Archive for the ‘Travel and Tourism’ Category

Just Another Music Friday – 07/10/2009

The Roots @ Riverfest

The Roots @ Riverfest

(Roots pics I took last Summer.Though, I hear when they were in town recently they dazed and amazed as usual. )

Time to get back to the Roots.

I’ll be heading back to Northern Minnesota to where it all began, for me, and doing a bunch of outdoors stuff that would make the most hipster metrosexuals cut their hair with a switchblade into a faux-granola style.

Mostly we’ll be listening to the sound of the wind blowing majestically through the pines as the loons sing their lonely North Woods cowboy song, yada yada. So if you hear about some people in the BWCA having iPod boombox wars with the loons, you’ll know who.

What are you listening to?


Lake Superior is a Murderous Beauty

I was born on the shores of Lake Superior  (technically in a hospital) and I spent a good deal of my life on the lake’s shores camping, loitering, and admiring it’s beauty.

On more than one occasion I’ve had to issue a chilly reminder about the lake “Don’t kid yourself, that water’s beauty is concealing a murderous personality, Lake Superior will kill you.”

This reminder was often viewed as a joke and laughed off, but it was nothing short of sincere.

In her latest post Amy Crea blogs about the book So Terrible a Storm: A Tale of Fury on Lake Superior

Published by: Voyageur Press


It was Thanksgiving 1905 and thirty-one ships were on Lake Superior, making the season’s last, daring run–a run old salts had warned against, but to no avail against the shipping companies’ demands.  What none of the sailors knew until it was far too late was that they would soon face the worst storm ever to hit the Great Lake, a storm that nearly half of their number would not survive.


This is the story of that fateful storm, and of one of the worst shipping disasters in the nation’s history.  As the storm strikes without warning, readers are taken aboard the SS Mataafa as it crashes into Duluth’s piers, half of the crew freezing to death overnight as the other half survives by dancing through the dark around bathtubs set ablaze with scuttled pieces of the ship–all while 10,000 Duluthians set bonfires on shore to guide ships to safety”


Amy notes “Interested in ships, storms, the North Shore, history, or how people react under severe circumstances? This book’s for you.

An excerpt from the book written by on-the-scene journalist Mary McFadden:

“Another boat is being broken to pieces by the angry seas near Lakewood, but her crew is safe and sound. Still another is beached above the canal, her crew is safe with friends. What more despoliation and tragedy awaits this morning’s knowledge cannot not be guessed. Science and human endeavor and the mighty work of human hands were flouted all day and all night by the elements gone mad.”

Well yeah, there’s that,but it sure is pretty.

What do you think about Lake Superior? Ever have a near death experience in it’s waters? Have any favorite Lake Superior get away spots?


Free Advice on MSP Airport Signage Issue

Okay, I’m going to freak out. If you think people are slow and stupid parking their cars at the MSP Airport ramp or leaving bottles of water in their bags going through airport security, apparently those same mouth breathers are having trouble even finding the right airport.

From the Strib:

Faced with a growing number of complaints from travelers, the Metropolitan Airports Commission is considering a $1 million proposal for new signs on the freeways approaching Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport directing drivers to “Terminal 1” (Lindbergh) or “Terminal 2” (Humphrey). The new signs would also list which airlines fly out of each terminal.


Instead of blowing that much money, I have two options, and I’ll detail them:

  1. FREE: Leave the signs the way they are. When you purchase a ticket, it tells you which terminal your flight leaves from. When you check-in or look up your flight online, it tells you which terminal your flight leaves from. It’s called personal responsibility and accountability. I realize those attributes aren’t getting a lot of praise from civic and national leaders these days, but c’mon people.
  2. Couple Hundred Bucks: Either create a small (1) or (2) sign that is simply applied to the existing signs. Will this look a bit patchwork? Maybe. But I know for a fact nobody has an extra $1 million lying around to help clueless people find their terminals.

And here’s one more piece of brilliant brain food: No matter what, won’t the airline carriers have to update their tickets to say if you’re in Terminal 1 or Terminal 2? You’ll still have the same problem of people not knowing if they should follow 1 or 2.

p.s. I used a cool little Java applet called SignMaker to make the graphic.

Found on YouTube: Minneapolis to Boulder at 8,000 mph

I’ve been known to post time lapse videos of people driving around town from time to time.

This is another one – this one chronicling some dude’s move from Minneapolis to Boulder.


I like the snow casually getting thicker and thicker and then completely covering the road.

SkyMiles/WorldPerks Integration Timeline

Got an e-mail last night from Delta/Northwest regarding the merger. They’ve posted a SkyMiles/WorldPerks Integration Timeline here.

As a frequent traveler and WorldPerks Elite member, I highly value my Northwest Worldperks miles, so I found this extremely useful. 

Key takeaways:

  • The required Saturday night stay to redeem Worldperks miles is gone. This is awesome.
  • As of March 1, 2009, WorldPerks Platinum Elites and SkyMiles Platinum Medallions receive two reissue and redeposit fee waivers and pay $50 for every other instance. This is great. I’ve bought tickets with miles and had to pay the $50 redeposit fee when plans changed three or four times.
  • In December 09, all 2009 WorldPerks Elite Qualifying Miles, Elite Qualifying Segments, and mileage balances will be transferred from WorldPerks accounts to their linked SkyMiles accounts to ensure proper status for 2010. WorldPerks is essentially dead at this point. 

See the full timeline and details here.

NWA/Delta Merger Awareness

delta_nwaMy trip from Orlando back home to MSP yesterday on Northwest was, well, an experience.

The Orlando Airport (MCO) still has giant “Northwest” signs for passenger dropoff outside, but when you walk inside, there is no sign that Northwest ever had counters there. Inside, my family and I were walking around blind.

