Arizona brings some luxury
24.05.2014 - 25.05.2014 26 °C
Sunday 25th May, 2014: Room 122, Grand Hotel, Tombstone, Arizona
We always had a problem what to do with this holiday weekend, with tomorrow being Memorial Day. We took the plunge and decided to re-visit Tombstone. Well it is very busy but it still looks pretty good and most of the day trippers will be leaving soon.
Winding back to our time in Minnesota. Friday evening, we wandered around trying to recollect places where we had been back in 1996. We are sure we found the bar we visited, but it did not look too savoury now, so we went had and dinner on the terrace of an Irish Bar. Bob had a pint of Guinness and the food we had was excellent.
John had a really good "Apple, Brie & Fig" salad "Tender field greens, local apples, black figs, Brie cheese, with house-made maple granola clusters and a creamy poppy seed dressing"
and Bob the "Chicken sandwich: Pepper jack, Apple wood smoked bacon, 2 gingers, steak sauce & fully garnished on a potato bun"
both excellent and good value.
Next day we had a free breakfast up on the 19th floor
then headed for St Paul, twin city of Minneapolis, and visited the excellent model railroad museum. We were first there and had it all to ourselves, along with one of the volunteers who was probably a top banker or something. He wanted to run his new engine, a giant 0 gauge 50s diesel on this massive 0 gauge layout.
We also visited the Toy train museum next door (all located in old, restored railroad buildings). Not the big layout of the other place but all the memorabilia was fascinating. These guys have been playing with trains since 1938!
We then drove to the railroad museum (full size) but we decided to skip that one. And drove back to Minneapolis to visit the Mill City Museum, based in the ruins of the old General (flour) Mills building, which burned down in the late 1980s (had been closed since the 60s when all milling moved out of Minneapolis to Buffalo, New York).
There was an unrelated photographic exhibition in the building and these caught our eye:
Part of this visit included the most stunning audio visual experience. Around 40 of us sat in this room on staggered benches. It emerged that this "room" was a giant elevator, attached to the side of the old mill. It went up down between the eight floors, each floor consisting of an audio visual display telling the history of the mill and, particularly, those who worked in it.
It was stunning. A must for anyone within 100 miles of Minneapolis. Difficult to describe (and no photos or video allowed). Suffice to say that half the audience were young kids and they sat in stunned silence for the whole 30 minutes. As did these grown-up kids! We experienced a fire starting in one of the belt motors which led to a massive explosion on May 2, 1878, Airborne flour dust within the mill (more explosive than gunpowder), was ignited creating an explosion that demolished the Washburn A mill and killed 18 workers instantly. The ensuing fire resulted in the deaths of four more people, destroyed five other mills, and reduced Minneapolis’s milling capacity by one third.
We then walked out onto a 9th floor viewing platform to view the ruins and the St Anthony Falls. Totally terrific!
Back to the hotel for a bit of pack then some shopping therapy, aka looking for new shoes for Bob. We don't think the right pair exists in the whole of the North American continent, but we shall continue looking.
Because of the bitter winters, lasting for up to 6 months, all of the main buildings Downtown are connected by "Skywalks" which means you can walk from building to building without going out into the cold...
There were a bunch of loonies on one street corner shouting their case and another of opposing loonies on the other corner.
We ended up dining in the very smart "Basil's Restaurant" on the 3rd floor of our hotel. It looked pricy but our couple of salads were, again, value. "Who was Basil", John asked the rather snooty female "Maitre d'", with an image of Basil Fawlty in his head "Ooh, no, that's Basil" (ryhmes with Hazel), she cooed, shaking her head, "the herb" (pronounced 'errrb). In that case, why is it Basil's Restaurant, not The Basil Restaurant?? No, she wasn't really snooty.
John had Roasted Beet & Sweet Potato Salad: baby spinach, toasted pumpkin seeds, apple saffron vinaigrette and a cup of clam chowder (mmmm!)
Bob had Coconut Chicken Thai Salad: snow peas, cranberries, cashews, crisp contons, coconut chicken, red curry dressing
Bob finished the packing and we had an early night.
Up at 4.45 this morning to get to Minneapolis airport via a nearby gas station to fill the Chevvy, return same to Hertz and check-in for our flights, Minneapolis to Dallas, and on to Tucson. It emerged that the plane we got from Minneapolis also took us to Tucson. Same seats too! But different crew.
We had fruit for breakfast on the flight to DFW
and a good "herb" (pronounced "'errrrrrrb") "encrusted chicken" for lunch on a bumpy ride to Tucson.
Sunday during the holiday weekend turned out to be a good time to travel with flights that weren't full, and neither was the AA lounge at DFW!
On both flights, John tried out the in-flight Internet and were able to follow our progress on the maps app on the tablet. Great. We also got an Email from Hertz to say our car was waiting at Tucson airport and the word Mercedes was mentioned. What?? No hassle getting our bags and walking through to the Hertz desk where the guy said "got a nice car for you" (pron. "yerrr"). Wow! That was a nice surprise and a nice car.