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CLAYTON
In early August, my parents and I took a family vacation to New York state.  Why?  Because my dad wanted to go to the Antique Boat Show in Clayton, NY.  He’s wanted to go for years and mom and I just couldn’t avoid it any longer!  (Love you, Denny!)  So we went.  And saw ALL THE BOATS.

We flew into Syracuse, NY, picked up our rental car, and headed off to Clayton.  Clayton is a tiny town situated on the St. Lawrence River.  Clayton doesn’t seem to have much going on except the Antique Boat Museum and being very close to Canada (eh!).  Upon arrival, we checked into our hotel, the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel — which was lovely.  We had a very late lunch and battled our extreme fatigue after being awake since 3am on our day of travel.  We walked around bustling downtown Clayton for a bit after lunch and then called it a day.

The next day, Saturday, we had a mediocre breakfast at our hotel (the theme of the entire trip was mediocre-at-best food throughout) and then headed to the Antique Boat Show. My dad was in HEAVEN, my mom and I were BORED. That about sums it up!  But really, Denny saw all the boats he could ever dream of and seemed to have a lovely day.  My mom and I sat on a picnic bench and people-watched and enjoyed the beautiful weather. We chatted with a guy named “Uncle Russ” – an older guy from Long Island (great accent to match).  I loved Uncle Russ.  He was sassy (“you know, Wisconsin really isn’t on my bucket list”), gave some great life advice (“be careful, not all the monkeys are in the zoo”), and encouraged me to travel even more than I already do. Big fan of Uncle Russ.

That evening we had another mediocre meal at O’Brien’s, which was across the street from our hotel.  We tried to have dinner at a few other places but they were booked solid because, you know, this boat show is kind of a big deal.  After dinner we stopped at Castle Ice Cream for — you guessed it — a mediocre soft-serve cone!  I’m not sure how they did it, but the cone was too creamy and very disappointing.

But all nay-saying aside, Clayton was very cute, the weather was beautiful, and Denny got to cross an item off of his Bucket List.  It was a win-win-win!

COOPERSTOWN
On Sunday we checked out of our hotel in Clayton and hit the road for Cooperstown, which was about 3 hours away.  We decided to stop at a Tim Horton’s on the way and it was, quite honestly, the best culinary experience of the trip.  Canada is home to Tim Horton’s, but you can find them scattered about the east coast of the US as well.  It’s like a Dunkin Donuts but BETTER.  The coffee was great (not as bitter as Starbucks, not as chemical-tasting as Dunks).  The donuts were adorable and delicious.  And the Tim Horton’s employee that helped us was so friendly.  It was an A++ experience.

We arrived in Cooperstown around noon and headed straight for the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.  Let me tell you, all of Cooperstown is adorable.  It’s pure Americana.  I’m not big into baseball but I fell in love with all things Cooperstown.  The Baseball HOF and Museum has been on my mom’s Bucket List for years and we finally got her there!  She loved every minute of her time in the HOF and Museum and it was precious.

We grabbed some mid-afternoon snacks at Hardball (read: mozzarella logs and pretzels!), I had the BEST soft-serve twist cone of my life at a little shop down the street from the HOF, and then we headed to our hotel to check in.  We stayed at the Otesaga, which appeared to be the nicest hotel in the area.  It had a Greenbrier vibe and also reminded me a bit of the resort in Dirty Dancing.  I’m not a huge fan of the old, stuffy, fancy-pants hotels but my parents loved it.  We had dinner at the Hawkeye Grill in the hotel.  And take a guess… it was… mediocre!  After dinner we headed back downtown for one last visit to the HOF.

The next morning we had breakfast at the Glimmerglass room of the hotel (great name, huh?) and the breakfast was AWESOME.  Enormous buffet of everything you could imagine and it was all delicious.  Hallelujah, a great meal!  The blueberry pancakes were my favorite (clearly I broke my low-carb streak on this vacation)!  We packed up the car and headed to Niagara Falls!

