On Minnesota and Its Fair, Once Again

Like we so often do, we headed back to Minnesota for the State Fair last week. We drove up, both so we could bring our bikes to ride with a friend of B’s and so we could bring back some stuff of his from his parents (namely, his original Nintendo).

It was a weird trip; it wasn’t that good, really; I don’t know if it’s stale, or age, or a lot of stress (which I won’t be going into much here), or what, but I think we need a break. At least from the fair.

We left early morning on August 22nd and drove straight through. Stopped at Starbucks for breakfast, Golden Corral for lunch (easy way to get salad), and my Trails truck stop in Albert Lea for some ColdStone Creamery. Stopped at a rest area somewhere in Iowa, north of Des Moines, to get out and run a mile. Stopped at a bar to meet some friends of ours for a drink and nachos, friends we haven’t seen in years but will be seeing again soon out here in Colorado. Finished at the Marriott near the airport and Mall of America.

Thursday was mainly mall day. Walked over after breakfast to get coffee (at both Starbucks and Tim Horton’s … and sugar at Cinnabon) … and waited for the mall to officially open since we got there a bit early. Oops.

mn_8-23moa
Outside.

mn_8-23moa2
Sign in the mall.

mn_8-23moa4
Gelato spoon chandelier.

We didn’t get too many things – a candle and some Minnesota stuff for B, some new markers for me from the Crayola store – but it was okay. We ate food court stuff for lunch (me Panda Express, B Chick-Fil-A) and I also had a mid-afternoon cappuccino from the Nordstrom eBar.

Post-mall, we drove around B’s old neighborhood in Burnsville, as he hadn’t seen it/been over there in several years. I saw where he cut his hockey-playing teeth and we played on a playground.

Dinner was cobbled together from the hospitality suite in the Marriott.

Friday morning, we rode with Tim in the rain before heading to Cossetta’s in St. Paul for lunch and some time at the Science Museum of Minnesota (using that reciprocity).

The museum was a touch disappointing – at least for adults. Super hands-on for kids (and there were tons of kids there), but a little meh for us.

mn_8-24sci2
Random fish sculpture.

mn_8-24sci3
There was a really cool exhibit on mental health, explaining it in a way that all of us can understand.

mn_8-24sci4
Resting in a giant red blood cell chair.

Post-museum, we headed back to the Minneapolis side of things to do date night at the mall. We fell back on an old standard, Benihana, and then went up to the fourth floor to play a whole bunch of games at GameWorks. Easy, simple, and fun.

Saturday we slept in a bit before heading up to B’s parents house for most of the day/afternoon. I had a few things I needed to do after that, so we did those errands and then rode bikes for a tiny bit. Post-bikes, our standard breakfast-for-dinner pre-race (Perkins edition) and then just laid low the rest of the night.

Sunday morning we ran the Milk Run 5K (which if you want to know how that went, head on over to the tri blog).

After the race, we headed back to the car to clean up a bit and then into the fair. I should mention we had a free post-race breakfast sandwich from Giggles Campfire Grill that was TERRIBLE. When we got back in the gates, we took a beeline towards the Agriculture Building to make sure we could try a brand new apple we heard about – the First Kiss.

mn_8-26fair

This apple is still a year or two from hitting stores, but it was pretty tasty. Of course, one of its parents was a Honeycrisp, which is basically the best apple out there, so it’s no wonder.

Our next stop was to French Meadow for some coffee and then on to the West End Market to try one of the new foods – Nordic Waffles.

mn_8-26fair2

It was a super popular booth – about a 25 minute wait to even order and then about another 20 minutes to get the waffles. They have seven different varieties – we tried two: the Breakfast All Day and the Cinna-Sugar-Butter.

nordic_waffles

mn_8-26fair3

The breakfast waffle? Totally worth the wait. The sweet one? Needed more butter, we think, for it was a bit disappointing.

From there, we walked over to the Dairy Building to get our free malt/sundae/whatever from the race, making some detours along the way.

mn_8-26fair4
Newer fun house at the Mighty Midway.

I didn’t get a picture, but B got his malt (really more of a shake) and I got a chocolate sundae. Really, it tasted like Dairy Queen’s. But it was free, so meh.

Our next stop was the poultry barn, because chickens.

mn_8-26fair5
And turkeys!

We actually got to pet a Silkie chicken, which was amazing.

The humidity was starting to kill us at that point, but we kept persevering. Or trying to.

mt_cheese_curds4
It is not a fair trip without cheese curds.

We headed over to the corn roast after that to split an ear of corn and both decided the humidity was too much, so we headed back over to the West End Market to pick up a Christmas decoration purchase we made after our waffles (a retro hockey skate with greenery). B couldn’t decide whether he wanted more food or not (I totally didn’t), so I sat down while he went and got a pickle dog.

pickle_dog
Pickle wrapped in cream cheese and pastrami. No, I did not try it. Blargh.

As it looked like rain was rolling in, we decided to head out for the day. We went back to the hotel to shower and then wandered over to the mall for dinner.

Monday morning, back on the road, and back to Denver.

Advertisements

Shinedown, 7.31.2018

Also known as Shinedown show number eight.

Shinedown released a new album on May 4, “Attention Attention,” and I’ve been meaning to do a review of it here. Maybe soon. In any case, it is AMAZING. As a result, they announced a tour … and oh hey, they’re coming through Denver again in late July. *buys tickets* *have had tickets since late March*

We also finally decided to bite the damn bullet and purchase VIP/a meet and greet for this tour because
a.) why the hell not; and
b.) we’ve been talking about it FOREVER and if we didn’t do it now, we never would.

