Last weekend the tiny design empire took a trip up to Northern Iowa and Minnesota! It was our second 818 trip (the first being BrrFest) and we had a lot of items on the agenda. After a celebratory Friday night in Des Moines at both Confluence Brewing Co. and 515 Brewing Co., a DDEP show at a hole-in-the-wall Johnston bar, a failed plan to dance party at Denny Arthur’s, we knew Saturday morning would come quickly. And it did! The weekend consisted of pretty much everything awesome: Hot tubbing, dance party roadtrip, letterpress equipment, sandwiches, ice cream, craft beer, friends, a casino, the twin cities, the mall of America, some seafood and an IKEA trip.

Saturday we kicked off the day by drinking coffee in Mel’s hot tub which put us on the road an hour behind schedule (typical). But, we were able to better strategize the weekend’s schedule in an admittedly awesome meeting setting. After getting ready and packing up the car, we hit the road for our first stop — Mason City.

There were two main objectives for this trip: Visit Cedar Creek Press to meet John G. Henry (our friend Jim’s father) and see his letterpress studio and secondly, stop by IKEA for some cheap office supplies/decor. After a couple hours of dance party roadtripping, we made it to Mason City. We found a couple of historic, Frank Lloyd Wright architecture gems before pulling up to the Henry Household for lunch (Thanks Judy!) and the letterpress studio tour. Interesting fact: the Henry house in a prior life was a convent and the studio is located in the old chapel. The stained glass, woodwork and arched ceiling provided an amazing backdrop for all the letterpress equipment. John walked us through the studio showing us all his capabilities and even let us make a souvenir line of type! If you ever have a need for a classic invite or book or anything, let us know and we will shoot you his contact information.

While in Mason City, we swung by the legendary Birdsall’s Ice Cream Shop and a local tapas bar who just so happened to exclusively serve Toppling Goliath beers on tap! And, after that, of course we HAD to check out the new brewery in town and met up with “Millertime”, one of Melissa’s best college friends who lives in the area. We tried out the 8-flight sample platter (I say platter because it was huge) and enjoyed the atmosphere. Did you know their graphic designer works for Target? They definitely have some nice looking design. Then, how do you not have supper at a place called “Wok & Roll”? So we did that before heading to our hotel in Northwood (conveniently attached to a casino) and tried our luck at the Black Jack tables and high roller room. Hello 3:00 a.m., and, good night.

Sunday brought 818 Easter breakfast at the hotel, a quick dip in the hot tub and back on the road up to the twin cities. We first stopped into the Mall of America to grab lunch and ended up walking around forever (my Jawbone UP bracelet logged us at almost 3 miles in there!) looking for somewhere that was open. But, the bonus was that we were able to take in a TREMENDOUS amount of branding, environmental graphic design, signage and storefront design inspiration — just an incredible amount of graphic design applications all under one roof. Since it was a holiday and most everything was closed, we basically had the place to ourselves and could easily take it all in. Eventually we found Bubba Gump Shrimp to be open and blammo… we had shrimp. From there, we headed to IKEA and walked (another 2 or 3 miles I think) trying to plan out what to purchase for the office. Luckily, it just so happened that everything we purchased fit inside the SUV (we should have measured first – duh) and then headed back to Iowa discussing many creative endeavors for the future along the way.

The weekend reminded me that although we are all so busy, it’s important to get outside of the day-to-day schedule to experience new things and meet new people as often as possible. I think this is how we stay fresh, creative and energized. It’s amazing what a tiny roadtrip can bring about.

Cheers! – Melissa


























Minnesota Straycation