Sunday, July 31, 2011

Daily Adventures August 1 - 6, 2011

We went camping this weekend at the Baker Park Half Moon group site - part of the Three Rivers Park District.  I recommend it.  Despite the mosquitoes, and the fact that the sweat lodge that was our tent induced a Vision Quest experience, I had a great time.  We went with seven other families, and I was reminded that there is nothing like hanging out with friends while your kids run around catching frogs, building sand castles, and roasting marshmallows.  Simply divine. 

Monday, August 1  We're going to head to the Quaking Bog of Wirth Park.  It was named "Best Nature in the City" in 2008 in City Pages.  I don't know what's better in the years since, but there is something nice about this place.  Maybe it's the "nearly 200 mature tamaracks [that] shade the understory sphagnum moss of the hidden five-acre acid bog."  Or maybe it's the squishy sound I hear when I step on the floating walkway.  Either way, it's worth a stop.  Here's a self-guided tour of the bog.

Tuesday, August 2  If you've not been to Caponi Art Park, I strongly recommend it.  Take your time there.  It's not flashy, but it's pleasing.  The trails that snake through the park lead to small surprises that make me stop and think.  On Tuesdays they have programs for families, and today features the "Voice of Culture," a West African drum and dance troupe.  And, to top it off, there's a tree swing there that is a favorite part of summer for my boys.  There's a suggested donation of $2 per person. 

Wednesday, August 3  The Midtown Global Market hosts "Wee Wednesdays" on, well, Wednesdays.  True, this is geared towards kids 5 and under, but the Global Market is pretty cool even if the band is singing Barney covers.  OK, maybe that would make it not cool.  But today at 10:30 am the Roe Family Singers take the stage, and they started as a Johnny Cash tribute band.  If Johnny Cash ain't cool, I don't know what is.  When the music dies, take a look around and maybe buy an East African lunch at Safari Express.  Midtown Global Market is right on the Midtown Greenway so biking there could be fun!

A note for dinner on Wednesdays: Jakeeno's Pizza and Pasta offers a free large cheese pizza with the purchase of any large pizza on Wednesday evenings.  They've got a nice little patio too!

Thursday, August 4  I feel like Fort Snelling is another of those places, kind of like Minnehaha Falls, that I've come to take for granted.  But think about it - there's a fort, built almost 200 years ago, sitting right in the middle of our fair city.  Your visit will cost $10 per adult, and $5 per child, but there are costumed guides, exhibits, demonstrations, and even a cell-phone tour to make it worthwhile.  Last time I was there, they shot off a cannon.  Boom, big time.

Friday, August 5  Check out the Milwaukee Avenue Historic District.  It's the first planned worker's community in the city.  Not only are the garages not attached, you can't even drive up to your own house if you live here.  I find this little corner of Earth intriguing.  After you stroll through, visit the nearby Seward Co-op Deli for lunch.  Sit at the window bar and watch the work-a-day world go by.

Saturday, August 6
  The Home Depot has seen a lot of my face this summer as I attempt to keep my 88-year-old house in working order.  Today, they'll see my face for a pencil box.  The first Saturday of every month from 9 am to noon sees a kids how-to workshop at all Home Depots.  And since it's back-to-school time, pencil boxes are the fare.  While I'm there, maybe I'll pick up a meat thermometer.  Home Depot has those, right?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Daily Adventures July 25 - 29, 2011

I mowed the lawn last week.  It was against my better judgment, but we had company coming.  The sweat that soaked through my shirt looked like an old-fashioned smiley face.  Not sure why my ribs were sweating so much . . . On second thought, the heat index was higher here than in the Amazon rain forest.  I'm actually surprised my teeth weren't sweating.  Maybe they were.

Monday, July 25  We just endured the longest state shutdown in US history.  Check out where all the action happened, or didn't happen.  The Minnesota State Capitol offers free guided tours on the hour every weekday from 9 am - 4 pm.  If the weather is nice enough we'll get to see the golden horses on the roof up close and, given the price of gold these days, that will be quite the sight.

