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MN State Fair 2021: Music, art, vegan food and fewer crowds by Ann Treacy
September 7, 2021, 3:23 am
Filed under: St Paul

We missed the Minnesota State Fair last year because of the pandemic. Most of us went this year, but in shifts. Dad (aka Grandpa) and I went in the morning. We had some yummy food like cheese curds and Sweet Martha’s Cookies. We walked around to the DFL booth, Education Building and some others. I’ve heard up to 200 exhibitors have backed out of the Fair this year. It seems like many, if not most of State Departments have ducked out. No calendars at the Education Building. No going inside the MN DNR. That and the light crowds were signs of the time. Even with the lighter crowds, we avoided certain areas and wore masks in buildings.

We had a break for a car wash cookout. (Where Billy has a BBQ at the car wash, which conveniently is where we park to go to the Fair!) Dad went home and Lily and Kate arrived. We found all (maybe not all) of the vegan options for them. We also checked out some art. It’s always fun to see the subversive seed art. I am going to try to create a subversive work for next year. (I am a seed art pro, at least based on the Zoom class I took during the pandemic.) We also went to the Fine Arts Building. They have some incredible artists and such a wide range. Plenty of art recognizing the year of civil unrest.

We also had some random treats like the giant rubber duck, bull riding and the cows. Lily was disappointed that the Miracle of Birth building was closed. (I was not.) She loves to see the baby animals. We were just in time for the parade and we got in plenty of steps. (Clocked in 13 miles today!) I also got a glimpse at the MN DNR Wall of Shame, which highlights animals that have been poached. I was on the look for a deer that we used to see down at Wita Tanka and we haven’t seen for a while. I didn’t see him, but I saw a few others.

Finally the music. I’m always amazed at the wide range of free music at the Fair. I stopped to see three acts (Mae Simpson, Yam Haus and Rosie Flores) and enjoyed each but also it’s just fun to see and see the music as you walk by various parks and bars.



I walked 40 miles – in 12ish hours at a FANS Ultra Race by Ann Treacy
August 29, 2021, 7:22 pm
Filed under: St Paul

I want this saved for when I’m old and no one will believe I could do it. Yesterday I did a 12 hour walk. I suspect I walked just shy of 40 miles. But because I walked home after midnight (so more like Friday night but technically Saturday) and walked (to get places) after the race, I absolutely walked 40 miles.

I joined a FANS Ultra Race, the proceeds go to college and career mentorship program for high school students, specifically working with students of color, recent immigrants, and other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education. Heather got me into the race. She runs all of the time. She ran the race yesterday. Here’s a glimpse of how it went for the novice first-timer.

The race started at 8am. The track is a two-mile loop around Fort Snelling Lake. I know that area very well. People come from all over the world for the race. There was a guy in his 80s who has run every one of these. There was a guy who was hoping to get a world record. The deal is you can walk or run for 6 hours, 12 hours or (wait for it!) 24 hours.

I mostly walked it alone listening to music. (Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Playlist for me – it was very helpful!)  If it hadn’t been for the blisters (turns out sock choice matters), I would have felt no pain. It was hot and sultry and there were reports of thunderstorms all day. But the path is pretty shaded. There were to stops for water and I got a cup at each at every stop. I think that was my key to success. I didn’t eat anything partially because I didn’t want to stop.

They weigh you and if you lose too much weight, they make you stop. My first hope was that this might happen. Can you imagine a better win-win situation? You get to stop and you’ve lost weight! (Going by my scale I lost just over a pound from Saturday to Sunday. Probably bad math to have this be my weight loss plan.) Also I thought they might call the race if it poured ran or saw lightning.  We got caught in huge burst of rain and lightning. But it cleared up before we really had a chance to quit.

One of the volunteers noted on my last lap that I looked exactly as I did the first lap, which was true. Except due to weather my hair was curlier. Walking is the best because it doesn’t beat you up. The runners were amazing to see. But then they were very sweaty and then there were painfully stretching and then some were laying flat out. God love those real athletes, but walking is where it’s at!

Kallie walked a few of the last laps with me, which was a huge help. Really though I wasn’t super hurting. The last part of the race they have us on a smaller track. And it was nearly dark and the fast runner are trying to eke out every last mile they can. While some of us turtles wonder what the heck we’re doing. Remember Vacation, “look kids, Big Ben, Parliament.” That’s what it felt like – and there was no way to get off at that pint. Luckily that was only for 10 minutes and then I was done. And gotta admit it, I was proud of myself.

