Lago Tacos, Excelsior, MN

In a word, delicious. 

Though a rather busy Saturday night, we were able to put our names in, walk over to the lake for a bit, head back, and then they seated us within minutes. The crowd seem like a typical, affluent Excelsior mix, with families, older folks, and young people. Everyone looked to be eatin well. 

The food was very fresh, almost what you'd expect from any Mexican restaurant, but they've added their own twist to almost everything making it even better and more interesting. You can mix-and-match three of their numerous taco offerings, and create a plate of your own. 

I can't wait for the next chance to go back to Lago taco, and stuff my mouthful of their delicious Mexican delights...and it's not just the margarita talking!

Licks Unlimited, Excelsior, MN

I was very, very happy to be introduced to this lovely ice cream store in Excelsior, Minnesota this past weekend. I didn't know what I was in for, but I'm glad I went. This store is making custom flavors that I've never heard of before. We had one called Zoreo, which included Oreo cookies, marshmallow fluff, and probably something else. It was amazing! I will go back anytime someone wanted to get ice cream. 


The store has a nice old-timey feel, you just don't find it very often anymore. The staff, all young, were very accommodating, knowledgeable, and helpful. 

I now know I do not need the "Double Scoop" cup next time. You can try to flavors even with a "Single Scoop". 


I got something different, DQ!

Looks like the "chef de cuisine" at the local Dairy Queen can't even stop to take care of a minor medical issue. They're busy!

Pappi's Pizza, Glenview, IL

If you ever find yourself in this hamlet, do yourself a favor and sample all of their pizzas. Thin, pan, and deep dish crust varieties. You can't go wrong. 

Below is their thin cheese, pan 1/2 pepperoni 1/2 sausage, and an item they call a "pizzalad", like a sauce-less cheese pizza with salad on top. It's really good. Heck, they're all really good. Nice people too. 


Have I got a story for you!

Note: Let's call this a guest post, as I heard this story from a protected source, who lived through the events you're about to read. This is not made up, the pictures alone should help prove that.

It all began on a cold January day in 2009. My source, let's call her Alice, was driving back to university with her friend, let's call him Adam. They were heading west through the edge of Illinois, near a small town called Geneseo. They were driving a Jeep Wrangler, owned by Alice, but at the time, being driven by Adam.

There was snow on the road and what began as a slip, turned into a slide, and a long one at that. Before Alice and Adam knew it, they were flipping over and over in the Wrangler. Before they could get their bearings, they found the rolling over but the water was just starting to fill the car. They were now roof-up in a small body of water. They'd broken through a layer of ice and now had water filling the poorly sealed Wrangler. They had to get out. 

They knew this as fact, but also knew that the frozen water outside the vehicle wouldn't be much better. But what choice did they have? As they began to attempt an exit, they realized it was going to be a challenge. Doors wouldn't open due to the water outside. Windows, damaged during the rolls, no longer went down. In a strange twist, the poorly sealed Jeep might be their saving grace as they both decided the soft top was their best chance in getting out. With no knife or emergency tool to help, they began punching the soft top. It worked. They found themselves on the truck's roof, standing on the internal roll cage tubing of the Jeep. With the Wrangler continuing to fill with water and sinking, they had to jump in the freezing cold water. 

They did. It was freezing cold. They managed to swim towards the now broken ice's edge, but each time they tried to climb up, it broke further. Soon enough, they managed to get proper footing and get out of the water. They had no choice but to run to the highway. 

6 cars passed. Cold, wet, possible injuries, and soon to have hypothermia, no one was stopping. And then the Pepsi driver appeared. He knew immediately what was wrong. He told them both to strip. He'd cranked his heater and gotten blankets out. They stripped down, wrapped in blankets and huddled in the back of the truck. 

Alice's next memory is waking up in a hospital four days later. She was placed in an induced coma due to her exposure and potential for injuries. She wound up with a shattered collarbone from all the car flips, later determined by Jeep to have been at least 6 complete rolls. 

Jeep bought the vehicle from Alice to learn more about their vehicles' breaking points. It's still being studied today. Adam and Alice remain friends and send cards on the accident's anniversary date each year. The Pepsi delivery driver had saved their lives and gotten the emergency vehicles to the right places. He won a driver of the year award, after being nominated by Alice and Adam, who presented the award to him. 