JB was in no mood for photos at the start of our trip!  To be fair, we had all been awake since 3am and were a little grumps.
View from lunch.
A vacation must = ice cream or soft-serve twist cones.
I loved these. Duh.
This cute lil’ thing was shut down due to an impending lawsuit.  DRAMA!
Momma + Me
View from our hotel room.  This was a rare occasion of landing an AMAZING room.  Usually we get the view of the parking lot or roof, but not this time!  I gasped with delight when I realized that this would be our view for two days — completed with an open-air balcony with chairs!
The next morning brought the BOATS!  So many boats!
We bored.  Denny thrilled.
It rained a little bit, the sun peeked out, and I ran outside because I just knew a rainbow would form.
COOPERSTOWN!
Chinless Chester, as we affectionately named the painting in our hotel room.
Best. Twist. Cone. Of. My. Life. I’ll dream about it forever.
I told you this place was cuuuuute.
Happy, happy Momma.
The front lawn of the Otesaga.
Guardian of the Distilled Water (for Denny’s CPAP machine) – and duh, I needed a photo of the Rainbow Motel sign.  But like 99% of motels these days, it looked sketchy to the max.
BLESSED DAY.
Denny thought the donuts were a little small.  How American of us, right?  WHY ISN’T THE JUNK FOOD BIGGER?!
Truly in love with Tim Horton’s.  Also in love with this cute roadside ice cream stand.  Which Denny drove out of his way to so that I could get a photo.  He’s the best.
Isn’t this the cutest house you’ve ever seen?  I didn’t need to say a word.  I just gasped… and Denny turned the car around so I could get a photo.  Boonville, NY!

I’m a little behind on my travel blog posts.  Here’s my thoughts on Minneapolis from last month!

I came to the realization that I had never visited Minneapolis as an adult.  I went to Minneapolis when I was ten years old to see the Mall of America.  And then I drove through while on a roadtrip back in ’09.  So I never really experienced the city!  I wanted that to change because a) it’s only 4.5 hours away, b) it’s a major Midwestern city, and c) everyone and their uncle seems to love it.

Well, I loved it. HOWEVER, we had some weather issues on this long-weekend trip.  It was 100+ degrees on Friday, when we departed.  What on earth can you do in 100+ degree weather except stay indoors with strong air-conditioning?  So yes. We did it. We went to the Mall of America! It was enormous (duh) and overwhelming and the parking structure was just as I remembered it from my childhood.  Isn’t it weird what sticks in our memory?  I remember the damn parking structure and how level one was the Lobster Level.

I had a cone at Dairy Queen, went to Barnes and Noble, and visited the Crayola Experience’s gift shop (so cute and colorful!).  That was pretty much the extent of my time at the MOA.

We drove to our hotel, the Hewing.  It’s a gorgeous hotel that reminded me a lot of the Kimpton Journeyman or Iron Horse hotels in Milwaukee.  The Hewing was once a warehouse that also served as a farm implement showroom.  How Midwest, right?  But it’s a gorgeous space and I’m glad it was able to be refurbished into something new!  One thing to note — the hotel is across the street from a strip club and there are multiple sex shops (Sex World!) in the neighborhood.  Don’t let that dissuade you from staying at the Hewing!  It really is a great area with lots of restaurants and shopping.

We had dinner at a pizza place that was a few blocks away.  I don’t even remember the name of it because it was so bad.  But we didn’t know — and we didn’t want to walk far in the ONE HUNDRED DEGREE HEAT.  Ya know.

The next day I got up early and walked to a donut shop to meet up with my friend Beth.  I went to graduate school with Beth and she’s now a kickass OB/GYN in St. Paul.  We don’t get to see each other enough (thanks, distance!) and jumped at the chance to catch up over coffee and donuts at Angel Food Bakery.

The weather was a real pill though.  The heat was gone but the RAIN arrived! Torrential rain, thunderstorms, skies that were DARK at 8am. Sigh. It just wasn’t my weekend for good weather. The rain put a damper on some of the things I had planned (mini golf at the Walker Sculpture Garden, for example).

