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Happy Tiki Birthday

Posted Friday, June 23rd, 2017 01:32 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 1:32 PM

Birthday lunch for the old lady @ Pyscho Suzi’s

Every day is Father’s Day

Posted Monday, June 19th, 2017 12:14 pm GMT -6 in Casinos,Family,Holidays at 12:14 PM

Luckiest Dad ever

Mother’s Day 2017 @ IHOP

Posted Sunday, May 14th, 2017 12:37 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 12:37 PM

Tried the Maplewood edition

New rooms I’m helping build

Posted Sunday, April 16th, 2017 03:27 pm GMT -6 in Casinos,Holidays at 3:27 PM

Easter @ Mystic Lake

(Not) Doug the Pug

Posted Sunday, April 16th, 2017 01:05 pm GMT -6 in Family,Holidays,Pets at 1:05 PM

Easter with the in-laws

National Sibling Day

Posted Monday, April 10th, 2017 09:41 pm GMT -6 in Family,Holidays at 9:41 PM

The sisters headed to a sleepover

Anniversary Week in Victoria

Posted Monday, March 6th, 2017 01:00 am GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays,Travel at 1:00 AM

Last December was our 25th wedding anniversary. We hadn’t taken a real vacation since 2013, but thanks to the little windfall from Mystic Lake, that was going to change. We reviewed a lot of options from the bucket list, but weather and my work schedule limited our real choices. We could squeeze five days in between Monster Jam and the Vikings and wanted to go somewhere new (even though Florida, SoCal and Vegas were all very tempting). And the winner was…Victoria, British Columbia.

It actually was part of my bucket list (#32 – Watch the lights turn on over Victoria Harbour) and the average temps for that region in December are usually moderated by the Pacific. Unfortunately, as one local informed us, this was the first snow Victoria had seen in 20 years. It was very weird seeing green bowling lawns, flowering plants, outdoor running fountains…and small piles of snow. It stayed in the 30s (F) the whole time we were there, with a fair amount of wind to make it seem even colder. We packed appropriately, though, so it wasn’t nearly as bad as Vienna during Christmas market season.

We flew Sun Country into Seattle and rented from National’s Emerald Aisle (love both of those companies and had great experiences again this trip). TripAdvisor had great things to say about Abigail’s Hotel in Victoria (including most romantic hotel and #1 hotel in Victoria), so I booked four nights there. It was amazing – daily breakfast cooked to order, beautiful rooms and lobby, friendly staff and a central location that was an easy walk to the harbour area. They even upgraded us to a nicer room for our anniversary at no charge and left us a personalized card and gift upon arrival.

Before we got to Canada, we made a quick stop in downtown Seattle. Colleen had never been there before, while I used to go all the time when I had servers at the former Digital Forest (RIP). Pike Place Market was great, but really cold. We visited the original Starbucks and I had Beecher’s mac and cheese for the first time. After some very fresh fish and chips from Jack’s Fish Spot, we headed north on I-5 to the border. The Canadian customs agent literally asked us just two questions: 1) purpose of the trip and 2) do you have any weapons? He told us to have a great anniversary and sent us on our way.

Canada kicks ass.

We had a fairly strict schedule to follow, as we were booked on the last ferry to Swartz Bay. The entire experience on BC Ferries was super cool and we got to ride the Spirit of British Columbia going over and the Spirit of Vancouver Island coming back. They were almost identical, holding a maximum of 410 cars and 34 semis. The trip over in the dark was not nearly as scenic as the morning return on Friday (which was beautiful). A bit expensive overall, but I’m still glad we did that instead of flying straight to YYJ. It was also cool to have one of the very few cars on Vancouver Island to have foreign license plates (seriously, that was weird how almost *everyone* had BC plates in that town).

On Tuesday, we started the day by walking to the harbour area and visiting the wonderful Royal BC Museum. This place was one of the better museums we’ve seen, with a wide variety of well-done natural and human history exhibits (including some amazing First Nation artifacts) and a high-quality gift shop. We walked around the inner harbour area, checking out the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia and the Fairmont Empress Victoria. The Fairmont has had quite the history and one of the guides at the BC Museum had told us not to miss the pictures in the basement (which was a very good tip).

