Travel

Narratives of my various adventures.

WBC14: Bridlewood Estate Excursion

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View from Bridlewood’s mission bells.

As I wrote in my thoughts on the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC14), the overall value of the conference is one of the biggest reasons I’d consider going again in the future. And nothing can illustrate that better than the one additional excursion I attended the afternoon after WBC14 closed: the Bridlewood Estate Excursion.

For about the cost of a burger in most San Francisco eateries ($15), I added on this bonus trip into the Santa Ynez Valley AVA, which I knew included a tour, tasting wines, and a picnic lunch.

The lunch, all bundled up.

The lunch, all bundled up.

I didn’t know it included a panel discussion called “Meet Your Makers”, which would stuff us even more with an amazing array of appetizers prepared by Industrial Eat’s Jeff Olsson, a chef that every blogger who made it away from the hotel for dinner raved about.

Olsson with Valley Piggery’s Jake O’Francis.

Olsson with Valley Piggery’s Jake O’Francis.

More on that later, but even without that bonus session, I would have felt I got my money’s worth from the event. Heck, I probably would have felt it the moment I stepped out of the bus.

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Downtown St. Paul, Cosetta, and the Wabasha Street Caves

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I’ve been to Minneapolis a number of times, but somehow, I hadn’t made it to neighboring St. Paul, the capitol of Minnesota. So on my last trip to the area, I was determined to spend an afternoon there. It didn’t make any sense to this wanderluster to be that close to the city and never step a foot in it.

And I am glad I did! As one native remarked as I was trudging my way up to the Cathedral of Saint Paul—

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–it’s a city full of beautiful architecture and rich culture. Well, what he actually said is more beautiful and richer than Minneapolis, but I’m not willing to take sides on that debate. I will say that my afternoon traipsing through the downtown was full of awesome discoveries.

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The first of them was in that picture—the Landmark Center. It’s gorgeous and is now used as an event space. The second was the statues of the Peanuts throughout the neighboring parks.

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I honestly didn’t know Charles Schultz was from St. Paul. Happening upon little trivia tidbits like that is why I love exploring cities.

St. Paul Hotel

St. Paul Hotel

After a Dunn Bros coffee and checking out the Rice Park area, I decided it was time to hunt down that Cathedral, which took my breath away as I passed it on the bus into town.

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So off I went, getting closer and closer.

Passing the Xcel Center

Passing the Xcel Center

My stomach insisted on lunch before my journeying could continue, so I check out nearby Cosetta (2011 7th St.) a St. Paul institution.

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Minneapolis Blogging: Minnehaha Falls and Hiawatha

Outhouse at the John Stevens House in Minnehaha Falls Park.

Outhouse at the John Stevens House in Minnehaha Falls Park.

On my third trip to Minneapolis this past May, I felt the challenge of figuring out what was left for me to tour in the area. I’d conquered the Chain of Lakes, the Walker Museum, the Sculpture Garden, the Guthrie Theater, the Mall of America, and plenty of delicious eats and drinks downtown. Yet somehow, in my prior searches of things to do in the city, I never came across Minnehaha Falls.

Keep clicking on the photo to get the largest view.

Keep clicking on the photo to get the largest view.

The Falls are famous for being the focus of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha,” which is actually a name stolen from a nearby lake—we’ll get to that on this day trip, too. This sprawling recreational area is impossible to miss if you’re taking the Blue Line—and you should take the Blue Line because Minneapolis’s public transit is awesome. Just get off at the Minnehaha Falls stop and cross the street to the park. The first thing you’ll see is the John Stevens House.

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The home of John Stevens, who served as a ferryman for Fort Snelling, was the first home built in Minneapolis and it’s been moved four times since. I found the eyes on the statue of Stevens quite creepy.

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