16 July 2009

On the Road Again...

"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." ~Jawaharlal Nehru
Russ Troll hit the road over the 4th of July holiday in search of...what else....inspiration?'

He started his tour by hopping in the car early on the morning of the 3rd. So early in fact that he dozed for awhile. When he woke up he saw the strangest site....a pink elephant! If you know where this pink elephant is located, do tell in the comments!

Being the fearless little troll that he is, Russ decided to get up close and personal with said pink pachyderm while I took a pit stop and filled up on some snacks. I wonder what they had to talk about??? (Russ took a bit of a spill from that elephants trunk and stubbed his toe. Owww!)

We got back on the road. We cranked the tunes and sang all our favorite songs at the top of our lungs (although I think I may have blew his ear drums out with my crooning!). We were admiring the beautiful rock formations and noted that they reminded us of the July Art Bead Scene challenge. The inspiration this month is the famed cave paintings at Lascaux. You can watch the coolest cave pictures here. The bluffs we traveled through as we went further south had the same colorations and markings. It was easy to get lost in time.

Speaking of the Caves at Lascaux....here is the piece that I made for this month's Art Bead Scene challenge...tell me what you think of "Betty's Rubble" with brown lava beads from Rings & Things (from my June blog partner goodies), Vintaj hook clasp, black leather cord and an awesome polymer clay bead from Pam Wynn....

And get lost we did! All of a sudden, there was a massive bridge looming in front of us. I peeked at the trip odometer to see that I was about 18 miles beyond where I should have been. No worries. Life is a daring adventure, or nothing. Seeing no where to turn, we quickly approached to see that this bridge spanned a most massive river. The Mississippi, I surmised. But was I headed to Minnesota or Iowa? Hmmmm.....

We ended up in downtown Dubuque. Quaint and charming city by the river this is. I was there once when I was little. Lots of hilly streets, so much in fact that they have the most delightful trolley car that goes to the top of the bluff and back down. Great views.

After a quick pit stop to confirm that I was, indeed, in the wrong state, I got back on the highway. We went over another bridge, this time into Illinois. From there it was a quick 10 mile trip down the road to our destination. Not so lost after all....

Driving into downtown Galena is like going back to another era. The Victorians knew how to build some beautiful architecture. Galena, IL is the home of Ulysses S. Grant. Although I didn't tour it I did see the beautiful mansion on the hill above the river.

The row of multi-story, brick buildings narrowly lining the main street in Galena just steps from the river seems so Hollywood backlot. In fact, the movie Field of Dreams filmed some scenes here when they go to visit Doc Graham. There is a very unique array of stores (at which I couldn't edit myself!), coffee shops, restaurants and inns on this 5 block area. And it was packed.

I lucked out in finding a parking spot just a few doors down from our meeting place. Russ and I got out to stretch our legs. We then went to Galena Beads, home of the Beading Divas, to meet up with Jess Italia-Lincoln, Director of Marketing for Vintaj, who was blocking off some time just for us that day.

Galena Beads is where creativity lives. No lie. They have every kind of bead and supply you can imagine, including my favorite Vintaj natural brass. I had to stick my hands in my pocket and keep the drool at bay. The store was bright and colorful, with some of the best ideas for displaying jewelry I have seen. It was also bustling, with all manner of beaders perusing the racks and making beautiful baubles.

When Jess got there it was like we were old friends. We had met at the Bead & Button show in June and Jess invited me down to Galena for a creative session and to get to know her better. I was not disappointed.

Rose Noble joined us for lunch. Rose works the magic behind the scenes at the Vintaj blog and website. She is such a sweet and kind person and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to put a face with a name.

We walked down to Fritz and Frites restaurant which is a cross between a French Bistro and a German biergarten.

Russ ate every last bite of his ham and swiss sandwich on a pretzel bagel. Yes. A bagel that tastes just like a pretzel! C'est ci bon!

Russ had a table all to himself. But we made sure to include him in all the girly fun.

After lunch, we stopped in to Vintaj Earth and met Jamie. This is the retail arm of Vintaj and carries all manner of completed jewelry lines. The rustic old doors and wrought iron were all amazing displays. I bought a Vintaj Earth t-shirt so that I can proudly say that I am a supporter!

Then we were back at Galena Beads to play! What fun we had! Russ couldn't wait to get started. We decided to focus on freeform filigree wrap and filigree rings. We talked about using the new Vintaj blanks to do all sorts of fun things from stamping and dapping to filling with resin and image transfers. Their latest creative day featured riveting. Woohoo! That is right up my alley!

I found Russ checking out some really intricate and delicate wire crochet and he even filled up my bead tray with great goodies while I played.

In the end I walked away with an armload of great beads and filigree and heart full of love for all my new friends at Vintaj. You can bet that I will be back!

I stayed at the Main Street Inn because it was located right on Main Street. The room was very comfortable and roomy enough for Russ to share too. He really enjoyed the fluffy pillows.

Russ and I had a fantastic dinner at One Eleven Main. This relatively new restaurant occupies the upper levels of a great restored property. The original hardwood floors and exposed brick really added to the atmosphere.

