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Trip Report Canadian temps on Midwest vacation.. we love it!

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I am at the end of our great August vacation in the midwest and am shocked and pleased at these October temps we have had in Chicago, Cinncinnati and Indiana. I am sure most of the locals are not so happy, but it is nice to feel so relieved of the humid heat we normally experience.

I will soon wirte a report that took us from Chicago to Minneapolis, Duluth and Cincinnati visiting family, museums, golf and enjoying some fantastic restaurant recs found here.

I can forward one of the fun stops..it was at Osseo, Wisconsin at Norse Nook. If you are nearby, all said about it is true, and the pies are great!

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    Firt of all, this was our usual visit to family and friends in the USA. Our family reunion was held in the Wisconsin Dells, mainly due to the location for some members. Fortunately we received several good restaurant recommendations for our Wisconsin trip.

    On our way from Chicago to the Dells, we overnighted in the Madison area to be able to have dinner with the daughter of a very good friend who used to live here in Spain. We ate at David 's Jamaican restaurant, following a local´s recommendation, in the southern part of the beltway, I think. It was a nice relief from your typical restaurant food, and actually some very impressive ribs!

    The next day on the way to the Dells we stopped at Devils Lake Park, but did not stay as we were advised there was not really breakfast food at the "restaurant" canteen. It looks like a lovely place to relax, but we were very hungry from our fasting since we had left Madison, so we continued on and enjoyed an early lunch.

    This first meal was in Baraboo at the Little Village Café. We enjoyed crab cakes, grilled salmon, and a tasty key lime dessert. The walls were covered with interesting articles praising this small place. I would make this a stopover if I ventured this way again. The menu was special.

    We arrived in the Dells and settled into our condo while the kids and young parents entertained themselves checking out the pools/slides. It is always exciting for me to see the carloads of family members pulling up to our lodging.

    We are all a litte older, and most of us a bit chubbier and/or balder as years go on, but seeing how the kids have grown is really warming to my soul. I hope we can continue to get together like this for years to come.

    If you like noise and a bit of chaos, the Moosejaw will be just fine for you. I chose this place as it was recommended but also seemed to be able to accomodate very large groups on a first come, first served policy.

    Since we did not want to pay for a party room, I can't complain too much as they did a wonderful job getting our group of 32 seated in their downstairs area. I went about 15 minutes before the rest and told them how many we were, which helped immensely. Food, however, was not memorable, contrary to reviews I had seen.

    Our last evening we went to a place I was determined to try. Everyone seems to trust me pretty much as they know I scour websites for suggestions.

    The Cheese Factory. This is a totally vegetarian restaurant where part of our group of 14 got up and left after reading the menu. (A bit embarrassing but they lost out!)

    The rest of enjoyed one of the tastier and more creative meals of the three day stay. There is no cheese, really, per se, at this restaurant, but it is housed in the old cheese factory, thus its deceiving name. The biggest drawback for many is our group was the no alchohol policy here. The food is exquisite and all lamented not being able to enjoy a nice glass of wine.

    Our goodbyes were said the next morning after trying to cook up the excess food we had bought and eat it for breakfast.

    .. carloads all leaving at different times, with longer miles to make before dark. Those who stayed a bit longer took advantage of the waterpark passes, while I took my husband and mother to lunch at a lovely golf course nearby where we watched some tournament on TV. We had a delightful sandwich, in a lovely atmosphere, at a price very competitive with any family style restaurant.

    We do stop a lot at golf courses for a meal on our holidays as the scenery cannot be beat, and the food is usually quite good and reasonable in price.

    Final goodbyes said, but I know I will be seeing these two brothers and niece later on one more time before we fly back to Spain, so no tears.

    Off to Eau Claire. Only because it was a nice distance from the Dells, on the way to Minneapolis and not far from a golf course I had arranged for my husband to play at.

    I'd better explain why it sounds like I do all the golf arrangng for this man! I do! He is quite adept, but he is Spanish and does not intervene too much in the preparation once our USA destinations have been decided. I am American and he feels very comfortable with the suggestions or plans we decide on. However, he does none of the searches, not even for his favorite sport, because I really have it all down to a tee, geographically and economically, and quite frankly, he does not have the time or patience online that I do.

    I use mostly Fodorite recs and then Priceline, Hotwire and booking.com for hotels.

    I am not a golfer, but can lead you, with the help of www.golfdigest.com to 4 and 5 star courses across the USA. I have fun finding courses along our route, then bidding on lodging or planning a detour in order to enjoy a particularly scenic course.

    It is even entertaining for me, as I am sure some of you can understand, although at times it can be a challenge if work is heavy!

    By going to Minneapolis through Eau Claire, we could stop for a treat in Osseo at Norse Nook as recommended here by more than one Fodorite. They are so right! I am salivating just thinking of the pie display when you enter that family- owned eatery. I think I stood there for a few minutes reading the label on each and every one of those homemade pies.

    We took a lovely walk along the river in Eau Claire, crossed it twice and went off to bed early. We stayed at the Ramada downtown which gave us breakfast and free parking for $31.
    It was a perfect,low key stopover. The hotel is a bit tired, but clean and sufficient, and how can one complain at those winning bid prices? Staff was very nice.

    The next day we were off to Minneapolis. We had only been in the airport 32 years ago, so it was time! We stayed downtown at the Hyatt and celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary.

    We took a lovely drive along the river and around some pretty classy neighborhoods. Minneapolis really impressed us as a wonderful place to live.

    It was so clean, so green with so much water right there downtown. We will not hesitate to go back, and liked it so much we forced one more night into our itinerary on our way back to Chicago from Duluth!

