Monday, July 30, 2012

Daily Adventures July 30-August 4, 2012

My shoulder is injured.  I think it's my deltoid muscle.  Not to worry, I'll recover quickly.  You see, my younger son loves Beyblades, which are basically tops for this generation.  Each one comes with four components that are interchangeable so you can create your own original designs.  Then you load your top into a launcher held in one hand, and "rip" a cord with the other.  This sends the blades into a Bey Stadium where they crash into each other and the last one standing wins.  I kinda get caught up in it once I start "battling" with the family.  The problem is the ripping.  You want to win so you pull really hard to make your top spin faster.  And you do it over and over until your deltoid hurts.  I might need to work out more.

Monday, July 30
The 3M championship runs today through Sunday at the TPC in Blaine.  Admission is free and affords the opportunity to rub elbows with the likes of Jay Haas, Tom Lehman and Fuzzy Zoeller, to name a few.  Well, maybe you won't actually rub elbows, but you can golf-clap for them as they pass by on the fairway.  Pro-Ams are featured until Friday when championship play begins.  There will also be an expo tent and Family Fun Zone available over the weekend.  Check the schedule to see what's happening each day and then hit the course.

Tuesday, July 31
Five years ago tomorrow the 35W bridge collapsed during the evening rush hour.  I'm sure most of us have a story about that day.  I was scheduled to cross the bridge with my boys about an hour after it went down.  For a while, I became acutely aware of the bridges that I crossed.  The memorial for the 13 people who died that day opened last year across from Gold Medal Park.  I've never been, but I think we'll go pay our respects this week.  We'll also take a stroll along the board walk by Mill Ruins Park and cross the nearby Stone Arch Bridge.

Wednesday, August 1
Today brings the final concert of the Northrop Summer Music Festival to the plaza of Northrop Auditorium.  The Sans Souci Quartet is on the bill today playing bluegrass under, hopefully, blue skies.  Although I don't see it on the website this time, I bet you can still score some free Vitamin Water if you go.  The Premiums got rained out on the 18th so somebody somewhere has got a trunk full of the stuff to give away.  Speaking of the Premiums, the rain couldn't stop them for good.  They play on Tuesday (July 31) if you're feeling more groovy than blue.

Thursday, August 2
They played their worst season ever last year, but I still love the Vikings.  They opened training camp last week and we might make the trek to Mankato State to see the pageantry of it all.  I don't know exactly what to expect, but it looks like there is a walk-through in the morning and a practice in pads each afternoon.  Time is set aside daily for autographs from different positions.  Today the wide receivers will be wielding the Sharpies.  Family Football Day is Saturday, August 4th and features an evening practice with fireworks and free football and/or cheerleading clinics for the kids.  So go ahead, put on some face paint and show your horns in Mankato.

Friday, August 3
We haven't spent any money on our adventures yet this week, right?  Maybe it'd be OK to drop $70 on a household membership (two adults and children under 18) with the Minnesota Historical Society.  That's a chunk of change up front, but it gains you admission to 26 sites and museums around Minnesota.  The ones I'm most excited about are Mill City Museum, Fort Snelling, and Split Rock Lighthouse.  If you visit three places over the next year, you'll have saved money.  If you visit all 26, it'll be like they're paying you to amuse yourself.

Saturday, August 4
You can go on a Garden Quest today at the Walker during First Free Saturday.  If you go you will be LARPing (live action role-playing) in the sculpture garden, searching for trolls and hermits.  This is, of course, after Skalk the Bitter teaches you how to handle a sword at Battle School.  Skalk ranks at the 9th level, so you'll have that going for you when you meet a troll.

May the road rise to meet you! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Daily Adventures July 23-29, 2012

At the University of Minnesota they name new buildings after important people.  Nils Hasselmo signed my degree as president of the U.  Now there is a Nils Hasselmo Hall where you can apply for the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program, in case you were wondering.

My name can still be found on the U of M campus too, but not on the outside of a new building.  It's actually in the windowless basement of an old one.  In a student directory.  Apparently they took out a pay phone in 1992 but never removed the phone books hanging nearby.  How my kids and I found that treasure is another story, but they both said it was their favorite part of our day.   

I think it may have been my favorite part too.  Why?  I'm not sure.  I like that my kids got a kick out of old phone books.  (When was the last time you used a pay phone or a phone book?)  And I also like that my name can still be found on campus 18 years after I graduated.  It's kind of like having a building named after you, right?  Well, almost the same.