And an hour later I was at the Icehouse watching Happy Apple!



Help Monica and Ann Eat with the Pioneer Press at the Minnesota State Fair by Ann Treacy
August 8, 2021, 11:44 pm
Filed under: St Paul

The Minnesota State Fair is having a contest to win a trip to the Fair with Eat editor Jess Fleming as she samples her way through the 2021 new foods. I think Monica and I are the perfect walking companions to offer our opinion on the best the fair has to offer!

First, we are the best walkers for touring the Twin Cities. Last year, we walked a whole marathon in a day. Two years ago, we led a nighttime walk with Governor Walz and Lt Governor Flanagan to meet people experiencing homelessness. Often we grab our pickers and pick up trash walk on the shores of the Mississippi at Wita Tanka and folks seem to enjoy our #whatIsawonmywalk posts.

Second, we are huge State Fair fans. When my daughters were little, I started a tradition of creating a scavenger hunt each year for the Fair. That morphed into a big Treacy Family tradition of three generations wearing matching shirts and competing with the annual scavenger hunt. Last fall, Monica and I lit up the State Fair with the Love Vote Rise message.

We’re brave, we’re opinionated and like a diversity of food! And we’ve been walking all over the Twin Cities building up an appetite.

So how can you help? It seems like part of what the Pioneer Press would like to see in a contest winner is someone (or people) with a little social media muscle. And between now and the contest deadline, we will be posting periodic messages about how awesome we would be at the Fair. On Twitter and Instagram we’ll use the tag: #getustothemnstatefair and/or you look for posts on Facebook (from me or Monica). If you wouldn’t mind taking a second to like or comment on a random post, it might help!



Last day in New Orleans: a ghostly good time! by Ann Treacy
June 25, 2021, 4:04 pm
Filed under: New Orleans

I’m always slow getting the last vacation post online – especially if the vacation ends with a bumpy flight home. The amazing thing about our time in New Orleans was the little rain we saw. Given that there were predicting a tropical storm a few days earlier – we got lucky. We spent the day walking. The girls like to shop and see voodoo museums. I’m happy to just walk. So that’s what we did with most of the day.

We did a walking ghost tour at night. The tour guide was very good – very enthusiastic and she knew so much. I should make the girls type up the stories for me; they remember them so much better than I do. I know it was our second time hearing some of the stories and still I barely remember. New Orleans is/was very Catholic. It’s interesting to hear how often that’s a factor. The church has so many rule and then so many rules to get around the original rules but mostly designed to keep comfortable people comfortable and keep other people keeping them comfortable by basing laws on race, color, gender and religion. We heard stories of immigrants working as domestic help being tortured mercilessly and a woman being dying naked and cold to convince her boyfriend to marry her. (He got drunk and forgot that she was out on the roof proving her point.) So many sad stories in a town where the live between living and dead seems so blurred.



New Orleans Day One: Familiar places, Brazilian food, Frenchmen Street and people on the streets by Ann Treacy
June 23, 2021, 4:45 pm
Filed under: Louisiana, New Orleans

We are back. The girls love New Orleans. I love any walking city. Kate is very happy with the vegan options. The girls took me to a lovely Cuban-Brazilian restaurant last night and it was very tasty. We have a fun lunch at the French Market.

We are all happy with the people watching and music everywhere. We are staying in a really nice place near the French Quarter. Also apparently conveniently near to Bourbon Street, since the girls seems happy to walk by in any time day or night.

We have popped into shops and voodoo places and today we might do some tours but honestly the girls regale me with what they remember from past tours as we walk places. I feel like they could be the guides at this point.

Kate, Lily and I walked down Bourbon late at night to Frenchmen Street to bars that are more music than party-focused. We saw some awesome music, as you can see the in the videos below. I snuck a video of the girls and talked them into letting me post it on the promise that they would be happy to see it in 10 years time. And they will!

While we love New Orleans,  it’s hard to say anything without a nod to the huge number of people experiencing homelessness. Lots of people sleeping outside. I saw a young woman asleep in a doorway holding a mean looking dog last night. Many folks will know that I’m terrified of dogs and subsequently don’t like them much – but it seemed like a solid move to get a dog if you’re sleeping on Royal Street. There’s almost a romanticism of young people living on the streets. There’s clearly a community among people. Even from a distance you can see camaraderie and concern for each other. That romanticism does not age well. I noticed a couple of old men, on benches, shoeless with feet that were painful to see from a distance. They were altered – maybe drugs, maybe mental health, likely a combination of both. Makes me wonder where that tipping point is. What is the Ven Diagram of substance, mental health, having fun and finding yourself in pain and on the streets. And the better question, how can we support people into healthier transitions for the long term?



