St. Paul July 19
I have been a wee bit derelict in providing details on the summer interregnum between major trips. But we have not been inactive here in the Cities. Let me provide a few highlights.
Last night we watched the Twin City River Rats, a water ski team that competes, quite successfully, around the country. They normally put on a free show every Thursday night on the Mississippi River north of downtown Minneapolis. Yesterday was the start to the Minneapolis Aquatennial, its 10 day summer fest. The River Rats put on an additional five shows this weekend during the Aquatennial. These shows are also free although ” the hat is passed” during an intermission in the 75 minute show.
We joined the crowd lining the west bank of the Mississippi. The flood waters have receded enough for the show to be performed but the river was still flowing fast and creating challenging conditions for the water skiers. The River Rats practices have been limited up to now due to the high water.
The show provided plenty of thrills for the family oriented crowd. Pyramids, ski-jumping, barefoot water skiing, etc were offered on a consistent basis. The group tries to tie its performance together in a skit performance with a Star Wars theme. This aspect was the weakest, probably hindered by the lack of practice time. I guess they need some patter and upfront action to allow for getting the water skiers and boats coordinated. The temp was in the 70s with enough breeze to keep the bugs away.
Today we drove to Cannon Falls, 30 miles south of Saint Paul. It was a hazy cloudy day with temps in the 70s. Our goal was to go biking. The Cannon Valley Trail runs for 20 miles along the Cannon River from Cannon Falls to Red Wing on the Mississippi. The Trail was built on the rail bed of a former line of the Chicago Great Western and has been in operation since 1986. The 20 mile trail is paved and the western half of the trail that we covered is primarily tree-shaded with a few farm land openings. The trail runs along the Cannon River but luckily not on the river bank (given high water levels this year) but about 20-50 feet above it. The river had its share of tubers, canoers, and kayakers while the trail was busy also. We spent quite a bit of time saying “Hi, Morning, Afternoon, Hello, Good Day” etc to passing bikers.
The trail had its mix of the spandex crowd and recreational bikers like us. The vast majority were wearing helmets (they are required) and a higher percentage of bikers than on the trails in the Cities did give verbal warning when they passed us. We went 10 miles east to Welch Village and 10 miles back-which was uphill and into the wind but we handled it pretty well.
One day we went walking in Central Park in Roseville, a long narrow park with water, bogs, gardens and active play fields. After the walk we did a little nostalgia and drove out to Lake Elmo to have lunch at Gorman’s. My family lived in Lake Elmo from 1959 to 1965 and while Gorman’s was not in business then it has a great collection of Lake Elmo historical photos. Plus, we knew they served malts in the old-fashioned tin cups.
When we walked in, we were greeted by a picture of our old house which was once the hospital for a Dr. Stevens. It was in the lobby of the restaurant posted in one of the windows of a door which had once been in the hospital. It was a nice beginning to a tasty meal. Afterwards we drove by the old homestead which is only partially visible due to the numerous trees.
Last weekend we drove west for about 100 miles to spend Saturday and Sunday at Connie’s cabin with Bernie and Tony. Connie’s place is on Diamond Lake, between Litchfield and Spicer. We had our bikes on the rack in back, a rack that was a gift from brother Mike a number of years ago. It is not the new style with a strong hitch but clips that fastens on the trunk. We kept our eyes on the bikes as we zipped along the highways, believing that a watched bike would not fall off-and they didn’t.
It rained as were going from Minnetonka out to about Delano, raising fears about our bike ride ambitions. The weather forecast did not include rain. The forecast was wrong. It did not clear up until late afternoon so we went for a hike in the early afternoon and then Bernie, Connie and Ed went for a bike ride up to Spicer. The cribbage teams were Ed and Tony versus Bernie and Connie. The women won the first game. The guys must have been in a generous mood. Connie was a great host and the food was excellent. The evening turned out to be quite nice. We watched the sunset over the lake with a fire in the pit. Sunday we drove to Spicer and walked along the lake before heading home in the afternoon. On the way home we stopped at the Peppermint Twist drive-in in Delano for a malt and a shake.
The high waters on the rivers have impacted several of our plans. All of our bike rides stay up along Shepard Road and Mississippi River Blvd rather than through Crosby Farm and Hidden Falls parks. But the falls at Minnehaha remain strong and fast even as portions of trails are closed. A pontoon ride on the Mississippi arranged by the Mississippi River Fund has been postponed until August. A volunteer effort to plant cottonwoods along the river bed was re-scheduled for next week when we will be in Wisconsin.
Our bike ride Wednesday was in Minneapolis around Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet. The path under Lake Street connecting Lake of the Isles and Calhoun was under water. Most of these trails are normally segregated for bikers and walkers. However, the high water put the Lake of the Isles pedestrian paths under water so walkers and bikers shared the bike path.
We drove down to Rochester with Kathy one Sunday to watch a performance of the Mu Theater. It was a special deal; for $5 you saw a 75 minute show and had a buffet meal at a Chinese restaurant. Another day we were at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum for their summer show. It featured about 30 glass sculptures themed for various plant and flower displays. Another evening we drove to Silverwood Park in St. Anthony. Two sisters, Chasing Lovely, were the featured performers.
One Thursday evening we went out to Canterbury Park to watch the horse racing. We had not been there before and Thursday is $1 admission,$1 programs, and $1 hot dogs, nachos and pop. The weather was gorgeous again and we stayed for 7 of the 10 races. Two of the seven were raced on turf, the other five on dirt. We only bet on one race so we only lost $2. A cheap date night.
The final notable event was a hockey scrimmage for the Goal Getters. Sarah and Sarah and their team mates all signed up for a summer hockey improvement series of classes and the end result was a scrimmage. I must say the improvement in skills level from last summer to this summer was remarkable. It was fun to watch; plays were executed, not just dump the puck somewhere. It bodes well for the upcoming winter season. Afterwards we gathered at Plum’s neighborhood bar for food and beverages.
We have been working on plans for next week’s trip to central Wisconsin to visit my cousins Judy and Mary and Mary’s husband Chuck. We have started making hotel arrangements for the post Labor Day trip to Canada and the Adirondacks before Deb and Rebecca’s wedding in Connecticut in October. Finally, plans for Thanksgiving in Flagstaff are being discussed.
Ed and Chris July 19 8:30 pm