Twin Cities, You Cute.

Many many moons ago, on one of her numerous cross country drives, my friend Vicky mentioned that The Twin Cities were cool. As this was well before I had properly explored this country it was met with a resounding, “Yeah, right.”

Well, as it turns out, she was right.

Kyle’s cousin Josh and his wife Kiera have been living in Saint Paul for just over a year now and were eager to show it off. They live in a loft building in downtown with a brewery, a pizza place, a diner, a thai restaurant and a gay bar on the first floor. This fact alone gave the Twin Cities a ton of points. It’s frigid outside but you don’t even need to leave your building to socialize? WIN.

We arrived on the 1st of August which was National Night Out, an event neither Kyle nor I had ever heard of. Apparently it’s to encourage people to meet their neighbors, have block parties, and engage with local police. It’s supposed to be nationwide, but from what we could glean it is an exclusively fly-over state phenomenon. The good thing about this thing happening on our first night in town is that we got to meet all of the people in Josh and Keira’s building at once and assure them that it was us in the RV in their parking lot and not some random creepers.

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On our second night in town we were taken to a place called The Gopher for what everyone referred to as “Racist Hotdogs” because the Gopher is decorated with many more confederate flags than you would expect to see in the Great White North. Apparently they also had confederate flag uniforms at one point, but those have since been abandoned. 

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We were escorted to The Gopher by Josh and Kiera’s next door neighbor, an off-duty police chief who insisted on bringing her gun. She was absolutely not the only one. The clientele was eclectic. There was a gentleman there who couldn’t have been less than 6’5” wearing a bright purple shirt with WYOMING splashed across the front in large white letters and either a gun or a tactical knife in his back pocket. There were a large number of bikers. There were three ancient ladies who were all dolled up and incredibly intoxicated.

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Their menu features a cartoon gopher pulling sausages out from under his shirt. It also features an adorable story about how getting hired as a waitress means you’ll end up marrying one of the owners. At no point do they draw attention to their decor which features numerous instances of the word “FUCK”, a Peeping Tom in the ladies room and all those Confederate Flags.

When it came time to order our dogs, Kiera was on the fence about what to get as she’s usually a pescatarian. Our escort barked, “You don’t go to a whorehouse for a hug!” and the matter was settled – Kiera was getting a hotdog.

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The dogs were amazing, the beers were cheap, the walls were racist – it was definitely an experience.*

After Coney Dogs we hit up 12welve Eyes Brewery which was started by three guys in glasses. Get it? Twelve Eyes? They had only just opened – the place still smelled like varnish – but the beers were good and the staff was nice and their tap handles were cute.

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From there it was off to Tin Whiskers brewery where I learned what Tin Whiskers are: Tin whiskers are electrically conductive, crystalline structures of tin that sometimes grow from surfaces where tin (especially electroplated tin) is used as a final finish. Tin whiskers have been observed to grow to lengths of several millimeters (mm) and in rare instances to lengths in excess of 10 mm.

Thanks, Nasa.

The next day Josh took us out to Revival for some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. It was a little bit spicy and a whole lot crunchy and it filled my hungover body with the greasy nutrients it craved.

We explored the sculpture garden at The Walker Art Center and saw Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen which is apparently ~a thing~ but I’d never heard of it. We saw the ruins of a flour mill and rode bikes across a bridge. 

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On our final day in town Josh and Kiera took us to a place called the Hi-Lo Diner where the Bloody Marys come with little squat bottles of High Life on the side and donuts can be covered in duck confit. It’s intense.

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But the pièce de résistance of this whole experience was definitely Can Can Wonderland, an artist designed carnival themed indoor mini-golf course with a full bar.

Alcoholic Milkshake

SO BOOZY

The bar menu features boozy slushies and milkshakes, cocktails topped with candy and four varieties of popcorn. There is a massive vintage arcade featuring over twenty pin-ball machines. The mini-golf itself has (what was formerly) the longest mini-golf hole in the world and it’s Prince themed. Just that hole though. The others are all themed differently from Gramma’s Living Room to Natural Disaster(s). Yes I’m serious. You can read a list of all the holes here.

A definite runner up was Ax-Man Surplus. A Store with surplus EVERYTHING. Art supplies, circuits, weird goggles, any fuse you could possibly imagine, boxes and bags, ovals of joy. You name it, they got it.

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The owners definitely have a sense of humor because the place is decorated insanely and covered in little handwritten signs. One I didn’t photograph was for spider keychains that read, “eight legged NOPES.”

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Oh! I forgot! We also went to Matt’s and tried the Original Juicy Lucy – a burger stuffed with absolutely boiling delicious cheese. We basically only ate and drank for the entirety of our stay. It was wonderful.

