Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Great Tree Collapse

If a tree falls in a park, does it make a noise? Um, yeah and it was freaking loud.

The Twin Cities has a massive storm last Friday, June 21. My house guest, John, and I were about to head out to a music festival when the wind picked up, the rain started pouring and the pressure dropped. The tree outside my 3rd story apartment pressed on the electrical lines with every major gust. Then--bam!--the power went out and we suddenly saw an explosion out of one of the windows. It must have been a transformer.

There's no way to describe the wind other than intense and frightening. John, knowing the start of tornadoes, herded us quickly out of the apartment and into the basement. Opening the door from my apartment to the hallway was actually a struggle the pressure was that forceful. The stairwells were covered in water from the nearby open windows. In the pitch dark basement with only the harsh light of our cell phones we ran into my neighbors. I've never seen so many of my apartment dwellers in one place!

The storm only lasted 30 minutes to an hour but was extreme. Over 600,000 people were left without power; most not getting electricity for a day or more. We headed to John's house in St. Paul where we found out the storm wasn't as bad. Getting to St. Paul was a bit dangerous; all the lights were out and we had to drive through a labyrinth of toppled trees. I'm impressed that Xcel Energy responded so quickly. They estimated that my area would get power Monday or Tuesday but we were turned on late Saturday.

Later that day and for the next week, we started noticing the damage created. The National Weather Service says several communities experienced gusts up to 60 mph.  Trees old and young couldn't withstand winds of 50+ mph.  Luckily most trees fell in parks or took out fences and garages; however, a few houses and cars were not so lucky. Minneapolis Parks and Rec has counted over 3,000 trees uprooted just in the park system.

Friday, June 28, 2013

One year ago today...

One year ago today I flew to Minneapolis to have two interviews for Dakota County. My last day of work at the Pueblo City-County Health Department was technically Friday, June 29, 2012, but I had to use a few vacation days to come to Minnesota. Yep, I had my interview on my last day of work. Kismet? I think so.

It hit me today while touring around my visiting mom. We paid the absurd fee of $8 to shoot up to the 30th floor of the Foshay Tower in downtown Minneapolis. It has a surreal panoramic view of the cities. I thought about the last (and only) time I had been to the historic landmark. And it hit me: one year ago today!

My life has surely changed in 12 months: new job, new friends, new city. I'm grateful for this adventure, indeed.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

16. Mini golfing at the Walker

You know it's summer (or so I'm told) when mini-golf is open at the Walker Art Center. Time to mark off #16 on my summer Things to Do list!

Each hole of 15 is designed by a different artist. I had the pleasure of putting around with my Couchsurfer, Cristina.

When you pay at the cute, air-conditioned shack outside, you are given a tee time. We had an hour to wait, but luckily Cristina loves modern art. The Walker Art Center admission is included in the golf price. We checked out some art and some "art" before we hit purple and green balls around.

Two courses are offered with 8 holes each although the last hole is the same on each. It takes about 30 minutes for each course unless your us and whack the ball across the street.

Best moment: Helping sink Cristina's ball on the gnome foosball hole. Nothing like team work!

Monday, June 17, 2013

17. Rock out at Rock the Garden

Bob Mould Band
What an eventful two days! Volunteering for Bike to Work Week, watching a movie in a park, and then all of Saturday was packed. John and I had a very Minneapolis (i.e. liberal) day: 1) go to the Midtown Farmers Market; 2) check out The Hub's Used Bike Extravaganza; 3) work in the community garden; 4) take the bus to Rock the Garden. Whew!

John surprised me with tickets to Rock the Garden last month and we've been looking forward to it ever since. Rock the Garden is an annual concert coordinated by The Current and Walker Arts Center. This year's line-up: Dan Deacon, Low, The Bob Mould Band, Silversun Pickups, and Metric. John just happens to love Metric which is why he forked out the money for us.
Metric performing

An afternoon rain threatened to ruin the event, but it passed in time for Low. We waited out the rain since we were taking the bus and walking so we missed Dan Deacon. He was nice enough to move his music to the parking garage where concert goers were avoiding the rain. That would have been cool to see!

We met our friends and staked out a spot on the grass to drink beer and eat bratwurst. Six hours flew by! Low wasn't great to see although I was assured they're usually much better than what we witnessed. Bob Mould was excellent! I didn't realize he was the lead singer for Husker Dü who just so happen to be from the Twin Cities. Silversun Pickups had a good set and got the crowd ready for Metric. I didn't realize how many Metric songs I knew. They did wonderfully and John thoroughly enjoyed his favorite band.

