American Planning Association National Planning Conference,

Minneapolis, MN - April 24-29, 2009


Diana's annual meeting of witches and wizards took place at the Convention Center in Minneapolis and Noel, happily drove her there and back again and enjoyed some fun side trips both in Minneapolis and along our zig-zag route to and fro. Here is the story in picture and word . . .


Thursday 4/23/09 – Noel prepped the carrots and celery and other food for our drive to Minneapolis. His role was to check off the checklist and fit the items needed for this 10 day trip in the Camry and pick up Diana from Windsor Town Hall at 2p to begin. At a bit pass 2p we set off, northbound along I25 then east on I80, to our first night's stay in (what else?) Motel 6, Lincoln, NE. This was Noel's first occasion to night drive since his cataract surgery and permanent corrective lens implanting (in January) and to test a specially made set of glasses that correct his vision perfectly, including astigmatism, (to eliminate halos around bright lights, such as headlights) while still wearing his daily contacts. They worked perfectly! Night driving is a joy again!


Friday 4/24/09 – Off bright and early, we continue east on I80 to Des Moines and then north along I35. Shortly after entering Minnesota we find our first, of many, Squished Penny Machines in Austin, MN the home of the SPAM museum. Anything you could hope to contain a SPAM logo can be found there. Also a 15min video and rows of displays tell the SPAM “story”. We got our Squished Pennies and looked around a bit when the cashier asked, “May I help you find anything?”

To this Noel said, “I don't find any vegetarian SPAM.” She raises an eyebrow and Noel asks, “No tofu SPAM?”

To this she turns up her nose and says, “Oh, YUCK!” Irony . . .

Everything's SPAM at the SPAM Museum - including the parking lot

Statue and the front of the SPAM Museum

It's a SPAM world!

A SPAM logo on anything

Diana at the SPAM Squished Penny Machine

This machines selection (we get 'em all)


On to Minneapolis and we check into the downtown Hilton. Very nice. After settling in we walk the Skyway (Minneapolis' extensive, enclosed and raised walkway) to the Minneapolis Convention Center. We arrive too late to check Diana in for the conference so return to our room for a long winter's nap.

Our room at the Hilton in Minneapolis, MN

Three skyways along a downtown street


Saturday 4/25/09 – Up early again and back to the Convention Center to check Diana in and hustle to her first session. Noel returns to the hotel to prepare it for 5 days stay and then meets Diana for lunch. Diana's class continues after lunch until almost 5p and Noel travels the streets of the area learning the layout. A bit of dinner, a look around the hotel's facilities, and we turn in early after a full day.


Sunday 4/26/09 – We started the day with a “3 hour tour”, but this one was on a bus. The continuous rain made it seem like a boat and it was bright yellow like the Beatle's submarine , , , We didn't get lost and found out about some cool things about the Twin Cities. A popular misconception, for example, is the Mississippi splits Minneapolis and St. Paul. Not true! The two major rivers – the Minnesota and the Mississippi wind in and out of the two cities. We should always be able to remember, now, that St. Paul is the state capitol. Many, many other tidbits and a stop at Minnehaha Falls.

Minneapolis out the rain covered bus window

MinneHaHa Falls

Diana under the park sign

Our bright yellow bus waiting

Back to the room for a quick lunch. Diana gets her “law credit” with this afternoon's class. Meanwhile, Noel spends an hour walking the skyway and the streets in the light rain back to the Convention Center to meet with Diana. Already a long day so we go to the hotel's Health Club for a long soak in the hot tub. Back to the room for a two hour nap before the evening's Opening Reception. A quite good one, too. A huge variety of foods and drink, all included. We had both “dressed” for a night out. We looked good!

A very good cover band, too, of mostly 80's rock but a very good variety. Four singers, keyboards, drums, guitar and two horn/sax players. Very strong! We ate and drank our fill and listened to the band a tad more then back to the room to rest for another early day.


Monday 4/27/09 – A complete day of classes AND a Twins ballgame! What a day! While Diana goofed off listening to engaging speakers on a myriad of fascinating subjects like “The Supreme Court undermining of green space in the ever increasing need for accurate expressway lane striping” Noel had to catch up laundry for our continued travels.

Experiencing a baseball game at a field other than Coors gives a new respect for such a fun field we get to regularly watch the Rockies in. It was nice being in a dome on a cold evening though.

H. Humprey Metrodome, inside, from deep center field

Noel with mouthfull of free hotdog

Another bite . . .

The games underway between the Devil Rays and the Twins

The "crowd" fills in

Play in action

A reminder that the new, non-roofed, stadium will be open next season

Outside the Metrodome


Tuesday 4/28/09 – Another day of informative lectures and shopping for supplies for our continued travels. Running low on Ginger Ale . . . The mid-60s got the better of us and we used each break to check out Loring Park the Statue Park and the Mississippi River Mill Ruins Park. We turned in early to get a jump on getaway day - tomorrow.

