As they say, All’s Well That Ends Well. Once again, fortune shines upon The Ghost.
Yesterday I wrote about the brief lodging conundrum that ensued when my Airbnb host flaked out on me. As I was finishing up yesterday’s post I managed to find a new listing from a guy named Matt who lives in the Arts District of Northeast Minneapolis. Matt and his wife Cecily were both friendly exceptionally welcoming, true exemplars of Midwestern congeniality. They even claimed that they’d follow my blog so if you’re out there Matt and Cecily, Thanks Again!
Today’s first stop was at the Mill City Museum in downtown Minneapolis. The museum was built around the remains of the Washburn A flour mill, which opened in 1880, closed its doors in 1965, was partially burned down in 1991, and was re-purposed as a museum in 2003. The flour milling industry basically built Minneapolis, but as with many industries in many American cities it experienced a sharp decline in the mid-to-late 20th century, resulting in many of its downtown buildings being abandoned. However, in recent years downtown Minneapolis has experienced a sort of revival, as decayed ruins get turned into historic sites and the neighborhoods around them become littered with luxury apartments, apartments probably inhabited by the sort of people who brag about their abstinence of wheat flour.
The museum is a neat little slice of history, but one of it’s greatest attractions might be the view from the 9th floor, which is where I decided to take today’s selfie:
Also, I couldn’t not share this:
From there I went to Minnehaha Falls Park in the Southeast end of the city. This is a highly rated outdoor attraction in the area, and on a clear, hot Friday like today it was packed with tourists.
I took a photo of the Falls…
…but it almost felt redundant. There were so many people at the park and every single one of them was photographing the falls as well. I felt silly; the atmosphere seemed all too touristy.
It was only when I began to meander down the various trails of the park that I began to appreciate its subtle majesty. The park is over 170 acres big, and the trails run along a creek that becomes increasingly quiet (and, I felt, sublime) as it nears the Mississippi River where it empties out. Walking down this trail I began to distance myself from the crowd and take in the small details.
One amusing theme I noticed was the presence of graffiti in various forms. Not offensive graffiti, I don’t mean to imply that the park is going to hell, but enough graffiti to draw the attention of a curious wanderer, graffiti which – dwarfed in its own context by the grandiosity of nature – perhaps serves as a tiny metaphor for humanity’s relationship with its environment.
For instance, there’s this:
Scrawlings on a dead branch, etched with pocketknives and god knows what else.
Then there was this, a rich tapestry of signatures…
…what I love about this was how singular it was. No other bench or structure was marked up nearly to this degree. It’s almost as if the various persons (or gangs? or wannabe-gangs?) were driven by pride or competition or sheer irrationality to become a part of this bench. Also, why has the actual seat been taken away? Did someone chop it up for firewood? The whole thing is so bizarre…
Toward the end of the park are tall formations with layers of sandstone, and the multifarious visitors of Minnehaha have not squandered the opportunity to make these walls their own. Check it out:
But my favorite graffiti of all appeared on a formation at the top of a high, steep bluff. This was the bluff:
Sorry for the grainy photo, the cliff was so steep it was hard to steady oneself. You can’t really see it in this image but there’s a prominent, white-painted tag at the top. I wanted to see it up close. During my first attempt at scaling the bluff I wussed out; the rocks were unsteady and my Air Jordans did not get a good grip at all. I gave up and continued to walk down the creek.
But when I doubled back on the trail and came to the same spot I decided I couldn’t let it go. I had to scale that bluff, I had to face my fear; that’s what the Ghost on the Highway Tour is all about. After all if the presumably-teenage authors of the tag could do it, so could I. I took a deep breath and slowly made my way up the bluff. And sure enough…
I made it! It’s actually a nice little spot up there. There were a few beer cans littered in the bushes and I’m sure if I looked hard enough I might have found a couple roaches too. Seems like the perfect place for ambitious teens to hang out. And because I’d scaled the bluff as well, I felt some kind of weird communion with them.
Here’s the view from the top:
After that it was time to reward myself. I checked out Matt’s Bar on the south side of the city. Matt’s, I had learned from the internet, was famous for introducing the Jucy Lucy, a cheeseburger with the cheese baked into the interior of the meat patty. This preserves the moisture of the burger (and also makes the cheese really hot!). Matt’s has a tremendous reputation; the place was packed full with waitresses running around in a frenzy. It took about fifteen or twenty minutes for me to get this burger:
Man though, was it worth it! Both the burger and the setup are extremely simple. There are no toppings available besides onions, ketchup and mustard and the burgers are served on paper; no plates in sight! But this is one of the most satisfying burgers I’ve had in my life. I was hungry from a long day of walking, hiking, and climbing and this thing hit the spot like nothing could. Well done, Matt’s!
Tonight is my last night in the great state of Minnesota. I’ve adored the land of 10,000 lakes but it’s time to move on. Tomorrow I pass through North Dakota on my way to Montana. Buckle up, Big Sky Country, the Ghost is Coming!
P.S. Thanks again to all of you who like and follow on Facebook. You can also follow my on Instagram at “an_evil_tick” (it’s an anagram of my name). I know I should probably have a proper Instagram account for this blog but for now I’ll use my personal one. I’ll be posting all sorts of curious images that don’t have a chance to make it into this blog!