What the hell just happened?

So . . . . President Trump.

How does that sound to you . . . . ?

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This did not really happen.  Right?

No, I can’t do it. I can’t talk about it right now.  Everybody’s yakking about it, and for one of the few times in my adult life, I want out of the conversation instead of in. We all know where we stand, and we now pretty much know where everybody else stands.  I will say that the enormous crowds at all the marches and rallies yesterday made me feel better.  The videos and photos of all the people were truly inspirational and uplifting. I regret not going to the state capitol and being part of it all. But I’m really proud of all my friends who did.

Even with yesterday’s boost, I’ve not emerged yet out of the damp, dark, gray week we just finished. It’s going to take more than a few million people marching together and vowing to fight the good fight to shake me out of what I was hoping was just the fog of a dream. But with each day, each action, each utterance from the new guy or from the people who got him to the White House, I am going to build my strength and resolve to do my part in fighting back.  It’s time to wake up and get busy.

In the mean time, here is a photo from each day last week — week #3 of 2017.  Did I mention we had a damp, dark, gray, foggy week?

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(1/15/17)  The week started out great, thanks to Mary Livingston agreeing to stop over and belatedly celebrate her birthday with us.  Later in the week, she took off for a warm beach and left those of us back here in the US of A to sit and stare at our TVs in disbelief.

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(1/16/17)  This guy stopped over, lookin’ all handsome and healthy and happy.

Version 2

(1/17/17) You either have to be tough or dumb  — or maybe unable to fly(?) to be a Minnesota duck. A big  group of Mallards is hanging out in the stream that flows from Lake Harriet to Minnehaha Creek. Wikipedia tells me that a group of ducks on the water can be called a “flock”, a “brace”, a “raft” or a “paddling”.  When they take to the air en masse, they are a “skein”, a “string”, or a “team”. (Note: This will be the most educational picture this week.)

 

Version 2

(1/18/18) What a great surprise.  Old friend (and now neighbor) Bob Jansen asked me out on a date. Lots of laughs, a little wisdom, tons of bullshit.

jan_19_17

(1/19/17) Tis not the season any more, but I’ll take some bright colors (and maybe a little bit of peace on Earth) wherever I can find them.

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(1/20/17) I shot this just at the moment in the speech when I realized that our new POTUS was ripping the crap out of President Obama, everything he did as President, and everything he stands for. I love the way Mr. Obama looks like he has just shed a YUGE weight and is in a happier place somewhere far away .

jan_21_17

(1/21/17) As millions of people around the globe were marching in support of women, this guy was attempting to win our local Stupidest Male competition. A week or so ago, Minnehaha Falls was all over the local TV news when a DIFFERENT idiot was very seriously injured by a gigantic chunk of falling ice (see the big hole on the upper left?) Everyone was strongly warned to stay away from and off the falls. So after a few days of thawing temperatures and weakening ice, this new genius decides to climb about halfway up the 53-foot waterfall, right next to the cascading water, so that his very proud girlfriend can take his picture.  I didn’t stay around long enough to see if he survived, but he didn’t deserve to.

 

 

 

Great bike rides of the Twin Cities that begin and end at my house #2: The Grand Rounds

(Note: To see my first “great bike rides” post from about a year ago, go here)

I used to think “The Grand Rounds” was a rather pretentious name added in modern times to the more than 125-year old string of parkways that wind through the city of Minneapolis. But I recently learned that the term dates back to 1891, when William Watts Folwell used it to describe landscape architect Horace Cleveland’s masterful proposal made to the newly-formed Minneapolis Board of Park Commissioners 8 years earlier. Now that I know the name is that old, I like it.

Horace Cleveland as a young man. He was nearly 70 when he submitted his design for the Grand Rounds !

Minneapolis has one of the best urban park systems in the world. We would have none of it today but for the vision, forethought, and actions of an amazing string of parks commissioners (along with Cleveland’s detailed plans) in the late 19th and early 20th century, including Charles Loring, William Berry and Theodore Wirth.

I’ve biked most of this route many times, but never as a whole. So a couple of days ago, I decided it was time to grab my camera and saddle up. I’d seen different numbers for the total mileage — usually 50-53 miles, but I also knew that included some dead-end spurs. I decided to just do the main, basic route and see how it works as a loop.

