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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer Weekends

Arnold Palmers--the drink of summer!
David at Old Arizona
Me at Old Arizona
Northern Spark
Last weekend was the Northern Spark Festival, a dusk-to-dawn celebration of art held at various locations around the Cities. It was also unbelievably gorgeous, with cloudless skies and temps in the lower 80s. David and I biked to one of our favorite patios (Old Arizona) for dinner, then to another favorite patio (Black Forest) a few blocks away to meet up with a friend and plan our festival approach.

Plotting our festival course
The three of us biked downtown, arriving at the Stone Arch Bridge in time for the opening festivities. Minneapolitans love their summer and their summer festivals, and everything we visited--outdoor installations, interactive pieces, performances, galleries, and more--was extremely well-attended.

We headed for home around 1:00 a.m., after the line to a piece we'd hoped to see downtown was too long to be borne in our exhausted state, but things appeared to still be hopping. We only made it to a fraction of the venues, but what we saw was very engaging, made even better by the shared experience of seeing it against the background of the city, shared with such a large community.
On the Stone Arch Bridge
Crowds at the opening ceremony

City lights reflected in the Mississippi

Open Streets
Pedestrian bridge on the just-established River Lake Greenway
This weekend was another inaugural festival, the Open Streets "ciclovía" on 20 blocks of Lyndale Avenue. For four hours, between 10:00 and 2:00, those two miles were blocked to automobile traffic and opened to throngs of bikers, skaters, and walkers--in surprisingly large crowds, especially as today was quite cool and overcast.
My new T-shirt
Along that stretch, restaurants, boutiques, and cafes opened their doors and set up sidewalk displays and there were performances by musicians and artists. There were also booths and games by various groups, including a reverse race (who could go most slowly without putting a foot down) and homemade ice cream (churned by pedal power on the back of a bike riding the strip!) by our beloved Nice Ride.

David by the rolling bandstand
For such a simple concept, it was almost unbelievably fun. Hipsters, dirty hippies, young families, seniors on cruisers, and everything in between swarmed the streets together, mingling happily with the officers who guarded the
At the southern end of the strip
intersections. We saw a chain of six recumbent bikes, linked to each other and peddling happily along like a many-wheeled caterpillar, and two bikes pulling a platform with a band performing live music--a piano, drums, and bass! Getting to ride along such a fun part of the city, without having to dodge cars, and surrounded by so many fellow citizens and bikers, filled me with so much happiness that I may have gotten a wee bit teary.
Hydrant drinking fountain
As I told David, it was two of the things I enjoy most about running marathons--getting to see the city from the unusual and intriguing viewpoint of the street, and the sense of shared community--but without the pain of actually having to run.

Pictures from yesterday (which was sunnier and warmer!)

Brunch at the Aster Cafe (patio!)

David and his bike at the downtown farmers' market post-brunch

Snapping the city skyline on the ride home

Heading home after an evening ride


Leah said...

*sigh* I'm always sooooo jealous when you write about all the cool stuff that Minneapolis does in the summers. And spring. And fall. They love their city, and being outdoors.

Down here, everyone just tries to avoid being outside as much as possible. *sigh*

CëRïSë said...

It is a pretty great place to live, most of the time! I try to document the awesome stuff so I don't despair about the other times.

Ern said...

You are seriously making me want to move to Minneapolis.

CëRïSë said...

Ern, I would be THRILLED if you did!

Ern said...

:) Your most recent post didn't help matters.

CëRïSë said...

Hahaha! That's my plan. I'm crafty and scheming!