Wednesday, July 31, 2013

People Do This!?

People decorate their cars here! Well not everyone, only the cool people and you can see them all at the annual Art Car Parade. I've been looking forward to see all the art-on-wheels roll by all at the same time. The "parade" is more of a thrown-together take-over of a street that hugs Lake Calhoun for cars and bikes decked out.

John and I were also enjoying the last of Aquatennial on Saturday. We missed all the other events during the 10-day celebration of Minneapolis mostly because....I forgot it was happening. But we did catch the free admission day at the Bakken Museum. (Side note: this museum is awesome! I recommend adults and kids going for hands on learning/fun about electricity.) We relaxed on Lake Calhoun before the parade starting by getting some grub at Bread n' Pickle and laying around on a blanket in the grass. Sigh....good times. 

The parade was cool for the mere 20 minutes it lasted. We saw about 15 cars with themed paintings and adornments including one wiht dominoes glued all over it, a VW Bug decorated in fairies, and a car-turned-Yellow-Submarine. Noticeably missing were the vehicles seen around town decorated all year: the van covered in astro turf, the car with seashells, etc. Enjoyable on a summer's eve but nothing I'd get turbo-excited about. I am excited about decorating my car for next year!!!!

Things To Do List

19. Check out the Aquatennial (July 12-20) Kinda done
21. Gawk at the Art Car Parade (July 20) DONE!

The Cars 

Yellow Submarine with Beatles music blaring 

This guy makes bikes that also transport your dog!

A turtle car--not E.T. as I had originally thought

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Canoe the High Seas...or How to Save Your Relationship

Rachel, me and John
John and I wanted to get out this fine weekend (and apparently everyone else in Minneapolis did,
too). Let's go canoeing! My co-worker had urged us to borrow her canoe anytime this summer so it wouldn't sit idle. After hunting down her flotation device, we were ready to go a-canoeing. We flopped into the water in a silver apparatus ready to own that Lake of the Isles. Boy, were we unprepared.

First of all, kayaking skills do not transfer easily to canoe. I know that now. We ran into my friends as they were headed to shore and they gave us some tips. Apparently, the person in back steers (me) while the person in front is the muscle (John). We set forth with this knowledge and this knowledge only. I tried to use my rafting "skills" to call out paddle strokes to John, but that didn't work as well as I thought.

We somehow got to the the Cedar Ave. canal, a beautiful canal with a stone arch entrance that leads to another lake. Normally, we would ooh and awe at the white water lilies and canopy of trees. This trip down the canal was filled, instead, with the noises of John and I snapping at each other "paddle this way!"; splashing water at each other with paddles; and the slow bang of our canoe running into sides of canal/trees/kayakers. Then, finally, silence of me not talking out of frustration and humiliation. Just breathe....

Once out of mass hysteria in the canal (20 minutes), we actually were doing a better job. We started too big, I think. We got to the shore in more or less a straight line without hating each other. John put up with my frustrated grunts-followed-by-silence. Afterward, he even said "Your impatience won't drive me away". That filled my heart with joy since anyone who knows me knows that my impatience can be bountiful.

We promised we would try it again with someone who knew what they were doing....but maybe not anytime soon.

18. Canoe or Kayak or Both DONE!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

State Park #5: Savannah Portage

I almost didn't count this little gem for my State Park Countydown, because of only being able to spend a mere 30 minutes roaming around this wilderness--but not for lack of trying! John and I went "up north" for the 4th of July weekend to spend time at his family friends' house. On our drive back from McGregor, we planned to hike at the nearest park,Savannah Portage State Park.

The highlight of Savannah Portage is walking the Continental Divide. Now, a girl from Colorado knows about Continental Divides; you can't avoid it--it's a mountain range! But in Minnesota the divide is slightly more subtle. From the state park site:
"Walk the Savanna Portage Trail, a historic trail traveled by fur traders, Dakota and Ojibwe Indians, and explorers more than 200 years ago. Savanna Portage State Park has 15,818 acres of rolling hills, lakes, and bogs. The Continental Divide marks the great division of water: water to the west flows into the Mississippi River; water to the east runs into Lake Superior." 

About to freak from
the flies on my legs
My plan to see bog wildflowers and walk along a great division of water did not go so swimmingly. We arrived in the early afternoon knowing it would be a bit hotter. The heat was not the problem. As soon as we rolled across the park line, we were attacked by a swarm of insects. We thought we'd take a shot at hiking anyway in case they might buzz off. They. did. not. We made it about 8 minutes along the ingrown trail before we couldn't stand it anymore. We jumped back into the car tried a different area.

