October 2

Here it is! Minneapolis, MN. It was a fantastic flight in that I got on the plane, crossed my arms, closed my eyes, and woke up with the 'fasten your seat belts for landing' announcement.

Coming in on the Super Shuttle I got the front seat, a very chatty driver, and a detour or two for a quick orientation.
Our hotel is smack in the best part of downtown. They were having a Farmer's Market along the shopping street. Note the cauliflower, the size of a large man's head.
The weather is utterly spectacular. Those clouds are racing across the sky, the breeze is brisk and fall-ish, and the temperature is perfection itself. It's so much like being someplace else.

Oh oh if it can just stay this way.
Now I'm in the hotel with the tv clicker waiting for Leigh's late arrival from Florida, and waiting for the vp debate. I probably won't last 2 minutes once it starts.
October 3

I opened my eyes at 10:30 this morning after a restless night. But I must have been sleeping like a stone since Leigh had been up for hours!

We gathered our wits and headed out for a good long walk. First stop, the Minneapolis Public Library. I had been reading about the buildings in Minneapolis, the mix of classically old and daringly new. So true so far.
Heading across the Mississippi river we were pleased with what felt like the symbols of a mid-west city.
We stopped for lunch at this place, the oldest restaurant on the far side of the river. We loved the building and the setting and...
...Big Pickle Bloody Mary with a beer chaser. Everyone in the place was having one so we had to too. It was scrumptious! as was the rest of the meal.
We continued a very interesting walk along the river to the Mill Museum. The ruins of the original mill are still here with the museum built around them.

It was a wonderfully entertaining stop. They do this tour where they've got some benches set up in a freight elevator and sitting on the benches you ride up and down, the elevator doors open with dioramas set up on each floor, and stories of the olden days.
It's the old General Mills location so there's a lot of product placement and a lot about Betty Crocker.

Leigh bought many items in the gift shop her favorite being a t-shirt saying 'Who do I look like, Betty Crocker?'.
Also along the waterfront is the newly rebuilt Guthrie Theater. I read the design of the building has been controversial which is not unexpected considering it replaced a beloved icon.
And here he is, Tyrone Guthrie, not that other Guthrie.
A view out one of a windows of the Guthrie's Endless Bridge (not to be confused with the Bridge to Nowhere) although it is all confused with reflections in the shiny frame.
Next stop, the Warehouse District now about one third occupied with nightclubs, shops, restaurants, and loft apartments.

The buildings were actually fantastic and this doesn't do them justice. I'll try for better. It's going to be a hot ticket some day.

The photo from our delicious Uptown dinner was far less than delicious so I'm not using it. It was good to have a look at Uptown, a recently gentrified trendy chic-chic area south of downtown yet known as Uptown and hence, confusing.
October 4

We got out pretty early this morning as a long, fun-filled day lay ahead.

There are many instances of older buildings being incorporated into new construction and here we have the 1942 Farmers and Mechanics Savings Bank, now home to a Westin Hotel.

According to ms wiki: 'The building is an example of the Streamline Moderne phase of the Art Deco movement and is notable for its bold relief sculptures of a farmer and a mechanic framing the main entrance...The structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.'

Inside the original bank building is the hotel lobby but they retained all the architectural details of a 'main banking hall'.
Off across the river again, our tour taking us to the University of Minnesota.

We intended to eat breakfast at one of the landmark joints in Dinkytown, Dinkytown being the college hang. But the place was counter-only, standing room only, packed to the rafters...so we moved on to the pub across the street.
Some interesting facts about the University of Minnesota:

1) The student body is the 4th largest in the US at more than 50,000.
2) They won the College Bowl National Championship in 2004, 2005, and 2007.
3) Chartered in 1851, the buildings are heroic in design and scale.
4) They are freaks for sports and their mascot is The Golden Gopher. The Go Go Gophers (really).
Here's what wiki says are the possible origins of the name Dinkytown:

..The streetcars, called Dinkys, that used to provide transit throughout the area.
..Similarly, the tenders at the nearby railyard were called Dinkys
..The theatre in Dinkytown had only four rows of seats, and for years was known as "The Dinky"
..It's a small town-like area, with everything within walking distance.
..The Loring Pasta Bar, previously Gray's Drug on 14th Ave. SE and 4th St. SE has the name of an early owner carved in Slavic in stone over the doorway: "Grodnik," meaning a small (or dinky) town.
Entering campus, College Kids announcing Al Gore's presence.

I should mention we passed by innumerable Fraternity and Sorority houses, and it was l.o.u.d. at 10AM, probably because the football game was starting. Because otherwise they would have been sleeping it off I'm sure.

The buildings on campus were grand indeed and you could appreciate each one individually because they weren't crammed together.
Included on campus since 1934 is The Weisman Art Museum currently housed in this 1993 building designed by Frank Gehry.

The bigger picture is the 'blend with the campus' side. The inset is from across the river and I nabbed it off the internet.
The view from the deck of the Weisman.