Juicy Lucy

So Twin Cities has a lot of things in the plus column: it’s cheap. There’s nightlife. There’s a serious cocktail and beer culture. There is some really good food.We know people there. You can get away with not having a car. Sure, it’s freezing for six months out of the year but does it really matter when there’s a brewery downstairs?


Incase you missed it – I’ve started a Patreon!

Patreon is a digitized patronage program designed to help people with an interest in the arts support the people who make what they love. Specifically designed to encourage small monthly payments it gives you the opportunity to fund the creative process of people in all sorts of fields. It’s a way of saying, “Thank You.” to the humans who create content you love.

I started ours for the sole purpose of continuing to support our endeavors via creativity. If you’ve ever felt any warm and fuzzies while reading Dare to Pee consider becoming a patron! You’ll get fun photos and writing that doesn’t exist here. We’ll love you no matter what!


*An experience which after the events of this past weekend seems suddenly much less light hearted and a lot more disturbing.

Filler Bunny

There are two questions people always ask us so I’m going to answer them in a thinly veiled attempt to distract you from the fact that I haven’t edited my absolutely sensational entry about our visit to The Twin Cities.

Where do you get water?

Fairies deliver it during the night. They come by while we’re sleeping and magically slip gallons and gallons and gallons of fresh water into Sandwich so we’re able to enjoy simple things like coffee, tea, and doing the dishes.

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

We get water at campsites, from friend’s houses and a surprising amount of truck stops. We just hook up a hose and a water filter and wait. Depending on water pressure this activity can take anywhere from ten minutes to almost an hour. The same meter that tells us our propane and battery levels also tells us how full our water tanks are, so we just keep an eye on that while we’re filling up.

Our drinking water is all bottled. Yes our fresh water is filtered, yes it’s potable, but after living in a city with the best drinking water ever I’m a snob. And you know what? There is some gross drinking water out there. I’m fine boiling it for tea, but I’m not drinking it.

What’s the deal with your toilet?

Well, for starters, it’s disgusting. Just like yours! We essentially live with a fancy port-o-potty that needs emptying from time to time. There are two tanks that need to be dumped, the grey water and the black. Grey water is just dishwater and anything that’s gone in the sink – black is the poops. When it’s dump day we research where the closest legal dumping area is and head on over. Usually it’s a truck stop or a campsite but once in a while we have to go to a sewage treatment plant. The RV has a…um…chute sticking off the back where the waste comes out. We hook up one end of a special hose to our chute, stick the other in the hole provided and ferry the waste from sandwich into a hole in the ground.

There are a number of garbage people out there who just let the waste leak out while their driving. We’ve even heard stories of people dumping their black tanks in Walmart parking lots! Humanity – it’s revolting.

And you know what else is revolting? Dumping.

When we first started traveling Kyle would fall over himself laughing because of how much I would gag during dumping. It was cartoonish. I turned into Dee from It’s Always Sunny.

I’m still not thrilled with the whole process, but I no longer have a breakdown every two weeks.

This is What Happens When Blogs Stop Being Polite, and Start Being Real

Kyle has brought to my attention that this record of our travels makes our lives look so laid back and easy. Thrilling and adventurous! We’re driving across the country! We’re at the aquarium! We’re visiting friends and family! We saw an alligator! And,  yes, we are absolutely doing all of those things, but that is not the entire picture.

There’s been a recent upsurge in “truthful social media” where people post a picture of themselves looking absolutely pristine but share that they’d actually cried their eyes out earlier because their friend just died or something equally as awful. It’s calling out the fact that everyone shows their best face on the internet and how we’re all lying just a little bit.

For every cute photo I post of Kyle and I together what you’re not seeing is the eye rolling and feet dragging that leads up to it. You don’t see me trying to sneakily set up the self timer. You don’t see how grouchy I get when Kyle intentionally ruins a photo I was really excited about. I dread broaching the topic of wedding photos because I’ve never known anyone who hates taking photos the way Kyle does. (This does not mean there will be no wedding photos. THERE WILL BE PLENTY OF WEDDING PHOTOS…eventually.)

For every four hour aquarium visit there’s hundreds of hours spent knitting, writing, sculpting, driving, casting, cleaning and cooking. Most mornings start with coffee, contemplation, and a twenty-item to do list on a Post-It brand* notepad. Items listed range from posting on Instagram to knitting a hat to making sure ten pieces are cast in the next 24 hours. Sometimes the toilet needs cleaning. Sometimes we need to remember to drink water. Make important phone calls. Mark items in our shops down for sale.

“When was the last time I took a full day off?” Kyle asked me casually the other day.
“Erm…” I tried to think. “Was it Christmas? I feel like it was Christmas.”
“No. On Christmas I was adding the finishing touches to that sculpt, remember?”

We’re constantly working. We’re honestly pretty boring.

