April 24, 2016

Prince.

As a local resident and employee of the county where Prince passed away, I thought I better comment on his passing...


Carver County has been in the news quite a bit over the past few days since the passing of Prince, who was found dead at Paisley Park in Chanhassen Thursday morning. Paisley Park Studios was built in 1988 and looks like nothing more than a big white building that somewhat resembles a prison or large manufacturing site. Since living so close to Paisley Park for the past year, I have quickly learned quite a bit about Prince. Interestingly, Prince often times hosted pop-up concerts at Paisley Park that went unannounced until just moments before the start. The dome on top of Paisley Park would turn purple and the first people to arrive at the studios would be let into the concert.

(Photo of Paisley Park courtesy of The Star Tribune)

Chaska is the only city in Carver County with a police force, so the Carver County Sheriff's Office has been in charge of the investigation. A press conference was held at the Carver County Government Center, my place of work, on Friday; news stations from the nation and across the metro filled the parking lot.


I am taken aback by how many coworkers and fellow Minnesotans are mourning the death of a local hero who took the world by storm in the early 80s, using his unique musical gifts to tell stories of love, politics and life. The city has paid tribute to Prince since his death. The I-35W and Lowry Avenue bridges, Target Field and Target headquarters have been lit purple... 

(Photo of the I-35W bridge courtesy of The Star Tribune)

...First Avenue, a downtown music venue where Prince played regularly early in his career and occasionally made surprise appearances throughout his career, has hosted block parties every night since Thursday...

(Photo courtesy of MPRNews)

I must admit that I am quickly becoming more of a Prince fan than I ever was and find myself constantly humming Purple Rain...Purple Rain...Purple Rain...(are there really any other words to that song???).

Rest in peace and purple, Prince.



April 22, 2016

A beautiful day on our bikes

Hold on to your shorts...this is a long post with no pictures. But, I promise you, it is worth the read.

The forecast predicted temps in the high 70s last weekend, so Matt and I took full advantage of the warm, spring day. We decided to hop on our bikes and head to Minneapolis. Now that we live only a couple yards away from the Minnesota Valley State Trail, we were able to get to the city completely mostly by trail. With only a few hiccups along the way, we found ourselves sitting down for dinner around 6:00 PM Saturday evening. 

The Minnesota Valley State Trail is a multi-use trail ideal for hiking, biking, horseback riding, mountain biking and snowmobiling. The trail is natural surface from Belle Plaine to Chaska where it parallels the Minnesota River and is paved from Chaska to Shakopee. This trail continues through the Minnesota River Bottoms in Bloomington, which is an unpaved mountain bike and hiking trail. Plans are in place to pave this existing trail, but recently, there has been extensive controversy about this idea. I am all for paving the trail in order to create better trail connections to Minneapolis. Read “In Defense of a Paved Minnesota Valley State Trail” by Monte Castleman of Streets.MN, an organization created to better inform and engage the public on transportation and land use issues in the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.

Anyway…………………..just outside of Shakopee, we rode on the newly finished 101 bridge trail which connects to the Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail. However, this trail is washed out due to past flooding (Matt and I disagreed as to whether this trail was really washed out. Let’s just say the one who works in Public Health for the County may have been correct). We ended up having to take a round-a-bout-extra-7-mile-very-hilly-route to the Minnesota River Bluffs trail. Oh well…the day was nice. The day was nice.

Once on the Minnesota River Bluffs trail, we enjoyed a lovely 13 mile ride into Hopkins. We rode this same trail last fall. You can read more about that ride here.

From Hopkins, we chartered new territory to the Cedar Lake Trail, which passes through Hopkins and St. Louis Park. According to traillink.com, the paved Cedar Lake LRT Regional Trail occupies an abandoned Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway (and later Chicago and North Western Railway) corridor. The right-of-way was abandoned in the early 1990s and acquired by the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA), who installed the trail. 

Traillink.com states that the 5.5-mile Midtown Greenway follows a former railroad corridor through south Minneapolis, and heads west from the Mississippi River to the neighborhood of West Calhoun in the scenic Chain of Lakes Area. The paved pathway is only 1 block north of the Lake Street corridor and runs parallel to the road for most of its route. The trail provides a safe alternative for cyclists and pedestrians to travel on the busy street.

A few miles onto the Greenway, we exited onto Bryant Street and then rode a couple blocks to Lyndale Avenue for dinner at The Lyndale Tap House. A quick glance at our watches phones told us that it was around 5:30 PM…the evening was getting short. We had ridden our bikes 35 miles in about four hours…not exactly enough time to eat dinner and ride home before it turned dark (we didn’t bring headlights/headlamps…duh!). So, we decided that instead of riding back to Chaska, we would catch the Southwest Transit bus back to Chaska at the West Bank terminal. The West Bank is in the heart of the University of Minnesota campus, another 6 miles on the Midtown Greenway and Hiawatha Bike Trail. We had plenty of time to eat and catch the 7:22 PM or 7:42 PM bus.

Dinner was excellent. We both enjoyed burgers and a salad while sitting outside, people gazing at all of the Midtown commotion. We paid the bill and then got back on our saddles for the last leg of our ride. We arrived at the terminal just in time for the 7:22 PM bus but saw nothing. Then, 7:42 PM rolled around and still did not see a bus. Little did we know that the Southwest Transit Bus system does not run on the weekends…whooooooooooooooooops!!!!

Foooooooooooortunately, Uber has an XL service that transports people…and apparently, bikes. My fear was the that driver was not going to drive us to Chaska, but I think God was watching over us when we found out our driver was from Eden Prairie and heading home for the night.  With a $15 credit in my account for getting my mom to join and ride Uber, we paid a cheap $21 fare back to Chaska.

What could have been topped off by a really long night was another day filled with new experiences and adventures together. Matt and I cannot wait to see what the rest of Spring and the Summer season hold for us.

Cheers!