We’re on the road again. This time it is a five week road trip to the Northwest, via Dubuque, Minneapolis, Rapid City (Mt. Rushmore), Vancouver, Seattle, Oregon Coast, Portland, Kansas City, and then home.
Today, my 100th post, we’re in Minneapolis. We got here by one of America’s Scenic Byways, a network of roads throughout the country that are particularly interesting. This one, from just south of Chicago, is along the Mississippi.
The road, nicely paved, winds along the Big River, through fields of corn and soybeans on the right, the River on the left. You can see the French influence as we head into Dubuque, named after the first permanent settler in the area, Jacques Dubuque from Quebec. All around this part of Iowa are names like La Riviere, Prairie du Chien, and Le Roy. The symbol of Dubuque is a fleur-de-lys.
We eat in a pleasant, interesting restaurant, the Europa, with middle European influenced food and large photos of Prague on the walls. Very tasty and well prepared.
We then continue up Highway 61 headed north through Wisconsin and Minnesota. Sound familiar? Remember the Bob Dylan album, Highway 61 Revisited? Well, we’re on that Highway 61. So, we put on Pandora and listen to some vintage Bob Dylan.
Wisconsin is very pretty, and as we continue up the Mississippi, it is more cornfields. These are planted in large swathes, with wide paths in between. Not at all like the corn is planted in Ohio. Not sure why this corn is planted differently from that corn, but it is very attractive. The farms are big and well kept as we twist and turn along the River.
There are lots of small River towns; none very attractive or resort like and we don’t see any boats or barges on the River. Are we too far north?
We arrive in Minneapolis in the pouring rain and check into our hotel, a Hilton Garden Inn. Their keyless key entry system has gone kaput and someone with a master key has to escort us to our room every time we need to leave and come back. This gets very tiresome for everyone and after the third day with it STILL not working, we are amazed. They tell us that they had to completely replace all the “brains” of the system and it will take until tonight (Saturday) until it is all fixed. Somehow, I don’t believe that, but I sure hope so.
We walk around Minneapolis, along the same Mississippi River. This waterfront area, once the home of the flour mills that made Minneapolis (think General Mills and Pillsbury) has been seriously gentrified and is very nice. Interesting shops and most of the new, exciting restaurants are located here.
Our first night we ate in a great restaurant in another interesting neighborhood in the southern part of Minneapolis, Broder’s Pasta Bar. Absolutely delicious appetizers — fun to watch them prepared on the grill — and fabulous fresh pasta. One of our favorite meals, ever.
Last night, we ate in 112, with it’s James Beard winning chef. Great food, but SO LOUD, that it took some of the pleasure away from the experience. Not sure why restaurant’s do this; not my favorite thing.
Today, we walked in a lovely neighborhood around Lake Harriet (Minnesota: the Land of 10,000 Lakes). A bike path, walking and jogging path, sailboats on the Lake, a lovely Lake house, for snacks, and even beaches, filled with families. Lots of joggers pushing strollers. Just beautiful. Makes you want to live in Minneapolis (well, except in the winter, of course.)
Tomorrow is our last day here and then onto Rapid City and Mt. Rushmore on our way to Vancouver.
Great trip so far and I will continue to report (like Charles Kuralt, right?)