June 2, 2015

A visit from Matt!

Matt came to visit the second weekend in April. It had been almost a month since I had left Anchorage and seen him, so I was sure looking forward to his arrival. Busy almost every weekend since moving to Chaska and prior to his visit, I planned to take him around the cities and venture around some of the nearby parks and trails.

Saturday began with a trip to the Bloomington REI. We then headed for The Winchell Trail, which is part of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. The Winchell Trail is a 5 mile loop hiking only trail on the west bank of the Mississippi River.


The trail is both paved and unpaved and for much of the route, is separated from a bike path that runs along side the hiking trail. The beautiful weather and clear view of the river provided a nice activity for the afternoon. 


Matt wanted to go into St. Paul, so we looked on Yelp for a good place to grab an afternoon snack. The Happy Gnome had some good reviews so we decided to check it out. 


We ordered a couple appetizers to fill our stomachs. A cheese plate...


...and some of the best tater tots we have ever eaten....I would highly recommend this gastropub to anyone looking for some good eats in St. Paul.


On Sunday, we stayed around Chaska and explored some of the trails near town. The Minnesota Valley State State Trail is part of the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area, which extends from Chaska to Belle Plaine.


We "hiked" a few miles down the trail before turning around and walking back to the car. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the trail and the vastness of land that surrounded the trail. I'm excited to check it out again when the trees and shrubs turn green.


While we were on our walk, our friend/dogsitter in Anchorage sent us a few pictures of Rio. 


She was being entertained by a moose outside their window.


Sunday evening we decided to eat dinner at The Prairie Tap House in Eden Prairie. It was another restaurant that had some good reviews on Yelp.


As we were about ready to leave, rain started pouring outside. It was difficult to see the street from the front door - and didn't provide for a friendly walk to the car. So, we decided to play some darts....


Matt dominated. Enough said.


I took work off on Monday so we could attend the home opener for the Minnesota Twins. We actually scheduled Matt's trip to Minnesota around this game because they were scheduled to play the Royals, his favorite team.


The day was just lovely.


Every person in attendance received a free hoodie (the sweatshirt I am wearing in the picture below).


After finding our seats...


we decided to walk around the ballpark and get some snacks. Matt found the largest Bloody Mary we have ever seen. 


To welcome Torii Hunter back to Minneapolis, Kevin Garnett threw out the first pitch...


We had a great day at the game even though the Twins got blown out by the Royals. Fortunately, as I write this blog, I can feel confident about their season now that they lead the Central Division (including the Royals).


It was so nice having Matt in Chaska and Minneapolis for the weekend. I can not wait for him to move later this summer.

April 26, 2015

Nashville: Part II.

For part I of my trip to Nashville, click HERE.

Nashville...Part II.


On Tuesday, we took it easy for most of the day until mid-afternoon when we headed for the Grand Ole Opry. It was Saint Patrick's Day, so we decked out in green attire... 


The Opry Plaza was pretty much a huge resort. In addition to the Opry, it had shops, a hotel, restaurants and a mall.


The Grand Ole Opry...

 

The line up of musicians playing this night featured Irish step dancers, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Charlie Worsham (below)...


...and also featured a number of other artists, including Lee Greenwood. His last song was "God Bless the USA" which had the entire crowd standing on their feet and joining in song...


After the show concluded, we navigated our way to the front of the stage for a backstage tour of the Opry. We learned about the history of the Opry, stood on the stage (see picture), saw the many dressing rooms behind the stage and heard some stories about a few of our favorite Opry inductees.


On our last day in Nashville, we got up for brunch at the Hermitage Cafe, a popular late night diner...


...and then headed to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.


Although we are not huge country music fans, the Hall of Fame was very appealing, and was the perfect activity for getting out of the cold and drizzle.


Elvis' "Solid Gold Cadillac" that he rode in traveling back and forth from Memphis to Nashville...


Elvis' gold piano.


Johnny Cash...


More from the Hall of Fame...





After the Museum, we went on a tour of Studio B, where Elvis and many other musicians recorded some of the best selling music of all time...


We then headed to another area of Nashville for a tour of the Corsair Distillery. Before the tour, we grabbed some BBQ at Jack Cawthon's...


The distillery tour was pretty neat, and included a sampling of some of their products. 


We each ordered a cocktail at the end of the tour...


We had made reservations for dinner at a restaurant called, The Southern, which was highly recommended on Yelp and by the woman who owned the house where we were staying. 


The Southern featured a shuck-to-order oyster bar and locally sourced meats that were all prepared with a Southern flare. We thought it was the perfect place to enjoy our last night in Nashville.


I had a wonderful time with my mom and sister and can't wait to take another trip together.

Cheers!