The stone arch bridge - the new logo for Minneapolis

St. Anthony Falls behind the Stone Arch Bridge

A flour mill along the Mississippi River

Ruins in Mill Park

Downtown seen from Mill Ruins Park

Old mill behind Mill Ruins

One of the Stone Arches

Arch and Mill ruins

Diana violating the rules

Arthur Guthrie Theater next to Mill Ruins Park. Jean Nouvel is the architect and it was built in 2006

47ft deep lock next to St. Anthony Falls

Diana and Noel with stone arch behind

Arthur Guthrie Theatre

Power plant along the Stone Arch Bridge

Diana walking the Stone Arch Bridge

Commemorative plaque in the Mill Ruins Park

Stone Arch Bridge from above

Noel with ruin behind

Layout of Mill Ruins Park

Track across an island in the Mississippi

. . . and looking the other direction

Conservatory in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Diana along an ivy covered archway

Descriptive plaque

Art "fish" in the conservatory. Sculpture created by Frank Gehry.

Sign informing everyone that is taking pictures MUST have a permit - yeah, right . . .

Entrance to the conservatory

Interesting two-way mirror in the hedge rows in the Minneaoplis Sculpture Garden

Quote on bench in park area - no credit given

Diana looking at one of a dozen or more "quote benches"

Commerative plaque

Bridge from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden to Loring Park - across I94

Sculpture from bridge landing

Quote on bridge girder with church behind

Looking south along I94 from pedestrian bridge

Diana on swing from sculpture

Giant spoon sculpture used as a logo for Minneapolis.

Sign explaining misses "cherry"

Windchimes in trees as "art"

Diana on sculpture opening

Another sculpture

DPW use a plastic strip as part of road crack patch

Neighborhood near UofM and water front with bronze castings of sculptures of significant buildings of the area (both standing and demo'd)

One of several castings

Another casting


Pictures from the Squished Penny Machines of the Greater Twin Cities area OR we can't remember when we did which but here they are . . .

A beautiful park in Minneapolis - Como Town

Diana at Squished Penny Machine next to a ride

Squished Penny Machine at the Zoo

Statue in the conservatory

Diana with another statue and fountain

Fragrant flower room

Folks at another fountain

In the orchid room

Other orchids

Foxglove near entrance

Close up

Zoo building on left and conservatory straight ahead

Minnesota History Center

Squished Penny Machine in History Center

Minnesota Children's Musuem in St. Paul, MN

Ceiling in the St. Paul Children's Museum

Diana at Squished Penny Machine in the Children's Museum

A rare Squished Quarter Machine

Entrance to Mall of America in Bloomington, MN

Diana at Squished Penny Machine in a mall souvenier shop

A group of entertainers in an open mall area

One end of the amusement park area in the center of Mall of America

Diana and Noel with rides behind

Diana in front of the mall's Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory - I knew she'd find it . . .

Diana at Squished Penny Machine at a shop called Field of Dreams

For Scott B!

Log and water ride in the mall

Overview of the amusement park area from the third floor

Diana at Squished Penny Machine in a candy shop

A Vans shop - for Harry

Diana found a bead shop, too

Diana at a Squished Penny Machine at another candy shop

Lego Land!

Noel in front of Lego Land

Diana at Squished Penny Machine in the amusement park area

Diana at another Squished Penny Machine at another souvenir shop

Vanity Fair Amusement Park in Shakopee, MN (closed) :( It is supposed have a Squished Penny Machine; we'll have to go back and get the penny later.


Wednesday 4/29/09 – Slept until almost 8a! Well deserved and much needed and works into our shortened day's schedule. After packing the car, with the help of an over eager bellman, we drive off, in the rain, southwest toward New Ulm, MN (boyhood home of our friend John Minium) and our first Squished Penny Machine NOT in the Minneapolis area. Normally at the base of a monument elsewhere it is located in the town's civic center for the off season. Quick and easy (though still in the rain).


Next to Pipestone National Monument and a look at the Native American handcrafted pipes and other items carved from the pink pipestone quarried from a nearby riverbed. A very soft yet durable rock with very pretty color. We skipped the trail to the river owing to the steady downpour.


The next Squished Penny Machine along our route is in Walnut Grove, MN. Yes, of Little House on the Prairie fame. It is the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Squished Penny Machines is in Oleson's Mercantile. Very cool but we didn't see Michael Landon.


Noel was looking forward to The Red Baron Museum in Marshall, MN – our next reported Squished Penny Machine – but after some investigation, we find out it had closed and all the artifacts, including the Squished Penny Machine, are gone except for a bust of the WWI flying ace in the airports office.


Sioux Falls, South Dakota is only a few miles west and we find the next two Squished Penny Machines there – one at the zoo and one at the airport.


