Day 4 (6/27): For the first part of our stay in Minnesota, our friends Carrie and Jared (along with their puppers, Spunky) opened their beautiful Hugo home to us. Carrie, Jared, and I attended college together at the University of Minnesota in Duluth starting way back in 1995. I know I’m dating myself, but c’est la vie. Staying with Carrie and Jared provided us the chance to catch up over Carrie’s great cosmopolitans as we wound down from our days running around the metropolitan area. One of the best qualities of great friendship is the ability to not see or talk to each other much and still pick things up as if no time lapsed at all. Bryce and I are blessed by the many friends we share this type of friendship with, Carrie and Jared certainly among them. I felt guilty that as our schedule for the week filled up, I failed to set aside specific Carrie and Jared time outside of our late evening fireside chats. Bryce and I therefore jumped at the chance to have lunch with Carrie at Washington Square Bar & Grill in White Bear Lake. Knowing we planned to munch on some popcorn at our afternoon movie matinee, Bryce and I each ordered a small plate. I ate a buffalo shrimp salad which was good, exactly what I expected in terms of flavor, and the right portion size. Bryce’s tostada with chorizo, potatoes, sour cream, and fresh fixings was also good. I look forward to going back to Washington Square Bar & Grill for more.
Bryce and I happened to arrive in Minnesota at approximately the same time as an intense heat wave. The area sweltered in 105-degree temperatures which felt more like 115 with the heat index. Being that outdoor activities enticed neither one of us in those conditions, we opted to see a movie and stay cool during the afternoon of our 4th day in Minnesota. My favorite movie theater in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area is the Woodbury 10 Theatre, and I truly miss seeing movies there on a regular basis. Actually, the theater may be my overall favorite venue for films. First-run movie matinees cost a mere $4.00 while evening shows are only $6.00. On top of the affordable ticket prices, Woodbury 10 sells the best popcorn in town. Why? Because its topped with real butter! Who uses real butter anymore? As far as I’m concerned, not enough theaters do. The flavor is far superior to that buttery flavored oil most places use. So, for two matinee tickets, a tub of popcorn, and two sodas we spent $18.00. $18.00! I think that is the price for two matinee tickets at our local movie multiplex here in Harrisonburg. How depressing. Thankfully, we didn’t think about that as we watched ‘Prometheus,’ a plodding, sci-fi thriller which, outside of its obvious plot holes, made for a great afternoon escape.
When we were home in Minnesota for Christmas and again when I returned for a funeral in March, I put together a gathering of sorts at the Granite City Food & Brewery, a chain restaurant in the suburb of Eagan and one of our usual picks when we lived in the Twin Cities. The response in December and March proved quite positive, prompting us once more to pick Granite City as the location in which to meet as many of our friends at one time as possible on this Wednesday night. While the restaurant offers a wide range of popular menu fare and a few made-in-house brews, what really draws us in is the comfortable setting that allows a group of 10 or more people to sit back, relax, and truly enjoy the company of one another. Plus, Granite City makes some of the tastiest French Onion and Cheddar Ale soups I have had the pleasure of trying. In fact, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I crave their French Onion soup from time to time. Perhaps the true underlying reason for selecting Granite City Food & Brewery lies in my addiction. Oh, well. Any excuse to see Kelly and her 2-year-old daughter Lily (who stole the show), Allison, Dianna, Maggie, Dave, Laura, and Matt works for me!