Mother’s Day in the MSP

I’m on the Megabus back to Chicago now and I am feeling pretty sleepy and out of it. I had a relaxing but still eventful weekend back in Minneapolis for Mother’s Day. I really enjoy my mom’s new neighborhood and situation. There’s a great coffee shop across the street. More than one bus goes by. I can walk to Lake Calhoon. There’s a Nice Ride bike rental station four blocks away. It’s really just delightful quaint city life. “Quaint city life” might be an oxymoron to some people, but that’s what I think Minneapolis is like. It’s like a mini-city where everyone is quaint and yet urban. Odd, but true. I like it. It’s a great place to go and relax.

And boy, I needed it. My next month–the last month of this intense academic year–is going to be pretty insane. International House is having its 80th Anniversary. I’ve got to write my Theology Final and my Gospel of Luke Final.

This weekend. What did I do this weekend?

Well, on Friday I took the Chicago > Seattle train out to Minneapolis. I got some kind of freak fare and got the ticket for 60$ instead of 100$, which made the trip worth it in my mind. The train out to Seattle is called the “Empire Builder” and it is significantly cooler than the train that goes to Staunton. (Not that I didn’t like that train. That train was also awesome.) This train is a double decker. It has two dining cars instead of only one, one is a cafe and the other is a restaurant. The whole top deck of the car is a lounge and dining area, with sky lights and wrap-around windows. The chairs are beautiful and comfortable. It’s a classy kind of place. I sat facing the window and worked on my Theology final for hours, just watching Mid-Western America go by. Right around sunset, the train started going along the Mississippi River. The sun reflected pink off of the water, and we smoothly just drifted alongside it. It was really quite gorgeous. It got dark and I stayed in my seat, reading theology and being all studious. I wanted to go get a drink in the cafe, but I willed myself not to because I didn’t want to spend the money. Next time.

The train pulls through Downtown Saint Paul along the river also. The lights in the city are on, and the sky is dark, and we pulled through downtown as if it was this odd city of lights–I’d never seen it quite like that before. There are no roads down by the train tracks, so I’d never seen the city from quite that angle before. I saw the new station that they are restoring, and it is certainly going to be exciting when they finish that light rail and there is a real beautiful train station downtown.

I would love to see a resurgence of train travel in this country. It is really so classy. And delightful. And there are so many options… you can get up and w

ander around, go to the lounge, go to the restaurant… there are endless possibilities for luxurious travel on a train. These things really just aren’t possible on airplanes. And mostly unnecessary too, you know. It’s not a very long trip. Then again there’s international air travel, and they could definitely learn something from amtrak about how to make things comfortable. But sadly, trains don’t fly. I don’t think one could put a fully functioning restaurant into an airplane. Or a bar. Or a gorgeous lounge with skylights. That Pan Am TV show can glorify air travel, but they definitely can’t make it as cool as train travel has the potential to be. I know Americans like to do things fast, but really… there’s lots of opportunities to be awesome with train travel.

On Saturday I wandered around my mom’s neighborhood a lot. I used one of the Nice Ride Minnesota bikes, which are ingenious inventions that make bike riding easy. It is great to know that I can come back to visit, walk four blocks down 36th, and then rent myself a bike to take me wherever I want!

Sunday was the Minneapolis May Day Parade, which I’ve actually never been to. (I’m not really a big parade person. I made it to Pride a few times when I was younger but I always just thought parades were odd.) I didn’t bother to get too close to the action, but I did see some of the really intense gigantic puppets that get paraded around for May Day. It was an intriguing event. Again, fun just to wander around aimlessly–and that’s what I do anyway, every time I come to Minneapolis. Just spend hours wandering around… discovering small things.

And in between I’ve been working on theology… sigh. I should be doing that now, really.

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