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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Check out Baden's Vacation Archive.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Chicago Pics 

I put a few pictures from my trip up on this page. We went to Millennium Park, The Art Institute, the Hancock Tower, Rush & Division, The Museum of Science and Industry and Wrigleyville. We didn't get a chance to go to Shedd Aquarium or the Field Museum. The Field has an exhibit on Machu Picchu right now, and I would have insisted on going there had I known that before we left. We ate at Amarit on Friday night and El Jardin on Saturday, both of which I recommend.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Road Trips 2003 #1 

Des Moines - I was gearing up for my big trip in April and May and needed a few days out of town, so I took off for Des Moines on a Wednesday night. Priceline got me a suite at Chase Suites in Clive and I got there late Wednesday night. I visited the Capitol building and took pictures of the tallest building in Iowa. I also went to the Iowa arts center, which is a very interesting building. They have a good variety of media (sculpture, canvas, even a room of shadow boxes) and I saw one of my favorite paintings ever, 'Bridge on a Snowy Day' by Hassam. It has people in the foreground rushing around in the snow and a blurry image of the bridge in the background. I want to find a print of it for my house. I went to the Blank Park Zoo, which was disappointing to say the least. The cool part was the wallaby/emu enclosure. You can walk right in among them, but they don't get very close to you. The rest of the animals were either not on display because it was too cold or were very hard to see. I guess I am spoiled by having the Minnesota Zoo so close. I went to a mall and saw the movie 'Old School'. On Saturday morning, I was going to head out at 10am, but I woke up at 3 and couldn't get back to sleep. I ended up watching a movie about kids at a private school cheating on some test.

Road Trips 2002 

Omaha - In April, I had five days off of work and nowhere to go. I checked some last minute deals but didn't find anything I liked, so I decided to drive somewhere. From the Twin Cities, there aren't a lot of places within a day's drive that I haven't been to, but I decided on Omaha. I got a great deal at the Clubhouse Inn And Suites and hit the road. I know I was doing 90 miles an hour at some points and I got there in about four and a half hours. It is supposed to take six. I went to a movie, 'The Scorpion King', did a lot of shopping, saw the band Audiovent at a local club and went to the Henry Doorly Zoo. I had forgotten my camera, so I bought one disposable and only took pictures at the Zoo. I also won 50 dollars at the casino on the Iowa side of the Missouri River. On my way into Omaha, I stopped at a visitor's center to pick up some maps and brochures. One of the things I picked up was a map of the US. I was looking at the map in my hotel room and decided to mark the states I had already visited, which was 26 (plus DC) at that time. I saw that the rest of them were mostly concentrated along the east and west coasts, and remembered how much fun I had driving down to Omaha, blasting my music and going at my own pace. I decided to visit the rest of the states that I hadn't been to yet, except Alaska and Hawaii. I started to plan a trip around the country for the next April. I planned to keep a week of my 2002 vacation and use 2 weeks of my 2003 vacation and take 3 weeks to do it. More on that trip in an upcoming post.