Tuesday, July 26  Take a walk on the Heritage Trail in Downtown Minneapolis.  Start at the Guthrie Theater and make your way down to Mill Ruins Park.  Cross the river on the Stone Arch Bridge and head left through Father Hennepin Park and along Historic Main Street.  View St. Anthony Falls from the observation area, cross over to Nicollet Island, and take the Hennepin Avenue Bridge into the former "Gateway" area of downtown.  Follow the trail along the river back to the Guthrie.  There's a map here but it's not the best.  The trail is the red loop near the center. 

Wednesday, July 27  The last concert we tried to attend at Northrop Auditorium was rained out.  We're gonna try again today.  Since we can't legally go to Cuba, Charanga Tropical will be bringing a little slice of Cuba to us.  They have multiple Latin Grammy nominations and that's good enough for me.  I have none.  They play for free from noon to 1 pm, so pack your lunch and a Frisbee and hang out on the mall at the U of M for the afternoon.  For me it will bring back memories from 20 years and 20 pounds ago.  Twenty pounds?  Yeah right.

Thursday, July 28  Even if you don't like pickles, you like the word "pickle," right?  I mean, it's fun to say.  It rhymes with tickle.  To be in a pickle makes a sticky situation seem less daunting.  And you can pickle just about anything!  The proof of that will be in the free "World of Pickling" workshop at the Walker Open Field.  From 4 to 7 pm today, we'll see demos on pickling melon rinds (from the Electric Melon workshop happening from 2-4 pm), sauerkraut, and some unexpected objects, such as film.  Yeah, I said film.  They also said something about lacto-fermentation which sounds wrong, but so does pickled pig's feet, and lots of people like that.  I'm keeping an open mind.

Friday, July 29  We live in the land of 10,000 lakes and the number of fish I've caught in 20+ years of fishing them must number in the 10's.  Maybe you'll have better luck.  Several state parks, including nearby Fort Snelling and Interstate, offer free fishing this summer through the I Can Fish! program.  You don't need to purchase a fishing license, bait, or any equipment.  They'll supply it all.  And an expert will be nearby if you want any tips.  If you'd rather fish on your own, a couple of places in the city that sell live bait are Settergren Ace Hardware on Penn, or Diamond Lake Ace Hardware on Nicollet.

See you next month!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Daily Adventures July 18 - 22, 2011

This week is gonna be HOT.  We'll be finding ways to get out and have fun while trying to stay cool.  I never was very cool, though . . . sorry about that one.  The Minneapolis Aquatennial is going on this week.  There are lots of events around town including a torchlight parade on Wednesday and fireworks on Saturday.  Enjoy - the Winter Carnival is right around the corner.

Monday, July 18  Como Zoo is always free, but today they also offer free rides on their historic Cafesjian's Carousel.  It's been there since 1914.  It's not every day you get to ride on a 97-year-old horse.  Como Town amusement park, complete with cooling water misters and a mini golf course, is nearby if spinning in circles at 4 mph doesn't satiate your need for excitement.  Later you can cool off by sitting really close at Sparky's seal show and hope that he splashes you.  Mmmm . . . seal water.

Tuesday, July 19  The Three Rivers Park District has some of the best facilities in the area.  Today I think we'll head to Lake Minnetonka Regional Park and hang at their "bool."  That's my clever combination of "beach" and "pool," which is what you'll find there.  We'll get sand in our suits and chlorine in our eyes but, hey, the heat index is gonna be over 100 so we won't care.

Wednesday, July 20  The "Ten Best Days of Bakken" continue this week, and I think this looks like the best day of all.  "Wizards" from 3M are visiting today to practice their science magic.  They claim they can bend light.  I'll believe it when I see it.  You and your kids can get matching lightning tattoos and you won't regret it in the morning.  Admission is free all week.

