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Hello Garrison, My wife has

January 6, 2005 |

Hello Garrison,
My wife has told me wonderful stories about the time she lived in Minneapolis/St. Paul and it has inspired me to visit in January (I am truly a winter person) — I like to see the framework and backbones of the land, people and community when it is bare in the winter. I think winter is a better time to get to know a place.

What do you like to do in the winter in Minneapolis/St. Paul?

Peter Cook
Elkins Park, PA

Peter, welcome to Minnesota and I hope we have plenty of snow on the ground when you come, but it sounds like you're an intrepid traveler, ready for anything. I recommend that you plan to take a hike around the Minneapolis chain of lakes — Cedar, Lake of the Isles, Calhoun, and Harriet — late one afternoon and into twilight. You might have to endure some lowflying Northwest airliners, so bring earplugs, but it's a lovely sight. There are some big manses along the lakes and then you can take little detours onto side streets for the real stucco-bungalow and frame-shotgun neighborhoods. There are several hot-air balloon companies that offer flights along the St. Croix river from Stillwater or Hudson. I think that ice fishing is a big adventure and would recommend you contact a resort on Lake Mille Lacs that offers a package deal — gear, fish house, license, and a bottle of brandy. If the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra is doing a baroque concert at the UCC church on Summit Avenue, that's always lovely — you sit and hear gorgeous Bach or Vivaldi or Telemann and walk out into the cold and hike along Summit, our street of decaying mansions and forlorn hopes and elegant pretense, and look at the river below and maybe stop at the University Club for a drink or hike to the Cathedral or swing over to Selby Avenue and sit in Nina's Coffeeshop on Western or eat at La Grolla or Zander's, both splendid. That Summit/Cathedral/Crocus Hill neighborhood of St. Paul is so gorgeous on a winter evening. Some Cass Gilbert houses and Queen Anne and Victorian and very cheery and slightly ratty around the edges. If you're looking for small towns, you can drive south on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi through Prescott and Stockholm down to Pepin and then cross over to Wabasha, Minnesota, which is really lovely. Some good restaurants there and a fine old Main Street. You'll have a good time here in January, I can tell. You have the right spirit and the right aesthetic sense and now you just need a little luck. And having married a Minnesota girl, how much luckier can a man be?

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