• Far Away Places, A River, And Some Animals

    Here in Minnesota, the middle of March is a prime time to take a trip and shake off them winter blues. Ideally, to a warmer place. It's the perfect pick-me-up for the wandering minds that feel like they are at ropes end, and given the sheets of snow we've had dumped on us this year - warmth is good.

    This year took us 1,036 miles south to Tennessee to visit friends and family. Most of our adventures took place within cities - Chicago, Indianapolis, Louisville, Cleveland, Chattanooga, Madison - with a brief trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. 


    Louisville, KY

    Cleveland, TN

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Chattanooga, TN

    Chicago, IL

    Madison, WI

    - B

  • Birthday weekend with Anna (day 3).

    Birthday coffees and Chinatown

    Espresso, courtesy of Intelligentsia Coffee.  Best espresso I've ever had.  So smooth.  It tasted of brown sugar and sunshine.  Even 3 hours later (when I should be sick of the aftertaste, I was left wanting more.

    It was a double header for coffee.  Caribou has a birthday drink you get for free, so we went there first for breakfast and coffee,  but then ended up not finishing our drinks, so went around the corner to Intelligentsia.  Just can't get away from that place.  Definitely not complaining though ;]  

    Happy birthday, love!

    Anna has spent good portion of life living in China, and it's a huge part of who she is today.  So, what better place than to spend a day in Chinatown.  It's not the same, agreed, but if I can get as close to it as possible, then yes, lets go. 

    First things first.  We had some amazing Milk Tea from one of the first places I ate at here.  Joy Yee Noodle.

    Milk tea & Coconut Milk Tea

    The abundance of shops to gander around in are a must.  So that's where we started.  Found some awesome Panda shirst, a watch or two, some pendents from Final Fantasy to indulge my nerdy self, all of which weren't bought because of how much I don't need some of the things, and sizing issues.  No xs in mens and no Large in kids = SOL for Bryant.  We did however come across a lot of stuff Anna loves in the markets down here.  Dried dates, a certain Iced Tea that is really hard to find, Pomellos, some herbs, etc.

    Dinner tonight was Si Chuan styled food.

    They brought out some spiced cabbage for an appetizer kinda thing, along with a pot of tea, and later our order consisted of Si Chuan styled green beans, and if I remember correctly, Cumin rubbed lamb?  Something like that.  Delicious none the less.

    Leaving is always hard.  Half because it was our vacation and a small getaway, and half because of my past schooling and friends I've come to know.  Both cities have so much to offer on different scales.  Always happy to be from Minnesota though.

    - B

  • Birthday weekend with Anna (day 2).

    Good morning, Chicago:

    The morning is never complete without coffee:

    For attractions, we started out with the bean in Millenium Park:

    Following the bean, we head over to what is formerly knows as, Sears Tower.  It's now Willis Tower.  They built those sweet glass balcony type things extending over the edge of the tower so you're standing out and looking down at the city below your feet.  Love it.  We stood in line for about an hour and a half to get to the top.  What was mind boggling is that you think one line is done, and you just end up right back in another one after transferring to a new room, with yet, another line.  Awesome.  Worth it though.

    Afterward, we took a gander to the North side of Chicago to visit threadless' retail store.  Good stuff.  

    With bellies full, we took a walk on the Navy Pier and went on the Ferris Wheel.  Haven't been on one of these things in forever:

    Desert to end the night?  I think so :]

    - B 

  • Birthday weekend with Anna (day 1).

    Photo of the weekend  *drum roll*...

    There are a long chain of photos that act as a .GIF of this guy running at the Geese.  Hilarious though.  Such determination.

    Chicago:  The Windy City

    Anna's 20th was this weekend, so we decided to take a trip to Chicago for a little vacation, and to see a good friend of mine.

    How do you travel on a budget?  I'm sure there are many ways.  To us, it's Megabus.  Some people may cringe at the thought of taking it, since there are some horror stories floating around out there, but I've never had a problem with it.  It just sucks to sleep on.

    Rates start at $1 depending on how early you get around to booking.  Come on.  Who wouldn't take that? 

    We managed to stay fairly busy.  I don't see myself as the best tour guide or planner, but we managed fairly well.  Above everything though, food was a priority.  We started off with a popular restaurant called, Portillo's.  They serve Hot dogs, burgers, cheap eats in one line, and in another, they serve pasta, salads, pizza, etc.  Despite it's popular name, it's a fun place to experience.  The employees are all very charasmatic and outgoing, and most importantly, they serve good eats.

    Portillos:  Chicago Dog (onions, relish, spear pickle, sports peppers, ketchup, -mustard.  Never been a huge fan of mustard)

    Nourishment?  Check.  Half the locations I know are from growing up and taking trips with the 'rents.  The Shedd Aquarium is on that list of locations.  Full of aquatics and creatures that dwell in lakes, oceans, riverways, etcetera, it's a fun place to go through.  You think it wouldn't take an hour or two to walk through the place, but it really does.  You kind of get sucked in to all the neat stuff they have swimming around, and that's just general admission.

    Turtle battle! 

    Of course, a day would not be complete without going to Dinner. We went out with Yoahn and his friend, Dima, that is visiting from Boston.  Our plan was to indulge in Dim Sum, but they weren't serving it.  We decided to delve into other entrees (eggplant, tofu, peppers, etc).

    Yoahn, just being awesome.

    Dima, a pleasure to meet you.

    Well hello there, familiar one. :]

    - B