Archive for May, 2011

The most relaxing place ever

Posted in Road Trip with tags , , , , , on May 31, 2011 by Running Around America

Madison is awesome. It is seriously the most relaxing place in the universe. I am almost falling asleep writing this, because I am so relaxed.  Or maybe because I haven’t had coffee in a few days.  But probably because of the first reason.

The capital is small and quaint and none of the buildings can be higher than the state house, which is shaped as an X and is pretty magnificent.  Everything in the small city radiates out from it.  And I still can’t figure out how to get where I want to go there, because of all the diagonal roads and one ways.

There is water all around and lots of places to eat and drink for a tiny city. State Street is the main drag and it is filled with quirky local shops and bars, and STATE STREET BRATSA giant barn looking thing with fake cows outside -stereotypically Wisconsin.  And cliche.  AND AWESOME.  The city  is kind of like Vermont, but without any of the hippy pretensions. They don’t really take themselves very seriously (see above).  And everyone bikes. But without helmets, that is how relaxed they all are.

In Madison there are so many spots for relaxing, we tried them all! Picnic on the water, picnic on the awesome roof deck by the water, and brats (bratworst) and beer at the student union by the water. Also, the university is the best place ever, why didn’t I go to school there?

Their dining hall is styled as a GERMAN BEER GARDEN! WITH A BAR! NOT KIDDING. Outside in the nice weather people all congregate at the union outside on a lovely patio and get pitchers and food, everyone is civilized and not over the top, talking about cheese in their little accents, and tipping isn’t allowed!  Deal.

There are running paths along the water everywhere. We did a five mile loop( I chickened out after four as it was ninety degrees) but the route is so lovely. I even saw a giant crane that looked prehistoric. It was taller than me, which I guess isn’t that tall.

There are also a bagillion bars too, and an excellent supply of microbreweries locally. Like new glarus. I like their beer.

Also, I have eaten so much cheese. Cheese curds, cheese, cheese on bratwurst. Ok that doesn’t sound like a lot of cheese items, but in terms of volume, lots of cheese. This is so the state for me. And smalldog, the world’s smallest lover of cheese.

Off to meet a friend for lunch, at Dotty Dumplings Dowry, no less, and then, off to Minneapolis!


I am so moving to Chicago

Posted in Road Trip with tags , , , , , , on May 29, 2011 by Running Around America

When we were leaving our hostel in Detroit, a little old lady was waiting for a taxi to the train station. Apparently husband felt bad for her and said we would drive her. I know serial killers usually aren’t old ladies, so I didn’t disagree. However, this lady was weird. An Australian that had to be over seventy-five, she didn’t really know anything about the city, and didn’t go in it. She also had no idea of where the station was and our helpful gps Regina led us to the abandoned train station that hasn’t been around since the sixties. HELPFUL!

We finally found it, but it was a weirdly fitting goodbye to Detroit.

On the way to Chicago we stopped at a Michigan winery we had heard of – Tabor Hill. It was pretty cool, the white wines were clean and pretty ok. Apparently one of their wines is served at the White House. Which is odd because it was probably their worst wine. We ate at their picturesque restaurant and lamented on the still icky weather. It was a great detour in rural Michigan.  Yay local wine!  The surrounding area was very pretty too.

We arrived at Chicago AND DID NOT GET LOST ONCE! This automatically means bonus points to the place. Our hotel was in the theatre district, and they may have ripped us off with regard to parking, but the place is awesome!

We dropped our stuff and headed for deep dish at Lou Malnati’s. It isn’t even like pizza, but it is great. However, the bagillion hour wait wasn’t.

We woke up early and headed to THE WORLDS MOST AWESOME PARK EVER. And then we ran on THE MOST FUN RUNNING ROUTE EVER. Seriously, this city is awesome. So pedestrian minded and easy to get around and pretty. We did a five-mile loop around the shore with nice views, even though it was still cloudy.  There is a really nice riverwalk that goes eighteen miles in one direction and sixish in the other, so handy and easy and fun!  One of my favorite runs.


