Sunday, June 17, 2007

Midwest Voyage 2 : Minneapolis

FRIDAY, JUNE 8 :: Pulled up to Beth & Scott's place around 3PM in a very nice 'burb of Minneapolis. Beth greeted us, and my family dropped off our bags and turned right around to get back to Ironwood that night (Gordon had a car show he was involved with on Sunday, and so wanted to be back into home Saturday eve.) Beth made a nice salad & took us on a walk around the area - going down to the lakeside beach a few blocks from their duplex. Scott got home from work a bit later, our evening plans included stopping at a plaza bluegrass show ( getting some Cheese curds), and over to comedy troupe Brave New Workshop, which was quite funny.

SATURDAY, JUNE 9 :: Breakfast at the French Meadow ( I got a muffin!). Shopping at Electric Fetus record store - 20% off special, and I got a local punk compilation! Scott needed to get some photog work done, so he dropped us off at the Walker Art Gallery and sculpture garden. Thus began a huge walking tour of town - downtown biz district; pho lunch; thru the revitalized warehouse area (including the old Gold Flour Mill which had exploded & they've rebuilt inside the ruins; and the Guthrie Theatre with its Amber Room vista point, and the Endless Bridge). We took a footbridge across the Mississippi River, to a hipster neighborhood and shopped at Bibelot, and met up with Scott for drinks at The Bulldog. By this time it felt like we were living the life of 'The Sun Also Rises'... Next was a World Music Fest back in downtown area; dinner at Pizza Luce across the street (getting their famous Garlic Mashed Potato pizza); then to Nye's Polonaise room for some polka, cocktails, and karaoke. It was a bit of a late night after that, sharing music and videos w/ Scott as the ladies hit the hay.

SUNDAY, JUNE 10 :: Tried a couple places for brunch, top choiced seemed to be closed, so we went to the hipster haven for Moose & Sadie's (I got a muffin!); then off on the transit train to the... Mall of America! Yes, it was a consumer orgy with its aquarium tour, giant stage with line dancing and inappropriately dressed underage girls, and amusement park. We did hit the arcade, and went on the 'Ripsaw' roller coaster ride (which gave a good overview of the whole scene). Then to some shopping - cheese store, sporting goods (3 stores right next to each other, and still it was hard to find a good Minnesota Timberwolves shirt), and food court. Scott got a Red Baron-looking kite, which we took to a hill near their place (never really got it in the air), then went to the lake beach for some swimmin. Back to the house to chill, then Beth took us off to the airport at 7 PM.

It was great time hanging with good friends who had moved away and hadn't kept in good enough touch. But we were reminded all the time there why we were such friends with them - bright, worldly, similar sensibilities in lifestyle and the arts, generous and supportive. As Bonnie said, too - it was like an introduction into our CA world, being in a bigger city and with familiar folks. It was also intriguing to see that they had friends who were artists or otherwise involved in 'the scene', and wherever we went, it seemed one or both of them knew someone around (Beth's old school chum at the Guthrie, Scott's co-worker at The Bulldog, etc). Thanks again for a spectacular weekend!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Midwest Voyage 1 : Michigan

We made our usual-annual voyage to Detroit to visit my friends and family. Like 2006, we made it into 2 vacations-in-1, coupled this time with a visit to friends Scott and Beth in Minneapolis. We travelled via northern Michigan, a trip which I hadn't made since high school. Good times throughout, & a nice way to get away :

FRIDAY, MAY 31 :: arrived 6 am, chilled out for a bit. Went to Westland Mall (forgot my phone charger) and went around town. Friday night, went along with Andy & Becki (and met up with my college chum Joe Behl) to check out Sleepytime Gorilla Museum playing in Detroit at the Magic Stick! This was significant in that 1) we surprised the SGM crew by showing up on the other side of the country, and 2) Andy was on crutches, his wife was 8 months pregnant, and MI doesn't ban smoking in public places. Everyone enjoyed the show (despite the bland opening instrumental act that went on too long). Bonnie and I stayed til the very end - it was unusual to be able to get close to the stage, we said hey to them afterward & went home.

