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Road Trip Day Five: Happy Landing at Evergreen College by Ann Treacy
September 23, 2022, 1:23 am
Filed under: Washington

While the mission is not completed, we at least know it was a success. Aine moved into her dorm this morning. And dorm does not do it justice. Aine live in a pod that she shares with three other students. They share a kitchen, living room and bathroom but each have their own bedroom. It feels like she’s pretty close to classroom buildings. She met one roommate while Grandpa and I were there. She was just so excited. We will see her tomorrow for breakfast and get the update.

The campus is gorgeous. The campus is in the middle of a forest. There are some sports fields. The center of the campus is pretty compact but there’s a nice outdoor amphitheater. It’s a little remote (for me) but Aine seems to love it. Also – as the quick tour of the main quad, you can see there are friendly deer.

We got to know Olympia a little better with trips to Target. It seems like a nice town. Grandpa and I walked around the boardwalk a bit and had a nice dinner. It is a strange place for a Midwesterner. The ocean and deep woods a couple miles apart and huge mountains in the horizon. It’s beautiful. And nice news for Aine there’s no fee for public transport, so the world (or at least Olympia) is her oyster.



Road Trip Day Four: Spokane to Seattle to Olympia by Ann Treacy
September 22, 2022, 2:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized, Washington

The last stretch was a rough one. It’s gorgeous in Washington but the traffic is much great and the road goes straight up. I’m not sure my ears will ever un-pop. I think we caught a glimpse of Mount Rainier on our drive. It was pretty amazing and about as close as we’re going to get on this trip.

We stopped in Seattle for a few hours. We dropped Aine off to see a friend at Washington University. Dad and I went to the Discovery Park on the Sound. They gave us a special permit to drive right down to the water. It was so lovely and calm after the week of driving that we’ve had.

Then we picked up Aine and saw a few quick sights of Seattle, mostly around the fish market. We had a lovely dinner in Tacoma and headed to Olympia to sleep. And now it’s Thursday and it’s move in day!!



Road Trip Day Three: Montana, Wyoming and Washington highlight Butte MT, where my great grandfather died by Ann Treacy
September 21, 2022, 3:33 am
Filed under: Idaho, Montana, Washington

Welcome to day three of the road trip. The highlight was when we accidentally stepped into our family history … we stopped in Butte MT and wanted to see something. (OK I wanted to see something, and I knew it better be quick and easy.) So, I picked the Granite Mountain Memorial Overlook, which seemed like an easy in and out. It wasn’t, in fact we never did get to the actual Memorial, but we saw so much more.

We circled the memorial, which means we saw the mines around us. Sounds like Butte started with gold panners laying claims in 1964. After the gold bust, they moved to silver and then copper. This area was number one producer of copper. In fact, they were the first to mine a full mile down.

Turns out my great grandfather John Michael Murphy died in the mines here, leaving a widow with six kids. Lots of Irish ended up in the mines here. Apparently in 1880s, it was the “Most Irish part of the US.” You can see in the names of the streets and bars. Most folks were from the Beara Peninsula, which would ring true with my mom’s family hailing from County Cork.

The area looks like area around the Iron Range in Northern Minnesota. (Also saw some timber commerce going by us.) The closer to the mines, the smaller the homes. While buildings in town are impressively stately. We were here on a cloudy day, which really gave us the feel of Ireland or Northern MN. It also looks like a Claes Oldenburg playland. So industrial in a way I think is striking and beautiful – I hate to admit but at least as beautiful to me as sun on a mountain.

After that we kept on going. We had lunch in Missoula and pushed on through Wyoming. We landed in Spokane, WA. Once we got here, Grandpa and I took a walk in Manito Park. I wish we had been able to spend more time. It’s a really nice urban park.

Complaint of the day – why does Washington State putting their welcome sign on the driver’s side of the road? Drivers are not taking pictures. Compare Washington to how I rocked Idaho!



Road Trip Day 2: South Dakota, Wyoming to Montana highlight Crazy Horse by Ann Treacy
September 20, 2022, 2:58 am
Filed under: Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming

We Spent the night in Wall, South Dakota. So we started our adventures at Wall Drug. It’s a huge old timey cowboy looking tourist shopping mall. They get two million visitors a year. (Population of SD is less than one million!) Sadly (or not) we left before it opened but we saw it and the 60 for brontosaurus.

