CO to MN to LA

I hope you all had a happy, thankful and filling Thanksgiving. Where have we been since the last installment?

Boulder, CO to Jordan, MN:

We tore ourselves away from Boulder. It was hard to do. We like that city very much!

We got caught by some snow and ice traveling from Boulder to Hill City, SD. Eric did a great job tip-toing through Wyoming to get us to the Mt. Rushmore area safely. Hill City is a very cute little town about 30 minutes from Mt. Rushmore. We found the fun old Alpine Inn to stay for a couple of nights. It is a 1870’s hotel and brothel. It survived two fires and is the town’s fixture building. We went to a local brew pub and met the president of the Chamber of Commerce. He is working very hard to make Mill City a year round destination spot. Right now, about 60% of the retail businesses close for Winter. That seems to be a sore subject for the businesses who tough it out. There is an artist community trying to make a go of it also. There is a co-op’d gallery housing about 30 artists’ works. Some of the pieces are amazing and show off some serious talent. This is a town I would like to come back to in the Spring / Summer. We got a good feeling from the people we met.

We made a short stop at Mt. Rushmore. It was still pretty snowy and icy, so the walking trail to the base of the mountain was closed. The grounds have changed dramatically since I first say those faces when I was 10ish. A lot of the trees are gone now. They’ve built a massive granite complex to house a parade of flags and a big visitor center. Very sanitary and absolutely doesn’t fit with the surrounding area. It kinda of looks like something you would find in Washington, DC. The information center is very interesting and all the equipment and stories are captivating. Unfortunately the overdone complex detracts from the monument. Not at all the way I remember it.

We drove to Pierre, SD and stayed in lovely old bed and breakfast place. It was close to the capitol building. I forgot how small Pierre is. It is the second smallest capitol city in the U.S. Our host tested our US knowledge by asking what capitol is the smallest. Do you know? 🙂

Another bit of trivia, is that South Dakota’s and Helena, MT’s capitol buildings are identical. The story is that the architect was in Pierre, finalizing plans when he was approached by some developers from Montana. The architect struck a deal with Montana and duplicated the blueprints. Double dipping at its finest. <grin>

We didn’t do any sightseeing in Pierre. We used one of the days to catch up on some client work. It was kind of nice sitting at a dining room table, in a turn of the century home, typing away on our laptops.

The weather was hinting at snow again, so we drove from Pierre to Nancy (my cousin on my Mom’s side of the family) and David’s in Jordan, MN. We arrived a day earlier than planned and well ahead of the snow. It snowed on Thanksgiving Day. Just enough to be very pretty. Then the weather cleared for the entire weekend. We had a wonderful time catching up with the Ceronsky’s. 6 of the 7 first cousins made it to the get togethers. It was great seeing everyone!

David and Eric tackled some of the weight issues we have been having with the car. The roof rack position and back hitch rack were making the Subie’s butt sag. We stiffen the back springs in Boulder, but that still wasn’t enough to get the ride more stable. The boys fashioned (welded) some rack extensions and pushed the roof weight forward about 2 feet and got the hitch rack up to the roof. That has helped the ride a lot.

Jordan, MN to New Orleans, LA:

We left MN and headed to Hannibal, MO for an overnight. I was really hoping for a wonderful Mark Twain experience. I was excited to be in his home town and around the inspiration for all those wonderful characters. Alas, it was a disappointment. All the buildings in the town were pretty run down. The Twain-specifc stuff was overly sanitized and commercial. Not sure Mr. Clemens would have been overly pleased either. All well … onward.

The weather was rainy and foggy for the remainder of Missouri. We attempted to stop in St. Louis, but that didn’t turn out well either. It was so foggy that we could only see the lower portion of the Gateway Arch. I still wanted to experience going up in the arch, so we attempted to find a parking spot right across the street from the base. As Eric was feeding the meter, a guy and his dog approached us. The guy told us that the car shouldn’t be unattended. We looked around and saw security cameras all over the place. We politely thanked the guy, but still planned on leaving the car long enough to go over to the Arch and check things out. That’s when the police officer rolled up and told us that the car would be gone in a moment if we left it. Out of state cars are prime targets. We took him seriously and got back into the car and drove off. Missouri is not showing very well.

Onto Memphis. We found a great hole-in-the-wall BBQ shack. The brisket was amazing! This was the first time I used Yelp for a food recommendation. All the reviews were spot on! Delicious. We aren’t Elvis fans, but went to Graceland. And … well … Graceland (inside the mansion) is closed on Tuesdays. We wandered around the grounds a bit and paused at his grave. We can now say we’ve paid homage to The King. And on we went. We’re hoping to catch more of Tennessee in the next few months.

We rolled into New Orleans on Wednesday. Got unpacked and set up. We are in a very cute neighborhood — Algiers Point. It’s across the Mississippi from the French Quarter. The neighborhood has been around since the 1700’s. It was established by the ship captains to house their families away from the riff-raff of main city. The neighborhood was destroyed in a fire in 1895 along with most of the building records for the area. The neighborhood was immediately rebuilt with Victorian gingerbread-style homes. We are in one of those gingerbread homes. A shotgun style layout, That’s no hallways and each room runs into the next. It was renovated a couple of years ago. It’s a fun little 1,000 sq. ft. place.

We ventured across the river, via a foot ferry and experienced the French Quarter. What a circus. It was Saturday, and there was a Christmas parade underway. The locales will jump at any excuse to dress up and march down the middle of the street. We’re planning on going back mid-week when it’s not as crowded. We saw several wedding processions too. Again, marching and dancing down the middle of the street is a normal activity. We tried to figure out why anyone would attempt to drive a car in this area of the city. The autos were getting nowhere fast. The architecture is awesome. So many different and eclectic styles. Everyone is perfectly content to sit and talk to anyone willing to strike up the conversation. We stumbled onto a gas lantern factory – Bevolo. They have been making copper lanterns since 1945. Their worktables are parts of old bowling alley lanes. Eric and the metal workers had a great conversation about how the lanterns are made and well, all things crafty. We were in their annex area. When we go back mid week, we’ll go to the main workshop where the original equipment is housed. I think about 50% of the houses in our neighborhood still use gas lanterns for their outdoor lighting.

Our Saturday adventure continued back in the ‘hood. Algiers Point had their annual holiday concert and bon fire about 5 blocks from where we live. They built a multistory plywood Christmas tree for this year’s torching. It was all decked out with a rotating star on top. I think there may have been up to 10,000 people in attendance. Lots of music. Again, any excuse to party! <BiG GRIN> Everyone definitely enjoyed watching the tree go up in flames. It was big! We were at least 200 yards away and we could feel the radiating heat.

We’ve found the local taverns and hang outs. We’re going to have to pace ourselves. These places are hopping every night. Some of the locals bring their own musical instruments to the taverns. If there’s no band playing, they are perfectly satisfied rifting with whatever is playing on the jukebox.

We’ve only just gotten started in NOLA. 5 weeks might not be enough time to drink (literally and figuratively) in everything.

At the rate I’m going, I may not get another installment written before the end of 2015. So… just in case …. I hope all of your Holidays are warm, wishful and happy. Drop me a line with what’s going on in your worlds. I love hearing for you!

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