Minneapolis is a great city

I’ve been in a funny gray mood lately. 

It’s not anything you would notice if you saw me; it’s just an increase in the underlying noise or static – one of those little funks that everyone seems to have now and then. 

For the most part I feel great – my daily mood is happy and forward-looking.  This grayness really only strikes me when I’m by myself and undistracted by some pursuit or another.  Maybe it’s a seasonal biochemical change or just some issue or combination of issues with which I’m not satisfied. 

I’m a very optimistic person, and I really believe in the effect that forcing a smile and positive thinking can have in making me feel good about myself and the world around me.  It’s really been an odd week; between feeling down and trying to make myself feel up I’ve been having these odd jumps between elation – real, true joy – and meh-ness.

I went for a bicycle ride after work yesterday because I find that physical exercise is a good way to get the endorphins going and to clear my mind.  I went biking around Lake Calhoun and was once again amazed that I live in such a beautiful area of town.  I live less than a mile away from this gorgeous lake that offers bike and walking trails and canoe/kayak/paddleboat rentals.  Awesome!

My view of the downtown Minneapolis skyline from Lake Calhoun at dusk last night.

I wasn’t as enamored of Minneapolis when I first saw it as I am now.  First, I remember being shocked that downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul were about 10 miles away from each other.  I was bummed out because I had this image in my head of one large metro area, not two smaller cities with a bunch of residential and suburb-like areas between the two.

Second, I was taken aback by how small Minneapolis was.  I grew up near Chicago; you could see the city from all the way out in Tinley Park – the suburb in which I grew up –  and that was 30 miles away from downtown!  When I was little and we drove on the highway toward Chicago, I would watch from the backseat as the skyline would grow to fill more and more of the windshield until we arrived in the city and I had to start craning my neck up to see the tops of the buildings.

I was reminded again of how small Minneapolis is when I visited New York City.  When we got off the plane at JFK I was struck by how buildings filled the horizon.  I didn’t just have to crane my neck up in NYC, I had to crane my head from left-to-right just to see the entire skyline.

From a distance I can stretch out my arm, hold my thumb up and close one eye to “hide” Minneapolis.  In Chicago, I have to hold up both hands, and in New York I couldn’t hide the skyline at all.

Minneapolis skyline

Chicago skyline

New York skyline

But being in a smaller urban city definitely has its advantages:  Rent is affordable – even right downtown, parking is reasonable, and traffic is tame.  Most events and festivals aren’t exorbitantly priced or over-crowded.  It’s pretty easy to get involved in community planning and local politics.  I have the culture and variety that inevitably pops up when you cram a lot of very different people together in a small space.  If I want to get away to the country all I have to do is drive 20 miles in any direction and I’m in prime motorcyle riding land, pumpkin patches, state parks, etc. 

There’s a lot to love in Minneapolis. 

At least for another month or so until the blizzards start. 

Photo source 

I found this photo at Nokohaha – it looks like an awesome Minneapolis blog with a lot of other Minneapolis sites in it’s blogroll!

Minneapolis is a great city

Summer Camp

Four days left until Italy!

Trevi Fountain, Rome Photo Source

Last night the Hubby and I sat down at the kitchen table and made The Lists: Things to pack, things to do before we leave, things to do as soon as we touch down in Rome Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport, things to purchase before leaving, things to purchase in Italy.


This morning I listened to an interesting This American Life called “Notes on Camp“.  It was split into six parts; we heard about life in a boys summer camp, the traditional scary stories and their role in camp life,  call-in recorded listener stories about their times in camp, an summer camp run by the Israeli Army, and life in a girls summer camp.  Go listen (click the embedded hyperlink above).  If you attended summer camp I bet you’ll connect with some of the stories, and if you didn’t go to summer camp you might learn a thing or two about why we campers blathered incessantly about summer camp when we came back to school every fall.

When we were younger, my parents took my sister and I to a co-ed summer camp for a few years at  Camp Wakeshma (oh my, there’s a website with pictures – memories!) in Three Rivers, Michigan.  I remember the long drive from Tinley Park every summer, and the excitment that I’d being living on my own.  Well, really my sister was in the next cabin and my cabin was shared by ~15 other girls and a counselor, but without my Mom and Dad, my bed, my stuff, I felt like I was all on my own.  It was scary and exhilerating!  The following pictures are all from Camp Wakeshma’s website.

My favorite memories:

Corey Lake!  There was 10-foot platform over the lake that the brave kids could jump off.  We had the opportunity to take the swimming test every summer – a swim across the entire lake while a couple of counselers boated alongside us -that would enable us to take out sailboats on our own.  There were also rowboats and kayaks to be had! 

Archery, making copper pressings and lanyards, scrimping and counting out change to buy things from the camp store (which was really just a junk food shop).  Going to the camp dance at the end of the week.  Sharing meals with a whole bunch of kids and singing songs and chants with our cabins. 

Gossip with cabin mates, talking about boys, especially the cute counselors! 

“Roughing it” – trekking to the bathrooms and showers, brushing our teeth outside the cabin using bottled water and spitting into the woods so we didn’t have to trek to the bathrooms, shaving our legs in the lake (probably not so healthy for the fish).

Getting mail and care packages from home!  Kids who received five letters or one care package in a day “had to” jump from the high dive after lunch in their clothes! (unless they didn’t want to).  In the weeks leading up to camp we would beg our parents and friends to send us letters while we were away. 

Hiking in the woods and sitting in the outdoor amphitheater (Fecteau Glen), the half-log benches set up in rows in front of the wooden stage. 

Camp was awesome, but I also remember it being very stressful: In one week you had to make friends quickly and not make enemies, find a date for the dance, and take a bunch of classes and learn the rules – all away from Mom and Dad! 

Did any of you go to camp and do you have any favorite memories?  Seestor, what do you remember from Camp Wakeshma?

Summer Camp