Monday, April 19, 2010

New latitude PR: Minneapolis/St Paul, Minnesota (Pt 2)

Saturday was incredibly beautiful day numero tres. The weather alone slapped a smile on my face each morning we walked out of Matt’s apartment. Usually I take the lead on vacations and plan all the fun stuff and sight-seeing. I don’t mind and usually the others (aka, my brother) appreciate the idea of not having to think…otherwise known as “a vacation.” Gasp!!!!?!?!? Was all the air just sucked out of the room? Yes. Most of the time I don’t get to rest and come back from vacations more tired than when I left!

In St. Paul, I was actually getting into the groove of this whole ‘letting go’ thing. Because his place is in such a great location, we could literally walk to almost anything we wanted or needed. We walked down to a nearby bus stop to catch a route that would take us to the brand new Target Field where the Twins play. Matt had gotten us tickets to see them play game two of their weekend series with the Royals as an early birthday gift.

Target Field Target Field, Minneapolis

Our seats were great—halfway up and right behind home plate! The way the stadium was built, it somehow blocked any and all wind to where it felt like the cloudless sky was baking you as if you were laying on the beach in a tropical location. It was actually scorching in 50-something degree weather! (Matt would argue the “scorching” part, but I think it’s just because he’s become Minnesota-ized and welcomes the unseasonably warm weather!).

IMG_1271 IMG_1270 brat  A Minnesota bratwurst

The screen in left-center was huuuuuge! Crystal clear HD…I think I even saw some angels floating above it playing heavenly music on harps to let us know how worshipful this piece of electronic art was. As the game progressed though, the sun rotated in the sky earth rotated enough to where the stadium’s upper-deck “roof” blocked the sun so that we could be in the cool shade. Matt convinced me to get a brat (see picture) and at this point I questioned whether I was letting this new mindset go too far. I mean look at that picture…I just tossed my cookies looking at it. But I manned up and tried it anyways and it was great! Could’ve been grilled a few minutes longer, but otherwise it was tasty. The Twins were able to pull a win out by the hair on their chinny-chin chin by striking out the final batter with the tying run on third in the ninth! It was a fun one to watch for sure and great to experience the Twins first Saturday game in their new, state-of-the-art ballpark.

After a head-scratching few hours of trying to figure out how to get home via public transit, we decided to take the light rail to the end of it’s line—the Mall of America! If any of you have ever taken a ride on Houston’s MetroRail, you know exactly how Minneapolis’ rail system works. It’s not elevated, so it has to stop at all stop lights, which means it can’t get up to high speeds and is therefore not too efficient. Matt and I wondered if they were in a rush to get construction completed in time for opening day of Target Field, much like Houston was in a rush to get their rail “system” done in time for the 2004 Super Bowl they hosted. You would think the most logical way to do a rail system is an elevated or subterranean one to bypass traffic and stop lights, but both cities have theirs on street level…which has to be a quicker, cheaper way to implement the system. Oh well—Matt and I enjoyed the ride anyways. He and I are both the same in that if mass transit is great enough, we’re taking it to avoid driving!

IMG_1281 IMG_1282 IMG_1283 IMG_1284 Mall of America, Minneapolis

Now I know what you’re thinking. What the hell, David. It’s a mall. Well, so what. We visited it and I took some pictures and so it gets a little blurb in my post! If we hadn’t visited it, everyone back home would’ve asked me some variation or form of “Did you visit the Mall of America?!” Now that we’re collectively over the issue of potential lameness, I can proceed. The Mall of America is just what you would expect—massive!

The core of it is an atrium-covered theme park for those wintry months where it’s just too damn cold to be outside. It looked super fun and if we’d had more time, I would have tried to ride something! The outer shell of the MOA is three stories of retail store after store after store! Just about anything you’d want to find could be found here. Matt said that some of the larger chains even had two locations here! Nuts. We didn’t stay long because we had plans for the night over near the University of Minnesota’s campus. Awesome plans involving imaginary performances—an Air Guitar competition!

US Air Guitar Regionals Varsity Theater, Minneapolis

We arrived back in Minneapolis around 9 Saturday night for the Minneapolis Regional Air Guitar Championships. Yes, Air Guitar! Some of the contestants were a little stage-shy, but still had a ton of guts for getting up on stage and making fools of themselves. Others were just great! With reckless abandon and a lack of inhibitions, a few of the contestants totally shredded their performance.

IMG_1287 The host showing us how it’s done

It was as if they were a rock star in another life! The energy they channeled strumming away at an imaginary instrument was incredible…definitely worth the price of admission.

Sunday morning we both slept in pretty late and eventually made it to Bon Vie for a fashionably late breakfast (brunch?)…again over on Selby. I had the Bon Vie Scrambler with eggs and sausage, some potatoes and cheddar cheese…and scallions! I can’t forget the kick-a side of fruit I ordered as well. Mmmm… I wish I’d taken a picture of it!

Matt and I chit-chatted over many cups of coffee about life and love and careers and hopes and etc. Like little old ladies. (I swear I’m ruining all manly credibility with this single post alone!) We only see each other once, maybe twice, a year now so those heart-to-hearts are inevitable each time we visit. I know, I know… “When did this become a sappy blog? We want running stories!” 

Afterwards we finally made it down the street to see the Cathedral of St. Paul. Every time we made it over to Selby Avenue you could see the top of the Cathedral tower over everything around it so naturally I wanted to get a better look!

IMG_1317IMG_1320IMG_1313 Cathedral of St Paul, St Paul

This puppy was huuuuuge! Truly breath-taking art. You couldn’t help but be in awe and speechless. The detail and precision… Something huge inhabited this space and it definitely wasn’t of this world. It put the jumbo-tron at Target Field on a back-of-the-bus seat in terms of classifying “heavenly.” Even if you’re not Catholic or religious, when in St Paul this cathedral is a definite must-see. You would think it’s rightful home were in Europe or Washington D.C. Nope. It’s in Minnesota!

 IMG_1307 IMG_1304 IMG_1312

I’m writing this on the plane trip back, in my little crop-duster Embraer RJ-something Continental flight, sitting next to a divorced lady named Phyllis who is heading back home from having visited her grandchildren in Minnesota. Phyllis grew up in California, married and moved to Minnesota to have kids, then moved to Colorado after the kids had grown, and then moved to Arizona to be closer to other family. How fun to have lived in such great states where outdoor activities are a huge part and way of life! And such extremes—California to Minnesota and ending up in Arizona?!

She said that she had no regrets in life even though it didn’t work out the way she expected it to when she was younger. I smiled and told her that’s what I want: no regrets and to make the most of things even when they don’t necessarily go my way. She smiled in a very appreciative and grandmotherly way and gave me one last piece of advice before we got off the plane: sprinkle lots of friends and a big family across the country so that you can always have an excuse to visit beautiful places… like Minnesota! I kinda like that idea…

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