Mid-West Adventure through IA, MN and NE – August 2023

Mid-West Adventure 1

Last month Gene got some unexpected time off (expiring vacation days) and we decided to do a Mid-West adventure through IA, MN, and NE. The first stop on our trip was in Des Moines, IA. Gene doesn’t remember being there, but I still say we were there together in like 2009 or 2010. Anyway, we started our Mid-West adventure there and it happened to be there during their annual State Fair. It was so amazing and it was extremely organized. They had everything, even parking and shuttles to the site down to a science. I was VERY impressed. Anyway, once inside the fairgrounds, I enjoyed seeing all the animals, especially some of the horse shows. I am going to eventually do a post on the fair, but wanted to share a little bit on this post about its history.

Fair 1

Attracting more than a million people from all over the world, the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines is Iowa’s great celebration, a salute to the state’s best in agriculture, industry, entertainment and achievement. It all began in 1854 and has been held on the Iowa State Fairgrounds since 1886. As I said earlier, it is held in the state capital Des Moines, Iowa and is now an 11 day event every August. The fairgrounds are spread over 450 acres, including 160 acres of campsites. The fairgrounds are filled with carnival rides and vendors during the Fair, and there are A LOT of them, lol.

Fair 2

Besides all the animals, and rides, and shows, you have to check out the Butter Cow. It has been a staple of the fair since 1911 J.K. Daniels sculpted the first one. It is pretty crazy and there was A LONG line, but worth seeing it while checking out the agricultural building. The 4-H club was also in this building and I enjoyed checking out their exhibits.

Fair 3

While there are SO many food options, the one thing you really shouldn’t miss is a bucket of Barksdales Chocolate Chip Cookies. Apparently, cookies in a cup or bucket have been made by the Barksdale family since 1993, and in 2019, the Barksdale cookie business was gifted to the people of Iowa through the Fair. The chocolate chip recipe is a family recipe, and was made by hand for many years. It is a staple of the fair and when the fair was shut down in 2020 because of stupid Xi Jinpang and the pandemic, they still made their cookies for people to come and purchase them while adhering to the strict rules and mandates going on at the time. People really wanted their cookies I guess.  We did get a few things while walking around the fair, and these cookies were on our list. I have to say, they were really good.

spam 1

Well after spending a few days exploring Des Moines, IA (most posts coming) we continued our Mid-West Adventure to Minneapolis, MN. About two hours north on I-35 we stopped in Austin, MN to check out the SPAM Museum. I know, who knew, lol. I had seen some YouTube vlogs and when we saw it was on our route, we made a point to stop and see what it was all about. It was not a huge museum, but it was packed with so much history and information. We were both amazed and surprised.

spam 2

The best part was they had people known as Spambassadors running around with different samples, or as they call them Spamples, lol. I really wasn’t a huge fan of SPAM as I only had it once before and it was barely cooked, YUCK. However, everything they were sampling was so good and I was so shocked to see how many different types of SPAM they offer. I am now a fan of SPAM, lol. Like I said there were so many choices and we couldn’t decide, thus we came home with 5 cans, lol. My favorite is the Hot and Spicy and the Teriyaki. We still have one can left and I am alreadylooking around local stores to see what flavors they have available.

spam 3

SPAM is made by Hormel Foods Corporation and the museum tells the history of the Hormel Company, the Origin of SPAM, and its place in world culture. The museum originated in January 1991 as the Hormel Foods First Century Museum, in celebration of the company’s 100 year anniversary. The name was rebranded and the museum moved a couple of times to its current location in downtown Austin. The best part, besides the Spamples, was that the museum is free! Definitely work checking out while in the area.

MN Capitol 1

Our Mid-West adventure continued onto Minneapolis where we some exploring. The two main things on my list were the State Capitol and Target Field. Both were amazing. The Minnesota State Capitol, which is actually in St. Paul was beautiful. We were lucky enough to be able to join a guided tour and heard a few stories about the Capitols’ history, art, and architecture.

MN Capitol 2

I enjoyed all the marble that was located throughout the capitol. One thing I thought was very interesting I learned was that their dome was marble and the second largest self-supported dome in the world. WOW. I also loved seeing their chambers which apparently you can only see during a guided tour. The grounds were also quite interesting and worth checking out before you leave the area.

