"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
Happy New Year to all of our friends and family who enjoy reading about our adventures. It was a great year and plans are already in the works for the new year. We will celebrate our 5th year of Adventures in Travel in February, yaay!
We apologize for not publishing much over the last couple of months, life has kept us quite busy over the fall months and Christmas season. A highlight of the Christmas season was the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train coming through Columbus. Al got a great video over 1000 people have already viewed. See it here!
Another highlight of the season was a house with a 40 minute synchronized music and light show. See it here!
We will be spending the winter catching up on trips that took place after Labor Day. Also updating older posts that need it. Our “Westward Ho! South Dakota and Wyoming” trip was amazing! Go back to begin reading about our trip here. Made some new friends along the way, as well as with enjoying time with long-time friends.
We hope you had a great year too, see you on the road! Happy New Year from Al and Laurie!
We finally made it to the Spam Museum, the last attraction at the conclusion of our Westward Ho! vacation. We arrived at 12:18 and left at 1:30. The people at the desk greet you with a friendly “Hello” and are ready to answer any questions you might have about Hormel’s popular canned meat.
There were many visitors today, enjoying the many interactive exhibits. Here are some highlights I filmed there.
As you can see, Spam cans take a ride above you on a conveyor belt. Someone put a camera up there so you can see what they see 🙂
Spam™ has played an important part in American history, including feeding the troops during WWII as well as people in other countries. One of them is Hawai’i, our 49th state. Spam™ is still a part of many recipes there. An exhibit also pays homage to the famous Spam™ skit on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. One of my favorites!
A Hormel delivery wagon.
Spam™ for every meal! Get your recipe ideas here at this console.
Plenty of signage teaching visitors the history of Spam and Hormel.
Stop at the gift shop before leaving, we got a Spam™ slicer. And yes, you can buy Spam here too, many flavors. We got a couple of these too.
This museum was great fun to visit and even though we were only here just over an hour, we could have spent even more time here. Come if you can and enjoy Spam™!
We were passing through southern Minnesota on our way to South Dakota and we stopped in two communities, Blue Earth and Austin. We went to a few rest stops too, not as cool as the South Dakota ones but they all had interesting historical markers to see.
1. The first one was the Oakland Woods Rest Area. It is located in Albert Lea, a place were we stayed at once about 14 years ago on a trip to Iowa. We stayed at the Budget Host in town (no longer there).
This was the beginning of our vacation to South Dakota and Wyoming. We saw this billboard and knew we had to stop here! Blue Earth is home to a Green Giant plant. It is located in Green Giant Park. The statue was dedicated August 7, 1979. Here is the plaque at the base of the statue.
There also is a sign at the park with some Green Giant facts.
A short visit, we had to continue our journey West but we hope to get to the museum here on our next trip to this area.
Quite a delicious breakfast, we finished at about 7:30. Our next stop was the Capitol. On the way we found the Fitzgerald Theater, where A Prairie Home Companion radio show takes place. We listen to that show! How great to finally see it.
The Capitol building was not far from here, right now it is undergoing some renovations.
A closeup of the gold decoration on the building. The sign says “Minnesota”.
And on top of the Capitol.
We further explored the grounds, most other government buildings are here near the Capitol. The Minnesota History Center.
Also many memorials and monuments. A statue of Leif Erikson near the Capitol.
Outside of the Veterans building is a display of large boulders, each engraved with an excerpt from a letter written by a vet during their tour of duty. Very touching.
A timeline to the Women’s Suffrage Movement, dedicated in 2000.
We got done exploring here and went back downtown to see more. The Landmark Center, formerly the courthouse. Now it is a center for performances and special events throughout the year. It has an ice skating rink outside in the winter.
See those heads in the picture? There are metal Peanuts™ characters in this downtown area. Lets see a few more, I didn’t get all of them.
We finished exploring downtown and headed to another neighborhood called “Lowertown“. It’s a historic neighborhood with an upbeat atmosphere and a beautiful square-shaped park called Mears Park. A former warehouse district, it now the “in” place to live and work.
Many delightful business in and around the square. It was a nice warm morning and people were eating alfresco at The Buttered Tin.
After exploring Mears Park and the square we enjoyed lunch at The Bulldog. The food was wonderful and I could see why they are a popular place to go, especially on game day. A Minnesota Vikings game was beginning at noon and it played on the many TVs while we ate. Thankfully we weren’t wearing Green Bay Packer clothes that day, we would have received a few side-eyed glances 🙂
After lunch we stopped to see one last attraction before heading back home. We enjoyed some great views of the city and water on The Mississippi River Trail. It is a trail that spans 800 miles with the start point at Itaska State Park.
Across the Mississippi you can also see the river boats to go on cruises. This is the Padelford Riverboats Landing where you can choose your boat ride.
Enjoy a view of the skyline and all the activity in this vibrant city. The First National Bank‘s “1st” on top of the building is visible for 20 miles at night and 75 miles in the air. We saw it on our arrival in the morning, flashing red (see video at top of page).
And from here our trip is concluded, 1:40 PM and time to go back home. It was a fun trip and it was great seeing family too. We are glad you could join us for the last 3 days.