Thanks to that, we got in to the venue (Pepsi Center) early … and we probably got to the venue way earlier than we even needed to in the first place. Oh well.

We were ushered into the building, checked off a list, got our tickets scanned … and then herded to the club level to some cordoned off area. From there, we got swag bags* and then all sat around until we got word that the band was coming up. We stood up, essentially forming a circle around the room. The guys came in and split up to sign things, with Brent Smith and Zach Myers going one way around the room, and Barry Kerch and Eric Bass going the other way.

We got Eric and Barry first. From the instagrams, we know they fly Delta all the time, so B has been hoarding Biscoffs (the shortbread cookies DAL is kind of famous for serving) to give to them. All four were happy when they found out, but I think Barry was the happiest. “OMG I love these!” (almost a direct quote) I also wrote thank yous for the Myers, Kerch, and Bass families – as I’m also married to someone who’s gone a good chunk of the time, I wanted to let them know that I appreciate the sacrifice that it takes on their part and that I understand their struggle to some extent. And that we fans thank them for sharing their husbands with us. I think this struck a cord, as both Eric and Barry thanked me on two separate occasions for the gesture.

Brent Smith is an absolute sweetheart. Seriously. That man is freaking adorable. Super nice and I think he was chatting with people to find an excuse to ask for a hug (me: 8th show. B: his Shinedown quote on his RoadID) (yes, we both hugged him). He also said he loves Delta and bragged that he has the most miles out of all of them.

I hope Zach was okay, as he seemed a bit off. He’s mentioned anxiety lately, and I wonder if it was bugging him. Still nice, though, and he flashed his Delta AmEx Platinum card, which cracked both of us up.

After they all made it through, we got to take pictures with the guys. We were considering doing a photo together and then separately (and B did a separate one with just him and “the Other Guys” (that is, Eric and Barry)), but I forgot to ask.

shinedown_m&g
From L to R: Barry Kerch, Eric Bass, B, me, Zach Myers, Brent Smith. Also don’t let the angles fool you; none of them is taller than us.

Post-photos, we were let free to get early access to merch. In the line, we heard that they were letting all of us early access people on to the floor, so we split up – B went to run down to get us a spot on the rail. I didn’t see anything (originally) at the merch table, so I went to the bathroom and then in search of a little bit of food. Nothing looked good (whyyyyyy has your food gone so downhill, Pepsi Center? It used to be so good 20 years ago … back in high school … holy crap I’m old), so I just got us a pretzel to split and some water.

I go down to join B … and hear they’re selling show-specific guitar pick packs. Eff. So I dump my stuff and run back up … and even though the packs were super limited, I think I was able to snag one. And the last one, I’m pretty sure. If you recall my post from our last Shinedown show, I was able to catch each of the show-specific picks from that show and I really wanted the ones from that night. As catching picks is NEVER a guarantee … $20 well spent.

After standing around a long time, the opening act, Like a Storm, took the stage. They’re a hard rock band out of New Zealand, and were actually pretty dang awesome. Even though a Kiwi friend of ours joked that they’re going to have their citizenship revoked for playing a didgeridoo during the show.

shinedown_like_a_storm
Whatever. The didgeridoo was f’ing awesome.

I also managed to snag a pick during the set, so yay for that. I need to look up their stuff on iTunes, and I’m hoping they’re more like Sixx:AM as opposed to Insomnium, in that their studio stuff is equally as good as their live stuff.

Shinedown was amazing as always. Clean, tight show, with very little downtime. The only bit there was happened because Brent hopped down onto the rail to make sure someone was okay (we had a few people pass out during the show – standing outside in the heat for hours prior to doors open with no food or water for several hours is NOT SMART, people).

But right into it, song-by-song. Band was a well-oiled machine.

We got three songs off the new album, including “Get Up” which YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO. RIGHT NOW. GO. Open up the link in a new tab and listen to it while you finish reading. Or listen to it and then come back. BUT LISTEN TO THE SONG. There’s a reason that just a video of a song (without even the actual music video) has damn near three million “views” on YouTube.

It also goes without saying that I cried throughout the whole thing.

We actually didn’t catch any picks this show, but it’s hard to catch them when none come near you. We did get a drumstick, though, but as we already have a BKerch signature stick, we traded it for an Attention Attention guitar pick. No regrets there.

shinedown
The one shot I got … and really only got it for the purposes of this post. Still loving actually enjoying shows without worrying about taking photos.

As we had to meet a friend who’s moving off to grad school in a week early the next morning for a hike, we didn’t stay for Godsmack (wouldn’t have been home by 9:30 otherwise! … again, we’re old). If a few of the songs I really liked that they’ve been playing on this tour were early in the set we would have considered hanging out for a bit, but they weren’t, so home it was.

Eight shows, and Shinedown has not failed to move me once. Okay, kind of once, but that’s because they got upstaged. Still, I will gladly see them another eight times, and we will also probably consider another meet and greet, as that was money well spent.

* the swag!

shinedown_merch
Towel, drawstring bag, seat cushion thingy, a photo we got signed, hard copy of “Attention Attention” we got signed (gave our other one to someone we befriended in line so she could give something to a friend of hers), lanyard that got signed.