Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

WORK.

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

I have been too busy with work and travel to even think about keeping up with this blog. Here are a few photos from places that have been occupying my time:

RosieShowHarpoSign

Bears vs Packers

CavemanNASCAR

WiscosinNebraska

OhioFall1

OhioFall

MichFootballMuseum

MichStateCoach

FourSeasonView

Cubs Welcome Theo

New York City

Monday, May 9th, 2011

New York Downtown

Just a little glimpse of a story I’ll tell ’bout an East Coast city that you all know well…

At the end of April, Apryl and I took a trip to New York. We had actually planned the trip a few months back, but then this happened. Actually, it worked out better this way. The weather was far superior, making it more enjoyable getting around.

Hotel Indigo

We checked into the Hotel Indigo, which was nicely located in Chelsea near the Fashion Institute of Technology. Unfortunately, Apryl had to finish up some work when we first arrived, but it did give me some time to wander around the neighborhood.

I was fascinated by the parking lots in the area. Check out this lot below:

NY Parking Lot

I decided on a destination of a record store in the Flatiron District, which gave me plenty of sight-seeing opportunities like running into the district’s namesake.

Flatiron Building

After shopping, I randomly picked a route back to the hotel, and ended up walking right pass the infamous Chelsea Hotel, primarily known to me by the Leonard Cohen tune and the Warhol flick. There was a film crew on site, shinning a light down a stairway that led to the basement.

Hotel Chelsea

As soon as I passed the hotel, I walked right by Clearview Cinema where the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival was taking place. I actually worked on a film that debuted at the festival in 2007.

On the way back, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of these New Yorkers checking out apartment complexes for rent. The average price for a small, one bedroom unit was $2,500 – $3,000 a month. But then again, I suppose it’s all relative.

NY Apt Searching

That night, while Apryl and I were walking to dinner, we passed that same parking lot I mentioned earlier. Only this time, it looked like this:

NY Empty Parking Lot

After dinner, we walked up 8th Ave (pass Madison Square Garden) to Times Square. I had seen Times Square last year on a shoot, but it was during the day, which is like not seeing it at all. Here we are taking in the view:

Apryl Times Square

Hayden Times Square

I couldn’t get over how many taxi cabs were congregated in one place. I really got a kick out of seeing how many cabs could drive one after the other before a non cab got through.

And then there was also this:

Viewing Party

The next morning, I had my favorite breakfast of the trip, an everything bagel with lox spread from the Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee Company. Yummy!

Bagel

After breakfast, we made our way on the subway headed to Central Park. As soon as we got out of the tunnel, it started pouring rain. We waited for the rain to subside before entering the park. Here are just a few photos of the park:

Park and Buildings

Park Walkway

Alice

(I remember this sculpture because of this image.)

Before we could make much headway into the over 800 acres that make up Central Park, it started to rain hard again, and we retreated into the dry, Metropolitan Museum of Art:

AprylTheMet

We spent a good three hours at The Met, and yet still only scratched the surface of what it had to offer. A few photos from the exhibits:

Wall Art

WarholTheMet

Study

(This study of Sunday at La Grande Jatte is a bit smaller than the original found at the AIC.)

The Met Kid

After hours on our feet walking around, we started to feel like the kid in the photo above. Where or where could we rest our bones? A ballpark, perhaps?

Hey, it was my birthday. And the White Sox were in town playing the Yankees. Actually, we had this event planned for quite some time. All we had to do was get on transit and head on over to Yankee Stadium…

Only we got lost. The transit directions on the Evo were wrong because it gave us the wrong address for Yankee Stadium. Instead of the Bronx, we were spat out in East Harlem, utterly confused. Luckily, a helpful cabbie drove us to the correct subway where he ventured on a short trip to the Bronx.

Yankees Stadium

Now, I’m not going to go into detail about the game since I’m planning on writing a separate game post, but it was fun time. Even despite the lousy playing by the White Sox. I told Apryl that if the Yankees scored more than 12 runs on the Sox that it would stop be fun for me. The Sox lost 12 – 3. The highlight of the game was Apryl brought out my birthday card. Since I’m still not eating meat, it was my hot dog at the ballpark.

