International Falls

Things change.  I know, I know–let the eye rolling begin.  However, I am only mentioning this because for my 30th birthday I received the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die.  In the USA chapters, it lists International Falls, MN as one of these places.

I have been dropping hints to April left, right, and center EVERY SINGLE TRIP–or even mention of a trip–to Minnesota I’ve made since I got this book.  For 10 long years has poor April had to endure these not so subtle hints, which is apparently her ceiling for being harassed 😉

International Falls, MN:  one of top 1000 places to see before you die?  Ummmm…I’m going to have to agree to disagree on this one.  DO NOT GET ME WRONG.  It’s a great little town, and yes, we were there during start of low season, but the Falls–which are to be the highlight of International Falls–are actually covered/been diverted or something the nice border patrol agent told us that I can’t remember right now…

It is also known as the coldest place in the United States, but honestly, I have NO DESIRE WHATSOEVER to experience that.

What you don’t want to miss is the giant Smokey Bear in the middle of town.

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Oh c’mon…don’t even act like you aren’t going to stop the car and take a couple of pictures if you were driving through and saw it.  Besides, April and I have a penchant for tracking down the “World’s Largest [fill in blank here]”.  I could probably create an entire blog for that, but instead you’ll just have to settle for a few posts.

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It was a nice change of pace and the scenery was gorgeous.  We stayed in a cute B&B right on water.  It was right outside of town and had a large lumberjack to greet us!

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Because we were the only ones there that night, we were upgraded to the biggest suite.  It was rather peaceful just sitting out on the deck–albeit a bit surreal knowing that I was looking at Canada.  It was also rather remote.  Sure there was a railroad and were a lot of cabins and houses around, but most were vacant and or sparsely filled.  Not that we minded, it allowed us time to wander around the neighborhood.

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It was fun and I’m very glad that we went…even if the entire trip April kept giving me looks of “this is why I’m confused why you were so insistent about coming here.”  Should you go?  Absolutely!  Must you see it before you die? I’m gonna say no.  There were other places on our trip that I thought were more must-sees than International Falls, which is why you should always listen to your local guide darling friend that grew up there, even if a book suggests otherwise!

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PS–I do want to leave you with a bit of advice: if you do go to International Falls, MN and you get a slightly remote B&B by the water and you and your friend are the only ones in the house that has no locks and your friend who lovingly drove the entire trip turns in early because she’s tired, you should NOT start a Criminal Minds marathon.  I’m just saying…creeeeeeeepy!

Have Passport, Will Roadtrip.

You always travel with your passport, right?

Of course, I keep it with me all the time–because you never know when you might have to leave the country quickly.

I thought so, but I wanted to double check…and well, remind you to bring your passport.

Like for Birthday Trip #1, my only requests for Birthday Trip #2 is to go somewhere I hadn’t been before and I didn’t want to plan it (wow, I really AM a prima donna!).  Once we had decided that MSP would be our starting point, I pretty much let April take over the planning.  And by pretty much, I mean totally (thanks, April, for allowing me to foist that upon you!).

So when the aforementioned conversation happened, I was hopeful that Canada was going to make the itinerary.  I mean, April does live in a border state.  But one never knows, perhaps you now need a passport to go to South Dakota.  All I was told is that my first full day in Minnesota would be an early start and I would need a change of clothes.

Passport?  Check!

Extra clothes?  Check!

Snacks?  DOUBLE CHECK! (what?  this is me–April knew snacks were her best bet to keep me awake during our drive).

Coffee?  First stop, right around corner from April’s house.

As we pulled out of the parking lot, April handed me a stack of papers:

You navigate.  And since you’re bound to figure out soon, if you haven’t done so already, we’re headed for Canada, so if you forgot your passport now would be the time to say something.

I’m quite sure I squealed in response.  In less than a month, I went from the most southern point to the top of the country.  I was excited.  Six hours and change is how long it took to get our destination: International Falls, MN.   This meant that I could cross another place off from my 1,000 Places to See Before You Die book.  Don’t roll your eyes at me–it’s the little things in life.

