Monday, August 07, 2006

Trip Through the Upper Midwest

I spent the past several days driving to Minneapolis and back. You'd think that so many hours in the car alone with your thoughts would generate some dynamite blog posts - ruminative, fresh-thinking bursts of perspective on meaty topics.

Not so much.

Instead, here are a few quick thoughts:

1. Don't eat near the highway. We stopped at a coffee shop in Lamoni, Iowa, and had lunch at the Royal Cafe in Story City, Iowa. Both beat the hell out of what we could have picked up at McDonald's or some franchised truck stop. In both cases, the towns were a mile or two off the highway, but worth the drive. All I could eat home-made chicken and noodles were worth the risk of venturing into town, even if I was disappointed by fact they were out of Norwegian shortcake.

2. Missouri highways are better than the highways in Iowa or Minnesota.

3. Ames, Iowa, is not an attractive college town.

4. If you eat brunch at Hell's Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis, you can make it all the way home without eating again. Nothing says "home-cooking" like going out to Waldo Pizza.

5. If you turned your air-conditioning off on Friday morning, your house would be 94 degrees when you got back on Sunday evening. And evey object in the house would radiate heat until late in the evening.

6. It's great to see old friends.

7. Sam's play was great, and the Bryant Lake Bowl was a funky place to see it.


Anonymous travelingal said...

Being from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, I've taken the trek you have many, many times alone, veering off I-35 onto I-90 at Albert Lea. A few of my observations:

1. I laugh every time I see a Kum & Go ... what would Leno do with that? lol

2. Did you notice all the old farmhouses surrounded by old, old pine trees in the middle of the corn fields? I often wonder the story of the generations of people who lived in those houses...I bet a lot of them are now corporate farms..sad sad

3. Buy your gas in Missouri - it's cheaper

4. I swear one of my trips I'm going to see the Bridges of Madison County..I'm always in such a hurry.

5. Never, never, stop at Terribles Casino in's terrible.

6. Antique shopping in those little towns off the highway is fun too.

7. If you ever head that way again, order Norwegian lefse. Just smear some butter on it and roll it up..yummy.

8/07/2006 8:20 AM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

I'd like to take this opportunity to promote Duluth, MN. I've only been there twice, but I was pleasantly surprised at how charming and quaint it is. It's only 10 hours away, and that ain't so bad.

If you're there for a few days, you get a feel for how unpredictable Lake Superior is. On calm days, it's like a sheet of glass. On turbulent days, you could be standing on the Atlantic shore. It's freaky. No wonder there are so many ships sitting on the bottom.

Lot's of really cool old houses, carriage rides, nice downtown, watching really big ships come and go. It's a nice place. Go see it.

So sayeth XO.

Oh, and travelingal, I've actually been to see the bridges of Madison County and photographed them all. Any chance you're an unhappily married Italian woman? Nah. Didn't think so. Shucks!

BTW, while in Madison County, be sure to visit the birthplace of Marion Michael Morrison...aka John Winterset. You know ya wanna!

8/07/2006 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you get as far as Lake Superior you should keep going north & check out Canada. We're heading to the province Of Quebec this Saturday. Trees, rock, water, water, rock, trees. Got a cabin on Lake Kipawa waiting. I hope you guys won't be too jealous of the cooler weather. But when you do get there sometime try the Poutine. Real potatoe fries with white farmer's cheese over it then a brown gravy over that. Artery clogging good!

8/07/2006 9:18 PM  
Anonymous travelingal said...

Nahhh...she's a single blonde your elder.. go back to

8/08/2006 8:38 AM  
Blogger les said...

Ames isn't much of a college town, mostly because it's not really connected to ISU. Next time, get a little further from the interstate and check out the campus--it's a beautiful setting, intentionally designed to be self-contained and classically "college". Yeah, I may be prejudiced a bit; but that doesn't make me wrong!

8/09/2006 12:03 PM  

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