Sunday, May 20, 2007

True Minnesotan? "Must Do List" Should NOT include Hazelden--Eight Great Alternatives!

On a wonderfully bright, spring afternoon as I traveled through Anoka County near Carlos Avery Nature preserve, I listened to a few local DJ’s rambling about an article, “60 Things Every Minnesotan Should Do”, in the May 2007, Mpls/St Paul Magazine. As a native Minnesotan, I perked up as I wanted to see how I measured up. They were joking about one entry near the top of the list, “Dry out, Clean up at Hazelden”. Excuse me, did I hear that right… In order to be a true Minnesotan we have had to clean up our act at the world renowned Hazelden Treatment center? Surely the deejay’s had made an error.

As soon as I walked in the door, I picked up my neglected May issue and quickly perused the cover. The cover story, just as predicted was the “60 Things Every Minnesotan Should Do Think you’re a True Local? Rate yourself on our ultimate state-pride checklist”. I flipped to the table of contents and the description for the first feature article read, “How Minnesota Are You? 60 Things you must do if you’re a real Minnesotan.” And there on page 84 about 14 from the top were the words, “Dry Out, Clean Up at Hazelden”.

Okay, sorry Mpls/St. Paul, I love your magazine but take exception to the implication to be a true Minnesotan we must first become an addict and dry out at Hazelden. As a Minnesota Realtor, I have shown homes and property in the Chisago County area and have driven by the quiet beautiful Hazelden facility in Center City. While beautiful and well known for saving countless lives, it is one place in Minnesota that I hope to never have a reason to enter.

Reading through the rest of the article, the writers and editors nailed many favorite Minnesota hangouts, events and rituals. Listening to live bands at First Avenue in Minneapolis where the legendary purple one, Prince, made his debut and stepping across the mighty Mississippi at its roots Itasca State Park, are rites of passage to most Minnesotans. As is going to the great Mall of America, cheering at a high school hockey game and walking through the state fair barns to see what the largest hog looked like while chopping on a Pronto Pup (hotdog on a stick).

So what to do…The story needs a replacement for this number 14 blunder so I came up with a list of things of other places and rituals that define Minnesota.

Alternative Minnesota Favorites:
1. Search for Agates along the Shores of Lake Superior.

Drive up 35 north to Duluth, MN and see Minnesota’s greatest lake, Superior. The wave-smoothed rocks along the shore are like no others for skipping across the water. Watching the big ships come in an dock is a site no one should miss. Take a harbor cruise to get up close to the loading areas. And while you are searching for the perfect skipping stone, you might just find the beautiful bands of red in a Minnesota agate.

2. Doughnuts at Toby’s in Hinckley

On your way up to Duluth, stop for gas and pastries at Toby’s in Hinckley, Minnesota. Their glazed doughnuts have been an institution in Minnesota and their taste is like no other. If you have a little extra time, drive west to the
Hinckley Fire Museum and learn the history of the great 1894 fire that destroyed 400 square miles and 6 towns.
3. Attend a St. Paul Saints Baseball Game and yell “Train” with the crowd.
Outdoor baseball is played in Minnesota. The minor league
St. Paul Saints games are packed with FUN! The games are played at Midway Stadium in St. Paul near the industrial park and railroad tracks. Every time a train goes by, the scoreboard flashes with “TRAIN” and everyone shouts and points at the passing vehicle. A team with the slogan, “Fun is Good”, shouldn’t be overlooked.

4. Kayak with the Family at Wargo.

Plan a fun family outing
Kayaking at Wargo Nature Center. It is a great way to spend an afternoon and explore the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Parks Preserve. Located in Lino Lakes, MN, just north of the Twin Cities in Anoka County, the Wargo Nature Center offers rentals of kayaks and canoes and lessons for the novice.

5. Ride an authentic Riverboat and watch Eagles soar!

A ride up the Mississippi on the
Jonathan Paddleford is an institution Minnesota. Growing up in St. Paul, it was the traditional end of the year school fieldtrip. A few years back, I took my boys on the voyage. Heading upstream with the big wheel turning to the point where the Minnesota meets the Mississippi is an eye-opening journey. Especially since the route passes an area along the bank where several bald eagles nest.

6. Get a Birdseye View of the Mississippi at the St. Paul Science Museum.

See the Mississippi from a whole different angle! The
Science Museum of Minnesota is located along the riverfront in downtown St. Paul. View the river from an actual tugboat that is on permanent display high above the banks. Take a turn virtually driving a tug with fully loaded barges down river. And don’t forget to visit the legendary resident mummy.

7. Watch the Sparky the Seal Show at Como Zoo.

Still free and still fun! The
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is an awesome Minnesota treasure! For 51 years, Como Zoo has entertained multitudes of children and families as they watched Sparky the Seal do tricks for fish at the outdoor pool in the Minnesota summer sunshine. Family picnics, weddings and school events at Como Park have played important roles in the lives of many Minnesotans.

8. See the Wolves in their Natural Habitat at the Wildlife Science Center.

Better known as the wolf place in Carlos Avery Nature Preserve, the
Wildlife Science Center is a great place to visit to learn about animals native to Minnesota. It is truly one of the best places to learn about wolves. They have many special programs and events throughout the year. Being only about 4 miles away from their home, we can hear the wolves calling from the sanctuary on clear nights. It's a beautiful sound!

Pick any one of these eight activities as an alternative to number 14 on the Mpls/St. Paul Magazine, as
I am a true Minnesotan but won’t be making a visit to Hazelden anytime soon.
If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage properties! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007