"No great artist ever sees things as they really are.
If he did, he would cease to be an artist. "
State 11: Minnesota - August 13, 2017
We woke up in Cottage Grove, MN ready to explore the Minnesota’s twin cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. We began our day by visiting the largest city in the entire state; Minneapolis. When researching things to do, we had difficulty finding applicable points of interest in the city. It appears the main attractions in Minneapolis centers around copious drinking, mass consumption of meat and compulsive shopping to the point of bankruptcy! While some may find this enjoyable, it was just not our scene. We did settle on one location within the city; Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The park was founded in 1988, features over 40 outdoor sculptures, and to date has attracted over 40 million visitors. Admission was free, and all day parking was reasonably priced at $4.00. Most of the sculptures were unremarkable, but there were a few of interest.
The centerpiece of the collection featured the world’s largest spoon with a cherry on it, which sprays water out of the stem. Since we already saw the world’s largest fork in Missouri, it only seemed appropriate to visit world’s largest spoon. Maybe somewhere down the road we will come across the world’s largest knife, so we can have a complete place setting! LOL!
To the far left of the gargantuan spoon, a bronze sculpture called "rapture" depicted a nude female emerging from the carcass of a dead wolf. In an adjacent exhibit, a living tree displayed wind chimes attached to it's branches, and whenever the wind blew we were
serenaded by mother nature’s symphony. To the far right of the musical tree, was an abstract sculpture of a horse pictured below. Although appearing to be made of wood, it's composition was actually bronze masterly treated to appear as wood. If I didn’t personally touch the sculpture with my own hands, I would have never believed it to be a bronze.
The most disturbing “art” on exhibit were 10 granite benches with extremely negative, disturbing, inappropriate, and confusing quotes chiseled into them, which are pictured below.
Whose idea was it to have quotes about getting mugged, assaulted, and using the word “Penis” on the benches of a public park? Who in the world approved this?
On the far left side of the sculpture park, we noticed a foot bridge, and decided to do some free style exploration to see where it led. The bridge crossed over 16 lanes of traffic, and exited at Loring Park. In stark contrast to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Loring Park was your typical picturesque city park complete with benches, green grass and a beautiful botanical garden. There were people biking, jogging and just sitting on a blanket lazily watching the day pass by. For a brief moment in time all was right in the world. Then, I laid my eyes on a body of water within the park I ended up lovingly naming Duck Puke Pond! The surface of the pond presented with a fowl smelling, pea green, chunky, gelatinous, slimy goo. For the life of me, I could not figure out why someone would not clean up this grotesque eye sore ruining an otherwise tranquil park. It all became perfectly clear when I saw the sign posted below.
I could not help but burst out laughing. I am not a biologist, but unless someone was feeding the ducks laxatives, there was no way in hell the pond got that nasty from a few people feeding a few ducks a few slices of bread. Clearly, the city did not want to clean the pond, and decided to post a sign to use the parks patrons as scape goats. Then, we headed back over the foot bridge to sculpture park, and met back up with Rosie.
Although Lori and I dislike cities, we have come across a few gems on our trip, so we try to be open minded. Minneapolis was clearly not one of those gems, and in an obscure way, it vaguely reminded us of the slums of New York City. Also, it was impossible for us to find a decent vegetarian restaurant in the entire city. When all else fails when we are eating out, Whole Foods is always our saving grace. We were tickled pink to learn there was a Whole Foods in the city, but this location was the absolute worst we have ever visited. The buffet was absolutely disgusting, and the food tasted like it had sat out for the past 3 days! Lori loves tomato soup and was very excited to see it offered. With a big smile, she took a big “slurp”, and three second later spit it back out with a sour face, and a big “yuck”! The roadways were a pothole hellhole, and the dozens of poorly signed detours were absolutely infuriating! Minneapolis was a dated, dirty, and decaying city with a massive homeless epidemic. It was heartbreaking to see entire families begging at almost every intersection. I always believe the best way to judge a city, is how it treats its most vulnerable and weakest residents, and Minneapolis would undeniably receive a failing grade. Hopefully, we would have better luck with Minneapolis’s twin brother; St. Paul!
Next, we were off to visit the State’s Capitol city of St. Paul, which was a 15-minute drive from Minneapolis. We visited on a Sunday, and we were both pleasantly surprised to learn the state capitol, and the state’s museum were open. Both would also have an additional surprise for us we had not previously anticipated.
As we approached the capitol building, barriers, detours and road closures blocked the roadway. At first, we thought we happened upon a protest, and I was very excited. I love seeing Americans exercising their right to freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly to peacefully voice their opinion on almost any topic! Hell, I would have made a sign, and joined them if I believed in the cause! As it turns out, what we came across was not a protest, but the Grand Opening Celebration of the capitol building! Huh? Grand Opening? Now I was very confused! It’s not like Minnesota is a brand new state. We soon learned the state just completed a 4 year, 310-million-dollar renovation on the capitol building. In addition, it was discovered when the capitol building opened in 1904, they never had a grand opening celebration. Oops! Oh well! Better late than never even if it is 112 years too late! Apparently the people of Minnesota were making up for lost time! There were food trucks, pop up tents with local vendors, and a huge stage with live music! Most times when we visit the state capitol building, there is hardly a soul to be seen. In fact, Lori and I are often all alone during our tours. Imagine our surprise when we came upon 50,000 people on the front lawn of the state capitol in the pouring rain collectively singing, “Swing low, sweet chariot coming forth to carry me home”, and “The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind”. We were both extremely moved by the tremendous turnout, and the citizens of Minnesota’s unified expression of love for their state.
Lori and I used to live in Connecticut, and most who lived there hated it. We had become accustomed to hearing about our former home state consistently being in the bottom 10 on every list for every significant measurable category. We were constantly accosted by headlines announcing Connecticut was rapidly declining in population year after year. I even heard people joke they should change the state's slogan to Connecticut: "We are number 50” or Connecticut: "We are first at being last". This was clearly not the case in Minnesota! It was evident the people of Minnesota loved their state, and we found their collective expression of that love extremely moving. We are not ashamed to admit that Lori and I both had tears in our eyes. Since it was too crowded, we decided to postpone the tour of the state’s capitol until tomorrow.
Next, we were going to visit the state museum, but the cost of admission was astronomical at $12 per person. For only the second time in our trip, we boycotted the state’s museum. We are visiting your state museum because we are considering moving to your state. Seriously, who wakes up in the morning and says “What do you want to do today? I know, let’s go to the state's museum for a fun filled afternoon!”. How many people reading this blog have even visited the state museum of the state you are currently living in? I‘Il be the first to admit it, I never visited the Connecticut State Museum when I lived there. The State Museum should be free and open to general public for educational purposes just like tours of the capitol building currently are. Most states understand this, and sadly a few don’t get it. Minnesota, get with the program!
We then found a Walmart 30 minutes outside of the city in Hastings, MN to call home for the night.