Thursday, July 21  You can head to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum today after 4:30 pm for free admission.  In addition to the landscapey things you'll find there, there is also an exhibition of steel sculptures called "Steelroots" (don't touch them today - you might burn) and a bog walk.  After your visit, or if it's just too hot to do landscaping, consider attending the opening reception of Eddie Hamilton's "Big Bad Building Builder" at the Art Institutes International Minnesota from 5-6:30 pm.  Get directions to AIIM here.

THIS JUST IN - There is a program called Car Theft For Kids taking place today, Thursday, at the Walker Open Field.  It is free and takes place from 1-3 pm and again from 4-6 pm.  You will need to pre-register at 612.375.5812.  At this workshop you will learn how to break into and out of a car.  See a short video here.

Friday, July 22  Okay, okay.  By now you've probably had all the heat you can handle.  Find your reprieve indoors at the best movie theater in town.  The Riverview Theater sells matinee tickets for $2, just $3 in the evenings.  The popcorn is outstanding and reasonably priced to boot.  Take time before or after the show to check out the history of the theater displayed throughout the lobby.  You'll go back in time and, maybe more importantly, down about 25 degrees.

Saturday, July 23  Have you ever wanted to watch some Australian Rules Football?  Me neither, but today the Minnesota Freeze hosts a three-team tournament at Lake Nokomis.  The Freeze play at 11 am against Des Moines and at 2:15 pm vs. Chicago.  It's Chicago vs. Des Moines at 12:15 pm.  The women's match is at 1:15 pm, if you'd like to encourage your daughter to play "Footy."  The games last about 45 minutes.  I don't know about you, but I can do just about anything for 45 minutes.

Stay cool, Regal Guardians, stay cool.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Daily Adventures July 10 - 15, 2011

I love summertime.  I actually said to my wife, "I had to be there by 11, so I didn't have time to shower," last week.

Just a reminder, in case you didn't see my first post from June 14 - kids can bowl for free all summer at Flaherty's Arden Bowl if you register at  Up to four adults can bowl all summer, too, for a one-time fee of $24.95.  Each person pays $2.50 every time for shoe rental, however.  Don't forget to print the coupons that will be sent to your email! 

And a note - because my boys are so Star Wars and light saber crazy right now, I looked into fencing classes.  The Minnesota Sword Club offers a number of summer camps for beginners for $129.  These are five-day camps for 3 1/2 hours per day for fencers ages 8-16.  I'm thinking about it.

Now, on to this week's adventures!

Sunday, July 10  The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is always free.  Today they have an event called, "How Did They Do That?"  from 11 am to 4:30 pm.   Here kids can grind paints and use a camera obscura.  I don't know what that is, but it sounds cool.  You can watch demonstrations on historical painting methods and turning wood on a lathe.  There will also be studios set up for your kids to create their own refrigerator masterpieces.

Monday, July 11  Go to your local library and get a Museum Adventure Pass to use this week.  These passes offer two free admissions to a wide variety of museums around the Cities.  Destinations include the Foshay Tower Museum or the Firefighters Hall and Museum.  Check to make sure your choice is actually open before you go.  (The Minnesota Zoo is part of this program, but is currently closed due to The Shutdown.)

Tuesday, July 12  Your little buddies (5 and up) can earn their Junior Refuge Manager Badge at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.  Meet at the Bloomington Visitor Center at 9:30 am for the two-hour program.  If you visit the site, check out the Wildlife Adventure Camps they have coming up on July 20th (fishing) and August 18 (map reading).  They also have an Explorer's Club on Wednesdays from 9:30 am to noon for kids 8 and up.  All of this is free, free, free!

Wednesday, July 13  We're headed back to St. Paul for the Heart of the City Tour at 10 am.  It stops at Mickey's Diner and Candyland - how bad can it be?  The best part of our last St. Paul tour was enjoying lunch in Rice Park afterward, so we'll plan on doing that again.  If you decide to go on the tour, make a reservation by calling 651-292-3230.  There is also music, described as "piano pop," provided by Brynn Andre in the Landmark Center at noon.  You'll find Anita's Cafe there if you want to pick up something tasty to eat.