I wasn't driving anywhere, just stumbling up Main Street later, so Russ said that we could share a glass or two of shiraz. We enjoyed the appeteaser of fresh salad, cup of soup and a fresh loaf of bread. That would have been enough! But there is more!

In honor of the fact that I was on the tri-state tour that day, I chose their Tri-State Pork entree. I really appreciated that this restaurant strives to incorporate local flavors. Their menu listed all the producing farms where they buy their product from along with their location. This entree featured a pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon (Iowa), mashed potatoes and asparagus, and a demi-glace of maple syrup (Illinois) and Door County cherries (Wisconsin). I hate asparagus, but this dish may have changed my mind. There was nothing left!

Did I save room for dessert? You bet! I ordered a citrus creme brulee. Yumm-o.
Russ was a perfect gentleman and we walked the few blocks back to our Inn arm-in-arm. We decided to fluff up the pillows and create some wire wrapped rings using vintage buttons and Swarovski crystals.

The next day we were off to Sleepy Hollow, IL for a surprise party for my college roommate D. She was turning 40. She is a breast cancer survivor, but that was not the end of her challenges. That is why those who loved her most needed to be there to celebrate her life. When D saw me she cried. I cried. We hugged. We stayed up until the wee hours catching up on all that we have missed since we haven't seen each other in a few years. That is something that I deeply regret. And living a life without regrets is one of my two life resolutions, so I am so very glad that I took the time to be there for her and to support her and show her my love.
We got to witness some amazing fireworks from her mother's backyard. I will leave you with some eye candy to inspire you.

Do you ever take trips by yourself? I have to thank my dear husband and the Tiny Dancer and Sport-O for not only allowing me this time away but also encouraging it. I am truly lucky. It is always fun to take a trip, sometimes even more so by yourself (although I was not alone since I had Russ Troll with me!). When I do travel I find great inspiration in the people and places that I experience. I want to eat the best, shop the best and discover the best that the place has to offer. I am forever changed by having embarked on this little adventure and I wouldn't have it any other way. I may have been lost for a time, but I knew that if I just stayed the course I would get back on track and find my way. And it was a lovely ride. I felt really energized after having made new friends and learned new tricks. It only makes me want to do it more.
Galena is full of beauty, charm and adventure. And I am glad that I experienced it all with my eyes wide open.
Check It Out::Galena Beads
Enjoy the day!


stregata said...

Erin, this was lovely! Felt like I was on the back seat, being a stowaway, and getting to enjoy your adventure! But I really would have liked to be at Galena Beads in person!! LOL
BTW, your Art Bead Scene entry - I believe the fitting remark would be - YABBA DABBA DOO! Meaning it is beautiful!
Have a wonderful day!

Beverly Herman said...

The Pink elephant can be found in DeForest, WI. Thanks for sharing the wonderful adventure you had with Russ and the Vintja girls. My heart has been longing for a beady road trip. I am glad you got to to see your friend also. Those times are very important.

Judy said...

Now that crazy elephant looks familiar...although the one near me is not in as good of shape. Cross Plains Tennessee is where you can find a similar elephant.

Looks like you had a great day!

Dave Robertson said...

What a good trip, Erin! Thanks for letting Russ partake of the beads, the good company and the fine food. Great photos!


rosebud101 said...

I enjoyed your travel diary of this trip! May you have many more trips of this kind! What a great area to visit!

Dee said...

cool post Erin! I felt like I was there with you. I have no idea where that elephant is, but he's pretty cute! Thanks for the escape away from home.

Beverley Baird said...

Loved the travelogue with Russ.
What an adventure.
Looks like a fabulous store.

Cindy said...

I really enjoyed this blog post and all of the pictures along the way. What an incredible 4th of July weekend you had...so memorable. The Galena bead shop, the food, even the nice hotel seemed so wonderful. You're one lucky lady to have had this experience.

Pretty Things said...

I love Russ!

peacockfairy said...

Oh, what a lovely trip! I visited Galena about 10 years ago and would love to get back someday. I know exactally what you mean about the "feeling" of being on the main street - it is so far removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life!

mairedodd said...

thanks so much erin for allowing me to live vicariously through you and see faces and places i would not otherwise! sounds like a wonderful time...

Silver Parrot said...

Oooh...I'm so jealous you got to go to Galena beads and Vintaj! Am also jealous of your solo voyage - I'm trying dimly to remember what it's like to be alone...for even 5 minutes LOL!

Diane said...

Erin! What a wonderful trip, AND a beautiful post. I loved reading it, and seeing all your pictures, AND your stopping in Vintaj! That would be a dream come true for me!
Those firework pics at the end were GREAT.
Take care~

Unknown said...

Thank You gives me the knowledge about beads. I will take some more pictures soon ....But my son has to help me make a little video when I make a bracelet. I promise...... soon
troll bead

acotis jewellery said...

I enjoyed your travel diary What a great place to visit!

Troll beads


Blog Widget by LinkWithin