Our final stop for the day was Mitchell, SD, home of the famous Corn Palace. It was closed when we arrived that evening so we will stop, instead, on the way out of town in the morning. We did find a fine and very cheap Mexican restaurant (Los Sombreros) for dinner before snuggling into our Motel 6 room.


Thursday 4/30/09 – We did the Corn Palace straight away, as promised :) An amazing place, really. First built in 1892 it really defines the Town of Mitchell, SD.   The art on the outside of the building is a mosaic made from all the crops that are grown in South Dakota.


On down the road now, our next Squished Penny Machine is in Cactus Flats, the Badlands Trading Post. Then, and without looking for a Squished Penny Machine, we drive the loop drive in Badlands Nat'l Monument. This was Noel's first Nat'l Monument he experienced in the 70's when he first drove west. It's just as spectacular now . . .

Advertised as a "60 ton" prarie dog

A cover of a book in the gift shop of pretty agates in the area

Mountain goat along the roadside. Note the tracking collar.

Wild turkeys; they just crossed the road.

Head gobbler


Wall Drug must have more billboards posted around the world than any other store. They also have three Squished Penny Machines and that isn't mentioned on any of those billboards. Where's the sense in that?

Noel with a new friend

Diana riding a giant Jack-O-Lope

T-Rex that "eats" every 12 minutes

Very cool machine Noel put a dollar in. Choose from hundreds of classics


Ellsworth Air Force Base is the home of an Air and Space Museum with a Squished Penny Machine AND a SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest aircraft ever. How cool is that! As a retired ATCS I could tell you much more about it but I'd have to kill you :)

We grabbed a great deal at a hotel in Rapid City (with a huge indoor pool and hot tub), canceled our Motel 6 reservations (amazing!) and settling in early for a soak and in-room pizza to plan our stops for tomorrow. Only about 20 more Squished Penny Machines before we get back home . . .


Friday 5/1/09 – Wow! We circled and crisscrossed the entire Black Hills in one day, finding adventure and Squished Pennies along the way. After scarfing the free buffet breakfast at our motel our first stop is the Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, SD. We learn that it's opening day for the gift shop and it's BRAND NEW, NEVER BEFORE CRANKED Squished Penny Machine! We got it's first ever Squished Pennies :)


Next was Ft. Hayes, the site of the filming of Dances with Wolves. This wasn't open yet but folks were around getting it ready for a new season. They had purchased an antique engine used in the movie and adapted it to an old gold press converted to a Squished Penny Machine! The pennies must be placed into the die path with a pair of pliers. Way cool setup!

Late 1800's tin press. They press the plates used on the chuckwagon

Steam press from Dances with Wolves

Diana inspecting the squisher

The owner showing us his Squished Penny collection attached to a gnarled tree root

Diana operating a sharpening stone

Fort from Dances with Wolves


Reptile Gardens has a chicken named Henda that answers questions that you ask her.  Sort of a Poultry Prognosticator.  We collected all eight pennies and the dime - the only dime of the trip.  

A rare Squished Dime Machine

Yep, it's a real, live chicken


Diana called several of the Squished Penny Machine locations that she wasn't sure of their operating hours.  Most of them opened for the season in May and it was still April when she called; April 30 :).  We did get a call back from Old McDonald's Farm when we were just a few miles from their location.  We were at Cosmos and just discovering their machine was out of order when Amy, of Old McDonald's Farm called and met us in the parking lot to let us in to score more Squished Pennies from another closed business.


Into Keystone, SD we locate a business preparing to open 1880 Train Station.  We also collected the pennies from Big Thunder Gold Mine, Mid-West Mercantile and Black Hills Souvenirs and Gifts.

Mt. Rushmore, our next stop, has four Squished Penny Machines. We got 'em all.

Mountain goat in the parking lot landscaped area. Great lawn mower!


Buffalo crunching grass along the road to Hot Springs, SD was a fun distraction. We find, in Hot Springs, SD, a Squished Penny Machine at Evans Plunge – an indoor recreational swimming pool fed by a hot spring – and one at Mammoth Site, an actual fossil dig site.

Pennies here cost $1 each; hope that is not the new trend.

Sabre tooth tiger bust only $750.00


Now back northbound, via the east side Black Hills bypass to join I90 again in Rapid City, we head west to Sturgis. Sturgis is a sleepy little town, but for one week a year (and it's not this week!) and it's at the exit for Deadwood, SD. Two Squished Penny Machines – one in the vault of an old bank – and we stop by a Star Wars penny slot and win $60! We splurge on their Crack! (crab buffet) and try a Deal or No Deal penny slot machine on the way out. We get to an offer of 7540 but decide to go to the last level. We either have 15000 or 175 in our case . . . drum-roll please . . . we win . . . 175! :( Fun though :)


Saturday 5/2/09 – After 45 Squishing Machines and using of 5 rolls of quarters in them, we arrive back in Colorado, with happy memories and shiny mementos.