Originally Written: July 9, 2019
Guess who’s back? Back again. Everybody needs a break, and in the first half of 2019 I needed some time away from this blog. It was nothing personal, I simply wanted to be able to enjoy our remaining time in Germany without the pressures of recording our outings. There’s a simplistic kind of beauty in returning to a favorite castle and walking its grounds without pulling out a camera or phone to document the occasion.
If you have never gone on an adventure without unplugging from the real world, I highly recommend giving it a try.
That being said, when I finalized our trip to Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota the first stirrings of interest returned. I was going to a brand new state, one that is reportedly beautiful, and my interest was piqued. With a warm and hearty welcome, my computer opened its blogging platform and allowed me to come back with open arms. So without further ado…
Alex’s sister lives in this northern state with her husband, and in May she had her first child. Both of us knew we wanted to meet our newest niece as soon as possible, and when we realized we would be in the states for the month of June, the timing seemed too good to pass up.
In a brave step on my part, I left the kids with my parents and flew into Minnesota from Orlando. This was my first time flying without kids, and with TSA Precheck the entire experience was a breeze.
The novelty of being able to stop for a coffee and read my book on the plane was exhilarating. I napped on the flight, allowing myself to doze as deep as I pleased, unconcerned about keeping an ear out for the cries of children. My only hitch in the trip was the fact that I booked the flights too late to check where our seats were located.
I had decided to splurge and get a window seat, because this was going to be my one and only chance to actually sit next to the window. Normally, I shuck a kid in that spot so they are out of the way and contained. I was looking forward to watching takeoff and landing, but my enthusiasm was dashed when I sat down and saw:
Forty odd row on that plane and I picked the one that didn’t have a window.
Alex and I were in Minnesota for two and a half days, and despite having a newborn in tow our group of five packed as much into those days as we could.
Our first outing was to see the legendary Mall of America, a monstrous building with four floors jam packed with stores and entertainment venues. There were fair-like rides in the middle, an aquarium on the bottom, and restaurants on the top. Every mainstream company you could think of was housed inside, with some places like Starbucks having multiple stores throughout.
Drastically large, anything you could possibly want could be found in the Mall of America. We had recently come from Germany, where most necessities are broken into several stores. There were apothecaries for medicine, Aldis for groceries, Deichamns for shoes, etc. So to go from one extreme to the other was a radical change of pace. I turned in a circle more than once, fascinated at the accessibility and variety of products available.
It was consumer America at its finest, and while I don’t typically enjoy that sort of frivolity, it was fun to experience once. If I were living in Minnesota in the dead of winter and needed a coat, some fudge, ice skates, and lipstick it would be a relief to only need to go to one place to get all of those items.
Something more up my alley was Minnehaha Park. Right in the heart of the city with a spread of lush woods was a fifty three foot waterfall dubbed Minnehaha Falls. A short walk down several staircases will empty viewers onto a viewing platform at the bottom of the falls, where there are wide open spaces to look at the waterfall.
Surrounding Minnehaha Falls were hiking trails that led in a large loop around the water. The water was high when we visited and some of the paths were washed out, but Alex and I still managed to go about a quarter of the way around. We walked across a metal platform and climbed up old tree roots, watched chipmunks scurry up bushes, and gloried at the feel of a warm Minnesota day.
One of the perks of visiting a city where you know someone is the ability to have a personal tour guide. Our family drove us through the heart of Minneapolis, describing the historical importance of certain areas, pointing out top attractions, and painting us a detailed picture of life in the city. Alex and I had the pleasure of seeing some of Minnesota’s historical homes with wraparound porches, the Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden. We passed the Stone Arch Bridge, the Bell Museum, and the Basilica of Saint Mary.
We couldn’t go to such a major city without trying a few of the legendary foods. Cheese curds and Caribou Coffee were tried on the first day, both were good but enjoyed in small quantities.
Then there was the Juicy Lucy. Because we were trying this dish for the first time, only the original would suffice. Located on an assuming street corner in Minneapolis, Matt’s bar serves one thing: burgers.
A cash only joint, the inside was small and unpretentious. It looked like your typical bar, until you started looking at the paraphernalia on the walls and realized it was all accolades and awards.
Matt’s was the real deal, and the Juicy Lucy stood up to the test. A burger filled with melted cheese, it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Even without the cheese, the burger was cooked to perfection, with the right amount of seasonings and char from the grill.
I rarely eat red meat, probably a dozen times a year. But I would break that pattern for this burger. Trust me on this…don’t pass this dish up if you’re Minnesota.
Undoubtedly, our experiences were positive because we were in good company and had the joy of visiting without the hassle of kids. Card games and long lunches at breweries were made special because the only young one at the table wasn’t capable of complaining about their chicken nuggets or asking the rules of the game a million times over. Two and half days wasn’t nearly enough time to see everything, but hopefully this won’t be the only time Alex and I visit the state. We would love to return with the kids and take them to some of the museums as well as visit the state fair. There seems to be a lot of hidden corners to explore and gems to uncover in the city given the time and the weather. Just have to ensure I get a window on my next flight.