Perhaps tomorrow really isn't guaranteed. 


Lark Toys, Kellogg, MN

Wow, they don't make them like this place anymore. Not only is Lark Toys making classic, American-made wood toys, but they managed to create a retail environment that is a throw-back in feel and practice. 

Toys, obviously. Their classic wooden creations:

Even some classic mass-produced toys:

A boatload of marbles:

But also a number of things you wouldn't expect to see.

In a nutshell, if you're anywhere near Kellogg, MN, you have to stop. 

Rudy's Drive-In, La Crosse, WI

If you happen to be looking for Americana combined with food as you pass through Wisconsin, I'm not sure there could be a better place than this classic drive-in in La Crosse.

They were able to fill our tummies with "Super" burgers, chicken strips, french fries, and some awesome rootbeer floats. I would recommend Rudy's to anyone passing through. 

Not only that, but there aren't too many places that still offer carhop service to your vehicle. Something young kids in the US certainly should see if the chance comes up. 


2015 Carver County Fair, Pig Races!, Waconia, MN

I had never seen a pig race in my life, well, at least not live, so I did want to make sure I caught their version, I was able to duck out of the ro-sham-bo contest for a spell and get in on all the porcine action.

These races are very simple in theory and practice, but the organizers really "hammed" it up for the crowd. I mean, they threw pig phrases or words into any sentence... possibly too many times (insert "groan"). And then the 3 rounds of races must be about 10 seconds long each. The pigs race for a single mini-donut. Not bad, but not that exciting. It all looked like this:

Out of the three, young male pigs (Kermit the Hog, Arnold Schwartzenhogger,and Piglet - this is not a joke, the announcer introduced each pig with elaborate introductions), Piglet came out the winner of this round.

Unless you or your kids really love pigs, I think I'd steer clear of this porky product.


2015 Carver County Fair, Part I, Waconia, MN

I thought of this quote from Wedding Crashers when I think about county fair season:

Jeremy Grey: Grab that net and catch that beautiful butterfly, pal! What do you like better, Christmas or Wedding Season?
[Jeremy raises his hand]
John Beckwith: Mr. Grey?
Jeremy Grey: Yes. The answer would be, um, Wedding Season?
John Beckwith: Bingo! I'm gonna get my suit. Now who are we this time?

And I have to say, I might choose county fair season as my favorite of the year. And I mean over Christmas and all the other ones. Here's what I ate at the very recent [burp] Carver County Fair:

- Small Mint Milkshake with added Chocolate sauce
- Pork Chop in a Stick
- Locally-made Italian Sausage, with peppers & onions
- Deep-fried Cheese Curds
- Minneapple Pie with Cinnamon ice cream
- 2 Leinenkugel's Lemon Shandy beers

And I 'd do it again. In fact, I'll hopefully get close to that this coming week at this year's Cokato Corn Carnival. In my opinion, not to be missed.

We toured the barns between food binges and got to see, in chronological order: 
- lambs/sheep
- llamas
- dogs (in a "talent show")
- elephants
- pigs (in pig races... more in next post)
- horses
- cows
(no birds or poultry of any kind this year at the fairs, some kind of quarantine issue)

We also got to meet some neat folks on the Carver County Fair Board while we participated in the insanely popular Rock-Scissors-Paper Tournament, which we simply stumbled into. Now, I know what you might be thinking, "Why would you enter that!?" Well, how does a $500 prize sound to you? It sounded pretty good to me. The friend I went with got to the 4th round (of 7) and was 8 people left from 158. She actually lost to the eventual champion.  I went down in the first round to a very sharp 6 year old. Ah well, next year.


Revisit 2: CoV, Wayzata, MN

Seriously, you haven't been here yet? It's ok, I'll keep going and eat all the food. 

This last visit as great with a properly cooked medium-well hanger steak and frites, served with a tomato-avocado salad and truffle fries. 

As if I needed it, I topped off the meal with half of this key lime pie. Very good - graham cracker crust, fresh whipped cream, blackberries, plenty of lime tang, and a mango sauce prettifying the plate. 


2015 Wright County Fair, Friday Night Demolition Derby, Howard Lake, MN

What a raucous good time. It did get a bit long in the tooth towards the end, but standing on alloy bleachers for a couple hours will make any adult cranky (and creaky). 

Who needs a car-crusher when you have demo derby?


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