Sloshing around

Erik loooves beer. I do not. But every once in a while, I make a valiant effort to develop an appreciation. For Erik’s birthday in September, I booked us two spots on the Fermented NY walking tour through Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We saw a story about the tour in an issue of Edible Brooklyn, and we had both been eyeing it. The tour promised many samples of beer and food, as well as a lesson on the local beer-making history.

We started the tour at Mug’s Ale House, a down-to-earth old school favorite with locals:

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We had three samples of beer, including one pumpkin ale (I always get excited for this, even though I end up disappointed when I realize it tastes more like beer than pumpkin), along with nachos and wings.

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The food in front of me disappeared. The beer did not.

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Lucky Erik pretty much got to have double portions of beer at each stop. No matter how I try, I just cannot like it!

I can, however, pose with it:

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Next stop was the famous Brooklyn Brewery.

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We discovered that “local” only means so much, however. The beer may be brewed right in Brooklyn, but the malt comes from Germany!

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The tour included a full beer from the on-site bar:

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As usual, Erik ended up with both of them after I took a few good sport sips:

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Our super-hip tour guide gave us an excellent rundown of the brewing process.

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We learned about the barrels and vats and tubes and all sorts of technical beer stuff.

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I was mostly impressed by the kitty cozying up on top of the barley bags.

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Next, we stopped outside of Teddy’s Bar & Grill, which still boasts the original stained glass from its days as Peter Doelger’s Extra Beer brewery in the mid-1800s.

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We even saw the remnants of the separate women’s entrance that the bar had back in the day.

After Teddy’s, we moved onto the Spuyten Duyvil Grocery:

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Spuyten Duyvil Grocery is a little fancy foods shop that wants to be a beer store. Due to the law that any establishment that sells beer must also sell at least 50% food, the shop is stocked with gourmet pickles and jams and cookies and crackers and other fun treats:

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Next was the Sputen Duyvil bar, obviously under the same ownership as the shop.

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We went straight to the garden. I love the backyards of Brooklyn restaurants! Each one is such a surprise.

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We got a beautifully colorful flight of three beers, along with fresh bread, spicy sorpressata, and a fancy goaty-sheepy cheese.

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The garden also had its own fig tree!!! I was so excited about this:

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Posing with the fig:

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Our last stop was Barcade.

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This place is Williamsburg through and through. It’s a super casual yet hip bar, and its walls are lined with …

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… actual original arcade games! You can see some in the background here:

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We had our many beer samples, and then our guide gave us all quarters so we could go play.

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I picked Tetris; Erik played Punch Out.

It was fun to be able to explore a local neighborhood through a new perspective. I would definitely go on another Urban Oyster tour. They even have one for food carts. That is next on my list, of course 🙂 We had a great time but were completely wiped out by the end of this. I fell into bed and napped for three hours when we got home. Yayyy for local history! To me, beer still does not taste good.

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Up on the rooftop

I discovered my roof this summer in a way that I never have in all the years I’ve lived in my apartment.

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Sure, I’ve gone up there before, but I never thought it was anything worth talking about … until the sound of fireworks lured me up there at one point early this summer. I thought I might be able to get a glimpse of what was happening and BOOM! I noticed that I have a view of the NYC skyline???!!

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Not too shabby! When our un-airconditioned apartment became too much to bear after approximately seventy-six 90-degree plus days in a row, Erik and I headed up to the roof with a yoga mat to enjoy our snack/dinner to catch the teeny breeze.

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We went to town on this Trader Joe’s concoction of sundried tomato, pesto, and cream cheese with gorgonzola cracker:

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And a homemade smoothie (I think?)!

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Yay for snacks! On the roof!

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Also this summer, I found myself on a DC country club balcony one gorgeous late August evening at a pre-wedding cocktail party …

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Could the view get ANY greener?

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Mint juleps were the specialty of the night, so I dove in and ordered one, putting aside my ulcer concerns:

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It was too alcohol-y for me, though, so I gave it away and got some Malbec (my new favorite wine!) instead.

Here’s a smattering of the scrumptious cocktail fare:

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100% Maryland crab crab cake!!

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Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm …

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Make-your-own shrimp-and-grits station:

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Mmm, again!

Stunning sunset:

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What made the night even better was that I got to hang out with my sister Emily:

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And my dad and stepmom and more family that that rarely see!