Portland - In June, my youngest cousin on my mother's side graduated from high school in Vancouver, Washington. My mother and niece had been out to visit my aunt and uncle twice before, and I was determined to go this time. My mother, grandfather, grandmother and I decided to drive out together in their van. I had to fly back separately, since I couldn't take more than a week off of work. We set out on a Saturday and stopped at the painted canyon in Theodore Roosevelt Natl Park before making it to Glendive, Montana. Traveling in a minivan is so much nicer than a car, especially when you have more than two people! The next day we hit Ft Peck Dam before stopping in Cut Bank and decided to find a hotel there instead of going on to Browning. This was June, and there was still snow on the ground. The next morning we headed for Glacier Natl Park. There's a road that goes through the middle of the park, but it wasn't open all the way through and we could only go about 14 miles in before we had to turn around. I had borrowed a friend's digital camera and got some great pictures. Once, after coming around a corner, we saw a perfect rainbow in a valley. After visiting the park, we headed south towards I-90 and passed a field full of llama. My mother pulled over and we watched them for awhile. A guy came down from the house across the road and started telling us about the preserve. It belongs to Montana Large Animal Sanctuary and Rescue. He told us about how they rescue livestock that are being abused or neglected and let them live their lives out in peace. We drove through Idaho (the skinny part) and got to Spokane that night. The next day we drove on to Portland. We went southwest until we hit I-84, which winds along the Columbia River Valley. There are some spectacular views along that stretch of highway, including the approach to Mount Hood. We spent several days just hanging out in Portland and Vancouver. My cousin graduated on Friday, and her brother, their cousin and I stayed up very late and drank around the fire. The next morning, we all set out for Mt St Helens. That is a great trip! There are visitor's centers all along the road leading up to the summit. At the top, there's a movie about the eruption and at the end, the screen raises up and you are looking at the top of the mountain. I had no idea how it changed the area around it, and how involved Weyerhauser was in the recovery. I had to fly home on Sunday and got a one-way flight on America West through Las Vegas. It was the first time I had flown since 9-11 and I had never been to Vegas. I had 2 hours on the ground there, so I decided to hit the strip. I couldn't ditch my carry-on anywhere in the airport and had to take it with me. I took a cab to Caesar's Palace. I had 20 dollars on me and I won at least 40 on a slot machine right away and spent the rest of the time gambling it away and checking out the Forum Shops. I headed back to the airport with my original 20 and got some food from Burger King. My flight was delayed for an hour, and I gambled the rest of my 20 away. I had a red eye flight back to Minneapolis. It was a plane with three seats on each side, but there was no one in the middle seat in my row, so I had a seat and a half to sleep in. I had added six states on this trip, so I was up to 32.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Road Trip 2001 

2001 - Ohio - My friend and I went to Cedar Point in Sandusky to ride the Millenium Force, which was the tallest roller coaster in the country at the time. We drove there in a day and got to our hotel very late. We had a hard time finding it in the dark with all the construction. We were going to be in town for three days, but we didn't know if we would want to spend the whole time in the park, so we bought a two day pass to start out. We decided to work up to the Force, so we rode the Raptor (inverted) and Magnum XL-200 (steel) which is over 200 feet tall. As we were nearing the top of the hill, I told him "I don't think I can do this" and he said "Too late now!" Then we waited in line for almost two hours to ride the Millenium Force. That was the best ride I have ever been on! It is 310 feet tall, reaches 92 miles an hour and starts you off not with a chain, but by rocketing you out of the station. We rode several of the other rides and left the park at around 9pm. We couldn't find a place to eat and drove all around town until we got to Red Lobster. I had a calamari dish and had trouble sleeping that night because if it. It was the first and only time I couldn't sleep because I had eaten something weird. I had been feeling sick and finally realized I had strep throat. We were both sore the next day and decided to just go for half the day, so we hung out in town, shopped and ate and bought a late admission ticket. We used our passes up on the last day. All in all, we rode the Force seven times in three days, and one of the times we got to ride in the front. You can't wait for the front seat, but we were second in line and the first people didn't want to be in front, so we went up there. The cool thing about Cedar Point is that it's on a peninsula in Lake Erie, so when you go up on a ride, you get an awesome view of the coastline and lake. During the drive, my friend was playing Missy Elliot's So Addictive CD. I knew about her, but I had never listened to much of her before that, but that's when I got to be a real fan.

Cedar Point now has a Roller Coaster that's 420 feet tall, the Top Thrill Dragster. It reaches 120 miles an hour and starts by shooting you straight up in the air, then turning you 180 degrees so you are speeding back towards the earth to begin the ride. I'm going to need to go back there.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Trips of 2000 

2000 - Orlando - In February, I was sent to Orlando for two weeks for my job. It's not as nice as it sounds, since in the 16 days we were there, we only got 3 days off. The rest of the time was spent working 11 or 12 hour days. But, we stayed in the brand new Crowne Plaza hotel in one-bedroom apartment sized suites. I never had a desire to visit Florida, but now that I've been there, I will go back. I spent all three of my days off at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. I bought a two day pass that was valid in both parks and spent the whole first day in Islands of Adventure. That's an awesome park. The Jurassic Park water ride and the Dueling Dragons coaster were the best rides there. The next day I started in Universal Studios. I liked the Twister ride the King Kong one. For some stupid reason, I went on the Jaws ride. I have an extreme fear of sharks, but I figured it's a fake one so it won't be a big deal. I sat next to a father and son who probably think I am crazy. The shark comes at you three times and I had to cover my eyes and ears each time. During one part, you are in a boat house and the water is green. Suddenly, the shark starts hitting the building and it sounds like it's going to collapse. That was one of the most scary experiences of my life. Sad, huh? I spent the rest of the second day in Islands again. I rode the Jurassic Park and Dragon rides for a second time and went through the Dr Suess part, which was cool. The third day we had off, one of my coworkers and I went to Citywalk, which is a mall they put between the two parks. We shopped a bit and then went in to Margaritaville. We drank and ate and drank some more. That night the whole crowd went to a lobster buffet. I don't eat lobster or prime rib, but I tried clam strips and decided I liked them. I need to go back to Islands of Adventure and I would like to visit the Space Coast and Busch Gardens, and maybe a Miami/Keys/Everglades trip, too.