San Antonio – nothing beats dumb luck and live music! by Ann Treacy
June 21, 2021, 6:42 am
Filed under: Texas

We had a couple of free days during our vacation and we spent one of them in San Antonio. Bonus! We happened to be here at the start of the Fiesta de los Reyes. Even better? Lily unknowingly booked us into the hotel directly across from the festival. So lucky! Honestly, most people parked farther than we lived. (In the pictures below, you can see Lily at the festival with the La Quinta sign in the background – that’s our hotel!)

 

It was so much fun. Below is a compilation of the music and dancing. There were three stages. One seemed to have a DJ with dancing. We saw a Grammy nominated singer, who was an awesome performer. (And whose name, I clearly don’t remember.)

There was also a ton of food. We had tacos, gorditas, elote and fruit. The tacos were just how I like them with limited “stuff” on them. Just meat and onions. Kate was stuck being a little hungry as there weren’t a ton of vegan options. The people watching was amazing!

We did take a break from the festival to check out the San Antonio Art Galley and the downtown River Walk. Both were great. We also tried to get food at the Pearl while on the walk. Turns out there still weren’t a ton of vegan option sand we were all getting very hangry and very hot. We did what we could and we all decided that San Antonio was a super fun town to visit Oh the other bonus, was that there was an outdoor pool. We don’t see many of those in Minnesota.



San Antonio, Houston, Beaumont to Lafayette – they can’t all be winners! by Ann Treacy
June 21, 2021, 4:32 am
Filed under: Louisiana, Texas

Today was our travel day. Today was that one day every family has on vacation – that day that just stinks. Start with I truly hate driving but I am the only one old enough to drive the rental car and the only one with more than 20 minutes experience of highways driving. But it was way better than taking a Greyhound! (No offense to Greyhound.)

We tried to get a sneak peek at The Alamo on the way out of town. Construction meant that we are unlikely to remember The Alamo. (Although fitting in that terrible line makes it almost worth it.) We headed to Houston. Too early for lunch, Lily looked up a few things we could do. The overwhelming winner was street art murals. Picture any old low end strip mall, closed and derelict. Then picture a few folks drinking bear and spraying painting all of the back of the mall. That was it. I will never look up how far much faster it would have been to bypass downtown Houston. We did listen to Southtown Girls on the way out, which also made it a little better)

So that left us in Beaumont, TX for lunch. Kate is vegan. She had a bad day trying to find food at the street festival or the bougie food mall we went to yesterday. So she picked out a restaurant where should through she might get food she liked. So we went for an Indian meal in Beaumont. I won’t name it but there was water dripping from the ceiling in part of the restaurant and the sign in the bathroom said don’t flush paper towels or toilet paper in the toilet – but rather into the bin. Apparently their vegan food was good but I just couldn’t eat the chicken I ordered after that. It’s tough to be vegan!

So onto Lafayette. We planned to stay overnight and I had an interview at 9pm so we had some parameters. Lily found a very funky guesthouse and bar. I suspect this place is the epicenter of a few music fests throughout the year. They have bands play. The vibe is great. Except the bar is not open tonight. No live music. We are the only people staying. Due to a slight miscommunication, they weren’t open when we get here. So my 9 hours in the car turned 9 and a half. Normally I might go for a walk but it was pouring rain. Again, cool place but wrong time!

The night got better when we had a nice Cuban meal and starting planning for our day in New Orleans tomorrow. The girls have been a few times so they have a list. We are just holding our hope that the repercussions of the tropical storm that just missed on Saturday are minimal.



Austin TX Day Two: Sad history, swimming hole, peacocks and music by Ann Treacy
June 20, 2021, 2:47 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

We (mostly I) got a little Austin history today. First – and quickest – The University of Austin Tower, from a distance. This is the location of a deadly mass shooting in 1966 when Charles Whitman (after killing mother and wife the night before) took to the top of the tower and opened fire. He killed 15 people and injured 31. It was the most deadly mass shooting for 18 years. Second – Juneteenth, the celebration and anniversary of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. It began in Galveston but I recently learned that June 19 1865 reflects the date that federal troops enforced the emancipation in Texas. Unfortunately the actual Emancipation happened in 1862. That’s a three year difference?!

