Friday, August 31, 2012

MPLS

Yesterday I returned from the latest of my annual ballparks-I've-never-been-to-before road trips, this time to Minneapolis. There I saw the Mariners take two out of three from the Twins, though I didn't stick around for the series finale, which the M's also won. (I've now attended games at 26 of the 30 current MLB stadiums, leaving only Toronto, Tampa Bay, Miami and Wrigley Field.) The series highlight was easily Monday's game, in which King Felix threw a complete-game five-hit shutout. On top of that, Root Sports showed me on the M's Seattle telecast, thanks to some behind-the-scenes arrangements by my pals Curtis and Amy. Here I am, game face on...

A couple days later, I took a tour of the Twins' former home, the Metrodome, where the Vikings still play...

I was far more impressed with the Dome Plus store across the street, especially its Original Baseball Hall of Fame Museum of Minnesota...

I bought a Twins T-shirt there.

One day I went out to Saint Paul, where I checked out the Minnesota Wild hockey arena, and had a late breakfast at Mickey's Dining Car...

Another day I ventured down to Bloomington to see the rocket-powered Human Fly motorcycle, built in 1977 by Rocketman Ky Michaelson. Ky welcomed me into his home, showing me his custom cycles and homemade rockets and celebrity photos and heaps of other memorabilia, and regaling me with stories of working with the Human Fly and other daredevils throughout his career. All in all, a great guy.

Here's video of the Fly's rocket-powered jump (it starts at the 5:15 mark), and here's the bike's gas tank (which wasn't actually on the bike at the time of the jump)...

Also in Bloomington I visited the Mall of America, just to gawk at the monstrosity of it all (I bought an Orange Julius to enhance the experience). It's built on the site of the former Twins/Vikings home, Metropolitan Stadium, while the nearby Ikea is built on the site of the former North Stars home, the Met Center. These are my feet...

I got around the Twin Cities via bus, taxi, light rail and bicycle. The bike rental system is way better than what I experienced a few years back in Copenhagen, and even if the bikes themselves are somewhat cumbersome, they're easier to ride in flat Minneapolis than a lightweight 18-speed is in hilly Seattle. This is what a rental kiosk looks like...

I pedaled by the Let It Be house and Paul Westerberg's house, around Lake Calhoun, across the Stone Arch Bridge, and through Dinkytown to the Gopher Hole...

Foodwise, the best thing I ate was an amazing mushroom tart at Fika, the American Swedish Institute's cafe (and I got Eliza this tea towel in the ASI gift shop). I also liked the Jucy Lucy at Matt's, and Black Sheep's meatball pizza, which I shared with my pal Nicole. Along the way, I enjoyed plenty of Surly, Summit, and especially Grain Belt beer...

At The Depot (part of the famed First Avenue/7th Street Entry rock 'n' roll complex), I had the pleasure of meeting up with Tom, the guy who does my favorite baseball blog, It’s a Long Season. The building is covered with stars commemorating the more noteworthy acts that have performed there over the years, including this personal favorite...

Besides the 'Mats, songs by Husker Du and Soul Asylum ran through my head throughout the trip.

What else? I played Spider-Man and Rolling Stones pinball at Grumpy’s, saw statues of Mary Tyler Moore, Kirby Puckett, and several Peanuts characters, bought some Batman Legos at the flagship Target store downtown, walked through a bit of the Skyway, and took in the view from the Foshay Tower...

So yeah, I crammed a whole lot into three days, yet I still found time for a couple naps and a dip in the hotel pool. Still, I missed a few things that'll have to wait 'til next time: the Witch's Hat Water TowerNye’s Polonaise Room, the 5-8 Club, the CC Club, and a Silver Butter Knife Steak from Murray's (currently closed for renovations)...

Love is all around, indeed... Skål! 
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