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Sight-seeing in your own backyard

July 7, 2011 - Jodelle Greiner
I went up to my brother’s in the Cities for the Fourth of July holiday and saw some stuff I’d never seen before.

When you live in an area, you think you know everything about it, but there are plenty of opportunities to explore our unique part of the United States and get to know our own backyard better. I never would have thought there was such a beautiful waterfall in the middle of Minneapolis.

On Sunday, my brother took a bunch of us to Minnehaha Park. If you’ve never been, you must go, Minnehaha Falls is gorgeous. The water tumbles over the natural ledge and into a circular pool; you can feel the spray all the way back up to the fence. There’s a wading pool down Minnehaha Creek from the falls and lots of people were in it. I took off my tennies and socks and waded in, but the bottom was lined with stones which are pretty rough on the feet. I’d recommend bringing some flip flops along for the wading; lots of folks just kept their shoes on.

We spent a couple of hours walking the trails in the park, all the way down to the Mississippi River. It was the first time I’d gotten that close to the Mississippi (other than driving over it on a bridge) and I couldn’t resist wading out in the water. Unlike the wading pool in the creek, which feeds into the river, the Mississippi’s bottom has sand with a few stones. It’s not what’s UNDER the water that you have to be wary of, it’s what’s IN the water. I swear something nibbled on my toes.

I was really proud of my 5-year-old niece, who walked the whole way and back on her own, without complaining or wanting to be picked up and carried. It doesn’t feel like a hard walk and you’re almost always under shade because the park is heavily wooded, but by the time we were done, we were all making like camels at the water fountain. I would definitely recommend taking water with you and taking advantage of the benches placed along the trails. Or you can bike like some were doing.

On the Fourth, my brother took us out to the river again, this time for a boat ride on the Minneapolis Queen. I realized why Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn liked to travel on the river; it’s very soothing to move with the current. It was the first time I’d seen St. Anthony Falls and we got to ride the lock up and down as we went past the falls and came back. The pilot narrated the ride, pointing out things like one of the bridges we passed under (I don’t remember the street he named) was right on the 45th parallel, which is the midway point between the equator and the North Pole.

It was a lot of fun and definitely worth going. If you want more information on Minnehaha Park, call 612-721-6433 or; for the river boat cruise, call 952-474-8058 or visit online.


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