Tag Archives: Minnesota

Minnesota State Fair 2017

Woo hoo! It’s time for my annual post about the Minnesota State Fair!

We always go to the fair opening day and it seems every year it feels more crowded.  I checked out the fair’s website and found some interesting numbers.  I wasn’t imagining it. Each year on opening day for the last two years the attendance increased.  Between 2017 and 2016 it was almost 6,000 higher!  There were three record-breaking attendance days this year, the most record breaking days in three years.  Plus, this year’s total attendance is the highest ever, another record broken.  So, yes, there were lots more people at the fair this year.

No matter, we still enjoy it and this year was no different. I went twice.  Opening day was fun but by 1:00 it was getting too crowded so we called it quits early.  For my second visit, I met hubby there one late afternoon from work the following week. I park my car like I’m going to work and walk on over to the fair.   Very easy!

On opening day we headed over to Minnesota Public Radio after breakfast and were treated with a handshake from our governor!  He went one by one in the small crowd and shook each of our hands. He commented how brave Miss M was for wearing short sleeves as it was in the upper 50s at that moment.  So that was fun!  We also saw Al Franken posing for photos with a constituent.

The agriculture building is a must for me for each visit.  Some of the exhibits change every other day so it’s worth it to see other types of flowers when you can.   First some crop art:

In the next gallery is a little bit of everything else that I saw in the ag building:

And then some other scenes at the fair:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s tour of the Minnesota State Fair.  I’ll be back soon with a few more travel adventures. I hope you’ll come along!

 

 

 

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Minnesota Landscape Arboretum – a summer visit

Most folks here in the twin cities know about the Arboretum and I had heard about it but, for some reason, I didn’t make it out there until I had been living here 25 years. I finally got to see it in person last year.  Since I work for the University of Minnesota I get emails from all kinds of different departments and luckily for me, the Landscape Arboretum was in that stack. I took advantage of the employee discount and became a member last year.  It is well worth the price.

What caught my eye last year in one of the emails was a garden tour.  I asked my friend Ruth if she’d be interested, she said yes and we had a marvelous time.  Ruth and I were just commenting on what fun that was last year and we decided to go again next year.  It’s a tour of fabulous gardens near the Arboretum.  I wrote about it so do check out the link to see more gorgeous blooms and plants from the southwestern suburbs of the twin cities.

We have been trying to go back to see more of the Arboretum because we didn’t get a chance to last year.  After our garden tour we got treated to a nice brunch on their patio and it was a bit warm and we were tuckered out from our busy morning so decided to come back another time. Well, it took almost a year to get back but we were so glad that we did!!  Oh my goodness, it takes your breath away.  Beautiful plants and flowers everywhere and it goes on for miles.  There are many gardens surrounding the visitor center that are easy to get to on foot.  Click here to see the map.

There are many types of gardens to explore: roses,  lilies and day lilies, herbs, annuals and perennials. There is a Japenese garden that we didn’t get to. We checked out the wildflower garden. It must have been between bloom times as we didn’t see any wildflowers but we did see a handful of turkeys! After wandering around on foot, we got in the car and explored even more on the 3 mile drive. There is a trolley that you could ride as well. There are more gardens in these outer areas of the Arb and I’d like to go back to see the Sculpture and Maze gardens. It’s utterly amazing all the plants and trees that are there! You really can’t see everything in one visit, so return I must.   It is now on my “must do” list for twin cities visitors.  There’s a reason it won the best botanical garden contest recently.  Please have a look at what we saw on a summer afternoon in July.  I hope you’ll enjoy!

First some roses, clematis and some annuals and perennials too.

I took some photos of the grounds as well.  There were rows and rows of gorgeous lilies of all types and just general beauty everywhere.

Now for the rest of what I selected to display.  I took 86 photos so I had to trim it down a little.  If you’ve never been to the Arb and you live here, do make it a point to visit.  I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.  And if you’re visiting the twin cities, same instructions. You won’t be disappointed! Check out more information at this link.  There is so much to explore there and I can’t wait to go back again.

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Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN

The Walker has a “free first Saturday” which is a great deal because one adult ticket is $12.  Oh, interesting current update. I went to their website to make sure it’s actually $12 and they’re having free admission until February 7.  Come in from the cold and see some art, says their site.  We might have to go back soon!