Sidenote: it is not weather forecasting when you say it will be warm and sunny, and then quickly revise as soon as it starts raining. That is called lying. I am an excellent liecaster, they should just hire me to make up the weather.

We went to intelligentsia coffee, which I highly recommend, and then did an architecture stroll, had a beer and a dog(a hot dog that is.  And even the smalldog had a bite of a dog.  Is that weird?  He was totally in to it.) and then went to Hyde Park, where the university is. However, at this time it was pouring and freezing, so we did what we always do. PUB CRAWL! I think husband is making this up, but he says that Chicago is famous for its dive bars. So we went to a few and is it ever great to be in the land of cheep beer. It’s hard not to order fifteen beers just because they’re so cheap! We couldn’t find anything local too often, save for Goose Island, but I hear there are tons of microbreweries in Wisconsin.

We were going to get polish food for dinner, but all of the places seemed closed, so we dive bared it again and had a lovely meal.

Chicago is such a great city, easy, beautiful, the capital of dive bars, lots of public art, water, the AWESOME PARK, seriously, I want to live here!

Off to Madison! The forecasters tell us it will be warmer and dry.  I think they meant “warmer” and “dry” so i am ready with jeans and my raincoat.


Posted in Road Trip with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2011 by Running Around America

We arrived in Detroit right as the evil storm I mentioned was winding down.  Pretty dramatic way to get into a pretty dramatic place.  When we crossed the border, the US border guy said “oh, it’s you two again”.  You can only imagine what this did to me and my unnecessary border blabber.  I was all – HI!  YES IT IS US!  HAHAHAHAHAHA!

And then husband shouted around me that we’ve never been to Michigan. So now border guy looks at me like I’m crazy, and technically I kind of am when it comes to things like this, and then he said there was a Massachusetts plate that came through there already today, and he thought we were the same.  Because there are only two people in Massachusetts.  It makes total sense.

After I messed up all the questions he asked me, and husband had to correct me, we were off to our hostel It was in a pretty run down part of Detroit, but it had character!  We heard about it from a friend of husbands, and the hostel is the first one in a long time for Detroit.

We dropped our stuff and then headed to Slows – an institution in Detroit, and one could say the start of the regeneration going on.  We had some amazing food, and then looked at the abandoned train station right nearby.  It was beautiful and depressing.  But mostly awesome.

We headed back to the Corktown area of Detroit (of course we stayed in an old Irish neighborhood!) and stumbled upon the most awesome bar in a run-down residential area.  NANCY WHISKEY’S!  We immediately made a million new best friends, got tons of recommendations and husband bought about a million whiskeys for the bartender.  And himself.  And the whole bar pretty much.  But – it being Detroit, the whiskeys were only three dollars!  WHISKEY FOR EVERYONE!  Smalldog even made an appearance, running into the kitchen of the bar in a sort of catch-me-if-you’re-not-too-drunk kind of game.  We won!

The next morning we were up early to go to the Eastern Market section and get an authentic Detroit greasy spoon breakfast.  And it was very, very good.  We wandered around the market, which is still supremely popular and also pretty neat to wander around.  There’s also a peanut/candy factory that you can go in and buy penny candy and spices and everything you could ever want.  So we did a lot of that. 

We then checked out Belle Isle, which is pretty, but not so pretty in the somewhat miserable weather we caught up to again.  There is a lovely Victorian conservatory that had signs inside pointing out plants such as “ferns”.  I thought that was most helpful.  We also drove to Grosse Pointe, which is right on the edge of Detroit, and it’s insane.  You go from absolute poverty and boarded up buildings everywhere, to obscene wealth.  Over the top times a bagillion.  It was like we drove ten minutes and landed in a new universe.  If everyone in that community pitched in on a Saturday to clean up downtown Detroit, I’d say it would be a pretty helpful.  Oh well, everyone there must be busy.

