Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Twin Cities Treasures

When people hear that we are traveling to Minnesota, one of the first things they'll ask is, "Are you going to go to the Mall of America?" Seriously. Two staff at the airport, as we were leaving, asked if we'd been there. Well, my girls had, because my mom wanted to take her beau, Jerry, to see it for the first time. I, on the other hand, did not go. It's a mall. Yes, it's a big mall and, yes, it has a small amusement park in the middle. Minnesota knows malls. In fact, the first one ever built was in Minnesota. They have to know malls, because unless they are winter sports enthusiasts - which many of them are and which I, heartily, am not - they're indoors much of the year.

But there is SO MUCH MORE than the Sprawl, er, um, Mall of America to enjoy in the Twin Cities.

Minneapolis calls herself, "The City of Lakes." It is true and they are beautiful!

This is a quickly shot, badly framed photo of Minneapolis from one of her popular lakes, Lake Calhoun. If you like to rollerblade, bike, walk, run, etc. you can choose from miles and miles of trails safely interconnecting lakes all through the city. You can visit and picnic nearby Minehaha Falls and then take a beautiful canoe ride down the Minehaha Creek which winds through neighborhoods in the city past Hansel and Gretel houses.

Mom and the girls test the frigid water for swimming possibilities. Nope! Not until July!



Guess what kind of flowers we don't have where we live in Florida! The girls were thrilled with the abundance of blooming dandelions. They had to be repeatedly reminded that they are not so beloved by everyone and to please refrain from blowing the seeds about Auntie and Uncle's yard with the freshly tilled garden beds!


From Lake Calhoun we wound our way nearby to one of my favorite places in Minneapolis. The Linden-Hills neighborhood is a gem hidden between a couple of the lakes. The business district there is small and utterly charming and can be found at 43rd and Upton Ave. S.

If money were no object - and it would have to be - I would choose to live around that area if I ever moved back to Mpls. The only detriment is the regular air traffic overhead, but the whole area is so enchanting to me, the intermittent noise matters little.

The first shop we stopped in was a newer one since I had been there last called "Wonderment." It is a toy store and I'll admit I thought it was a bit odd that they planted it right across the street from the wildly successful, very well known and established, "Creative Kidstuff." But after looking in the window and walking inside, I knew right away how this could be here. It took only seconds for me to recognize the Waldorf-inspired toys and while my heart rate seemed to increase with the excitement and expectation of what might be on the next shelf or around the next corner, I also had such an increadible sense of peace. The soft, wooden clink of the toys, the beautifully hand-carved (and excruciatingly expensive!!) animals and human figures, the rainbow silks for fondling and dress-up, the soft, brightly-dyed skeins of wool for crafting your own woodland characters, child-sized lap harps tuned to the pentatonic scale and wonderfully chosen music floating through the air made it all clear the name selected for the shop.

Eve climbed into the treehouse in the corner of the store:



Maia did too, but I think she was embarassed about being such a "big girl" in the tree. She wouldn't poke her head out for the picture! See the crates of tiny, beautiful, wooden veggies next to her? I love wooden toys!

I didn't really want to leave, but Grandma was ready to move on, so we crossed the street to Creative Kidstuff. Do you love that huge gekko?!


Charming little seats outside the store...

... and a friendly little owl inside. I'm a sucker for owls! Isn't he cute?!


Then we went around the corner to the Wild Rumpus bookstore. Check out the child-sized entrance cut into the larger door!

I had remembered there being animals in the store the last time I'd been there, but that had been a number of years ago. I hoped it hadn't changed too much.

And there she was: a chicken in the stacks! Nope, it hadn't changed a bit!!


She was kind of camera-shy and took a bit of coaxing. Mom finally got her to come out from behind the counter for a bit of head-scratching.

She's not the only feathered or furry friend there though. Notice the two kitties near the back leg of the giraffe? They were in the middle of a serious game of chase when I took this. They were off and bolting around the store!

A tarantula named Harry has a cage at the store. There's also a lovebird named Bonnie, a chinchilla, a ferret, a rat in the floor...

and a pair of cockatiels.


After our Wild Rumpus visit, we headed back up the street, past Creative Kidstuff again, to have an ice cream cone lunch at Sebastian Joe's. Then we headed over to the wonderful Linden Hills community park where the girls were able to play on a pirate ship and hoist and pour sand over and over again. Minneapolis has a wonderful park system with parks in every neighborhood. Most of these parks have free wading pools for the children and this was no exception. It was not yet opened, but they are open all summer.

If you ever visit the Twin Cities, I hope you'll think "outside the box" - the mall box, that is - and have a wonderful time like we did!

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Alina tagged me with the 7 Random Things while I was away. I haven't forgotten, Alina. I'll post about that next and give a Low Impact Week update. Don't forget, this is Low Impact week! Try to think of at least one new thing you can do to go more lightly and bless the planet!
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