For lunch, we walked over to Victoria’s very little Chinatown on Fisgard Street and ate at Shanghai City. After that, we walked back to the hotel to get the car for a little excursion along the southern coast, which included a stop at the University of Victoria bookstore to pick up some things for MK (whose middle name is Victoria). We finished up the day with a minor league hockey game at the Save On Foods Memorial Centre, where we watched the Victoria Royals beat the Portland Winterhawks 5-1. It was super fun entertainment, with on-the-glass front row tickets all of $25 each. For all the money we saved on tickets, I ended up leaving with a new Royals jersey too.

Our actual anniversary on the fourteenth started with a driving trip along the west coast of the island. The same guide at the BC Museum told us to drive through Sooke to Port Renfrew, then turn east and go through the mountains to Lake Cowichan before returning south to Victoria. We stopped at French Beach Provincial Park, which was (of course) cold, but a beautiful mix of ferns, large trees and rocky seashore. It felt a lot like the North Shore of Lake Superior, but with salt water (and the possibility of seeing whales, which we unfortunately did not experience). The farther out we got, the more remote it seemed, but the Port Renfrew Pub in Snuggery Cove was an oasis. Great food, friendly service and some seriously frozen ferns.

The road from Port Renfrew to Lake Cowichan was challenging, but nothing like the shitshow that Siri and Apple Maps pulled on me when we returned to Victoria. We had anniversary dinner reservations for The Dining Room at Butchart Gardens and we were running late. I asked Siri for the fastest route and the directions given were practically suicidal – single lane (but bidirectional traffic), switchbacks with huge vertical, ice covered surfaces, blind intersections and poor lighting all contributed to something that should have never been advised by any sane person. We eventually arrived safely in one piece, but it was stressful and basically ruined the rest of the evening.

The restaurant was nice and the gardens were decorated in Christmas lights and animated figures representing the twelve days of Christmas. They had an indoor carousel that we rode and the snow interacted with the lights in a very pretty way (even though it was bitterly cold out). We took the “normal” way back to Victoria from Butchart and were very happy to get back to the room.

On our last full day in Victoria, we started off with a visit to the Mayfair Shopping Center before looking for a fish and chip restaurant we wanted to try (Red Fish – Blue Fish, which turned out was closed for the season). Our backup was the Irish Times Pub, which was wonderful. We stopped back at the local Roots store for more goalie socks, then waited by the harbour for the lights to turn on (bucket list – check). Dinner that night was at the highly rated Pizzeria Prima Strada on Cook Street, which was good (but still no match for Punch in Minnesota, in our opinion).

Friday was a planes, trains and automobiles kind of day (with ferries instead of trains), with a very early start to catch the first ferry out of Swartz Bay. As I mentioned earlier, seeing the other smaller islands on the way back to Tsawwassen was incredibly cool. The waves were much larger that day, but the huge ferry just plowed right through them, causing surprisingly large plumes of water to deflect backwards.

We passed through U.S. Customs after about five questions and had time to stop at Tulalip Resort Casino before heading to Sea-Tac. Tulalip was a huge diappointment – it’s a beautiful property, but their gaming floor was terrible (limited game selection, with the same games over and over). The airport, however, was great – the new Sub-Pop store was a wonderful addition to my usual stop at Ivar’s for fish and chips.

Fun trip to a beautiful city, with currently favorable exchange rates…

Happy 19th SK

Posted Friday, February 17th, 2017 12:14 pm GMT -6 in Family,Holidays,Music at 12:14 PM

It’s a very purple birthday for kid one

Belated birthday @ Tullibee

Posted Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 07:36 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 7:36 PM

Beautiful room, great service from Camille and a top notch steak, side and dessert 

What a great birthday surprise

Posted Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 03:11 pm GMT -6 in Friends,Holidays,Reading at 3:11 PM

Thank you, Mr. Skoglund – made my day 

The Beatles

Posted Thursday, January 12th, 2017 11:17 am GMT -6 in Family,Holidays,Music,Quotes at 11:17 AM