Monday, July 23
Maybe I'm just out of the loop, but I discovered a new waterfall in Saint Paul yesterday.  I've been within 500 feet of these falls myriad times in my life and didn't know it.  That fact is probably really rich with metaphor, but I won't go into that right now.  They're called Shadow Falls and I swear "they" are trying to keep them a secret.  There is probably more than one route to the falls, but we started at the World War I Memorial at Summit Avenue and Mississippi River Boulevard, then followed a path northward along the ravine that hides the falls.  The hills are steep, but the trail is pretty easy (we did it in sandals).  Hidden Falls are a little further up river, if you want to complete the St. Paul waterfall circuit.

Tuesday, July 24
It might be a little contrived, but Centennial Lakes Park in Edina charms me anyway.  Here you will find a human-made pond surrounded by a walking trail, mini-golf, croquet courts, and an amphitheater.  You will find free events every Tuesday and Thursday at noon at the Hughes Pavilion.  Today is the Woodland Puppet Show.  There's also a concert Sunday-Wednesday at 7 pm and a movie at sunset on Thursdays.  If you go, pack a picnic and bring some extra bread to feed the fish that patrol the nearby waters.  They aren't Asian Carp, but they're pretty aggressive once they notice your bakery goods.

Wednesday, July 25
The Open Eye Figure Theater is hitting the road again this year.  They will bring their puppets to your place on the "Driveway Tour 2012!" and all you have to do is ask.  Well, there's probably a little more to it, but they've visited over 500 neighborhoods in the last 9 years so it can't be too tough.  If you'd rather just go somewhere to see them, you can head to the Northeast Library today at 10:30 am for their presentation of The Amazing Cow Boat.

Thursday, July 26
Mears Park in downtown St. Paul boasts "a covered bandshell and a beautiful stream running diagonally through the park."  That sounds good.  And under that covered bandshell on Thursday evenings you will find some of the hottest local music acts around.  Now that sounds better!  Some of the acts you can catch at Music in Mears this year are the Honeydogs, Communist Daughter, and Flamin Oh's.  Tonight the bill is headlined by New Standards.  The music plays from 6 to 9 pm, and then the big screen lights up when the sun goes down.  This evening you'll see What About Bob?  It's all free, and that's the best part.

Friday, July 27
As Adam Scott demonstrated last weekend, golf is a mind game as much as anything else.  Kids seem more immune to the mental pressure than us adults, however, so maybe it's a good time to introduce them to a game they can play their whole lives.  The US Kids Golf Foundation has set up nine family courses in Minnesota, three of which are right here in the Twin Cities.  A family course has tees placed for beginners that shorten the course, making it more fun for everybody.  Come to think of it, that might be a good option for me too.  If you're not ready to hit the course yet, your local country club probably has a set of kid's clubs to use at their driving range.

Saturday, July 28
You have another chance to see the Open Eye Figure Theater at the Flow Northside Arts Crawl today.  The Crawl happens from 2 to 8 pm and will feature the World's Longest Soul Train Line, a mobile stage powered by pedals, bakery tours, and the Smack Shack food truck.  The Minnesota Lynx will also be on hand giving lessons on how to win . . . or maybe just to sign stuff.  Bring your smart phone for a then-and-now trip on the West Broadway Walking Tour.  Then kick back and go with the Flow.

Sunday, July 29
There's one more "I Can" experience that Minnesota's State Parks are offering up this summer: I Can Paddle!  Today you can take a canoe out on the lake at William O'Brien State Park.  You will have to drive an hour to get to William O'Brien, but that's about all you'll have to do.  The Park provides everything you need to give canoeing a try.  They do want you to let them know you're coming, so give them a call at 866-857-2757 before you stop on by.

Have a great time!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Daily Adventures July 16-21, 2012

Monday, July 16
Hello, Regal Guardians!  Looks like it might hit 100 degrees again today.  Since our bodies are supposed to run 98.6, does that mean we start cooking when it's over that temperature?  Whatever the answer, a body of water would feel real nice.  The Como Regional Park Pool opened this year to loads of pomp and circumstance.  Well, to lots of jumping and splashing, anyway.  If you can wait until this Friday, you can get in for $2 each.  If not, a family of up to five people costs $16.  But, in exchange for your hard-earned Jackson, you'll have access to a lap pool, basketball hoops, a slide, diving boards, and an aquatic climbing wall.  There's also a zip line and a lazy river.  Now that sounds like my kind of river.

