Dam to Dam 2015

DT and I headed south last weekend to run Des Moines’ big Dam to Dam half marathon.

I was extremely slow on the uptake with photos over the weekend….I just didn’t have the ol’ shutterbug in me. I’m a little bummed that I missed some good shots, but I’ll also get this post out quicker without much to edit. 🙂 See? Trade-offs, I guess.

While I’m missing the visual flair, I still wanted to write about the weekend because we found some new little treasures (and revisited some old favorites) in Des Moines and I didn’t want to forget them. AND I wanted you to know about them too.

First – big, fun news. Hellraising Hot Sauce has officially entered the Des Moines market! Through family/friend connections, DT and I met Rory at AllSpice Culinarium in the East Village neighborhood. We dropped off an order of sauce on our way into town and got to see his fantastic shop.

Hellraising Hot Sauce at Allspice 1

Hellraising Hot Sauce at Allspice 2

We ate our ritual, pre-race meal at Tavern Pizza Friday night. Nightcaps at Charlie’s Filling Station (their specialty – Screwdrivers with fresh-squeezed OJ) before a quick, restless night of sleep.

Saturday/race day was much cooler and wet than we expected. It wasn’t pouring ran, thankfully, but misting enough to be annoying and downright cold as we waited at the starting line.

I borrowed/stole this selfie from my brother-in-law Tom.

Dam to Dam 2015

Up front L-R: friend Pat, brother-in-law Tom. Behind L-R: DT’s sister Jill, DT, me.

DT and I crossed the finish line together and it felt so good to be DONE. High five!

We headed to Exile Brewing for celebratory post-race beers at 9:30 am. They were delightful.

DT, me post-race

DT and I ate lunch at Court Avenue Brewing Company. We nearly fell asleep at the table once we had food in our bellies. Sooooo….nap time!

Later, we met up with Jill, Tom, and a group of friends for drinks at MALO. It was packed! Next stop for drinks was Royal Mile.

We’d heard so much about Fong’s Pizza, we had to check it out. The rumblings were true – Fong’s makes delicious pizza. Super thin and chewy crust, zippy sauce, and a bunch of topping options.

It was a whirlwind of a weekend! I always feel like our time in DSM goes by way too fast. We’re already plotting a return summer visit so we can get another Iowa fix. 😉


Dad’s Big Birthday Weekend II

As if one Big Birthday Weekend wasn’t enough, there must be one more!

Our first BBW had a scheduling snafoo for some family members, but DT, the kids, and I made our way back up to Alexandria for a redo. We were even lucky enough to cross paths briefly with Dustin and Allison, who were also in town for a cabin-with-friends weekend.

Inspiration Peak plaque

Our day started with a pretty drive through the country, destination: Inspiration Peak. I can’t believe I have roots in Alexandria spanning my entire life and still had never been here. It’s 1,750 feet high – one of the highest points in the state of Minnesota.

Inspiration Peak hike 1

Inspiration Peak hike 2

The hike up to the top is pretty quick (1/4 mile), but plenty steep the whole way. But when you get there, you get to see this:

Inspiration Peak 1

Inspiration Peak 2

Inspiration Peak 3

And this:

Inspiration Peak 4

Inspiration Peak 5

Henry photographer

Henry capturing the scene.

And this:

Inspiration Peak 6

Inspiration Peak 7


Mom and me, Inspiration Peak

On the way back to town we stopped by Leaf Valley Mercantile for a very late lunch. This is totally our kind of place, and Henry got his cheeseburger.

Leaf Valley tractor

Leaf Valley

Leaf Valley bar

Look familiar?!

Casey's 1

Casey's 2Casey's 3

Casey's 4Casey's 5

Casey's 6

Casey's 7

Casey's 8

Yes, we made a return visit to Casey’s for a fiercely competitive round of miniature golf. We just missed the rain!

It was not DT’s best game. (Teehee)

But Sam and I tied for second place. 🙂 🙂

Dad blew us all out of the water!

We had an amazing dinner a la Chef-Randy-mans-the-grill, and for dessert the guys had a special treat. (Mom and I conveniently volunteered to do the dishes.) BeanBoozled: you spin, and wherever you land is the color Jelly Belly you must eat. Except….more than one flavor is green, or white, or yellow, or black. You might get pear, but it might be booger. It could be coconut, but it might be baby wipes. It could be black licorice, but it could be skunk. Or canned dog food, or vomit, or rotten eggs, or grass clippings. You see how pleasant this sounds.

