MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Twin Cities

With such an ambitious travel plan, I only allotted 2 days in the Twin Cities, which means I have to go back. But that does not mean that I did not cover plenty of ground this trip.

I made sure to see as many iconic sites, museums and images as possible. As soon as I landed, I headed to the Art Institute. It is their birthday, and as a gift, they had a Raphael's The Madonna of the Pinks on loan from London. What an amazing surprise, because even if it is not my favorite art movement, it is still a Raphael (and who doesn't want to see one of the Ninja Turtle namesakes?) The true wonder for me was the Contemporary and Pop Art collection in the museum. This was no small collection AND it was more than Warhol and Lichtenstein. It was filled with everything from a Japanese kimono made of dog tags, to "cute" sculptures of teddy bears, from ceiling projections of colliding asteroids to a giant acrylic dog. The gallery of American Expressionism held beautiful images of urban settings (Corcos's Macy's Parade) to Western Vistas (Hartley's An Evening Mountainscape). And the child in me rejoiced at the collection of old tin banks - the kind that moved and snapped your money into its belly. Happy 100th Birthday Art Institute.

From there, I headed outside to the famous Minneapolis Zoo. Sure, I was going to plenty of parks this trip, but I always like supporting the conservation & educational efforts of zoo and aquariums... and sometimes, I learn something new! This was one of those times. The zoo highlighted the Minnesota trail and all the fantastic critters that make the Land of Lakes their home. There were coyote, wolf, fox, porcupine, eagles, fish, otters, beaver, black bear, lynx, wolverine, and fishers! What is a fisher, you ask? Well, its one of the only critters in the animal kingdom that eat porcupine; they can digest quills. They are adorable - like a long weasely teddy bear but they are not to be messed with. The zoo has been successful in breeding and reintroducing these guys into the wild. In a completely different sections is introducing Hawaiian Monk Seals to its constituents... and already my last state is calling me.

Since I was already on the St Paul side of the city, I headed downtown to visit the Charles Schultz's Peanuts statues all around Rice Park and the Plaza. You can't miss them - Snoopy & Woodstock, Charlie Brown, Schroeder & Lucy , Linus & Sally, Peppermint Patty and Marcie. It was a great collection. And then New Kids hit me... not kidding really. I had not original intention of going to the concert. I have tickets for my home shows, but here they were, right in front of me and I could not help up. Off I went to the Excel Arena, bumped into Danny Wood's father, affectionately called the mayor of New Kids Land and was hooked up with 3rd row seats! It was insane EXCEPT I was still in my travel clothes that I have been power touring in... so I headed to my car and grabbed something new from my suitcase (because I had yet to check into my hotel) and changed at the restaurant while grabbing a meal. And at the concert, I met some awesome new Blockhead friends that I danced the night away with... by the time the show was over and I made it to Midtown Minneapolis - I was spent from my first night.

The next day was no less crazy. With an immediate trip to another midtown Walker Contemporary Art Museum and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, I spent the next few hours looking at all sorts of creations. Where else are you going to see the iconic Cherry on a Spoon fountain? Nestled right next to the sculpture garden, a sculpture garden mini-golf! I wished I had time to play a round but I wanted to look inside the museum... and I was glad I did. They were hosting an International Pop exhibit. Minneapolis truly loves their pop art. It's fantastic. The show was filled with even more color explosions. I fell for a piece by an Icelandic artist that captured American food consumerism - noting all of our choices and variety. (And yet again, another "soon to be" trip is calling me). The show was filled with the tongue in cheek art that is the Pop art message. Art is a commentary on life and Pop Art can highlight the fun, the freakish, the political and the ridiculous.

Before I left Midtown, I headed to Global Market to peruse the trinkets, support the local artist co-op and grab some needed food... The market is on the bottom level of an amazing art-deco building. The building still housed business or local government, as it filled with people in work clothes ready to eat and run. It made me a little jealous (okay, a lot) since we don't even have that kind of option were I work in DC... hey, the grass is always greener...

And speaking of green Minneapolis has over 170 parks. It is one of the greenest big cities out there... and one of its crown jewels is Minnehaha Park, housing Minnehaha Falls. The park (and surrounding parks) are filled with hiking and biking trails, an frisbee golf course, picnic areas and even a water feature of the kids. I took a few hours to soak up some sun on that gorgeous day, walk some trails along the river, take in some views and enjoy the sound of the roaring water pouring over the falls. I needed my strength because I was headed to the mecca of mall commerce...

The mythic Mall of America. I used to fantasize about this place as a kid. The idea of an indoor rollercoaster was too much for my thrill seeking brain to comprehend. And I think it would have exploded because I counted 4 roller coasters of various sizes. My one regret of this entire trip is that I didn't ride them... what was I thinking? Well, technically, I do know. My back was killing me. I had not expected to go hiking in Minnehaha and I didn't wear comfy shoes nor carried a backpack. Walking 4 plus miles in cute flats and carrying a heavy purse and camera will do it. So by the time I got to Mall of America and wandered through the Aquarium there (yep, the aquarium is in the mall), I was done. I walked through the amusement park to Best Buy to purchase a GPS. Yep, I had one. Yep, I did come prepared. And yep, it broke one day into the trip; it was 2 years old. And I needed one to get me through North Dakota, I was not going to have service. With a new GPS and some comfy walking sneaks (I needed them), I can now say I shopped at the Mall of America. I took it all in and headed downtown to crash at the Forshay.

The next morning it was on to more remote pastures!

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