Anyway – I happened to walk by “the” view of the tower today. Yesterday Kate and I stopped by the Austin Capitol and read about the history of the emancipation; they recognize that it wasn’t timely but didn’t specify. Today I headed to a Juneteenth celebration. It was festive and full. I had no idea what to expect. In fact I was late to the party and expected nothing. It was nice to see police playing a role (handing out candy) in the parade. Strange to see these days coming from the Twin Cities.

Then I met up with the girls at Barton Springs Pool. It’s a strange mix of pool/river/cold spring. Luckily I walked there and realized that only part of the river is the pool, which means you have to pay and (more importantly) wait in line to visit. So once the girls got there we walked down river and they took a dip. They seemed to have a great time. I did dip a toe.

After the swim, we went to Barton Springs Picnic, a food truck park. We were hot and hungry and crabby when we got there. We all decided before we left that none of us was even one little bit sad with our choices. SO good. Then we stopped by the Umlauf Sculpture Garden on the way home. (Pro Tip: not all sculpture gardens are free.)

Then at night, some of use went to the Mayfield Park, which was so much fun. They have peacocks wandering about. And we saw one in full plumage!! I can only imagine what Kate will paint after that.

 

We went to a Juneteenth celebration in in a park (near some bars) and saw a really fantastic singer, Dionysus. He was sitting in a battered chair, sometimes reading the lyrics off his phone and still had an amazing stage presence. Finally at night I talked the older girls into meeting me at C-Boy’s Heart and Soul where we saw Kimmie Vaugh and they talked me into going to what they called “Bourbon St of Austin” to see a Johnny Depp lookalike band. A good time was had by all!!



Austin TX Day One: Shopping, walking, art and bats by Ann Treacy
June 19, 2021, 1:50 pm
Filed under: Texas

We arrived in Austin in the very early hours of Friday morning. It’s hot but we knew that going in. We are staying downtown, near the University. It’s pretty central but we spent much of our first day on Congress and South Congress Avenues. It’s a shopping, eating, street art sort of street. I’m going to start with our night activity – we went to see the bats under the Congress Avenue Bridge.

Apparently a million and a half bats emerge each night from under the bridge. It seems to happen about 30 minutes after sunset. They are hard to see because they are so fast and small. Mostly what I could see was displacement of the colors where they flew. But it was pretty cool. Adding to the excitement we viewed from under the bridge – risking bat droppings. (That always ups the ante!)

After that we had tacos and fancy cocktails (those over 21) at Lincha. Earlier in the day we walked up and down Congress. (Some of us may have Ubered half the way and some of us got 14 miles in for the day.) Aine ended up buying a bag. We saw lots of murals. It was a fun day.



Sunny day in Chicago? Do the Loop Mural Walk! by Ann Treacy
June 16, 2021, 1:08 am
Filed under: Chicago

Day two of visiting Katie – we put on our super sonic sneakers and checked out the Loop Mural Walk. There are three walks downtown that feature 21 murals. Some are done by famous folks and some seem pretty local. Available now through July 4 – although it feels like those murals are pretty permanent. Doing the walk – and maybe diverging from the map a few times – we walked about 4 miles. It’s a fun walk through the loop. The walk isn’t tough but the navigation can be tricky.

Some of the murals are very obvious; some are harder to find but that’s part of the fun. We learned that if we swore we followed the map, we knew we were right, that the answer was to look up. Some of the best and biggest were a few flights up.

Another challenge was the one diversion into the pedestrian mall but it was the first time we had been in the mall so that was fun. Also, we went through the Chicago Cultural Center to get there, where we happened upon the filming of The 4400, which is apparently a TV show. We were thrilled!

We did get to take a walk through the alley side. (Pro Tip: walk on the side away from the garbage cans for fewer rat sightings!) Also we met a kind Irish man on Lower Wacker Drive, who pointed out (again kindly) that maybe we’d made a wrong turn. We were flattered that he cared and he probably wasn’t wrong.

It was a beautiful day. We kept walking after the murals and got another 3 miles under our belts. We visited a few things we always love to see – like the Harold Washington Library. (Snotty aside: I took classes there when I did my MLIS.) The Bean!! Of course I had to stop by the Art Institute of Chicago Lions – because I love them. The River walk is another fave.




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