Sunday, February 8, 2015

History in the Heart of Minneapolis

The Stone Arch Bridge, in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, is one of those rare places that is historic, beautiful, and still very much a part of life in the city.

The Stone Arch Bridge has always been one of my favorite Minnesota must-sees. I love the historic feel it adds to a modernized city. It has a classic structure, but it's the only arched bridge made of stone that crosses the Mississippi. Even though the bridge has only recently been converted into a walking path for pedestrians, it still holds memories for millions. So many late night strolls have been taken, first dates and kisses had, races and marathons run, proposals made, pub crawls peddled, pictures taken, the list goes on.

The history of the Stone Arch Bridge spans back to 1883, when it was constructed by railroad tycoon James J. Hill, and was surrounded by working mills of all types. Don't get me wrong, this post isn't supposed to be a history lesson, but this structure is simply amazing. 

History aside, take a look at the incredible view! With St. Anthony's Falls to your left and the Minneapolis Skyline directly in front of you (depending on which way you're facing), it's no wonder the bridge is always bustling with people. Even in the dead of winter.

With all the runners passing me by as I casually strolled across the bridge, I thought I'd try to join in with a quick freeze frame! 

Check it out! Rain, snow, freezing temps or shine, the Stone Arch Bridge is a Minnesota must-see for all.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Ice Fishing? Sure! I'll Try Anything Once.

 I must start this post by saying that I am not the most "outdoorsy" Minnesotan in the state. However, ice fishing is arguably the most classic winter activity, so I had to give it a try!

I have been ice fishing one other time in my life, when I was around 13. I remember I spent the entire time panicking because I could hear the ice expanding (aka making loud cracking noises) underneath me. Now, ten years later I put my big girl pants on and headed out to one of the largest lakes in Minnesota, Lake Minnetonka.
Not having much of an idea of what to bring, my dad equipped me with an auger, fishing pole, and grub worms. As you can tell by the expression on my face, I thought those grub worms were pretty nasty. 

Besides that, getting started was pretty simple. First step, drill a hole in the ground with your auger, this also doubles as a workout. Next, bait the hook and get ready to get up close and personal with those grub worms. Finally, grab a bucket, drop your line in the water, and wait.

I'd say the hardest part about ice fishing is not drilling the hole or baiting the worm, but waiting for the fish to bite. While I had several layers on, it was about 13 degrees outside and I was freezing. I stared at the two fishermen next to me with envy, as they walked into their toasty warm ice house. I tested my patience, and after about 8 minutes I decided to call it a day.

Although it was a great experience and I am glad I tried it, I have decided my favorite part of ice fishing is warming up with a big cup of hot chocolate afterwards!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

St. Paul's 24 Hour Host

Nestled in the heart of downtown St. Paul is one of Minnesota's claims to fame, Mickey's Diner. 

Does anyone remember the movie Jingle All the Way, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger? I remember watching this movie as a kid and loving it because it was filmed in Minnesota. I haven't seen the movie in years, but to this day I distinctly remember the scene filmed in Mickey's Diner. I think it stuck with me because Mickey's is truly a unique dining experience, and a historical landmark unlike any other in Minnesota. 

To a kid, or person of any age, places like this are simply fascinating. As soon as you walk in the door, you find yourself thrown into the chaos of the tiny 50x10 foot interior, watching the employees behind the counter cook meals and serve customers like a well-oiled machine. I don't think I said more than a few words the entire time I was there, I was so infatuated with the entire place. 

Open twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year since 1939. That's a lot of Mickey's history! Think about it, this diner has been running non-stop since it opened 76 years ago. That fact in itself is what truly makes Mickey's a note-worthy destination in Minnesota. 

It's time to talk food, and Mickey's has it all. When I went to the diner this past weekend, I was expecting just breakfast food to be served. I don't know why because Mickey's offers every option under the sun when it comes to diner food. Although my eggs, bacon, and hash brown meal was great, I started to get food envy as I watched other dishes being prepared in front of me. I could have gotten pancakes, belgian waffles, chili, a burger, chocolate malt, the list goes on!

Enjoy this unique dining experience for yourself!
Mickey's Diner is located on 36 W. 7th Street in downtown St. Paul. 
Open anytime all the time.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Eden Prairie's Newest Natural Wonder

Most of us just want to avoid ice in the winter, but Brent Christensen makes tons of it on purpose. It started when he moved from California to Utah. Being unfamiliar with the cold and how to adapt, he decided to make the most of it by building an ice rink in his backyard. What started out as a small rink turned into sky high towers of ice. While this may sounds like a do-it-yourself project gone wrong, it actually spawned a new career for Brent. 

Brent now spends his winters building Ice Castles throughout the country, including this one at Miller Park in Eden Prairie. 

It's safe to say that most Minnesotans wouldn't be impressed by an igloo. However, if you build us an ice castle, we'll come running. I say this because it was packed. Close to 200 people were there waiting to marvel at the beauty of Brent's creations. Every inch is so intricate in detail you almost wouldn't believe it's man-made, but rather something out of a fantasy story. It is incredible. 

When I visited the Ice Castles this weekend, it was close to 40 degrees. With temperatures above freezing, I was slightly worried about the possibility of the castle being half melted by the time I arrived. However, I soon discovered that sprinkler systems surround the structure and continuously sprayed streams of water that quickly freeze into ice sickles. It's a continuous work in progress.

This is a life-sized structure. Inside there are caves and tunnels that you can crawl, walk, and slide your way through. After experiencing it, I would recommend the last option. I couldn't count the number of times I came close to wiping out in front of crowds of people. Whether that's because I'm clumsy or it was actually extremely icy, is up for debate.

At night the Ice Castles transform into an entirely new viewing experience. It's like a natural light display as shades of green and blue glow throughout the structure. 

See for yourself! If you're interested in visiting the Ice Castles at Miller Park in Eden Prairie, the exhibit will be open until March 7th

Learn more about Brent, the Ice Castles, and hours of operation here

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Loomed in the Land of Lakes

Local company Faribault Woolen Mill Co. has become one of the many reasons why I love Minnesota.

As I made the drive from the Twin Cities to Faribault, MN, I thought about how rare it is to visit a place like Faribault Woolen Mill. There are very few businesses that still exists and operate, the way Faribault Woolen Mill continues to operate today. This is a company that is truly dedicated to its mission of creating durable, comfortable, and fashionable wool products. 

What amazes me the most about Faribault Woolen Mill, is that it is one of the only mills remaining in the country that produces its products from start-to-finish, under one roof.  

Founded in 1865, while Lincoln was still president, the mill has woven blankets for much of America's history. Faribault provided blankets to pioneers migrating west, to troops during two world wars, and by the end of the 20th century, Faribault Woolen Mill created more than half of the wool blankets made in America. 

Today, Faribault Woolen Mill has continued to create a name for itself through numerous partnership and collaborations with West Elm, Steven Allen, Target, and to my surprise Jack Daniel's, which uses Faribault's wool to filter its whiskey. 

After I traveled to the Mill in Faribault, Minnesota, I was truly impressed. I could feel the history of the building through its aesthetics and architecture. I could sense the loyalty of the customers in the retail shop, as they carefully selected their next woolen products. It was evident that the employees took pride in their craft, and are dedicated purveyors of Faribault's recognized comfort and quality. As I left and began the drive back to the Twin Cities, I couldn't stop thinking about how lucky Minnesota is to have a company like Faribault Woolen Mill. 

You can learn more about Faribault Woolen Mill Co. at