Thursday, July 8, 2010

minnesota and back again

Last year I experienced the fourth of July as every good Washington resident should. I gathered with thousands of others on the Mall and preceded to sweat to death and people watch while awaiting fireworks. It was great, and I am glad I got that opportunity. I'm also glad I was no where near the nation's capitol for this independence day. It was hot and crowded. and I was far away from it.
Friday I flew into Minneapolis and Anna picked me up. She's recently started a job working for an extremely large company doing something complicated that I don't really even pretend to understand. It involves markets and impacts large quantities of money.
Anna's house is adorable, in a great part of town that is lively and unique. She is also only a block from one of the many gorgeous lakes in the city. Friday night we met up with one of her coworkers and his wife. We hit up three of the trendiest places in town - the Cafeteria (rooftop bar), Chino Latino (delicious cuban pork, too trendy for it's own good) and Stella's (another rooftop bar). We sat out on the dock of Lake Calhoun and caught up late into the night.
Saturday we walked to the local coffee shop and bought cinnamon rolls. A trip to the farmer's market scored us some pretty produce, brats, cheese and pretzels (anna conversed with the pretzel guy in German). We stopped in at the sculpture garden and happened to catch a local troupe of cloggers, complete with a bluegrass band.
After a nice lunch of brats and some laying around, we embarked on an adventure to the lake. Anna's landlord has a canoe she offered for our use. Problem is, the canoe is at the house, the lake is not. The landlord used a system of a dolly wenched to the bottom of the canoe, and then rolling it down the bike path (that runs right by the house and down around the lake). It worked surprisingly well, and we were in the water in 20 minutes with only about 20 bewildered stares from bikers. So we paddled to the next lake over and pulled up on the public beach. Some sunning and swimming and it was a perfect afternoon. We also saw muskrats (!).
We went to dinner with another of Anna's coworkers, to a place called Quang on EatStreet. It was decent Vietnamese food, and very inexpensive. We stopped in at Brit's pub, downtown, which has boccie ball on the roof. We didn't get to play though. Ended the night with another trip to the dock.
Sunday was supposed to be nasty so we decided to hit up some sales at the outlet mall. It was a very successful trip, everyone was happy with their purchases, and I was able to fit it all in my suitcase. We also stopped in at the Mall of America, which is my father's worst nightmare. An amusement park inside the largest mall? Do dads elect to come here? I was tired just walking in. We walked one of the four levels, opting out of the interior corridors. I think there are multiple victoria secrets in there.
That evening found us searching for what to do for fireworks. We took the bus downtown to 'Boom Island,' which is not a special name for the fourth, in the middle of the Mississippi. It was too crowded for us, so we took a taxi back with the plan to get a picnic and sit by the lake. Well, we stopped at Stella's (with the rooftop bar) and managed to get a table in 45mins. So Christy, one of anna's random acquaintances (a classmate of a bus stop friend) came and we ended up with a table of several people. The fireworks were in the distance, but it was a nice view of the city skyline.
Monday the promised rain showed up. We were determined to see something outside of the city, so after a breakfast at the Uptown diner (decent food, way too expensive) we set out with Christy for a hike. The rain didn't start until we got about a mile from the state park. Lovely. We drove down the road and found another park, after crossing a bridge and venturing into Wisconsin. The rain slowed and stopped so we went for a stroll on the very wet trails. No real hiking because of the conditions, but it was pretty. We found some ice cream at a local shop that seems to only service the park crowd and it was delicious. We decided to wind our way back to town on as many backroads as possible, to get some scenery and to avoid traffic for as long as possible. On one of these roads we spotted a sign for a barn sale. We turned around and went up the dirt road. when we pulled in, Christy asked "is that a pig?" Anna responded with "no it's a goat." Oh it's pigs and goats... and a kangaroo? .... and foxes? and llamas? and a CAMEL? The 'barn sale' was benefiting a nonprofit that brought animals into education and it was held at their barn. It was beyond weird.
That night we ordered from a place called Galactic Pizza. They deliver it dressed as their favorite superhero. Our guy was dressed as Apathy Man, complete with orange tights a black cape and a guy shrugging on his chest. The pizza was good too.
Tuesday I got to bond with one of Anna's close friends in town, since Anna had to work and I needed a ride. We went to breakfast and for a walk around another lake.
At the airport, they announced they had overbooked our flight by 16 people. Since I was flying into baltimore and dreading the traffic back to DC, I decided to ask what they could do for me. I got on an earlier flight, to my original airport preference, with vouchers for another flight! Score!

St. Croix river, looking at Wisconsin.

fireworks over lake calhoun

The sculpture garden, for some reason a giant spoon with a cherry is now symbolic of Minneapolis.