The big moment we have been waiting for, our ascent to the 30th floor Observation Deck of The Foshay in Minneapolis. It was now 1:40 PM. It has only been open 8 years so we chose a good time to visit. The building once dominated the Minneapolis skyline, but now it is surrounded by other taller skyscapers. Not all views are blocked however. It was constructed in 1929 and named after the founder, Wilbur Foshay.
See some local news coverage about the tower.
We went in to get our tickets at the desk, such cool lighting inside.
The clerk gave us a special key card to get us to the 30th floor. We’re here!
There is more than the observation deck here, we also enjoyed the museum on this floor before going out.
The original program for the dedication of the building.
The other side of the museum. Here you can see the stairs to the deck and in the far left corner is a video alcove.
We learned John Phillips Sousa was comissioned to write a special a special march to be played during the tower dedication in 1929. That was the only time this was performed for many decades. The reason being Mr. Foshay’s check to him in payment for writing and playing the music bounced. Sousa forbade the piece from being performed again until payment was made. Sousa’s estate was finally paid in the 1990’s by the citizens of Minneapolis raising the money. Now you can hear it too.
Now that we saw the museum, time to go out on the deck!
The deck as you can see is open air and you are well enclosed. I could see places where we had been while exploring the city today. We could see the Basilica of St. Mary. Also a train behind it.
Also Target Field, where the Minnesota Twins play baseball. I could see right inside the stands!
Other views. There were free viewing scopes at each corner (except West)
We arrived in Minneapolis in pouring rain around 6 PM after leaving home about 12 hours earlier. On the way we saw Pickwick Mill and Pepin while traveling the Great River Road. Tired and hungry, we stopped for dinner at Saguaro ( Arizona/Mexican cuisine). Turns out it is one of he best Mexican restaurants in Minneapolis. We have to agree! The staff were friendly and we enjoyed our experience there.
Our dinners, we both chose the Taco Platter, but you could do a lot of mixing and matching. A great way to end our day and relax after a long day on the road.
Day 2 – 9/19
The rain was gone and we were ready for adventure! We took care of some family business first. My maternal Grandmother and her sister grew up here and we went to the Lyndale neighborhood where they lived. Saw my former great-grandparent’s house, now rented by two tenants. It was good to see it again after 15 years.
We also went to the other side of their block where my teen grandma picked up some groceries for the family. I don’t know what it was called then but now it’s Kyle’s Market, open 9 to 9 daily.
We also paid respects to my great-grandparents and great-aunt at Lakewood Cemetery along the shores of Lake Calhoun. We also discovered the Pillsbury family is buried here, we could see the tall monument from my family’s grave site. More on Pillsbury later.
On our way to our next place we saw a vintage White Castle Hamburger building, now Xcentric Goods.
We soon arrived Minnehaha Park, a popular park for over a century. It’s also the center point of the founding of Minneapolis. On location is the Princess Depot that used to bring people to the park on a train. Now, it’s a museum open seasonally.
The first settler of Minneapolis, Colonel John H. Stevens is memorialized here with his former home turned into a museum. Also a statue in front of the house.
We happened to be there when the groundskeepers were making their rounds (you can see them behind the statue). Even though the museum was not really open for visitors at 7:45 AM, they did for us since they are just nice people 🙂 Lets go in! There is a plaque just outside of the door.
That was fun, thanks for the great tour! Now we proceeded to the other great attraction of this park, Minnehaha Falls. As we got closer, you could hear the rush of water. The sunrise was illuminating the mist the falls created, beautiful!
An interesting fact, President Johnson visited the falls in 1964, they marked where he stood in concrete and you can stand there too.
There were stairs going down to the bottom of the falls, offering this view.
The park also has a large pavilion for events.
It was now almost 9, time for our next attraction. We were treated to a great skyline view on the way!
The frame around the picture tells you what was coming up next. It was time for lunch and we had it in the historic Band Box Diner. There is only one in the whole city, and world! We are lucky to have been able to eat there at all. In March 2015 the 30-year old grill stopped working and they didn’t have enough money to buy a new one. Not to worry though, the customers banded together and raised the funds to buy a NEW GRILL! We are so happy they did, this landmark restaurant is too good to close!
After lunch, time for our biggest attraction for today, Foshay Tower. The W Minneapolis Hotel is also in this building. It has the only sky deck in the Twin Cities for visitors to enjoy, the view is from 30 stories up. For adults not staying there, it’s $8 to go to the sky deck. What a wonderful view! You could see St. Paul, also the Minnesota Twin’s Target Field inside the stands.
By then it was 3:30 and we had until 5, when we went to have dinner with some relatives. A beautiful afternoon with many people there enjoying the day.
On the other side of the bridge you could see the remnants of the former flour-milling era.
Pillsbury and Gold Medal Flour factories
Along the trail are also free viewing scopes that kids really enjoy looking in.
The trail goes by Mill Ruins Park, which is still undergoing development but the first phase is what you see here.
It is also a popular wedding venue, you could see the wedding party taking photos below.
You could also see Mill City Museum from the trail, not enough time to stop there unfortunately. You could see people up there!
A Segway Tour just went by us, they made a turn and went under our part of the trail on the Stone Arch Bridge.
It was time to be on our way. We hear music from a street musician playing on his guitar as we head back.
One thing we noticed about this friendly city, photo shoots! We saw three today, there may have been more we didn’t know about. We had a great day, on Sunday we were going to see some of St. Paul before going back to Madison.