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Little Mekong Night Market with a Black Lives Matter detour by Ann Treacy
July 25, 2016, 4:31 am
Filed under: St Paul

Little Mekong is an area in St Paul with lots of Hmong markets and Vietnamese restaurants. I think this is the third – maybe fourth year that they have had a night market in the area, which as the name would imply is a market that stays open at night. This year the market was open one weekend for Saturday and Sunday nights.

The food is great. There are plenty of choices. There are some break dancers, all sorts of singers, we even heard a Hmong comic. We also saw some guys doing a film that looked like some batman sort of thing. They had a mannequin dressed in all black and they asked everyone to just walk by without appearing to notice it.

I went to the Night Market both nights. On the way to the market on Sunday I was detoured. Folks have been demonstrated outside the governor’s mansion since the death of Philando Castile. We have been out of town most of that time but I have seen them as I’ve been driving. Tonight the road was blocked and several people were speaking so we stopped.

A friend of Philando Castile spoke. It was very touching to hear him. He told stories about Philando because as he said he was glad that more people got to know him – but sad for the reason. He mentioned a scholarship they were starting at Central High School to encourage more black men to go into teaching and into the schools. He noted that he himself had never had a black, male teacher. And how nice it would have made for him to see someone more like himself in a teaching position.

The speaker graciously thanked everyone for being there and supporting the effort. He said he didn’t see colors – and colors of people around the area were numerous – but that he just saw people.

Aine asked me why people were at the Governor’s mansion. I said that Governor Dayton had suggested/invited people to come there – rather than protest on highways. Then she asked what he could do to help the situation – to elevate the need to understand that Black Lives Matter.

As we talked we realized that it’s not for one person to take it on – that we all have to take it on to make changes.

Open Street Minneapolis: East Lakes Street by Ann Treacy
July 25, 2016, 4:21 am
Filed under: Minneapolis

Today we nailed out challenge for fun in the Cities it with Open Streets on East Lake Street. Open Streets is an effort to give the streets back to everyone not in a car – for a day. It happens in different parts of Minneapolis on different weekends. I’ve been to a few of them in the last year or two. But I have never been more impressed than I was on Lake Street today.

They closed at least 20 blocks of the street. There was music and tons of food and a lot of fun kid games. We walked about 6 miles. (Aine loves to walk huge amounts in the heat!)

I’m going on a limb to say Aine’s favorite activity was the musical chairs. Big game musical chairs. We didn’t win – but I have to say they did a great job getting us excited for it.

We also tried to pogo. Word to the wise – pencil skirts aren’t the best for a pogo stick. We shot an apple of each other’s heads with a bazooka squirt gun. A soaky fun thing on a hot, hot day. Watched a pie eating contest.

We saw some gorgeous Aztec dancers, some breakdancing and a band that was new to me called Tabah. I just thought the Open Streets people did a great job bringing back every fun thing from being a kid with blocks and blocks of blocks of easy distractions.


Steaming in the Cities – so we’re hanging on a boat by Ann Treacy
July 25, 2016, 4:10 am
Filed under: Minneapolis

The older girls have gone to Ireland leaving me and Aine with the challenge of having even more fun in the Cities. The extra challenge on Friday was the insane heat. Luckily Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes and we have a friend with a boat – so we went swimming off the boat.

I love swimming. Swimming in a lake is a little different for me. First I’m a baby because I always think it’s going to be too cold. I must admit it wasn’t. The water actually felt pretty good.

BUT it turns out lakes have fish – tons of them. And you’d think they’d like to swim away from people. Not true. The swim toward you. Aine loved it – spent half her time trying to catch a fish. Luckily she was not successful or we may have been looking for a new receipt for fish stew!

Chicago is me, me, me and art by Ann Treacy
July 14, 2016, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Chicago

We’re getting close to the end of the road trip. We started the day in Pennsylvania, then off to Ohio, to Indiana and we landed in Chicago. I have big plans for dinner with dad and Katie. But we planned a day downtown Chicago for fun.

Turns out the kids were super excited to go shopping and ditch me. I’m not writing this to make them feel bad about leaving me alone – right after I paid for lunch. I mean I know this post will be up for years – but I didn’t feel hurt at all.

