Days 12 Chicago to Rochester

Monday August16, 2010

Monday was a sad day on both ends of the drive. Henriët came over to Andrew’s and we went around the  corner to Ann Sather’s cafe for breakfast; they have terrific cinnamon and pecan rolls. Andrew lives in an amazing neighborhood; like Northwest or Southeast Portland with all these great little cafes, diners, and restaurants.

Our visit with Andrew and Henriët was so fun. Andrew is a very considerate guy. He had gone all out in preparing for our visit. He had gone to the bank to get a couple of rolls of quarters to use in the laundry He cleared out some space in his bathroom for our supplies, and had laid out fresh towels and wash cloths for us. And he really took charge in organizing our site seeing. School starts for them in a few weeks  and we won’t be seeing them for quite a while.

After finishing breakfast we headed back to Andrew’s place where we packed up the car and said goodbye. Once we had reached Andrew’s place on Thursday evening we either walked, took the “El”, the bus or Andrew drove, so it was my first time behind the wheel for a few days. Chicago driving is intense, I”m glad it was the middle of a weekday so getting the few miles from his place out to the Dan Ryan Expressway was relatively easy. But oh my gosh the Expressway was jam packed; it reminded me of driving in Los Angeles; plus we had the added inconvenience of having to stop and pay tolls every 10 or 15 minutes, and the case lanes were constricted and slow. At any rate we were kind of blue as we drove north to Wisconsin.

We had planned to stop in La Crosse, Wisconsin on the Mississippi river but we were making better time than we had expected and just wanted to get some miles in. We stopped at a rest stop and went over the maps and figured Rochester, Minnesota would be a good stop.

Wisconsin was hilly with lots of dairy farms and what-not scattered about.

There were some interesting yellow rock formations we drove by. At first I thought this was a man-made road-side attraction, but it really was rock.

We stopped for gas in La Crosse and took a little detour to see the Mississippi river, driving across part of French Island. When we crossed the big river a week earlier in Hannibal, Missouri it was incredibly hot and humid. Here it was much cooler, in the 70’s.

This was a beautiful spot. It might have been fun to stay and swim in the river here; I dipped my toe in and it was warm; not as warm as it is in Hannibal, but definitely swimmable.

We entered the next state on our journey: Minnesota

We didn’t do the best job of capturing the “Welome” signs today; but trust me, the sign says “Welcome to Minnesota”.

More lovely little farms in Minnesota

Rochester is the home of the Mayo Clinic. Back in the day a tornado had destroyed the local hospital so an order of nuns came to an agreement with Dr. Mayo: the nuns would build a new hospital if Dr. Mayo would staff it. Our hotel was just about 1/2 mile from one of the main Mayo buildings. It was pretty sad being there because there were so many sick people and families of sick people. Our hotel had a lot of suites with kitchenettes for long term stays.  On the other hand, I suppose there is a lot of hope there as they are doing amazing things there by all reports.

The evening was cool, a cold front must have pushed in from the north, so we went for a little walk around part of the pretty downtown. There was a large veterans’ memorial park we could have walked in for hours but we were tired so went to the hotel restaurant, Twigs, for dinner. We started off with vodka tonics and perused the menus. They have a heated rock entree which I just had to try. They bring out a large slab of flat granite nestled in a paella pan that has been heated to 650*. Then they bring out whatever type of meat you choose along with a couple of sauces. I had local pork (of course); slapped it on the  rock for about 5 minutes and my dinner was ready. Jeff (our son) would hate this; he figures if you go to a restaurant you are paying them to cook your meal. In this case I think he would be right; it was interesting, but in the end just a gimmick. The meat has no seasoning and the two sauces I tried (bourbon and raspberry chipotle) were not that great. I’m glad I did it but wouldn’t do it again.

So, sad in leaving, sad in the idea that we are headed home and have passed the middle of our vacation, and sad on arriving in a town with a lot of sick, sad people. Well

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.