Without further ado, here is a wrap-up of our visit to the City of Lakes.
After arriving, we checked in to our hotel and headed to the convention to pick up all my conference materials. We explored the city through the skyway, which is a wonderful thing to take advantage of in cold weather, but confusing as hell at first.
Walking around, we saw the Orpheum Theatre, State Theatre, The Skyway Theatre, Target Center, Target Field, Nicollet Mall, and the Convention Center. We had a drink at Union and people-watched.
We chose a spot for lunch called The Newsroom. The bar is in the shape of a ship, as you can see below, and the entire place is designed with eye-catching newspaper articles. Certainly a unique atmosphere, with pretty good burgers, too!
That evening called for an early night, as we were running on only 3 hours of sleep and I had to get up early for my presentation the next morning.
I was up and dressed at 6:30 a.m. Right before my session started at 8 a.m., I got the chance to see one of my professors from college, Dr. Vaccaro! It was fantastic to have her in the audience. There were four others presenting at that time, all with their own interesting creative works. Afterward, we had a wonderful discussion analyzing themes of language, the idea of home, and the writing process.
*Note: It’s pretty hard to get a picture of someone reading. You either have your mouth wide open or are looking at your paper. But you get the idea.
After my presentation, I kicked off my heels and changed into something more comfortable. We headed to Matt’s Bar for the famous Jucy Lucy- a burger with the cheese melted inside the meat instead of on top. It may not look like much from this picture, but it was one of the best burgers I have ever had. Melted cheese is everything! I love discovering hole-in-the-wall places like this.
Next, we headed to the Mall of America. You’ve got to see some of the touristy stuff! Although we didn’t buy anything but ice cream, the four levels of shops were incredibly impressive. Lots of window shopping and walking. This place even has a theme park inside!
Later that night, we got dressed up and headed to the Guthrie Theater after a nice Italian dinner. We saw The Critic/The Real Inspector Hound, which was hilarious and thoroughly entertaining, a murder mystery with a surprise ending.
Check out one of the shirts I got at convention. Seeing the merchandise is one of my favorite parts simply because of how witty and creative English majors can be. Like magnets that say “Metaphors be with you.” I mean, come on. I live for this.
After breakfast Saturday morning, we scored big with getting into the Walker Art Center for free. Because it was a gorgeous day, we left Loring Park and the well-known Spoonbridge and Cherry to explore Lake of the Isles Park.
This place was fantastic. Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, Cedar Lake, Lake Harriet, etc. There were runners out everywhere, and moms pushing babies in strollers, and plenty families with their dogs out for a walk. I can only imagine this place in the summer!
Saturday night was the Red & Black Gala Dinner and Awards. I ran into Dr. Vaccaro and was able to meet several students from Westminster College, my alma mater. We all sat together at dinner, which was lovely. I recounted memories from our time there during undergrad, and they told us of what all has changed since four years ago. Reminiscing and swapping stories brought back a lot of feelings of nostalgia.
Then, to my complete shock, my name was called during the award presentations! As soon as I heard “This Side” I froze and said, “Oh my God” and then my brain reminded my legs to move, and I collected my prize (a check for $375) and got my photo taken with the Executive Director of Sigma Tau Delta, William Johnson. My poetry collection “This Side of the Sun” had taken 1st place in the Alumni Epsilon creative works category.
It’s a well-known joke that writers don’t make any money, so I was overwhelmed with shock/happiness when my name was called. I am so glad JJ was there to share this experience with me.
After the gala, we met up with the rest of the WC group for drinks at The Local, where I awkwardly got hit on by a very drunk man on my way to the bathroom and also had one of the best Irish whiskey cocktails in existence.
Might have to take that back…because after we left The Local, we saw a blues rock band play at Dakota, a swanky yet intimate jazz club. The atmosphere was great but the live music and drinks were even better. I don’t even like gin that much, but Sweet Thunder was delicious.
Sunday morning after breakfast at the hotel, we took an Uber over to Minnehaha Falls. Our flight didn’t leave until the evening, so we had time to kill.
I’d been told that no matter what season you visited in, this was a beautiful place, and it didn’t disappoint. Many people were ignoring the “No Trespassing” signs and climbing out onto the ice.
Because I was starving (and I get very hangry) we had my favorite meal of the day at Nicollet Diner. And ohmygosh. I couldn’t even eat my chicken sandwich like a normal human being because it was dripping and spilling its goodness everywhere. Don’t even get me started on the milkshakes. So delectable and the full size is no joke.
Although we could barely walk after, we wandered around Uptown, and then after checking out of our hotel, got a view of the Stone Arch Bridge, the old flour mill, and Mississippi River.
All in all, I got to reconnect with friends old and new, tour a city I’d only passed through, hear some amazing written work, present my own, consumed such good food, and went home feeling accomplished.
Until next time, Minneapolis.