St. Paul, Minnesota

Sunday – Today I woke up in Minnesota. Considering that was where I also fell asleep, that’s a good thing.

Watonwan Rest Stop

Watonwan Rest Stop

Saturday night’s weather was exactly the same as the Eastern Montana/South Dakota experience. Raining, on a secondary highway with curves and faint lines, it takes a lot of concentration to keep to the road when opposing traffic comes.

So when a rest stop I wasn’t expecting materialized, before joining the major highway I was taking this short cut to, I took my opportunity and rested. And a good thing too, since shortly after that there were a couple of detours that were glorious to see during the daylight, but would have been tricky to find the turnoffs for at night.

The Picturesque Detour of Highway 60

The Picturesque Detour of Highway 60

In the afternoon, I met up with a friend of a friend. My friend is actually out of town, in Wisconsin, and yet allowing me to stay at her house anyway. If there had been any previous doubt as to my trustworthiness, this trip has definitely wiped all doubt in my head of whether people truly believe me trustworthy. This is the second house I have gotten to housesit while their residents were gone on this trip. How awesome is that? Homes away from home. Just sad I didn’t get to see my friend, as our trips did not overlap.
Anyway, the friend of the friend took me on a grand tour of St. Paul. St. Paul is not nearly as depressing as I had believed from an earlier visit, where I had driven down what I thought was the main drag. That was the commercial drag, with Wal-Mart, Target, etc. and filled with immigrant businesses and homeless outreach. This time I got to see downtown, the river, the nice historical neighborhoods, and the state capitol. All very beautiful. And Sunday just so happened to be free admission to all sites maintained by the state historical society. It also turned out to be Grand Old Days, on Grand Avenue with music, vendors, food, and such, which meant the street was closed, making it difficult to get from the side of St. Paul I was on to the side I was trying to get to. And there were drunk people wandering about the city by the end of the day when I finally got in my car to go to the house where I would be staying.
Brewberry’s Cafe was the morning destination, a coffee shop I had found on my last visit. Apparently, it is beloved by many, and just so happens to have only this one location in a former corner gas station. My unfailing ability to find cool and awesome things in totally unknown cities shines on. The friend of the friend met me there, and then gave me her entire afternoon as my guide. She even took my photo at the top of the state’s capitol building, which we were allowed access to by taking the tour. The tour guide turned out to be a local celeb, a former weekend weather guy on the news, and when she had been in school, also the moderator on a school bowl trivia contest.
Minnesota's Capitol Roof and me

Minnesota's Capitol Roof and me

Those horses just look fake in that photo, and all the photos I took of them. The gold just shimmers, and against the backdrop of the overcast sky, look like we are mere props against a blue (or green) screen. But really, it’s real!
First we saw the James J. Hill house, all four floors, including a built-in two story organ in the art gallery wing, Hill’s house overlooked the Mississippi River below, and his railroad line the Great Northern Railway that he founded, to create a line from St. Paul to the Pacific Ocean. Across the way is the St. Paul Cathedral, built with he and his wife’s support, and is a fabulously beautiful building. Confirmation just happened to be taking place when we attempted to visit the first time, so we went to the Capitol and then came back just as the Confirmations had finished.
Organ in the Art Gallery of James J. Hill House

Organ in the Art Gallery of James J. Hill House

St. Paul Cathedral

St. Paul Cathedral

And so the day ended, with me in an unfamiliar house as my new temporary residence. Have you ever been in someone else’s house, one you have never been in before and keep discovering interesting things? Not like I’m opening drawers, turning on computers and snooping through emails, but opening doors and discovering there is more to the house? Like entire other floors? It seemed like a small one level two bedroom house, and it is, but then there’s the porched-in back, a basement with a guest room, and an entire attic room. It is cozy. It is in a quiet neighborhood. We took the scenic river route to get there, so it seemed as if we are out in the country, far past St. Paul’s border. I really have no idea how far it is, but do know how to get from it to Brewberry’s, which is the only important thing, since I can get my caffeine and internet fix in one visit.
And so Monday was a quiet, sleep in a warm bed until I awoke, stay at home kind of day, especially with cable. USA Network and all the crime shows I enjoy is always a draw. But when both runs of school buses drove by, I figured it was time to actually leave the sanctuary of the home. Tonight I will strike out to see what Minneapolis nightclubs have to offer. Apparently Grizzly Bear was performing last night, I might have been able to see them if I had known. Oh well. I’m sure I will find someone of interest tonight. And Tuesday? Wisconsin calls, a short drive away.

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