This year, I’m not adding as many photos to the blog, but clicking on each photo will either lead you to a hyperlink about the topic or to an album of related images on facebook. Enjoy!
Monday, 2 August 2010
After enjoying one of the best and most memorable Creative Memories Showcases of my 16 year career, it was hard to say goodbye to some of my dearest “old” CM friends and also to my new Pixie friends, but it was time for the next adventure to begin. Kim flew into MSP from Tennessee and she, Anne, and I shared a room out near the airport on Sunday night. None of us slept all that great, so we were up EARLY (read before 7 AM!!). More goodbyes, and Anne headed off to the airport while Kim and I caught up on emails, briefly planned our day’s itinerary, and got ready to go. You would think that we could have gotten away in a reasonable amount of time, but if you know us, you know that wasn’t happening…
Eventually, the car was packed (I am not using the term loosely!) and Kim and I left the comfort of our Hampton Inn with breakfast at Mickey’s Dining Car in St. Paul on our minds. However, we put “Mickey’s Diner” in the Garmin, and so we ended up being not where I thought we were going… but, all things happen for a reason! We were right in front of a US Post Office, and I had t-shirts to mail to Australia, so in we went. Wow, what an amazing experience it was for both of us. First, there was not a line – only one person there ahead of us – and then, without us saying a word, a postal employee started asking us questions and HELPING us!! Before we left, he knew all about the Sassy Sisters and our trip, and we knew about his teenaged daughter’s driving lessons. But back to breakfast! We opted to just hang at this Mickey’s (I’d eaten at the other one before) and we were not disappointed.
Once fortified, our first stop of the day was to visit the state capitol of Minnesota. In the 14 summers that I’ve found myself in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, I’ve never once been to the capitol, so it was time! The capitol building is beautiful! Although there was a good bit of scaffolding up, it was still a treat to see a HUGE gold structure high above the entrance to the building. The Minnesota State Capitol was built starting in 1896 and it opened in 1905, and was designed by Cass Gilbert, the architect who designed the Woolworth Building and the US Customs House in NYC, the US Supreme Court, and several other state capitol buildings. The building is a traditional dome, and the paintings and detail work found on the ceilings was incredible! One of the things I find so interesting about capitol buildings is all of the symbolism and thought that went into their design and construction. Minnesota’s ceilings had a lot of blue, and the letter ‘M” was prominently featured throughout, as well as ‘l’etoile du nord’ (the North Star). The legislative chambers were gorgeous – one chamber had the preamble to the Declaration of Independence in an arch over figures representing early settlers of the state, and famous explorers were represented in each corner of the ceiling. The Supreme Court room was not as elaborate, but it was still full of symbolism. The highlight of the tour was getting to go up a spiral staircase that led to a sort of balcony that surrounded the dome. The door opened out onto lots of scaffolding and a party of three workmen on break, but we were able to get close-up views of the fabulous gold statue called the “Quadriga”, which was designed by Daniel Chester French, who designed the Lincoln Memorial. The statue is really covered in 23 carat gold! From here, we had spectacular views of the mall, the cathedral, and Summit Avenue, which has the largest collection of original Victorian architecture in the US.
Our next stop sort of had to involve a drive down Summit Avenue and a tour of the Cathedral of Saint Paul. The cathedral was amazing! Very reminiscent of St. Peter’s in Rome, although much smaller, it had stunning stained glass windows and a couple of small chapels in addition to the main altar. The biggest surprise, though, was a copy of Michelangelo’s “La Pieta” that was one of four made from a cast of the original sculpture. It was magnificent! I didn’t realize that it was the only one of his works that was signed, so I had to stay long enough to find and photograph his name.
From Summit, we went down the hill into downtown St. Paul in search of my favorite store, Candyland, and one of my favorite treats, chocolate covered potato chips!! On the way there, we passed Mickey’s Dining Car, so Kim knew I wasn’t making it up! She loved Candyland, too, but she has been on a major exercise/weight loss kick since May (and she looks great!!!) so she exercised great restraint and only got two turtles. But just being surrounded by all that yummy candy and popcorn was enough! And of course, we loved the statues of Linus, Lucy, Snoopy, and Woodstock that were outside the door. St. Paul is Charles Schultz’s hometown, and for several summers Anne and I had fun finding the brightly painted statues of Peanuts characters that were all over town. It was after noon by the time we left St. Paul, bound for Fargo, North Dakota, and points between and beyond!
Once I realized that our route would take us through St. Cloud, Minnesota, home of Creative Memories, I knew we would have to stop and let the “Flats” say hello. In case you are clueless about the “Flats”, I’ll try to explain. I work with a group of twelve other Creative Memories Consultants on a website called pixels2pages.net, and they are from all over the world – Australia, Canada, and the US – and the ones that were not able to attend our Showcase sent a flat version of themselves for photo opportunities. Since I had them with me, it seemed only fitting to get their photos at World Headquarters! Since I’d just seen my Home Office friends in Minneapolis, we didn’t stay and bug them – just took a quick look around the lobby and continued on our way west.
It had not taken long for us to tire of the interstate, so after St. Cloud, we looked for alternate routes to get us to North Dakota. We enjoyed riding through small towns like Ashby and Fergus Falls. We even made a brief stop in Fergus Falls to let Peppy see the World’s Largest Otter (Fergus Falls is in Otter Tail county) in a small little park that had a pretty lake full of ducks and other pretty birds. Back on the road, I can’t tell you much, because I let Kim drive and I promptly fell asleep until we were about to cross into North Dakota.
I’m not sure what I expected of Fargo, but in the summertime, it didn’t seem like a bad place to be! It seemed pretty spread out with lots of malls and big box stores – a version of suburbia on the Plains. We found our way to the tourist information center, which looked like a grain elevator. We met a nice lady there (Fran) who gave us loads of maps and brochures – enough for not only ND, but also South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana! She also gave us dinner recommendations, which was good, because we were starting to get hungry! While here, we got some shots of the Fargo Walk of Fame and the painted buffalo out on the lawn. We are so easily amused!
Dinner was next – Santa Lucia Greek restaurant was the place that Fran had suggested, and she didn’t steer us wrong! From the cold, sweet Peach Bellinis to Kim’s gyro platter and my European style seared pork tenderloin, it was the perfect road food for us! Breakfast was starting to seem a long time ago! After dinner, we went just across the street to the mall to see the Roger Maris Museum. For those of you who didn’t know us when, Kim and I were HUGE baseball fans, especially St. Louis Cardinal fans. You probably know that Roger Maris played for the Yankees and in 1961 he hit 61 home runs to break Babe Ruth’s single season record, but you may not know that he played his last two years of baseball (67 and 68) in St. Louis. leading them to win the World Series against Boston in 1967 and taking Detroit to seven games in 1968. Kim and I sat, enthralled, in seats from Yankee Stadium, and watched a video about Roger’s career. We were heartened to learn that he loved his time in St. Louis! They had lots of great memorabilia, including real crowns for the Sultan of Swat – who knew?
We took a short cruise through downtown Fargo – lots of great neon and a real “step back in time” feel – and then enjoyed a gorgeous sunset as we headed west for Jamestown. We really wanted to stop and see the ‘world’s largest collection of empty oilcans” in Casselton, but it was too dark…
We still had a FAR way to GO!!