Day 20 – April 24, 2014

Cindy Garfield once advised me, “If you want to move, check out the new location during its worst weather.” Minneapolis in mid-April means shinning hot days and pleasant nights. Those that find Los Angeles weather oppressive should venture to Minnesota.

Minneapolis receives favorable Yelp reviews for its progressive politics, interesting architecture, and high standard of living. I had wanted to visit Minneapolis in 2007 during my first trip east across the country. Holly and I drove instead on highway 90, heading just south of Minneapolis. We lodged in Austin, Minnesota, home of Hormel and Spam.

Minneapolis once was the mill town. Situated on the Mississippi River’s only waterfalls and surrounded by a thousand miles of wheat fields, Minneapolis turned wheat into flour. Pillsbury and Gold Medal set up shop here. Sunday afternoon, I walked the city’s historic section across two bridges and along both banks of the Mississippi. The Pillsbury mill is gone and another mill lies in ruin. However, on this Easter, much of the city’s population was out walking, biking, and drinking beer.

I walked Washington Street across a steel bridge into the warehouse district, past loft apartments and fancy restaurants. Dining alone is lonely, worse on Saturday night. I picked up dinner with beer at Whole Foods to take back to my hotel for a decadent meal back in my hotel room.

A hotel can make a vacation wonderful, and this downtown hotel did that on my first visit to Minneapolis. I have a standard travel practice. I consult Trip Advisor the day before I arrive in a new city, weigh hotel cost against rating and location to pick a place to stay. For Minneapolis, I picked Le Meridian Chambers, located in the theater district at 9th and Hennepin. The hotel features art in the lobby and rooms. A curated 24-hour sound track plays in the elevator for the appropriate mood during the day. I ask the valets where to bury my struggling car.

I have two nights and the intervening Easter day in Minneapolis. I buy six bottles of a local IPA from Whole Foods. In other hotels, I struggled to open beer bottles with pliers. This hotel graciously provides a bottle opener and glasses. How fancy. After dinner, I head across the street to a bar called the Saloon. Three beers later, I return home at three in the morning. New cities excite me.

Sunday, I rise late to hit the contemporary art museum. Their outdoor sculpture garden features an iconic giant cherry on a spoon. I am quite impressed with the sculpture, but wilt in the heat. Statements are carved like tablets in a series of benches:

“There is no reason to sleep curled up and bent. It’s not good for you and it doesn’t protect you from danger. If you’re worried about an attack, you should stay awake or sleep lightly with limbs unfurled for action.”

“You can watch people align themselves when trouble is in the air. Some prefer to be close to those at the top, and others want to be close to those at the bottom. A question of who frightens them more and whom they want to be like.”

“When you’ve been someplace for a while, you acquire the ability to be practically invisible. This lets you operate with a minimum of interference.”

Inside, the museum exhibits Jim Hodges work, a painter and sculptor. He crafts giant circular mosaic of mirrors, huge tapestries of clouds, rings of sharp wood, and cut-and-pasted sheet music. I also enjoy Yto Barrada from Tangiers. She overlays narrated family stories with spliced home movies from 1950s and 60s America and Mexico.