Tuesday, July 17
The Caponi Art Park in Eagan continues its Family Fun Tuesdays program this summer with an eclectic mix of performers every Tuesday at 10 am.  It is technically free, but they do suggest a donation of $4 per person.  Today the O'Shea Irish Dance troupe demonstrates and teaches some fancy steppin' to the assembled masses.  They will also perform as part of the Summer Performance Series at Caponi's Theater in the Woods on Sunday evening at 6:30 pm.  If you can't make it today, the next two Tuesdays feature percussion groups.  Who doesn't like to bang on stuff?  After the program, take a stroll around the grounds and check out the sculptures.  There's also a great tree swing to ride on your way out.

Wednesday, July 18
Here is a second opportunity to go back to school for the Summer Music Festival at Northrop!  The Premiums will be performing for free from noon to 1 pm.  If you only catch one Northrop concert this summer, this might be the don't-miss.  After all, the Premiums tour in an RV called the "Groove Thang."  They'll be handing out free Vitamin Water again, and Cialis will have their infamous bathtubs on hand and full of ice if you want to take a dip to cool off.  I made up the bathtub part.
Don't forget the Minneapolis Aquatennial is going on all week as well.  Tonight there is a pre-parade party at Loring Park from 5-7:30 pm with the Torchlight Parade following at 8:30 pm.

Thursday, July 19
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is always free for kids 12 and under, but it's only free for adults after 4:30 pm on the third Thursday of summer months . . . and that's today!  Once you get there, consider taking the Bug O' Orienteering Challenge to sample the highlights of the arboretum while testing your map-reading skills.  I trust the chances of Bug O' turning into the Blair Witch Project are pretty slim.  After mastering that challenge settle in Under the Oak for a little free creative play or check out the clay house that is taking shape as part of DIRT-O-RAMA.  Dirt and Rama in the same place?  I'm there. 

Friday, July 20
We all have those items in our garages or basements, right?  The equipment we bought because we were going to start snowboarding on a regular basis so, "Why not buy one?  It'll pay for itself after four times," then using the chiropractor way more than the snowboard?  It is for us that Minnesota State Parks created the free "I Can" program to give people a chance to try new things without investing in a lot of equipment.  Fridays from 3-5 pm at Fort Snelling State Park You Can Fish and all you have to do is show up!  The park provides the poles, the bait, and the tips so you can concentrate on fishing.  They'll even bait the hook for you!  You'll have to release what you catch, but that's OK.  Too much city fish might effect your mind and body and lead to bad decisions.  Like buying a snowboard when you're over 30.

Saturday, July 21
If you're willing to travel 45 minutes northeast to Interstate State Park you can try your hands and feet at climbing the cliffs along the St. Croix River.  This free experience is designed for first-time climbers over the age of four and, like I Can Fish, I Can Climb provides everything you need to get started.  You'll want to register for a climb time by calling 866-857-2757.  I jumped off those cliffs back when I was young and foolish.  Now that I'm old(er) and foolish, maybe I'll climb up them.

If cliff climbing is more excitement than you're looking for, there is another Kidical Mass bike ride planned for today as well.  Meet at Brackett Park at 9 am for the ride to Minnehaha Park, stopping to tour the Dowling Gardens on the way.

There's one more option that a buddy just sent my way.  If you're a Hip-Hop dance fan (I kind of am, thanks to TV's So You Think You Can Dance) you might want to check out the 4th Annual Groundbreaker Battle Festival put on by the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts.  The Cities' best B-Boys & Girls will be competing outdoors in downtown Minneapolis for the title of "Minneapolis' Best Dance Crew."  My friend assures me the music will be appropriate for little B-Boys & Girls and it's free to attend.  The festival begins at 11:30 am with workshops on Hip-Hop and spoken word.  It looks like the dancing starts at 2 o'clock and runs until 8 pm when the best crew is crowned.

Have fun and, hey!  Be careful out there.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Daily Adventures July 9-15, 2012

Monday, July 9
Even though I've seen it LIVE at the state fair several times I have never even considered log rolling myself.  Until now.  Key Log Rolling has lessons for 5-16 year-olds on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, running July 24th through August 16 at Lake Calhoun's 32nd Street Beach.  You can choose either 9:30 or 10:15 classes.  If you live in Minneapolis it will cost $40 for eight lessons.  If you live somewhere else it's $60.  That's not really cheap but, at under $8 per lesson, I'm thinking about it.  If you think about it too, and like what you think, you can register here through Minneapolis Parks.  Then get your log on! . . . (?)

