When I told people I was visiting Minnesota this summer they often asked what the weather was like there and seemed somewhat surprised when I told them hot and humid. Yes, perhaps those with a lake cabin up north may get by without a.c., but down in the Twin Cities it swelters.
I spent most of my time with my mom who lives in Rosemount, an old farm town that is now part of the sprawling South Metro: a cliche of U.S. auto-focused landscape which I discussed extensively in my old L.A. based blog. The area does have a few gems. At my favorite thrift store, Savers in Apple Valley, I purchased a classic BWCA t-shirt in great condition for a buck twenty-five.
Running through Rosemount one morning I encountered whitetail deer and cottontail rabbits but also several little libraries with popular paperbacks ranging from Paul Durham, The Luck Uglies to Jenny McCarthy, Mother Warriors.
Rosemount also has a decent Mexican restaurant where you can see fresh tortillas hand made daily. But the highlight of my Dakota County visit was Vermillion falls in Hastings.
The muddy water storms down adjacent an old mill, one of several the river once powered.
Later that day I headed to my dad’s place, and together we we went to see my niece in Hansel and Gretel. I live in NYC, but I cant imagine anything on Broadway more delightful than this children’s musical. When the performances were good I was impressed and wondered if this kid is a future touring member of Hamilton or at least a regular at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater. If the performance was poor– every other line fed from co-director below the stage– I marveled at the gumption of all to pull the scene through to its inevitable end. Add to all this cuteness times 30 tykes in colorful costumes, and the spectacle brought awe like Fourth of July fireworks. The little thespians should also receive gold medals for stamina considering, the meager fans could do little to cool what must have been hundred degree temperatures inside St. Mark’s gym.
The next day we planned to check out the Hopkins Raspberry Festival, but first I had the chance to try the Raspberry Sour from Minneapolis brewer Pryes at Bunny’s in St. Louis Park, which has twenty two beers on tap, many of them local. Sadly, due to an earlier rain, the festival was mostly a washout, but we did find the local Elks bingo tent packed with folks playing at 25 cents a board.
That evening I drove forty five minutes northeast to Rogers, where new developments are also gobbling up farmland, to see more aspiring actors (among them another niece) put on a razor sharp backyard take on SNL they called Summer Night Live. The mosquitos were thick and the German Shepherd seemed anxious, but the audience of nearly fifty filled the prairie with laughter.
My last day in town I had another opportunity to sample some local beer, this time an Almond Milk Stout at the East Lake Brewery in Minneapolis. The brewery is part of the Midtown Global Market, located in the ground floor of the former Sears store and warehouse. The massive building now contains offices and condominiums on the upper floors and was designated a historic landmark in 2005.