[Added Sep 20: We are ourselves at our weakest moments. We might not be our best selves but it’s the self that someone sees and we have to remember that. With that it’s with thanks to a friend for reminding me of that. We went to Mount Rushmore the other day. I should have better framed it historically especially with our visit to Crazy Horse. Mount Rushmore as art and craft is impressive. What isn’t impressive is that it’s built on stolen Lakota Land. What isn’t impressive is that the men they chose to highlight are not the best of our history. By giving the land back, the US can be our best selves.]

Then a quick trip to the Black Hills. Mount Rushmore was much more impressive that I was expecting. It is of course the sculpture of heads of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. I suppose you could spend hours there. We didn’t but that doesn’t mean we didn’t like it. It was bigger than I expend so easy to access. (Fee was $5 parking since we were with grandpa.) The heads are about 60 feet tall. It was a father-son project by Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln; built between 1927-1941. Amazing.

Next stop – the Crazy Horse Memorial, which is a work in progress. Crazy Horse was a famously successful Lakota warrior. He fought Custer at the Battle of Rosebud, the last battle before the Battle of Little Big Horn, which led to Custer’s demise. Crazy Horse was killed after being captured by a military guard while allegedly resisting imprisonment.

The statue is impressive but like waiting for Godot the end has not come; it is unfinished. It was nice to see the model and the real sculpture at once. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski was invited by Chief Henry Standing Bear based on his work at the World’s Fair in 1939. Apparently, they have an annual hike to the top the first weekend of June. It might be cool to a picture of yourself up by the nose when the sculpture is completed – but you might have to save that photo in a time capsule.

We also saw the Portraits of the Custer Survivors by David Humphreys Miller, who apparently moved from Ohio at age 16 to learn more about Native culture. He ended up painting the amazing images. He also learned the languages of all the warriors he painted from the Battle of Little Big Horn. It’s inspiring.

We drive through Wyoming. It was my (and Aine’s) first time there. It’s beautiful, stark and windy. We drove through the badlands to Montana, which is also amazing for a few folks from the Great Plains. Seeing the mountains in the horizon makes things seems contained, yet exciting somehow. It’s like being in a Twilight Zone where you’re chasing a horizon you never reach or maybe like that one where the dolls are stuck in a trash barrel and are striving to get out. Maybe I’m over thinking it.



Road Trip Day 1: Minnesota to South Dakota highlight Corn Palace by Ann Treacy
September 19, 2022, 3:13 am
Filed under: South Dakota

Grandpa and I are taking Aine to college to Evergreen in Olympia Washington. It 1710 miles away from home; that’s 25 hours in the car if you take the quickest route. Our path there is pretty straight but we’ve planned to diverge for a few highlights. I have never done this drive so I’m actually excited. (But right now I’m 4 hours in – let’s see how I feel in three days!)

We left St Paul at noon because, very unusually I was on a panel for a music conference called Find Your Stage. Firs sight was the Jolly Green Giant in Le Sueur County, but I didn’t get a great picture. (Also not our first sighting of Jolly Green.)

Our first big sight was the Porter Sculpture Garden in Montrose. South Dakota. To be fair, it was a drive-by but still kind of cool. It caught my attention as we drove by, which is impressive in the day of the smartphone.

Our planned stop was the Corn Palace in Mitchell SD. I had no idea what to expect. Being honest, I guess I thought it was a palace made of corn in the middle of a field. It’s not. It’s a small arena – think the Coliseum at the State Fair, if you’re from Minnesota. They host event, such as the Electric Cooperatives annual banquet and I’m going to guess some rodeo events. It’s decorated with corn husk murals. They are impressive and apparently they redo the murals each year, which when you actually think it out makes sense. It costs $130,000. But they do get half a million tourists. The first Corn palace was established in 1892. This is the third rendition.

We are staying the night in Wall SD, home of the famous Wall Drug. It brings in two million tourists a year – how can two million people be wrong, right? We are excited to see the 80 foot brontosaurus – but not in the dark. I’ll report back on the experience tomorrow!



