Thursday, December 31, 2015

Overnight Downtown Chicago -

Happy New Year 2016!

We spent an overnight in Chicago before dropping our eldest son off at O'Hare Airport for his trip back to Seattle.  We packed a lot of fun into our trip.  Uber shuffled us around the downtown area quite efficiently.

First stop after checking into our room at the Fairfield Inn River North Downtown was a nice bookstore known as after-words not too far down the street from the hotel.


Right photo: view from hotel room window.

A cup of coffee and conversation before heading off for supper at a three-star restaurant known as Blackbird.


We were able to modify the chef's tasting menu for our meal.  We had froglegs, scallops, brussel sprouts, walleye, gnocchi, rabbit, followed by a couple of dessert dishes plus plenty of good drinks.

  ...yes very tasty

The next morning we got in line for the first wave into the art museum.
Always like the Impressionism hall and the other 19th century art.

There were pottery items in the Chicago art museum dating back to 500 BC - wow.

Always street people either begging, playing music, or selling their wares.  

Can't wait to get back to Chicago.   


Happy trails...

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Dubuque, Iowa - Mississippi River Town -

Greetings folks,

We celebrated Melody's birthday by spending some time in Dubuque.  Dubuque is a river town along the Upper Mississippi River in northeast Iowa.  We caught a good view of the city and river by riding up the elevator to the top of the bluff that overlooks the town.  This elevator is a Victorian aged box car that travels up along some railroad type tracks.  The price is right for round trip.  Take a ride on the Fenelon Place Elevator.

We are glad that a food coop opened up in Dubuque.  We always find some local foods to pick up at the Dubuque Food Coop in the old cabinetry district. Love the old brick and mortar architecture of this former manufacturing complex.

Lunch was at a place called fresh take in the downtown area.  Small scale, handmade, and some tasty eats.  Check out the old door handle from inside the building to add to the comfort.

Further north in the downtown area is a great bookstore, River Lights, and across the street is a place for a good cup of chai latte called Jitterz.  

Then we headed out to the country side to visit the New Melleray Abbey.  The monastery is situated in a pastoral setting to the south west of Dubuque.  The monks build wooden caskets for sale.  See the picture below for a look inside the church too.

The trails around the Swiss Valley Nature Center helped us work up an appetite.  
The visitor center is worth the stop too.  

We slipped back into downtown Dubuque for a great supper and birthday dessert at L May Eatery.   Mike had a bison burger with a stout cheese and bourbon sauce - great choice.  Mel got the salmon caesar salad.  We split a pumpkin cheese cake with a birthday candle.

Happy Trails...

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Lake Gitche Gumee -

We always love the opportunity to visit Duluth, Minnesota and adjoining Superior, Wisconsin.  My son and his better half from Seattle flew in to visit family.  So we picked up our daughters and headed to the Northwoods.  We hooked up with my brother's family and had a great lake side picnic and cook out with family.  We spent the day at Wisconsin Point on the sandy beaches of Lake Superior in Superior, Wisconsin.  What a beautiful sunny day.  There were old smooth logs along the beach that the kids could use like canoes.  Check out the YouTube video below for more.

The next day we shopped in Duluth.  Had great eats at Burrito Union.  Found gifts at the Bullseye silkcreen t-shirt shop, Electric Fetus music store, and Waters of Superior art gallery.  We've been shopping at these places for years so good to see them still in business.  Another meal at Little Angie's in Canal Park and we were set to go.

Happy Trails from the Northwoods...

Wedding Anniversary Trip to Northeastern Iowa -


We launched for a couple of days in a mild Midwest June to explore nearby northeastern Iowa again.  Lots to do and see in this rural part of the State within the Driftless Area.  The Driftess Area is a hilly part of the four corners of Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois.  Our first stop was in Guttenberg along the Mississippi River for a visit with old friends at the fish hatchery run by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  A very historic building that to this day still produces fish for stocking in Iowa's waters.  Also picked up a couple of tasty snacks at the River's Edge Bakery on the downtown strip of Guttenberg.

The next stop on our journey was Elkader.  A town with rich history as many of them in this neck of the woods.  Elkader was named after an Algerian leader.  There is an Algerian eatery in town that we have to come back and enjoy another time.  We did a little shopping at the Turkey River Mall which was formerly an old hotel.  Lots to see and buy here.  Then took a short hike along the Turkey River to see the historic arch keystone bridge.  Lastly had supper at the Fennelley Irish Pub.  Mike had fish 'n chips and Melody had Shepard's pie.  Our appetizer was Irish egg rolls - got to get back for more of these hors-devours.  

Then off to Decorah.  We spent the morning at the Seed Saver's Exchange.  We took a hike up an algific talus slope on their property that took us through a mature white pine forest.  The jack-in-the-pulpit were in bloom.  We visited their apple orchards with many near extinct varieties.  Picked up a few seed packets from their heirloom collections and off we went to the Oneota Co-op for a late lunch.  What a great place and delicious hot lunch items.  A quick stop at the fish hatchery in Decorah run by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and then off to Lansing along the Mississippi River.  You can feed the fish at the hatchery for a quarter.  The cold water for the trout hatchery comes out of the bluff. 

Lansing is another charming river town.  We found some keeper items at The Painted Lady antique store and became amazed how much stuff they packed into the local downtown hardware store.  The gentleman claimed he could find anything that we needed.  I believed him.  

The last stop on our journey was in McGregor - Marquette, Iowa and then a quick jump across the Mississippi River to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.  Lots of shops in downtown McGregor.  There is a quaint city park in downtown McGregor that happen to have a small farmer's market happening while we were in town.  We also found a little co-op type place in downtown Prairie du Chien called Driftless Edibles.  Got some snacks for the ride home.

Can't wait to go back to these places.  Happy Trails...