Minneapolis is a town I went to a few times as a kid. It was a (short?) three+ hour drive from my hometown, and I remember going with my family, as well as on school field trips there (I think I saw Phantom of the Opera and A Christmas Carol several times each in the Guthrie Theater).
But since I was young when I went, I hardly remember anything about the city, except for the theater. I was excited to visit Minneapolis again as an adult, and make more of an effort to understand where I was and what I was seeing. And it was great to do that with Bobbi!
Ha ha, however, if you read any of my Mexico trip recaps, you know I am not really in to planning out things these days, so I didn’t actually have anything in mind I wanted to see in Minneapolis. My #1 request to Bobbi was that we get a hotel with a hot tub. Which we did. And it was lovely to soak in after the race.
Then we had a big decision to make – should we take naps, or go do something? I mentioned the Mill City Museum that I saw during the race to Bobbi and asked if she wanted to check it out. If it ended up being lame, we’d only be out $11. Each. Ha ha.
But, it actually ended up being incredibly NOT lame, and really interesting! I know – who thought learning about flour milling would be interesting, at all?! Not I!
The way the facade of the mill is preserved is really neat:
You guys. This mill was a bit doomed. It opened in 1874 as the Washburn Mill and… exploded in 1878. Did you know flour was super explosive? Yeah, me either.
It was rebuilt in 1880, and lasted more than four years this time (well, the building did – there were still several accidents causing worker death and injury…). Actually, it lasted awhile. Washburn-Crosby became General Mills in 1928, and the building wasn’t destroyed again until 1928, by a fire.
It stayed open until 1965, then was abandoned… well, except for by some homeless people who decided to move in. Then they started a fire that burned down a lot of it in 1991. Apparently, the historical society already had plans to make it in to a museum, so they called the fire department during the fire and asked them to save as much of the facade as possible. Hence, it looking the way it does (I think it looks cool!). It opened as a museum in 2003.
So after learning that history, I had to get this magnet, which makes me giggle:
Hee hee hee.
Our admission included access to the gallery (derr), to the ruin courtyard, a ride in the Flour Tower (!!!) and a film viewing – Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat.
The Flour Tower tour was so cool! It kind of reminded me of the Tower of Terror is Disney World – minus the horizontal movement (and dropping, ha!). We were in a giant elevator with stadium seating, and it went up and down through the different levels of the mill to show us what went on on each floor!
I also didn’t realize this before, but milling was (is?) crazy complicated:
It involved moving the grain all over the building until it was finally the finished product. We just saw 5-6 rooms (with animation and video in most), but it gave a really good idea of what it was like to work in a mill (crazy labor intensive, for most people – like the guys who hauled 150+ pound bags on flour on to train cars all. day. long.).
Then the elevator took us to the top of the tower and we were actually in the building next door, where they took the grain to clean it (you know, get insects and rodents, etc. out – and yeah, they used to just dump that waste in the Mississippi River!). We got to see the equipment they used to clean the grain, and got a great view of the city!
Then we rode a different, all glass elevator back down and saw more exhibits, the funny (and educational) film, and we played in the water lab for a bit. Okay, I mostly played. Ha ha! The mill is located by the river because it used the power of Saint Anthony Falls to run, via giant turbines in the water. So there were all these water exhibits (meant for children) that I had to play with, to learn about powering the mill, the apron they built on the falls to control it, and about transferring logs down the river. Hee hee. Now there is only one mill in the Minneapolis area, and it’s powered by electricity.
I was impressed by the museum and found it super interesting! I would recommend it to anyone visiting the area. It has something for everyone (oh yeah, like the baking lab (WITH SAMPLES!!!) we missed because of our Flour Tower tour time – they were eating brownies when we got off the elevator!).
Of course, after visiting a museum about flour, we were pretty hungry. And for CARBS!!! We went to Pizza Lucé for dinner. Pizza Lucé has been a favorite stop of Bobbi’s after she does Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth (she loves the Baked Potato Pizza) , and she didn’t even realize it was a chain, or that they had so many vegan options. I went a bit crazy, and loved it!
Vegan meatballs, “Fire Breathing Dragon” Pizza, Peanut Butter bars (like scotcharoos!)
Gah. Everything was SO. GOOD. I was in heaven. We were both in heaven. We left there very happy.
In fact, we were very happy with our trip! Everything worked out nicely – we got in to town at a decent time Friday night (8:30), found everything easily for the race, I was able to help Bobbi with navigation while she drove, and we enjoyed the museum and LOVED dinner. It was a great trip!
We got wild Saturday night – in our pajamas at 7:30 and asleep by 9:30 (I wanted to stay up to watch my boyfriend on SNL, but was exhausted, and wanted to make sure I could get up to do my speedwork in the am). We hit the road at 7:45 the next morning. It was a quick trip, but a lot of fun! I feel lucky I got to spend this time with Bobbi – our schedules have not linked up very well to hang out this year, and I miss her (despite our daily communication and seeing her at Efit class)! I need one-on-one time with my besties!