I don’t write about the boring times because they just seem so dull. I’ve started tens of blogs about how some of my favorite times are when we’re sitting in Sandwich playing Rummy. People want to read about adventure, not how excited I got when Kyle decided to start cutting our sponges in half (twice as many sponges!) or learned a new knitting technique (three needle bind off!). There’s nothing thrilling about two people in love sitting in opposite corners of their abode quietly ignoring each other. We do spend an inordinate amount of time doing repetitive tasks in odd places, but who wants to know about that when they can read about the time we saw fifty manatees and an armadillo?

I don’t want to use this space to bemoan the fact that sometimes I miss the stability of a regular job. It’s incredibly stressful to not know where your next paycheck is coming from or if it’s coming at all. It’s hard to put yourself out there. It’s hard to only depend on yourself.

Kyle dreams of at least four days parked by a river with nothing to do but finish reading a book. No deadlines. No stress. Even when we were in the Florida Keys on a gorgeous beach Kyle was sculpting, sanding, photographing. He never ever stops because when you work for yourself you can’t. It’s a constant barrage of self-promotion and fighting to keep your self-esteem up. If a piece doesn’t sell, for either of us, our morale takes a nosedive and we have to drag ourselves up out of that hole and plow forward.

It’s the dragging ourselves back up again that’s the hardest. Putting on a brave face and lying to the world. There’s a photo of us from very early on in this adventure, about a month in, and we’re standing on a mountain in Upstate New York making silly faces. My lips are pursed and pushed off to one side and Kyle has one eye closed and his teeth bared. To the untrained eye we look like two people in love, goofing around in a beautiful place. When I look at that photo I see two people who’ve been fighting all day for no particular reason. Maybe we were hungry, or one of us left a mess for the other to clean up. It might have been something big, or it might have been nothing at all. I don’t remember the specifics but I know that we had been yelling at each other just moments before. We fight about all sorts of things but none of them are particularly important. So I grabbed my phone and we we made our faces as cute as we could  to show the world how much fun we were having.

So that’s the truth of it. We’re broke, we’re boring, and we bicker. But despite all that – we’re pretty happy.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.


*How does one get sponsorship from Post-It? Anyone? Bueller?

Wisconsin, It’s Prettier Than You Think

Prior to the summer of 2015 the only thing I knew about Wisconsin was that when I was fifteen years old two of my friends left camp a few days early for a family trip there and got me a cheesehead hat that I absolutely cherished until one of my cats peed in it. That was the entirety of my knowledge about the state of Wisconsin: Cheese hats and cheese hat related products came from there.

Now that we’re on our second run through the state I’m finding myself thinking about our first visit. It was the ninth state Kyle and I had visited together and we entered it for the sole purpose of visiting The House on the Rock.

Of all the things we’ve done and seen on this trip, House on the Rock is the only one I’m not sure I’ve completely recovered from. I took approximately two hundred poorly lit photos that day (mostly of creepy dolls) and I’ve kept every one of them.

I’ll periodically whip out our external hard drive and go through those photos in an attempt to wrap my head around all of the things we saw that day. I remember entering the food court after being surrounded by a complete mishmash of armor, weapons, sea creatures, and God knows what else and it felt like breathing for the first time in a week. There were cars there for some reason, but it didn’t matter because everything was big and open and there was pizza! And it was completely overpriced! And I didn’t care at all! I’d forgotten what year it was and how long we’d been walking through this maze of an attraction so I savored my pricey subpar pizza and then sat on a mini carousel cat because I was tired and it was nice.

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Then we dove back in and felt completely insane again. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that our day at House on the Rock fundamentally changed who I am as a person. It was that bizarre.

This visit to Wisconsin has been much more mellow. For starters we’ve had cell phone service the entire time, an amenity we were denied during our last stay. I’m going to say it was for spooky House on the Rock reasons, but I’m honestly not sure. We were just out of network the whole time. Secondly we’ve stuck to the interstates which has been a lot more scenic than either of us anticipated.

On the I-94 we drove through Mill Bluff State Park and were surrounded by odd rock formations on either side of the road. 

Mill Bluff State Park is a state park in west-central Wisconsin, United States. It is located in eastern Monroe and western Juneau counties, near the village of Camp Douglas. A unit of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve, the park protects several prominent sandstone bluffs 80 feet (24 m) to 200 feet (61 m) high that formed as sea stacks 12,000 years ago in Glacial Lake Wisconsin. As a result, these bluffs are steep and angular, dissimilar to the rounded terrain more typical of the eastern half of the United States. The bluffs served as landmarks to both early pioneers and travelers today on Interstate 90/94, which passes through the park.

We stopped at a rest stop that boasted a scenic overlook and were rewarded with exactly that after a half mile hike up a hill.

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It was at that same rest stop that we were educated about the Passenger Pigeon, a bird that flew at speeds up to sixty-miles per hour and then went extinct in a Cincinnati zoo.