Ohio - My spring trip in 2000 was to Ohio. I got a lot of strange looks, but I wanted to see Columbus and Cincinnati. My mom came with me this time, although we booked our flights seperately, but we met up in Columbus. We went to the Zoo and to a good restaurant called Spagio's. We drove down to Cincinnati and hit the Zoo there and also the Newport Aquarium across the river in Kentucky. I had to run through the tube at the end where you walk under the sharks! In both Zoos, we saw manatees, which are so funny looking. I wondered how they can stay so fat while only eating lettuce and plants! The Cincinnatti Museum Center is like three museums and an omnitheater put together. I saw a movie about the Amazon here. They had a big exhibit in the local section on World War II. Not about the overseas stuff, but how things were here while it was going on.

Yosemite - Labor Day weekend I went to visit my friend Mike who moved out to Berkeley. We went into San Fran one of the days and ate at the Stinking Rose, a garlic restaurant. We drove over the GG bridge and through the beautiful hills on the other side. Then over the weekend, we drove out to Yosemite Valley in the Natl Park. On our way there, we repelled down into a cave. That was so much fun! I want do it down the side of a mountain. We saw El Capitan, Half Dome and Glacier Point (speaking of repelling!). The scenery was breathtaking. Mirror Lake was too shallow and cloudy to reflect anything, but Lower Yosemite Falls was quite the sight. While entering the village, we saw a family of deer on the side of the road. We stopped to take a picture and anther one came bounding from behind us. We turned to see a coyote chasing it, but when he saw us, he stopped and ran away. On the last day, he had to work, so I went to the UC Berkeley campus in the morning and hung out and had lunch before taking the BART back to the airport.

Road Trips of the Late Nineties 

1998 - San Francisco - It had been 3 and a half years since I had been on a trip and I had vacation to burn. I decided to visit San Francisco, all by my lonesome. I stayed in a cheap hotel right on Market street. I didn't rent a car and spent the entire week in the city. I planned on going to Berkley or Oakland, but I was busy enough with the things I found on the penninsula. My mom said she half expected me to call home to say I wasn't coming back. I rode a trolley to Fishermans Wharf and went to the Embarcadero, The Palace of the Legion of Honor, The Palace of Fine Arts, The California Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park, the beach near Seal Rock (my first ocean sighting), The Golden Gate Bridge, Twin Peaks, Haight-Ashbury, Union Square, Lombard Street, the Zoo and Yerba Buena Gardens. Like most large cities I have vistied, I so wanted to move there.

1999 - Boston - For my next trip, I decided to visit the other coast and headed for Boston. I went far too early in the year, as a storm hit on my way from the airport to my hotel. I was taking the subway, since I wasn't going to rent a car until the middle of the week. I think this was the first year I got pnemonia, which is not fun to have when you're travelling. I went to the Boston Tea Party Ship, Harvard, the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum and the Museum of Science. I shopped at Quincy Market and went to the New England Aquarium. I rented a car and drove down to Plymouth to see Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower and a cranberry bog on the way. I had planned to drive out on Cape Cod, but time was short and I had to get to my hotel in Providence. That's a nice city and I took some pictures before heading out in the morning. I couldn't be that close to Connecticut and not visit, so I hopped across the border and ate at a Wendy's. Than I headed back towards Boston via Worchester, where I stopped at an outlet mall. I would like to visit again, but this time in the summer!