Yankees Card Dog

Next morning, we decided we would visit the Statue of Liberty. Before heading out, I got online to see what the procedure was for going on the tour. To my horror, I read that lines for tickets were 2 hours long and that once you obtained your ticket you were then diverted into a security line that took up to an hour and a half. If you wanted to bypass the wait, you could purchase your tickets online in advance. Way in advance. The next available advanced ticket was in June!

However, Apryl informed me that there was another way to see the Statue of Liberty…

Staten Island Ferry Entrance

If you only got a nickel, it’s the Staten Island Ferry.

Actually, the Staten Island is free! Before having such knowledge, I moved around the station looking for a ticket booth. Finally, I asked a security personnel where one could purchase a ticket for the ferry. He gave me a curious stare, and then proclaimed, “it’s free.” Forgive me, I am new here.

The ferry makes the trip every thirty minutes, so we only had to wait about ten minutes before the the boat docked. While we waited a scrolling text above us congratulated the newly wed Prince William and Princess Kate. Apryl turned to me and asked, “Are they suppose to be able to read that?”

The ride over to State Island is quite nice with plenty of photographic opportunities. And you float right by the Statue of Liberty. The statue was smaller than I imagined, but it was still an awe of a sight. Some photos of the ferry ride:

Downtown from Ferry

Statue of Liberty

Coast Guard

Ferry and Statue

When he didn’t spend any time in Staten Island, but instead took the ferry right back over to Manhattan. We walked around downtown, spending the most time a the Trinity Church cemetery, Wall Street, and the future site of One World Trade Center. Below, photos:

Trinity

NYSE

One World

For dinner, we went to a gluten-free restaurant I had read about in the West Village called Risotteria. The restaurant was very good and had the best tasting gluten-free bread. Below, Apryl is amazed at all of her options:

Apryl Menu

And, the food:

Breadsticks

My pizza

When we were done eating, we noticed that the restaurant sold bags of their gluten-free flour. We were very excited until Apryl noticed on the package that the flour contained gelatin from animal protein. Disappointing.

After dinner, we went to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge

Check out this website that gives a detailed list of every known worker killed during construction of the bridge.

Another view from the bridge, including the traffic below:

Bridge and Traffic

And, how about a photo with the both of us?

Us

Despite being extremely tired, we pressed on into the evening…

Mister Rockefeller sets up as high as a bird, Old Mister Empire never says a word.

I had read that the lines were extremely long for the Empire State Building. And that they weren’t as great as the view from Rockefeller Center. So, we decided to give it a shot. In fact, the line was almost nonexistent. After having to watch a poorly produced video, we were shuffled into an elevator and taken to the top of the Rock. Check out this video of the elevator ride which allows you to look up at the clear ceiling as ascend:

Unlike the observation towers at Willis Tower and the John Hancock, Rockefeller Center’s viewing point is at the actual top of the building. You right out there in the elements. For safety, they have plastic walls around the building, but there are slits between them so you can put your hand right out in the open and feel the stone ornamentation. Below, the view:

Rock View

We topped off the evening by celebrating the Grizzlies victory in our hotel room!

Grizzlis Win

The next morning, we decided to check out a popular breakfast spot called the Clinton Street Baking Company. Unfortunately, it was too popular, and we told we would have to wait an hour and an half for a table. We left and found the Remedy Diner, which wasn’t anything too special but it did give me the opportunity to have my first egg cream.

Egg Cream

It was okay. Thankfully, it didn’t have a worm in it.

After breakfast, we only had a little time left in New York before we had to get to the airport. Apryl suggested that we go Grand Central Station. We had arrived only a day before something really big happened. If we had visited just a day later we would have seen images like this. Thankfully, we had visited when we did and got this photo of us together:

Hayden and Apryl Station

We then returned back to the hotel, grabbed our bags, and hailed a reluctant cabbie to take us to LaGuardia airport. There were a lot of things we didn’t get to see in New York, but yet we saw more than I ever imagined. Without a doubt, it gave me a better understanding of the city that is a part of every American. Goodbye, New York.

Goodbye NY

When I leave New York, I’ll be standin’ on my feet.

End of the Year (Better late than never?)

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

It is hard to believe that we are almost done with the first month of 2011! And, I never even posted my 2010 end of the year list. For shame. Well, here we go:

Top 10 Concerts of 2010:

10. Rhythm Devils at House of Blues
9. Railroad Earth at House of Blues
8. Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Millennium Park
7. LCD Soundsystem at Pitchfork Music Festival
6. Panda Bear at Pitchfork Music Festival
5. Caribou at Millennium Park
4. John Prine at Ravinia (from Prairie Home Companion)
3. Pavement at Pitchfork Music Festvial
2. Furthur at UIC (both shows)
1. Bonnie Prince Billy and the Cairo Gang at Lincoln Hall (early show)

– Being a new Deadhead was the direct result of #10, #9, and #2 being on this list.

Top 10 Favorite Songs of 2010

10. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio
9. Gil Scott-Heron – New York Is Killing Me
8. Woods – Suffering Season
7. Deerhunter – Helicopter
6. Phosphorescent – It’s Hard To Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama)
5. Beach House – Used to Be
4. MGMT – Someone’s Missing
3. Avey Tare – 3 Umbrellas
2. Sufjan Stevens – I Walked
1. Atlas Sound – Untitled

– While I might have listened to a lot of older music (especially the Dead) last year, I still got around to checking out a few new stuff. Most of it didn’t excite me that much, but the these tracks sure did.

Top 10 Favorite Songs I Discovered In 2010 (Not including the Dead)

10. String Cheese Incident – Land’s End (1997)
9. Jorma Kaukonen – Song for the North Star (1974)
8. Van Dyke Parks – John Jones (1972)
7. Railroad Earth – Storms (2004)
6. Harry Nillsson – Jump Into the Fire (1971)
5. Béla Fleck – Somerset (1986)
4. The Staple Singers – I Had a Dream (1959)
3. Elizabeth Cotten – Shake Sugaree (1967)
2. Moondog – Do Your Thing (1978)
1. Crosby & Nash – Southbound Train (1972)

– Admittedly, I was late in the game on these amazing songs. I suppose better late than never. See a theme going on? Anyway, a few notes here: 10) Yes, I did include a String Cheese Incident song here. Feel free to make fun of me. The truth is that I tried to get into other jam bands but to little avail. SCI was one of the few that kept me interested, especially “Land’s End”. 9) Jorma Kaukonen was always my favorite Jefferson Airplane member. 8) How did I go so long without listening to Van Dyke Parks solo albums? 7) Another “jam band” that I got into was Railroad Earth. Best seen live but their albums hold up quite nicely, too. 6) I am new to Harry Nillsson even though “Everybody’s Talkin'” is one of my favorite songs. I had only know “Jump Into the Fire” as that wonderful song in Goodfellas where Henry is driving around paranoid, looking up at the helicopters in the sky. 5) Have you listened to Béla Fleck’s early albums? They are so lovely, especially “Somerset” which comes off the Inroads album. 4) I love the Staple Singers but had not dived into their early recordings until last year. Boy have I been missing out! 3) I have the Dead to thank for introducing me to Elizabeth Cotten. Easily, one of my favorite guitar players. So unique her style is called “Cotten pickin'” 2) I finally sought out more from Moondog, and I am so grateful that I did. “Do Your Thing” just might be the best song ever recorded. 1) I don’t know what it is about this Crosby and Nash song I love so much but I probably played it more than any other song last year (includes Jerry Garcia on pedal steel).

Top 5 Movies Watched On Netflix Instant Watch (That I Hadn’t Seen Before):

5. Phantasm (1979) – I can’t believe I hadn’t seen this! For years, I skipped it thinking that I had. Big mistake!
4. Bela Fleck: Throw Down Your Heart (2008) – If you are a fan of music, I think you will enjoy this musical adventure.
3. You’re Gonna Miss Me (2005) – The sad tale of whatever happened to Roky Erickson. Very reminiscent of The Devil and Daniel Johnston. Both could make for a fascinating yet depressing double feature.

2. The Cove (2009) – Another depressing documentary but extremely well done and meaningful.
1. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007) – The biggest surprise of the bunch. I was expected a lighthearted documentary about video game obsession. Instead, I was treated to a morality play between good and evil. Or something like that. Highly recommended.

– We just got Netflix for our Wii a few months ago so expect a few more recommendations in 2011.

Top 5 Places I Visited For Work

5. New Orleans, LA – I didn’t get to spend much time here. Just enough to enjoy an oyster poboy. However, not enough time to get a beignet. How sad.
4. NYC – I worked with Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi at the House of Blues in Times Square. More importantly, I got to hang out with my friend, Brad.
3. State College, PA – I worked here twice last year. Once, we drove there. I never imagined that Pennsylvania was so pretty. The second time we flew, and I had the best crab cakes I have ever had in my life. And I got to meet Joe Peterno.
2. San Diega, CA – It was hard having to leave paradise to return to the harsh, Chicago winter.

1. Dyserville, Iowa – Actually, it was a detour stop on the way home from a shoot with The Weather Channel. Details aside, I got to run the bases at the Field of Dreams baseball field.

_

_

Random food photos from 2010:

FrenchToastDixieQuick

Tasty french toast from Dixie Quicks in Omaha, NE.

SuperFrenchys

The Super Grouper at Frenchy’s in Tampa, FL

PeachyPaterno

The Peachy Paterno on campus at Penn State.

A half-eaten Rickwood Dog at the Rickwood Classic in Birmingham, AL.

BirthdayPie

My favorite pie! Baked and decorated by Apryl.

The cinnamon buns at Ann Sather.

homemadegoatcheesepizza.jpg

Homemade pizza with spinach and goat cheese. Yummy!

aprylhomefries.jpg

Apryl makes amazing home fries!

porkchops.jpg

Unbelievable tasting pork chops! The waiter sold me on this when she told me that if she was only allowed on food for the rest of her life, this would be it. Too bad this is off the menu for me at the moment while I’m still practicing vegetarianism.

One of my favorite meals of 2010 was this crab cake in State College, PA.

_

_

Top 5 Favorite Personal Photos of 2010 (in no order)

icewater

DowntownBuildings

BaronsBaseball

SoxBaseball

sledge church

Goodbye 2010. Hello 2011!

A few trip photos

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

These were all taken with my Evo phone while I was out of town working:

My hotel in Mission Bay, CA which is right outside of San Diego.

This dock was right outside my hotel in Mission Bay, CA.

Another shot from the dock.

One morning, I was shooting in Times Square…

… and later that same day, I checked into a hotel in Omaha, NE during a blizzard.

We had to drive from Omaha to Lincoln, NE for our shoot. Here is a shot from inside the SUV as we stopped for gas.

Downtown Omaha is actually quite nice.

More photos can be found on the Flickr page.

I’m home.

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

I have returned back to Chicago after working the past two weeks on the road for the Big Ten Conference for a special video announcing their new logo and division names after the upcoming addition of Nebraska. During our stretch, we visited New York, San Diego, New Orleans, Tampa, Newport Beach, Oakland, State College, and Omaha. The video we worked on can be found here.

4th Anniversary!

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Check out photos from our trip this past weekend in Galena, Illinois and Dubuque, Iowa.

Barons vs. Smokies – Attended Game #4 (6/2/10)

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

Barons Baseball

Barons 7, Smokies 8

In early June, the 15th Annual Rickwood Classic returned to Birmingham, Alabama, as baseball fans celebrated Rickwood Field’s 100th birthday. That’s right, you read that correctly. 100 years! The hometown team Birmingham Barons, who are a Double-A affiliate for the Chicago White Sox took on the Chicago Cubs affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies.

Perhaps you remember how my dad and I made this classic ballpark pilgrimage last year as the Barons took on the Mississippi Braves (and lost, I might add). When we attended, we were well aware of the ballpark’s historical significance, but we didn’t know that we were witnessing its 99th year in existence. So, after the final out was made, we made a pact to return the next year to take part in the ballpark’s centennial. Only this time, we brought some company:

Outside Rickwood

As you can see from the above picture, my nephews Jackson and Andrew tagged along with us this time. The road trip took a bit longer than expected, so we didn’t arrive until a few innings into the game. When we arrived, we immediately fought our way through the crowd to the long lines at the concession stands. At first, we were in the wrong line, which cost us even more time and perhaps a good seat. However, once we got in the correct line, the wait was worth it since the hot dog (which is filled with sauerkraut) was mighty tasty. I was so hungry, I almost forgot to get a photo of it:

Rickwood dog

After we ate, we settled into our seats along the right field line and got ready for the bottom of the third inning. According to the nearly fully human operated scoreboard, the Barons were down by three runs as the Smokies scored five runs in the top of the 3rd. Still, it was early and anyone’s game.

Our seats

Above, you get an idea of the vantage point from our seats. Sure, we were a bit far from the action, but we were also covered which meant we were shaded from the harsh sun all day. I should note that seating at Rickwood is General Admission, which means first come, first serve. Unfortunately, since we arrived late to the park, we didn’t get choice seats. Still, our seats weren’t bad (an amazing seat in the Majors), only a bit far to get great photos with my zoom lens. However, I did manage to get some nice photos of the outfield:

Rickwood Outfield 2

Rickwood outfield

Here is a short video clip of the ballpark from our seats:

And video of the Barons nearly getting a single after the first baseman fumbles with the ball:

Later in the game, I ventured closer to the action to get some shots of the Barons at the plate. Here you can see the Barons sporting uniforms that mimic those worn back in 1910 when the ballpark opened:

Uni

And a Barons’ triple!

As for the game, the scoring would go back and forth. The Barons tied up the game in the 5th with three runs only to get behind again in the 7th when the Smokies posted up two more runs. The Barons would answer back with two runs themselves in the bottom of the 7th. The game would remind tied 7 – 7 throughout the nine innings, only to be broken by a home run in the 11th from the Smokies. The final innings were never dull, though, as the Barons threatened to score and win the game each inning. Perhaps, my dad and I are just bad luck for this Barons’ team?

After the 9th, a large section of the crowd left early, so we made our way to better seats behind home plate. Here was our vantage point from the 9th – 11th:

9th vanatage

Below, the Barons are intentional walked:

Despite the loss, the Barons gave the crowd of 9,448 a great game. That official number might not seem large compared to the 40,000 that show up for a Sox/Cubs major league game, but given the space limitations of the ancient park, this was surely close to a sell out.

After the game, the fans were allowed on to the field. Jackson and Andrew took the opportunity to get autographs and run around the bases:

Autographs

Below, Andrew slides into home and really does a number to his leg:

Above, Jackson holds his souvenir Barons baseball while Andrew sports the Barons cap and hold on to his mini baseball bat.

Baseball is a renewed love of mine. And while I know that my father doesn’t share the same passion as I do about America’s national past time, I’m touched that he makes the effort. Because like baseball, it’s more than a game. How glad I am that I got to spend the summer day with him and my nephews.

Us

If You Build It…

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Running the bases at the Field of Dreams Movie Site

End of the Year (Decade)

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

It was great seeing everyone during the holidays! Hope everyone has a fun, safe New Year’s Eve celebration. Seeing as it will be 13 degrees outside tonight, I feel like we’ll be hanging out in our cozy apartment. Goodbye, Decade!

Top 10 Concerts of 2009

10. Ingrid Filter at Millennium Park (open rehearsal)
9. Nomo at Millennium Park
8. Josh Ritter at The Metro
7. The Feelies at Millennium Park
6. Junior Boys at Wicker Park Festival
5. The Dirty Projectors at Millennium Park
4. Lou Reed at Lollapalooza
3. Various Artists at Pitchfork Music Festival
2. SHELebration (with Bobby Bare Sr., Bonnie Prince Billy, Bobby Bare Jr.) at Millennium Park
1. Leonard Cohen at Chicago Theatre

As you can see, we really like to take advantage of the free concerts in Millennium Park. And if you remember, I merely caught the Lou Reed set at Lolla from outside the gates, and we won two free tickets for the Ritter one. In fact, the only shows that we actually paid for in 2009 were Pitchfork and Leonard Cohen. Worth every penny!

Top 10 Favorite Songs of 2009

10. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – The Tenure Itch
9. Akron/Family – River
8. Bill Callahan – Too Many Birds
7. The Dirty Projectors – Two Doves
6. Great Lake Swimmers – Pulling On A Line
5. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home
4. Cass McCombs – Harmonia
3. Junior Boys – Dull To Pause
2. Elvis Perkins In Dearland – Doomsday
1. Animal Collective – Taste

My Top 5 Favorite Risk Taking Records of 2009

5. Sufjan Stevens – The BQE
4. Oneida – Rated 0
3. Julianna Barwick – Florine
2. Yonlu – A Society In Which No Tear Is Shed is Inconceivably Mediocre
1. Jim O’ Rourke – The Visitor

UPDATE – How could I forget Charles Spearin’s The Happiness Project?

While I was working in Shreveport, I listened almost excusively to jazz records. Below is a list of albums I listened the most (without listing multiple albums from one artist):

Top 10 Jazz Albums

10. Dave Douglas – Keystone
9. Keith Jarrett – The Koln Concert
8. Herbie Hancock – Fat Albert Rotunda
7. Phineas Newborn Jr. – Harlem Blues
6. Craig Taborn – Junk Magic
5. Thelonious Monk – Straight, No Chaser
4. Bill Evans – Everybody Digs Bill Evans
3. Sun Ra – Sound of Joy
2. Charles Mingus – Right Now: Live at the Jazz Workshop
1. Miles Davis – In a Silent Way

Top 5 Places Visited (work and non work related) in 2009

5. Cleveland, OH (Because of work I can now say that I have been… twice.)
4. Arlington, TX (The last baseball game I saw of the `09 season, Ranges vs. Mariners.)
3. Birmingham AL (Rickwood Classic!)
2. Salt Lake City, UT (Breathtaking…)
1. Fountain City, WI/Wabasha, MN (3rd Anniversary!)
Honorable Mention: Shreveport, LA (After spending two months working there, I have a bit of a soft spot for it.)

Top 10 Tourists Stops of 2009 (in no particular order)

Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago History Museum
John Hancock Observatory
The National Eagle Center
Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium
Great River Bluffs State Park in MN
Rock in the House
Garvin Heights in Winona, WI
Rickwood Classic
Harry Potter Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry

Top 5 Favorite Food Photos of 2009

Mushroom Soup

5. Our anniversary main dish was okay. But this mushroom soup starter was amazing!

Pizza

4. Giordano’s – What would a food list be without Deep Dish pizza?

Sox Dog

3. The Cell – This is what baseball tastes like!

BBQ

2. Bar B Que Shop – The best BBQ in the world!

pancakes

1. Toast – When I die, I hope these pumpkin pancakes are waiting for me.

Top 5 Most Memorable Jobs 2009

5. Public Enemies junket at Union Station
4. Food Dude at Lou Malnati’s
3. Oprah interviews Charlie Nash
2. Bulls vs. Celtics Playoffs
1. The movie in Shreveport, LA and Salt Lake City

Grandma Jackson

Most Memorable Moment of 2009
Easy. Grandma Jackson visits Chicago.