MN State Fair Scavenger Hunt and shooting at the Midway by Ann Treacy
September 4, 2022, 12:53 pm
Filed under: St Paul

When the kids were little, we used to have scavenger hunts at the MN State Fair. It was a good way to see different things and spend less money. In honor of the full-fledged return of the Fair, we did it again. (You can check out the scavenger list if the mood strikes you.)

We had a great time. We ate lots of food. Checked out the biggest boar. Saw subversive seed art. Some went on the Sky Ride. We also saw the longest lines I’ve seen in years. So many people. A reminder that I’m more of a Wednesday afternoon Fair friend than a Saturday night. but Katie was in town Saturday and First Avenue set the stage for music on Saturday.

All was good and then guns were drawn and there were shootings at the Midway, where the rides and games are. We were close enough to see people run but not to see the fear. I talked to a shaken young woman who saw a gun drawn. She had finally found her sister by phone. They had scattered in different directions. She was 28 and just kept talking about how she felt bad for the young kids.

We were not far from the Midway – probably a fine minute walk. We walked through it a few times. The number of cops was staggering and for folks who had spent much of the last two years at protests, a little triggering. We thought about walking around but I wanted to see live music and someone else pointed out – if anything bad was going to happen, it was going to happen there.

Reports say they closed the fair at 10. We left closer to 11 because the fair is huge and lots of us didn’t experience the terror. Things were still open. The sad thing is how normalized the violence has become. Do you give into it? Do you stay at home? Do you carry on?

 



Gnomes, Lou T Fisk, tricked out Computer Commuter, tiny church & a fancy Mercantile, LQP County is rocking by Ann Treacy
May 26, 2022, 3:15 pm
Filed under: Minnesota

Mary Magnuson and I got to check out the broadband happenings in Western Minnesota – in person. We learned about new grants in Madison and Appleton that will help everyone get fiber, we visited the inspiring Madison Mercantile and we said goodbye to one of our favorite broadband projects of all time – the LqP (Lac qui Parle) Computer Commuter.

Traveling to rural towns is something I have missed through the pandemic, so it was fun to go to one of my favorite areas. Through the Blandin Foundation, we’ve both done a lot of work here. And back in the day I did a lot of fun training with the County EDA (Economic Development Authority). This is the sort of area where in 2010, they got funding to create a tricked out mobile computer lab (aka former hotel shuttle bus). I have taught classes there, but I think its best use was Mary Quick driving around and folks dropping in to get one-to-one (or one-to-few) hands-on support using technology. She once told me her busiest time was after Christmas when everyone brought in the new iPads or smartphone Christmas presents from their kids.

Fast forward 10+ years, and we visited the Madison Mercantile. From what we could see one woman has given birth to a community center that is as innovative and will soon be as loved at the Computer Commuter. Kris Shelstad is that woman; I’m not saying she’s done it alone but I’m saying it wouldn’t happen without her. Sounds like she came back home after the death of her spouse. A time that might drain many of us, she has turned it around to a time where she is creating community or seeding the space for community to grow based on the needs of the people around her. Super inspiring!

But truth of the matter, Mary and I most went on the road for the Gnomes of Dawson. We visited the garden and as a super bonus, we spied some special gnomes upstairs in the library…

Also we saw Lou T Fisk and the 45th Parallel (the midday point between the Equator and the North Pole)…

Finally, we checked out the Tiny Church, which is in the Gnome Garden. It seats 6. It’s weird; it kind of feels like being in a church and kind of doesn’t, which I guess means it feels a little irreverent but I got over it.



Last day in WA: Aine loves Evergreen & we visit the Museum of Ass in Tacoma by Ann Treacy
May 16, 2022, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Washington

Well I failed and Aine won. Evergreen is a lovely campus. The program, which is very student-drive (aka loosey goosey in a good way), which would suit her well. so long as she stuck with it. But she just finished a yearlong capstone program at high school and rocked it so I’m feeling pretty good about it. Just sad that after we found the most economical college choice for a Minnesota kid (go to a college in Manitoba) we are looking at US rates. It’s crazy.

The college is built in the middle of the woods. To be fair it would be way too remote for me (no First Ave equivalent that I could see!) but I can see the appeal. Her friend is going to school in Tacoma so she won’t be entirely alone but yikes. I think 75 percent of the student body are from the region, if not the state. As you move farther away, the percentages get smaller. A seller was the fact that Matt Groening went there. I was impressed with Carrie Brownstein. So we’ll see. It’s still pretty natury and we’re not. It is from Irish weather – and I have to say (again) my hair hasn’t looked as good since the last time I was in Dublin.