Maybe the lake would be better. Although the calm, reflective water was charming, the bugs were not.  I did spot some wildflowers but the horseflies were too much. We walked for about 10 minutes around the edge of the lake before cutting our visit short.


John swatting at flies
Imagine hundreds of these guys


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Visitors of All Sorts, Part Deux

We last left off with my mom somehow hobbling along after me trying to wear her out with too much to see and do. She's a trooper!

Day 4: Holy Father- & Mother-in-law
Cathedral of St. Paul

Where do you take a Catholic visiting the Twin Cities? To church of course! More specifically, St. Paul's Cathedral. We went to mass on Sunday morn to the European-style cathedral.
Fun fact: The cathedral started to be built in 1904 by the main architect from the 1904 World's Fair and was based on cathedrals in Paris and PĂ©rigueux. 
 After mass, we met John and his parents at Day by Day Cafe, a quaint diner. John said the staff are recovering addicts although I can't find any reference to that online. Wonderful food and very friendly service!

The next part of the day John would have nothing to do with. Mom and I wanted to go to the aquarium which happens to be John's worst nightmare. (Something about the glass might break and the fish that are angry for being in captivity will eat him... or something.) Since mom had never ridden public transit before (I know!), we took the Minneapolis lightrail to the Mall of America to visit the SeaLife Aquarium. At first, I was not impressed: scant life to look at; tanks not fully labeled. But once I hit the 300 ft. long ocean tunnel, I was hooked. Sharks, giant fish, and turtles were all around you; enveloping you. I also appreciated the descriptive label every 10 feet or so. They called out if the species was threatened, vulnerable or not at risk.

Day 5: Bon Voyage! 

Mom, John, and I met up at Harriet Island in St. Paul to take a cruise down the Ole Mississippi. Padelford Riverboats is one of many companies that offer hour tours up and down the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers. We chose Padelford because of its Monday Madness sale--$8 per person! The evening was absolutely gorgeous with just the right amount of breeze wafting through the open-air top deck. Although we couldn't hear the historical announcements over the intercom due to ambient noise and people talking, we had a relaxing and very Twin Cities evening; a perfect end to a trip with my mom.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Visitors off all sorts, Part I

A-top Foshway Tower in downtown Minneapolis

Whilst my mum was visiting in June, I needed to figure out activities that would appeal to her. I had my usual list of museums, art exhibits, concerts, etc. that I gave to my more youthful visitors. (see my Twin Cities suggested sites) My mom drove up from Branson MO (aka Old People Vegas) to visit me in my new city. Mom, who doesn't get around as easily anymore, was a tad more challenging to create a fun-filled itinerary for than other visitors. Walking around the parks, biking, and drinks on a rooftop bar were off the table. My mom's list of fun activities: playing music at church, going on scenic drives, and...other activities that I'm supposed to know because I'm her daughter. Time to be creative!

My mom picked a few activities from the list I sent to my sister and visiting friends and added a few of her own from scouring the internet. I would never expect her to want to be atop the Foshay Tower or visit the Bell Museum of Natural History!

Day 1: Play Ball!

Her visit started as soon as she parked the car. We rushed her to free seats at the Twins vs. Kansas City Royals (thanks Germaine!). She had never been to a baseball game before--although I hadn't either before John took me on one of our first dates.

Day 2: MinneAwesome 

The next day, we had our mother-daughter bonding time with a full day of roaming Minneapolis: Foshay Tower, Bell Museum, and a driving tour of the Mill City area. She appreciated the diversity of Mpls and the cache of museums/theaters/parks we have to offer.

Day 3: Birds, Buttons & Bowls 

We spent a beautiful Saturday morning in Ft. Snelling State Park at the Birds & Binoculars free tour. I'm not much of a birder but I enjoyed learning about the Minnesota's vast aviary. I've never seen so many adults staring into the trees trying to hear harder.

John and mom humored me by going to the first-ever Mend-It Clinic sponsored by Hennepin County. Perfect place to learn how to mend zippers and sew on buttons! For lunch, mom wanted something she wouldn't normal have in Branson (but no Indian food). We took her to a hole-in-the-wall in my 'hood that serves Ethiopian. I am so proud of her for trying a food that you eat with your hands in a dank place that we had never been to. Go mom!

Then we ditched John and headed to the Eagan Art Festival. Lack of money didn't hinder my enjoyment of ceramic bowls, paintings, and lawn sculptures. (Pssst. I secretly wanted to go to check out their recycling. The coordinators had received a funding from my job to set up recycling during the event.)