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We spent our last day in Wisconsin at a park on the edge of Lake Menomin. It was complete overrun with (apparently delicious) Canadian Geese which, have I talked about this before? They are such a menace. They are seriously the most disgusting birds and we happen to follow the same migratory pattern as they do, so we’re constantly dealing with them.

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The park was super nice as long as we ignored the grass absolutely littered with goose droppings and feathers. 

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The lake itself was still and gorgeous as long as you didn’t get close enough to the edge to see how much muck was covering the surface by the shore. I’m going to blame the muck on the geese. Just because they’re the worst.

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We have yet to explore any of the cities here. We’ve heard nothing but good things about both Milwaukee and Madison but just haven’t gotten around to visiting either of them. Milwaukee in particular seems like a lot of fun if only because it’s a city on the water with a strong appreciation for cheap beer. Luckily for us, there’s always next time.


Incase you missed it – I’ve started a Patreon!

I’d like to thank Keith Decent, maker extraordinaire,  for becoming our first patron! Check out his YouTube & Instagram! He makes the coolest stuff!

Patreon is a digitized patronage program designed to help people with an interest in the arts support the people who make what they love. Specifically designed to encourage small monthly payments it gives you the opportunity to fund the creative process of people in all sorts of fields. There are painters, sculptors, cartoonists, podcasters, writers and more. Is there a webcomic you love? I bet they have a Patreon. Do you think some podcasts are neat? See if they have a Patreon! It’s a way of saying, “Thank You” to the humans who create the content you love.

Check out mine, if you get a minute, but the whole concept is just really great. If you don’t decide to support this one, maybe you’ll find something else amazing on there!

In Ford We Trust

Nothing prepares you for Detroit. You hear the stories, you see pictures, but none of it shows you even an inkling of what it’s really like. Coming into the city from the North is basically a war zone. Empty factories, burned out buildings, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. When you get out of that and into downtown you suddenly have the inspiration for a dystopian teen novel you never knew was inside of you.

After the sea of abandonment you’re abruptly confronted with giant buildings and new construction. There are LED screens adorning overpasses and weird porthole dotted tunnels running between buildings. There’s a brand new street car system that apparently goes nowhere but looks incredibly futuristic. It all looks like it sprung fully formed out of the forehead of someone dreaming of ~the future~ in 1965.

Because we were seeing all of this through the windows of a moving vehicle I took absolutely no photos. None of them would have done it justice anyway.

We stayed just North of the city with Jeremy and his wife Theresa. Jeremy lived in my house for over a decade when I was growing up, so for lack of a better explanation he’s my older brother. As you can see, there’s a strong family resemblance.

Jeremy took us into Detroit proper to eat a ridiculous meal at Green Dot Stables.

Green Dot Stables

He just said, “we’re going to get sliders” and we agreed because who doesn’t like a tiny burger? This place was so much more than that. You walk into what looks like a hundred year old dive bar and then suddenly they have tiny catfish sandwiches, tiny Philly cheesesteaks and tiny Muffalettas. The prices scream “DIVE BAAAAAR” because nothing on the menu cost more than $3 including most of the beers. The food was so so good though.

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After dinner we headed over to the newly opened Beacon Park where Theresa was watching a band with some friends. When we arrived Kyle goes, “Wait. Is this Lord Huron??!”

It was.

Because Michigan is so amazingly Michigany they have Faygo everywhere. Even the bar in the park had a menu board advertising Brews, Ciders, LaBatt’s, and Faygo. I always associate Faygo with the Insane Clown Posse, but in the great state of Michigan it’s just a way of life.

Faygo

The rest of our visit was spent eating food and chilling out. Jeremy and Theresa were kind enough to let Kyle set up a studio space in their basement, so it was not only a fun visit but also a productive one!

After saying our farewells we headed west towards Illinois with a quick pitstop in Kalamazoo for donuts. The only reason we stopped at all is because a Billboard appeared with the words, “SWEETWATER’S DONUT MILL. BEST DONUTS IN MICHIGAN. TAKE EXIT 80 AND TURN ONTO SPRINKLE ROAD.” How could we not stop for a donut shop on Sprinkle Road? The decision was out of our hands.

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The donuts were fine but the main reason I’m happy we stopped is because I got to see this front page headline:

Dinosaur Facts

Small town America is wonderfully weird, you guys.


I have an announcement! After much urging from Kyle and various other people I have started a Patreon. Nothing about this blog will change at all, there will actually be more updates! Over on the Patreon you’ll find pictures that don’t get posted anywhere else and writing that just isn’t appropriate for this blog. Not that it’s risqué or anything, it just doesn’t necessarily fit in with the tone of things here. I’ve never done anything like this before and feel relatively vulnerable about it but if you like what we’re doing and think my writing is cool, please take a moment to check out the Patreon. Thank you!