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I’m Going to Kansas City… here we come!

Posted by deborahmclaren on October 2, 2011

directly in front of negro league and jazz mus...

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I’m going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come! BBQ, Baseball and Jazz… I’m going to get me some!

This summer I drove down to KC with nine of my most  immediate family. We loaded into two vans and headed south from the Twin Cities to Kansas City. On the hottest day of the year. Really! It was 102 degrees and one of the vans did not have a/c.  Our mission: find the best KC barbeque and visit the birthplace of KC jazz and black baseball.

Before you read further I will admit to a few of things. I got the hives from the heat and had to stay in bed almost 48 hours. My mostly Muslim family went to Worlds of Fun/Oceans of Fun without me (still in bed) and were unindated by Christian music which was constantly (and loudly) broadcast throughout the amusement park. No worries about those carnies that love blasting Slow Ride here. And we did not find the best bbq in Kansas City. Despite that, we found some real gems in KC. This information is from my accumulated experiences though.

My husband, Rob, and I have been exploring KC for a few years. Every time we travel South to visit my family we go through KC (and Joplin but that’s an entirely different story). For a long time it was just a gas stop or an overnight cheap hotel on the way to Oklahoma (or that five hours we spent in a snow storm waiting it out at Chuckie Cheese). Finally we started making time for… you guessed it… food and music. That is what life is about, right?

One night we were driving through KC just about supper time. Rob had been trying to find a good steak house every time we passed through town without luck. We gave up on the steaks and decided to go for my favorite type of southern dinner – BBQ.  I grew up in the south so BBQ often means really soft meat sans the spicy ketchup sauce. The meat is smoked, melts in your mouth and the taste can’t be hidden by any kind of sauce. So of course I was hoping to find that. My husband, having been born and raised in India, prefers as spicy as you can get. We always try to find a happy medium (and an extra bottle of hot sauce).

With my new cell phone and all its fancy apps I was able to track down the closest BBQ place we were passing by on the highway. Happened to be BB’s Lawnside Blues and BBQ.  “B.B.’s Lawnside BBQ is Where BBQ Meets the Blues in Kansas City. For 20 years, B.B.’s has served slow-smoked meats (sausage, beef, chicken, pulled pork and ribs) from its 60+ year-old pit, Plus, B.B.’s menu includes signature Louisiana dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, red beans & rice and goulash. And, when you combine that with world-class blues entertainment, you get a unique Kansas City experience only found at B.B.’s Lawnside BBQ.” Yep, that’s right off their website but it certainly sums it up.

We drove a few miles through a deserted industrial area to get there, and yes, there is some kind of piece of grass next door to the parking lot. It’s a bit of a stretch to call it “lawnside,” but maybe in that area it passes. The inside is pretty much that scene from the Blues Brothers, where Jake and Elwood have to play in a honky tonk behind some chain link fencing and everyone throws empty beer bottles at them. Fortunately for us there were no crazy crowd or chain fences, nor flying beer bottles, just great food and amazing blues. There was a band of at least 10, including a hot horn section, and at one point two members of the band ran into the audience and did a great chest bump in the middle of a tune. Obviously a lot of energy and entertainment goes on at BB’s Lawnside. Great homestyle BBQ, long shared tables, awesome local brew and amazing music. And it was all very reasonably priced.

During our visits to KC we had learned about The Historic District of 18th and Vine.  The district was the center for black culture and life in Kansas City from the late 1800s-1960s. Since the late 1990s it has been undergoing a revival. It was the hub of activity for homeowners, business, jazz music, and baseball enthusiast. Just outside of the district stands the Paseo YMCA building, which was built as a black YMCA in 1914. It served as temporary home for baseball players, railroad workers, and others making the transition to big city life in the Midwest. It was here that the Negro National League was founded in 1920. Although the district and the YMCA building were becoming blighted by the 1980s, they were recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

During the late 1990s, plans were underway by city officials to create a new home to showcase Kansas City’s jazz heritage and to revitalize the Historic District. City officials and the mayor worked to raise over $20 million in bonds to build a new facility to host the new American Jazz Museum and a new, permanent and expanded, home for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. This new 50,000 square-foot building opened in September 1997 and the Baseball Museum opened in November.

