Thursday, May 13, 2010

Greetings from Minneapolis, MN!

This week, Alonso visited Vanessa in Minnesota.

Alonso arrived in Minneapolis with much excitement - the annual May Day Parade and Festival was about to begin!

Every year, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre ( put on this amazing event - my favorite in Minneapolis by far. 50,000 people attend, dancing, playing instruments, wearing flower garlands, pulling wagons with children or their pets in tow. It's one of the largest May Day festivals in the country - and for good reason. After surviving a Minnesota winter, everyone wants to celebrate spring! Bloomington Avenue explodes with creativity; huge community built floats and costumes and characters and performances come to life on route to Powderhorn Park.

He attended with my stuffed pal Felix the sloth - they became fast friends!

This fabulous owl lady was kind enough to pose with Alonso during the parade.

After the parade, the May Day Festival in Powderhorn Park commenced, with giant puppets reenacting the story of the parade. The story always ends the same, with Winter being laid to rest and the Sun brought across Powderhorn Lake on dragon boats to the sound of drums pounding. When it reaches the shore, the huge Tree of Life springs up to the cheers of the crowd, bestowing the gift of spring with thousands of viewers joining in singing "You Are My Sunshine". By this point, Alonso was too tired to pose for pictures and took a nap in the grass.

The next day, Alonso and I set out for The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center ( We didn't let the gray skies spoil our adventures.

Here, he played hide and seek in a giant ear and took a ride on 'Woodrow' by Deborah Butterfield.

Nothing, however, compared to seeing the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry. At first, he thought he could eat it!

The spoon was too heavy to lift however, so he was happy to simply pose with it.

The next leg of the adventure was themed by bridges. With the Mississippi River running through, Minneapolis has lots of bridges with great views.

First, we took the Washington Avenue Bridge on the University of Minnesota Campus, where I work, to catch a glimpse of the Frank Gehry designed Weisman Art Museum.

On the other side of the bridge on the opposite bank is a sadder site: the remains of the trusses of the 35W Bridge that collapsed in August 2007, twisted and rusting along the river, laid out in a configuration of the bridge when it was intact. The collapse had a huge impact on the entire city. I worked just a few blocks from here and fortunately don't know anyone who was personally affected by the collapse aside from those who saw the aftermath.

Alonso thought the view of the city skyline looked great from the bridge despite the clouds.

Next, we took the Stone Arch Bridge just over a mile up river to catch a glimpse of St. Anthony Falls. Here, Alonso posed with a photo of what the falls looked like in the past:

And here's how it looks today:

On our walk back to the car, we happened upon some large scale craftiness near the University of Minnesota Arts Quarter: a huge, knitted rock!

Finally, Alonso and I headed across the Hennepin Avenue Bridge to catch a glimpse of one of my favorite Minneapolis landmarks.

The Grain Belt Beer sign!

Standing proud on Nicollet Island since around 1940, this sign welcomes one and all to my neighborhood in Minneapolis, Northeast, or as the locals affectionately call it, 'Nordeast' Minneapolis. Grain Belt was brewed just blocks from where I live; now the old brewery is home to many artists! ( Nordeast boasts ornate Eastern European churches, crumbling mills and silos alongside a growing arts community that is now occupying many of the factory spaces that once provided jobs to the immigrants of the neighborhood.

Alonso took a break in Nordeast along the riverbank under a tree on our way to my home.

There, he and Felix relaxed with the new Grain Belt Nordeast beer, a homage to the part of the city that shaped the brewery's history.

Next Stop: California!

Thanks again to Vanessa for hosting Alonso! Make sure to check out her work:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Greetings from Slidell, LA!

This week, Alonso visited Amy in Louisiana.

On his FIRST day I took him 30 miles across Lake Ponchartrain to New Orleans to a concert I happened to be going to. (No, Alonso didn't actually GET to hear Amos Lee sing, because I feared he'd become grubby with the scent of the French Quarter...but he had a lovely ride in the car. )

He saw some fabulous old buildings, the kind that make New Orleans famous!

Alonso also had a close call with a lovely little baby named Audrey and he managed to escape drooldom.

Then Alonso hitched a ride with us to Fontainebleau State Park‎ in Mandeville, LA, about 20 miles from Slidell, where he slept for a week or so in our little home. He was a good green monster at the beach although I did catch him making eyes at some ladies... He got to enjoy the sand, sun and waves! I'm afraid he might have got a little bit of a sunburn though...hopefully he makes it on okay to his next home!

Next stop: Minnesota!

Thanks again to Amy for hosting Alonso. Make sure to check out her site:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Greetings from Sheridan, IL!

This week, Alonso visited Angie in Illinois.

Alonso sits on a monument erected in memory of the 15 victims of the Indian Creek Massacre on May 21, 1832; the site is about 10 minutes from his hosts' home. Here is a link to the story; mutilations, massacres and scalpings, oh my!:

Earlville, IL, where Alonso's host works, is home to a good old-fashioned drive-in movie theater, the Route 34 Drive-In! It was way too early to take in a flick, and Alonso was quite disappointed that he missed the opportunity to have popcorn with real butter there.

Alonso in seated by the statue of American frontier marshal James Butler Hickok, better known as Wild Bill Hickok. Troy Grove, Illinois was the birthplace of Hickok.

Alonso at the Hegeler Carus mansion, a showstopper in LaSalle, Illinois. The Hegeler and Carus family fortunes were founded on zinc and publishing.

Welcome to Starved Rock State Park! Starved Rock is named for an 18th century legend.The Ottawa tribe drove a band of Illinois tribe Native Americans onto the cliff, and they died of thirst and starvation.

Alonso went "Where Lincoln Walked" in Ottawa, Illinois. Here he is at Washington Park, by the statues of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. The park was the site of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate on August 21, 1858.

Alonso sits on a large Lincoln stovepipe hat in a permanent art display in Ottawa, Illinois. Alonso's host painted the hat in 2008 as part of the "Hats Off To Abe & Steve" summer-long event commemorating the 150th anniversary of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate in Ottawa.

Ottawa, Illinois will be home to the world's tallest Lincoln Log structure (seen in the background). The structure was created on March 20, 2010 and is currently being certified by the Guinness Book of World Records!

Alonso thought he saw some little green friends! But alas, they were just stickers in the window of a wireless store.

Aw man, come on! Alonso just had to pose with this silly sign at an Ottawa coffee shop/provisions store.

Thanks again to Angie for hosting Alonso! Make sure to check out her Etsy:

(New feature: Alonso's travel map!)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Greetings from Ontario, OR!

This week Alonso visited Alexz in Oregon!

Welcome to Ontario, where Oregon Begins! Ontario sits on the border of Oregon and Idaho and is known for its farming and the Oregon trail starts here!

Alonso visited one of our many Oregon trail attractions and took a ride in a covered wagon. He was a little weary of the oxen at first, but he warned up quickly to them.

Next up was our historical train depot. I may be getting married here at this beautiful building, so he helped me scope it out and then he waited patiently at the train stop to hitch a ride.

Next, Alonso paid his respect to our local fallen soldiers at our college memorial site.

Next stop was Cairo Elementary, where I attended school and my mom has worked for the last 20 years! He really wanted to see the bear, so we had to stop.

Bet you didn't know Ontario is the onion capital of the world?! It is true!

Finally, Alonso came to work with me and helped out my kindergartner students who really fell in love with him and begged him to stay here in Ontario.

Next stop: Illinois!

Thank you again to Alexz for hosting Alonso. Make sure you check out her work: