I’m talkin bout trouble with a capital “T” and that rhymes with “P” and that stands for pool. Do you know that song? The one about the kids in the knickerbockers, shirt-tail young ones, peekin’ in the pool-hall window after school?

The first time I heard Steve recite those words to one of my favorite songs from The Music Man, I knew he was something special. It was our first outing (not really considered a “date” at the time) and we were watching baseball at the College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha. At some point during the game, an outfielder committed an error and I said, “Fellas, we got trouble.” Without missing a beat, Steve continued, “Right here in River City.”  I was shocked! Not only had I learned over dinner that he shared my passion for sports, good wine, and travel, he also knew the words to “Trouble,” and  every other song from The Music Man. Was this guy for real?

We spent much of an inning reciting our favorite scenes and songs from the 1957 classic musical, and from that point on, The Music Man has held a special place in both our hearts.

 

Some of the things we saw at The Music Man Square and museum in Mason City, Iowa.

Some of the things we saw at The Music Man Square and museum in Mason City, Iowa.

This fall, Steve’s mom (who is also a big fan of The Music Man) told us about a production of the show to be performed in composer Meredith Willson’s boyhood home of Mason City, Iowa. When she added that the production would star Shirley Jones and her son, Patrick Cassidy, we knew this was a road trip we could not pass up.We talked my mom into joining us and met Steve’s parents in Mason City, Iowa, for an unforgettable weekend filled with history, music, and of course, 76 trombones.

There were also double-belled euphoniums and big bassoons, but that’s a post for another day. We toured the boyhood home of Meredith Willson where our fantastic guide shared insights about Willson and his family and their time in Mason City. She even allowed us to pass around her personal copy of Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang (scandalous as it was).

After the tour of the Willson home, we spent time in The Music Man museum where we listened to early recordings of Willson singing songs as he composed, read newspaper clippings from the local papers as the musical premiered, and walked through a replica of River City, which included River City High School, Mrs. Paroo’s front porch, and the imfamous pool hall.

That night, we had an early dinner at the 1910 Grille at the Historic Park Inn Hotel, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The hotel is a must-see when traveling to Mason City.

After dinner, it was off to the show. Shirley Jones, who played Marian the librarian in The Music Man movie, hosted the show that night — a celebration concert, co-starring her son, Patrick Cassidy as Professor Harold Hill. The show combined the most memorable songs and dances from the stage and screen classic and Jones told stories throughout the concert about her experiences filming The Music Man and how much Mason City, Iowa, meant to her and her family.

If you’re like us, you pass by places like Mason City all the time. We’d driven by exits for this small town on road trips through the Midwest but had never taken the time to stop. We’d always say we’d come back later. I’m so glad that Steve and I took the time from our seemingly busy schedules to travel with our parents to this one-of-a-kind place in middle of Iowa.

We had an incredible weekend in River … I mean Mason City, and as Professor Harold Hill said, “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to make today worth remembering.”

Mason City, Iowa, where The Music Man got its start, is definitely worth remembering.

 

  • Just over two years ago, we stopped in Pawhuska to have lunch at Ree Drummond's @PWMercantile. From the person opening the door for us to the folks tending the line giving us water, we felt welcome from the moment we set foot in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.⁣
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But it turns out it wasn't just @thepioneerwoman and her husband, Ladd, who went above and beyond to welcome visitors. No, it turns out what they did was just par for the course in this town that's home to some of the friendliest and most welcoming people we've met in all our travels. ⁣
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So we bought a house there. We got it in part, so we could be a part of the community we've come to love. But we also got it so we could help welcome folks to town and let them know how glad we are they came to visit. Come and see Pawhuska. And when you do, stay awhile.
  • Fried dill pickles are a little different in North Dakota than they are in most other places we've been. Instead of just dipping some dill chips in batter, dropping them in the fryer, and then serving them in a basket with ranch, the folks there take their time and make a dish to remember.⁣
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They start with a dill pickle spear, wrap that in Havarti cheese, then put a wonton wrapper around it all. Then, they fry it, and slice it open just so before serving them alongside a spicy aioli dipping sauce. We had these at a complimentary meal at Outlaws Bar and Grill in @visitwilliston, North Dakota.⁣
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Let's be honest, these pickles are just one of many reasons we look forward to our return to @northdakotalegendary next year.
  • Have you ever had the chance to watch a cruise ship come into or leave port? These massive ships, often 1,000 feet or more long, can maneuver themselves by the dock so gently that you don't even realize you've stopped (or started) moving.⁣
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In Bermuda, we had the chance to watch the Norwegian Escape depart. We watched as she pushed away from the dock, then spun 180 degrees on a point before heading out to sea.⁣
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We've seen ships do this dozens of times. In fact, we've been on ships and have been part of this type of maneuvering dozens of times. And yet, given the sheer size of the vessels, it never ceases to impress.
  • You know you want to. Do it. Just book the ticket and go. At the end of your life, you likely won't remember most of the stuff you bought in 2019, but you will always remember the journey you took and the experiences you had. So enrich your life and go. We've never regretted spending money for a trip.
  • This just might be the sweetest, best pecan roll we've ever had. At the @PWMercantile, they bake these delicious treats daily. Covered in a luscious caramel and finely chopped pecans, these rolls are the stuff dreams are made of. Have you had one?
  • Smack in the middle of Portland, Oregon, we found the International Rose Test Garden. Set on 4.5 acres of land, the garden offers visitors a chance to see 10,000 rose bushes from about 650 different varieties. ⁣
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We spent more than an hour walking the carefully tended paths, snapping photos, and just enjoying the beautiful flowers. Our visit here made us glad that we literally scheduled time on this trip to stop and smell the roses.
  • Set in a renovated middle school in Grinnell, Iowa, Hotel Grinnell is one of our favorite boutique hotels. The owner thoughtfully designed the space and included touches from school including “Hall Pass” key card sleeves, and a bar cleverly named, “The Periodic Table.” We wrote a story on this hotel, you can read all about it on our blog. Link in bio. @hotelgrinnell #hosted @traveliowa
  • Everyone has a happy place, a spot where the world melts away and a sense of relaxation and calm settles in. For Steve, this place is on board a cruise ship, out on open water. He can spend hours sitting and watching the water, the ship's wake, and looking out for other ships. He loves soaking up the sun and fresh ocean air while cruising along on the sea. ⁣
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What's your happy place? ⁣
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