Brynne has graduated as a Golden Griffin and has become a Golden Gopher. That brings us to St. Paul, Minnesota, to the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.
Snoopy is a big presence in St. Paul because Charles Schulz was raised here:
The people here in St. Paul, Minnesota are bigger than average. Tall, big-boned, and fair. (Now that's really a generalization!) They also speak funny.
Churches: We have seen one Presbyterian church, one Episcopalian, one Methodist, and we had to go downtown in Minneapolis to see St. Olaf's, so one Catholic church. Otherwise, all the churches we have seen, at least one in each neighborhood, are Lutheran. Lutherans are well-known for helping the immigrant population. We have seen many East African Muslims, Southeast Asians, and Middle Eastern Muslims. (Minneapolis-St. Paul has the largest populations of Hmong and Somalians in the U.S.) We have not noticed the mosques, but there should be as many as there are Lutheran churches! Don't worry y'all, later we saw a Baptist church next to a Lutheran church!
Restaurants and food:
We have seen many ethnic restaurants including Ethiopian, Himalayan, Hmong, and Indian and Mexican (one establishment with both).
There are also many cafes, which are the home cookin' joints. They tend to serve breakfast all day and have roast turkey, meatloaf, and Swedish meatballs. Lots of gravy. Lots of bread and butter.
We ate at the best cafe in the Twin Cities:
Caesar salads come with tomatoes, purple onions, and olives.
Food tends to be salty.
Had "Mexican" one day: the chicken chimichanga came covered with thick chicken gravy!
Out in the suburbs, we ate in the Machine Shed:
The Mall of America: I don't think it is still the largest mall in America. It is the largest combined retail and entertainment complex in the United States. The King of Prussia Mall in PA has more retail space and a mall in Edmonton, Alberta (West Edmonton Mall) is the largest retail and entertainment complex in North America. West Edmonton and the Mall of America were built by the same people.
When we visited the Mall of America many years ago, the amusement park in the center was called Knott's Camp Snoopy. Now it is Nickelodeon Universe:
Menard's: Kind of a Home Depot on steroids. Two floors of your typical home improvement products, but in between are the groceries, clothing, school supplies, toys, etc. They also have the magnetized travelator between floors, where your cart stays in place on the moving ramp.
Streets and Roads:
The traffic engineers must have had brain freeze, as some of the transitions from one road to another are quite convoluted. Signage is often questionable, leading one to miss turns, exits, etc. Generally streets are straight and maintain the same name as they are interrupted by expressways, railroad tracks, and lakes. But if you cross a major street, your street may change it's name. Downtown there are numbered streets and avenues, in several directions. So you could have a 8th Avenue SE and a 8th Avenue NE, 8th Avenue N and 8th Avenue S, 8th Street N and 8th Street S and it could be on either or both sides of the Mississippi River...
However, some of the traffic mess is due to light rail construction.
In several instances I have felt that China was ahead of the U.S., but it really is only ahead of Florida. Minneapolis-St. Paul has light rail and is adding lines, despite the government having had to shut down for a short period. So some priorities are right. They have articulated buses (which means they have the appropriate-sized buses for each route), hybrid buses, and a dedicated transitway between University of Minnesota campuses.
They have automated rental bikes, "just like in China."
This is the state that elected both Al Franken and Michele Bachmann.
The University of Minnesota St. Paul campus student union has a bowling alley.
Weather: Having come from hot and humid, it is wonderful to come to not as hot and dry. Now if I put the back of my hot hand to my face, it is warm and dry and feels so good. No dampness or stickiness.
Having to build her own furniture: