I like challenges (don’t get me wrong; I know I can do this) but I know this is part of the job transition where I work longer hours, workout less, eat less-healthier, and generally my health just takes the brunt of the punishment. Some of you might think: “but David…I don’t notice any changes in you at all!” Maybe. But I can definitely tell when I’m wearing thin and I can see where the extra 3-5 pounds are padding my frame in what I like to call the ‘inner tube’ region…the area around your waistline where little kids “wear” their kiddy tubes in the summer at the pool. So the 4 day trip to Minnesota was perfect for me. Maybe not the best time at work, but definitely the best time for me. I think I’ll be able to return to work this week and kick some butt!
I arrived Thursday afternoon and met my buddy Matt and his girlfriend Heidi, a native of Minnesota. They’re the cute, get-a-room, lovey-dovey couple that you either love (when you’re in love or happy) or hate (when you’re single or unhappy) to see. Thankfully I’m at a great point in my life to where I could fall into the former category and not the latter so it was refreshing to see my great friend happily in love. You always want the best for those you love and meeting Heidi and seeing them together Thursday set me up for a happy, stress-free weekend.
Our first stop was The Happy Gnome on Selby Avenue in St. Paul—a few blocks west of the famous St. Paul Cathedral (more on this historic cathedral in my next post). The Happy Gnome calls itself a gastropub (look it up) and had amazing food with a spectacular bar accompanied by plenty of wine and rare beer choices. I had the Mixed Green Salad with candied walnuts (mmmmm!) and cider-nutmeg vinaigrette and a small entree of Four Cheese Gnocchi paired with my Great Divide Samuai. Delicious! I will not sit here and tell you that I purposely ordered a blonde ale to enrich the flavors of my gnocchi (or whatever) because I don’t even know how to do that, nor will I try to be a poser on my blog! haha I just ordered a blonde ale because I was craving one on The Happy Gnome’s patio this beautiful Thursday evening. And their service was great too! (I’m not sure about you, but to me it looks like the gnome on their sign is an UNhappy gnome—does it not look like he hung himself?!)
Afterwards we made our way back to Grand Avenue where Matt lives and found a bakery called Cafe Latte for some coffee and dessert. I always have a hard time passing on dessert choices so of course I got the most richest dessert they had—a slice of flourless super dense chocolate cake! We had great conversation mixed with a little ribbing over Texas and Minnesota accents and dialect. Words we made fun of were “sauna” and “hammock”. Minnesotans pronounce it more like when a kid gets hurt and says “oww!” So think “soww-nah”… Weird, right? Heidi claimed it was her ancestry who invented the sauna so they should get the pronunciation rights! haha With “hammock”…she said they pronounce it “ham-MOCK” with the emphasis on the second syllable. Super funny to hear! All of their “o” and “u” words sound cute too—hearing women say “no” or “know” this weekend cracked me up. (Think of the accent of the principal’s secretary in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.)
Friday was beautiful. Clear skies and temperatures in the 50s meant I was running in the morning for sure! I coaxed Matt into tagging along and we sandwiched an easy-paced (yet challenging) 5 miler around a classic pancakes-eggs-sausage-hash browns breakfast at Day by Day Cafe. We sat out on patios whenever we could over the weekend because the weather was soo nice! I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend to visit, especially considering how garbage the weather was back home in Houston.
We had no plans for the remainder of the day so we just meandered through Grand Avenue and Selby Avenue, stopping in to random coffee shops (like Bread & Chocolate!) for something sweet to nibble on with our mochas and hot teas. We even made a stop into a potential place of employment for Matt to check out the digs…a little Italian place on Selby that looked fancy but not too fancy. It was small enough to be manageable (for a server) but had the potential to make some good money on busy nights. We ordered the Capesante to tide us over until dinner, which as their website says is: Mexican Diver Sea Scallops wrapped in angel hair, lightly deep fried, lobster sauce, basil oil. Mmmm…creepy looking, yet sooo good!
It was great to relax and not rush anywhere…not worry about anything. Ahhh…a real vacation for once. I left all the plans up to Matt and I just relaxed and went with the flow—something I don’t normally get to do on vacations! We ended up at The Nook that night, a tiny dive bar across the street from where the famous and highly-beloved Twins catcher Joe Mauer went to high school in St. Paul. This place had the best, most unhealthy, greasy burger! I got the Juicy burger (though I ordered something else) which is stuffed with American cheese and dripping with juices. Hence the name.
It was so messy that I needed silverware to eat it civilly…but I didn’t have any, so I just ate it super fast and licked my hands clean to fully ensure I sped up the rate at which I’ll have a heart attack. The sweet potato fries that I ordered with it were more like dessert than a burger’s side item as they were covered in cinnamon sugar! Very tasty meal overall…and the best part--$4.50 Strongbows! If you’ve ever ordered this hard cider in Texas, you know you can’t order one for less than $7 in a bar or restaurant! As Borat would say: “Very nice.”
The rest of my weekend getaway to come in Part 2! Also--I received my (hopefully) last Garmin 405 Friday so hopefully I can get it working and a review for you up soon!