tourist day

Today my flight didn’t leave until almost 7pm, so I had a whole day to see what I could of Minneapolis.

Rented the bike share bikes again, several times: from next to the hotel a couple of miles, remarkably flat, great bike lanes for the most part. Got to ride through a park with a little lake on my way to the drop-off rack. Walked to a yarn shop that was supposed to be quite nice, but I got there too early, so I backtracked to a little queer cafe where I had an amazing mocha. I think it was Mexican chocolate, had that cinnamon edge to it. And I found the perfect gift for a friend, which I won’t mention, even though they probably don’t read this.

The yarn shop was delightful too, one of those places with just bins and bins of yarn, and a group of women working together on a knit-along project (?) at a big table. Took the bus from there to back near the hotel, then walked towards the park…where by happenstance I noticed a little games & comics shop in a basement storefront. Just really nice people (both the guy at the counter and the couple who were shopping), and I actually felt confident enough to ask for a comic, something I heard about on the Rachel & Miles X-Plain the X-Men podcast, and when he didn’t have it to decide to get the first two Ms Marvel comics. (which I just read. they’re a lot of fun.)

[If you’re in Minneapolis, I can definitely recommend Mead Hall near Loring (?) Park. I think it’s pretty new, and they seem to have more Magic cards than pretty much anything else, but they have a nice open gaming space. Good people, too. Guy said they make a point of making it a welcoming environment for everyone, not just teenage boys, had some stories that illustrated the point.]

A strange tidbit that I heard while there: supposedly being a person who picks up accents easily is a trait of an extrovert. Which is weird and fascinating because I do that, but am generally the most introverted person who ever introverted.

After my comic book side trip, I checked out another bike at the park and rode over to the Walker modern art museum. I guess Thursday night was the free night, and I decided I didn’t feel like paying $14 for the shortest art museum visit ever. So instead I biked through the sculpture garden; fun art & AMAZING weather. It really was the perfect day for a bike ride.

About those bikes: they’re bright green step-through frames, with a thing in the front that’s sort of in between a basket and a rack. Basically, you can strap a messenger bag or a purse into it. Three-speed internal hub, kickstand, but no fenders. Heavy as all heck. But fun. It was sort of unnerving to be riding around sans helmet or gloves, but I was extra-cautious, and I think the bike itself serves as a bit of a warning.

Going through several different neighborhoods was interesting; parts of it reminded me of Tacoma, which is at least partially about the houses being around the same age as the Stadium District neighborhood where I lived for a while in the late 90s. On the big streets, most of the bike lanes were nice and wide with buffer zones; the smaller streets were really quiet and tree-lined. But there were also some huge apartment blocks: projects? I don’t know. The neighborhood with the yarn shop felt like it was gentrifying; fewer Somali women in hijab, more white guys with little skinny bikes. I’m not sure how to talk about it, but I was definitely aware of the differences in the neighborhoods.

I rode back to the hotel, dropped off the bike, charged my phone a bit, and got my suitcase.

And then I went to the Mall of America.

Honestly, that experience was about as opposite from my morning as I could imagine happening in a single day in a single city. As I said in a tweet, it was exactly like every mall you’ve ever been in, but turned up to 11. Or possibly 12. I think I lasted about two hours, and that included getting a bite to eat. (Burger King, FWIW.) There was a constant roar of humanity. People everywhere. And it’s just huge. It keeps going and going and going. It’s all sort of familiar, because most of the stores are ones you’ve seen in some mall or another. And at the same time, it’s totally insane, because it’s ALL OF THEM. Oh, and an amusement park in the middle. And an aquarium in the basement. I seriously considered going on a rollercoaster, but there was a line to buy tickets and a line to the coaster, and by then I was pretty well wiped out.

I did, however, end up spending some time in the Lego store. I couldn’t decide on a set, and I wasn’t sure if any would fit in my suitcase, so instead I made a bunch of custom minifigs. Weird thing: it was REALLY hard to find girl hair, and one of the staff said that it was because there was some sort of breast cancer fundraiser walk/run that day, and all the women had come into make minifigs. So that was weird, but I’m pleased with what I managed to put together. [pics later]

I’m not sure I would do that again…certainly not in the middle of the afternoon on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. But I would totally spend a nice spring day biking around Minneapolis.