Day 42: Back to St. Paul for some exploring.
We had a great first night in Lebanon Hills and woke up to a beautiful day. The gloom and rain from yesterday is long gone and the forecast looks like we are in for quite a treat for the remainder of our stay here. Since today is Thursday, we expect some campers to start showing up later this afternoon.
There are 3 loops here at Lebanon Hills and our loop reminds me of the campground at Bahia Honda in the Florida Keys. No, there are no tropical white sand beaches here but the seclusive and expansive sites with the beautiful greenery really makes this place a gem of a county park.
As we headed out today, we had a couple of things to first take care of. We did some maintenance of the van and trailer before we came across the Rockies to make sure everything was ship-shape but we have not done anything else since then. I had been thinking about stopping at a Costco where I purchased the van tires so they can do a free rotation. Here in St. Paul, we finally are near one and we can also do some stocking up of supplies while we wait.
I knew there is plenty of tread left on the van tires but I had not noticed the abnormal wear on the inside shoulder of the front tires. The Costco tire center brought that to my attention and made me really glad that I decided to come in for the rotation. There is a fair amount of wear but I think it is salvageable if I get to the bottom of the cause. Most likely it is an alignment issue but I hope it isn’t something else more serious.
The rain yesterday also brought to my attention of my 5 year old wiper blades are in dire need of replacement so I took care of that too before the next rain. Isn’t this blog so fun and interesting? All of this very interesting vehicle maintenance projects must have you on the edge of your seat.
We did finally manage to do some sightseeing once we were done with the boring stuff. The first stop we are making is to do a little antiquing that Marlene has been jonesing to do since we got here.
On our way into town, we passed by this old Schmidt Brewery in St. Paul’s west-end neighborhood. This place once was the pride of the area until it was closed down after it was bought out in 1990. It reopened for a few years under the name Minnesota Brewing Company and added an ethanol plant that produced ethanol from corn for the fuel industry. The noise and odor annoyed many of the residents and was eventually completely shutdown once again in 2004. It has since been on the market and if you have 7.8 million big ones, it can all be yours. Just don’t expect to make any ethanol here without a big fight from the locals.
The architecture of St. Paul has been a quite impressive both from the commercial, as well as the residential perspective.
A few people have told us about the Victoria homes on Summit Avenue are a must see and if these random homes around other parts of town are any indication, Summit Avenue must be the jackpot for any residential architectural admirers.
We didn’t get around to see Summit Avenue today but we did manage to stop by this antique store called Grandma’s Attic. Part of the goal for our trip is for us to collect things we find around the country to decorate our new home when we finally move in sometime next year. As we are still in the early part of this trip, we are trying to be selective with what we buy. We don’t want to be schlepping things all around the country for the next 6+ months. Unless we find something that really catches our eye, we are just in window shopping mode right now.
After the antique store, we found ourselves on Grand Avenue. One of the new apps I installed on my phone is called TVFoodMaps. It is available on both Android and iOS and it is something I have been looking for but never thought to find as an app until now. This app has aggregated a bunch restaurants across the country that have been featured on Food Network, Travel Channel or other similar TV network shows. You can simply click on the ‘Nearby’ button in the app and it will show you every thing in their database that is within a certain radius of your location. That is how we came across this nice little ice cream shop called Grand Ole Creamery.
It wasn’t cheap, at $3.00 for a kids scoop, it is the second most expensive ice cream we have bought on this trip. But it is made with real high quality ingredients only available at this creamery. With another quick glance of TVFoodMaps, there are dozens of restaurants around the Twin Cities area that have been featured and we would probably be both broke and morbidly obese if we tried to sample them all.
We took a stroll down Grand Avenue for a few blocks in an attempt to work off a few of those calories we just consumed. I can confidently say, after three blocks each way, I probably got close to working off the Hersey’s Whopper malt ball they put on top of each scoop of ice cream.
With our sugar high on full tilt, we made the girls pose next to this Banksy graffiti rip-off.
This is what happens to them with chocolate chip and cookies and cream ice cream running through their veins.
We headed back to Lebanon Hills after our casual sightseeing day today and the girls got to hit the playground just before the sun sets. There are now a few more people setting up camp in our loop but it is still practically deserted.
For the last couple of years, I have been trying to teach Ava how to use a swing to no avail. All of her friends have learned to swing but for some reason she was never able to get the forwards and backwards timing right. I was starting to think I was a really bad instructor of the use of playground apparati. Today, she suddenly decided that it will be the day she begins to swing all on her own. It was a magical moment for both of us. She was happy to have finally figured out the technique and I have officially been relieved of Ava pushing duty.
As much as I am happy for her to reach this milestone, it is bittersweet for me that she will probably never ask to be pushed on a swing again. This is one the many subtle reminders of just why we are on this trip with our kids. It is so we can always be there for these special, yet vanishing moments in our lives. One down, two to go.
over and out,
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