Most of Detroit:

Grosse Pointe:

We looked at Mexicantown and more of the downtown, eventually meeting up with friends of husband’s school friend, who gave us some more cool tips.  We’re overflowing in cool tips at this stage- the tinycar is loaded with pieces of paper with tips.  Ask me anything, I have a handy tip for you!  We also hit an awesome bar/superclub place, Cliff Bells.  It was amazing inside, what I imagine Detroit was like back in the thirties.  It was renovated a bit, but it’s pretty much how it used to be back then.  It was pretty spectacular.

After an eventful Detroit day, we headed back to the Hostel.  Unfortunately, we had to move from our private room to a shared bunk room.  We squished on the same top bunk and smalldog had to sleep in the car!  Which of course made me super paranoid.  As it’s not totally uncommon for things to be taken from your car in Detroit, I was convinced someone would steal smalldog.  Add to that our bottom bunk neighbor was an older man with a penchant for the loudest, most obnoxious snoring EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE, I did not sleep well.  Or at all. I kept waking up husband and asking him “DID YOU HEAR THAT!?!?!?!?!” and he would shout-whisper at me to go to bed.  It was very productive.

Eventually, it was 5.30 in the morning and I was READY TO GO AWAY FROM SNORING MONSTER MAN.  So I read a history book about Corktown in Detroit and rescued smalldog, who had a very happy night in the car.  It was an interesting end to an interesting place.  I really hope that Detroit can capitalize off all of the people that are seriously in its corner.  It has so much history that is fading away, and tons of potential.  It’s really a unique place that I think everyone should go to.  SO GO!

Off to Chicago!

I love fries with mayonnaise!

Posted in Road Trip with tags , , , , , , on May 26, 2011 by Running Around America

We escaped Niagara Falls with our souls intact and masterfully navigated our way to Toronto. Well, almost. I forgot where our guest house was and we arrived at rush hour. Lots Of language that would do best in a strongly worded letter, and then we found our place. It was a steal right in downtown, an old guest house that isn’t super fancy but suited us well.

We wandered down church street and stopped in for a pint. The mill city brewery beers seemed prevalent so we sampled and relaxed. We wandered all the way to queen street, as the husband thought we would find a good place to eat. However, the part of queen street we were on houses Toronto’s nicest restaurants. Our budget being between meager and poverty line, I didn’t think our chances were too good. AND THEN WE FOUND THE PLACE WITH ALL YOU CAN EAT MUSSELS! it was brilliant! Good ploy too, because who wants that many mussels? THEY HADN’T MET US YET! WE ATE SO MANY MUSSELS! Once in Copenhagen, I made a big deal about going to this herring buffet, and husband was very not impressed with my suggestion. I wouldn’t shut up about it all day. So we finally go and I have to pretend I love herring so much to warrant a herring buffet.

Also, we got fries with mayo! I am not sure why only Canada has caught on that this is the best thing ever, but holycow I can’t stop eating them! Such a good invention.

I ate so much herring. One might say too much herring, but I will never admit to that.

The next day we headed to Toronto’s beach( no idea Canada had beaches! How quaint of them!) and we went running. It was beautiful and boardwalk-y, although cold. I decided about a mile an a half in to just stop running. When I don’t know where I am going, I stop. Oh well. Really pretty views, and some adorable adolescents as well. I always feel that adolescents jazz up the place.

We tried to stop at one of the many beautiful coffee shops on our way out, but we never bothered to fully invest in the culture and take out loonies. And apparenty, only America doesn’t mind if you pay for your $1.50 coffee with plastic. Their loss!Toronto was fun, it really seemed to us to be similar in style and feel to Sydney Australia(without the warm weather of course). I think we shall from now on try to stop visiting british colony. They all kind of blur together after a while.

On the way to Detroit, driving through Canada, the skies went completely nuts.  We turned a corner on the road and all of the sudden – SUDDENDEATHBYSKYTIME!  It was really creepy, and I instantly decided a tornado would crop up on top of my car and eat my alive.  I decided it would be wise to drop my speed to about negative ten, just in case the tornado would be fooled by very slow-moving hatchbacks, and I guess it worked!  Because there was no tornado, and I didn’t die!  Pretty anti-climatic huh.  Or overly dramatic.  One of the two.On to Detroit!