Mom and I waited around our hotel until mid-afternoon, when the rain finally let up.  Then we headed out to explore.  We visited some murals (duh).  We did a little shopping.  We went out for lunch at Red Cow for burgers.  We tried to go for drinks on the rooftop bar of the Hewing, but it was crowded to the max and we felt underdressed and overaged (for real, I think the average age of everyone in the bar was 24!).

The next morning we had a very early breakfast at the hotel, stopped at the beautiful Walker Sculpture Garden, and then made the 4.5 hour drive home.  I think the driving time is the worst thing about going to Minneapolis.  But it’s a gorgeous city, full of shopping, restaurants, culture, diversity, and Midwest Nice. Add it to your to-visit list. The Midwest is so much more than “fly over country” —  and that’s a hill that I will die on!

Other stray observations:

  • I need to make a return trip and cover St. Paul.  Gotta round out the Twin Cities!
  • Minneapolis was an easy city to drive in.  Not a ton of traffic when we were out and about.
  • If I had a dollar for every homage to Prince that I saw, I’d be rich.  Prince and Bob Dylan, the patron saints of Minnie.
  • TARGET, my beloved Target, is headquartered in Minneapolis.  I didn’t get to visit the Mothership store on this trip, but it’s on my list for next time!
  • I walked past the stadium where the Vikings play.  Eww.  But Minneapolis was a great city for walking — lots to see in the downtown area; and I felt safe the entire time because so many people were out and about.
  • Minneapolis has a lot of churches.  Those good Lutheran Scandinavians were big on building churches I guess!

The parking structure signage that I remember from my youth.
A beautiful butterfly art installation at the Mall of America.
The butterflies — and my favorite travel companion.
The Crayola Experience’s gift shop was so cute!  And you know I had to stop because… colorful.
Tickle me pink.
Carbs covered in mini carbs.
View from the rooftop of the Hewing!
I LOVED the wallpaper.
Terrible pizza, delicious delicious donuts.
It was so dark and stormy on Saturday morning that all of the theater marquee lights stayed on!
I think this was my favorite mural — because I love anything having to do with skulls.  I’m weird.  I know.
I also liked the I Like You mural very much.
‘Merica
Minnesota Nice!  The concept of “Midwestern Nice” is a real thing.  We are real nice here!
Walking to lunch/dinner.  Linner? Dunch?
The sun came out and I took a walk around downtown.City Hall.
Cotton candy skies.
The lobby area of the Hewing.
Restaurant.  Quite empty at 7:30am.
The Walker Sculpture Garden’s “Spoonbridge & Cherry”

 

Summer is 2/3 over!  July was nice ‘n’ busy.  Lots of Sadie.  The 4th of July.  A trip to Minneapolis (I’ll blog on that separately!).  Sadie had a seizure!  A baseball game.  EAA #OSH19!  Some hot, sunny, beautiful weather.  Here are the photos!
They moved the fireworks to downtown this year — with a concert at the Leach.  WE LOVED IT.  I hope they make this change of venue permanent.
Farmers Market, you so cute.
Aren’t these Sesame Street stamps the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?  And so are the pups, duh.
Obsessed with her.
Also obsessed with the view from 4848.
Denny and I at Waterfest;  and a random balloon that I wanted from Pick ‘n’ Save.  Life’s too short not to get the rainbow balloon.
Awesome colorful art at the Elmhurst Art Museum.
Gracie got some toofers pulled.  And Lisa Frank is BACK, bitches! The 90s live!
My Sophia-Chia didn’t go so well — it made me smile every day though, so it was worth the effort! Thanks, Auntie Ra :)
Another trip to Baraboo and all its circus cuteness.
EAA!  Went with Michelle and Mark to the Monday night festivities.  It’s my favorite Oshkosh event!
The Fray was this year’s musical guest.
Annual baseball game with Mothership.
Denny has attended all 50 years in Osh!
The Seaplane Base is so, so peaceful.
Back to more photos of Sadie.
See ya next year, July!

