More Midwestern Adventures: IL to MN

Dave at Katie and Matt'sLast night, after we finished posting our last entry and left Borders, we went to meet up with our friends Katie & Matt at their condo. We got the tour of their spacious new condo, and then went out to dinner at a pub called Charlie’s. They had a great selection of beers (and cider!) on tap and a good menu of nouveau comfort foods. After dinner, we went back to Matt & Katie’s apartment and – with the help of their friends DirectTV and TiVo – watched baseball and the Olympics.

This morning Dave and I got up a bit early in order to say goodbye and thanks to Katie & Matt before they headed off to work. Then we got ready and were packed and out of the apartment by 9 am.

Unfortunately, getting out of Chicago was not as easy as getting out of the apartment. We made a few wrong choices at the beginning, then missed an offramp, and to make a long story short, it was 10 am before we were reasonably on our way out of the city. We were SO not happy. Then the rain started just as we finally got onto 90 East. Luckily at least that didn’t last too long. And once we finally put some miles between ourselves and the city, though, our moods lightened.

By noonish, we were feeling a little adventurous – and hungry – so we decided to hang out in Madison, WI for lunch. Madison is an interesting city. The downtown area is actually an isthmus sandwiched between two lakes, and somehow manages to fit both the University of Wisconsin and the state capitol. We headed for the capitol area looking for a hot dog stand mentioned in the “Let’s Go USA” guide we’ve been using as a reference. The guide let us down this time, though – there were several lunch stands around the capitol, but not selling hot dogs. So we went to a brewpub highly recommended in the guide, which seemed to be a good recommendation, since the place was packed. I thought it would be silly to wait 20 minutes for a table in a place where we’re just passing through, so after walking around the farmer’s market, we finally found a smaller, quieter pub around the corner. We had a good lunch watching the Weather Channel and then headed out of Madison.

From there it was about 4 hours to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Driving through Wisconsin was pretty much what I would have expected – gently rolling hills covered with corn fields, dotted with farms where the barn and silos are larger than the house. We actually went for quite some time without seeing any cows, which seemed surprising considering that Wisconsin is famous for its cheese. But maybe the cows are primarily located in a different part of the state, I don’t know. We did see more as we got deeper into the western part of the state.

Once again we arrived at our destination city at rush hour. There was actually very little traffic in St. Paul, but we did hit some slowdowns at some of the interchanges in Minneapolis. Nothing compared to Toronto or Cleveland… and certainly nothing like what we’ll have to get used to in San Diego.

What actually took us much longer is the simple fact that we went the wrong way, so by the time we finally got to where our friends Chris & Kate live, we’d been in Minneapolis for an hour. Oh, well – we got a good tour of the northeastern side of the city and the downtown area. *smile*

Kate & Chris bought their house here in Minneapolis earlier this year, so it was fun to see what they’ve been doing with it. It was definitely a fixer-upper when they bought it… it sounds like the previous owners simply made ridiculous choices and executed them poorly. Since Chris & Kate are friends we know from doing theatre at Georgetown, it didn’t surprise us to see them doing a lot of home improvement projects.

We went out to dinner at a place called Good Earth, which apparently is a small California chain that just happens to have a Minneapolis location. The food was good and since it wasn’t raining out we ate on the patio.

Dave and Jenn at the original TargetAs we were leaving, I asked Kate if she knew where the original Target store is, and she suggested that we go ahead and go there. It’s in a suburb just north of the city. Since Dave and I left our pillows in the motel in Lake Placid, we actually had a reason to go there. So, here’s a photo of me and Dave at the first Target! I probably think it’s more exciting than it actually should be! The funny thing is, it is really just like any Target, and it’s not like there’s a plaque or anything announcing the fact that it’s the original.

After that, we stopped by the grocery store to get some stuff for breakfast and then went back to Chris & Kate’s and hung out talking. We had to stay up late in order to celebrate the very beginning of Chris’s birthday. But now for bed… Dave and I have to put on a lot of miles tomorrow to get across Minnesota and half of South Dakota.

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