Tuesday, July 10
What American art museum boasts one of the largest collection of Monets in the United States?  That would be the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  But if you want to see the largest collection of Rembrandts EVER in the United States, you'd have to visit the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  Now, if you want to see the Rembrandts, it'll cost ya.  But if you click here you can get a BOGO (buy one get one free) deal on the adult tickets until midnight Thursday.  If you decide to skip the Rembrandts, the rest of the MIA is free.  It's a GREAT museum and, if your child's school participates in the Art Adventure program (most do), Little Susie will probably be able to give you your own private tour of the place.  You know, if your child is named Susie.

Wednesday, July 11
Revisit a time when the country was roaring, alcohol was prohibited, and everyone was dancing the Charleston.  The Foshay Tower opened just before the stock market went bust in 1929.  Modeled after the Washington Monument, the Foshay was the first skyscraper built west of the Mississippi River and was Minneapolis' tallest building until 1971.  Even though several buildings tower over it today, it still boasts the only open-air observation deck in the Twin Cities.  You can check out the views and the museum for free by picking up an Adventure Pass from your local library.  Then put on your flapper dress or sharkskin suit and insist that your children call you "Bootsie" while you're there.  It'll be fun!

Thursday, July 12
The Walker hosts the Open Field every day except Mondays until September 1st, but if you go on a Thursday you can also take advantage of Target Free Thursday Nights.  Here's your itinerary for today: From 1 to 2 pm it's Tai Chi in the shade of the Spoonbridge and Cherry.  Afterwards, pull out your own brush and the Walker will provide everything else you need to paint your own landscape, cityscape, or whatever kind of scape you'd like.  At 4 o'clock take part in the collaborative art-making experience that is Drawing Club ("What's made at Drawing Club stays at Drawing Club") then use some old-timey tools from Lunalux, a local letterpress studio, to write and decorate a Post Office Love Letter.  But wait!  There's more!  There is also a poet on hand to help you find your muse at 5 pm, and a chance to make the biggest Cat's Cradle ever at 6 o'clock during The Big String Thing.  The cinema will screen home movies at 7:30 and 8:30 pm (you can submit your own home movie for consideration, too) before wrapping it all up around the Acoustic Campfire listening to Dear Data.  Now that's a lot of art.
If you're more inclined towards hockey than art, the Minnesota Wild also have a Developmental Camp Scrimmage that's free and open to the public at 7 pm tonight.  Gates open at 6:30 and the first thousand fans will receive a free Ryan Suter t-shirt.

Friday, July 13
It's Friday the 13th.  Do you dare visit a museum dedicated to the force that breathed life into Frankenstein's monster?  Muhahaha!  That's the best I can do for an evil laugh in print.  Today breathes life into the 10 Best Days of the Bakken, part of the Minneapolis Aquatennial which celebrates the anniversary of water, I guess.  But the Bakken is all about electricity and, for the next 10 days, they are offering free programs to the public including "It's Alive!" Frankenstein Day, Body Electric, and Ben Franklin's Electricity Party.  Isn't it time we all partied like Franklin?

Saturday, July 14
Not that kids need a whole lot of motivation to get excited about shooting a bow and arrow, but after watching the latest Borrowers movie, The Secret World of Arrietty, mine started making their own out of sticks and pencils.  So stream it on Netflix and then make the trip today at 1 pm to Afton State Park for Archery in the Parks.  You and your kids (if they're over eight years old) will be provided everything you need to give archery a shot.  Ha!  That's punny.  The program is free, though you will need a vehicle permit to get into the park.  The permit is $5 for a day or $25 for a year.  Afton sounds like it's far away, but it's only 16 miles southeast of St. Paul.  Think of it as a short trek to Sherwood Forest.

Sunday, July 15
Wherefore art thou, Romeo?  At Powderhorn Park, of course!  Well Romeo is not at Powderhorn, but The Strange Capers acting company is, and they're doing The Comedy of Errors the way Shakespeare did it: in open-air theater.  Now, free outdoor theater sounds pretty iffy to me too, especially if it's in old English, but apparently The Strange Capers is "stacked with Guthrie talent."  Guthrie talent for free?  Outside?  I just might have to check this out.  Performances are at 2 pm yesterday and today.
Additionally, the Minnesota Wild have another free Developmental Camp Scrimmage today at 11 am.  Gates open at 10:30 and this time around the first thousand fans receive a free Zach Parise t-shirt.   

Have fun out there!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Daily Adventures July 2-7, 2012

I am probably opening myself up to ridicule here, but I had to laugh at something I said to my father-in-law last week.

We went to their house for dinner and he commented that I was unshaven.  Now, this is not an uncommon state for me in the summer, but my beard was getting pretty long and I had actually planned on shaving that day.