SATURDAY, JUNE 1 :: We went out to the Garden City Summer Fest (played on the ice rink in our bare feet, saw the classic cars, ) Shopped at Traders Joe's for a planned Sunday BBQ, and took my mom back to the G'City fest to watch the raffle we entered earlier (we didn't win). Caught up with Ron, then grabbed some Pineland (shish tawook & chicken schwarma!), and hung out at Andy's place checking out new and old videos & pics. Afterward, I went to check out Ron & Khris' new house in Livonia off 7-mile (v nice)

SUNDAY, JUNE 2 :: Got to go for a walk around the hood (Bonnie's made a point to go for a power walk most every day) & do some yoga in the morning. Then we went off to 'fabulous' Ferndale for the Motor City Pride Event. Interesting to see this event going on in a town like Detroit & very surprising to see how big it was. Lots of people, 4 blocks of booths (even some animal rights booths with lots of 'gay dogs), the opening of a new community center. There was a bit of a downer when a storm ran through - flooded people out, they had to close down the stages. But a very positive and encouraging display. We also hit some stores (Record Collector, where I got a Royal Oak punk comp; and a new comic book store).
The afternoon was gathering folks at my parents house for a BBQ(in lieu of the regular parties at Andy's house). So we stopped at Randazzo's Produce (it would've been fun to shop around w/ Bonnie - it's the closest thing suburban Detroit has to Berkeley Bowl) but it was super-crowded (so I guess that is like Berkeley Bowl). Then held court at the BBQ - John & Laura stopped by, Ron, Gordon & fam, Rebecca W (who came with news of having a little one on the way!)

MONDAY, JUNE 3 :: Went out to 'The Henry Ford' with my sister-in-law Allison. Bonnie & I had been there on her first visit, the day after Thxgiving so it was rather cold & wretched so we didn't get very far in Greenfield Village - we went through the whole thing this time. Later, Keith F came over for a brief chat & we had Hungry Howie's Pizza. Then over to Ron & Khris' place to hang out for a bit. Then a stop at Meijer for some late night shopping.

TUES, JUNE 4 :: Strolled through Town Peddler craft mall in the morning (where my mom has her purses booth), then headed to downtown Plymouth (kinda quaint townie area with an open park) and shops (including a Made In Michigan store). Stopped at an old workplace of mine - no one there at the time whom I knew.
In the evening, met up at Gordon & Allison's house, on the verge of departure for our road trip. Got on the road about 6:15, made a pretty smooth shot up to Mackinaw City, got into the hotel (Hamilton Inn) about 10:30. Dipped in the pool for a few, then walked (about 8 blocks) over to Dixie's Saloon, had a drink & I karaoke'd to Pearl Jam's 'Go' which shook up the locals a bit. :)

WEDNESDaY, JUNE 5 :: Was able to get into the 'fitness center' at the hotel, then nibbled at the breakfast bar. First item of the day was Fort Michilimackinac, which was fun and informative (including a live artillery exhibition!). Then ferried over to Mackinac Island : grabbed pizza lunch; went to St. Anne's Butterfly house & the church; carriage ride to the Grand Hotel & the famous porch; my dad & bro headed back to the hotel and Bonnie & I went on a bikeride and nature hike.
After hitting the cafe for some Mackinac Island Fudge!!, we got back across on the ferry & got dinner at The Lighthouse, then strolled the downtown shops for more fudge! Went over to Dixie's Saloon again with my bro & dad, but there was no karaoke.

THURSDAY, JUNE 6 :: Longest stretch of driving ahead of us today, got an early start, headed across the Mackinac Bridge, and stopped in Rudyard, MI to visit some old family friends - Ralph & Sharon White. We spent an hour or so with them, and their 7 chihuahuas, and 2 rottweilers, and 3 horses (2 mini's). Then on the road, through Christmas, MI, and stopped briefly at the Marquette Mall. Got into Ironwood, since it was kinda late in the day, we made our touristy stops to Copper Peak, Black River Harbor, Potawatomi Falls, and Hiawatha statue. Checked into the hotel (AmericInn- hee hee), got dinner at Swiss Bell Chalet across the border in Hurley, WI (very interesting in that the 2 towns are pretty much just down the street from each other). Then a whirlwind visit to relatives : Karen & fam; Terri & fam; and by the time we got to Rod & Edie, Rod had gotten a call for work (he drives a hearse and pickup van), so we didn't get to meet up with him. When I spoke to him a few days later, unfortunately, Rod had arranged an interview with me at the Ironwood Globe -about my local connection & movie career. Feel bad about not making contact earlier.

FRIDAY, JUNE 7 :: Got on the road pretty early - 8 AM ish, stopped into visit another of my dad's cousins in Hurley, WI - Elaine and her husband Roy (50 years + married!) They are such a hoot - in their 80s and going strong (Roy had even broken his ankle in November & was still quite mobile. We left, and were on our way to the Twin Cities (with a stop at the Duluth, MN, visitors center).
Overall, I didn't have as strong a connection to childhood memories as I would've thought, and the cousins were certainly were different than I remember (they didn't even have kids the last time I was there). But I'm glad we took my dad with us (which really wouldn't have happened without my bro going too), it was great seeing him with family from his youth that he hadn't visited for many years, and telling stories about growing up & family.

NEXT POST - our few days in Minneapolis!