As Pia said in the last post, Saskatoon and North Dakota were not the most exciting places to drive through, and as nice as small farming communities are, they don’t offer a lot of sights for the visitor to see, but North Dakota did allow us to see the world’s largest pile of oil cans (believe it or not, this wasn’t a destination sight for us, by an amazing stroke of luck it happened to be right next to the RV park we stayed in one night):
and this lovely sunrise:
Despite those highlights, we were pretty excited when we Minneapolis sticking up on the horizon like the Emerald City.
Unfortunately, when we arrived in the “Mini Apple” (I didn’t make that up, people actually call it that, apparently) it was stinking hot and so humid that stepping out of the hotel felt like entering a bathroom after someone’s just had a hot shower. The humidity quickly tuned to thunder showers on the second day, making it even harder to enjoy the city. We did, however manage to get out a bit and caught our first glimpse of the Mississippi and the decrepit and gentrified old flour mills that line it.
We also went to the Global Market, and indoor market full of foods, crafts, and goods from a variety of countries. We had a really tasty lunch at the african booth (I had a camel burger – it was very good) and got the makings of a picnic dinner (including some really good cheese that is apparently made by an 18 year old Amish boy who’s been making cheese since he was 11).
After a couple of days in Minneapolis we headed on for a night in its twin city, St. Paul. It turns out that St. Paul was the home of Charles Shultz, as we discovered when we came across these statues:
It was rainy and hot that day (a bad combination because we were sweating under our rain jackets) so we decided on a whim to visit the Schubert Museum. It was free, so we figured we’d at least check it out and we’re so glad we did because it was really good. We got a private tour of the small museum, and there was lots of stuff to listen to. There was an exhibit of antique harpsichords and pianos which showed the progression of the instrument over the centuries (some of which had been played by famous composers), vintage music boxes, gramophones, and an Edison wax cylinder recorder (all of which we got to listen to). There was also a fun exhibit of crazy instruments that some guy made after a dream of what music would be like in the future. If you’re ever in St. Paul I recommend it.
In the afternoon the rain cleared and it got crazy hot, but we stayed the night in a B&B that’s on an renovated tugboat moored in the Mississippi River, and once it cooled off a bit, its deck was a great place to get some work done and then have a little wine.
After St. Paul we swung by Madison, Wisconsin for the afternoon, then on to Milwaukee. Milwaukee was nice, but their downtown is pretty corporate, with not much to do as a tourist. The art museum was nice, and there were some great old buildings, too. The state fair was also on while we were there, as well as an airshow, but we chose to skip both. There was a fun little free jazz festival in the Third Ward, though, with three or four blocks of the street closed off containing three stages of live music and booths selling crafts, food and drinks. It was pretty cool.
From Milwaukee we came to Chicago, where we’re staying with Pia’s cousin, Gina, but I’ll leave that for the next post.