Sunday, October 2, 2011

Minneapolis and St. Paul

Minneapolis – Saint Paul MN
October 2, 2011

Lazy Sunday morning – well sort of – laundry and cleaning up the Sprinter. After a week on the road things are settling into their places and we needed to reorganize a little. Mostly we really needed to wash clothes. With two large washers and dryers it was not a bad job at all. We visited with several of the other campers and ate a late breakfast. We have a nice site near the laundry room. This campground has a couple fire pits with fires in the evening; nice bathhouse; great playground; and something I have NEVER seen in a campground – a storm shelter!  It is the basement of the older farmhouse that is the home of the family owning the campground but it is a labeled storm shelter…you know me and disasters – I was impressed.

 Ben relaxing at our campsite at Town & Country Campground
About 11:30 we packed up and started out on our day of exploration in the Twin Cities. We started at the National Park Service Headquarters visitor center for the Mississippi River National Recreation Area. Unique idea for National Parks – they are partnering with 10 parks, museums, etc in the area to present the history and natural resources of the area in a consolidated way. The ranger told us they offer tours, materials, and of course passport stamps…we managed to collect 3 today. 
 View of Mississippi from St. Paul Science Museum

Yesterday we had investigated taking the light rail into Minneapolis to avoid driving. Today, since it was Sunday (hoping for lighter traffic) and we wanted to go to both Minneapolis and St. Paul;  Ben decided to drive. It was not bad until we got into St. Paul. There was a huge marathon today and it was just finishing! There were runners and people everywhere.  We found the National Park Service Visitor Center and got lots of great information and ideas for the rest of our day.  Getting out of St. Paul was not much fun but we managed to get back across the Mississippi on the infamous bridge that collapsed in 2007 I believe.  The new bridge is beautiful and was completed in only a little over a year. We have a photo to share later. All I can say is good thing we did not try to drive earlier while most of the runners were still running!

Our next stop was the Mill City area. We found parking easily and after eating a snack lunch we walked around the Mill Area. The entire riverfront in Minneapolis has been cleaned up with the 2 lane GRR, and a 2 lane biking and hiking trail. The old flour mills are being restored as lofts, businesses, and restaurants.  The Gold Medal building has become a museum telling the history of the mills and the city.  Next door was the new Guthrie Theater –relocated here about two years ago.  The old stone bridge crosses the Mississippi here and is now a pedestrian bridge. The people of Minneapolis were out in force today – walking, biking, skateboarding, etc.  The temperature was 80 degrees and beautiful.  We walked out on the bridge to get some photos and observed a tour boat going through a lock at the St. Anthony Falls. This is the only falls on the entire Mississippi.

 Gold Medal Flour Building

After hiking out the bridge we went into the Guthrie and up to the 5th floor to the endless bridge.  We rode up a 5 story escalator – Jane managed by holding on tightly with both hands. Ben ventured all the way to the end of the cantilevered observation deck.  The photos that show the entire river – north to the falls and south to the newly built interstate bridge were taken by him…Jane only went as far as the section with walls!

 Guthrie Theater with Cantilevered Deck - Photos below taken from there

 Looking North - Old Stone Bridge and St.Anthony Falls
 Looking South - the bridge in distance is the newly rebuilt bridge that collapsed

Next we followed the GRR through Minneapolis along the river – nice park with stops along the way for parking. The bikers and walkers were out in force along this road as well. The banks of the river are high here with bluffs on both sides – the trees were in their fall colors – beautiful.  As we left the downtown area, there were many nice homes along the river road.  We stopped at Historic Fort Snelling for a few photos and called it a day.  
 Great River Road through residential area of Minneapolis

It was a nice day with a quiet supper and finally some time to get the blog posted for the last several days.  Tonight we will study Wisconsin and Minnesota as we begin to make choices - which side of the river to take south. There is a GRR on both sides of the river!  We knew that and had some idea where we would go but now we are more familiar with the area and the choices will be hard.

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