I do not know quite what to say about Minneapolis, except that, in my 48 hours here it has already been a city of extremes. Extremes of weather, extremes of energy levels, extremes of hunger and satiation, extremes of quality and quantity.
Yesterday, it snowed on me, and Hightouchmegastore as we were trying to find a restaurant despite Google maps. We did find it, but while we were walking there, we got snowed on. Sometimes it was hard pellets of water that felt more like angry BBs. Sometimes they were liked the triangles cut out of tissue paper snowflakes. But, in all these times, it was always cold, cold, cold. Honestly it was probably less than half-a-mile of cold & snow. But still. It is April. And we were on our way to have sangria! Which seems like it requires sunshine, etc.
But the bar, once we got there, was great. The sangria was great. A kind man who was just leaving gave us one seat. He was ridiculously handsome and he was carrying a kitchen store bag that had a cutting board in it. He was the gay friend in the Minneapolis sit-com version of my life.
At the bar, we had the delicious sangria, and chips and salsa and a delicious tamale. So delicious!
At the keynote address, first the mayor of Minneapolis came out and read us a poem. What mayor does that? Then she told us about how much she loves poetry and she told us to spend all our money in Minneapolis. (I'm doing my best!)
Then a writer who is, admittedly, not my favorite, gave a lovely keynote address. It was lovely, if a tad too long.
After that, the Utah friends came back to the hotel bar for some more snacks. This brings me to Sam.
Sam is, without a doubt, our favorite person in Minneapolis, although today some other people gave him a run for his money.
Sam is our waiter in the hotel bar and restaurant. "Hotel bar and restaurant" conjures images of limp lettuce and watery martinis, but this bar is of the HNL. (Hole Nother Level). This hotel restaurant has the most delicious Brussells Sprouts salad in existence. Also, it turns out, they have a dessert which features pancakes and bananas that is crazy delicious.
But Sam is the distilled essence of Minnesota. He has the accent. He is stocky in that charmingly adorable Midwestern way. The way he says "Happy Hour" can only be pronounced in Minnesota. He is one of the reasons we want to eat all our meals in the hotel bar. The other reason is the Brussells Sprouts salad.
He was our waiter the first night, when, exhausted, we plopped in the hotel restaurant for dinner (after arriving around dinner time). He was our waiter last night after the keynote. He said, "I'll be here all week," when we left last night.
Today when I got up, I was all cocky and happy. "At least it's not raining!" I exclaimed. Let me preface this by saying I did not sleep well on Tuesday night, I did not sleep well on Wednesday night...so, okay. But last night, I actually got some sleep! So this morning, I was all feeling good. So, yes, it was not raining. But when we emerged into the gray, Minneapolis morning, it was in fact snowing. So, okay, no biggie.
We had heard the legened of Caribou Coffee, so we walked there. A scattered riot of people stood near the espresso machine. Chaos! But we quickly figured out that they had ordered and were just waiting. Uh-oh....my coffee, when I got it, was strong and delicious, so I forgave CC for their understaffed chaotic whatever that was.
I went to a good panel on Experimental Writing. And then a discussion about Creative Writing programs in Two Year Colleges. Got lost in the Bookfair. Wandered. Bought analog text items. Etc.
THEN, dear reader, I walked with HighTouch to the Center for Book Arts. Amazing! Delightful! Inspiring! Yet another opportunity to spend my money in Minneapolis! The kind cashier, quickly ingratiating herself onto my "Favorite People" list, told me that the round blue building was the Guthrie Theater and that we could walk out on their balcony (the Endless Bridge).
So we walked through Gold Medal (flour) Park while our friend Karin, who had gone on the tour of the old factory, told us about explosive flour! And flour that blocks the river!
Then we got directions for how to get to the Endless Bridge from the nice conceirge who told us that if we hadn't been, we should go to the 9th floor, and that "we were in for quite a treat."
The Endless Bridge reaches out from the building so that one can see the Mississippi River and all the other amazing things there (a railroad bridge that is now pedestrians only), the park, trails, etc.
On the 9th floor, the "treat" was yet a still more astounding view of the park and the river and the flour factory, etc.
What happened next is even more amazing & hilarious & Minneapolis-love inducing but it is So! Late! here in MSP that I will have to delay in telling you about the Speakeasy and the Farm to Table dining until tomorrow.