Hot jazz, cool blues, historical and cultural preservation and good food.   Just east of downtown KC. We took the kids to the baseball museum and the American Jazz Museum which showcases the sights and sounds of jazz through interactive exhibits and films, the Changing Gallery exhibit space, Horace M. Peterson III Visitors Center, Blue Room jazz club and Gem Theater. Kansas City is one of the greatest purveyors of jazz – and it continues to offer fertile ground for the music to thrive.

The kids were excited by the museums. The Jazz Museum, especially, is very interactive. Numerous kiosks use individual headphones to tell stories about the musicians, various types of jazz, and historical eras of jazz music. I could have spent a lot more time there as there was so much to absorb and learn.  However, we were off to find food for a hungry crowd.

The original Arthur Bryants in the historic jazz district

Although Arthur Bryant’s was recommended by everyone in the neighborhood, I think it’s a taste acquired by growing up there. The BBQ sauce was vinegary with some lumpy dry spices in it. Have no doubt – the place was packed and there are tons of great reviews about the place (although there have been more unfavorable reviews of late – maybe they are focusing more on their product sales than their restaurant food?) It just wasn’t my type of barbeque. And everyone else in the family agreed. And the family includes some heavy duty BBQ connoisseurs. It is a well loved, neighborhood favorite, it just wasn’t what we were expecting.  To order you must wait in line and order in a cafeteria style set-up. It was rather confusing but we ended up with burnt ends, turkey and fries.

Other places in the 18th and Vine area include Danny’s Big Easy, The Peachtree, the KC Blues & Jazz Juke House, and The Blue Room (part of the American Jazz Museum) which hosts Jazz Poetry Jams every 3rd Tuesday from 7 to 10pm. Other nights they offer up live music starting at 7 pm. The 2011 Rhythm and Ribs Jazz and Blues Festival is coming up on Oct 8.

The next night we tried Jack Stack’s BBQ near the river. The beef ribs were meaty and tender and the sauce was definitely a thick tomato and brown sugar base. The staff at the crowded restaurant was kind enough to set us in a huge booth area where we could all sit together (and not offend other diners with all of our noise and active kiddies).

There aren’t a lot of locally-owned accommodations in Kansas City – or at least we weren’t able to find them. There are a couple of B&Bs in nearby Bonner Springs.  Airbnb lists a few places to stay: from a one bedroom rental in a private home for $40 a night to luxury Lofts downtown for $90 a night.  With three adults and six kids under twelve we opted for a downtown hotel with two rooms and a pool. And we used that pool a lot since it was such a hot weekend. Unfortunately, a lot of b&bs don’t allow children.

Since we were downtown we were close to the restored Union Station (with lots of food, a permanent rail exhibit called the KC Rail Experience, exhibit spaces for traveling exhibits produced by the Smithsonian and other national organizations, a planetarium, an interactive science center called Science City and a vibrant Theater District featuring giant-screen movies and live theater, and much more.) and the Crowne Center which houses a Children’s Theater, the Hallmark Card headquarters (where kids can go to make crafts), a huge Crayola store also with fun activities, play areas (shooting water outside, an Amazon rainforest inside), and plenty of shops to buy any kind of KC BBQ sauce there is.

Also downtown, along the river, is the City Market. Since its inception in 1857, the City Market continues to be one of the largest and most enduring public farmers’ markets in the Midwest, linking growers and small businesses to the Kansas City community. This is where locals go! The City Market is one of the largest outdoor concert venues in Kansas City. There are a number of permanent vendors in the market, and more than 140 vendors on the weekends during the farmer’s market that burst with bedding plants, fruits, vegetables, herbs, fresh baked goods and other sweets, cut flowers and crafts made by local artisans.

We’re going to keep hunting for local places to stay. Please let me know if you have more local haunts to add to our KC stopovers!

