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Ireland-bound 🇮🇪 

Posted Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 07:01 am GMT -5 in Family,Music,Schools,Travel at 7:01 AM

Spring break band trip to the old country for MK

Anniversary Week in Victoria

Posted Monday, March 6th, 2017 01:00 am GMT -5 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…

Second Kingsbury?

Posted Monday, February 6th, 2017 01:38 pm GMT -5 in Family,History,Running,Travel at 1:38 PM

First from Eagan, first of those born on 1/19 – my results sheet and bib from the 1996 Bloomsday 12K in Spokane

Cookie says it’s time to eat

Posted Thursday, February 2nd, 2017 02:50 pm GMT -5 in Art,Food,Travel at 2:50 PM

Come and get it

Top Five Filet

Posted Thursday, February 2nd, 2017 01:37 pm GMT -5 in Food,Travel at 1:37 PM

This was amazing – Vic and Anthony’s, Houston

Just in time to check out

Posted Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 11:42 pm GMT -5 in Travel,Work at 11:42 PM

So frustrating 

Roman numerals forever

Posted Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 09:53 pm GMT -5 in Football,Travel,Work at 9:53 PM

Super Bowl LI, Houston, Texas

Almost ready for the big show

Posted Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 09:31 pm GMT -5 in Football,Travel,Work at 9:31 PM

Super Bowl LI prep @ NRG Stadium

Best club decor ever

Posted Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 09:29 pm GMT -5 in Design,Football,Travel,Work at 9:29 PM

Deep in the heart of Texas @ NRG Stadium

I ❤ chutes

Posted Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 09:27 pm GMT -5 in Football,Travel,Work at 9:27 PM

It is home to the rodeo, after all

Frontier will pay – right?

Posted Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 09:25 pm GMT -5 in Shopping,Travel at 9:25 PM

And from Forever 21, even (except for the hat)

Giant helmets in Texas

Posted Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 10:14 am GMT -5 in Football,Travel,Work at 10:14 AM

The credentials cut down on the long walk

Locked down

Posted Monday, January 30th, 2017 04:08 pm GMT -5 in Football,Travel,Work at 4:08 PM

Can’t walk anywhere in this town

Jack the Rabbit 

Posted Monday, January 30th, 2017 05:19 am GMT -5 in Travel,Work at 5:19 AM

Part I: MSP-DEN on Flight 333

States left to visit

Posted Saturday, January 14th, 2017 06:29 pm GMT -5 in Personal,Travel at 6:29 PM
  • Maine
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Delaware
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • West Virginia

(I think this is accurate)

The (semi) new Sub Pop store

Posted Friday, December 16th, 2016 06:42 pm GMT -5 in Music,Shopping,Travel at 6:42 PM

Opened three years ago at SEA-TAC

Amazing PJ exhibit @ SEA-TAC

Posted Friday, December 16th, 2016 05:43 pm GMT -5 in Art,Music,Travel at 5:43 PM

Tons of great posters, but this was my favorite 

How many chickens do you need?

Posted Friday, December 16th, 2016 04:21 pm GMT -5 in Casinos,Travel at 4:21 PM

A lot, according to Tulalip Casino

Favorite plate ever

Posted Friday, December 16th, 2016 04:19 pm GMT -5 in Cars,Travel at 4:19 PM

Classic Porsche headed south to Seattle

We rode this one too

Posted Friday, December 16th, 2016 03:28 pm GMT -5 in Travel at 3:28 PM

Spirit of British Columbia over, Spirit of Vancouver Island on the way back

Bucket list item #32

Posted Thursday, December 15th, 2016 09:12 pm GMT -5 in Personal,Travel at 9:12 PM

“Watch the lights turn on over Victoria Island”

A grander era

Posted Thursday, December 15th, 2016 09:07 pm GMT -5 in History,Travel at 9:07 PM