Cleveland’s idea was to tie together some of the most beautiful parts of the city in such a way that you could make the whole trip without ever leaving a park-like setting. For the most part, it does that very well. The Minneapolis chain of lakes, along with the Mississippi River and Minnehaha Creek, are well-known treasures, but the ride also includes some impressive boulevards in the city’s northern areas. Most of the route is, indeed, “grand”, but there’s a short “missing link” of about 3 miles in the northeastern part of the ride that isn’t terribly scenic. Many plans have been proposed over the years to finish it, but so far it’s still missing. A variety of street options traverse the gap and get you downtown to join up with the river.

The dark blue line shows the Grand Rounds. Note the dotted lines through an industrial and residential part of northeast Minneapolis. The outline of the city limits can be seen where the shade of green changes.

Since I live a couple of block from Minnehaha Creek, I bike and run the southern part of the Grand Rounds a lot, but the beauty of the creek and the lakes never gets old. A quick loop around the lakes or a run around Lake Harriet never fails to lift my spirits.

My grand tour the other day ended up totaling about 37 miles. As I said, there are other ways to do it that add more mileage. The route also intersects with a lot of other bike paths on which you could wander all day. It’s a great city for biking.

Here are a bunch of photos from my trip. Along the way, I somehow lost my little notebook that I was writing the mileage in at photo stops (imagine me losing something), so the mile numbers are from “Map My Ride” and are approximate — also, of course, pretty meaningless unless you start at my house. But if you ever do want to start at my house, give me a call and I’ll go with you. It’s a great urban ride.

0.7 - We drop down into the Minnehaha Creek valley to get started.


1.5 - First look at good old Lake Harriet.


5.5 - Cedar Lake's south beach


6.7 - North side of Cedar Lake. The railroad and the Cedar Lake Trail (not ours) head toward downtown Minneapolis.


6.8 - on the other side of the railroad bridge is tiny Brownie Lake, an often overlooked little gem.


8.3 - Theodore Wirth Golf course. What a view!


8.8 - Statues depicting Theodore Wirth (Minneapolis Parks Commissioner in the early 1900s) with some kids for whom he helped provide a beautiful place to play, are near clubhouse of the golf course that bears his name.


10.7 - Victory Memorial Drive honors those who died in WWI


15.2 - Downtown skyline over the rail yards of "Nordeast".


16.2 - Another peak at downtown from the 10th hole at Columbia Park, another very nice municipal golf course.


17.3 - Quiet, residential neighborhood on St. Anthony Parkway with happy, safe, above-average kids.


20.8 - After a trip through the "missing link", we're downtown.


21.3 - Almost everything you need to know about Minneapolis is represented in this photo -- flour mills, St. Anthony Falls, Mississippi River, hydroelectric plant, barge going through lock & dam, James J. Hill's stone arch railroad bridge. This area is ground zero for Minneapolis .


21.5 - New I-35W bridges show no trace of the terrible tragedy that happened here 4 years ago.


23.2 - Back to green and blue landscape. The Mississippi River from West River Road across from the University of Minnesota.


28.0 - Minnehaha Falls


29.3 - The path hugs Minnehaha Creek


30.2 - Lake Hiawatha


32.0 - Lake Nokomis -
About five more miles and we're home - around the lake and up the Parkway.

Great bike rides of the Twin Cities . . . that begin and end at my house: Volume 1.

Minneapolis and St. Paul are some of the best bicycling cities anywhere. We have a LOT of bike trails, dedicated lanes and bike-friendly streets. During these precious few months of non-snow weather, many bikers make the most of it and hit the road.

Serious bikers live in a different world than the rest of us do. We catch glimpses of them on bike paths, streets and highways, but they often ride places that others never see. I’ve been doing more biking this summer than in past years and in doing so, have “discovered” some interesting and beautiful routes that real bikers have been keeping to themselves for years.

Mrs. D and I have been riding parts of this route for a few weeks. I combined these sections into a 26 mile loop last week and took a few photos along the way. These photos were obviously shot on two separate days — one cloudy and one sunny.