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Posted in Buy-local, cultural heritage, family travel, food and wine, Missouri, museum, travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Building the Local Flavor website

Posted by deborahmclaren on September 29, 2011

I’ve been working with Envision, in St. Peter MN, to design the new Local Flavor website. Building a website is not easy… it takes a lot of time, tinkering and learning. The website will eventually include a LOCAL directory of entrepreneurs, microenterprises, small businesses, festivals and events, and more. Say you don’t want to stay at a big chain hotel and drive thru that McPlace next time you travel around Minnesota. Local Flavor will help you find a very cool local inn to stay, places to visit, interesting things to do and great local, healthy food wherever you go. And Local Flavor is not just for travelers! Locals will find it very useful too.

It’s taking longer than I thought. Hopefully the website will be ready for “testing” in the next couple of weeks. Anyone that wants to volunteer to test will get a free one year subscription! You’ll have to help test and report any problems or bugs you might experience. We want to make sure the website will work well.

In the meantime, please help by voting for Local Flavor. There’s only a couple more days and your vote can help us win a $50,000 Intuit hiring grant and provide more jobs in Minnesota. Click on the Intuit website and type in “Local Flavor” and then “St. Paul, MN” which will bring up the voting box. Then vote for us. Write something nice about us if you’d like.

Thanks for staying in touch and reading the blog this summer. I’m so surprised there’s been a lot of visits despite my lack of writing. Hopefully I can get back into the groove soon.

Cheers! – Travel Momma

Posted in Buy-local, entreprenuers, family travel, food and wine, Minnesota, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

More Quirky Places to Stay in Minnesota

Posted by deborahmclaren on May 16, 2011

I promised to write more about interesting places to stay in Minnesota. I’ve found a former chicken house, a Viking Inn, a light house, another old jail, a tow boat, a house boat and some other cool stays. We’re obviously gearing up for summer travel as the number of visitors to the quirky places I’ve blogged about are rising daily.

The Broodio

The Broodio

Inside the Broodio

Inside the Broodio

The Broodio, a former “brooder” house (where baby chicks are raised) is a one-room cottage that is part of a Minnesota Valley century farmstead. The simple pleasures of the prairie surround Moonstone’s gardens, arbors and vineyard. A canoe, grill, campfire, sauna and beach are available to guests.

This is a real find! The Viking Inn is Central Minnesota ‘s Nordic Inn Medieval Brew and Bed! Built in an old church by “the crazy Viking, Steinarr Elmerson” who left southern California and corporate America to follow his dream. Steinarr loves to cook and the inn offers a Viking Dinner Mystery or an interactive Viking dinner theater with raids, pillaging, burning and feasting. Rooms start at about $60 for the tiny room built in the church’s bell tower to $150 for Odin’s Den. Soap, Shoes and Viking Vear come with the room!

Runestone Museum, located in downtown Alexandria, Minnesota is not far from the Viking Inn. You can tour historic Fort Alexandria, take your picture with the country’s biggest viking, and see the world famous Kensington Runestone.

The Runestone

Built in 1892 the Lighthouse B&B in Two Harbors is a working lighthouse operated by the Lake County Historical Society. It has three spare but tasteful rooms that share one bathroom, and there’s a half-bath in the basement. The Skiff House, on the grounds adjoining the visitors center, has its own bathroom and hot tub.

The Lighthouse at Dusk

The Jail Haus Bed & Breakfast and Ed’s Museum

Wykoff is a perfect little southern Minnesota village – a perfect blend of hospitality and local flavor. The ladies of Wykoff keep themselves busy. They not only renovated Ed’s Museum, but made their historic jail into a B&B. Stay in the jail for about $68/night then go over to Ed’s Museum to view the display of 1930s lollipop tree, old pin-ups and tons of other junk. It’s also next to the Root River, my favorite place for tubing. For lovers of Americana kitsch.