JUNE!  The year is now half over and I can’t believe it.  Here’s my monthly round up of photos!
Started the month meeting GINGER!  She belongs to my friend Andrea. I am in love.
Andrea and I had a fun day; we always do.  BABES for life.
Back to Sadie. Isn’t she the cutest?
June brought us National Donut Day.
Oshkosh Farmer’s Market!
Auntie Ra and I went to see Paul McCartney! It was awesome!
More Sadie because… duh.
Oh look, even more Sadie. And check out my cute cherry earrings — appropriate for my trip to Door County!
We went to Door County for Father’s Day Weekend.
My Denny is THE BEST.
And my momma’s pretty great, too. We enjoyed our mid-afternoon snack of chips + guac at JJ’s.
Dinner at CHOP and me wearing the world’s brightest sweatshirt. WHICH I LOVE.
If I ever go to Door County and do not eat at Al Johnson’s, something is awry.
Door County Bakery
The best part about leaving — if only for a weekend — is coming back home to my sweet Sadie.
Peach season is the best season!
Toy Story 4 was pretty great.
Makenna graduated from high school! Time, please slow down.
Purple potatoes = an impulse purchase at the grocery store.  They are pretty and delicious!
Spent the last weekend of June in Madison.  Oh Madison, I miss ya.
Stella’s Hot ‘n’ Spicy Cheese Bread is magnificent.
New mural at Hilldale!
I think you have to be dead inside, as an alumni of UW, not to feel physical nostalgia-induced pain while visiting the Terrace. I mean, it’s a good pain. But lawwwwd, I love my UW and all my years there.
Gemütlichkeit = German-language word used to convey the idea of a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer.  Totally appropriate for the Terrace.  And all of Wisconsin, really. And hey, I got new sunnies!
My collection.  I added a new little bebe.
Please read “bebe” as pronounced by Moira Rose. :)

I’m a big believer in getting to know the state in which you live — the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Wisconsin Dells is… how do I put this… a lil’ trashy.  It’s full of kitschy motels, tourist traps, and waterparks.  So many waterparks. I went to Noah’s Ark when I was a kid and was traumatized by the wave pool. I’m sure this is one of the reasons why I dislike swimming to this day!

My parents and I took a little day trip, on a random Wednesday (thank you, flexible work schedule!), to the Dells and to Baraboo.  As much as I think the Dells is trash, I also kind of love it.  Lovable trash.  Like Forky in Toy Story 4. If you visit, I would highly recommend visiting the H. H. Bennett Studio.  Bennett was THE Dells photographer throughout the 19th century.  His work is beautiful and his story is interesting — and his photography studio is still preserved!  It’s like stepping back in time.

Baraboo was adorable.  I had never been there and I really enjoyed it.  It has a great downtown area with cute shops — and if the circus is your thing, this is the town for you.  It was once home to the Ringling Bros and currently houses the Circus World Museum.  We didn’t visit because, well, circuses are not my thing.

We had dinner at Ishnala Supper Club, which I loved.  I think my parents kind of hated it — but it was so pretty!  The views cannot be beat!

I LOVE CUTE ICE CREAM STANDS! I saw Milty Wilty outside of Wautoma and made my dad turn the car around so I could take a photo. He’s always a good sport about it.
Isn’t this the cutest candy shop you’ve ever seen?
Cute, but too bad the chocolate we bought was stale.  0/10.  Would not recommend.
The little main drag of the Dells is full of shops, bars, etc.
Would it be a tourist destination without a ALL THE FUDGE SHOPS?!
Kitschy cuteness.
Up next, Baraboo! These circus animals are embedded into the concrete surrounding the town square.
I’ve never met a roadside attraction I haven’t loved.
Isn’t it dreamy?
Back to the Dells! This is the entrance to Ishnala.  They do not take reservations and are always busy, so we were early birds and ate dinner at 4pm!
Good old fashioned, beautiful view of Mirror Lake, and look at that ball o’ butter!
My dad wanted a photo of these delivery cars because how often do you see a fiberglass spread-eagle moose on top of a PT Cruiser?
And finally, Omro provided us with these words of wisdom.