They say it’s your birthday. It’s my birthday too, yeah…

Sweet 16

Posted Thursday, January 12th, 2017 09:05 am GMT -6 in Cars,Family,Holidays at 9:05 AM

Extra special present on a special birthday 

Sweet 16 Bowling Party

Posted Sunday, January 8th, 2017 02:54 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Friends,Holidays,Sports at 2:54 PM

Thanks, Cedarvale

Christmas Day 2016

Posted Sunday, December 25th, 2016 03:25 pm GMT -6 in Family,Holidays at 3:25 PM

Last Christmas in Eagan?

Christmas Eve 2016

Posted Saturday, December 24th, 2016 09:56 pm GMT -6 in Family,Holidays at 9:56 PM

Bowling Lady and Towel Woman

Bell ringers in Burnsville

Posted Friday, December 23rd, 2016 05:44 pm GMT -6 in Charities,Family,Holidays at 5:44 PM

MK and friend @ Burnsville Byerlys

An office holiday card

Posted Wednesday, December 21st, 2016 12:54 pm GMT -6 in Football,Holidays,Links,Video,Work at 12:54 PM

http://www.vikings.com/holiday-card.html

Happy Gnu Year

Posted Tuesday, December 20th, 2016 02:22 pm GMT -6 in Art,Disney,Holidays at 2:22 PM

Jingle Cruise for December calendar

The 2016 Winter Concert

Posted Tuesday, December 20th, 2016 09:01 am GMT -6 in Concerts,Family,Holidays,Music,Schools at 9:01 AM

MK @ EVHS Choir

A Very Mystic Christmas

Posted Saturday, December 3rd, 2016 07:49 pm GMT -6 in Casinos,Holidays at 7:49 PM

They replaced the stadium display with this

A little Wes for Christmas

Posted Tuesday, November 29th, 2016 08:31 am GMT -6 in Holidays,Links,Movies at 8:31 AM

Grandma and her girls

Posted Friday, November 25th, 2016 10:58 am GMT -6 in Family,Holidays at 10:58 AM

Thanksgiving 2016 in St. Paul

Thanksgiving traditions

Posted Friday, November 25th, 2016 10:57 am GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 10:57 AM

It’s the only set of silverware I’ve ever used during the holidays

Looking good, St. Paul

Posted Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016 05:52 pm GMT -6 in Holidays at 5:52 PM

Rice Park all ready for the holidays

Happy (Hoser) Halloween

Posted Monday, October 31st, 2016 10:33 am GMT -6 in Food,Holidays at 10:33 AM

Too bad I left them all at home

That’s the spirit

Posted Friday, September 23rd, 2016 07:52 am GMT -6 in Holidays at 7:52 AM

Best decorated patio every year

Drove the car *and* the jetski

Posted Monday, July 4th, 2016 01:45 pm GMT -6 in Cars,Family,Holidays at 1:45 PM

First time for both

USA! USA! USA!

Posted Monday, July 4th, 2016 01:26 pm GMT -6 in Holidays at 1:26 PM

Nothing says happy birthday America like Dirty Dog fireworks from China

Birthday dinner at Piccolo

Posted Saturday, June 25th, 2016 08:47 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 8:47 PM

It’s been almost three years since we visited Doug Flicker’s Piccolo in Minneapolis and Colleen decided that’s where she wanted to go for her birthday this year. Looking back at my post from 2013, just about everything still stands: great service and beautiful food combine for one of best special event restaurants around. The signed birthday card from the staff was a nice touch too – Amy’s idea?

I won’t go over all of the selections we picked for the seven courses, but take a look at the photos after the jump and read over the menu to see the amazing options that were presented Friday night. We had a table by the front window and the room was full by the time we finished, which is a good sign for the current health of the Minneapolis market.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Birthday Mucci’s

Posted Thursday, June 23rd, 2016 09:54 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 9:54 PM

Happy Birthday CK

I knew it!

