I don't know what I was thinking when I suggested taking a hike at Blue Mounds State Park last Saturday. Especially after the previous Tuesday's snowfall and then the wind a couple of days later making drifts. Now I don't know if the trails at Blue Mounds were any better before the snowstorm, but it sure looked like Ross and I were the only ones traipsing down one in the last few weeks.
We pulled into a parking area near one of the trails, suited up with a warm coat, hat, and boots. And so began our journey. Ross basically blazed a path for me through the drifted snow. We headed down by the dam area, he took a few photos and we got back on the trail. Let's just say that we probably both got quite the workout that afternoon. Plodding through the snow can take a lot out of a person. It was step, step, sink; step, step, sink for most of the walk. Fortunately, there was a portion of the trail that was bare. But that didn't last long. We were back in the drifted snow, trying to figure out which part wasn't too deep. There were times when I took a step and the snow was up to my knee. It took valiant efforts to keep both of my boots on. And of course I managed to step on the end of my scarf during one of my knee-deep adventures and nearly pulled myself to the ground. Even though Saturday was the colder day of the weekend, maybe 25 degrees, we still got a little warm doing our strenuous hike. The bottom half of my sweatpants were snowy and wet, my wool socks were damp. That's when we decided to keep going to Sioux Falls; Washington Pavilion in particular, to see the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit.
Guess I better get dry in the next 25 miles.
We stopped at a rest stop along the way. I took advantage of being the only one in the bathroom to hoist my leg up by the dryer to get my pants legs and socks a little less wet. Ross wondered why I was taking a little longer to visit the restroom.
We arrive at the Pavilion, pay the admission and head up to the gallery. The music playing over the sound system just heightened the experience for me. I know a little about Toulouse-Lautrec's life and work, but this was a treat for me to see some of his art up close and personal. It was the same way I felt almost 24 years ago when I was looking at Monet's work at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. I was just plain transfixed. The exhibit at the Pavilion is about 150 works of his on paper, 12 of his posters and 35 sketches that were draft ideas for the posters. I was imagining the artist, walking around Montmarte (I've actually been there!), checking out the theaters and nightclubs and capturing the essence of those places.
Then we went to the other galleries. One of them contains spectacular quilt art, or actually, art textiles, by Annie Helmericks-Louder. According to her website, Helmericks-Louder said this past year she's found her work becoming abstract as she focuses more closely on color, texture and pattern and also on experiences "that go beyond words and images." Her work has amazing details. I can only wish to have an eighth of her talent.
After a brief bit of shopping, it was time for dinner. I've always wondered what the food was like at Carnaval Brazilian Grill. We were actually heading for one of the two Hu Hot locations when we stumbled upon Carnaval. It wasn't looking too promising when we saw the number of cars already there. The wait turns out to be an hour to an hour and a half. OK, time to find a different place for dinner. We're back on the road to the Hu Hot when I see the restaurant I actually looked up a couple of days beforehand, Shahi Palace India Grill. There's a good number of patrons in there, but it wasn't overly busy. I think the only time I really had Indian food was some fast food type of place in Rochester; well I remember getting curry. We had an appetizer, fried cheese with mint sauce fried in a chickpea batter, followed by the entrees and naan. Ross had a mixed grill - a combination of chicken, lamb and prawns from the tandoor and I had chicken kraal, a delicately spiced boneless chicken stir fried in an Indian wok with fresh tomatoes, onions, ginger, bell peppers and spices. I really enjoyed my food, but it was just a lot. I couldn't finish my entree. I would love a return visit sometime.
As we're heading out of Sioux Falls and getting gas at a BP, I look out the window and notice a hot pink colored limo. Yes, pink. And we both had to whip out our cell phones to take a photo.