Friday, January 3, 2014

Midwest in December

When Scott and I were figuring out the logistics of Christmas, we realized we had a few days free. We also realized that we wanted to be in my hometown on two separate occasions/days - two days apart!  Rather than drive back to Chicago, we decided to make a little vacation out of it and explore two cities.  And thus a plan was hatched!

After RFC, Scott and I got in to the car, and drove two hours west - to West Des Moines, IA.  I have several friends and family members in that area, and we wanted to explore it!  I'd been to WDM a few times before, but never like this - where my sole purpose was exploring, and having some fun.

When we got to town, our first stop was Zombie Burger, a cool burger joint/bar that was recommended to us by my cousin who lives in town.  She thought Scott would like it especially... and she was totally right.  It was completely up Scott's alley.

After lunch, we walked a block away to another spot she suggested - a cool tshirt/gift shop called RAYGUN, which had some hilarious Iowa-themed gear, including a shirt that said CHICAGO and then below it had the outline of the state of Iowa.  I mean, seriously?  That is so me.

We stopped by a local Trader Joes (sidenote: I had no idea that Trader Joes was now in Iowa - omgggg).  This particular location was especially entertaining, with a huge and awesome map of the state of Iowa and hilarious quotes above the wine selection.

During our time in WDM, we stayed at a hotel that was recommended to us by my friend Kelli (which was another perfect recco).  The hotel had a Happy Hour which included free popcorn and cocktails... what?!  Of course we took advantage of that... :)

We also went to Jordan Creek mall for a while, which was only a few blocks away.  We were there longer than you might suspect given that we didn't purchase anything.  I needed a few thousand more steps that day, so that was a great way to get some in after a day spent driving (and Zombie Burger-ing).

That night we went to a nearby bar (walking distance from the hotel!) to watch the Bears game.  (The lost, horribly, but the loss was sweetened by being in a really cool bar called Wellmans, which was yet another recommendation, from another Des Moines cousin).  Scott had his first Moscow Mule cocktail, which was something he'd been wanting to try, and I had a Guinness.

The next morning, we got up "vacation-early" and turned the car north - Minnesota bound!

Three or four hours later, and we were checked in to our hotel next to Mall of America, and were headed there to explore.  The mall is massive and we walked our feet off exploring, and doing some last minute Christmas shopping.  (True story: the only thing I purchased at Mall of America was a bar of soap).  We walked about 15,000 steps (about 7 miles) inside the mall alone, which was much needed, to combat the time in the car.

After our shopping excursion, we walked back to our hotel (which was a 10 minute walk from the mall, nicely) and got ready for a night on the town.  My Minneapolis cousins knew we were coming to town, and we made plans to meet up for a cocktail or two.  They picked a really cool place, called Psycho Suzi's which was just our style - hilarious decor, themed drinks, and so much fun.

One of the things I love about my cousins is the ability to pick right back up where we left off, like no time has passed.  I only see these girls a few times a year, but you wouldn't know that from overhearing our conversations.  Inside jokes, tons of laughter, and more than a little teasing.  :)  We had so much fun, we even went to a second bar to keep it going.

The next morning, Scott and I woke up, checked out of our hotel, and left the city - en route to my favorite state, and my favorite destination: the place I still think of as home.

Shout out to Scott, for being an amazing travel agent and companion, navigator and driver.  He drove all but two hours of our 1,200 mile trip, and there is no way I would have had as much fun without him.  

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