Sunday, August 5, 2018

Marvels of Minneapolis

Given that half the year the Twin Cities are covered in snow, it’s no surprise that summertime brings people out in throngs to enjoy the warm weather. By a combination of circumstances, the Biking Yogini finds herself in Minneapolis for an extended visit this summer. 

I found an Airbnb just 1.5 miles from downtown, in a quiet, walkable neighborhood with a “Niceride” bikeshare station just 4 blocks away. Knowing I would be here for several weeks, I signed up for a one month pass for the very low price of $18. This bargain entitles me to unlimited hour-long rides and, in one week, I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth.

Here are just some of the highlights:

Using a combination of light rail and Lyft, I dropped off luggage at my Airbnb. While it was being readied for occupancy, I headed to my local bikeshare station, which dispensed my key. I rode around the neighborhood a bit to get my bearings and then headed to Lunds and Byerlys – a very nice local grocery store – to stock up on a few basics.

The next morning I was up early – still being on East Coast time, and rode about 3 miles to Birchwood Café – which had been pointed out as one of the best places for brunch. A docking station right out front was a plus. As I sat outside and devoured my delicious savory waffle, I noticed that virtually all the customers arrived on bikes.

After breakfast, I found the Seward Co-op just down the street (another docking station right there) and picked up a few more groceries.

Monday morning, after biking across the Stone Arch Bridge for a breakfast with family, I headed to the House of Balls – an extraordinary and unique art installation in which everything is sculpted from found objects.  Here also, a bike dock was just a block away. On the way back I had ice cream on my mind and a dock across the street from Izzy’s told me it was meant to be.

Tuesday morning I headed to Minnehaha Falls – about an 8-mile ride along the Mississippi. It turned out to be a bit hillier than I’d expected, which is hard work on a heavy Niceride bike with only 3 gears. After docking my bike, I hiked along the Minnehaha Creek to where it flows into the Mississippi and then hiked along the river. The day was getting quite warm, so I walked up the 134 steps (but who’s counting) to street level and made my way to the light rail station which took me back downtown. The air conditioned ride allowed me to rest and cool off and the $1 senior fare was quite the bargain.

After arriving downtown, I picked up another bike and headed to the Herbivorous Butcher which makes the most amazing and delicious vegan meats and cheeses. I was hungry enough that I ordered a Korean BBQ rib and devoured it on the spot, before going back to order an assortment of offerings to take home. There were so many choices, it was hard to decide. Over the course of the week I feasted on maple bacon, two other varieties of ribs, pulled pork, and vegan feta cheese – all of which were delectable.

On Thursday I rode to the farmer’s market that stretches for blocks along Nicollet Mall downtown, riding back with the long ends of scallions sticking out the top of my backpack.

Friday I headed out the Cedar Lake trail, ending up on a long, hot misadventure that included many opportunities for getting lost. The trail is very wide, but not particularly scenic: to my right were railroad tracks and to my left a sound barrier. Apparently the trail is used quite heavily as a commuter route. I hadn’t planned out my trip very thoroughly – deciding to “wing it” which tends to not work out so well for me. After heading out about 5 miles I realized it was some distance to a docking station. The nearest was at Lake Bde Maka Ska. There is quite the little cluster of lakes in the middle of Minneapolis and for someone like me with a terrible sense of direction, even GPS couldn’t save me from going around in circles several times. The day was hot and humid so after docking the bike I rested in the shade before picking up another bike.

My next destination was Hola Arepa. Unfortunately, the ride along West Lake Street was very trafficky, with no bike lane. The nearest bike dock was a mile from the restaurant, so I was hungry, tired, sweaty, and probably stinky, by the time I arrived. By the map my total ride was about 8 miles, but when you factor in several instances of going the wrong direction, it felt like much more! I rewarded myself with happy hour arepitas and a “wrecking ball” – which was a delicious combination of tequila, bonal, rhubarb shrub, and grapefruit bitters. I almost never drink a cocktail, but it was delicious and refreshing. I ordered carryout for later and hopped a bus back downtown. Sadly the fried brussels sprouts with tamarind and pumpkin seeds leaked all over my backpack, but it was a small price to pay for their deliciousness.

Saturday morning the rain held off long enough for me to bike to the Loft Literary Center for a writing workshop – just a mile away. Today (Sunday) was going to be my day of rest, but I’m getting antsy and am thinking about biking the short distance to Nicollet Island and walking around before this evening's performance of West Side Story at the Guthrie Theater.

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