Vacation report, Minneapolis 2019
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A couple weeks ago, I took a prolonged vacation for the first time in a while - combining the Midwest Morris Ale with some tourism and sightseeing with my family in Minneapolis. It was probably the best vacation I have had.
In fact, the positivity really started right out of the gate. I had decided that instead of driving through Chicago, we’d instead drive across Michigan and take the car ferry across the lake. This ended up turning what would have probably been a pretty long driving day into a very relaxing morning - the opportunity to walk around the deck and stretch our legs was very welcome - and of course, being out on the lake with the fresh air and breeze was just refreshing.
Getting to the Ale the next day was a really refreshing experience for me. I presented as unambiguously female during the entire vacation and upon getting to the Ale I immediately felt accepted and welcomed. They’re a welcoming bunch there in general - I knew that going in - but it still was just so nice that I was consistently treated positively. That persisted through the whole trip, honestly - like, there was a point on Tuesday where I was out at a grocery store with my mother, getting some food for lunch that day, and the cashier, with no hesitation, went with “ladies” when we got to the cash register. It really resonated with me.
Anyway, folk dancing! We spent the weekend getting bussed around to various locations in the Twin Cities and dancing (well, I played music for the dancers; I’m hoping to get something worked up dancing-wise for next year, but we’ll see how that works out), and that was a really good time. We ended up at a few breweries as part of the touring and I ended up having a fantastic sour beer at one of them - actually, I did a pretty reasonable amount of beer tourism over that week and the preceding one, which was something I hadn’t done in a while. Not something that I need to make a habit of again, but it was nice to do within limits.
After the weekend wrapped up, we took a break for a few hours and checked into a local Airbnb before heading out to a local pub for a pub sing. Lots of sea songs or folk songs, a great sense of community - and some darn good food, too, honestly.
Tuesday let us sleep in and recover from the late nights and early mornings of the Ale, but we still had stuff to do. We spent a large part of the day out sailing on the lake with a Morris friend, which was such a wonderful experience - while I’d been out in boats before, they were usually more of the pontoon-boat variety, and not actual sailboats. Getting to help out rigging the sails - and eventually, helping to rock the boat back and forth when we got into a becalmed stretch to try and catch some wind - was really a wonderful time. Great company and conversation, and a wonderful way to relax and wind down. Once we got back to the dock, it was off to the Twins game. This was a lot of fun for me - I believe I’d been to one MLB game before, but I was too young to remember it now. This one was a lot of fun, although a bit more expensive than my usual minor league games - and the home team won, which always makes the game better atmospherically, I think, no matter where you are.
Wednesday was the last day we spent in the Twin Cities, and we kicked it off with lunch at a local burger place - which ended up being way more food than I had expected. Very good food, just … a lot of it. Fortunately, I had some opportunity to walk some of it off as we spent the entire afternoon at the Como Park Zoo, which was a lot of fun. I always like visiting zoos - seeing the animals - and also, in this case, getting to walk through a lovely conservatory with really cool plant exhibits. There was a room entirely filled with ferns, a room of useful - both medicinal and food-based - plants, and also a very neat bonsai display. We closed out the night with a visit to another local restaurant - this time an Italian place - and started heading home on Thursday.
Sarah and I got to Detroit on Thursday night after a long day of driving - we ended up hitting the front end of Chicago rush hour, which ate a couple of hours. We stayed with my aunt and uncle and their cat, got a very good night’s sleep, woke up and went to an excellent local diner where I got about twice as much food as I expected to, given the menu pricing, and got on the road again.
I mentioned how positive things had been from a presentation and acceptance perspective that week - I don’t think I can really put into words just how good it was. Suffice to say that instead of dealing with border patrol, I instead chose to go south around Lake Erie, costing us at least two and a half hours of drive time, just to keep that going. We had the time for it, so this wasn’t a big deal schedule-wise, but it just, I think, speaks to how great a week it was. It really made going back to work on the following Monday pretty challenging, I’ll say that!
Anyway, great trip. I’ve got another vacation - a week in New York City - planned for next month, but this one really set a high bar.