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I was so inspired by those baby crab cakes that I ordered a crab cake burger at lunch the next day.

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Once again, it was 100% crab and sooooooooooooooooo amazing.

Fast-forwarding through the wedding …

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… here were the post-wedding dessert selections!

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My brother came over for a chat, but I was clearly too invested in my creme brulee to notice:

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Post-wedding dessert was followed by post-wedding drinks (and unpictured post-wedding artichoke dip!):

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To cap off this lovely summer of outdoor fun, Erik and I went out to Staten Island to visit with his aunt, uncle, and cousins on Labor Day. We worked up an appetite strolling the Staten Island beach that I had NO idea existed:

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Linner involved garden gazpacho, homemade by Erik’s aunt Lois:

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Garden salad with steak strips and roasted veggies:

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And (sadly unpictured) grilled pineapple with coconut sauce! Ahhh, I am getting so hungry writing this post, that I must go raid the fridge this instant.

Later!

Two wheels

The day after we returned from the cabin was our last full day in Minnesota. We spent the morning at Erik’s mom house, and I was so touched to see that she had prepared ahead for my ulcer situation with some Good Belly juice. Awwwwww …

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For breakfast, I had cinnamon toast with mashed banana on top:

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I guess it doesn’t take much, but I was so excited about the beauty of this cinnamon toast!

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Course #2 was an egg with cheese:

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After a completely natural chat and some newspapering …

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… we set out on our agenda of the day:

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A bike tour around Minneapolis!

Once again, I was dazzled beauty of these MN houses, most of which were on lakes:

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We rode through the Sculpture Garden …

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And across the Mississippi …

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We stopped for lunch at an amaaazing cafe, hand-picked by Erik.

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I saw the menu and decided it was acceptable:

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OK, more than “acceptable.”

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Erik ordered the chipotle BBQ tofu sandwich:

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And I ordered the black bean quinoa burger:

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They were both delicious, but Erik’s sandwich was the winner by far. My sandwich had so many amazing flavors that I sort of couldn’t taste anything!

After lunch, we rode for many many many more miles around lake after lake after lake. When I thought I couldn’t stay on that seat another second, I made an executive decision for us to stop at the Lake Calhoun snack stand:

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Obviously, we had to take advantage of the catch of the day: made from scratch extra tart key lime pie:

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Satisfied.

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We dropped off our bikes at the shop (after 7 hours of riding!) and took a stroll toward downtown. We walked through the Wedge on the way, a neighborhood that boasts a food co-op of the same name:

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Snacks = happy Sarah.

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Once downtown, Erik indulged my demands yet again and brought me to the Foshay Tower, as I have an obsession with observation decks on top of tall buildings:

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When we finished observing, Peder picked us up and drove us back out to their mom’s house for a casual dinner of salad:

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And pizza:

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And carrot cake and lemon squares:

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OK, don’t mind if I do.

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After eating, we had a good chat around the fire out back, since Erik’s mom and stepdad had taken out a special permit for it and we did not want it to go to waste!

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We spent the night at Erik’s dad and stepmom’s house and then had to catch our flight back to NYC the next morning. Sad to leave!

We were so bummed about the end of vacation, in fact, that we decided to keep it going with lunch at Chili’s during our stopover in Milwaukee.

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After the fajita, however, it was time to admit defeat. Vacation was over. But do not cry for me, Minnesota. I will be back!

Roughing it

Continuing with the MN saga, we spent that night at Erik’s dad’s house and got up even earlier the next morning to begin the long drive up north with Erik’s stepmom, Diane. We stopped for a photo-op in Duluth …

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… and for a picnic on Lake Superior. Diane had packed the most incredible feast!

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Against all the rules, we played in the water after we ate.

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I was like a broken record: Are you sure this is a lake? This is not the ocean?

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But where is the other side??

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I suppose that is why they call it Lake Superior.

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And I continued to be sold on MN as we continued our journey north.

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After many many many hours, we finally arrived up at the cabin, where Erik’s dad and brother were waiting.

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I must admit that this was the part of the trip I had feared the most. Three nights in a little cabin in the middle of nowhere with FIVE adults and no electricity and no plumbing. NO PLUMBING??!!

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Ugh.

But it was surprisingly easy and fun, especially since wild raspberries and blueberries were everywhere I looked!

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And the kitchen in the cabin was the most adorable thing I’d ever seen!

