There are two seasons in Minnesota: winter and road construction. Ginnie and I were on our way to Minneapolis to visit family. Interstate 35 North was reduced to single-lane traffic, choked to near standstill, for mile upon torturous mile, not a construction worker in sight. What gives? I had to constantly remind Ginnie to look on the positive side, “If it’s moving, it ain’t bad.” The City of Minneapolis was much the same: mind boggling road construction, like the city was trying to get all the work done before the infamous “Minnesnowda” winter.
But we finally made it, to the welcoming, loving arms of family. Now to see the city in the colorful fall. Minneapolis streets, in established neighborhoods, are filled with some of the most gorgeous hardwood trees you’ll see anywhere, forming protective canopies over almost hidden streets. I picked up a maple leaf — solid red on one side, tan on the other — and gave it to Ginnie.
For a taste of Minneapolis, we went for Thai. Having a bit of an allergy, I tried my first ever curry. That cleared the sinuses right out.
Minneapolis has so much to offer if you’re interested in art. A tour of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the largest urban sculpture park in the world, was first on our list. The “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture, by artist Claes Oldenburg and his wife Coosje, is one of a kind. It’s an eye-catching, smile-provoking work of art, just one of many wonders in the sculpture garden. Ginnie’s Fitbit buzzed 10,000 steps, a reward for beauty seen.
Next: Minnesota Nice Cream for an afternoon snack, then pizza for supper at a quaint eatery in a village borough. I loved the diversity, with a Muslim mosque and Buddhist monastery within blocks of each other, everyone in harmony, smiling and saying “hi,” just like in small town Iowa. Little motorized scooters dotted the city streets, as well as bicycles. Huge hybrid electric transit buses hummed people from point A to point B. Who needs a car? The flavor and beat of the city was infectious.
Our hotel was crowded with teen girls — hockey players — in town for a tournament. I asked one of the parent-chaperon-coaches where they were from. Alaska! They had flown in, rented a vehicle to haul the girls and equipment, and were ready to play. I told him that I didn’t know girls played hockey. He said they were pretty scrappy. I asked him if they liked to fight, like the men. He pointed to one of the girls who was missing front teeth. (Just kidding.)
Saying goodbye to family was sad, but on the way home a special treat: a tour of the Spam Museum in Austin, Minn. Yes! If you haven’t visited the Spam Museum, it’s well worth the side trek. Iowa may be the pork capital of the world, but Hormel and Spam, (“the food that won the war”) is in Austin, Minn. Jokes aside, the Spam Museum is a class act. How many cans of Spam tall are you? Ginnie and I both splurged in the gift shop. I now have a Spam pocket knife, ink pen that lights up and pajama bottoms. Ginnie has a Spam kitchen towel, spatula, Spam-or-cheese slicer, cookbook and four different kinds of Spam: Teriyaki, Portuguese Sausage, Tocino and Hickory Smoke. There are over a dozen different kinds. After the tour we meandered across the street to a restaurant for lunch, and had (drum roll) pineapple and Spam pizza. Yep. Spam bam thank you, ma’am.
On the trip home we took Highway 218 South, all the way to little ol’ Mt. Pleasant. The fall scenery was spectacular on “The Avenue of the Saints.” We almost stopped to gather pumpkins at one farm, and apples at another. Get aways are fun, but it’s always nice to be home again, home again, jiggity jog.
BTW: I have one maybe two openings in my fourth annual winter creative writing class. If interested, my contact information is below. Stay out of trouble until next week.
Contact Curt Swarm at email@example.com