During our drive north, the foliage changed considerably–from barely any change in the Twin Cities to nearly bare trees when we got to International Falls.  It was quite a beautiful contrast to the plush greenery of Florida.

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Thirsty Thursday #12

In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you Thirsty Thursday!

This week’s Thirsty Thursday is brought to you by BeckyJack’s Food Shack.  And they’re not lying.  It’s a shack, but the beer is cold AND they are always changing what’s on tap–so it’s a great excuse to go back again and again and again.  Oh yeah, and the food is amazing!

I really wanted to take a "menu" but I think they only had 3 available!

I really wanted to take a “menu” but I think they only had a handful available!

It’s definitely one place you don’t wanna miss when in the area…or the State of Florida.  I’m so glad that I ended my wonderful Fabulous Not Forty Birthday Trip #1 on such a tasty note…literally.  After we left Orlando, we came back to Spring Hill for a few days to lounge around and just hang-out.  On my last day, we went to BeckyJack’s for an unforgettable lunch of crab cakes and fish sandwiches.  We then drove back to the house, put the suitcases in the car, made one final sweep of the house to make sure I hadn’t left anything (but of course, I had…because I always do!) and off to the airport we went!

Don’t panic–don’t panic! I wouldn’t leave without giving you a beer pic on Thirsty Thursday (unless it was wine or whiskey!) 😉

Kona Brewery ale....of some sort (I can't remember--and of course, the beers on tap are constantly rotating!)

Kona Brewery Big Wave Golden Ale

Hogsmeade

After we left Hogwarts we wound our way back down to the village of Hogsmeade.  A quaint little village, where there is snow on the buildings all year round.

Our first stop was to wet our whistles with some delicious butter beer.

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And it was delicious (as it tastes like butterscotch, which I adore!), but oh-so-very-sweet.  In fact, we all shared one and that was more than enough for me.  Alas, it is non-alcoholic.  Cut the sweetness and create it in alcoholic form and I would probably drink it by the bucketload.  #justsaying

My favorite store in the village–actually, probably in the park–was Honeyduke’s.  Being a sugar fiend aside, it was a bright and colorful store, very quaint.  I had to restrain myself from literally purchasing everything, except for vomit & boogie flavored beans, Bertie Botts can keep those!

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We spent a bit more time wandering around Hogsmeade and peaking into various places, like the Three Broomsticks (but too full from butter beer to eat anything!).  All too soon, it was time to make our way back to the platform to take the train back to London…

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You gotta hand it to Universal, they know how to sucker you in create a whole experience.  Of course, in order to do that you need a pass to both of their parks–but it is TOTALLY worth it (if you’re a Harry Potter fan–and by fan I mean borderline obsessed…and by borderline, I just mean obsessed) to get on the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9¾ and ride to Hogsmeade & Hogwarts.

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Like Gringott’s, Hogswarts is a ride that first winds you through the castle offering you a better look inside the most famous wizarding school in the world–just watch out for the staircases, they like to move!

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It was tempting to go through again, but we were burning daylight and still had to get to Hogsmeade!

Happy Birthday Texas!

texas

We interrupt our regularly scheduled posts about my Fabulous Not Forty Birthday trips to wish Texans everywhere a Happy Independence Day!  On this day in 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico. The Texas Declaration was written in less than a day during (although not at) the battle of The Alamo, drew a lot of influence from the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and was signed by 59 Texans.

It has some powerful, yet eloquent verbiage, so I thought that in honor of my beloved Texas on its birthday, I’d share it with you.  On a side note: something tells me that General Santa Anna might have liked being called an evil, oppressive ruler.  But maybe not, who knows? I certainly didn’t know the guy!  Also, I’m not sure why (perhaps a typo or a different author?) wording suddenly switches from “it has” to “it hath” at the end…but it does-eth.