Beanboozled game


Well, anyway, see for yourself….

Beanboozled 1

Beanboozled 2

Beanboozled 3

Looks like tons of fun, doesn’t it?

Beanboozled 5

Beanboozled 6

Beanboozled 6

Beanboozled 7

Beanboozled 8


Beanboozled 9

Beanboozled 10

Bailey 1

Meanwhile, our sweet, poor, exhausted hound.

Have you ever played Farkle? My family is addicted. It’s a dice game that’s a little quirky to learn at first, but once you do, you’ll want to keep playing and playing and playing. We weren’t sure how quickly Sam and Henry would pick up on the rules and the goofy scoring, but they surprised us and were quickly sucked in.

The game was FIERCE!

And the trash talking was epic.

It turned out to be a very late night – we were all pooped by the time we headed for bed.

Mom even read us a story (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) before tucking us in. 😉

bedtime reading 1

Aww, Mamma. Ever our storyteller.

bedtime reading 2

Then Bailey Louise had to crash the party….

bedtime story 3

bedtime stories 4

On Sunday morning we were rested, refreshed and ready to eat a big breakfast. Fresh eggs from our chicken girls, bacon, toast, cereal….all set for the day!

After digesting just a little, we headed over to my grandparents’ house. Sam and Henry had only met my grandpa once – at our wedding, almost five years ago – and my grandma wasn’t able to be there. So, it was fun to bring everybody together again – I know G&G were just itching to see the guys.

The rain let up just enough so there could be a little outside time. My dad hauled out the old Mule and took the kids (DT included) for a spin. Sam and Henry kicked a soccer ball around the massive yard and did some exploring. Grandma loaded them up on her endless stash of sugary sweets. It was a lovely little visit!

Dad, the kids, and the mule

Mule 1

Mule 2

Mule 3

Mule 4

Mule 5

We squeezed in ONE MORE GAME of Farkle before we hit the road to head home.

Farkle 1

Farkle 2

Farkle 4

Another blast of a weekend in Alexandria is in the books! That the kids could be with us and had so much fun, whatever we found to do, made it all the more spectacular for everyone. Poor Bailey-hound probably slept for days after the Sam-and-Henry-tornado departed! 🙂

tired hound

Like this.

Dam to Dam 2014

DT and I decided to try a little something new with our run this year.  The past couple of years we’ve done the Minneapolis Marathon/Half, which was suitable for the most part.  The full marathon we did three years ago was pretty much a nightmare (the 26.2 miles turned out to be the easy part, if you can imagine – it was the enormous amount of rubbish along the way that completely broke our spirits).  Anyway – it was nice to do a race here in the Cities, sleep in our own bed the night before/after, come home and recover, and not have any travel.  But it just felt like it was time for a change.

So, we signed up for the Dam to Dam half marathon in Des Moines, DT’s beloved hometown.

Welcome runners

We rolled into town Friday afternoon and picked up our race stuff at the convention center.

Veterans Auditorium

DT and me, packet pickup

Free food and beer to fuel up for the run!

Coors - packet pickup

park - packet pickup

Downtown DSM

After the serious business, we met up with a couple of DT’s DSM friends at Confluence Brewing Company.

Confluence Brewing Co

brewing tanks

brewing tanks 2

Confluence’s taproom was very lively with the Friday-after-work-it’s-the-weekend crowd.

Confluence tap room

Their Des Moines IPA was tasty.

Confluence menu

Confluence bar

Next up came our pre-race dinner ritual:  PIZZA.  When in DSM, there is no other option than Tavern, DT’s most favorite pizza on the entire planet.

Tavern outside

Tavern bar

Tavern menu

Here is our steamy, ooey-gooey pepper cheese pie from heaven:

Tavern pepper cheese pizza

We devoured it.

As much as we wanted to flit about and party late into the night, we had to behave ourselves.  Behaving is so hard sometimes, especially in such a fun town!  We capped our evening at Charlie’s Filling Station with their famous freshly-squeezed OJ Screwdrivers.  Ahhh!  Like health in a glass (Wellll….kind of!  Healthy with vodka?  Okay sure).

