“Minn” in the Dakota language means “water”, and there’s plenty of it in Minnesota—more than 10,000 lakes!
How did we end up in Minnesota, anyway? It all started from two separate paths that met up perfectly in Minneapolis. U.S. Masters Swimming Summer Nationals was scheduled for early August, 2017, and it’s a state we had never been to during our travels. I had also missed the National Senior Games when it was held previously at the very same pool, so I thought it would be a great opportunity.
Meanwhile, I had been telling Bruce over the past four years how great the American Steamboat Company’s “American Queen” was when I took my mom on a paddle wheel cruise down the Mississippi, from Memphis to New Orleans. It was an experience I thought he would like very much.
One day last year, Bruce greeted me at the door holding the new American Queen Steamboat Company brochure, exclaiming, “I found a cruise for us!” I figured he had finally decided he wanted to try one of their one-week cruises from Memphis. Instead, he picked out their 23-day re-positioning river cruise that paddles down the Mississippi from Red Wing, Minnesota to New Orleans!
It just so happened that cruise was scheduled for one week after Nationals, and he had a plan. (I sometimes wonder what’s rolling around in his head when he takes breaks from his glass work, kicks back on the bed, and stares at the ceiling…) “How about if you swim at Nationals, and then we’ll rent a car and do a road trip around northern Wisconsin? We can return the car back in Minneapolis, and then we’ll take the cruise?” he asked.
Adding up the days, this plan amounted to five weeks of travel—piece of cake for me, but not so much for Bruce. “Are you sure you want to be away for THAT long?” I asked. “We did a seven-week road trip two years ago, didn’t we?” Yeah, good point. “What about your Etsy business?” I asked. “We’ll take it with us!” he replied.
Fifteen minutes later, I was on the phone and the cruise was booked. (By booking immediately before the early-booking deadline, we saved $3,000 and were able to get one of the lowest-priced cabins that book up quickly.)
Fast forward to May of this year, the swimming part of the plan started to unravel (as you may have read in my July 8 post). Due to injuries, I didn’t know whether I would be able to compete at Nationals after all. The entry deadline was prior to my open water swim, and I wouldn’t have time to prepare for my usual competitive events. (There’s a big difference between swimming the 200 Meter Butterfly or Breaststroke in a Nationals competition and a 1K freestyle fun race in a lake. Others may argue with me on this point, but I’ll take the 1K as the easier-on-the-body-and-mind event.)
The deadline came, and I knew I wouldn’t be ready to compete at Nationals, so I let it pass. We decided to go anyway, see (and cheer on) our friends, and stick with our travel plans.
We arrived in Minnesota on August 1 and took their excellent Metro Transit train downtown to our hotel. The afternoon was spent taking a long walk down to the river and across the bridge for lunch, and then back downtown.
Here are some scenes from our first day in Minneapolis:
Next up: The M’s have it! Minnehaha (Ha-ha!) Falls, Minneapolis, and Mall of America