a breeze.
I love everything about Target field from the cleverly hidden lights to the old timey feel of the place where you’re not overwhelmed. It’s just great..even if the cost of refreshments is as high as Dozier’s walk-off home run.
Tuesday, it was off to Stillwater; Minnesota’s oldest city(okay arguably) located on the shores of the St. Croix River. It’s a beautiful little town filled with “quaintness”… antique shops, cafes, etc which draws summer tourists like mosquitoes but can make less patient people than me slightly aggravated trying to negotiate traffic or parking. Thankfully, Denny’s brother, Ron lives on a beautiful acreage outside of town and was waiting with open arms when we pulled in. What a joy to see these two..who look alike, talk alike and have nearly identical mannerisms..reconnect before our very eyes. Then Rhonda came home from her job at 3M where she’s worked for some 35 years..which is about how old she looks. Anyway, it was just perfect and so was the evening meal at The Docks in town.
Brothers Ron and Denny Graves. Joan and Rhonda Graves.
Ron and Rhonda treated us to some delicious dining at the Docks along the gentle St. Croix.
You won’t find a finer gentleman than my longtime pal, Denny Graves.
As we were finishing our meals, several hot air balloons took off from the Wisconsin side of the river. Later on the way home..all packed into Ron’s SUV as he was showing us where the famous Stillwater prisons were located..we saw a shadow pass over and several of those balloons were coming in for a landing right next to us. Everybody said wasn’t that something..but nobody thought to take a picture.
Heading home via the backroads on Wednesday, we came across this old truck which once hauled cargo near and dear to the hearts of my cousin Grouse and old friend, Grant Peterson. According to Google, Mike’s Lutefisk sold out to Olsen’s Fish Co. about ten years ago. I do not share their enthusiasm for this traditional Scandinavian cod and even though one probably hadn’t ridden in this truck for many years I wasn’t about to get anywhere close to the truck knowing the offensive effluvia that still might linger from previous seepage.Speaking of old friends, we were too close to Hendricks, Minnesota not to pay a call on Steve Hemmingsen. Actually, I had called him early enough so he could run some Bon Ami through the toilet. We arrived shortly after four and Steve was just finishing up the yard aboard his red riding hood mower. I’m not sure of the brand but it looked powerful. It was fun, especially for the girls, to see the results of Steve’s woodworking skills..from furniture to furnishings in and around the house he’s built himself along the lake shore over the last four decades.
Steve’s latest chair project.
Then it was off for a ride around the lake aboard the pontoon christened “Stevie” with Captain Hemmingsen at the helm. Oh, what fun.
The only thing that could make the day or our little staycation any better was a meal at Cedrics on Main..owned by another former Volga guy, Jonathan Lengkeek. Not only has he created a fine drinking and dining establishment..he’s transformed the upstairs of the building..which was once the Opera House..into his personal living quarters. Steve asked if he’d give us the tour after dinner and..well..take a look.
That’s Jon at his dining room table which sits on the old dance floor or seating area of the theater. The stage is off to his right. Yes, Lawrence Welk did play on that very stage. It’s now where his modern hi tech kitchen resides.
This is looking the other way. The dance floor is now divided by this bar and cabinet I took a lot of pictures but you’d have to see it for yourself.
And so, we’re home. Linda has the bags unpacked and I have a few days trying to sort through the photos taken from my phone and new camera then try figure out how to put them all onto the computer.. download onto a flash drive..or e-mail them in a group.
I’ll tell ya, there’s just no rest for us retired guys.