Beware the Ides of Smarch, Days 4-6: Vegas Time is Here Again

The destination for our little troupe:  Las Vegas.

Monday, March 4

I admit I was a little surprised by the announcement as Dave isn’t into gambling at all.  On the other hand, Dave had never really experienced Las Vegas aside from a brief overnight trip he took with Mat before the two of them headed off to Japan for the series I entitled “A Journey Beyond Imagination”.  With several days, Dave could get the full experience to appreciate the artistry and architecture of the casinos, take in a show, and possibly even join me for a few sites I had wanted to visit, but had not got around to doing.

Monday morning found us piling into Mat’s Nissan and heading off to Sin City after having a quick bite to eat at Jack in the Box.  Mat was recording our journey with time lapse photography with his Go Pro 4 camera while Dave and I killed the first hour or so of the drive playing a round of Super Mario Party.  I finally got the victory, but it wasn’t quite the same without getting to drive Mat into the dirt.

We arrived at the Linq about 3pm and had a pretty decent room on the 10th floor with a view of the pool.  Mat and Dave claimed the beds while I took the couch.  We puttered around for a couple of hours before heading to dinner over at the Bacchanal Buffet over at Caesar’s Palace.

Bacchanal Buffet is the biggest buffet in Vegas.  If you can think of it, they’ve got it.  We all enjoyed a good meal of whatever we felt like sampling before heading back to the Linq.  I lost $30 playing Dracula and Ghostbusters slot machines while Mat came out ahead on Casino Royale.  Then all 3 of us headed back up to the room for the night.

Tuesday, March 5

I rose early on Tuesday and did a little reconnaissance of the hotel while Mat and Dave slept until about 9am.

Today we were going for a hike.  So we got some breakfast at a nearby McDonald’s before getting some water at a convenience store to fill our camel packs.

Mat drove us out to Red Rock Canyon where we would be doing a loop through the La Madre mountains.  It was a perfect day for hiking as the temperature was moderate and the sky was slightly overcast.  We enjoyed quite a bit of God’s splendor as we gazed upon the mountains and found La Madre Falls and La Madre Spring.

We ended up hiking nearly 8.5 miles as Mat unintentionally led us on a more scenic route than intended.  But it was well worth it for a view of the falls and spring.  After our 3+ hours of hiking, we headed back to the Linq where we cleaned up and/or rested before heading to Hash House A Go Go for dinner.

For those of you not familiar with it, Hash House a Go Go is known for “Farm Food Done Freaky” and huge portions.  I was able to get a smaller meal of the HH Downsized Burger which was quite juicy and loaded with vegetables while Mat and Dave enjoyed wings and Mat indulged in a pork tenderloin sandwich and Dave supped on chicken and waffles.

We returned to our room where I caught a brief catnap while Mat and Dave watched some TV.  At 9:30pm, we headed across the street to Caesar’s Palace to watch Absinthe.

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Absinthe at Caesar’s Palace

Absinthe is one of the most original shows I have seen in Vegas.  The theme of the show is that it’s an illegal, underground circus financed and produced by a man known only as the Gazillionaire.  The show is actually held in a tent with a bunch of mismatched chairs to suggest they were salvaged or stolen.

The show has a collection of impressive circus acts which change from show to show.  Our show consisted of a variety of acrobatics and trapeze artists with an intentionally bad ballet act thrown in.  For my money, the two best acts of the show were a group of jugglers called Water on Mars which did some phenomenal team juggling, sometimes from across the room and Shawn and John, an impressive pair of tap dancers that had the crowd roaring.

Acts are introduced by the Gazillionaire, who is a foul mouthed comic, and his assistant, Wanda Widdles, a sex obsessed woman with enough energy to light the Strip.  Largely due to the blue language utilized by these two, one must be 18 years old to attend the show.

After the show, we returned to our room and collapsed into bed.

Wednesday, March 6

I slept quite late today, at least for me, not awakening until 8:30am.