I didn’t see a whole lot of art that I liked on this visit but it was still fun to go and look. Plus, we stopped in at the new bar/cafe/bistro Esker Grove and had a yummy snack that I forgot to take a picture of.  Duh. We both had a beer and our snack was hummus toast and then we called it a day.  The Walker changes their displays frequently so it’s always fun to go back and see what’s on display every so often. Check out the Walker’s website for more information.  Please enjoy some photos from our visit earlier this month.

 

 

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The last day of the original Bell Museum, U of MN, Minneapolis

Ever since hubby talked to a U of MN employee at the fair last summer about the Bell Museum, we have been planning to go before they closed on December 31, 2016.  A couple of times our plan was foiled by the weather, but New Year’s Eve day was our very last chance and we made it!!  To say I was impressed is an understatement.  I had no idea there was this gem of a museum at the University of Minnesota.

Before you get into the building the antiquity of the place hits you.  The front doors look to be original to the nearly 145 year old structure.  The James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History opened on March 1, 1872 after the Minnesota legislature approved this:

“An Act to provide for a geological and natural history survey of the state…” and in turn, that “natural history and geological specimens be prepared, and a museum to be established at the university.”

You can read a little more about the museum at this link  although I’ll warn you that I’ve tried to play their video about the history of the museum twice and it’s not there.

There are two floors with the world famous  3D dioramas that depict scenes of typical animals in Minnesota. They are so realistic and in looking at the photos, they look like portraits but those are life-size imitations of real animals.  There is a mezzanine that displays other exhibits but we skipped it that day.  There is an auditorium on the lower level and a room with items you can touch, the Touch and See Discovery Room.  And I was surprised to see a Rainforest Gallery with live plants and trees.

I had no idea there was so much in this museum and I’m so glad we finally got there.  Hubby actually had been there as a child so it was fun for him to relive some of his younger days.  He said it looked exactly the same too.  The new museum will be on the St. Paul campus, where I work, and is scheduled to open in 2018.  One day I happened upon the construction webcam.  It’s fun to watch the time lapse movie.

Below are some of my favorite photos from our visit:

 

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Seeing Nature, Minneapolis Institute of Art

I just went through my phone to remove a bunch of photos because I got the nastygram from my phone that it was running out of space.  I happened upon the photos for this exhibit and wondered why I hadn’t put together a post for them. Then I realized that we saw this exhibit the weekend after our darling cat Fritz died.  We needed to get out of the house and this was the perfect thing to do.  This exhibit was at the Minneapolis Institute of Art for several months which included the day we went in August. I apologize up front for not having much information to share.  I have a brochure…..somewhere but I’m not sure where.  Instead of looking for it I thought I would just share the photos that I took.  We both enjoyed it immensely. We then had a nice lunch in the museum’s cafe, a perfect time to relax and chat about the art we had just seen. I hope you enjoy.

There was one painting by one of my favorite artists, Georgia O’Keefe along with a photo of her:

The view of downtown from inside the museum and the beautiful bright yellow glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly called Sunburst:

 

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Minnesota State Fair 2016

Guessing most of you know that we always go to the state fair. Every year, without fail.  And now that I think about it, this is one thing I will really miss when I leave Minnesota.  A wonderful treat every year.  Although this year we noticed it was a bit more crowded.  The attendance numbers seem to go up each successive year. Hubby went to the fair while I was in California over Labor Day weekend and he said it was the most people he’s ever seen there!  Indeed, that was the record breaking attendance day this year with just over 260,000 fair goers. I’m glad I missed it.

Coming up are this year’s favorite photos from the fair.  I hope you enjoy!!

First up, various scenes at the fair.

We always visit the agriculture building:

This year’s crop art had many Prince tributes.  I think the Prince crop art overtook the political art this year. We sure miss our native son rock/pop star:

This last gallery displays something that I imagine has been at the fair the entire time we’ve been going (about 25 years).  We decided to take a short cut and ended up going through this very interesting log cabin.  It’s directly across from the agriculture building and it never beckoned to us.  And now I’m at a loss a little bit to explain what this is exactly since it’s been almost 3 months since I took these photos. As near as I can remember this is a replica of a type of cabin the earlier pioneers in Minnesota would have lived in.  It’s a museum with items from daily life from those days.  These are the folks that lived in Minnesota before it became a state in 1858.  Oh, ah, I did find this link with a bit more information in case you’re interested.

