I just had to share my past weekend experience. A group of my friends, who also work at Hormel + a few extras, took a day trip to the twin cities on Saturday. We went around to a couple of really cool downtown bar and grill type places. One was called The Muddy Pig complete with pig decorations that I loved :) We also toured Summit Brewery. The brewery was all interesting and fun, but the real interesting part came a little later. We had planned on going to this outside festival called Firkin Fest in St. Paul. When we got there some of us decided that we didn't want to wait in line, but a few people in our group had already bought tickets. Conveniently located next to the festival was the St. Paul Curling Club. Some of my friends had been in before so we decided to go check it out. Now since curling has become an Olympic sport it has fascinated me. I'm not sure why, I think because I think of Olympic athletes as these amazing physical fitness types, and most curlers I've seen are bigger, balding men. These guys give me hope that I can also be an Olympic athlete ;) The curling club had nine curling lanes and there were probably at least 50 people in there to practice their curling. It felt like we were walking in to some secret society. They were even having their own spaghetti dinner, but I was assured it was open to the public. I wasn't brave enough to bother any of the serious curlers with my questions, but luckily Joni, who I work with at R&D, is from nearly Canada, North Dakota and her family curls. In fact, her uncle was at one time a champion curler. She tried her best to explain to me the rules and scoring. I watched the curlers curl (I'm thinking there's probably better terms to describe everything but I just like using the word curl) intently for awhile, but I most admit it got a little boring after awhile. Maybe I should have picked up a broom and asked to jump in a game! I was a bit intimidated by some of the more serious curler, like this guy --> Everyone was pretty jealous of his outfit. It was a pretty random afternoon. It was a lot of fun to get out of Austin and do something different. Maybe if you come visit we can all go back to the curling club!! I'll now leave you with some scenes from the curling club.
Just as a bonus - This is Cody. Cody is a nice guy. I like Cody. Cody likes me. That's all you need to know for now :)
I realized that I have never shared pictures or details of where I live here in Austin. Let me first share a little background information about Austin, MN aka SPAM Town, USA (yes they actually call it that). Austin has a population of about 24,000 people. When you break this number down, Hormel employs about 800 people in Austin (this is a really rough estimate, I could be way off), the Hormel Institue which is part of the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota that does a lot of cancer and other medical research and employs several PhDs, grad students etc., and there is also the Austin Medical Center that is a branch of the Mayo Clinic that employs several hundred people (again, guessing). Of the remaining 22,000 or so people, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that 70% or more of the population is 60 years old + and retired. Someone once told me that Austin has the oldest average population in the state of Minnesota. I can't find this fact stated anywhere, but I wouldn't doubt it. The proof of this statement is shown on our streets when you want to drive the 30 mph speed limit, but you can only go 15 because of the old person in front of you. I include this fact, because it is important when talking about living situations here in town. Driving around town, it would appear that there are several decent looking apartment buildings that would be safe to live in. However, when you start doing research you'll find that these apartments are for "older adults only". So, unless you're a card carrying AARP member your renting options are very limited. When I started asking around work for some suggestions I got this story more times than I can count: "Well when I moved here I lived in this horrible apartment in a awful part of town, but it was cheap!" Austin may be a smallish town, but I'd seen some of the bad parts of town, and I was NOT willing to live there no matter how cheap. One day while driving around hoping to find somewhere nice to rent, I stumbled on to this group of townhouses on the edge of town called Murphy's Creek. They looked newer and really nice. I called and was able to come look at one of the units. While talking to the landlord I told him my situation and that I really needed a place to live within a couple of weeks because I had to be out of the intern housing I was in. At that time they only had a unit open immediately at a complex that was downtown. They were similar to the Murphy's Creek, but weren't in as nice of an area. Bill (the landlord) was determined to help me out. There was a girl that was planning on moving out because she was going to be the manager at the other units. She was waiting for the approval to go through before she could move. Bill was able to speed the process up and I was able to move in on the day I had to be out of my intern apartment. It couldn't have worked out better! I have a three bedroom townhouse, and I can see cornfields out of my window. It's more room than I need, but a three bedroom is what was available, and it was only a $25 more a month than a two bedroom. I love my place, and makes Austin feel a little more like home. I have a garage and a washer and dryer included. There's even a little running path through the woods next to my building. I definitely got lucky in finding this place. I might start thinking of buying a house in the next year or so, but for now I'm perfectly content here! I have plently of visit so come visit soon!