Today would be kind of an alone day for us.  Dave hadn’t seen Mat in over 2 years, so I made an appointment at the spa so they could spend a little time together.

For my regular readers, you know that I normally attend Qua Baths over at Caesar’s Palace.  For a change of pace, I visited The Spa at the Linq as I wanted to try a unique treatment.

The Spa at the Linq is a good spa.  It doesn’t have a lot of amenities as it only boasts a gym, jacuzzi, and steam room, but that’s enough to relax for a few hours.  For booking a treatment at least $50, I was also allowed to book a session in the Himalayan Salt Cave room for free.

The Salt Cave treatment is simply sitting in a room for 45 minutes while finely ground salt is sprayed inside.  The salt helps improve breathing and clears congestion from colds, asthma, allergens, and other toxins like secondhand smoke.  The salt also helps to detoxify the skin.  It was an interesting experiment and I do think I was breathing a bit more fully after the session.

From there, I went straight to my massage appointment with Theresa who released knots in my neck and shoulders and pepped up my tired feet which were a little sore from yesterday’s walking.

With my treatments completed, I returned to the room where Dave was watching TV and told me Mat was downstairs playing blackjack.  Mat had enjoyed a great run for the past six hours and was essentially playing at the casino’s expense.  When a new dealer showed up, the table left the game and Mat and I returned to the hotel room where we collected Dave and headed over to Planet Hollywood so Mat could pick up a gift card he had earned.

We wandered around the Miracle Mile Shops where Mat spent his card on a Bruce Lee T-shirt.  Then we made our way to Bally’s where I got whipped in a round of mini golf at Twilight Zone mini golf.  For losing, I won a free round of golf which never expires.

After my helping of humble pie, we went to the Flavors Buffet at Harrah’s for dinner and enjoyed another good meal before heading back to the room for the night.

Tomorrow it’s back to Phoenix.

A Holiday Excursion, Days 2-3: Mushing and Slushing to Dug Road Inn

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It was a gray and blustery day.

I’m still in shock that I am able to tell you this story.  The winter storm caught up to me with a seething ferocity.  The snow blew so hard that it was nearly a complete whiteout.  Then it happened.  Some nut in a red Corvette came roaring by in the other lane like a bat out of heck.  The unknown driver cut me off and clipped the front end of my car.  My car careened off the road and rolled over 4 times.  I have a vague realization of my seat belt coming loose and being thrown from my vehicle.

I awoke in a hospital somewhere around Dows, IA.  Both of my arms were broken and the nurse to whom I’m now dictating this story informed me that my gas line had ruptured and my car had exploded.  Its burning carcass was seen through the snowy haze by motorists who summoned help and I was found thirty feet from the smoldering remains of my Focus.

Wow!  That’s a great start to a fiction story.

But what really happened was that the drive was not too bad.  Des Moines was the worst of it so I took things very slowly until I reached I-35.  There wasn’t a lot of snow, but it was blowing around quite a bit due to the strong wind and would get whipped around pretty good when semi trucks drove by.  I kept things well under the speed limit to be extra safe unless I was on completely clear stretches of road.  I was aided by the fact that the roads were virtually empty and what few motorists were on the road also drove quite safely with one or two exceptions.

Due to my safety measures, an extra 90 minutes were tacked onto my drive, but I wasn’t in a rush in the first place.  About 2pm, I found myself in the Norwegian community of Decorah, IA.  Thankfully, the owner of my next inn, Dug Road Inn, had given me a call to check to see if I were still coming and he let me check in an hour early due to the weather.

Dug Road Inn is an Italianate style home originally built by Lt Colonel William T Baker back in the 1860s.  Its current owners are Doug and Shirleen Sturtz and the inn is touted as an eco-friendly B & B famed for its 3 course organic breakfasts.

I was greeted in the driveway by Doug who helped me get my luggage into the house.  He led me to the Duncan Room which would serve as my headquarters for the next 2 days.  After getting my stuff settled, I returned to the living room where Doug brought me a glass of wine and we spent a little time conversing about my project and Iowa football.

After our conversation, I returned to my room where I continued reading a new Nero Wolfe novel before the exhaustion of my long drive caused me to doze off for a brief nap.

When I awoke, I glanced out the window and was met by a night and day difference.  The storm had reached its peak and snow was falling steadily and the wind was howling.  I really did not want to go outside, but I needed to eat.  Luckily, the main drag was only 2 blocks away, so I donned my coat, hat, and gloves and headed outside.  I decided not to press my luck and just eat at the first available place I could find.

That would end up being the Old Armory BBQ which is one of the top 10 BBQ restaurants in Iowa.  When I entered the place, it seemed as if they were closing up and that fact was confirmed a few moments later by one of the employees.  They still had some food left out and said they could prepare something for me.

I settled for a hamburger with homemade pickles which was pretty good, though I couldn’t linger over it as I didn’t want to keep these people in here longer than necessary.  I’m grateful that Old Armory kept me from going hungry that night so I left a good tip for the sandwich before trudging back to Dug Road Inn.

I drew a hot bath after I returned to my room though the jets on the Jacuzzi tub didn’t seem to be working.  But I enjoyed the bath as it was just the right temperature.  Afterwards, I read myself to sleep with Rex Stout’s brilliant, if slothful, detective.

The next morning, I met Doug’s wife, Shirleen, who had prepared my breakfast.  The first course was a dish of mixed fruit (apples, grapes, and, I believe, pomegranate) in a dish of cream.  The second course was baked bacon with a small salad of greens and tomatoes, scrambled eggs with mushrooms, and a wonderful food item that I could best describe as a stuffed pancake.  The third course was a dessert course consisting of chocolate gelato and lefse.  This meal I did do justice to as I blissfully enjoyed every bite.  Regrettably, I had forgotten my camera upstairs so you’ll have to use your imaginations for this meal.

I wanted some exercise so I got into my winter accessories and wandered around the downtown area to work off the meal.  Downtown Decorah reminds me very much of my grandparents’ old hometown of Storm Lake, IA as it is mostly locally owned businesses.  There is even a small J.C. Penney on one of the corners just like the one in Storm Lake.

My meanderings brought me to GamesXP.  If you’re a vintage video game connoisseur like I am, then this is the store for you.  I was amazed by the classic games and systems this store had.  Odyssey, Intellivision, Atari, Super Famicom, this place had it all.  I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to continue building my Sega CD library as their selection was limited and didn’t have anything I wanted, but this is a store that I will surely visit again if my journeys bring me back.

I returned to the inn where I found Doug scraping the ice from my vehicle, a personal touch of hospitality which I very much appreciated.  I read a few more chapters before getting into my car and seeing what there was to see.

I had hoped to visit the Ice Cave, but when I reached the road leading to it, I found it covered with snow.  Remembering my misadventure back in Greenfield, I opted to turn back.  However, I did find Dunnings’ Spring which has a 200 foot waterfall.  I hiked up the steep hill through the new fallen snow and managed to grab some good pics of this natural beauty.

Afterwards, I drove back to the inn where I read for a while and dried out my clothes.  Around 4:30, I decided to take another hot bath to get the chill out of bones.  After soaking for nearly an hour, I headed back downtown in search of supper.

I ended up at Restauration in the famed Hotel Winneshiek.  This is a small fine dining establishment that is well worth a visit.  My meal began with a mixed green salad with a homemade ranch dressing with some homemade bread.  The main course was an Iowa specialty, pork chop, with garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables (broccoli, carrots, and red onions).

The salad was excellent, though I had hoped for hot bread.  The presentation of the main course was superior, especially the grill marks on the Iowa chop which was, mmm, cooked to perfection.  The vegetables were fresh and crisp, but the potatoes needed some more garlic.

After the satisfying meal, I went back to Dug Road Inn and called it a night.