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Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Garden Tour

What a fantastic way to spend a summer morning!  I have wanted to do a garden tour for forever and I finally made it happen.  I went with my long time friend Ruth and we had such a good time!  This is the Arboretum’s 32nd annual garden tour and they do a great job.  There are several times and dates to choose from for several days mid-July and we chose the first one on Sunday last week.  You get on an air-conditioned luxury liner bus (complete with toilet in the back) and are driven to four gardens in the western suburbs.  You get about 20-25 minutes in each garden and the owners and/or volunteers are there to answer questions.  Then the bus captain rings the bell, we get on the bus to the next location and so on.

We saw the most amazing gardens!!  So many different landscapes, some used ponds and waterfalls and others used wash tubs and bathtubs to enhance their gardens.  Why I didn’t get a photo of the bathtub I am not sure but there was just so much going on in these gardens that it was hard to capture everything! I think I saw the tub then something else caught my attention and I turned away and forgot the tub.

The first garden contained over 100 varieties of hosta.  Hosta grows great in the shade and this garden was all shade.  This was the only garden that had labels on most plants.  Come and take a look.  Click on any photo in the gallery to see a larger image and to scroll through the gallery:

Our next stop was to a house and garden on an 8 acre pond and it boasts many native plants and flowers. Have a look:

The third garden was on a large property and just how large was not in the notes given to us.  But the driveway alone felt like several blocks long!  I think I’d put this one in second place of my favorite gardens.  Many beautiful plants and gorgeous colors.

The fourth garden was my favorite.  It was a backyard full of many plants and flowers, some I had seen before but there were so many more that I hadn’t ever seen.  It also had an interesting “fountain” (is that what you would call it?) carrying water on what appeared to be bamboo tree trunks?  And the water went into a pond. I didn’t get a chance to ask anyone about it as the bell rang and we had to get back on the bus.  Such a curious thing!

After the tour we headed back to the Arboretum for brunch.  It was held on the patio behind the Oswald Visitor Center.  And what a lovely setting that was!!  Unfortunately I didn’t get photos of any of it.  My hands were full with my plate of food, a water bottle and my jacket.  And the chair I sat in was up next to a chair from the next table and it was just difficult enough that I didn’t want to bother to get up to take photos.  There were beautiful floral arrangements on every table, including the buffet table.  They served a frittatta that apparently wasn’t very popular.  I thought it was okay but I likely wouldn’t want to have it again. It was accompanied by a cubed potato mixture, both white and sweet potatoes, roasted veggies and dip and a couple of unusual appetizers: sliced apples with “stuff” on them and lengthwise cut cucumber slices with a spicy chutney-type topping. They offered mimosas, plain orange juice, water and coffee.  There was another table with fruit and sweets.

The cost of this tour is a bit “spendy” (that’s Minnesotan for expensive) but both Ruth and I thought it was worth it and I’m hoping we go again next year.  There were other tours that we looked at but this was the only one where we got taken to the gardens.  We could also tour the Arboretum’s gardens but after 3 hours of garden tours in the morning I was too tired to do much else.  I highly recommend this tour, especially if you’re a gardener but even if you’re not.  It’s a great way to spend a summer morning.  You can find more information here:

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

On our way home we passed Paisley Park.  I knew Prince’s complex was nearby and it was easy to spot.  It’s on the same highway as the Arboretum.  There are still many items on the fence in tribute to Prince and I saw several people there too.  People are still mourning our native, much-loved genius musician.  He apparently visited the Arb frequently.  I would too if I lived only three miles away!

Because this is part of the University of Minnesota I am able to get a discounted membership.  I get a few benefits including free admission to the Arboretum.  Since we didn’t tour the gardens that day we’ve decided to go back in a few weeks and I can’t wait!! Be on the lookout for that blog post :)

Do you have a favorite of the photos here? I absolutely love the wild salvia.  The most brilliant shade of purple I’ve ever seen!  Runner up is the close-up of the pink mystery plant.  I hope you’ve enjoyed your virtual tour!

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