09 January 2012

As the Crowe Flies and EATS

Last weekend my husband and I left on a jet plane to visit my family in Wisconsin over New Year's.  Traveling in New England is always a little dicey in the winter, and traveling to Wisconsin at that time of year isn't exactly for the faint of heart.  I find it almost impossible to believe that I was born there, such is the thinness of my blood today.  My brother, in contrast, thinks there's nothing at all wrong with wearing cutoffs and a t-shirt to shovel snow; his heavy winter coat is very similar to the light jacket I wear in the summer when it rains.

Our driveway in snow (& deer tracks)
But I digress.  When traveling in winter, my husband and I always allow plenty of time for layovers in case our departing flights are delayed, and if the forecast predicts even a dusting of snow the night before or the morning of a departure, we hie ourselves to an airport motel to avoid what happened one time on our way to MS in February: the forecast promised less than an inch of snow accumulation overnight, but when we tried to navigate our hilly, curvy driveway, our 4-wheel drive car slid downhill on the black ice.  At one point the car did a 180-degree turn and thus we slid the last bit backwards.  How we ended up not hitting a boulder on the way down or avoiding other cars when we slid into the street below is a matter left to speculation, but we were so shaken that we barely made the drive to the airport on time. We are now thusly over-cautious when it comes to winter travel.

On the bright side, our layovers in winter are also long enough to accommodate meals more leisurely than grabbing takeout from the various fast food chains that define the airport landscape.  In Minneapolis (MSP) we have a favorite place to nosh when the timing works: Surdyk's Flights, which is a full wine shop (thus the punny name for an airport eatery) with a small bistro attached. If you're in a hurry, you can grab a sandwich or homemade pastry to go, but I recommend grabbing one of the booths to settle in for a meal when it's feasible. 

The bar/counter at Surdyk's

Books & cappuccino: so very civilized in an airport
We settled into a cozy booth for two, where our first order of bidness was to turn off the small screen tv, but close on the heels of that, we ordered a couple of cappuccinos (cappuccini?).  I opted for breakfast and chose the egg & swiss panino with a side of fruit while DH selected the prosciutto and pecorino sandwich accompanied by a tarragon potato salad.  Both were excellent, ample, and at $7 and $12, respectively, not out of line in terms of price. Although we didn't partake on this particular visit, Surdyk's also has a full bar with nothing but top shelf liquor.  It's one of the rare places outside the Caribbean or a specialty bar where you can find a really good rum (my friends, Bacardi is rotgut as far as I'm concerned).  They happen to pour Matusalem, or at least did the last time we were there.

My breakfast panino

DH's sandwich

Close up of their made-daily muffins, brioches, and other pastries.
Feeling refreshed and oh-so-very-civilized after lingering over coffee and our books, we soon settled in for our flight to Central Wisconsin Airport (CWA), nestled in the heart of the state.  I've never seen so little snow on the ground in December or January as I did on this trip.  Wisconsin is not at its best in the winter, especially when there's no coat of snow to gently mask the drably harsh features of the landscape, but there is still a kind of stark beauty there.  These are some photos of farmland between the airport and the small, dying mill town where I spent my earliest years:

This photo reminds me quite viscerally of Mississippi

The stories this abandoned house could tell

What else would you name your welding company?
Our visit to Wisconsin was splendid but entirely too short.  It's never enough time to visit with family, whom I only see once or twice a year, but it's a difficult time for me to get away.  There's a fairly short window between the end of the holiday retail season/end of year returns and the gearing up for Winter Institute and textbook rush.  Still, you might be amazed at the sheer amounts of baked goods and liquor that my family and I were able to put away in those brief days.  For once I held my own against my DH, brother, and sister-in-law, but suffice it to say that it will be a long while before I want to get friendly with another bottle of Zacapa.

Before we knew it, it was time to head for the airport again, this time on our way to Detroit (DTW), which is one of my favorite airports.  There's a good Japanese restaurant on the main concourse, and after you've filled up on sushi or noodles, you can entertain AND refresh yourself at the water fountain display.  The water itself can be mesmerizing, but as it shoots and leaps in patterns, it's also ionizing the air around it, so I suggest that you pause to take a few deep breaths.  I also love what I call the Rainbow Connection (someday we'll find it!), the underground tunnel that connects the main concourse with the two smaller ones.  Here are a few more photos in parting:
Sometimes there's music playing, too.

Imagine what it'd be like if you were tripping...
The pause that refreshes
Frost on my mom's window


  1. Oh! I love those photos! Wisconsin is, of course, directly north of us, and I spend a few days there at least every year (my Presbyterian church goes up to Racine for a retreat every February). But yeah, the Midwest has had WEIRDLY WARM WEATHER and it's disconcerting, but not unwelcome if it doesn't mean we're all going to die from climate change.

  2. I love that tunnel as well! The first time I went through it, it was so psychedelic I was afraid I was imagining it. Now, instead of praying that my connecting flight is in the same terminal, whenever I'm in Detroit, I pray I have to make the long trek from one to the other.

    Great photos and post!

  3. You spent time in my neck of the woods. I'm loving the snowless days and nearly spring-like temps. None of us are wearing much of anything outside either. I'm glad you had so much fun.

  4. Alice, I thought of you when I was in my birthstate and how relatively close it was to Chicago.

    Belle, I didn't realize you were from near that neck of the woods, or else I'd have thought of you, too.

    Nicole, for once we didn't have to make that long trek in DTW, but we chose to so we could have a decent meal and spend some time near the fountain. Might as well make use of those 2.5 hour layovers!

  5. You two are professionals! My husband and I just flew from California to Florida to visit family, and our layover wasn't nearly as sophisticated as yours. We spent half of it looking for an electrical outlet and then fell asleep on the floor.

    Teach me, sensei!

  6. I had no idea you were originally from Wisconsin. But I guess you never sounded quite the same as all the other Mississippians and assorted Southerners. That church does look very much like something you'd see in the South. I like your approach to travel....it harks back to taking the train a bit. Get there a little more slowly, but enjoy the trip.


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