The Delta counters were down a bit further, so we headed that way. Finally we asked someone, and they huffed at us to use the Delta lines.

We heard three other people ask just after us, so I know we weren’t the only folks confused by the fact that merger actually happened — well, in Orlando anyway.

I won’t get into the rest of our experience, but I’ll just say both airlines still need to work on their customer service and merger awareness.

Andrew Zimmern Ate My Jucy Lucy?

Last week, picked up both mine and Emily’s most recent blog posts about our latest Jucy Lucy dining (both of which were at The Blue Door Pub in St. Paul).

I’ve been on the hunt for the best one in the Twin Cities since late last summer, and Emily lost her Jucy Lucy virginity back in December and got hooked. JLR announced that we were on dueling tours, only fueling the fire for more Jucy exploration.

Well, now Emily notes over at SOC that Andrew Zimmern is planning to film an episode of his Travel Channel show, Man v. Food, here (!) in Minneapolis and that Jucy Lucys may or may not be involved. I checked the source (Zimmern himself at, and here’s what I found:

Man v. Food, the Adam Richman vehicle on Travel Channel, is shooting in Minneapolis from February 5 to 8. Word from the office is that they will be checking out everything from Juicy Lucy joints to the brewski at local beer bars. I am going to take Adam to Brasa and see if he can eat everything on the steam table in one sitting. Speaking of Travel Channel, we are continuing to make loads of episodes of Bizarre Foods, and my new series, Bizarre Worlds, starts shooting in April with a plan to begin airing in September.

Last week, he was eating balls, and this week he wants in on the Jucy Lucy tour action?  It’s like a delicious orgy of some truly wonderful things.

Traveler Chic: MSP Hubwear

Spend a lot of time at MSP (like me)? Have a frequent route or preferred destination?

Check out these customized shirts from Hubwear. Your outbound flight is on the front and your return flight is on the back.

I imagine self-labeling yourself with flights can come in handy if 1) you’re in a deadly plane crash and rescuers want to know where you were headed, or 2) if you experience a long layover or weather delay, thus notifying your airport lounge waitress which flight you’re missing whilst slumped over your suitcase, passed out from your third Kentucky Kamikaze.

I’m not sure it’s worth $35, but if you don’t have the patience for CafePress customization or are looking for a Valentine’s Gift for that special traveler in your life, go for it.

(via Erica, whose route is MSP-DTW)

Seeking suggestions for MSP Airport Security Visuals

Back in May, I was awfully excited about the new “expert,” “casual traveler” and “family” lanes. Has it cut down on my aggravation at idiot travelers who still bring through bottled water, don’t take their belts off or leave their plane ticket in their carry-on before going through the metal detector? Sadly, no. Most of the airports I visit either don’t use this system or aren’t busy enough to have it operating when I’m there.

But I still think it has huge possibilities. I would even take it a step further…

What if TSA offered an “Airport Security Accreditation” program that required travelers to take a written AND real-world security test? If you can get your shoes off, liquids and laptop out and all your belongings into a tub in 30 seconds and not trigger any alarms on the X-Ray machine, you earn a special card that grants you access to a TSA Elite Line. Think how fast that line would move. Well, that may be a pipe dream, so for now I wish the current system was more widely implemented.

Maybe we just need to inject some local pride into the system to increase its use?

These are the visuals you see at most airports — including MSP.

But traveling to Louisville Intl-Standiford Field last week, I noticed they had customized signs showcasing Louisville’s Kentucky Derby heritage:
Louisville Intl-Standiford Field Security Sign

This got me thinking, shouldn’t MSP have customized signs? And if so, what would they be?

I have a few ideas I’ll wait a day to share. Would love to hear your suggestions and/or see your illustrated mock-ups…

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Alexis Bailly’s Ratafia

‘Tis the season, eh?

I love the holiday season. From right about now through January 2, I am in my element. I’m one of those people that loves good Christmas music, drives around looking at decorations, and every single year I make a list of people to send Christmas cards to (one of these years, I’ll actually send them).

I love all of the things that just feel like winter – hot chocolate, fireplaces, pumpkin pies, and red wine.

Bold, cozy, and rich, red wines were made for winter.  Kicking it up a notch, it’s also the perfect time for Port wines or, if they’re not “authentic” and actually from Portugal, wines in the style of port. (Port is essentially red wine fortified with brandy.)


(Photo Credit: Doniree)

A port-style wine worth noting here in the Cities, is Alexis Bailly’s Ratafia. Alexis Bailly vineyard ( sits on the south edge of Hastings, 35 miles south of St. Paul. The Ratafia is produced there and, as their website describes, is a fortified red wine with the addition of oranges and other herbs and spices.

If you’ve ever had one of those chocolate oranges that you have to smash against a table or a wall first to break it apart, you’ll get the hint of orange that I’m talking about with this beautiful apretif/dessert wine.

I’ve already gone through a bottle and will probably keep it stocked through at least New Year’s. It goes amazingly well with rich, dark chocolate, and I’ve also meant to use a cooking ingredient by poaching fruit with it.  The Alexis Bailly website includes a recipe for Ratafia Poached Peaches which I’ll likely serve up at a Christmas party next month. Other drink and food recipes are also suggested on the page.

If you like dessert wines, port-style wines, brandy or all of the above, check out the vineyard’s website website to see who carries it locally. (I do know that it’s carried at 1st Grand Ave Liquors at Grand Ave. and Milton St. in St. Paul.)

Alexis Bailly also offers tours and tastings (been there, done that, awesome!) throughout the year.  The next one coming up is their 2nd Annual Chocolate and Wine Tasting this Saturday, November 22 from 11am-5:30pm.  More details can be found here.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.