The Old Jailhaus, Wykoff, MN

On the St. Croix River in Taylors Falls, Minn., the Old Jail B&B occupies an old brewery/saloon and an 1884 jail on a hill at the edge of downtown. In 1869, the Schottmuller brothers built a one-story stone structure with a cave connecting it to their brewery further up Angel Hill and opened it as a saloon, storing beer in the cave. They then purchased a two-story stable and livery, built in 1851, from the Chisago House Hotel and set it on top of the saloon for living quarters. Since its days as a saloon, the “Cave” has housed a surprising array of businesses including a general store, a chicken plucking operation, a beauty shop, and a mortuary. The Taylors Falls Jail was built next door to the saloon in 1884. It was used over the years as an ice house, a shoe repair shop, and a garage. Historian Helen White restored the “Jail” and opened it in 1981 as Minnesota’s first licensed bed & breakfast.

The Old Jail Cottage in Taylors Falls, MN

The Old Jail Cottage in Taylors Falls, MN

In St. Paul, The Covington Inn was built in 1946 as a towboat and now is moored on Harriet Island, across from downtown. Four elegant rooms have fireplaces and superb views; the two-story Pilot House suite includes the pilot house as a sitting room and has a private deck. The boat is trimmed stem to stern in mahogany, brass and bronze. Windows and portals in the boat’s tiered design draw light into each room. Sleeping quarters feature a mix of ingenious built-in cabinets with simple furnishings from the Covington’s work era. Salvaged fixtures, nautical antiques and historic art provide tasteful reminders of the River and the Inn’s past life.

The Covington Inn, St. Paul

In northern Minnesota lakes country, in the tiny village of Dorset, the Heartland Trail B&B was built in 1920 as a schoolhouse and has six attractive rooms, named for different grades. 218-732-3252.

Little old school house B&B in Dorsett

Heartland Trail or Little old school house B&B in Dorsett

In the western Minnesota town of Ashby, on the Central Lakes Trail, the Harvest Inn B&B occupies the former 1926 Trinity Lutheran Church and has four rooms. Enjoy winery tours anytime of the day. Feel free to walk around and tour one of Minnesota’s largest horse facilities.218-747-2334. Email: info@harvestinn.net

Timber Bay Lodge and Houseboats is located on Birch Lake near Ely Minnesota and the Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe Area (BWCA). They have both cabins and houseboats! located deep in the heart of the Superior National Forest. Fish, swim, and relax as you pilot your own houseboat. Watch for eagles, loons, and bears. The houseboats range and size and from $185 to $500 a night.

Timber Bay House Boat

Stone Mill Hotel & Suites are in the lovingly restored and very posh Lanesboro FEED MILL. It consists of a limestone and wood (barn-like), building. Renovated to honor their history, the buildings are reminders of Lanesboro’s significant agriculture contribution.

Stone House Mill Hotel, Lanesboro

Stone House Mill Hotel, Lanesboro

The Palmer House Hotel claims residence to a celebrity ghost! The spirit of Sinclair Lewis, a famous local author for which the town takes pride in, is said to haunt the very hotel that he was employed as a bell boy. Sauk Centre is the childhood home of Lewis. R.L. Palmer built the current hotel in 1901. The original hotel consisted of 38 rooms and one communal bathroom. The Palmer House was considered so majestic that a special contractor was hired from Minneapolis to wire the building with electricity, which many considered a novel luxury at the time. The first paranormal conference was held at The Palmer House in 2008. Hosts of the conference was Darkness On The Edge Of Town. Seminars included television celebrities Chris Fleming and Patrick Burns and Darkness Radio host Dave Schrader.

The Palmer House, Sauk Center, MN

Well, there you have it. Please let me know if you visit any of these quirky places… or learn about more!

Posted in cultural heritage, family travel, Minnesota, museum, quite unusual, Saint Paul | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Traveling in New Zealand

Posted by deborahmclaren on April 17, 2011

Hold down the fort! Travel Momma is on a lovely adventure down under – researching and writing a bunch of cool stories about buy-local, 100% Pure New Zealand adventures, the whole new farmer’s markets push around the country, manuka honey, a star sanctuary, and sheep… yes, lots of sheep.

I’ll be home next week.