That puffy thing in the forground is the Herbert H Humphry Metrodome, also know as The Marshmallow. I was thinking how in today's world ol' HHH just couldn't happen - commie to the core I'm afraid.
Then you can walk back to town across this double decker bridge, the bottom for cars and the top for pedestrians.
There's more campus on the other side of the river now incuding more modern structures.
Here's the view standing at the bus stop waiting for our express into St Paul, looking at the Masonic Temple built in 1888 by Long and Kees in the 'Richardsonian Romanesque' architectural style.

Come to find out (oh ms wiki you are the source of all) that it is now the Hennepin Center for the Arts
Our bus ride to St Paul was a public transport pleasure and left us off right at our destination, the Minnesota Capital Building (built in 1905 in the Italian Renaissance-Beaux-Arts' style...(I'm lovin' this 'in the style of' from ms wiki because I can Never figure it out and never even get it when told).

Even though I don't get the Italian-Renaissance-Beaux-Arts business I do think it is a lovely building.
From the Capital steps you can look out onto St Paul's Cathedral. We walked over there. It is GiGantic. (Wanna know the style? Classical Revival, built in 1904.)
We were planning to eat a bowl of noodles at Tampopo - closed, so we ended up at another Pub! Not too surprising since there are pubs on every corner and many in the middle of blocks.

Here we are at the Black Dog, enjoying a beer from the local company and the classic freeway sign from yesterday. Then they used those cards instead of numbers to bring the pizza, and it was an art collective too. Fun!
Hi Kaitlin! It's Granny here in St Paul Minnesota!! Check out that yelling horse. He's calling out Hi Kaitlin! too!
This is reflected just a bit of the original St Paul federal court house and post office. In the 1970s a civic group took up the job of saving and restoring the building, now known as Landmark Center, where are held dance, theater, exhibitions, and other public events.
It's time It's time for the Prairie Home Companion Street Dance and Meatloaf Supper!

Hurray! You can see the stage in the distance and the rows of tables and chairs for diners. By the end of the radio show, when the hundereds of people in the theater came out to join in the festivities there was not a square foot to stand in.
Before they began serving the Meatloaf Supper...for five bucks you got to enjoy a tasty square of meatloaf, an ice cream scooper plop of mashed potatoes, and a bisquit.

It was fine, but they surely could have used some attention to procedure as the milling crowds were tough to maneuver through...and they've been doing this for like 35 years.
There were separate tables but in the same milling throng to buy desserts and beverages. Still, I'm 110% glad to have gone.

It's Praire Home Companion! It's Garrison Keillor! It's St Paul Minnesota!
A kid playing on the stage.

The crowds were huge but everyone maintained their good temper. After the radio program is over the whole cast and crew come out to the street. There are contests (loon calling; prettiest baby; guess the seeds; sweetest singer under 12; and a dance contest), and music and general good cheer.
The radio show comes from the Fitzgerald Theater and once a year they hold the Street Dance and Meatloaf Supper out in front.
Wow, I'm such a fan.
October 5

It was rainy this morning so we had a nice lay-about and then hit the road around noon for a stroll through some residential areas including places like this, to see The Coe House, which is on some registry of Important Houses.
One theme for the day was Art and our first stop was the Minnesota Institute of Art, a very nicely done municipal art museum.

Leigh noticed first and it was true throughout, that the permanent collection seemed to have displayed one piece from many well known artists arranged chronologically. Not too exciting, but interesting.
And here's my favorite thing that I saw. I really really like this picture. The artist is Roger de la Fresnaye. I call it 'Silent Communion'.
Minneapolis is mostly flat so the downtown rises up from about wherever you are. This is a view out the museum window.

We walked from there, which for our three days of walking was just kicking it off. Our idea was to walk until it rained us out...so we walked and walked.
On the way to the Walker Art Center we passed this complex. From the map it looks like it should be a technical college but this doesn't look like the pictures on the web, so I can't figure out what it is or the style it's built in and that is disappointing!

Here's what Brian from Minneapolis with all the good advice had to say: "The mystery building, about which you wrote ”so I can't figure out what it is or the style it's built in and that is disappointing “ is the Basilica of St. Mary, a catholic church designed to rival the cathedral in St. Paul."
One approach to The Walker.

They are focused on modern, post-modern, neo-modern, you get the idea. We didn't see any permanent collection but a few curated shows on specific topics that were quite well done.

It's worth it to go even if just for the building and for the Sculpture Garden run jointly with the Walker and the city.
Here's their signature Oldenburg, Cherry on a Spoon.
A view looking up from the garden. Many huge pieces are set in their own garden-room created by trees and bushes.
This guy is fun especially because I remember him from the Weisman in LA.

Then it really Did start to rain so we took a taxi back to the hotel.
Dinner at Origami. It was FanTastic. I was soo in the mood for some Japanese food and it soo did the trick. Leigh was leaving in the morning so we made it our farewell feast.

Our meals together, each as delicious as the next!