Niagara Falls, or more accurately, NIAGARA FALLS?! WTF?!?!?!?!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 25, 2011 by Running Around America

Niagara Falls seems very different from what I remembered. VERY DIFFERENT.

After a short drive from Roc City, we arrived at the border. It was flawless! I practiced my border crossing speech with the husband and it went down like a charm! We were off! The lady didn’t even think it was weird that we had a small dog smushed up against the glass in the trunk! Score one for us!

We took the scenic route to the Falls, and it was sunny, high seventies and lovely. UNTIL WE GOT THERE. Holy cow what the heck happened to Niagara Falls. It is like Disneyland threw up everywhere. IN CANADA. They even wanted us to pay EIGHTEEN DOLLARS to park. ON A TUESDAY. IN CANADA. What is going on here?! There were Ripley’s Believe it Or Not things, lame arcades, Hard Rock Cafes, weird tacky restaurants that are done up like Chinese gardens, lots of “scare houses”, lots of crappy food, the works. Dislike. It seemed almost that more people were in the area where all the crap was instead of where the falls were.

We had a small picnic to stare at the crazy tourists taking a bagillion pictures and then we got the hell outta there. *Husband, as if being afraid of being deported from this fair country, wanted me to give the falls some credit in the beauty category. Ok. The falls were very fall like and fall-y. By their very nature, they are beautiful. Wahoo.

Smalldog was at first quite depressed about the over-the-top commercial crazy that is Niagara Falls, and then he perked up.

On to Toronto!

Rochester is awesome!

Posted in Road Trip with tags , , , , on May 24, 2011 by Running Around America

Our first day: we left Boston and it was in the fifties and miserably rainy, we arrived in Rochester, NY and it was sunny and in the seventies! We checked in, took a swim and checked out the bustling metropolis of Rochester.

We made our way through the bucolic suburbs that have some awesome houses. We looked at the ducks on the side of the Eerie canal, small dog tried to eat said ducks and everything near him, and it was very lovely. AND SUNNY AND WARM. Do you know how weird it is to go from fifty and rainy to seventy-five and sunny in the same time zone, without going on a plane? IT IS BRILLIANT!

Most people told us that Rochester was dilapidated and ugly.  WHAT WE LOVE! UGLY THINGS!

There is a cool mix of new buildings(well, like two) and old mills, and there is a giant waterfall in the middle of the city.

We wandered around the Genesee Brewery area (buy some, it doesn’t totally suck) and then we got lost some more. Not sure if  it
was the lovely weather, but the place is pretty cool!  Some neat restaurants and bars.

We wandered into the Old Toad in a lovely arts deco building, it is a British pub with an amazing( and cheap) selection. They even had some really awesome cask ales ( a personal favorite, as some of our readers may know).


We woke up too early and scrambled to get on the road again, this time to go running and see some more of Roc City (as it’s strangely known).  We went down East Ave, took a right, went down Park Ave, and then back.  It was delightful.  SAVE FOR THE HUMIDITY!  BECAUSE IT IS STILL WARM!  So off we went, and then one mile in, I was a puddle of sweat.  A giant sweaty running monster.  And the husband is prance-running around like it’s no problem, and even smalldog didn’t think it was an issue.

I soldiered on and looked at some lovely houses, really grand grand old places.  Interesting architecture and springy smells.  I would recommend buying me one of those houses.

So all in all, Roc City – a great city.  I’d live there.

ON TO CANADA!  Hope they us in, smalldog can be pretty threatening at border crossings, and I always blurt out strange things to border guards.  Like – “Where are you from” I AM FROM THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!!!”  Which, I guess, isn’t really what they’re looking for, they need a few more specifics.  So I reply, “I GREW UP AT @P$I ELM STREET BLAH BLAH” and they apparently don’t need that much specificity, and already, we’re off to a good start!  They think I’m a tiny terrorist.  I think they’re not very clear at instructions.

On the road

Posted in Road Trip with tags , , on May 23, 2011 by Running Around America

Off we go!