Posted Sunday, June 19th, 2016 03:15 pm GMT -6 in Family,Holidays at 3:15 PM

My excellent father’s day card from kid one and two

Mom Day @ The Lowry

Posted Sunday, May 8th, 2016 11:11 am GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 11:11 AM

Four-course brunch in Uptown

Pug Life

Posted Sunday, March 27th, 2016 02:26 pm GMT -6 in Holidays,Pets at 2:26 PM

Easter Sunday in St. Paul

Easter trouble

Posted Saturday, March 26th, 2016 05:21 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays,Pets at 5:21 PM

Louis, pickles, comics and Cooties

Celebrating #18 @ Louis

Posted Sunday, March 20th, 2016 07:15 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 7:15 PM

SK with Grandma and Grandpa in St. Paul

40 Years and Counting

Posted Saturday, March 19th, 2016 06:24 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 6:24 PM

My aunt and uncle in Preston, Minnesota

Uncle Turkey (in spirit)

Posted Saturday, March 19th, 2016 01:45 pm GMT -6 in Art,Family,Holidays at 1:45 PM

Anfinson 40th Anniversary @ The Branding Iron, Preston

Five hookers = $110

Posted Thursday, March 17th, 2016 08:34 pm GMT -6 in Casinos,Holidays at 8:34 PM

The luck of the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day – Mystic Lake

Oscar Wilde

Posted Thursday, March 17th, 2016 08:10 am GMT -6 in Holidays,Quotes at 8:10 AM

Work is the curse of the drinking classes…

Green lemonade season

Posted Monday, March 14th, 2016 08:47 pm GMT -6 in Food,Holidays at 8:47 PM

St. Patrick’s Day @ Raising Cane’s Apple Valley

Hey, Sugar!

Posted Thursday, February 18th, 2016 07:22 am GMT -6 in Casinos,Family,Holidays at 7:22 AM

SK celebrating her new-found ability to play casino games in Minnesota

Happy (big) birthday SK

Posted Wednesday, February 17th, 2016 10:10 am GMT -6 in Family,Holidays at 10:10 AM

I can’t believe she’s that old already

Pre-birthday dinner for SK

Posted Tuesday, February 16th, 2016 06:37 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 6:37 PM

The Rabbit Hole (and that devil sauce)

Valentine Matinee

Posted Sunday, February 14th, 2016 12:24 pm GMT -6 in Family,Holidays,Movies at 12:24 PM

Studio Ghibli presents When Marnie Was There

Happy birthday to me

Posted Wednesday, February 10th, 2016 01:56 pm GMT -6 in Family,Hockey,Holidays at 1:56 PM

Thanks mom and dad – I love it

Dinner at 4 Bells

Posted Sunday, February 7th, 2016 01:58 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 1:58 PM

For Christmas this year, kid one read my restaurant list and made us reservations at 4 Bells in Minneapolis. I had heard good things about the former Joe’s Garage space that is now being run by the Butcher and the Boar people and really wanted to try the fried chicken. Chef Brendan McDonald was mentored by Jack Riebel and is a St. Paul native, so he’s got two things in his favor right off the bat.

We went at 6pm on the Saturday after Christmas and I had a bit of trouble finding parking. I don’t like having to use valet, but that is really your only option in that part of town when the limited street parking is full. The space inside looks totally different from before and has multiple seating options (I’d like to go back and try the year-round rooftop sometime). We were seated on the first floor in the lounge area, which was nice and lively.

The drink menu had lots of good options: Colleen had a glass of La Fleur Bordeaux, while I tried the butterscotch spiced hot cider – perfect for a Minnesota winter evening. The scarlett butter and gem salad ($11) looked beautiful and tasted great (can’t remember what Colleen started with – perhaps a soup?).

For the main course, Colleen had the pan roasted grouper ($27) and I, of course, ordered chicken (whole order – $27, with several pieces to take home). We added sides of fries ($5) and biscuits ($5), which were both excellent values. The honey-lavender frosting that came with the biscuits was amazing. Service was good and the overall bill with tax and tip was right around $120.

Rick Nelson from the Star Tribune gave 4 Bells 2.5 out of 4 stars and you can read his review here. A few more pics after the jump.