Thursday, July 14  Bring along a Frisbee for each of you and head to Lock and Dam #1.  You can access the dam/lock along West River Road near Minnehaha Park.  It's open every day from dawn to dusk until November.  There is an observation tower and some interesting views from various places on the dam.  If you're lucky, a boat will come through and you can see the lock in action.  When you finish there, walk up to the Wabun Picnic Area in Minnehaha Park and play a round of Frisbee golf.

Friday, July 15  Today begins the "Ten Best Days of the Bakken."  The Bakken is an electricity museum on the shores of Lake Calhoun.  It is still Lake Calhoun, right?  Today is Kid Inventors Day offering "hands-on fun with Microsoft Kinect and Lego robots."  Other themes include Frankenstein Day, Ben Franklin Day, and Wizards Day.  You can click here for the calendar.  The Bakken is free during the 10 Best Days.  That's part of the "bestness," I suppose.

Have a great time this week!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Daily Adventures July 3 - 8, 2011

Well, we couldn't geocache last week, at least not on Friday, thanks to the government shut-down.  What's going on right now!?  The NFL, NBA, and MLB (Minnesota Legislative Body) are all shut down at the same time.

Fortunately, our cities and counties are open for business.  Here are some ideas for this week that don't rely on state money:

Sunday and Monday, July 3 and 4 The Minneapolis riverfront hosts the Red, White, and BOOM! Festival.  On Sunday there is the Hot Dam 5K fun run at 6:30 pm, followed by a Communist Daughter concert from 7 -9 pm at the Nicollet Island Pavilion.  (Funny band name on the 4th of July.  Is that irony?  I can never keep it straight thanks to Alanis Morissette.  But I digress)  Then Iron Man 2 shows at 9:15. 
On Monday the 4th, there's a half-marathon at 6:30 am (in case you feel like whipping off 13.1 miles on short notice) and a variety of concerts on four stages beginning at 3:30 pm.  Then from 6-9 pm at Father Hennepin Bluffs Park there will be free family entertainment and activities capped off with fireworks at 10 pm over the Mississippi.

Tuesday, July 5  I have a renewed appreciation for Minnehaha Falls this year.  If you've never been, or haven't been for a while, it's worth the trip.  The creek is really moving and the falls are quite impressive.  Start at the falls and follow the creek towards the Mississippi.  Stop at the wading pool on the way and cool your feet.  Bring water shoes if you've got 'em - the rocks are a little tough on my tender soles.  Then continue on about a mile to the river.  When you're done, there's a seafood cafe (Sea Salt) right at the falls and a DQ close by if you're looking for a treat.
Wednesday, July 6  Today we're taking the Rice Park Tour that begins at Landmark Center at 10 am.  The website says that we'll get an "exclusive look" and "learn the hidden secrets of the unique buildings surrounding Rice Park."  I'll eat it up, and hopefully my boys don't end up calling it the "Rice Park Disaster."  If the tour mentions the gangster era of St. Paul, we should be good.
Thursday, July 7  There's a bunch of opportunities at the Walker Art Museum today.  They have something called the Walker Open Field, offering a drawing club from 2-7 pm, an arrow workshop and exchange (this is artsy!) from 3-7, and an "acoustic campfire" from 8-9:30 pm.  If you want to just hang out, the Walker is free from 5-9 pm on Thursdays, and the Open Field has a "toolshed" of toys to use from 11 am to 5 pm.  It's all free!  Check out the website and find what you fancy.

Friday, July 8  The Twin Cities have miles of bike trails just waiting for you to roll over.  You can plan out your own bike tour using this page of bike trails.  The route that I favor takes me east from Cedar Avenue on the Midtown Greenway all the way to West River Parkway.  I take that south until it bends back west past Minnehaha Falls.  I follow the trail along the creek past Lake Nokomis and the Grand Ole Creamery (I recommend the sorbet) on Cedar Ave. and 48th St. before heading back home. 

Hope to see you on the trail!