So much more elegant than email and Snapchat

The moose outside should’ve told ya

Posted Thursday, December 15th, 2016 09:02 pm GMT -5 in Politics,Pop Culture,Travel at 9:02 PM

So much nationalism up here (just like 🇺🇸)

Orca and the Empress

Posted Thursday, December 15th, 2016 08:57 pm GMT -5 in History,Travel at 8:57 PM

The Fairmount was a little worn, but so full of history

Seaplane flights and tours

Posted Thursday, December 15th, 2016 08:53 pm GMT -5 in Travel at 8:53 PM

So cool – would love to do this sometime 

Fish and chips forever

Posted Thursday, December 15th, 2016 08:47 pm GMT -5 in Food,Travel at 8:47 PM

Or Poutine – take your pick (Irish Times Pub, Victoria BC)

Amazed he wasn’t frozen

Posted Thursday, December 15th, 2016 11:46 am GMT -5 in Travel,Weather at 11:46 AM

Chinese Garden @ Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens in snow

Posted Thursday, December 15th, 2016 10:52 am GMT -5 in Nature,Travel,Weather at 10:52 AM

These plants are also not very happy

Frozen ferns

Posted Thursday, December 15th, 2016 10:47 am GMT -5 in Nature,Travel,Weather at 10:47 AM

Bet they aren’t very happy

End of the road

Posted Thursday, December 15th, 2016 10:44 am GMT -5 in Food,Travel at 10:44 AM

So glad this place was open in Port Renfrew

French Beach Postcard

Posted Thursday, December 15th, 2016 10:41 am GMT -5 in Nature,Travel at 10:41 AM

Just like the North Shore (but with saltwater)

From Edina to Victoria

Posted Wednesday, December 14th, 2016 12:56 am GMT -5 in Hockey,Travel at 12:56 AM

One of us

Great bears of history

Posted Wednesday, December 14th, 2016 12:51 am GMT -5 in Museums,Travel at 12:51 AM

From an amazing section of the Royal BC Museum 

OFF! OFF! OFF!

Posted Wednesday, December 14th, 2016 12:48 am GMT -5 in Museums,Travel at 12:48 AM

More dioramas at the Royal BC Museum

This museum was spectacular 

Posted Wednesday, December 14th, 2016 12:08 am GMT -5 in Links,Museums,Travel at 12:08 AM

http://www.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/

Life size Mammoth

Posted Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 07:57 pm GMT -5 in History,Museums,Travel at 7:57 PM

Royal BC Museum dioramas rule

BC Totems

Posted Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 12:37 pm GMT -5 in Art,Museums,Travel at 12:37 PM

Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria

Orca at our hotel

Posted Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 12:35 pm GMT -5 in Art,Family,Travel at 12:35 PM

CK outside Abigail’s 

I ❤️ 🇨🇦

Posted Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 12:25 am GMT -5 in Food,Travel at 12:25 AM

Poutine Forever

Canadian best sellers

Posted Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 12:23 am GMT -5 in Reading,Travel at 12:23 AM

Why not?

Greatest country in the world?

Posted Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 12:18 am GMT -5 in Food,Travel at 12:18 AM

Canada has so much going for it, eh?

Networking in Seattle

Posted Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 12:14 am GMT -5 in Food,Technology,Travel at 12:14 AM

Jack’s Fish @ Pike’s Place

Spot the monkfish

Posted Monday, December 12th, 2016 04:58 pm GMT -5 in Business,Food,Travel at 4:58 PM

Home of the lame training session

Quick stop at the market

Posted Monday, December 12th, 2016 04:52 pm GMT -5 in Family,Food,Travel at 4:52 PM

