MAKING MINNESOTA MERRY

Of the 8 Happy Bookers 2 of us, Susie and Nancy, couldn’t make the girls’s overnight summer trip north to the Cities. I was almost a third, hesitant with a big wedding weekend following but was encouraged by Natureman to go enjoy the bonding.

Thankful for not having to drive I was thrilled to be a backseat passenger as country living in the End of the Rainbow Valley provides enough behind the wheel time for me.

The two carloads met up for lunch in Rochester , a halfway stop, with nourishment and a little logistical planning and off we went for our first stop to get situated at the St. Louis Park condo followed by a walk through our hostess Jo Ellen’s childhood ‘hood.

Coincidentally Connie’s hubby would be staying within a couple blocks of us and we scouted out his AirBnB. It was almost like high school, going by the boyfriend’s house to see if he was home.(Connie and her hubby would be continuing on to South Dakota for the weekend after our book club’s overnighter.

The walk was perfect for stretching our legs, allowing just the right amount of time to learn a new card game, Sechs Nimmt and change for our theater night at the Old Log Theater.

About a half hour away in Excelsior, The Old Log Theater is touted as being the oldest professional theater in the state of Minnesota situated in a lovely setting. We were fortunate to be attending on Ladies’s Night so we received a complimentary glass of wine besides $5 off on our ticket. High Five!

Cast & Cru, unlike most theater restaurants is not your typical mediocre dinner theater food. Our server, an Alaskan, suggested Skuna Bay Salmon on a Plank so three of us opted for the salmon served with a white sauce and rice, grilled broccolini with a couple dollops of goat foam. One of us had Pan Seared Walleye with polenta cakes, asparagus, fennel beurre blanc and lemon dill gel, another: Grilled Baby Beet salad with Chicken and the 6th Southwestern Salad of arugula, corn, onion, tempura fried avocado, micro cilantro and red pepper vinaigrette with shrimp. For dessert, most of us abstained but 2 of the gals split a yummy looking banana foster torte .

After the leisurely dinner we were ready for the play- Five Presidents was enjoyed by all. Former Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, H.W.Bush and present Leader in Chief Clinton (’94) are secluded in a room together before Nixon’s funeral and their chit chat is filled with jabs.

Clinton would be the only President to deliver a(n)? eulogy that day. Their lines were clever and historic with a play guide page of 20 people referenced in the play if one’s age ( young/ old) did not serve one well enough.

You may remember me talking about this play before as it was one of the plays in the Milwaukee Rep season but I didn’t mind seeing it again with the girls. I knew if I dozed off due to my glass of wine, I wouldn’t miss the clever dialogue since I had heard it all before. The actors did a fine job with their personae and deliveries with Reagan probably being the best caricature of himself. My only issue with the performances as a Southerner growing up in Arkansas is I do know what a Georgian, Texan and Arkansan sound like and these Minnesotans didn’t get close.

We returned to the condo to visit the club room as a couple of us wanted to watch the game. The rest of us enjoyed the deck with the gardens below and the moonlight above . Following the game we returned to another rousing round of Sechs Nimmt… I was definitely burning the midnight oil.

We packed up the cars after coffee the next morning and met Connie’s hubby at Yum, a perfect breakfast stop. It was time to eat again and enjoy some new cuisine…

Luckily during breakfast Sally called the Russian Museum to inquire re: the docent tour and discovered unfortunately only one display room was open as they were changing exhibits. Even with a discount, we really wanted to see more than Ukranian dress after our read, Stalin’s Daughter. Since JoEllen had mentioned wanting to see the sculpture garden at the Walker, it was a no brainer on a drop dead gorgeous day. We bid Doug & Connie farewell as they headed out to Dakota and in no time we were at the sculpture garden and parking in a small metered lot right next to the garden. Certainly worth the $4 unlimited time.

Great art and a stop to peruse the Walker gift shop and use its facilities before crossing the highway to a sweet park and eateries.

We stopped at The Bird for a cold drink. Take a look at my bill. Notice what this restauranteur adds to her bills. Look carefully below subtotal…

Yep, 3% Health Care charge.

When I questioned the manager who was waiting on us re: that charge, she immediately assumed I was complaining as most do. “No,no” I replied, “I am impressed that your boss is providing health care. I think all employers should do the same.”

Well, it was time to head home as Mary had a late afternoon play in La Crosse. Monica was heading out on her own to visit family and we were dropping Sally off on our way south at an AirBnB where she would meet up with her hubby and friends to attend a concert that evening.

Can you tell we all make the most of our days?

Well, of course, we’re the Happy Bookers. Missed you Nancy and Susie.

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