I really didn’t want to get out of my comfortable bed the next morning, but the smell of fine cooking galvanized me to make the attempt.  The Inn’s regular chef was able to make it in today and the meal once again began with mixed fruit (orange, grapes, pomegranate) with cream and granola.  The main entrée was a tiny dish of cherry tomatoes in a dressing with Eggs Florentine cooked with parmesan cheese and spinach.  Also included were fried potatoes with feta cheese, oregano, and chili powder and sausage.  Each bite was heavenly.  For dessert was apple-cranberry crisp with whipped cream that melted in my mouth.

I was disappointed when my meal ended for I knew that my stay had come to a close.  Dug Road Inn is certainly well worth a visit and Decorah is a fine little city, though probably best visited in the warmer months when there is more to see and do.  If your travels brings you to Decorah, get a room at Dug Road Inn where you’ll enter as strangers and leave as friends.

The Arizona Chronicles, Vol. 4, Days 4-8: A Farewell to Tall Square and Arizona Mat in the Not So Wild West

In hindsight, it would have been better if I had simply checked into a hotel instead of having the cab driver return me to Arizona Mat’s house.  Arizona Mat’s house has an excellent alarm system and he has the only key.  I curled myself up by the front door and settled in for a wretched night’s sleep.

I blinked as the rays of the morning sun woke me the next day.  I yawned and mightily stretched a crick out of my back.  I heard the roar of the zambonis as they finally pulled up to Arizona Mat’s house.  Arizona Mat and Tall Square were beyond exhausted and both slowly got off the zambonis, limply punching each other in the shoulder.  I reached into Arizona Mat’s backpack and pulled out his keys.  I guided the weary frenemies into the house and let Tall Square fall in the doorway.  I proceeded to walk Arizona Mat to the alarm system, and maneuvered his finger to the numbers he pointed towards.  Then I let him collapse to the floor.

Today I saw something that I do not ordinarily see in Arizona. . .rain.  And not a gentle rainfall, but a full blown ripping storm.  There wasn’t much to do in the weather, so I spent the day inside with Arizona Mat and Tall Square who still weren’t speaking so I could enjoy some peace and quiet.

Around 1pm, Arizona Mat suddenly offered his hand to Tall Square and apologized for being such a drip.  To make it up to him, he offered him a free sandwich from Ike’s Love & Sandwiches and said he’d take us to the movies.  Tall Square, justifiably, was wary, but accepted the proffered handshake.  I sensed something was awry and decided to just observe.

So we went to Ike’s and it was probably the best sandwich I had ever eaten.  Hostilities seemed to be soothed and we went to watch Boruto, the final chapter to a long running anime series called Naruto.  It was an excellent film.  Things continued to remain calm between Tall Square and Arizona Mat and we spent the rest of the evening puttering around.

I remained suspicious of Arizona Mat’s kindness towards Tall Square the next day, especially after I saw Arizona Mat leaving the office which I was using as bedroom, giggling to himself.  He announced that he was treating us to lunch at Osaka, a teppanyaki and sushi restaurant.  Arizona Mat ordered the sushi boat which came with a large variety of delicacies and a dragon roll and a crunchy roll.

It was a delicious meal and Arizona Mat said he had a special treat for Tall Square.  The waiter brought out what Arizona Mat called a kanboo roll.  I raised an eyebrow as I was familiar with sushi types, but had never heard of a kanboo roll.  Arizona Mat offered Tall Square the roll, a sinister smirk on his face, and Tall Square wolfed it down.

Arizona Mat offers Tall Square the kanboo (amnesia) roll.

Arizona Mat offers Tall Square the kanboo (amnesia) roll.

A few minutes later, Tall Square started to look a bit befuddled.

“Are you all right?” I asked.

“Yes, except for one thing.  Do I know you two gentlemen?”

“I think we need to get him to a hospital,” I said.

“No, he’s OK,” said Arizona Mat, a smarmy grin on his face.

“What exactly is a kanboo roll?” I asked.