On the way to the airport we stopped in Tacoma at a restaurant called Duke’s on the waterfront, which I name because it was so tasty and the waitress was stop traffic nice. The view was spectacular. Now I won’t be sad if Aine tells me in a week that Manitoba is back as the front runner but I won’t be sad to spend more time in the area either. I wonder if I could sell my old Charlie’s Angel cards for big money, like other people sell baseball cards?

Our parting glance was the Museum of Ass (aka Museum of Glass). It was actually closed but was fun to see the glass bridge and the Chihuly work outside of the building. This area is spoiled for glass art.



Chihuly Garden (and more) in Seattle, Hendrix grave in Renton & introduced to Olympia by Ann Treacy
May 16, 2022, 3:24 am
Filed under: Washington

Luckily Aine and I have spent many years in Dublin – so a day of rain is no match for us. (Until I have to drive!) We checked out the Fish Market again. More people than the night before but we still feel like maybe we weren’t there in the height but that was OK. We enjoyed walking around the city. We saw lots of street art. We saw a Sleeping Jesus statue, which seemed appropriate given the number of people we saw experiencing homelessness too. No one approached us – just a sad reminder of bad luck.

We went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass. He is a favorite of mine. The art, especially in this setting, is so engaging. Originally from Washington, Chihuly studied glass blowing in Wisconsin (and other places). He works collaboratively and has exhibits in more than 200 museums, including the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Our trip took a turn down the low road at the Chihuly where Aine found out that her boyfriend had been exposed to COVID. Prom is next week. She has been wearing her mask faithfully in Washington. They have missed so much over the last two plus years. We don’t know anything yet – but definitely sad-making. So we made our hotel to the car and headed to Olympia, which left her sad and me stressed driving unknown roads in the rain. Longest hour ever – although we weren’t too disgruntled to stop by the Memorial for Jimi Hendrix in Renton WA.

Eventually we made it to Olympia. First site was a tiny abortion rights rally – maybe 12 people. But I stopped and took a pictured. Gotta unite for reproductive rights!

So far, Olympia seems like a nice town. We walked around in the rain for an hour, bought some fancy consignment items and stopped for early dinner. Then the sun came out and we walked around some more – from the waterfront to the Capitol and back. (Don’t tell Aine but I walked 10+ miles today, which means she did too!)



From Reproductive Rights march in St Paul to strolling by the Pacific Ocean in Seattle by Ann Treacy
May 15, 2022, 5:11 am
Filed under: Washington

I started the day with the Women’s March and Planned Parenthood helping to host the Rally to Keep Abortion Legal. It was part of a national effort, post SCOTUS leak of their plan to do away with Roe v Wade. I though there’d be hundreds of people; rumor has it there were thousands. Well 3,000 anyway. It was great to see so many elected officials – including Senators Smith and Klobuchar. The signs were amazing and the hassle was minimal. There are always a few people countering the view – but turns we were able to ignore them or drowned them out.

I ditched early to head to Seattle. Aine and I are here to check out Evergreen College in Olympia. It was about 6:30pm by the time we got to the hotel. Neither of us had eaten. So we headed out to the Fish Market. (Out hotel, the Moore Hotel, is very central and boutique. We like it!) Not much was open but we did stumble unto a very romantic French restaurant. We shared a steak and frites with a salad. Not what I thought I’d be eating in Seattle but it was lovely!

Post dinner we walked from the Fish Market to the coast and down the waterfront. We ran across the gum wall, which is a portion of an alley where there’s gum stuck to all of the walls. Gross but fun. Then we headed down to the piers.

There was a Ferris wheel on one, they were showing a movie on another, another had a shop of oddities, lots of restaurants and bars. We heard lots of different languages. The view is gorgeous. It’s funny when you look up and realize the things you thought were clouds are actually mountains. It reminded us to Dublin, or actually Dun Laoaghaire between the port and the mountains.

We decided to walk to the Olympic Sculpture Garden, which was fun. Saw a giant head and then on the walk back to the hotel we saw plenty of street art. It was a good few hours but with the time difference, the stress of flying and excitement of it all – we’re beat!




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