Friday, June 26, 2009
Our good friend Johnny visited us in mid-June and embarked on a whirlwind tour of the City of the Lakes. He wanted to see it all in just a few days... and he just about did.
That cherry will never be the same.
Dave and Johnny grew up together in upstate New York. I've heard quite a few tales of their growing up years, and even though I don't know the people... I still hear the 'have you heard about?' stories when I visit. The two friends played at recess, then later on the football field, and even later on Playstation. Johnny was in our wedding, and I'm sure there are still a few untold tales somewhere about Dave's bachelor party and a girl wearing a rebel flag tee while dancing with the guys in a cage. I've seen pictures.... but I haven't heard those stories.
Anyway, Dave and Johnny toured the Twin Cities. They went to the Mall of America. They took in a Twins game and drank a few at the brewery. Dave gave him a sports tour and a restaurant tour... even though Johnny swore he wouldn't eat Minnesota pizza ( I mean, what can really hold a candle to a New York slice?) he even said Cosetta's was okay. He had ice cream at Sebastian Joe's and cocktails at Maynard's on the Lake.
Much of the trip evolved around fishing excursions. Like most fishing trips, there was much anticipation and buying of the necessary supplies, but little payoff on Lake Waconia.
But the biggest disappointment had to come when they went to check out the Minnehaha Falls. Longfellow penned the 'Song of Hiawatha' by the waterfall, and whenever an arctic front moves through and the waterfall freezes over, a national correspondent will come to do a live shot and say "A winter storm has gripped the midwest." I told Johnny this should be on his must-see list... instead, it was more like the Minnehaha trickle:
I guess saying we've had dry weather is a huge understatement.
Seriously, we both enjoyed the visit. One of the best parts, for me, was Johnny correcting Dave's housekeeping abilities... 'Dave, why don't you ever fill up the ice trays?' 'Dave, why don't you nail this nail all the way in?'
I got a break for a few days. Ha.
No really, the visit was great and you are welcome back anytime Johnny!
Thursday, June 25, 2009
The Steamboat Minnehaha was built in 1906 for transportation on Lake Minnetonka. In the early 1900s, Minneapolis-St Paul had one of the best public transit systems in the country. I'm told you could get from Excelsior to Hopkins in 9 minutes--you'd be hard pressed to do that today in rush hour. Steamboats and cable cars connected all the cities. Steamboats were key for getting passengers quickly across a lake with a densely wooded shoreline that had few roads. The public transit system later died when a fella named Henry Ford and cohorts saw potential profit in selling their auto to the common Minnesotan. So, they maneuvered control of the cable cars and then went about destroying the public transit system and therefore, forcing people to buy cars. Fastforward 100 years and the Twin Cities have one of the worst public transit systems in the country. Gee thanks Henry.
When the cable cars died, steamboats did too. Roads got better and no one needed them. So, in the 1920s, the company decided to strip the steamboats, drive them out to the center of the lake, and sink them.
Fifty years later, a diver discovered the Minnehaha and hauled it up from the bottom of the lake. If you do that, it becomes property of the state of Minnesota, and the state didn't want it. There was alot of legal back and forth and volunteers and fundraisers and more legal paperwork that followed for nearly 20 years.
But today, the Minnehaha is back out and running--funded and operated completely by volunteers. We took a concert cruise that departed from the ultra-cute town of Excelsior for an hour long ride to Wayzata. There, we had a nice picnic from one of the upscale restaurants (hey, it is Wayzata) and then listened to the Big Band play in the park. An hour later, we departed from Wayzata and watched the sun set on our way back to Excelsior. It was the perfect trip length and a beautiful night.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Our station does parades in a really big way. I hope to share some of that in a future post, but in the interest of this post not becoming too dated... I wanted to go ahead and get some Tater Daze pictures up.
In the 8-cities we cover, each has a parade during the summer. Marching bands are a big deal here, and some high school bands compete in 20-something parades all over the state during the summer. The local high school, Park Center, had the honor of leading this parade. Local politicans ride in cars. Each city's "royality" has a float. Local businesses have a float. Boy scouts and girl scouts and basketball teams and hockey teams march. (they put the goalie on a float, though) Churches have floats. Dance studios march and perform little routines along the way. Cheerleaders stop to do stunts. Senior citizens ride with their excerise groups. If people don't find a way in the parade, they watch.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
It's Minnesota's "unofficial" official state picture. (I've seen sources that claim both) My great Aunt Evelyn used to have a big print of "Grace" by Eric Enstrom hanging in her house in Delight. The painting is a fairly popular option for churches and religious households all over the country.
Enstrom took this picture in 1918 in the small Minnesota mining town of Bovey. Bovey is in the northeastern part of the state, which is known as the Iron Range. When an elderly looking fellow named Charles Wilden came to his photography studio, Enstrom was supposedly impressed by the man's kindly face. The man was a peddler. Enstrom set the picture up with the gruel and glasses and bread and bible. He liked the humility, faith, and devotion it depicted. Enstrom put a print in his window and when it sold, he replaced it with another.
Enstrom thought the picture would be a smashing success at a big photography convention later that year, but it wasn't. A few years later, he believed in it enough to take it to the convention where it finally caused the stir he desired. Enstrom's daughter painted it in oils and it became more popular. Later, a publishing house picked it up and it's been their best seller since. I think there's a devotional in this story somewhere.
While researching for this bit, I came across a Minnesota blog asking if anyone outside of Minnesota had this picture hanging in their house? The answer is yes, but I'd wager few people tie it back to Minnesota.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
With the PGA rolling into town this summer, our local golf course, Hazeltine, rolled out their green carpet for the media today.
It was a gray day, but that didn't stop dozens of media members from playing a course they probably couldn't pay to play otherwise.
Notice the green grass? Most of our grass around here was brown this time last week--we're coming out of a very dry May--one of the worst on record. Of course, I'm sure the folks at Hazeltine didn't let the grass die. Too much green at stake.
Monday, June 8, 2009
We did splurge our last night and day there and we spent the night in a great bed and breakfast called Buffalo Rock Lodge. I wholeheartedly recommend this place if you ever visit. It's off the beaten path and up a long winding hill. (Be careful, though--if you hit a cow in the road in South Dakota, you are required to pay the owner the price of the animal. It's law.) We could see the lights of Mount Rushmore from the big front porch, and our host served up a special homemade pastry and coffee during the lighting. Our hosts entertained us with stories of growing up in the Black Hills and ranching there. We asked questions about mountain lion encounters and the local deli. It's definitely a different life out west.
One thing, though. After roughing it on an air mattress and campground showers, the suite with a jacuzzi, a clawfoot tub, and nice beds were just beyond words. The spread at breakfast was impressive--fresh SD apple pancakes, some type of hash w/potatoes, eggs w/dill, bacon with some cayenne & pecans--sounds strange, but good. We didn't have a light a fire to cook any of it. I like B & Bs. It's a different experience and a different set of people-- I don't feel like I have to pull back the sheets at places like that and double check for spots or bed bugs. People generally take better care of their homes anyway. When you add the food and the room up, it was a steal of a deal and we joked about driving all the way back just to spend the night there.
We also visited South Dakota's winery, the Prairie Berry Winery. It was cute and fun, but pricey. They had some nice white wines and sturdy red ones too, but their biggest seller is Red Ass Rhubarb which is a sweet wine. I started to buy it just for the name, but I don't like dessert wines. So, I came home with Phat Hogg Chardonnay, which was overpriced but had a nice finish. Cheers to a great vacation!