Pike’s Place is very, very cold today

The sleigh to Seattle

Posted Monday, December 12th, 2016 09:39 am GMT -5 in Family,Travel at 9:39 AM

SY283, MSP-SEA, seats 19D & 19E

Our home for the week

Posted Sunday, December 11th, 2016 11:18 pm GMT -5 in Links,Travel at 11:18 PM

http://www.abigailshotel.com/

The Spirit of British Columbia

Posted Thursday, October 27th, 2016 12:29 am GMT -5 in Links,Travel at 12:29 AM

http://www.bcferries.com/onboard-experiences/fleet/profile-spirit_of_british_columbia.html

Been to two of these

Posted Monday, July 25th, 2016 07:07 pm GMT -5 in Food,Friends,Links,Travel at 7:07 PM

http://www.foodnetwork.com/restaurants/photos/best-bars-america-food-lovers.html

Sushi @ Ruyi

Posted Sunday, July 10th, 2016 07:14 pm GMT -5 in Family,Food,Travel at 7:14 PM

That reminds me of someone…

One rose away from $5800

Posted Sunday, July 10th, 2016 07:12 pm GMT -5 in Casinos,Travel at 7:12 PM

Someday? Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, Milwaukee 

That’s a nice touch

Posted Sunday, July 10th, 2016 07:11 pm GMT -5 in Technology,Travel at 7:11 PM

New hotel room phone = name on handset

Gritty Sauce Forever

Posted Sunday, July 10th, 2016 07:09 pm GMT -5 in Food,Travel at 7:09 PM

Almost the same as I remember 

Common sense

Posted Sunday, July 10th, 2016 12:26 pm GMT -5 in Food,Travel at 12:26 PM

We hope you have enjoyed reading it

The traveler has returned

Posted Thursday, July 7th, 2016 08:04 pm GMT -5 in Family,Food,Travel at 8:04 PM

…safely. ❤️

Happy Trails, SK

Posted Sunday, June 26th, 2016 06:39 pm GMT -5 in Family,Travel at 6:39 PM

Westward bound

Good Grand Marais Food Tips

Posted Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 09:18 am GMT -5 in Food,Links,Travel at 9:18 AM

http://www.startribune.com/ask-the-restaurant-critic-where-to-go-in-grand-marais-summer-parties-and-more/383344441/

40th Annual Grandma’s Marathon

Posted Sunday, June 19th, 2016 03:41 pm GMT -5 in Marathons,Running,Travel at 3:41 PM

When the good people at Grandma’s Marathon announced plans for the 40th anniversary of the race, I perked up when they said runners who registered early would get a special jacket. When they published a picture of the medal, I signed up right away.

Guess I’m still a sucker for nice bling.

Lots of other people were apparently excited by this year too, with 9,100 runners selling out the race for the first time in quite a while. This was my eighth Grandma’s (and 26th marathon), but I hadn’t been up there to run since 2011. Love the race and how the city embraces the weekend, so I’m not sure why I waited so long to return again.

With my work schedule completely out of control right now, I was not nearly as prepared for this race as I would’ve liked to be. I did get in long runs of 17.5, 21.5 and 15 miles in the weeks leading up to the race, but there wasn’t much in the way of short weekday runs (or any cross-training or speed work). Add in my Garmin dying the week of the race and a forecast for hot and humid weather and my time expectations for this race went out the window.

My A, B, C and D goals were all very low-key: get an official finish under seven hours to get the damn medal, beat my worst Grandma’s time (5:26:54), keep it in the fours and, finally, try to beat my Des Moines time (4:37:23). Three out of four was pretty good on a day when the weather warning flags went from green to yellow to red to black as the day went on.

We stayed at my sister’s apartment again and I got dropped off downtown to catch the train to the start. I thought getting there at 4:50 was plenty of time, but the line to board was already down the street. Capacity must be way higher than it seems, though, as everyone in line before me only filled the front half of the train. Talked with three other runners on the way to Two Harbors, including a friendly woman from Colorado and a sixty-year-old gentleman who is a fan of the Galloway run-walk method.