So I responded with, "Yeah, I was gonna shave this morning, but I ran out of time."  The funny part of this sentence is that I ran out of time because I needed to get one of my sons to a doctor's appointment.  At 10 am.

A challenge to complete basic hygiene by 10 am?  It must be summertime.

Similar to a wine pairing provided on the menu of fine dining establishments, this week's adventures all come with a suggested hat pairing.  Enjoy!  

Monday, July 2 - Safari Hat
It might help if you read the next few sentences in Grampa Simpson's (or some other grandpa's) voice.  "I remember when I was a kid.  My toys didn't blink or beep.  I was happy if I had a STICK to play with."  Now this is not totally true.  I had a ColecoVision video game system that blinked and beeped.  But it's also true that I used to wander around the stream by my house and poke sticks in the mud.  For hours.  The Tamarack Nature Center in White Bear Township hopes this type of play makes a comeback.  To this end, they have opened the "Nature Play Area and Discovery Garden."  You won't find typical play structures here.  What you will find is a stream in which kids can float sticks, build dams, and dip their toes to cool off.  There are also kid-friendly climbing cliffs and five miles of trails open for hiking.  It's free in 2012 so bring your lunch and some dry clothes and show your kids that, unlike the State Fair, an Xbox ain't got nothin' on a stick.

Tuesday, July 3 - Kentucky Derby Hat
I'm not much of a gambler so I never really thought too much about going to Canterbury Park, but today is a special day at the races.  For starters, the gates pop at 4 rather than 7 pm.  Then, on the back stretch, live music is provided by Brat Pack Radio (they've got to be kid friendly with a name like that, right?). For the home stretch there will be fireworks when the sun goes down.  Your family will cheer as you cross the finish line and head home.  I tried to use my extensive knowledge of race terms in some metaphors.  Did it work?  Admission to anyone under 18 is free.  The rest of us get in for $5 each so as long as you don't bet the farm on a can't-miss, it could be a pretty cheap date.

Wednesday, July 4 - Uncle Sam Hat
John Adams, speaking on the independence of America, proclaimed that "it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.  . . .  solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."  He was right.  Sort of.  Mr. Adams thought we'd shoot bottle rockets at each other on July 2nd, when the motion to separate from England passed in congress.  But, as you know, we celebrate on the 4th when the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress.  Apparently John Hancock didn't put his, uh, signature on it until August 2.  Anyway, Minneapolis hosts the Red, White and Boom Festival yesterday and today if you'd like to venture downtown.  For those who would rather stay closer to home you can search for fireworks with this firework finder.

Thursday, July 5 - Polo Helmet
I don't know about you, but the only Polo I've ever seen is on the rack at Marshall's.  But that's about to change!  The Twin Cities have a polo club called, of course, the Twin City Polo Club.  It's in Maple Plain, well outside of the 694/494 loop, but your only expense will be gas.  Before you go, brush up on your polo vocabulary.  Then grab a lawn chair, some lemonade, and an air horn (horses love these!) and hit the road.  Practices are held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 pm, and there are games Friday through Sunday - all free to attend.  Check their Facebook page for schedule updates or call the hotline at 763-392-5373 to make sure it's game-on.

Friday, July 6 - Sailor's Hat
Minneapolis is home to a National Scenic Byway System called Grand Rounds, composed of seven districts offering different flavors of Minnesota's largest city.  Thirteen miles of this 50-mile system meander through the Chain of Lakes in south Minneapolis.  This postcard-ready area can be explored for free on foot, bicycles, or Rollerblades.  Today, however, five passengers are setting sail from an urban port aboard some tiny ships.  OK, the tiny ships are canoes that we're renting for $17 from Wheel Fun Rentals at Lake Calhoun, and the college buddies with whom we're going will total more than five, but you catch my drift.  Pun intended.  Sorry.  I'm not yet sure if $17 buys us a three-hour tour, but I hope to get stranded on the deserted isles for which Lake of the Isles is named.  OK, I'll stop with the Gilligan's Island references now.

Saturday, July 7 - Thinking Cap
Take advantage of the free admission and family activities the Walker Art Museum during their Free First Saturdays program.  This month the theme is Kids' Democracy.  You can tackle a literal maze of red tape at capitol HILL on your way to the Department of Mustachery, or dance to some Bomba - the traditional folk music of Puerto Rico.  While you're there, check out their newest exhibition, "This Will Have Been Art: Art, Love and Politics in the 1980's."  Maybe it will inspire you to roll your pant legs and tease your bangs again.  Maybe not. 

See you next week!