Top 5 Favorite Personal Photos of 2009 (in no order)

Ryan Field

Hancock View

Lock and Dam

Utah

Third Anniversary Highlights

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

For our third anniversary, we returned to Minnesota. We’re betting we’ll have a lot more of these trips, so we decided to slow down our pace of moving south along the Mississippi River. This time we wandered back and forth between southeastern Minnesota and midwestern Wisconsin. Our cabin was one of the lovely Hawks View Cottages in Fountain City, Wisconsin. We could even see the Mississippi through the trees outside our windows.

Goshawk - In the Trees

A Hawks View Cottage Nestled in the Trees

Goshawk - Mississippi River View

Zoomed-In View of the Mississippi River from a Window of Our Hawks View Cottage

  

One of our favorite parts of the trip was visiting the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota. The center has educational exhibits about eagles and local history. The staff also care for 4 bald eagles and 1 golden eagle who have been too injured to remain in the wild. Each of the eagles had a different personality, like the calm and friendly Donald, the stately Harriet, and the sassy Columbia. We also saw two wild eagles in trees across the river from Slippery’s, the restaurant that inspired one of the hangouts in the Grumpy Old Men movies.

Hayden and Apryl as Eagles

Hayden and Apryl Posing as Eagles at the National Eagle Center

  

The most beautiful site we visited was King’s Bluff in Great River Bluffs State Park, outside Winona, Minnesota. Fortunately, we had no run-ins with rattlesnakes, despite the signs warning us of possible encounters.

Hayden at King's Bluff in Great Rivers Bluff State Park

Hayden, Happy to Be at the Top of King’s Bluff

  

In Winona, we encountered the mystery of Sugar Loaf. Before we went on our trip, we read over and over about the limestone pinnacle called Sugar Loaf. (I wonder just how many places throughout the world share that name.) We stopped at the Sugar Loaf Antiques and Crafts to ask how to get closer to the top. Hayden was given only vague directions and ominously warned not to go there because people who climbed it had fallen off and DIED. Naturally, we tried to follow the directions anyway because we wanted to only take photos, not climb.

After driving around in circles for a while, we went to the Winona County Historical Society for better directions. Some lovely women explained that Sugar Loaf was never much of a tourist destination and that the police now won’t allow it to be listed in official city guides because of all the DEATHS that have occurred there. Instead, the women gave us extremely clear directions to the overlook Garvin Heights. While at the overlook, we heard a screaming child down one of the paths, but he turned out to be only cranky and whining.

Garvin Heights Lookout - Lake Winona and the town behind it

Garvin Heights Looking Toward Lake Winona and the City of Winona, with the Mississippi River and Fountain City in the Distance

  

Despite all the dire warnings about Sugar Loaf, I think that I would have felt safer there than at the creepy attraction Rock in the House in Fountain City. In 1995, a 55-ton boulder fell over 400 feet from the bluff above into one of the house’s bedrooms. The owners moved out, and the house is open for tourists. The giant boulder, which was clearly not going anywhere, was not what disturbed me. The house itself was a bit too reminiscent of an abandoned house in a horror movie—albeit, a much-cleaner-than-normal abandoned house. On top of that, music was playing, no one else could be seen, and parts of the house were shut off. Hayden was busy snapping photos. I was looking around nervously with car keys in hand, expecting someone to jump out with a deranged look on his face and a giant knife in his hand. Perhaps Hayden has asked me to sit through one too many horror movies.

Rock in the House - Big Rock

The Rock in the House

Rock in the House - Kitchen

Kitchen at the Rock in the House (What lurks behind the tidy facade?)

  

Fortunately, we survived the trip. It’s taken months to post about it because Hayden has been busy trying to survive a long, exhausting work project and because even though I’ve had free time, I’m not much of a blogger. When Hayden’s current job is over and Halloween draws nearer, I’m sure there will be more frequent posts. In the meantime, you can entertain yourself with more photos from our trip.