“It’s Japanese for amnesia.  Yet another brilliant invention from Carolyn for stopping potential threats to my glorious personage.”

“Has it ever been tested?”

“Yes, just now.”

I heaved a mighty sigh as Tall Square regressed to his 21st birthday.  Arizona Mat led Tall Square to the car and drove us to the airport.  He had purchased the first available ticket and we led Tall Square the gates.  Tall Square had continued to regress as he forgot more and more details of his life.  By the time we were  nearing the gates, Tall Square was now about 5, skipping around singing, A Tisket, A Tasket.  We got permission to assist Tall Square to his departure gate and left him on a chair, a zen-like grin on his face.  I think he had regressed to the womb.  We then left him to his own devices.

Farewell, Tall Square.

Tall Square under the influence of a kanboo roll.

Tall Square under the influence of a kanboo roll.

“Now we can have some real fun,” said Arizona Mat, gleefully rubbing his hands together.

Arizona Mat failed to elaborate until we reached his home.  On his doorstep was waiting a giant box.

“Oh, boy!  She’s here!” said Arizona Mat.

Arizona Mat ripped open the box which held a pet carrying case.  Opening the door, a friendly golden retriever mix leaped out and began licking Arizona Mat.

“Who is this?” I asked.

“This is Jojo, my new sidekick.  She’s infinitely more loyal and has ten times the brains that Tall Square ever did,” replied Arizona Mat.  “Who loves you, sweetie?” he asked, as he rubbed her belly.

Arizona Mat announced that we would be heading to Tucson the next day to have a bit of fun.  We began the trip with a visit to Old Tucson Studios.  This is still an active studio and many classic western films and TV series have been filmed here.  I thought the entrance fee of $18 was very overpriced.  You’d be hard pressed to make a day out of this place unless you were gung ho about seeing all of the little shows and events that would take place during the day.

Still it was an enjoyable visit, especially for a film buff like myself.  I watched auditions for new saloon girls as well as an old fashioned western gunfight and fistfight in a little sketch about a botched robbery.  The most entertaining moment came when Arizona Mat decided to ignore the “Don’t get too close to the animals” sign and was poked by a bull.  It was just a glancing blow, but enough to send Arizona Mat into a faint.  I made some extra money by posing Arizona Mat as a horse thief corpse and charging 25 cents per picture.

Making a little profit off of Arizona Mat.

Making a little profit off of Arizona Mat.

When Arizona Mat regained consciousness, he drove us to our hotel, The Doubletree, which was a rather nice oasis.  After settling Jojo into the room and getting an icepack for Arizona Mat’s injury, we proceeded to Dakota’s Bar and Grill.  Arizona Mat ate an avocado BLT and I munched on a jalapeno bacon chili cheeseburger.

Once we had filled our cavities, we proceeded to Golf N Stuff, a pretty decent miniature golf course.  It was a much closer contest than our last battle.  It was close until the final few holes, where Arizona Mat finally managed to build an advantage that I could not overcome.  When that ended, we returned to the hotel where I read and Arizona Mat watched football.

The next morning, we had breakfast in the Cactus Rose, one of two restaurants at the Doubletree.  I enjoyed a breakfast quesadilla that had chiles, onions, cheese, eggs, and sausage with a side of breakfast potatoes while Arizona Mat ate a Quick Start that had sausage, eggs, sourdough toast, and breakfast potatoes.

During our meal, Arizona Mat said we would be heading to the Chiricahua Mountains where we would be doing a 5 mile hike.  I was looking forward to it as I have been preparing myself for a climb up Mt Fuji in August 2016 and thought this would be a good test of my fitness level.

It was a lovely hike.  The scenery was beautiful and the weather was just right.  I was proud to say that I handled the hike very well.  It was a good first step on my journey to climb Mt Fuji.  Jojo proved to be a real trooper as she bounded about.  Arizona Mat introduced me to an interesting device called a camel pack which holds 3 liters of water.  Drinking from it is quite easy and much handier than carrying a thermos.  I’m going to have to get one for myself before climbing Mt Fuji.

