Thursday, February 10, 2011

BEERflections ~ To Minneapolis and Beyond

The holidays are traditionally for family and friends, good times and cherished memories, giving and receiving. Last year was no exception, culminating in the best holiday yet thanks in generous parts to my Love, my family, BrewGrrs, and beer. But what are “the holidays”? Should peace and good will be but once a few flurried days a year or should peace and good will be every minute of every day of our lives? After all, how we live is a state of mind and the state of the world we live in is a direct reflection of our state of mind.

But enough philosophizing. It’s beerotica time.

My sister’s visit and BrewGrrs opening was both fortuitously and franticly timed, but I made the best of the frenzy by driving back to Minneapolis with my sister, my niece, and Skyler the Beagle. Time was scarce during their Florida staycation but our road trip was all the time we needed. As the day of departure arrived, off I went with love, kisses, and a promise to return.

Our day of departure may have been upon us, but the actual time was later than planned. Surprising? Not really. Eventually the car was loaded with girls, toys, beers, and a doggie, too. With the longest leg of the trip upon us, the world opened up along roads of grandeur and minimalism. Last year’s trip was relatively easy-breeze and this year wasn’t that much different. Lily is a year older (obviously) but there were still naps, bottles, leg-stretching walks interspersed with giggles, laughs, munchies, and sanity-saving Baby Einstein videos. That’s not to say my munchkin is a terror, for from it, but any parent will tell you that even the best of days it is work – pleasurably fulfilling but work nonetheless. Take note - Mom need days off, too.

Settled in the front with Skyler cuddled in the back seat next to Lily, I played catch-up on my reading while soaking in the scenery and helping with the night driving. From Vero to Atlanta to Paducah to Independence to Minneapolis, we cruised through sunshine and flurries to arrive amidst mounds of gloopy muddy slush. Pearly white? Sure. For a minute. Then it’s crap. You snowholics can keep it. I’ll stick to my palm trees, tiki bars, and umbrella drinks thankyouverymuch.

Begrudgingly dressed for the weather, a few sights along our daily drive caught my attentions, both amusing than disturbing. But before I delve into those, I must first and foremost give a Holler! to Chick-Fil-A of Chesterfield, Missouri for hands down the best customer service I have ever received in a food establishment. Ever. Restaurants and critics take note. I certainly did.

Secondly, I realize that when you live in the middle of nowhere surrounded by a whole lot of nothing to do, occasional options may arise. But please, if nothing else, think of the kittens. I hear gardening is quite nice. Maybe knitting, a bit of origami…

Even if “X” does mark the spot, there were a few other notables such as the tiny little town where we tended to a tired teething munchkin. Instead of moseying around outside (brrr!) we rested in the car while a stray pooch bounced around the car to Lily’s amusement and Skyler’s aggravation. He/She was quite the cutie as was the actual Post Office where we parked. It was a minuscule cube of brick and mortar built just for two because two people looks like all it would hold. Considering the relative non-size of the village we stopped in, not wholly surprising. Maybe it was the moment. Maybe it was the mood. Maybe it was the pooch. But there possessed a quaint aura most pleasantly pleasing for our evening’s momentary respite.

Puppies and Post Offices…
World peace?

For the first few days of our drive, I absconded from beer geek shopping mass hysteria, but sooner than later I procured a twelve-pack of Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale for the hotel nights, maybe a breakfast or three. It was only during the tail end of our journey that beer geek shopping mass hysteria ensued. On our way out of Independence, Jenn utilized her mad iPhone skills to locate a local beertopia aptly named Happy Hour. With not a minute wasted, a box of beery delights was stashed up front in the only free room left in the car – my former passenger seat floor. Certain sacrifices must be made at times in the name of beer’s good will, sacrifices I more than happily made. After my beer geekout, Jenn procured some sudsy goods for Josh and with a car full of beer we hit the road once more.

I’d like to take a moment, please and thank you, to offer up silent solace for a lonely soldier who passed before his time. To the Boulevard Wheat whose bounteous nectar exploded all over the snow-packed parking lot, this moment is for you.
. . .
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

All is well that ends well as we arrived inbetween and around what could be seen of Minneapolis smothered in snow, slush, and mush. Welcoming Jenn, Lily, and Skyler home while showing off for the native Floridian out of her element, two white tailed deer greeted us upon entering suburbia, Eden Prairie style. I didn’t spot any more deer over the weekend, but I did slowly and painfully lose all moisture from my body to the parched air of Minneapolis. Despite being drier than the Sahara, I still managed to savor two beery foodie destinations, first of which was thanks to my Love. Burger Jones lived up to its quirky retro motif but didn’t Shock! and Amaze! when it came to their burgers or the beer selection. While they had a limited selection of nice beers, they were nothing out of the ordinary and quite a few were to be had in Florida. The word “safe” comes to mind. Being both an unabashed beer geek and tourist, I want unordinarily local and Burger Jones didn’t quite measure up. Good – yes. Great – not really. I did score a couple shweet t-shirts for myself and for Geraght, t-shirt whore that I am. On the flipside, thanks to the excellent resources of RateBeer Places, I reveled in the tasteful designs of The Happy Gnome in St. Paul, Minnesota. Atmosphere – fantastic. Beer selection – beertastic. Food – tastetastic. Service – impeccable. The Happy Gnome made for a very Happy Kristyn.

After our Gnome revelry, one last shopping trip of beery temptation came, saw, and conquered. Why fight it when tis so much better to embrace it, nay, celebrate it. A few more goodies for the family and a night well rested culminated in a morning with Lily and Jenn at My Gym. I almost foolishly passed on the outing but an endearing look crumbled my flimsy walls of resistance. After all, they grow up so fast and it will be months before I get some Jenn and Lily time again. Family really does matter. I know because I am blessed with two amazing families, a treasure richer and more valuable than any beer out there…though well enjoyed with one of I do say so myself. It’s a Holy Mackerel world and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Till next time, Cheers!

(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

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