Touring St. Paul, Part 1

I suppose you think all I do is sit home and upcycle, repurpose or paint old ugly pieces of furniture?

No, sometimes I hit the road to see what I can see.

If last week was mosaic week at the Ranch, this week would be Mid West week.  

*I need to add a disclaimer right here...... many of my photos are drive by's.  Brawn doesn't pull over in the city just so I can take a photo, which is hard anyway on a freeway right?  So I just kept my mouth shut (for the most part) and snapped through the windshield.

So back to St. Paul.

Skyline St. Paul,

St. Paul is the other half of the Twin Cities, sharing the title with Minneapolis.  Which is in Minnesota for those of you who need to brush up on your geography.

Football the Vikings; baseball the Twins, and Jesse "The Body" Ventura the former pro wrestler used to be our governor many years ago.  You might confuse him with Hulk Hogan.

I have traveled through most of the states, and I find some cities particularly pretty.  Portland, Oregon for example, is a pretty city.

Minneapolis and St. Paul are pretty cities too.  They are also clean.  I'm sure they have locations that are less than pleasing to the eye, but whenever we travel in I am always surprised by the cleanliness.

Skyline St. Paul,

See, there goes a trash truck now!

Since I've been here most of my adult life, I really shouldn't say I'm a California girl anymore, but I am.  Minnesota is home, but it's not home.  You know?

That is probably because you can take the girl outta California but you can't take California outta the girl.  End of story.

We decided to tour around St. Paul because George was in charge.

George is a retired sports writer, and he planned a jaunt that included he and his wife Betty, Brawn and myself, and two of our kids.  George and Betty are getting up there in age, and they have a little bucket list.

George is originally from New Jersey.  He married a Minnesota girl and they moved to Florida a couple times in their 50 years of marriage, but Betty's heart is in Minnesota so they moved back every now and then.

If the sun hats didn't give it away, these would be our tour guides. They were moving at a pretty good clip in the heat.  When you get older it's hard to be out in the sun.

I don't think I've ever actually set out to "go to" St. Paul.  I've driven through it many times, it's just that Minneapolis is closer as a destination, and really I came to Minnesota for the country anyway, not the city.

Brawn and I were the middle people.  We didn't move as slow as our tour guides did or as fast as the youngsters.

We started out our journey with buck night at Canterbury Park in Shakopee.

Bets were a buck, hot dogs, nacho's and pop were a buck.  Not gourmet, but affordable with cheap entertainment. 

Canterbury Park is also the site twice a year of the Famous Junk Bonanza that I've mentioned before.

Canterbury Park, Minnesota

Kids are welcome at the track, so we taught two of our son's how to bet on the ponies.

We want to start them out on their gambling addiction ourselves.

Canterbury Park, Minnesota
In the top left of the photo you will see the last place horse.  The horse I picked for my first bet.

I started off with a bang, boy - I can pick 'em I tell 'ya.

The jockey fell off but he was ok and raced another horse later.

I lost count of how many races we bet on, but everyone picked at least one horse that won a race and put some cash in our hands, Brawn and George both won on a few races.

I enjoyed this more than I thought I was going to, it was pretty fun.  Then again, the potential to lose cash wasn't very high when you're only betting a buck.

All of us left the park with all our bets covered, our food paid from the profit, and some paper bills in our pocket to spend later.  A free evening for me, courtesy of the one pony Brawn picked that netted him $83 bucks.

We had a couple free hotel rooms at the Mystic Lake Casino.  Minnesota has one of the premier Indian owned casinos in the country.  What that means is they are rolling in the dough.

It's a really nice hotel, and no one forces you to put money in the one armed bandits if you don't want too.

I wanted too.

While Brawn was playing some black jack I dumped my share of the horse winnings in a slot machine called Jackpot Party.

We won't talk about that.

Thankfully Brawn's blackjack play covered my loss and once again our evening didn't cost anything.

Do you see the trend here?  I lose and spend the money, Brawn makes and wins it.

Mickey's Diner St. Paul,
Our destination for the morning was Mickey's Dinner.  It's a.... well.... I guess it's just called a dining car.