The face of Cochise.

The face of Cochise.

The mighty Jojo.

The mighty Jojo.

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At the end of the hike, we hopped back into the car and began the 4 hour journey back to Phoenix.  We had a supper at Simi’s Café, an Asian cuisine eatery.  Arizona Mat had Pho and orange chicken while I had a garlic chicken stir fry.

Towards the end of the meal, Arizona Mat began to look a little befuddled.

“Are you OK, Arizona?” I asked, a smirk slowly forming on my lips.

“Do I know you, sir?”

“Yes!” I crowed.

I should probably explain.  When I saw Arizona Mat use the kanboo roll on Tall Square, I saw my chance to rid myself of this pest once and for all.  I managed to find some more of it in “Carolyn’s” office.  I ground it to a fine powder and waited for my chance.  When Arizona Mat was briefly distracted as he forked a piece of chicken, I used the sleight of hand which served me so well when I cheated Arizona Mat in poker several years ago.

I left Arizona Mat at the table where he had curled into a fetal position and was gently sucking his thumb.  I ran into the night and shouted, “Free!  Free at last!!”  I ran to the car, removed my luggage which I had placed inside before we left, and hailed a cab.

As I was driven to the airport, I sunk into the seat, a big smile on my face as I knew the Arizona Chronicles had finally come to an end at last.

The End????

A Quaint & Quiet Retreat: Cannon Falls & the Quill & Quilt Bed and Breakfast

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Well, hi, there.  It’s nice to see you again.

The grip of the road had hold of me once again this Memorial Day weekend and so I found myself traveling to the little town of Cannon Falls in Minnesota to enjoy a little rest and respite at the Quill & Quilt Bed and Breakfast.

Since I had to travel a little farther than normal for this trip, I broke it up over a few days so I wouldn’t cut into valuable exploration time.  My journey began on Friday night where I promised myself I would drive an hour past Des Moines, IA before stopping to rest for the night.  About fifteen minutes before my promised stop time, I passed through Story City, IA where I nearly pulled over for the evening, but reminded myself that I said I would drive a full hour outside of Des Moines.  After all, surely there’d be another place just a bit up the road.

Silly me.

At first, I thought fate was going to push my drive all the way through to Mason City which is just outside MN’s border.  Fortunately, about 30 minutes after my promised stop time, I saw the telltale 3 blue signs which meant that gas, food, and lodging were close at hand.  I pulled off I-35 into the tiny town of Williams, IA and obtained a room at the Best Western Norseman Inn.  The motel wasn’t much to look at from the outside, but I was pleasantly surprised by the clean and comfortable room that met my eyes.  It also came at a very affordable price ($65 before tax).

After settling into the room, I went across the street to Boondocks Cafe for my supper.  I was momentarily stunned when I saw the restaurant because I swear that I had actually eaten at this place as a child with my grandparents.  I had a sourdough club sandwich and some fries for my meal which filled the cavity nicely, but I felt the price didn’t match the quality of the food.  Everything was a la carte, so I ended up paying $12 for diner food.  However, bear in mind that Williams is an isolated town so that makes it a bit of a seller’s market.

I returned to my room for a hot bath and some sleep.  And I must say that this inn has the thickest curtains I have ever seen.  When I turned out the lights, I couldn’t see my hand in front my face.  So I faded into the land of Nod.

The next morning I had a quick continental breakfast and was on the road by 9:30.  About 12:15, I found myself in Cannon Falls.  The best way to describe this town is that it’s a small town with big city energy.  The place was bustling!!  People were walking all over the place and this town must be the bike riding capital of the USA for I saw more bicyclists here than I’ve seen anywhere in the country.

The first thing on my mind was lunch so I found Mick’s Downtown Diner and went inside.  The joint was jumping, but I managed to find a seat for myself.  I ordered a delicious steak pita and settled down to a relaxing meal while I completed the novel I was reading.