Posted in family travel, food and wine, green travel, Indigenous tourism, Kiwis, New Zealand, quite unusual, sacred sites, travel, travel writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Grass Seeds Academy – March 2011

Posted by deborahmclaren on March 27, 2011

The Mighty Bow

The Minnesota Bluegrass and Old Time Music Association (MBOTMA) sponsors numerous events around the state each year. We enjoy the Bluegrass Winter Festival held in Plymouth (suburb of Minneapolis) each March. Besides the hundreds of diverse acoustic musicians and bands, everywhere jams, dancing and general pleasantry there is a youth program, the Grass Seeds Academy, that offers kids a chance to learn  jamming etiquette, ensemble playing, how to play back-up and take a lead break on their instrument, plus singing lead and harmony vocals. The kids have a lot of fun, but they work hard too. They learn from gifted musicians that dedicate their time to the kids – taking ocassional breaks to perform on stage themselves. And finally they perform with their self-created bands on Sunday afternoon.

Jammin

Gettin started

This year’s faculty was The High 48’s, winners of the 2009 Rockygrass band competition.  Anthony Ihrig on banjo and resophonic guitar, Rich Casey on bass, Chad Johnson on mandolin and Eric Christopher returned for a fourth year of teaching fiddle – and some mandolin. Mark Kreitzer joined them to teach guitar. The perennial favorite, Chuck Millar was back to teach fiddle and a  little bit of everything else, too. New this year is Ryan Kimm, teaching guitar, resophonic guitar, and bass. He is an experienced teacher and the kids  loved his youthful energy and enthusiasm. Catie Jo Pidel, a former GS student plays in Ruby Magpie with Ryan and was also along as an enthusiastic teacher this year. Sandi Pidel, the Grass Seeds Coordinator, can be reached at 763-784-5286 or email grassseeds@minnesotabluegrass.org.

Little Dude, Big Bass, Joyous Noise!

The main goal of Grass Seeds is to get young people playing their instruments and loving traditional music.

Grass Seeds Academy

GSII is a new off-shoot this year of extra talented youth from 14-18. This group will work on more difficult arrangements and advanced techniques like improvisation. They will really focus in on what it takes to be part of a performing group.


The High 24s playing their version of Shenandoah Valley Breakdown

The GSII playing Wagon Wheel. Bob would be proud.

A lovely time was had by all.

Posted in cultural heritage, family travel, Minnesota, music, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Quirky places to stay in Minnesota

Posted by deborahmclaren on February 12, 2011

I’ve been around the world and stayed in a lot of funky places – tree houses in Thailand, a palace in India, a boat hotel in Amsterdam – so I decided to seek out the unusual in Minnesota and the upper Midwest. Here’s some things I’ve found so far (although I haven’t stayed at all of them).

Northern Rail Train Car

There are several train inns. The Northern Rail Train Car Suites is in Two Harbors, on the North Shore of Lake Superior. It’s set on 60 forested acres just off Highway 61 (near Betty’s Pies). The rooms are housed in actual train boxcars and connected by a charming enclosed platform. The depot-style main building includes check-in, lending library and the continental breakfast area. You can rent a partial car (Porter room) or a full car. Rates vary with the seasons but are between $100 and $200 per night.

Main Lodge at MapleLag Resort

My all-time favorite place to stay in Minnesota is MapleLag Resort on the White Earth Indian Reservation (western Minnesota). It’s in the middle of a great forest and is very Scandinavian-Minnesota-like. There are lots of cabins, including some 100 year old log cabins that were relocated there and several train cars that have been renovated into cute little guest houses. Rates include skiing, equipment, a giant hot tub (seriously-it can easily accommodate 20!), and great food. There’s a huge lodge with several fire places, libraries, seating areas, beautiful stained glass windows collected from around the world, and their homemade cookies are always available.

The Switch Yard at MapleLag Resort

The Whistle Stop

Out on the west central prairie you can find The Whistle Stop in New York Mills that offers authentic train cars built at the turn of the century: dining and railroad executive cars. Cars rent from about $125 to $200 a night. There’s a cottage, Victorian Inn and tea room as well. New York Mills has an amazing little Regional Cultural Center and is home of the quirky “Great American Think-Off.

The Dreamcatcher at Ludlow's Resort - like a bird's nest!