So here goes — a 26 mile photojourney. All distances are measured from my house, which will do you absolutely no good unless you ride with me.

So saddle up. Let’s ride.

First stop at mile 2.6 is Lake Nokomis. We see a deer. We get off our bikes and approach it quietly. It doesn’t run away. In fact it doesn’t move at all.

Notice how the urban passers-by don't even notice this magnificent buck just a few feet away.

Then it’s across E. 54th St. all the way to Minnehaha Park. Here we enter Fort Snelling State Park. At mile 6.3 we are in the upper area where the old fort is. Down below is a wonderful natural area near the river. This fort is the first major settlement of non-native people in Minnesota. It was never actually used for defense purposes, but as an outpost to regulate the fur trade in the mid- 19th century.

Fort Snelling, looking much as it did in the 1830s

After a short section through the woods, the bike path leads to the Mendota bridge. The 3/4 mile bridge bike path is an interesting dichotomy of loud, rushing traffic on one side and a beautiful, serene vistas of the river valley on the other.

These REAL bikers probably aren't happy that I stopped on the bridge to take a picture.


It's beautiful looking down from the bridge at the Minnesota River's last mile before joining the Mississippi.

The Mendota Bridge is the only place I know of where you can see the skylines of both downtowns — Minneapolis and St. Paul — at the same time.

From the Mendota Bridge - Minneapolis skyline in the distance with Fort Snelling in the foreground


This view is taken from the same spot as the last one, just turning about 90 degrees to the right. The Mighty Mississippi makes its way toward downtown St. Paul

After we cross the bridge we go through the old town of Mendota, one of the oldest settlements in Minnesota. Here we pick up a great bike trail that runs next to the railroad tracks near the river.

The The Jean Baptiste Faribault house (1839) is one of several historic buildings in Mendota.

At mile 8.7 we get a view of the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. This little sand point is sacred ground to the Dakota people, who believe it to be the center of the world and the place where they originated from.

The muddy Minnesota River (foreground) joins forces with the Mississippi.

At about the 10 mile mark we enter the Lilydale Regional Park. We get glimpses of the river and some large areas of native prairie grasses, but the coolest thing about this part of the path is the sections that go through some densely wooded areas.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

At 12.8 miles we emerge from the wilderness at Harriet Island, just across the river from Downtown St. Paul. The Jonathan Padelford is the flagship of the Padleford Packet Boat Company, which owns several river boats used for various types of excursions up and down the river.

The Jonathan Padelford docks at Harriet Island in St. Paul

At 13.7 miles, the very patriotic Wabasha Bridge welcomes us to downtown St. Paul.

Lots of flags welcome us to St. Paul


Rice Park is just a block over and worth a look. It’s a beautiful little urban park surrounded by several interesting buildings.

1980 US Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks in perpetual celebration across the street from Rice Park. The guy behind him just wants to get the damn railing clean.


At 15.1 we go up the hill by the St. Paul Cathedral and on to Summit Avenue. First stop is the home of railroad tycoon James J. Hill. It’s pretty impressive.

James J. Hill House. The inside wows too.

We pass many big, beautiful, old mansions on Summit Avenue. Governor Tim lives in one of them, at mile 17. As I’m considering whether to go up and ring the bell to see if he wants to come out and ride, a black car with tinted windows pulls out of the driveway. Maybe Timmy’s in the backseat, I don’t know. What a thrill to be a paparazzo.

The next President of the United States could be in that car. And pigs might be able to fly if they flap their legs hard enough.

After a couple more miles straight down Summit Avenue, past Macalester College and the University of St. Thomas, we reach the river again at mile 19.6. Another 2-mile stretch down E. River road brings us to the Ford Parkway bridge. At mile 21.5 we stop for one last photo of the river and then re-enter Minneapolis.

Back across the Mississippi river one more time.

We go past Minnehaha Falls (more about that in a future post) and head home on Minnehaha Parkway. A steep hill toward the end helps us make sure we got a workout.

Home again at 26.1 miles. Thanks for coming along. I know this was a long post. Reading all the way to the end was more grueling than the bike ride. Congratulations.