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Road trips of the early Nineties 

As I mentioned earlier, I take a lot of road trips. It all started in high school marching band (This one time...). I was in it for five years, and four of those years I went along on the big trip. From 1991 to 1994, we went to Chicago, Washington DC, Cheyenne and St Louis, and also to every moderately sized town in the State of Minnesota. We took a coach bus on all of the out of state trips. I have vague memories of visting relatives in Lincoln, Nebraska when I was like 3 or 4 and there are pictures of me and my sisters in the Black Hills, but the high school trips were the ones that told me I loved travelling and that driving is the way to do it.

1991 - Chicago was the first time I had been in a large city other than Minneapolis and St Paul. I was captivated by the skyline, the bustle and the general feeling of being there. I remember going to an Aquarium that was right on Lake Michigan and then sitting outside afterwards. It was cool how the tall buildings gave way to a blue and tan coastline. The view from the top of the Sears Tower was unforgettable. We also went to Six Flags Great America and rode the rollercoaster that went backwards.

1992 - Washington DC was a different experience. It's an odd layout because no building can be taller than the Capitol, but it still feels like a large city. We marched in the Fourth of July parade, which marked the 500th anniversary of Columbus sailing for America (not the day, just the year). I was surprised how little our nation's capital seemed to celebrate Independence Day. We went to the Natl Air & Space Museum, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Wall and I'm pretty sure we toured the Capitol (and laughed at the sign 'Majority Whip'). We saw the Iwo Jima Memorial and went to Arlington Natl Cemetary to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Eternal Flame over JFK's grave, as well as RFK's next to him. As we were driving through Pennsylvania, I saw a turnoff for New York City. I wished we could take it and go there as well as DC. I remember staying in a hotel in Maryland that was under construction. I also remember feeling very wierd in Indiana, probably due to lack of sleep. But things got wierder when the bus driver turned a seat around so that four people sat facing each other. I'd had a dream about that a few weeks before. Then, we stopped at a rest stop and looked across the freeway to see ... the exact same rest stop! Okay, so all of those things aren't really that odd, it was just the timing of it all that freaked me out. I never liked Indiana after that.

1993 - Cheyenne, WY - We drove through South Dakota and went to Wall Drug, Wind Cave, The Badlands and Mount Rushmore on the way. I think we even drove past the Sitting Bull memorial, which just looked like a big rock back then. We marched a parade in Cheyenne and went to a rodeo. My friends and I went to the midway of the fair that was across the street instead of watching the cowboys. I remember the distinct smell of cowpies, even downtown. Then, we took off one day to visit Rocky Mountain Natl Park near Estes Park, Colorado. It was the first time I had been on a mountain, and Estes Park was a beautiful city.

1994 - St Louis - I don't remember very much about the city from this visit, just visiting the Arch and going to Grant's Farm, which is a great animal park. We also went to some mall that used to be a train station and to a dinner cruise on the Mississippi.

Later that summer, my mother and sister and I took another road trip, back to St Louis, on to Memphis and then down to hit Texas before we headed back north. We tried to go to Grant's Farm again, but you have to make reservations. We did go to the zoo and to the Botanical Gardens and up in the Arch again. My mom was surprised to find out it was built in the late sixties. We didn't make hotel reservations for the first night and had quite an adventure trying to find a place to crash. We hit some bad neighborhoods and finally ended up at 'The Airway'. My family still uses that term for any fleabag motel. We heard some gunshots right before we ran into our room. We piled furniture in front of the door. A few days later, we were in a Subway and saw an undercover cop take a large gun off of a kid in the parking lot. My sister said the kid had been inside the restaurant when we first got there.

We drove down to Memphis, going through Arkansas where it rained the entire time. We visited Graceland, because my sister has always been a huge Elvis fan. It's a great tour, except you that exit into a gift shop every time you leave an exhibit. Once, while we were driving on the freeway, there was a big metal door in the road! When someone would hit it, it would fly up so cars were swerving around it. We couldn't swerve and ended up hitting it, but the car survived. We saw the hotel where Martin Luther King was when he got shot and Beale Street. We also went to Mud Island, which has scale model of the bottom half of the Mississippi river. We started towards Texas, again through Arkansas, and again it rained the entire time.

I had always wanted to go college in Texas, so when I saw how close we were going to be, I said we had to go. We went to Texarkana, which is on the border between Texas and Arkansas. The main street divides the states and the City Hall building straddles the line. We drove back to Minnesota through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa. We thought Tulsa was pretty, but ended up getting lost in Omaha because of a freeway detour.

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