Finally, here’s the website where I got the information (along with a general reminder that if I pull pictures from the interwebs, in theory you can click on them to be taken to the website where they were found–in reality, I’m exceptionally technologically challenged so if you notice it not working, please let me know!).

Happy Birthday Texas!

texas declaration

The Unanimous
Declaration of Independence
made by the
Delegates of the People of Texas
in General Convention
at the town of Washington
on the 2nd day of March 1836.

When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.

When the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed, without their consent, from a restricted federative republic, composed of sovereign states, to a consolidated central military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the everready minions of power, and the usual instruments of tyrants.

When, long after the spirit of the constitution has departed, moderation is at length so far lost by those in power, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms themselves of the constitution discontinued, and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons, and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet.

When, in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abdication on the part of the government, anarchy prevails, and civil society is dissolved into its original elements. In such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation, the inherent and inalienable rights of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases, enjoins it as a right towards themselves, and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness.

Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind. A statement of a part of our grievances is therefore submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step now taken, of severing our political connection with the Mexican people, and assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth. 

The Mexican government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American population of Texas to colonize its wilderness under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America. 

In this expectation they have been cruelly disappointed, inasmuch as the Mexican nation has acquiesced in the late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers us the cruel alternative, either to abandon our homes, acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood.

It has sacrificed our welfare to the state of Coahuila, by which our interests have been continually depressed through a jealous and partial course of legislation, carried on at a far distant seat of government, by a hostile majority, in an unknown tongue, and this too, notwithstanding we have petitioned in the humblest terms for the establishment of a separate state government, and have, in accordance with the provisions of the national constitution, presented to the general Congress a republican constitution, which was, without just cause, contemptuously rejected.

It incarcerated in a dungeon, for a long time, one of our citizens, for no other cause but a zealous endeavor to procure the acceptance of our constitution, and the establishment of a state government.

It has failed and refused to secure, on a firm basis, the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.

It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.

It has suffered the military commandants, stationed among us, to exercise arbitrary acts of oppression and tyrrany, thus trampling upon the most sacred rights of the citizens, and rendering the military superior to the civil power.

It has dissolved, by force of arms, the state Congress of Coahuila and Texas, and obliged our representatives to fly for their lives from the seat of government, thus depriving us of the fundamental political right of representation.

It has demanded the surrender of a number of our citizens, and ordered military detachments to seize and carry them into the Interior for trial, in contempt of the civil authorities, and in defiance of the laws and the constitution.

It has made piratical attacks upon our commerce, by commissioning foreign desperadoes, and authorizing them to seize our vessels, and convey the property of our citizens to far distant ports for confiscation.

It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a national religion, calculated to promote the temporal interest of its human functionaries, rather than the glory of the true and living God.

It has demanded us to deliver up our arms, which are essential to our defence, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable only to tyrannical governments.

It has invaded our country both by sea and by land, with intent to lay waste our territory, and drive us from our homes; and has now a large mercenary army advancing, to carry on against us a war of extermination.

It has, through its emissaries, incited the merciless savage, with the tomahawk and scalping knife, to massacre the inhabitants of our defenseless frontiers.

It hath been, during the whole time of our connection with it, the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions, and hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrranical government.

These, and other grievances, were patiently borne by the people of Texas, untill they reached that point at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. We then took up arms in defence of the national constitution. We appealed to our Mexican brethren for assistance. Our appeal has been made in vain. Though months have elapsed, no sympathetic response has yet been heard from the Interior. We are, therefore, forced to the melancholy conclusion, that the Mexican people have acquiesced in the destruction of their liberty, and the substitution therfor of a military government; that they are unfit to be free, and incapable of self government.

The necessity of self-preservation, therefore, now decrees our eternal political separation.

We, therefore, the delegates with plenary powers of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and declare, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, Sovereign, and independent republic, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent nations; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the Supreme arbiter of the destinies of nations.

Richard Ellis, President
of the Convention and Delegate
from Red River.