Day 1-Big Pickle Bloody Mary; Lucia's
Day 2-Sports Pub; Black Dog; Meatloaf Supper
Day 3-snacks; Origami
October 6

Wow look at this lucky lucky me!

Leigh had left and I was starting off for the hostel this morning and stopped at a Hilton thinking they might have a better map of my new neighborhood. Then I got to chatting with the concierge and before I knew it I was up on the 51st floor of the IDS building looking out on This!

You can see its place in this shot of the Minneapolis skyline coming from the airport.
And here's a big telephotoed view of the river from up there.
And here's me and the guy who took me.
Another example of an old building being repurposed, in this case the classic Foshay tower turned into a W hotel.
My room in this hostel is amazingly nice...I did ante-up an extra twenty bucks a night for it. It's got its own bathroom and opposite these windows are more windows and a very cool large, classic fireplace. There are old wood floors, crown molding, and plenty of plugs.

It's a very large old house broken into a warren of rooms, several of them 'dorm' style with a row of beds, or singles and doubles of varying size and appeal. They've also got the requisite hostel kitchen, dining, and lounge area which is quite nice.
Here are a couple shots from around the neighborhood. The hostel is one of the grander, meaning bigger, ones in scale but of the same era.
More.
My new neighborhood is small scale and residential, and about a 30-45 minute walk from downtown.

There are a number of commercial streets around including several blocks almost entirely occupied by Vietnamese restaurants, markets, and services. It was very surprising especially since I did not see any predominance of Vietnamese people on the street. The pho was delicious!
In the restaurant, like the nail shops in LA.
Check it out. With the five cent discount for cash you can buy gas for $3.14.
The Somalis are another large and cohesive community settled in the Twin Cities. There is also the largest Hmong population in the US here.

One thing worth noting is the entire lack of graffiti on this huge blank wall. In fact, in all these days of miles and miles of walking - not one tag.

With Leigh we asked a taxi driver in St Paul about this and he said 'oh, it used to be we had none at all but now I think there's one over by the underpass.' Now that's something. Also they must not chew gum or eat fast food since the streets are entirely clean. On top of which the landscaping is especially lovely even downtown.
Around the corner from the hostel. Now to get back before the rain. It's due to rain most of tomorrow too so I'm not sure how that's going to go for touring...
October 7

All day it stormed away. Wind! Rain! Cold! So I read, did yesterday's pictures, napped, listened to the radio on my computer, and then towards early evening the weather became agreeable and I went out.

It was so weird. I think twice as many trees were changing colors just overnight with the storm. Someone here said when the trees turn colors that means winter is around the corner. No long lazy Fall in Minnesota.
I had noticed in a guidebook a place called Robot Love and it was pretty close to the hostel so I thought to buzz down there and maybe find something unique for the Zodeca office.

They had cool hip stuff in there, and cool hip people (very friendly and fun for all the cool hipness). The thing is, they didn't have a single robot(!) just cool hip art-y-designer 'things'. It did make me laugh out loud. No robots?! At Robot Love?!
See that sign in the middle-right. It says 'don't bring your guns in here'. I have seen this sign in many shop windows but not in every shop. Does that mean you can bring your guns in those places without signs?

I am baffled. I asked a guy in a map shop why he had that sign and he said because he didn't want people bringing their guns in the shop. He couldn't tell me what the laws were about carrying guns and I couldn't figure it out from the internet either.

Another update from Brian: "The gun thing: Minnesota has a concealed carry law. Anyone can easily get a permit to carry a concealed handgun. Businesses that don’t want them on premises must post signs meeting certain requirements specified in the statutes."
My big sister has been asking me for ages how I manage to go on long trips with just a carry-on bag. One principal is that if you can go for a week you can go for a month, you just have to wash your clothes.

Here's what I take in my backpack. (That was a particularly heavy load in the backpack for commuting to 'school' as you will see all the electronics and books in the suitcase here lightening the backpack load.)

Starting at the right, bottom to top,
Row 1: three weights of button-up shirt - summer sun cover, evening flannel, windbreaker-rain jacket. (If it's going to be really cold you'll be wearing your heavy coat and heavy shoes during travel.)
Row 2: bag with all the electronica; hiking shoes; undies; fanny pack.
Row 3: quart bag for liquids and gels (which I carry inside a heartier bag); 'bathroom bag'; maps, guidebooks, reading; computer.
Row 4: bag with dressy outfit, swimsuit, warm socks (this bag rarely gets opened...); bag with 3 tee-style shirts, 3 pairs of pants, sleeping 'outfit'; dancing shoes...your three button-up shirts complement, so everything goes together.

That's about it...except maybe a scarf and hat if it's a cold weather trip, maybe a sundress if it's going to be very hot. It all fits quite easily into a carry-on sized bag and the containers keep the clutter down, and you've got AN (read one!) outfit for any occasion. Go! Have fun!
HomeUSA the Middle • Minnesota • '08 Oct: Minneapolis-St Paul


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