Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Driving Down the Great River Road

I hope my readers had a good Memorial Day weekend. I had a fabulous one, starting with Thursday evening, when Travalon and I brought Rodney to a doggie event at Mickey’s Tavern. There was a costume show, and the lion won, followed by Princess Leia and Cher and maybe the shark. One dog (not in costume) did a bunch of clever tricks, including putting giant plastic coins into a piggy bank. I struck up a conversation with a girl sitting beside me, who was fascinated by my many musical ventures. “I want to follow you around and have your life!” she said. It is a good life, I’ll agree. Music would be a terrible career in my opinion, but it is a wonderful hobby.

Friday evening the Northside Ukuleles had their usual fourth Friday jam, and then since it was the hostess’s birthday, we had a party afterwards. I brought my balalaika, having practiced “Happy Birthday” in the key of A (what was I thinking??) but of course the ukuleles played it in C, so I had to scramble to figure it out. I must have fooled everyone – they said I sounded really good! After that Travalon and I went to Brix 340 for their Wine Day special, and he had an amazing Riesling by Schloss (?) – so tasty!

Saturday morning Travalon, Rodney, and I met OK Cap and Cali for coffee at Crema Café, then the boys and I hit the road and drove to Mill Bluff State Park for a hike. We got to Eau Claire just in time to go to the vigil Mass at Sacred Heart, and then we drove on to Chippewa Falls to visit the Leinie Lodge, since it is a stop in our book of 70 historic taverns. The last tour of the Leinenkugel’s brewery was full, so we took a walk on a beautiful path along the river, and then we came back to the lodge and tried five samples of their various beers. We had dinner at a very brightly colored Mexican restaurant in town, then we headed back to Eau Claire and visited a tavern from the book called the Joynt, that had big name jazz acts playing there from 1974-90. The owner would snag them on weekdays when they were cheaper, as they traveled between Minneapolis and Chicago. Unfortunately the stage is now a back room, but they have photos on the walls of the acts that played there, like Dizzy Gillespie, and also some R. Crumb cartoons. They also had really cheap beer there, I think it was only $1 for a half-pint domestic tap.

Sunday we went to the free breakfast at our hotel, but it was pretty picked over, so we drove to Menomonie to see Travalon’s old school (including a sculpture in front of the Union they call “Stout-henge”), and we found a café there. We drove on to River Falls and a third tavern from the book called Emma’s, which was unusual in that it was owned by a woman back in the 50’s. They had a canoe paddle on the wall that said: “YCJCYADITJB” so I asked what it was and was told, “Your curiosity just cost you a dollar in the jukebox,” but they did let me choose the song, so I chose “Jump Around” by House of Pain. The bartender was really friendly, and when he found out we were planning to head to Kinnikinnic State Park, he said that one was really boring and we would be better off going to Willow River State Park. We heeded his advice and ended up on a long trail but were rewarded at the end with a very large, beautiful waterfall. I will post photos of this and all our adventures soon. Then Travalon and I headed down the River Road, stopping at a beautiful park on Douglas Point and at a restaurant in a historic building in Red Wing for dinner. We drove alongside Lake Pepin and got to Winona just as darkness was falling. Travalon stopped at one of the three Sinclair stations in town (two are right across from each other!) to see if they sold T-shirts with their dinosaur logo on them. The girl working there had one, but she said they were just for employees. However, I did take Travalon’s photo with a big cardboard smiling green dinosaur. The girl working there said we were her favorite customers all day, even though we just bought a couple of drinks, and also she told us she is a Packer Backer. Since darkness had fallen by then, we just headed back on the interstate instead of trying to take a scenic route home, and we got home around midnight.

Yesterday Travalon and I had coffee on State Street before my adoration hour, then we went to the Monona Terrace Café for lunch, but it was closed, although the website had not indicated that it would be. We ended up getting tacos at Q-doba before meeting Kathbert for a long walk out onto Picnic Point and beyond, to Frauschi Point. In the evening Travalon and I went to the East Side Club because the Tiki Bar had opened for the season, but it began to rain as we headed there, and so they must have closed it just before we got there. At least we saw a rainbow. We had burgers and sundaes at Michael’s and then stopped at the Nau-Ti-Gal before calling it a night, and the bartender there was very friendly. We had a conversation with him about the popularity of boys’ names in different generations. He says all the guys his age are named Jacob, and they were all jealous of the one guy whose name was Jakob, because at least he was a little different. Interestingly, he had never heard of Toni as a girl’s name, and he said he knew two guys his age named Casey and a bazillion girls with that name, though they generally spell it some weird way, like Kaysea. He didn’t know a single girl his age named Stacy or Jenny, the two huge girls’ names when I was in school. It’s funny how much it has changed in just a generation.

Famous Hat

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