  • Charles B. Stewart
  • Tho. Barnett
  • John S.D. Byrom
  • Francis Ruis
  • J. Antonio Navarro
  • Jesse B. Badgett
  • Wm. D. Lacy
  • William Menifee
  • Jn. Fisher
  • Matthew Caldwell
  • William Motley
  • Lorenzo de Zavala
  • Stephen H. Everett
  • George W. Smyth
  • Elijah Stapp
  • Claiborne West
  • Wm. B. Scates
  • A.B. Hardin
  • J.W. Burton
  • Thos. J. Gazley
  • R.M. Coleman
  • Sterling C. Robertson
  • Benj. Briggs Goodrich
  • G.W. Barnett
  • James G. Swisher
  • Jesse Grimes
  • Sam P. Carson
  • A. Briscoe
  • J.B. Woods
  • James Collinsworth
  • Edwin Waller
  • Asa Brigham
  • Geo. C. Childress
  • Rob. Potter
  • Thomas Jefferson Rusk
  • Chas. S. Taylor
  • John S. Roberts
  • Robert Hamilton
  • Collin McKinney
  • Albert H. Latimer
  • James Power
  • Sam Houston
  • David Thomas
  • Edwd. Conrad
  • Martin Parmer
  • Edwin O. Legrand
  • Stephen W. Blount
  • Jms. Gaines
  • Wm. Clark, Jr.
  • Sydney O. Pennington
  • Wm. Carrol Crawford
  • Jno. Turner
  • S. Rhoads Fisher
  • John W. Moore
  • John W. Bower
  • Saml. A. Maverick (from Bejar)
  • H.S. Kimble, Secretary
tx independence signatures

Back on Track with Thirsty Thursdays!

In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way). As such, I’ve decided rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind.

Where was I before interrupted by Thanksgiving and tryptophan-induced laziness (hey, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)? Oh yes–Key West!

It is only fitting I resume my Key West tales on a Thirsty Thursday, given the copious amounts of adult beverages consumed…

Here James & I pose with our brunch drinks. While the restaurant (more about it later!) no longer offered its Tableside Bloody Mary Cart, we were allowed to build our own Bloody Marys–well, TK and I, that is. James & Christi had piña coladas and mimoas respectively.

A tasty start to brunch, indeed!

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Birthdays Galore!

Yesterday started my birthday week. By that, I don’t mean it’s the week of my birthday, but rather: starting yesterday, I have at least one birthday a day until the end of the month (and yes, I know it’s technically 8 days, but channel your inner Beatles and work with me here people!). The only day in this week missing a birthday is the 29th. Anyone out there with a birthday on the 29th? My OCD is wanting the day to be allotted to a birthday! Of course, I have 2 birthdays the day before and 2 birthdays the day after, so I don’t reeeeeeeeally neeeed another birthday…

What birthday week has reminded me is that I’ve been slacking in the post dept! Remember last year’s birthday week? It was a bit crazy–fun, mind you–but crazy. Here they are again, if you wanna relive the magic! Hopefully they are properly linked to magically take you to the original post when you click on it. If not, yell at the technician (that’s me, btw, but alas I’m currently not taking complaints!).

Come To The Dark Side…
The Ruff Life of a Beach Dog
A Toast to Vegemite
Serefe, Coffee
The National Beer of Texas
Yo Quiero Tequila
Wicked Fun
An Apple a Day
Lions and Bears and Hiking...

I think birthdays are special–they are the one day a year that’s all about celebrating you. Unless, of course, you are Desire’, who also celebrates her half birthday. Her birthday is in February. February, in case you are unaware, is NOT conducive to sitting outside in NYC, drinking margaritas, eating Mexican food, and not getting frostbite–so we celebrate her birthday in August, when we can do all those things sans the frostbite!

Regardless of when you celebrate, do it in style: like we’ve done in the pic below! It is the pie we ordered for my boss’s birthday: sour cream and apple–The Little Pie Company’s best seller! And for good reason: while it sounds slightly weird, the flavors all meld beautifully together for a heavenly slice of pie…especially when enjoyed a la mode 🙂

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