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Somehow, Diane managed to prepare a gourmet feast for us every single night in that little space:

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And take a look at this ingenious toasting contraption:

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Breakfasts generally involved some kashi golean crunch with fruit, yogurt, and earl grey 🙂

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And water drawn from the WELL!

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Lunches revolved around our planned activities, such as a 5-mile hike along the Superior Hiking Trail:

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We had a really cool idea to eat our sandwiches (pre-made by me!) in the middle of the Brule River:

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There was a minor incident that involved me slipping into the river during the tiptoe out to our target rocks, but I recovered quickly.

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The experience was definitely worth the impromptu ice bath!

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After the hike, we met Erik’s brother Peder for dessert at the Naniboujou Lodge. Can you believe this place?

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More rhubarb-based treats:

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When we finished dessert, we went out behind the lodge to collect some big rocks for our planned marshmallow-roasting fire.

Again, I was in awe of Lake Superior. Remember, this is not an ocean …

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… but there is a tide. There were waves.

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Completely unbelievable to me! The whole way out there, I was turning my nose up at all this talk of “great” lakes. I’m an ocean girl, and I was sure I could not be swayed by these mid-western lakes. But I ate my words! There were WAVES.

The skies seemed a bit threatening later on …

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… but I was determined to make the s’mores happen. I appealed to my boyfriend’s masculine side until he gave in and dusted off his old Boy Scouts talents to get the fire started.

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Nobody regretted the move!

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On our last night at the cabin, time got away from us and it was suddenly too late to start a fire. Never fear! We used the stove:

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I was sad to leave the cabin when our three days were over, but there was one thing that made it easier:

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We stopped in town for the World’s Best Donuts on our way out.

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Mmmmmmmmmm.

I love northern Minnesota.

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Did you know that the Great Lakes were so great?

Minnesota is not a hard sell

This year, I did something I never ever ever imagined I would do in my wildest dreams.

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I planned my major summer vacation to take place in Minnesota.

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What reason could I possibly have for vacationing in the mid-west?

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Erik happens to be from right outside of Minneapolis, and I love visiting new spots … so to the midwest it was!

Erik had flown out earlier in the week to have a bit of solo time with his family, so he came to pick me up at the airport and then drove us to St. Paul to meet Pamela and Becka, two of my best friends from NYU.

We had a very satisfying dinner at Punch Pizza, and it looked like this:

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After dinner, Erik took off to meet his mama for dinner, and I stayed with the girls to wander around downtown Minneapolis. We caught sight of the Aquatennial fireworks from Pamela’s office building …

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… and then …

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… we situated ourselves at Zelo for dessert!

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Obviously, I was in heaven going back and forth between the rhubarb crumble and the chocolate lava cake.

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(I did, however, have significantly less of the chocolate because, as I have mentioned, I was ulcer-ridden this whole summer and under doctor’s orders to stay away from chocolate, tomato, caffeine, soda, spicy food, citrus, alcohol, and any other food that sounds fun.)

The next morning, we were up with the sun in preparation for Becka’s yoga class. Lucky for me, Becka is a yoga instructor and she and Pamela pulled some strings to get me in!

I warmed up with a soymilked vanilla rooibos and a Van’s with jam:

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The class was excellent! I hadn’t been to hot yoga in ages, and Becka made me realize how much I missed it. Also, the yoga studio was conveniently located above Bread and Chocolate:

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I had lotssssssssss of samples:

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And I took the ladies’ advice and ordered the almond croissant:

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Ahhhhhhhhh, this was incredible. It was stuffed with almond paste. Mmmmmmm, it was like eating a delicious hunk of marzipan wrapped in perfectly buttery, sweet, flaky bread.

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Between the croissant and the chai I got with it, I well exceeded my sugar quota for the day. I could hardly see straight when I was done! We counteracted the sugar daze with a long walk through their St. Paul neighborhood.

My goodness, would you look at this house?!

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It was one of dozens and dozens. I have never seen such a high concentration of beautiful houses!

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After our walk, Erik came back and collected me to head to his mom’s house for some grilling action.

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We had corn on the cob, baked beans, and brats!

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Watermelon for a palette-cleanser:

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And carrot cake made by JohnO, Erik’s stepdad.

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After dinner, Erik took me for a walk around Lake Calhoun.

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I was sold in 30 seconds.

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Can …

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… we …

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… move …

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… to …

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… Minnesota?

Please?