Amphibacar at Ludlow's Resort

At Ludlow’s Resort on Lake Vermilion, the entire resort is on a Northwoods island. And they don’t have cookie-cutter cabins. Their cottages have been hand-crafted and continually improved over seven decades — and three generations of the Ludlow family. There are 20 cabins tucked away beneath the birch and pine and all are different. The Dreamcatcher, designed by SALA Architects, is unlike anything else in Minnesota. This fantastic four-story treehouse provides views of the lake and makes you feel like an Eagle in the top of the trees. They also have an Amphibacar (Northwoods 007?)! Ludlow’s is rated one of Minnesota’s top resorts. They charge by the week – starting at about $2500 and up in the summer peak season. In the spring and fall you can rent a cabin for about $250 per night (no week-long rental is required in the off season).

The "Grotto" room at the Park Street In

The Park Street Inn in Park Rapids gets a mention for their “Grotto,” which they describe as garden-level (basement) room that boasts a huge water-jet tub, a king-size bed, air conditioning, and a private bath with a waterfall sink. The grotto is completed with plants and a large stone waterfall. I have stayed there in the middle of the winter and didn’t get to see the upstairs. It truly reminded me of a place where the Flintstone’s might vacation. Rates vary from $95 to $135 for the rooms and include breakfast.

Tree House Retreat, Long Prairie, MN


Tree House Retreat

The LaVoie Tree House in Long Prairie is a hexagon shaped cabin in a tree! Set among 16 acres of wooded land owned by the LaVoie family, they built this unique guesthouse themselves. I have no idea how much it costs. I know about it through Nancy Leasman who owns the nearby Leatherwood Vinegary. By the way, if you like wineries you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that vinegar can also be as variable and tasty as wines. Leatherwood is one of the only locally-owned vinegaries in the US. You can stop in for a tasting.

Thayer's Historic and Haunted Inn!

Okay, let’s get really quirkly! Thayer’s Historic Bed n’ Breakfast in Annandale is haunted! The owner, Sharon Gammells has been an internationally known psychic for over 45 years. Sharon claims that “yes, we have ghosts, yes they visit, but, remember I live here so, NO the ghosts aren’t mean, and they are not scary, and they are not stuck, and they are not creepy.” Apparently a “Miss Lily” spirit from room 306 actually helps out during some of their paranormal classes. There are also ghost kitties.

A 2 Night Paranormal Package is $387 and includes breakfast and a one hour Psychic Reading. Most rooms are about $100 a night and if you participate in one of their scheduled Murder Mystery Dinners add another $50 per person.

Jail House Inn, Preston, MN

The Jail House Inn, originally the The Old Fillmore County Jail and Carriage House, is a National Historic Place in Preston, MN. It was built in the 1870s. The “cells” start at a very reasonable $69 and the Sheriff’s Master Bedroom and other rooms can run up to $150. It’s near the fabulous Root River – great for tubing. The Root River bike trail runs close by.

"Cell" room at the Jail House Inn

I’ll continue to find quirky little treasures and post them here. Wherever you go – snuggle in and sleep tight!

Posted in family travel, Minnesota, quite unusual, travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Local Flavor Travel

Posted by deborahmclaren on November 1, 2010

Please join me on my new Facebook page which celebrates LOCAL food, art, culture, heritage and travel. Please feel free to post about locally-owned businesses, organizations and events! See you THERE!

Buying local is the best investment in our economy!

Posted in art, Buy-local, ecotour, entreprenuers, Fair Trade, family travel, food and wine, green music, Indigenous tourism, microenterprise, Minnesota, Saint Paul, sustainable tourism, sustainable travel, theater, travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Halloween Weekend in the Twin Cities

Posted by deborahmclaren on October 29, 2010

Looking for something chillin’ this weekend?

I’m heading to Bare Bones Theater’s all ages Halloween performance at Hidden Falls Park, along the Mississippi River in Saint Paul, MN. This year its Carnetheria, a puppet spectacle that plumbs the deep and darkest depths of a dreamlike Carnival. It’s going to be cold so we’re wearing lots of warm things and taking hot chocolate. First, we walk through the woods meeting amazing creatures and people. We find an open air theater in the middle of the woods and have a seat on hay bales. Then a spectacular puppet performance will take place in the dark woods; mysterious music provided by a live orchestra. My son, Anil, and I missed the 2009 performance so we’re looking forward to going again. Here’s
The Amazing Fire Battle!

