April 13, 2013

Adventures in Missouri (and Connecticut)

A couple of weeks ago my work travels took me to Springfield, Missouri and then Waterbury and Hartford Connecticut.  All within a week - literally!  Springfield, MO was Wednesday - Saturday and Waterbury/Hartford, Connecticut was Sunday - Wednesday.  It was a long week but also really good and challenging.  First up was Missouri.  I had never been to Missouri but oddly enough I will be going there again next week - from never to twice within one month!  Despite being the capital Springfield is a small city and had a tiny airport.  I traveled most of the day and after my layover in Atlanta (where I saw Newt Gingrich - he deplaned right next to my gate) arrived at the airport and headed to the hotel.  My hotel was right on the campus of Missouri State University (Go Bears!), unfortunately it was spring break for the students so not a whole lot was open on campus.  The first night I stayed in and relaxed and the next morning headed to the training site to observe three SOAR trainers.  The training was held at the Legal Services of Southern Missouri.  LSSM were such great hosts - the training room was high tech and they were sure to keep the trainees stocked with soda, snacks and other goodies!
Legal Services of Southern Missouri!
After the first day of the training the trainers took me out for sushi!  I have a colleague who went to school in Springfield and she swore to me that Missouri sushi was the best sushi she had ever had and that I would agree after visiting.  I was pretty skeptical because let's be honest Missouri is no where near the ocean and the mid-west is more known for cattle and corn than sushi.  I was so wrong!  I had some of the BEST sushi I have EVER had in Missouri!  We went to a place called Haruno - it had a great 'lounge' vibe and awesome happy hour specials (everything is cheaper in the Midwest!).  I ended up getting the 'daily special' roll which was a great mix of sweet and spicy topped with sriracha sauce.  It was delicious but it didn't hold a candle to the second roll I ordered - the 'Oh My God' roll - this thing literally came out on FIRE!  The roll was wrapped in tin foil and the plate was set abalze which not only served as a cool presentation but it also toasted the roll.  While the presentation was neat the roll tasted AMAZING!  I couldn't even tell you what was in the roll but it was delicious - best sushi roll I have ever had.  If you are ever in Springfield, MO the Oh My God Roll at Haruno is a must!
My sushi roll is on fire!
The next day was Friday - the second and last day of the training.  For lunch we ended up going to a minority owned local cafe called Big Momma's - since it was Friday I was not eating meat or cheese and the cafe had numerous options to accomidate me.  The best part of lunch though was the mixed berry scone - hands down one of the best scones I have ever eaten.  It was so good in fact that I bought as second and asked them to wrap it up so I could take it back to NY for Adam.  They gladly did and were stoked that one of their scones would be traveling. 
Mixed berry scone from Big Momma's in Springfield, MO.
After the training concluded I headed back to my hotel to change - it was a beautiful day outside and I wanted to take advantage of the weather and explore downtown Springfield a little.  I ended up walking around for a couple of hours.  My walk took me through the campus of Missouri State University and over to Historic Walnut Street.  On Walnut Street there were a bunch of resturants and local shops.  I 'yelped' around and ended up eating dinner at the Springfield Brewing Company.  I sat at the bar, watched the Sweet 16 basketball games and ate some fish and chips (they were good but not the best).  After dinner I had a craving for something sweet and I remembered one of the locals at the training saying that I needed to try The Cup.  The Cup is a cupcake bakery and has locations all over Missouri.  I ended up getting a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter icing and it was delicious!  After eating it though I was happy I had walked arounded for hours before - it was definitely filling.  After my adventures in downtown Springfield I headed back to my hotel and relaxed before my 6 AM flight back to Albany.
 Some cool sidewalk art in downtown Springfield, MO

 It's all downtown!
 Entrance to Missouri State University

 A HUGE bear statue in the middle of campus!

 It was a beautiful day for a walk around MSU!
 Dinner at the Springfield Brewing Company!
Followed by a cupcake from The Cup!
After I returned home from Springfield, MO on Saturday it was a quick turn around before my boss and I left for Connecticut on Easter Sunday.  Luckily Connecticut is only about 2 - 2.5 hours from Albany so prior to leaving I was able to have a very nice Easter dinner with Adam and his family.  First up was forum in Waterbury followed by a forum in Hartford.  The forums were challenging and could even be categorized as hostile at times.  Connecticut is an odd place and I will be perfectly honest in saying that I am not a fan of the state.  It is a state of extremes - parts of CT are VERY rich and other parts of VERY poor, there doesn't seem to be much of a middle and from my experience the rich seem to want nothing to do with programs are organizations that try to help the latter.  As I mentioned some parts of our forums were hostile and it seemed as if no one wanted to take ownership of how to best help people experiencing homelessness.  Anyway - as evident from my other posts about my work travel, I often like to go out, walk around and explore the places I am staying, however CT was different, I felt no desire to go out and explore - when I wasn't working I was pretty much in my hotel room.  Connecticut is one of my states so hopefully my favor for the state will increase but until that time - this picture is all I got!
View of downtown Waterbury, CT

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