“How can you just leave me standing, alone in a world that’s so cold?…” – Prince
The second half of 2016 was a bit more relaxed than that of previous years. We did not leave the country, and I actually spent Christmas and NYE in Texas. We did want to take some type of trip to finish out the year though. When my parents first came to the United States from Nigeria in the early 80s, they started their new journey in Minnesota before moving to Texas. I’ve always wanted to see the state, and braving for the cold, Gloria and I bought our tickets and flew out for a quick trip before Thanksgiving. After getting a few suggestions from my friend and former coworker Camille and buying some winter wear, we still were not ready for the level of cold. We stayed at a Doubletree that was fairly close to the Mall of America. For the first night of the trip, we actually chose to stay in. UT was actually playing Kansas, so we ended up ordering room service from downstairs, watching the game, some HBO, and staying warm. The next day, we were off to explore some of Minneapolis, including trying the famous Jucy Lucy at Matt’s Bar. We grabbed a Lyft and made it after a short trip. I was not prepared for the freezing temperatures of the city, but I was ready to enjoy the burger.
I kept it simple and got the Jucy Lucy and a side of fries. The service was very prompt.
The thing about a Jucy Lucy is that instead of slices of cheese on top or on bottom of the patty, it has a molten cheese core that most first timers might not be prepared for. I was warned, but I was not ready. A third of the way through the burger, there was a cheese explosion that got all over the bottom of my face. It was startling, but delicious and just some minor clean up, so nothing but smiles here 🙂
So if you ever find yourself in Minneapolis, make sure to stop by this place for a real treat.
From there, it was time to do our usual thing and explore the art museums the city had to offer. Our first stop was the Walker Art Museum. We called for a Lyft and had a nice chat with an Ethiopan driver, who told us his story about moving to the United States, his kids who are now in university, and how peaceful he finds it in Minneapolis. After dropping us off, we ventured into the museum. We were both quite impressed with the artwork on display.
To make this day a museum day, we continued onwards to the Weisman Art Museum on the University of Minnesota campus. The selection that day was a bit more limited than that of the Walker Art, but still a nice time spent there.
While Gloria spent some time in the gift shop, I spent a bit of time walking around the University of Minnesota’s campus. I thought to myself that the students here are tougher than me or definitely adjusted to the extreme cold.
I would struggle to go to class or out of my dorm/apartment in that freezing weather, but I suppose it could be compared to my reverse experience at the University of Texas at Austin, where it regularly reached 90-100+ degrees daily. The heat here can be a powerful force that can take a lot to withstand.
We spent the entire next day at the Mall of America. This place is huge, with so much to do or get.
They had just opened up a Tim Horton’s, a Canadian based company, at the mall, so we decided to see what they had to offer for lunch. I got a grilled chicken wrap, Gloria a grilled chicken panini, and a red velvet white chocolate cookie :-O
I got to spend some time in the Microsoft Store. They had a few HTC Vives on display, so I tried them out. VR is cool, but I’m just not sold on it yet. I’ll give it time.
I also got to spend some time in the giant Lego Store! I remember how much fun I had with these growing up, especially Lego Robotics. It was in elementary school that I decided I wanted to be some kind of software or hardware engineer. I just wanted to design and build from the ground up, and over time I settled on the software route. It was great, and then I remembered the pain of stepping on a Lego as a kid (probably still hurts the same now) and eventually left.
A little time in a fun house mirror maze, a little more food, and a little more of keeping warm on the heated benches before our hotel shuttle picked us up. It was a short trip, but I just wanted to see the state my parents started in from Nigeria.
Back in Texas, for Anita’s birthday, it was a simple dinner at Shake Shack and a night out at Rock Rose. I haven’t to Shake Shack in over a year (coincidentally, last time I was there was with Anita as well) but it is still just as good as I remember it.
After some bar hopping, we finished the night off at The Rose Room. I’m not a huge club person as the fun of that experience started and ended quickly in college, but the entrance was literally a glowing escalator! The rest was like any giant club. It reminded me a bit of my time in Ibiza, but with more mainstream American music.
Happy birthday, Anita! 🙂
During the winter, we got to celebrate Beth’s UT graduation!
For NYE, we didn’t leave the country this year. Instead, we spent some time with Jordan, and Hallease and Chris for a weekend in San Antonio. We stayed at a DoubleTree, and this last one was enough to move me to Silver Membership.
Gloria and I ate at Guillermo’s, an Italian spot that we had on our first vacation together back in 2012 for our 1 year anniversary. It was still just as amazing as I remembered it 🙂
We saw Gary Owen, and minus the loud people behind us, it was a great show! For NYE, we had lunch with Hallease, Chris, and their friends at Southerleigh. It was some very heavy food to say the least.
After spending some hours at a bar and restaurant with our friend Jordan, Gloria and I brought in the new year with Hallease and Chris. It was good way to wrap up the madness that was 2016!
Upcoming posts: Jamaica and Japan!
An aside, I’m spreading the word that Hallease got a drone. His name is Jeff.
Song of the Post: Prince – When Doves Cry. We didn’t try to go to the estate or to Lake Minnetonka as it was too cold and far from us, but I thought it would be appropriate to honor the late great musician.