We arrived at the starting line just before seven and I actually waited in line for a port-o-potty (which I think is a first for me). Maybe I missed it, but I don’t think they did the flyover before the start (which was always a highlight for me). Looked around a bit to see if I could find anybody I knew, but decided to head to the chute when it got crowded. No real announcement to start this year either – everyone just started moving slowly to the line and we were off.

Running without a Garmin was strangely liberating. I just wanted to take it slow and let my muscles take over instead of my brain. The only anxiety I had was due to the 4:15 pacer, who I traded places with twice. This race doesn’t have many clocks on course, so I knew I hit the halfway mark around 2:10. After that I had no idea until mile 25, but I knew I was going slower the second half because of walk breaks through each water stop to rehydrate, take on ice and sponges and pour water over my head (all tricks I learned the last time it was too hot).

As I’ve said before, this race takes on a whole new feel when you enter Duluth city limits after mile 18. The crowd support is amazing and they helped me run non-stop from the last water stop at mile 25 to the finish line, where I finished in 4:47:36 (10:59 Minute Miles). Full results can be found here, including my official splits (10K – 59:02, 13.1M – 2:10:22, 20M – 3:30:47 and 25M – 4:34:45).

Next up: Afton Trail Run 50K on July 2

Anniversary bling acquired

Posted Sunday, June 19th, 2016 12:24 am GMT -5 in Marathons,Running,Travel at 12:24 AM

Grandma’s Marathon 40th Anniversary Medal

Felt weird to be back

Posted Friday, June 17th, 2016 11:07 pm GMT -5 in Food,Shopping,Travel at 11:07 PM

Quick stop at the Y Store

Adios Levi’s Stadium

Posted Tuesday, June 14th, 2016 01:17 am GMT -5 in Football,Technology,Travel at 1:17 AM

Great hosts with excellent insight

Goooooooooooooal

Posted Tuesday, June 14th, 2016 01:13 am GMT -5 in Football,Travel at 1:13 AM

There were actually three: Uruguay 3, Jamaica 0

Better than Candlestick

Posted Tuesday, June 14th, 2016 01:10 am GMT -5 in Football,Travel at 1:10 AM

In everything but location

A pair of Ninerds in the wild

Posted Tuesday, June 14th, 2016 01:08 am GMT -5 in Football,Technology,Travel,Work at 1:08 AM

I think they prefer Nidorks

Our exclusive little club

Posted Tuesday, June 14th, 2016 01:06 am GMT -5 in Personal,Travel at 1:06 AM

These are the Dave’s I know…

Cat Cora lobster mac

Posted Monday, June 13th, 2016 03:07 pm GMT -5 in Food,Travel at 3:07 PM

Thanks for the tip, SF Eater – Gate 55

Hidden Gem

Posted Sunday, May 29th, 2016 03:50 pm GMT -5 in Art,Family,Museums,Travel at 3:50 PM

Huge names in a small city – Minnesota Marine Art Museum, Winona

Border towns

Posted Sunday, May 29th, 2016 03:13 pm GMT -5 in Football,Shopping,Travel at 3:13 PM

Winona Shopko is bipolar

Seagulls love donuts

Posted Sunday, April 3rd, 2016 05:12 pm GMT -5 in Art,Food,Travel at 5:12 PM

My mom bought this print in Grand Marais

Summerfest Management Rocks

Posted Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016 10:54 am GMT -5 in Concerts,Links,Music,Travel at 10:54 AM

http://summerfest.com/2016-lineup/

Straight from Hawaii

Posted Sunday, March 20th, 2016 07:13 pm GMT -5 in Family,Food,Travel at 7:13 PM

Pineapple Hi-Chew from Auntie Lynn

 

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Husband, dad and stadium IT director

Personal Records & Mileage

  • Mile - 6:10
  • 5K - 21:42
  • 10K - 44:40
  • Half - 1:38:40
  • Marathon - 3:43:32
  • 2017 Mileage: 60

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