After lunch I wandered around the town a little before finding the famed trails of the city.  As I walked along the trail, I found the city’s namesake waterfalls and wished I had packed swimming trunks and an inner tube so I could have tubed down the falls and Cannon River.  Instead, I took an invigorating 8 mile hike along the Cannon Valley Trail.

Upon the conclusion of my hike, I attended services at St Pius V and finally was able to check into the Quill and Quilt.  I was greeted at the door by the innkeeper and enjoyed a glass of natural fruit juice from a container that had strawberries, kiwi, and other assorted fruit soaking in ice.  Very tasty.

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I was led to the third floor of the inn and my room, the Writers Loft.  This was the most spacious room, I have stayed in to date.  Not only was the living area a good size, but the bathroom was a duchy in and of itself.  It contained a whirlpool tub and a double shower nicknamed the Car Wash.

 

The bed was king sized and comfy.

The bed was king sized and comfy.

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The Car Wash

The Car Wash

 

Once I had settled in, I gave the innkeeper my juice order for breakfast the next day, hopped in my car, and drove to the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN to have dinner with my brother, Jeff AKA That One Guy Who Travels, and his S.O., Scott.  We ate at Tucci Bennuch, a very wonderful Italian restaurant.  I was in the mood for something healthy so I opted for the Scottish Salmon with lemon risotto and arugula salad while the guys settled for spaghetti dinners.

My dinner was absolutely magnificent and after a pleasant night of food and conversation, we walked across the way to the Nestle Tollhouse store where I bought a chocolate chip cookie for dessert.  Our group said our good-byes and I made the 45 minute drive back to Cannon Falls.  Needless to say, I had funned myself out and collapsed into the most comfortable bed I had ever slept in and slept all the way through to the next morning.

I started my day with a long soak in my whirlpool tub, then headed downstairs to breakfast at 9:30.

The breakfast opened with a small dish of fruit with granola and a honey glaze and a glass of OJ.  The main course was an egg quiche with cilantro, cheese, and other veggies that made me feel healthy just looking at it.  On the side was a butter scone and some spinach and garlic sausage (which was devastatingly tasty).  Most enjoyable was the companionship.  For my regular readers, you know that I have been the sole guest at most of the B&Bs I’ve reviewed.  This time, the place was sold out and I had an great time simply conversing with the other guests.

After breakfast I proceeded to do absolutely nothing.  Now that’s a day.  For once, I planned no itinerary.  I wandered down another trail where I found the city parks and a frisbee golf course which had me wishing my old friends, Mat and Dave, had been with me for a little competition.  Once my walk had concluded, I returned to my room and watched the classic film, Mississippi Burning.

When the film ended, I went down to the spa suite on the first floor and enjoyed a 2 hour massage from Anna Harvey.  Her slow, firm pressure and movements really worked the kinks out of my weary body.  Once the treatment was completed, I returned to my room and enjoyed another long soak in the whirlpool tub to continuing purging the toxins from my body.

The Spa Suite

The Spa Suite

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Once done, I decided to hunt up some dinner and found myself at Chuggers, a little bar and grill on the main drag.  I decided to try the Fireball Burger which was truly exceptional.  After eating, I picked up a Dr. Pepper and returned to my room where I’m preparing to sip soda and watch Insomnia.

Tomorrow it’s back to reality until my next adventure which may be sooner than anyone thinks. . .

But if you find yourself in Cannon Falls, get a room at the Quill and Quilt.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

The Arizona Chronicles, Day 4: Idling in Idyllwild

Miraculously, Tall Square escaped from his, ahem, “accident” at Mount San Jacinto with a few bumps, bruises, and scrapes.  We returned to Barry’s home, where I put him to bed and then gave Arizona Mat a “tsk, tsk, tsk” before I left him at the dining room table and went to bed.