Target 1

While in Minneapolis, we also visited Target Field. It was my 22nd MLB ball park and it was quite different from other parks we had been too. I will go into more detail in a future post, but I have to say our tour guide was VERY connected to the baseball world and had met so many players and been on so my trips for MLB. I loved talking to him about my favorite former Twin and Angels player, Torii Hunter. 🙂

Target 2

Target Field is a “newer” stadium opening in 2010 and hosted the All-Star game in 2014. One thing I learned on the tour is that this field is the sixth ballpark for the Twins organization. I remember seeing the Metrodome on a previous trip but never was able to visit. I am so glad we got to take the tour and was able to walk a little along the track and sit in the dugout. Always fun to get to do that at a baseball park. I really enjoyed our visit and hope to see a game there one day.

However, we left Minneapolis and headed a little south west for our next stop on our Mid-West adventure. We were making our way to Fairmont to see some former friends who now live there, but had to stop in Blue Earth, Minnesota to visit the Jolly Green Giant Museum. Yep, there is a museum dedicated to Green Giant and out from is a 55.5 foot tall Jolly Green Giant. The statue was first unveiled in 1978 and was set on its permanent base on July 6, 1979.

The museum itself, which is quite small, is filled with a lot of history about the company and tells how the statue came into existence. They even have a few videos of the museum. I was hoping for a few commercials from the “old days”, but didn’t see any, lol.  It is very interesting and a great road side attraction to see if you are driving on the I-90 through this area.

NE Capitol

After spending a couple of days with our friends in Fairmont, we slowly started heading home. We stopped in Lincoln, NE for a few days where we visited the Lincoln Capitol building (even though we had been there before), Gene went to the Museum of American Speed, while I caught up on some work.  He said it was a really cool museum and he enjoyed his visit. He was there for quite a few hours, so he must have, lol


We also met with our friend’s son who lives in the area for dinner one night in the Haymarket area.After saying goodbye to him, we hit a couple craft breweries while downtown. This was on a Friday night and while we were sitting outside enjoying our beer, the local high school baseball team won their game and the sky lit up with fireworks. It was a great way to end our trip. One more thing before I end this section, is that Haymarket It is a really cute and we saw this cool piece of art that I had to share.

Sadly we packed up and ended our Mid-West adventure the next morning, but we have some wonderful memories that we will not forget. If you haven’t done your own Mid-West adventure, I highly suggest it. I will be posting more blog posts about the places I shared on this post and will update this post once they are live. In the meantime, please comment below with any questions or suggestions. I would love to hear from you. Happy Travels!

Mid-West Adventure 2

Citi Field in Queens New York – Home to the NY Mets

We had a great time running around NYC in May of 2022. One thing we haven’t done was visit Yankee Stadium or Citi Field. During this trip, we made sure they were on the top of our to-do list.  The best part, was Citi Field was the 21st stadium I visited, thus I am officially on the last 3rd of my quest to visit all the MLB stadiums. We actually decided to attend a game here since we did a tour of Yankee Stadium earlier in the week. We had a wonderful time and everyone was nice even if I was wearing my Angels shirt, lol. I did get a hat while there, so that might have helped too, lol. Continue reading “Citi Field in Queens New York – Home to the NY Mets”

Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York – Home to the NY Yankees

Yankee Stadium - Outside

While in NYC in May of this year, we were finally able to see and take a tour of Yankee Stadium. It was my 20th MLB Park and I was so excited to be 2/3 of the way into my quest to see all 30 stadiums! There is so much history behind the Yankees and Yankee Stadium. I just wish I would have been able to see the stadium often referred to as the House That Ruth Built. Sadly it was demolished after the new stadium was opened on opening day on April 16, 2009.

