I used to say the only good thing about Minnesota was that my friend Heather lives there. The next great thing about Minnesota surely is leaving it. Who moves from sunny, liberal California to live their dream in a state that is covered in Snow 6 months out of the year? Colorado, sure. Idaho or Oregon, I understand. Minnesota? nah. Ironically, Heather met her Californian expat husband in Minnesota as well.
Which brings me to my first guilt-filled confession: I missed Heather’s wedding. I had every intention of going. I wanted to go. But for grievances that will go unmentioned, I didn’t make it.
Second guilt-filled confession: I’ve pretty much missed every life milestone of hers since she moved there 10 years ago and distance is no excuse in my book. Graduations, Wedding, births…. All reasons to visit one of my closest, longest friends. And with each event I felt even more frustrated with myself.
Heather and I became fast friends in 7th grade when it was clear we weren’t welcomed with the “cool kids” of Lunch period B (all my friends from Elementary days were in Lunch period A). Having no one else to talk to, we found each other and our friendship stuck. I’m convinced the friends we make in Middle School are the friends we have for life, because only those friends are the ones you can say were by your side as you made your way through Hell’s holding tank.
So, seeing as things on my Bucket list have a far better chance of happening than not, I made visiting Heather in Minnesota my #5. But how? When? I spent the first half of the year miserably pregnant, and the second half of the year I would have a baby attached to my breast. Neither prospect seemed promising.
Until a Road trip during our Family Leave came up. It has been on my ultimate, lifelong bucket list to drive cross country since I made my list over a decade ago. Why not now? We left the girls with grandparents and took off for Minnesota on a Sunday. When we arrived, Minnesota was drizzly and cool (a welcomed weather change from our drought here). Heather had gotten off work and we met at Minneapolis’ beautiful city park complete with views of waterfalls and the Mississippi River. We spent the afternoon first walking through the park and then she took us to a hole-in-the-wall dive bar, “Matt’s Bar,” famous for it’s Juicy Lucy and more recently famous for it’s visit from President Obama. Perhaps the only thing I have in common with Obama was also ordering the Juicy Lucy. Which was amazingly delicious.
Because it was a Road trip with a timeline, we had to leave that night. But before saying good bye to Minnesota we stopped in at the Great Mall of America, another spectacular tourist attraction. 3 floors of every possible retail store in the history of retail. An indoor amusement park, complete with several roller coasters and zip-lines to choose from, a miniature golf course, legoland, etc. etc. It was overwhelming to say the least!
So, I guess I can say there are a few good reasons to Visit Minnesota, Heather, The Juicy Lucy, Mall of America and some drought-resist climates (I admit, I did a little dance in the rain when it started to come down).