RECOMMENDED

All it takes to get me there

Posted Sunday, January 31st, 2016 08:59 pm GMT -6 in Casinos,Food,Holidays at 8:59 PM

Free birthday buffet @ Treasure Island Minnesota

Birthday Collage 2

Posted Wednesday, January 20th, 2016 09:27 am GMT -6 in Family,Holidays at 9:27 AM

Thank you, SK ❤️

Birthday Collage 1

Posted Wednesday, January 20th, 2016 09:25 am GMT -6 in Family,Holidays at 9:25 AM

Thank you, MK ❤️

Birthday Brunch @ The Wilds

Posted Sunday, January 17th, 2016 10:40 am GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 10:40 AM

All the snow on the course is sad, but the food is great

Birthday Bowling

Posted Saturday, January 16th, 2016 05:30 pm GMT -6 in Family,Friends,Holidays,Sports at 5:30 PM

MK’s bowling party @ Drkula’s, Inver Grove Heighte

Quite a birthday dinner

Posted Wednesday, January 13th, 2016 10:57 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 10:57 PM

MK and her mask, Osaka Apple Valley

MK Birthday Montage

Posted Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 03:07 pm GMT -6 in Family,Holidays at 3:07 PM

Happy birthday MK – love you!

Happy Birthday Risiroo!!!

Posted Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 06:50 am GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 6:50 AM

Pre-school Caribou and a year of Valleyfair

NYE in St. Paul

Posted Friday, January 1st, 2016 02:15 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 2:15 PM

Late dinner @ St. Dinette 

Buddy is a Caniac

Posted Wednesday, December 30th, 2015 08:24 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays,Movies at 8:24 PM

MK just *loves* posing for these

Happy Christmas 2015

Posted Friday, December 25th, 2015 11:40 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 11:40 PM

Objects in mirror aren’t as big as they look

Frutti de Saskay

Posted Friday, December 25th, 2015 05:48 pm GMT -6 in Food,Holidays at 5:48 PM

More treats from St. Paul

Breakin’ the law Christmas

Posted Friday, December 25th, 2015 05:46 pm GMT -6 in Holidays at 5:46 PM

Some traditions are tough to drop

The baby of the family

Posted Thursday, December 24th, 2015 06:05 pm GMT -6 in Family,Holidays,Pets at 6:05 PM

Tucker the pug @ Christmas Eve dinner

Happy birthday, Grandma Jean

Posted Thursday, December 24th, 2015 05:22 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 5:22 PM

Cookies by SK & MK

Christmas Eve at Cossetta

Posted Thursday, December 24th, 2015 12:29 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 12:29 PM

Eating in *and* taking out

Cousin Eddie

Posted Tuesday, December 15th, 2015 09:32 am GMT -6 in Holidays,Movies,Quotes at 9:32 AM

You surprised to see us, Clark?

24 Years Ago Today

Posted Monday, December 14th, 2015 08:30 pm GMT -6 in Family,History,Holidays at 8:30 PM

Happy Anniversary, CMK ❤️

Another great night at TBF

Posted Sunday, December 13th, 2015 10:19 pm GMT -6 in Family,Food,Holidays at 10:19 PM

Anniversary dinner in the North Loop

Tis the Season

Posted Sunday, December 13th, 2015 03:51 pm GMT -6 in Friends,Holidays at 3:51 PM

First holiday party of the year @ the Popes in Forest Lake

A Cable Car Christmas

Posted Friday, December 11th, 2015 12:59 am GMT -6 in Holidays,Travel at 12:59 AM

The Powell Line

Not so trashy Xmas show

Posted Sunday, December 6th, 2015 11:53 am GMT -6 in Concerts,Family,Holidays,Music at 11:53 AM

Trailer Trash Jingle Stick at the Cedar

Black Friday Bingo

Posted Saturday, November 28th, 2015 12:58 pm GMT -6 in Casinos,Holidays at 12:58 PM

Mystic Lake, Minnesota 

The dishwasher

Posted Thursday, November 26th, 2015 05:30 pm GMT -6 in Fashion,Food,Holidays,Pets at 5:30 PM

…hard at work

 

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