Continue reading “Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York – Home to the NY Yankees”

Comerica Park in Detroit, MI – Home of the Detroit Tigers

Comerica Park - Main Gate

On my continued quest to visit all 30 MLB ballparks, in this post, I am going to share our visit to Comerica Park. We were in Michigan in May of 2021 and spent the first part of the trip seeing the beautiful Mackinaw Bridge near the Upper Peninsula. It was beautiful and enjoyed it there, but after our time there, we headed to Detroit for a few days. The main thing I wanted to visit while in the area was catch a game at a park I had never been to, and watch the Tigers play at their home park. It is a lovely park and it was a beautiful day. Even though it may have been a little windy at times, it kept it from getting too hot. It was a great day to catch a game. Continue reading “Comerica Park in Detroit, MI – Home of the Detroit Tigers”

Pensacola Beach Florida – Things to do Under the Sun

Pensacola TowerIt has been quite cold here in Colorado lately and I am missing the warmth we had while in Miami, Florida this time last year and did the exciting Everglades Airboat Tour. Sadly, we won’t be back in Florida until maybe later this year.  However while talking to a friend about Florida it made me start thinking about a trip to Florida in May of 2011, when we spent time part of a week playing in the Pensacola area.  Unlike Miami, in Pensacola you will find miles of white sand beaches, but they stretch along the Gulf of Mexico. We enjoyed our time swimming and playing in these crystal clear waters.

Continue reading “Pensacola Beach Florida – Things to do Under the Sun”

Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA – Home of the Dodgers

Dodgers - LogoBaseball is back! The first games are being played today, and my Angels and the Rockies open on Friday night. The Rockies’ opponent this season is the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Thus I decided to share a post about the actual team located in Los Angeles. Living in Southern California for many years, we have been to many games at Dodgers Stadium.  I think one of the highlights was when I was at Dodgers Stadium when Ramón Martínez pitched a no-hitter on July 14, 1995.  It is still the only no-hitter I’ve seen in person. It was quite exciting. Now for some history about the Dodgers organization. Continue reading “Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA – Home of the Dodgers”

Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois – Home of the Chicago Cubs

Cubs LogoVisiting Wrigley Field is something that had been on my to-do list for a long time. I am an Anaheim Angels fan, but have been curious about the Cubs and Wrigley Field since they picked up Ron Cey from the Dodgers in 1982. Thus, I was excited to finally be able to tour the 2nd oldest MLB ballpark while in Chicago in September of 2008. Continue reading “Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois – Home of the Chicago Cubs”

Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Maryland – Home to the Baltimore Orioles

Oriole Park - Orioles LogoAwhile back I did a post about Angels Stadium and the Anaheim Angels. In that post I stated I was going to do a post about some of the other ballparks I have been to and talk about the home team. While originally writing this, the Angels were playing the Baltimore Orioles, thus I decided to share my visit to their home park called Oriole Park of Camden Yards. On a side note, the Angels took the series!!! (sorry Orioles fans) Continue reading “Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Maryland – Home to the Baltimore Orioles”

Salt River Field – Rockies Home for Spring Training

Salt River Field 1I was so happy to be able to see some spring training games in late February and early March of 2019 for the first time ever! I am a HUGE Angels fan and was lucky enough to see them play at their spring training home stadium Tempe Diablo  However, I also got to see them play At Salt River Field at Talking Stick which is the home spring training stadium for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks.  It was actually the first stadium I visited, and it was incredible.  It has views of Camelback Mountain, the McDowell Mountains, Four Peaks, Red Mountain, and the Superstition Mountains. Since I live here in Colorado now, I like the Rockies too, so it was going to be fun to see both teams play each other. Continue reading “Salt River Field – Rockies Home for Spring Training”

Angels Stadium in Anaheim, California – Where Magic Lives

Angels Stadium - 4For those of you who don’t know me personally, I am a huge sports fan! Baseball is my passion and the Anaheim Angels are my favorite team. I have to get something out of the way right here, and state that I WILL NEVER refer to them as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or Los Angeles Angels, or whatever they want to call them. They are the Anaheim Angels unless they move to another city.  They are in Anaheim, not Los Angeles, and should not have had it added to their name. The city of Los Angeles has another team, you can watch them if you want to watch a baseball team in LA. Anyway, I am done with my rant and off my soapbox, lol. As an Angels fan, my favorite stadium is Angels Stadium in Anaheim. Continue reading “Angels Stadium in Anaheim, California – Where Magic Lives”