Day 11: Minneapolis, MN

Wednesday, September 9

In the invitation email I sent to my friends I jokingly reassured them that they wouldn’t have to share a bed with me. But I messed up in booking the B&B for Minneapolis and forgot that Becca would be with me for one of the nights, so we ended up having to share after all. (My biggest trip-related fear is for all of the hotel bookings to end up being off by a day. That and tornadoes.)

Bec was worried about snoring, but that wasn’t a problem. The problem was the guy who took a shower at 2 a.m. and who woke up a string of people who visited the bathroom after him. And probably we were both just aware of sleeping next to someone we don’t usually sleep next to. So we both felt groggy in the morning.

Breakfast was in the dining room of the Eugene Carpenter House, and I later learned that Jessica Tandy lived in that room in 1963, when the property was a boarding house. She was in Minneapolis that year to perform in the inaugural season of the Guthrie Theater. I’m never sure what to make of the knowledge that famous people once breathed the air in the space where I’m standing. It’s magical to me to think about standing in a place that anyone through time has touched—all of the unknown people who lived in my apartment, for instance, through the past 120 years, and their wallpaper and clothes and meals. It seems like there should be some bonus magic, a special tingle for famous people. Maybe it depends on the person. I’m sorry, Jessica.


The dining room settee. The dog is huge and gentle and a little wary. Her name is Madonna.


Dining room ceiling, restored to its original colors


The drawing room

We headed out to  a district of connected parks around the city’s lakes, sensibly called Chain of Lakes. We talked about our families and our past and ourselves, a long, meaty, satisfying conversation. I like the talks I’ve been having with people in the car, but walking conversations sometimes feel more intimate, maybe because bodies are engaged along with brains.

I interrupt this week-ago time travel to share a thought I had about distracted driving today, which has probably already been said better elsewhere: People text and drive because it’s cognitively challenging to believe that you are actually physically moving at 70 miles per hour (or whatever) when your body is essentially just sitting there. You feel like you’re just in a box, and within that box you have access to all your stuff. Your inside-the-box surroundings are static and immediate, even if you’re aware of and responding to your outside-the-box surroundings. You hear the text notification and it’s so natural to reach for your phone, because it’s right there and you’re just sitting there. I don’t text and drive, but it’s because I have to tell myself it’s stupid, not because I intuit it.


Our conversation was so engaging that I forgot to take a picture of the scenery until we’d finished. This is from the Chain of Lakes, but it doesn’t capture the feeling of the walk, along winding paths with houses on the perimeter.

We walked almost four miles and it was still before noon, so I felt I’d earned a lunchtime Deschutes.


Salmon club at Lake and Irving. Thumbs up.

After lunch we headed back to base to gather Becca’s stuff in preparation for her journey home. Before she departed I took some serious portraits of her in the drawing room.


Our drive to the airport was notable for the incredibly long funeral procession we encountered, which turned out to be for a firefighter from St. Paul who died on duty. Police vehicles, fire trucks, and motorcycles, lights flashing, spanned over a mile of road. It was beautiful in its way. But exits were blocked off and we were forced to drive in the opposite direction from the airport. We spotted a cop directing traffic. I stopped to ask him what to do and all he said was, “Keep it moving, keep it moving.” So we kept it moving and waited it out, eventually learning that Fort Snelling National Cemetery, where the procession was headed, is essentially at the airport. Becca made it home safely.

Hotel Art of the Day


Tapestryesque Painting
Oil, 66″ x 30″
Eugene Carpenter House, Minneapolis

Hotel Art Score

6/10. It’s weird and old and cool. It’s also dark and old and creepy. The cracked paint adds to its creepiness. It was the only work of art in the room, and it hung above the bed and kind of unsettled me. It could use a lighter, more colorful counterpart to offer some balance.

Just a suggestion.

Just a suggestion.

Art Art Score

6/10. It’s decorative, but there’s something more behind it. The animals have been painted with spirit. I feel like they might come to life while I’m sleeping.