7/1/2014 10:57:00 AM Publisher's Column
the Twin Cities
Melanie and I took a few days off last week-a little time to get to know each other again and to see if there was more keeping us together than just the fact that we happen to work in the same office. While it was only a couple days, it was a very nice break, and we came back together, which seems like a positive sign there is more to the relationship than working together.
We got a sample of living in the Twin Cities which, for the most part, re-enforced my appreciation of living in a small town.
We left early Wednesday afternoon and hit rush hour traffic as we entered the metro area. I have lived in several metropolitan areas and know it is possible to get used to the traffic, but I cannot think of any reason why I would want to do so again. I can ride from home to our office in Dodge Center on a bicycle in less than ten minutes, even when I happen to be making the trip just as the shift changes at McNeilus Companies, which is our worst local rush period. I don't think I could again adjust to handling metro rush hour daily, at my attained age.
We did enjoy the variety of dining options available in the Twin Cities, although the prices for those options were a bit different from what we are used to locally. I now really appreciate the bargains I've taken for granted in our local restaurants. I have to admit, though, that the variety was appreciated, too.
We lunched at the 46 Patisserie on Grand Avenue in Minneapolis, after being advised that it has succulent French pastries. I have a weakness for French pastries and was unable to resist the attraction of a house specialty with fresh berries and pistachios, another reason I am better off not living in the Twin Cities.
Our visit to Como Park was like a step back in time for me, as we took our son David and his fiancee's daughter Lila, who wanted to try out the rides at the amusement park. I always liked the amusement park at Como best, too, especially the Mighty Mouse roller coaster. Then I was fascinated by the exotic animals but was troubled by how unhappy they looked in the small cages. Things are a lot better today, with much more living space for the larger animals and somewhat normal simulated environments. There don't seem to be as many animals in Como Zoo as there were when I was a kid, but it may just be because of the way they are displayed. We could hear quite a number of wolves but only saw one come out of the woods. Even some of the animals we saw were a challenge to spot in the habitats that have been created for them.
We visited the Apple Store on Hennepin Avenue just south of Lake Street in Minneapolis, to get a basic education on using our iPhones. The staff at the Apple Store always seems to have enough time to explain solutions to our computer and accessories problems without making me feel dumb for not being able to figure it out myself. I appreciate that.
President Obama's visit to Minneapolis happened to occur while we were there, although I'm pretty sure it was just a coincidence. I don't think he knew we were coming, although with all the NSA surveillance of everyone he may well have known. In any case, we didn't get to see him, and I hope he wasn't disappointed.
Security precautions were apparent in some areas of Minneapolis, but we managed to either avoid them entirely or to come after they were lifted where we were going. It is amazing all the security precautions that are taken today-even in the Twin Cities they had air, land and water covered. I wonder if anyone really knows how much our nation spends on security of all kinds.
I enjoyed the challenge of using the parking meters with credit cards. You have to remember the number of your parking spot and enter it in a master device half a block away. Along the way, there are other parking meters with numbers on them. The trick is to either avoid reading those numbers as you walk or to write down your meter's number right away.
Our son David is customer service representative for The New French Bakery in Minneapolis, so we made one of our last stops before coming home a bread shopping stop. We got samples of almost every kind of bread The New French Bakery makes. I was amused that they had American white and American whole wheat bread, although we didn't get any American white and only got the American whole wheat to see if it is really "American." I wondered if the naming was done as a French slur of American taste but decided probably not. It is probably just to let buyers know the bread has a soft crust, unlike the rest of the breads.
I love bread with a real distinct crust, the kind my mother used to bake at home in our wood-fired kitchen stove. The only thing I don't like about good bread is the difficulty I have in moderating my intake. My resistance to good bread is even lower than my resistance to French pastries.
I saw recently that Bruce Schwartau did a study for the University of Minnesota Extension Service reporting that Dodge County is leaking money, that is, that residents are doing an excessive amount of spending outside the county that could be spent here if there were the necessary retail and service businesses. How about starting with a French pastry shop, a European bakery, an Apple Store and an amusement park?