As I headed to the kitchen the next morning, I found Arizona Mat unconscious at the table, with his face in a big ol’ piece of pie.  A goose egg had formed on his head where he had obviously been slugged.  I heard soft chuckling coming from Tall Square’s bedroom and knew what had happened.  (As if there was any doubt.)

Chalking it up to more of the same old, same old, I fixed a bowl of Cinnamon Spice oatmeal for myself and then left for church whistling a jaunty tune.

I attended services at Sacred Heart in Rancho Mirage and I was blown away by the chapel.  This is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever been in.  It was still decorated for Christmas and I could have sat inside and soaked up the atmosphere for hours.
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The church was quite full which did my heart good, especially since it seemed people willingly sat up front first which is something I don’t see enough of in worship services nowadays.

It was a great service as well.  The pastor was a warm, welcoming man who gave a terrific sermon on keeping focused on Jesus at all times. 

After services, I was picked up by Arizona Mat and Tall Square, who seemed to have an unspoken truce going on between them.  Arizona Mat drove us up to Idyllwild, CA which is on top of a mountain.  It was an absolutely fantastic drive.  The scenery was pristine and gorgeous as the road twisted and turned on our drive up to Idyllwild.

Once we had reached the town, Arizona Mat decided he wanted breakfast, so we stopped at the Mile High Café.  Having eaten already, I wasn’t very hungry, but opted for something small as I knew I probably wouldn’t be eating again until supper.  I had a ½ biscuit and gravy with a bit of bacon and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice while Arizona Mat enjoyed a chicken fried steak with eggs over hard, hash browns, and toast.  Tall Square enjoyed the same sides as Arizona Mat, but had his eggs over easy and opted for some sausage as his main entrée.  It was a tasty meal/snack with a beautiful view of the mountains and forest, though I thought the freshly squeezed orange juice was a bit overpriced at $4.50 a glass.

We then spent a while helping Tall Square explore the town for a shot glass which we finally succeeded in obtaining at the last shop we visited.   Tall Square also picked up a pocketknife at one of the gift shops we visited.

From there, we drove down the mountain and headed to the Whitewater Preserve. 
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This is a massive area full of hiking trails and one could easily spend hours, even days, exploring the trails.  Arizona Mat was in a rush to get back to Barry’s to watch the Denver Broncos play the San Diego Chargers, so he said we’d only do a brief walk around the preserve and stated we might return tomorrow as he had a trail he wanted us to wander through.

Tall Square was not too happy with this and promptly removed his pocketknife and poked a hole in the bottom of Arizona Mat’s water bottle, spilling its contents onto the sand.  In an attempt to avoid a fight, I rushed to a nearby stream and filled my canteen.  I then gave it to Arizona Mat who thanked me before taking a long, deep drink.

Immediately, he blanched, gagged, and his face turned a sickly shade of green.

“Where did you get this water?”  Arizona Mat gasped.

“From that nice, clear stream over there,” I replied.

“That water has been traveling over the desert floor for 67 miles,” Arizona Mat managed to get out before rushing for cover and purging the contents of his stomach.

Tall Square rolled on the desert floor, laughing so hard that his face turned a bright blue.  After he had caught his breath, he helped me carry Arizona Mat to his car.

We returned to Barry’s home where he and Arizona Mat watched the Broncos defeat the Chargers, putting Arizona Mat into a better frame of mind.  Barry cooked some lip smacking ribs and baked potatoes for our supper which seemed to relax the tense atmosphere that had been building for the last couple of days.

After dinner, I suggested a game of poker was in order.  Tall Square’s pockets were quickly emptied of his cash due to his numerous tells.  Arizona Mat was a bit craftier, but I ended up taking his money with an all in on a straight.  I thought he would pitch a fit, but he said, “At least it wasn’t Tall Square” before going to bed.

But I’m willing to share the truth with you, my loyal readers.  I was cheating.  I was going to get paid for this gig one way or another and Arizona Mat had it coming to him.  So as I count my winnings, I wish you a fond good night and shall see you tomorrow for some more adventures.