Really I didn’t feel bad. I got to do exactly what I wanted to do at exactly the pace I wanted to do it. So I visited the Harold Washington Library – where I took a class years ago. Then I went to the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Institute has a guide that shows 12 of their top favorite works of art that you can see in an hour. Challenge accepted! I did it – with two hiccups. American Gothic had been moved. I sleuthed it down. And the Young Dionysos was temporary off the floor.

It was fun. The works included the Chagall windows, which I don’t always make a point to see. And of course the Georges Seurat, which I do always make a point to visit.

Then I skipped up to Millennial Park and saw the sights. (The girls and I had walked through earlier to get to lunch – so they are in some pictures.) Then off to Michigan Avenue, the Wrigley Building and some random statues.

And I decided to take selfies along the way. I have taken 12 selfies in my life – because mostly I have a kid to serve as model. I am terrible at selfies – requires more backward spatial aptitude, I like to do them quickly because I find it embarrassing and the raw material is a little rough to start. But again I didn’t do it to make the girls feel bad later when I’m so old and feeble that they are ditching me again. Not at all.

Art Institute of Chicago Scavenger Hunt:

Last glimpse of NYC: High line and last gasp by Ann Treacy
July 13, 2016, 7:32 pm
Filed under: New York

We left New York City this morning. I had about 30 minutes to get in a last walk and then dad and I drove around for 30 minutes trying to get from the parking garage back to the apartment. (A 10 minute walk!)

So my last bonus was walking right into the High Line. It’s a repurposed railroad track that has been turned into a nice walking/running path. It’s about a mile and a half – but it feels like a sanctuary elevated above the fray. It’s exactly what I like in the outdoors – nice walking path, great urban vistas. I could walk and watch trains at the same time without the hassle of walking by the train. They host events there. It’s very environmentally friendly and embracing.

And during my brief jaunt, I saw no bikes. I know this will lose me a friend or two – but as a walker, I don’t love bikers.

That event was juxtaposed with a very sad image. We were driving just south of Times Square – trying to figure out where we could turn (nowhere is the short answer). There were fire trucks blaring on different blocks. A flock of rabbis walked past. Tons of people, cars and commotion. Lots of things that might turn a head in a smaller city. But the sad thing I saw was a young kid (maybe 20) on the ground, getting oxygen from the police but looking for lifeless. We moved for the ambulance coming to get him.

The police were there and doing what they could but you could just see it was just another start to another day for them. And that’s not a statement on the police. It’s just a sad glimpse at what happens every day in a big city.

Day Three in New York: No NBC tour – but yes MoMA and Staten Island by Ann Treacy
July 13, 2016, 3:37 am
Filed under: New York

Last day in New York – kind of sad. Dad and I walked to Central Park in the morning via Lincoln Center. Then the whole crew headed to Rockefeller Center for the big tour, which sadly has been sold out for weeks. So word to the wise – if you want a tour of 30 Rock, order in advance.

So we rallied and went to the Museum of Modern Art, which was really the kids doing me a favor. Saw Andy Warhol, a really good Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg. And I had one of the exhibits (February 12, 1966) talk to me. There was a guy, near the painting and he just spoke to some people – such as me. My favorite was work by Vern Blosum, who it turns out was a made-up person. The Museum bought his satire on the Pop Art movement and when they went to write a bio for the work they realized no such person existed. But they exhibit it regardless. I love that!

There was a cool exhibit on architecture – very modern and environmentally merged. Kind of fun to think about people such cool work; hard to image where it is. (OK mostly in Tokyo – but still hard to imagine the work in the wild since I’ve never been to Tokyo.)

After the MoMA we went to Battery Park. The girls rode the cool fish-themed carousel. We walked around the park and we took the Staten Island Ferry. So here’s the cool thing – the Ferry is free. So it’s a free and easy way to get pretty close to the State of Liberty.

Then we took the subway back. Well some of us did and some of us hung out with Lucia’s cousin.

Day Two in New York: Good Morning America, Brooklyn, Italian food by Ann Treacy
July 12, 2016, 2:50 am
Filed under: New York

I am about as tired as I have ever been. I started the day before 7 am – I know for morning people that’s not early. It’s early for me, especially on vacation. Dad and I went to scope out Good Morning America and The Today Show. Suffice it to say we’re probably weren’t on TV but it was fun to see how they set things up. Each is a little difference. And it’s fun to see the people who are really dedicated to getting on TV.