Goooooooooooood MORNING, sunshines!

race morning

Gah!  This was taken at 4:30 am – so very early!  Big morning ahead.

I wish I would have had my camera to take photos of the starting line at the Saylorville Dam.  It was a really beautiful spot, and the before-dawn calm was incredible.

The race started at 7:00 am with 9,000 registered runners.  The route took us from the first dam, through the rural outskirts of Des Moines, into residential neighborhoods, along the Des Moines River, and we landed downtown to finish.  DT and I loved the change of scenery!

We crossed the finish line, gulped down some Powerade, and [very stiffly and slowly] made our way toward Court Avenue where the farmer’s market was in full swing.  Can I just tell you AGAIN how much I LOVE the Des Moines Farmer’s Market??

DSM farmer's market 1

It was absolutely, positively the BEST energy we could have found after our 13.1-mile trek.

DSM farmer's market 2

Run done, man!

DT and me, post-race

We grew roots at Mickey’s – more Screwdrivers tasted pretty darn good.  And, it was an amazing morning to be out on a patio (thankfully the sun didn’t come out during the run or we would have been on fire – it was already 70 degrees at the start, eep!  We had a little drizzly rain along the way which actually felt quite nice).

A few other friends of DT’s popped in to say hello and visit.


After our refreshments and lunch, we checked into our Saturday night hotel, The Savery.  We stayed here a few years ago and were glad to be back – great accommodations and a prime location downtown.

Savery outside

Savery lobby 1

Savery lobby 2

Savery room 1

Savery room 2

Savery room 3

Savery view 1

Savery view 2

Then we napped.  Ohhh, I love naps!  By the time we fell asleep around 3:00 we’d already been awake over 11 hours and had run a half marathon.  Whew!  The R&R felt amazing.

We met up with still more friends of DT’s (he’s quite popular, isn’t he?) at Court Avenue Brewing Company.  Then on to El Bait Shop.

El Bait Shop outside

El Bait Shop patio

120 beers on tap, yowza!

El Bait Shop taps

DT and me, El Bait Shop patio

Downtown DSM 2

El Bait Shop inside

Such a fun place!

DT and me, El Bait Shop

Our final stop of the night was over to Raccoon River Brewing Company for their delectable vanilla cream ale.

Raccoon River Brewing

This here is like a pint of crack, it’s so so good.

Vanilla cream ale

Stick a fork in me, I’m DONE!

What an awesomely wonderful, albeit long, day.  DT and I had a blast, that’s all there is to it.

Before leaving town Sunday, we made a trip to Hy-Vee (where shopping for groceries is simply a delight) and visited DT’s Grandma Mo.  Then the long ride home.

We’re already making plans for next year’s Dam to Dam, but it’s going to be tough to top our inaugural run!

Saturday Bike Ride to Sea Salt

It took us until July 20, but we finally made the ride to Sea Salt and Minnehaha Falls Saturday.  We went a different route that took us around half of Lake Nokomis.  See downtown Minneapolis in the distance?

view from Nokomis

David riding 1

David riding 3

Oooooo….I just love it here!

Minnehaha Falls 1

The Falls were gushing from all the rain we’ve had this year.  Last summer it was just a trickle.

Minnehaha Falls 2

Our plan was to grab lunch at Sea Salt, but the line was so nuts the entire time we were there.

Sea Salt line

So we just had some beers and relaxed on the patio for a spell.  That also works for us. 😉


After our ales, we headed down to the lower area of the falls.  View from above:

top of the falls


DT and me

checking water temp

Checking the temp

Falls 1

Falls 2

DT, Falls


DT and me, Falls 2

Falls 2

So beautiful!

Oh, also – take note of Sea Salt’s extensive hot sauce collection:

hot sauces

Maybe Hellraising could join the ranks?  We’ll work on that!

How was your weekend?

Screens from the Weekend

As previously predicted….here’s a little glance at our weekend.  It was a mighty good one. 🙂


Pre-game drinks and apps at Key's

Pre-game drinks and apps at Key’s

Twins game

Twins game with Nate and Nancy

Target Field

Target Field

View from our seats

View from our seats – not too shabby!

The fab four

The fab four

Leaving Target Field

Twins lost – boo.

Leaving Target Field 2

But it was still a beautiful night to see a game.


packet pickup

Get ready for the Minneapolis Half!

