After four days in Owatonna where we refocused on school after our self-imposed “spring break,” we arrived to St. Louis Park for a weekend to explore Minneapolis with the Friedman/Young clan: Shelley, Erin, Paige and Nate, all longtime volunteers for First Things First who have morphed into cherished friends.
I had my sights set on Minneapolis from Day One of this trip. But, honestly wasn’t sure we could pull it off in early April due to weather. Fortunately, we lucked out. We pulled into town unsure where we’d stay. The closest RV Park was 30 miles away! Collectively, the Friedmans crafted a plan. We park the RV at Shelley’s gym (with clearance from the owner). That works but requires emptying out the fridge and freezer without the ability to plug into electricity. No problem. Paige and Nate offer theirs, as well as a basement with a bathroom for us. Plus, they eagerly invited the dogs to stay too – joining their brood which includes 4 year old Harrison, 2 year old Maeve, 5 month old Miles and two dogs and a cat!
We pulled Someday up to Paige and Nate’s house to unload the contents of the fridge and freezer which filled their previously sparse one. In addition, we unloaded an overflowing basket of dirty laundry, toiletries, items necessary for the dogs and the dogs themselves. (Afro stayed in the RV with regular visits from Jeff and me.)
Dori quickly endeared herself to Harry and Maeve with Wayne taking to baby Miles who has the title of the first infant Wayne has held. After settling in for a couple hours, Erin stopped by after getting off work. The night ended over at Shelley’s – the Friedman matriarch – who lives a few short blocks away where we enjoyed homemade pizza and salad followed by family game night.
Saturday’s plan incorporated the furry kids with a visit to a dog park located in Minnehaha Park adjacent to the Mississippi River. Literally hundreds of dogs – of varying sizes – walked the trails with their owner and jumped into the chilly water after sticks, balls and other retrievable objects. Our gaggle included Fitz and Onyx, along with Paige and Nate’s two black dogs Bella and Izzy, and Shelley’s gentle giant Batman.
After a round trip hike to the end of the dog park peninsula, we made our way to Minnehaha Falls, a 53 foot stunning waterfall whose urban location only adds to her beauty. We didn’t have time to linger past more than some quick photos due to expiring parking meters. All and all, we walked at least 4 miles – resulting in a little grumbling from the littles, some pooped pups and many of us whose own dogs were barking (pun most definitely intended).
We said good-bye to Nate and Maeve with Bella and Izzy who left to rejoin Paige, Harry and Miles at home for nap time. With Fitz and Onyx splayed out on the downed seats of our car, and Wayne and Dori riding with Shelley, Erin and Batman, we followed into downtown Minneapolis to experience Izzy’s Ice Cream. The line fifteen or so deep weaving out the front door spoke to Izzy’s as more than just another ice cream establishment. Having enjoyed my share of ice cream, I will say the hype is well-deserved. Even Jeff’s lactose-free needs were met with several options of non-dairy ice cream!
While downtown we walked down the street from Izzy’s to the Endless Bridge at Guthrie Theater. We appreciated the views of Minneapolis and nearby St. Paul as well as the Mississippi River. But, I was – and still am – confused by the name. The “Endless Bridge” is neither endless nor really a bridge. Regardless, it provided some fabulous photos!
That night we gathered at Erin’s house – which joins Nate/Paige’s and Shelley’s in a one mile radius. The spectacular spring weather dictated a burger and cobbed corn cookout ending with s’mores over a patio fire pit.
The next morning we tempted the Young’s to join us for a community pancake breakfast hosted by the Lion’s Club at the local middle school in St. Louis Park. We connected with Erin and Shelley, as well as other Friedman relatives who arrived late Saturday night, and made our way to Minneapolis’ most known landmark … Mall of America. But first, a detour was made to Glam Doll Donuts to fulfill an apparent promise to our son. The eclectic spot delivered with delicious gourmet treats with Wayne consuming two!
Paige and her brood left us at Glam as the remainder of the crew set our course to visit the country’s largest mall. The kids were not keen on the destination until they learned it contained a full amusement park inside! Shelley and Erin stuck with the relatives in a quest for a prom dress while Jeff and I led our littles off to find the fun. It did not disappoint. Dori and Wayne each rode two rides with Jeff and me joining for one each (Jeff with Dori on the Log Luge, and me with Wayne on a crazy rollercoaster!) Stores also became sources of excitement with American Girl Doll, the Lego Store and more! After several hours and multiple laps around the mall, we had had enough.
Our final night found us back at Shelley’s where we were included in the weekly tradition of Sunday family dinner. Sixteen people filled Shelley’s home with love and laughter as we enjoyed a taco feast! The mention of dessert prompted a road trip to Sebastian Joe’s for ice cream. Between Izzy’s, Sebastian Joe’s and Glam Doll, we definitely filled up on sweet treats in Minneapolis!
Truth be told, the whole weekend was a “sweet treat” for us. Quality time to catch up with quality people all the while seeing new and interesting sites in a city unique to us. Once again, we are humbled by the grace and generosity bestowed on us and thankful God has blessed us with such fabulous friends and this opportunity for time with them.