Click here for a clip from the 2009 performance of Devoured — Spirit Puppet –Created by Soozin Hirschmugl.

As they say on their website, “Using larger-than-life puppets, shadow puppets, bike puppets, costumes, masks, song, dance, stilting, aerialism, fire artistry, and original music by a live orchestra, the BareBones Halloween Outdoor Puppet Extravaganza promises an unforgettable nighttime spectacular through the best traditions of community theater, public pageantry, and seasonal celebration.” An amazing amount of time, artistry, passion goes into the preparation, theater and music, and clean-up of the outdoor performances which are held for two weekends – the weekend before Halloween and the weekend of Halloween itself. This is a tiny peek into the magic that takes place to create these shows:

Too cold to be outdoors? Try Bomp: Bedlam Theater’s recurring dance party/caberet that will move to Nick and Eddie on Loring Park for a Halloween edition with the Moongoons (who provide ritualistic energy exchanges that concentrate the powers needed for spellcasting & party rockin. Srsly), Shannon Blowtorch, Wzz Wnshp (burlesque) and Plain Ole Bill. (10 p.m.-3 a.m. Fri. $5-$7. 18-plus.

Rainy Day Caberet

Rainy Day Cabaret (a “cryptic” cabaret) will present “Wake the Dead” the Old Arizona Theater in Minneapolis on November 4, 5, and 6th. RDC was conceived in 2007 by Joanie Mix, as a part of the 2007 Minnesota Fringe Festival, with her production of Making Dolls. RDC is a group of emerging artists who hope to provide a new and continuing form of entertainment for any level of art enthusiast. Through the use of choreography, music, video and costume design, a dark world is generated where you are invited to come and fill your open mind.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow will be presented by the Reader’s Theatre at Oliver H. Kelley Farm, Elk River MN (directions) on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 at 6:30 and 8 p.m. Fee: $10; Reservations: required, call 763-441-6896 , Step inside the rustic barn at the Kelley Farm for a performance of Washington Irving’s horror classic “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Performances last approximately 1 hour. Not recommended for children under 10.

Join Anil and I on Friday at Matthews Park, 2318 28th Ave. S. Minneapolis for the annual Halloween Party and Parade (4-5:30 p.m) This Seward neighborhood parade is a beloved event for the ghouls in the community as well as spirits that float in from various parts of the Twin Cities. A party with games and treats follows in the recreation center. It’s free, no registration necessary – just dress up and show up! For more information, call 612-370-4950.

The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul

If you’re really daring visit any of the real haunted places in the area: The Fitzgerald Theater, Forepaugh’s Restaurant, The Caves, and the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul or The Seventh Street Eatery and City Hall in Minneapolis. Twin Cities Nightclubs has a list of Halloween parties for adults.

Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!

Posted in art, family travel, quite unusual | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Universal Packing List

Posted by deborahmclaren on October 28, 2010

Just stumbled upon the Universal Packing List website. All I had to do was enter a date for travel, where, temps, where I’d be staying, etc. and it told me what to pack and reminded me to do things like make arrangements for pets… and even which country-specific vaccinations I need! Here’s an example based on my upcoming trip to India in January.

Things to do before you leave

To do for most trips
Check the expiration date of your passport
Wash the dishes
Make a lunch
Pet Care
Unplug electrical stuff
Turn down (or up, depending on where you live) the temperature in your home
Empty all trash cans
Confirm airline tickets
Get your airmiles in advance
Memorize PIN codes to credit cards
Check out what hospitals are covered by your health insurance
Get travel insurance
Change money
Install or recharge batteries
Get maps
Forward (or hold) delivery of newspapers and magazines
To do for longer trips
Balance your bank account
Empty your wallet
Wash clothes
Leave expensive watches and jewelery at home
Pay the rent and other necessary bills
Plant care
Turn down the temperature on your water heater
Empty all water containers
Store away things that are easy to steal
Empty your fridge of perishables
Hold delivery of snail mail
Wax boots
Core vaccinations
Typhus vaccination
Typhoid vaccination
Polio vaccination
Tetanus vaccination
Destination specific vaccinations
Yellow Fever vaccination
Cholera vaccination
Hepatitis vaccination
Plague vaccination
Meningitis vaccination
Japanese B Encephalitis vaccination
Clothes

Unisex clothes
Underwear
Shirts
T-shirts
Shorts
Socks
Trousers ( Pants, Jeans )
Sweater
Cap ( Hat )
Clothes for women
Bra
Skirt
Sarong
Shoes
Sandals ( Flip-flops )
Optional clothes
Belt
Swimming trunks ( Bikini )
Pyjamas ( Pajamas )
Scarf
Beach pants
Jewelry
Money and documents

Basic documents
Passport
Visas
Vaccination certificate
Insurance certificate ( Health Insurance card )
Paper from your local social insurance office
Cash
Credit/ATM cards ( Visa, Eurocard/Mastercard, American Express etc )
Driver’s license
ID card
Address list (with phone numbers and email addresses)
Optional documents
This packing list
Photocopies of passport and other important documents
International Student Identification Card ( ISIC )
Tourist organization certificate
International Youth Hostel Card
For carrying money and documents
Wallet
Paper folder
Tickets
Airline tickets
Train tickets
Maps
Small scale map
Large scale map
Books
Novels
Guidebook
Equipment

Things for packing
Small extra backpack ( Knap sack, Day pack )
Plastic bags ( Ziploc )
Stuff Sack
Small box
Suitcase
Luggage belt
Things for sleeping
Sheets ( Bed covers )
Pillowcase
Eating equipment
Multi-tool ( Folding knife )
Miscellaneous equipment
Pens
Earplugs
Sunglasses
Keys
Extra car keys
Extra things
Safety pins
Hygiene

Hygiene
Toilet bag ( Bathroom bag, Necessaire )
Razor
Extra blades for Razor
Shaving gel ( Shaving foam )
Electric shaver
Toothbrush ( Electric toothbrush with charger )
Toothpaste
Soap
Soap box
Liquid soap
Shampoo
Deodorant
Towel
Sunblock lotion
Extra glasses
Hygiene (women only)
Make-up
Tampons
Menstrual cup
Hygiene (optional)
Comb
Hair brush
Barrettes, headbands, hair ties
Clothes pegs ( Clothes pins )
Laundry bag
Fingernail clippers
Moisturizer
Qtips
Tweezers
Health

General health items
Prescription medicine
Condoms
Sore tape ( Adhesive tape )
Insect repellent
Band-Aids ( Plaster )
First aid kit
Water bottle
Water purifying filter
Chewing gum
Pills, tablets and medicines
Water purifying tablets
Motion sickness tablets
Contraceptive tablets
Fever tablets
Pain killers
Allergy pills ( Anti-histamines )
Malaria tablets
Electrical stuff

General electrical items
Cell Phone ( Mobile Phone, Cellular Phone )
Charger to Cell Phone
Computer
Wall socket adapter
Watch
Flashlight ( Torch )
Bookmark reading light
Extra batteries for your camera, flash, torch, watch, MP3-player, PDA and GPS
Digital Camera equipment
Digital camera
Memory cards
Battery charger for camera
Associated cables
Generic photo equipment
Camera bag
Music items
Music player ( Cassette, CD, MiniDisc, MP3 )
Headphones

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Minnesota cabins

Posted by deborahmclaren on October 27, 2010

Just back from Minnesota’s great Northwoods. Avoiding corporate chain hotels for locally-owned cabins. We found a rustic cabin for $55 a night on White Lake, just north of Duluth. Newly remodeled – family spent summers and weekends there for 15+ years while kids were growing up. Don’t get up there as much anymore, so renting it out for a fair price to Minnesotans who can appreciate their low-impact business and invest directly into the local economy.

Posted in family travel, Minnesota, travel | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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