    I had prepared a surprise for us to attend the PGA practice round in Hazeltine, Minnesota during one of our two days there. I also found on internet a fellow renting parking space at his house nearby who would drive us to the gate instead of the time consuming free parking miles away, then shuttle bus to the event.

    This was such a fun day, I highly recommend it. I was not expecting to like it so much.

    We got up at 5:30, ( my husband thought I was absolutely out of my mind) and were at the gate around 7.15. The place was already starting to buzz.

    As we had passes to an air-conditioned tent where we could buy food and drink, it was very comfortable in spite of the heat. Minnesota turned out to have the highest temps during our vacation, even north in Duluth.

    The fun thing about the practice rounds is that
    1) you can take cameras
    2) the golfers are much more relaxed and take time to stop and sign autographs
    3) you can find a seat and table in the air conditioned tents and in the bleachers
    4) you can actually get a time slot for a free clinic and class
    5) the crowds are manageable and not crushing you.

    We will work another PGA into a summer trip, I am sure!

    This is getting quite long winded so I think I will stop here for awhile!

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    We spent a few days up north with friends in Duluth, after stopping at the lakes near Brainerd.

    From Duluth one day we took a short ride along the north shore, stopping to bask on the huge rocks, admire the sky and clouds, finishing up at a fabulous restaurant called the "New Scenic Café". Everything was prepared with detail.

    We had another good meal at Pizza Luce, although no pizza at all. We went for an early brunch before leaving for Minneapolis. This is a very popular place, and rightly so as our choices were delivered fairly quickly and the staff was pleasant.

    So after a few days with friends, good food,drink and kayaking on Rice Lake, it was time to go. We liked Minneapolis so much we decided to head back to see some of the sights we had not had time for before returning to Chicago. We were able again to get the Hyatt downtown through Priceline bidding for a ridiculous $41 this time.

    We enjoyed the art museums, the one by Gehry on the university campus, and the Walker Institute. We also liked the neighborhood the Walker borders. There are some fine homes up there on the hill.

    We took advantage while at the museum and had a lovely Asian fusion style lunch at 2021, Wolfgang Puck's restaurant. It was a menu of the day, and I highly recommend anyone going to the museum to plan a meal there. As you can see, the view is worth the stop in itself.

    www.wolfgangpuck.com/restaurants/fine-dining/3836

    We headed to the Mississippi for golf at Mississippi Dunes where I rode along for nine holes with my husband just to soak in the gorgeous views. What a beautiful part of the country. From there we followed the Great River Road for one of the most beautiful drives! What a lovely way to wind down our long trip. The weather could not have been better. Sunny and cool, which was a relief from our normal midwestern vacation temps!

    We stopped in Pepin, Wisconsin for a delicious gourmet meal at the Harborview Café. Take note: No credit cards. We just had enough cash to get by!

    http://www.harborviewpepin.com/

    This is quaint town. A cruise on a sailboat booked through an office in town would have been a nice activity had we arrived a few hours earlier.

    We overnighted at a small town, and headed for Chicago the next day via Rockford. We stopped at a special golf club I wanted to see and had lunch there. A new restaurant had just moved in called Noonan's at Aldeen. The owner also owns Five Forks, wherever that is! Our food and the view were great. The only complaint was an insipid processed cheese cake that we didn't like or finish, and was not taken off the bill after complaining about it, which really surprised me. The rest of the food was a cut way above that dessert.

    We arrived in our suburb of Chicago later than hoped, but with the bad weather that had suddenly sprung up and the typical traffic backups, it was to be expected.

    But the sun came out again!

    Chicago just keeps getting better and better. The addition to the Art Institute is truly an exquisite piece of architecture and design. We went twice in two days and also took in a few moments listening to the musicians in the afternoon practice for their evening free performance in the Gehry band shell.

    There is always so much going on downtown. I can't imagine anyone going to Chicago and not just LOVING it!

    The rest of our trip was mostly socializing and golf, so I really don't have many travel stops to introduce except for a few wonderful places we ate in Chicago downtown.

    We went to Ann Sathers for a nice meal. Their famous cinnamon rolls are HUGE, and come as a side order as bread, along with cranberry bread and potato (?) bread. Amazing.
    This would be a place to share, as EVERYONE seems to leave with a huge "doggy bag".

    But our favorite find was a recommendation from someone here about Prosecco.

    http://www.ristoranteprosecco.com/

    We enjoyed a $25 lunch menu that included two courses and a glass of wine. The service was excellent and the food even more so. I highly recommend this place.

    I had wanted to go to the Dining Room at Kendall cooking school, but friends I had sent there were not impressed, except with the service. They said the portions were SO small that at one point they actually started laughing. It became a joke for the rest of the trip.

    Any comments from anyone who has gone there recently? I went once and really liked it when they were further North, was it Evanston?

    On to Cincinnat and then Ft. Wayne to see more famly and friends before returning to Chicago to catch our Iberia flight back to Spain.

    One note about the ORD-MAD flight. Our plane, and I believe all of the Iberia planes from ORD, did not have but a few screens to see the films. One in front of the side aisles, one ahead of center seats, and another part way in the middle. I have not been on planes with this old system for years. I have become spoiled with individual screens at each seat in coach, I guess.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope some of our stops have added something to someone else's list that may not have been picked up here before. Thanks again for all the suggestions, although in the end, one seems to only use a tenth of what one has accumulated as far as advice goes! There's not enough time nor enough meals in a day to do it all, but we did our best!

    Happy travels.

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