Broadway RR car

Ritual pre-race cheese pizza at one of my favorite Twin Cities pizza spots with la familia

Broadway entrance

pizza box


race outfit

Race outfit ready to go


Race day - up and at 'em early

Race day – up and at ’em early

Downtown Minneapolis

Downtown Minneapolis, 5:15 am

Mile 9 - 1

Welcomed cheers (and tambourine! 🙂 ) from Nate and Nancy at mile 9

Mile 9 - 2

finish line

All done!

Nan and me

Nan and me – she’s the best cheerleader!


Post-run smoothies: frozen raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, two bananas, vanilla frozen yogurt, rainbow sherbet, orange juice

How was your weekend, what did it look like?

Saturday at Sea Salt

Yesterday, finally this summer….we made it to Sea Salt!

It shouldn’t have taken us until the first weekend of August….but, well, it did.  DT and I rode our bikes to Minnehaha Falls yesterday – about an hour each way – and met a few of our favorite people – Nancy, Nate, and Zeb – for lunch at Sea Salt.

Sea Salt lunch

Veggie tacos and vino on Sea Salt’s patio….yippeee!  I’ve  been waiting for this alllll summer.

DT and me

Minnehaha Falls

The falls.

The falls 2

The falls 3


DT and the falls

Nancy and me

Nan and me.

Bliss!  I insist we make at least one more ride before this time of year is over….need to pencil that in pronto.

How was your weekend?  Any fabulous bike rides?

The Minneapolis Half

Yesterday DT and I ran the Minneapolis half marathon.  Whoop!

It was soooooo much better than last year when we ran the full marathon.  We might as well have been run over by a freight train 12 times.  It was brutal, for a number of reasons:

  1. Our training took place during one of the most ridiculous springtimes still-winter-cold-snowing-sleeting-blowing-for-every-long-training-run four months.
  2. So naturally, on race day it was a sweltering, sunny, 80+ degrees.
  3. The course was horrible – hilly, then a surprise trail run to reroute due to flooding, then an enormous hill to climb just before the finish line – did I mention there were hills??  At mile 25, we pretty much wanted to die or orchestrate a murder-suicide.
  4. General movement, particularly where it involved legs, was difficult for the next 48 hours.  As you might imagine.

(I should note that marathon was DT’s eighth, and my second.  My first was not nearly as traumatic as number two, and DT would say the same about his previous seven.)

Anyway, enough lamenting about last year, because yesterday was so much more fun.  Here’s why:

  1. Training was shortened extensively, and the weather has been phenomenal.  We only had one torrential downpour during a long run.
  2. Yesterday was warm, but we had plenty of shade and a nice breeze.
  3. We had so many awesome cheerleaders making noise and pumping us up along the way  (we had kickass cheerleaders last year too!).
  4. The course this year was a MAJOR improvement.  No trails, no vicious hills just before the finish line, no murderous or suicidal thoughts.
  5. And the biggest bonus:  only 13.1 miles!  😉

Legs are a little stiff and sore today, oyyoyoy.  But a GOOD sore – not run-over-by-a-freight-train-12-times sore.

It all began Saturday when we picked up our packets.

packet pick up 1

packet pick up 2

Depot packet pickup 1

Depot packet pickup 2

packet box

Depot packet pickup 3

Minneapolis Marathon banner

We had our dinner-before-a-race standby that night:  cheese pizza (thank you, Papa Murphy’s – I owe you a post soon).

cheese pizza

cheese pizza with pepperoni

DT added turkey pepperoni to his half.

baked race pizza

Baked, and ahhhh….

race pizza slice

We were up at 6 am yesterday morning – like the first day of school, I’d laid out my outfit the night before.  😉

race outfit

race chip 1

Race chip on shoe!

race chip on shoe 2

Racers are ready to leave the house!

DT and me, race day 1

In this photo, I look asleep.

DT and me, race day 2

In this photo, DT looks asleep.

We just couldn’t quite get it together.

Fast forward 11 miles….

DT and me, mile 11

Photo courtesy of Nathan Berndt.

And 2.1 miles later….DONE!

finishing flowers

Beeyooteeful finishing flowers from my brother.

I need to gather more photos from my parents and other friends who snapped pics and cheered us on.  Hopefully more to come later!

Now that training is complete, I need to work on my headstand.  🙂