Mickey's Diner St. Paul,
Remember I said my photos were drive by shooting well that can = blur
Mickey's has been there forever and since it's open all night they have clientele around the clock.

Mickey's Diner St. Paul,

We couldn't all sit together, there are only 4 booths and the place had a line the whole time we were there.  We were seated as spots became available.

Folks must of been smaller in the 40's and 50's, it was a tight squeeze to get four of us in the booth and I could almost rest my "girls" on the table in front of me.

Mickey's Diner St. Paul,

Everyone had breakfast - we placed our orders with the Pancake Nazi.  You know, like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld?

She wasn't exactly a bundle of welcoming love, in fact she seemed downright put out to have to talk to us.  But she whipped through taking our order and sped off, she wasn't a slacker.

Mickey's Diner St. Paul,

The booths had wall jukeboxes and I fought the urge to clean the one at our table.  The place is always busy, guess that leaves little down time for polishing chrome.

Elvis was singing in the background.

Mickey's Diner St. Paul,
This is what's left of Brawns breakfast.  I had to contort to take a photo and surprisingly neither George or Betty asked why I was taking a picture of half eaten food.

Brawn is a breakfast lover so it's hard to do it wrong, but he said this was only "fine".  Really, just a typical hash-brown and egg breakfast.

Betty had an omelet that was the size of an elephants ear folded in half.  Huge, in case you haven't stood next to an elephant lately.  She said it was quite good.

I ordered a melted ham and cheese sandwich.  It was nothing special, looked like a grilled cheese I make at home for kids. The prices are all on par with the average diner price for a breakfast, affordable. 

My guess is folks come here just to say they've eaten at this local landmark and to get a feel for what it was like to eat at a diner back in the day.

The walkway where we parked had brick pavers you see in places around St. Paul. 

Mickey's Diner Capitol Bricks St. Paul,

 I think what sets St. Paul apart from Minneapolis is the architecture.  Both cities have interesting old buildings, but St. Paul has it's own look.

St. Paul,
What I find most confusing in both Minneapolis and St. Paul are the streets.  You can be driving along fine on a two way street when the next one you turn on is a one way, and you have to hope that way is the one you want to go.  It's crazy.

In Part 2; Minnihaha Falls, St. Anthony Falls, Mill City Riverfront, and Izzy's Ice Cream.  To be continued........

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  1. I have never been to Minnesota. I have never been that far north. I'm sure it might do me some good. Clean out my blood vessels or something.

  2. that's one part of the country that I have never been to. maybe you will invite me for a visit one day!

  3. I really enjoyed taking this tour along with you. I've never been up north like that so it was fun to see around the city. It looks nice!

  4. What a nice trip! I've only been to Minnesota on business - to St Paul. Several times. That sounds like a fun trip that you took! Maybe I should plan a road trip.

  5. Oooh fun! I love reading about visiting places I've never been(even the ones I've been to). Looks like a fun trip already!!

  6. Hey Bliss, if you and I are already "Up North", where is it all these other people go on HWY 169 N every weekend. Oh yah, they're goin' to "THE lake" right!? Trivia from TV last week . . . Minnesota has 140+ lakes named "Long Lake". Wonder how many THE lakes there are?
    Great post by the way..

  7. The regional offices of two of the companies I worked for were in Bloomington, so I've spent my fair share of time in the Twin Cities. It's also one of the two choices for my closest IKEA, should I feel the need. There are awesome people in Minnesota, when they're not busy being Viking fans.

  8. Anonymous8/12/2014

    I live in Missouri, and work in the office of a display fireworks company. We do fireworks at Mystic Lake Casino twice a year. Small world....

  9. I have never been to your part of the country, but I hope to one day. I do know some really nice people there. Are you going to give me a tour of Lake Minnetonka, too? I hope you were wearing purple.

  10. Anonymous8/13/2014

    Lifelong Minnesotan here, born and raised in St. Paul. So many great and historical places to visit there! I'll give you a great tour!!

  11. I've often thought I should travel the cities like a tourist...see everything we never take the time to go to...


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