Rock the Garden is a zero-waste event with help from Eureka Recycling. The cups and food dishes used by vendors were all compostable which made tossing them in the right bin so much easier. Every waste station has 2 volunteers to make sure you threw your item in the right container. It was very well organized and successful. The Walker Arts Center says it reduces waste to a mere 1 ounce per attendee by recycling and composting. Bravo!

Rock the Garden was #17 on my Things To-Do list for this summer and it will most definitely be on my list next year!

John showcasing our blanket
Thousands of concert goers

Scarfing down delicious food

Sunday, June 16, 2013

7. Movie in the Park

Hooray! #7 Movie in the Park was all that I knew it could be! Another activity to mark off on the Things To-Do list. 

Minneapolis Parks and Rec coordinates an intense schedule of bands and movies from June through August set in many of Minneapolis' parks. They inflate a gigantic, portable screen in under a minute and then project the movie. 

I tried to catch a showing of The Princess Bride in Powderhorn Park last week, but the constant rain ruined that. Luckily, my friends had scheduled a get together to watch The Mighty Ducks at Lake Harriet Bandshell. My friend is a total Mighty Ducks nut so it was the perfect opportunity to get together on a blanket and laugh about silly 90s moments. 

Mighty Ducks was part of the Minnesota Connections theme this year. Movies with links to the Land of Lakes are Mighty Ducks, Grumpy Old Men, Miracle, Little Women, Moneyball, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Back to the Future, and Toy Story. So what is the Mighty Ducks connection, you ask? The movie was filmed in the Twin Cities, which made it more fun to watch. My MN friends could recognize places like the old Met Center and the Winter Carnival. You can still go to Mickey's Diner in downtown St. Paul to get a bite. 

Best part: chanting "Quack! Quack! Quack!" along with hundreds of strangers and Emilio Estevez. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

10. Stay up late at Northern Spark

I accomplished #10 on my Things To Do list: Northern Spark!

I used to be more of a night owl. I"m not a morning person--that's for sure. But an all-nighter? I can't remember the last time I did that. And even staying up to the wee hours usually involved alcohol or insomnia. Could I really enjoy a festival that starts at dusk and ends at dawn? Darn tootin'!

Northern Spark is a magical festival that incorporates art, music, film, and cultural exploration in the heart of St. Paul. It's the only festival I know of that dominates the night. Exhibits by local and national artists involved everything you could think of: a catapult that flung balloons of light screen printers, hula-hooping, an interactive mural, short films, singers, and bands.

I wondered around for a few hours by myself at the beginning. I was supposed to meet a large Couchsurfing group, but it just wasn't in the cards. I couldn't help smiling even if I looked like a loner. Luckily, I met a few friends to enjoy the celebration and we hung in there until after 2am.

My Highlights:

Walking the Labyrinth 
In the middle of experimental music and art displays, a simple labyrinth was made on the ground outside the Union Depot. I donned the free earplugs and took a slow stroll through the meditative maze. I loved having a little mental break from the visual and audio extravaganza.

Underpass of the Eyes of Freedom
Below the main entrance to the Union Depot I discovered an underpass full of the Arab Spring (with more white people). Participants were able to spray paint the long white wall with iconic images of the struggles in the Middle East or just right "Mike was here" with a marker. Books nearby illustrated different street art in Egypt's Tehrir Squre and other revolutionary images. It was very moving.

Screen Printer and Poster Press
One of the first exhibits I stumbled upon was Permanent Labor. A table was set up for participants to sit down and read about the new labor; the audience is needed by artists to absorb the work created. A screen printer was there to produce a keepsake for the audience to carry home.

Another station printed posters with an absurdly clunky but intriguing press. Posters were all about messages to carry with you when travelling (see photo at top).

Celebration/Love/Loss (aka The Burning House)
The artist built a model of Breuer's 1,800 architectural icon just to burn in down. I love the description for the exhibit, "like a prairie fire that allows new seeds to germinate, [the artist] is to honor the original home with a meticulous re-creation and then ignite it, allowing fire to consume its pure, clean lines" as a ceremonious end to "high modernism". And you can't deny the joy of hearing hundreds of bystanders oohing and ahhing at the mountain of fire without the feeling of guilt of destruction.

There were so many amazing things to see and do! I didn't even get to one whole area by the river. I can't wait till next year!