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Archive for July 9th, 2006

Please do not sit on the chicken!

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

Minnesota TripWell, we did a weekend trip, and it was a blast. Here’s a bit of a travelogue for you.

Day 1 was Friday. We left early afternoon from Lansing, despite Brian’s best attempts to get me organized earlier. This put us in Chicago at 5:01pm their time. Yup. Rush hour.

Minnesota TripNot only that, but Chicago is tearing up huge parts of the main artery from the skyway (a toll road south from Indiana to Illinois) to downtown (the loop) and perhaps beyond. We decided as soon as we got stuck in traffic, that we would just get off the highway and head toward the waterfront. Lakeshore Drive is a pleasant view and if you must be slow in traffic, Lakeshore Drive would be a lovely place for that to happen.

So we got off the highway just south of the Museum of Science and Industry, made our way through some neighborhoods and got to Lakeshore. It was really easy going until we hit the spot where the crowd could take an exit called “Lakeshore Drive.” Then it slowed down (this is just south of McCormick Place and Soldier Field stadium).

Minnesota TripBut by then I was in love again, in love with Chicago and its magnificent skyline, its gentle energy, its architecture and friendly spaces for cityfolk. They have beaches and parks up and down the waterfront for miles and miles, the park system there is really fabulous.

So we would stop and go, and when we were at red lights we would take photographs. It made me happy. I don’t mind traffic at all when it’s like this. (I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before how much I love big cities, right?)

My favorite place in the midwest is Devon Avenue, the section where you find Indian and Pakistani groceries, restaurants, and apparel stores. There are multiple sari houses for beautiful clothes and fabrics, and jewelry stores where the gold is that incredible yellow color we don’t typically see in the USA. And the food! Oh, the food.

Minnesota TripI’ve written here more than once about eating at Udupi Palace, a few times when Sara (my goddaughter) and I took our trip to Chicago and at least once when visiting my friend Iris who lives in Chicago. We went back there for dinner on Friday. After all, by the time we got there it was still rush hour. Might as well eat some of your favorite food ever, while waiting for the traffic to die down!

We headed out of town toward Minneapolis and settled somewhere in Wisconsin for the night. Unfortunately, we drove in the dark most of the time in Wisconsin so we missed a lot of the beautiful scenery. It’s truly a beautiful place with rolling green hills. (We did get to see them on the way back home.)

Minnesota TripThe next morning we found our way to a diner near the exit. It was a style that was old fashioned but I’m betting it’s a modern structure in an old style. I’m thinking it was “Moe’s Almost-Famous Diner” if I remember right.

We had our honeymoon in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Wisconsin, and halfway through we wished we’d photo-documented all the large fiberglass animals that are roadside, mostly to attract business traffic. I remember on that trip there was a huge mouse by a cheese store in Wisconsin, and lots of large deer, sometimes as yard ornaments. Well, this diner had a steer on the sign nearest the highway, and a huge chicken, taller than me, out front. I got a photo of them both in one shot… and while I went by the chicken I noticed a sign on its back: “Please do not sit on the chicken.” I bet there are not too many signs saying that!

Minnesota TripWe made good time on the road Saturday morning and then again found ourselves with construction traffic. We got off the highway and headed through downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota (twin city to Minneapolis).

I had not been in downtown before, though I have a cousin we visited in a St. Paul neighborhood on our honeymoon almost ten years ago. It was a quite lovely downtown, which reminded me a little bit of the photos I just showed you I took in Indianapolis. They had wonderful flower beds everywhere, and people actually downtown. (Lansing does not have much activity downtown on a Saturday afternoon except at/near the ball park).

Minnesota TripMore to be continued later… remember, these photos were taken out windows of cars by Brian and I, so they aren’t horizontal but they are just as we took them.

Photos: 1) Me driving my blue bug, with another blue bug next to me… about 5:20pm Chicago rush hour traffic, with the most beautiful skyline I know in the background. 2) Devon Avenue, my favorite spot in Chicago, the Midwest, any city. Just one corner, but there are friends chatting on a bench as you see on almost every corner. It’s a bustling place, very alive. 3) Saturday morning’s diner, inside, with Brian center stage. 4) View of diner with fiberglass chicken in foreground and fiberglass steer up in the sky, top right, with signs. 5) Street scene in downtown St. Paul, noon or not long after that on a Saturday. 6) Flowers and green area with benches underneath and lots of folks gathered there, also downtown St. Paul. 7) Worn doors on street which was our entryway back to the highway, St. Paul. Not shiny but beautiful in their own way.