Five hours later the girls were up and ready to go. Lily had it in her head to go to Brooklyn. So we pulled it together and took the subway there. We walked by the Brooklyn Museum and Botanical Gardens. We walked by a few things. But it turns out Lily didn’t have anything specific she wanted to see. So mostly we soaked up ambience.

The other girls weren’t as into soaking up ambience as Lily was, but a delicious pizza lunch brought us back together. Then we caught an uber to the Brooklyn Bridge; we walked back across to Manhattan. It’s a fun walk. The skyline is gorgeous. You can see the Statue of Liberty. And it’s a great place for kids to fill up their Instagram SnapChat accounts.

We noticed lots of locks on the bridge, which we first saw on the Pont Neuf years ago – where couples attach locks to seal their love forever. We noticed headphones on the Brooklyn Bridge too, which I thought must have some significance too. Not really – same meaning as the lock but requires no advance prep. Apparently the Department of Transportation removed thousands of items from the bridge every year.

Back in Manhattan we walked for miles – partially because I love to walk but also everyone had something different they wanted to see. We saw the place where we saw Taylor Swift last time we were in town. We walked through Chinatown, Little Italy and Greenwich Village.

We visited a lot of shops. We saw Mood – the shop where they go on Project Runway. We saw street art. We saw great views. We (well, they) got free Slurpies for 7/11 day. Kind of a score to be in a city with 7-Elevens for the giveaway day.

We capped off the day with a super delicious Italian dinner at Il Punto. The service was tremendous. They took a shine to Aine, especially after she ordered the watermelon salad with cucumber and gorgonzola. In fact she scored a free dessert. It reminded me of our week in Rome years ago – where everyone took a shine to the kids.

Day One NYC: Central Park, Rockefeller Center, Black Lives Matter by Ann Treacy
July 11, 2016, 1:36 pm
Filed under: New York

We landed in NYC. We are staying in the garment district, which is pretty darned central. We dropped off our luggage and got on the road – mostly because there were cleaners in our place. But it was a good deep end start to the trip.

We walked to Times Square, which was too crowded for some of us so we headed to Central Park. Our sad news is that we learned (remembered) that FAO Schwartz is closed. We are very sad about that; it was a favorite of all of the girls on a previous trip.

We spent the day walking through the city – from midtown, through Hell’s Kitchen, to Central Park and around Rockefeller Center.

We came upon a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Times Square – that’s not really the right word. It was a few dozen people working on a banner that said “Black Lives Matter” and they asked everyone to sign it. It was unlike any of the more somber BLM demonstrations we’ve gone to at home. It was inviting, inclusive with a much lighter mood.

I think there’s room for folks to demonstrate in any way that suits them, but especially with everything coming out of Minnesota on the Philando Castile killing, it was different.

Pennsylvania – Scranton welcomes you! by Ann Treacy
July 10, 2016, 4:47 pm
Filed under: Pennsylvania

We spent the night in Scranton – mostly because it was more than halfway to NYC but also because it was the home to The Office.

We learned that Northern Pennsylvania is mountainous – and has some awesome sunsets.

We actually stayed in Wilkes Barre, home to the Seven Tubs nature scene. Very pretty and very much like Northeast Minnesota. And we toured the town a little – enough to see an old school YMCA (with a “men’s entrance”) and of course some bits of art.

We capped off PA with a picture with the iconic Scranton road sign. They actually moved it to the Mall at Steamtown, because too many people were hopping out of their cars to get the picture on the side of the highway.

Last look at Toronto, quick look at Niagara Falls by Ann Treacy
July 10, 2016, 2:11 am
Filed under: Niagara Falls, Toronto

Dad and I took one last walk in Toronto while teen scene slept. We walked from the house to a shore of Lake Ontario. It feels a little bit like Lake Superior in Duluth (if you look at the lake) and like Lake Michigan in Chicago (if you look at the millions of fancy high rise apartments).

We walked by the Hockey Hall of Fame. We walked by a place where Charles Dickens had spent the night. Walked through another campus of George Brown College and the Aquarium, which is supposed to be good.

In short we did everything that made the girls glad they slept in. But I enjoyed it!

Then we drove toward Scranton – our destination for the night. We stopped on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, because I think the Canadian side is amazing. It was a quick trip but we got some great pictures.

Then we had a quick lunch in NY. Lucia pointed out it was good to be home where you get 412 options on the menu in the restaurant. Now the girls are swimming. Grandpa is in his room. I am enjoying a moment alone!


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