Sunday, June 19, 2011

RAVE - Hastings/Prescott

Yesterday, Jeff, my brother, Dan, and his girlfriend, Chelsea, and I went on a RAVE - River Action Volunteer Event. We grabbed our raingear and bug spray and headed out to Hastings to help with river restoration projects in Lake Rebecca Park.

The four of us in the parking lot waiting to begin
We split into groups. Some groups went to pick up trash; our group got to help with buckthorn removal. Buckthorn is an invasive species that has become very troublesome. It was first brought over from Europe to plant in yards as shrubbery but now plays a part in decreasing biodiversity.

Jeff and Chelsea pulling Buckthorn
Sometimes it was a two person job!
After we finished pulling buckthorns (no, we didn't pull them all - just worked for about 1/2 hour on the project), we donned our PFDs from Wilderness Inquiry and loaded up 6 24-foot canoes to head to an island to pull garlic mustard plants.
All the PFDs had different species written on the back.
While paddling we got to go under this cool bridge and see trains going by. We also saw 3 bald eagles and a huge eagle's nest. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the eagles. :(
The canoe trip was about 3-4 miles. The thunder started while we were working our way down the river. As soon as the last canoe (ours) was unloaded, the skies really opened up and the rain began to fall. Hard. Since it was accompanied with thunder and lightning, they decided to call the event early, and we loaded back into the canoes to head to Prescott, WI, to meet our shuttle to get back to Hastings. Luckily, Prescott was very close by, so we were soon back on shore. I was a little disappointed that we didn't get to pick any garlic-mustard, as some people were talking about taking some home to make into pesto. Yum!

Dan and Chelsea on the shuttle back to Hastings. She claims to have been miserable, but I don't buy it.
Just look at that smile!
We were soaked through and through! Before hopping in the car to head back to St Paul, Jeff and Chelsea took off their pants for the 30 min drive. Have you ever tried to put back on soaked jeans? I'd imagine it would be difficult, so back at our apartment, these two just made a run for it in their skivvies.

Ok. Well, Jeff stopped to pose for a picture.
After we got dried off and cleaned up, we all went to the St Clair Broiler for some dinner. It was delish!

I don't know about the rest of them, but I know I'm looking forward to the next RAVE in July! :)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Cocina del Barrio - Edina, MN

Last night Jeff and I went to Cocina del Barrio in Edina for dinner after our dance lesson at Arthur Murray's studio.

We were in a bit of a rush because we wanted to get back to the studio for a group dance lesson, so we told the host when he was seating us that we were short on time.

Our server, Matt, greeted us at our table, having been informed by the host of our time crunch. He was fantastic. We asked him for suggestions on what would be quick, and he pointed out some areas on the menu of which to steer clear. Before he even left the table, we decided on the Chicken and Black Bean Tostada (per his recommendation) and the Grilled Flatbread.

The tostada came up very quickly - even before our drinks arrived!

At first we were skeptical. We weren't sure how it would taste or even how to go about eating it, but we dug in, and oh wow! It was fantastic!! It was a perfect combination of flavor and texture. Now, I really wish I had taken a picture with my phone.

The flatbread arrived just as we were finishing the tostada. I was pretty full by this time, I must not have been that hungry to begin with. so I didn't savor this dish as much. It was really good, too, but definitely not as delectable as the tostada. If I had to choose one over the other, I'd definitely choose the tostada. Hands down. I believe Jeff would second that as well.

Shortly after the flatbread arrived, our server dropped off our check. We really appreciated that, since we had said we were in a hurry.

Their menu appears to have a good selection of meat, chicken, and fish options. The service was prompt, friendly, and catered to our needs. Overall, we would definitely recommend this restaurant (and the tostada)!


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