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The distance from Mackinaw City to Edina, Minneapolis, Minnesota is 530 miles and we expected it to take us just under 10 hours.The sun was just rising on a very gloomy looking day as we crossed the 5-mile long Mackinac Bridge. It was our first experience of rain and it was good, in some ways, that we were in the car.

It wasn’t long before the rain started to pour down and the first two hours of the journey were fairly uncomfortable.

But it cleared up just in time to pass through the border – with the usual half hour delay.

We weren’t planning to stop on the way but couldn’t resist a quick stop to take a photo of the entrance to the Hiawatha Park.

I’m sad that I’ve never read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha to either of the girls and couldn’t remember many of the words off the cuff. But I’ve done a bit of googling since on this 19th century American poet and would like to make sure that my grandchildren include this work in their reading diet in the future. I wonder what memories they conjure up for you?

Re-reading some of the words, brought back special memories. For example:

By the shore of Gitchie Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
At the doorway of his wigwam,
In the pleasant Summer morning,
Hiawatha stood and waited.


On the shores of Gitche Gumee,
Of the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood Nokomis, the old woman,
Pointing with her finger westward,
O’er the water pointing westward,
To the purple clouds of sunset.


And he rushed into the wigwam,
Saw the old Nokomis slowly
Rocking to and fro and moaning,
Saw his lovely Minnehaha
Lying dead and cold before him,
And his bursting heart within him
Uttered such a cry of anguish,
That the forest moaned and shuddered,
That the very stars in heaven
Shook and trembled with his anguish.

Leaving the Park, we happened upon another tree that has begun to ‘turn’ and are really hopeful that we’ll see many more in the next couple of weeks.

We made very good time to Edina, even better than we expected because we crossed a time line! It was especially good to see Sandy again (Sandra Hirsh, one of MBTI’s luminaries whose books I’ve studied since I qualified in 1990) after what must be nine years. And because we were an hour earlier than we’d planned, there was time for her to take us on a much-needed stroll around the environment where she lives, on our way out to dinner. Sandy’s apartment is situated in Centennial Lakes Park, a beautiful area for enjoying recreation, sports and culture. Everything (except a hardware shop, she told us) is within easy walking distance.

She showed us the large lake where a small boy was sailing his remote controlled yacht.

And drew special attention to the croquet lawn which appeared to be full size and beautifully set out.

Both the girls have met Sandy in the past when she’s stayed with us in New Zealand so we had a lovely dinner together and caught up with everyone’s news. It’s a great shame that we don’t live closer to each other and can get together more easily.

We kept talking later than we meant to but after a wonderful sleep, Sandy took us on a tour to get our bearings. But first we had a few chores to attend to so we went to AAA, where Sandy is a member, and stocked up with wonderful maps and books for most of the rest of our journey! And then, because my American SIM card was misbehaving, we went to the Mall of America – the largest Mall in the world – to find an AT&T. I took this photo from one of the four sides of this directory which will give you some idea of the enormous number of offerings available.

I also managed to snap the three of them staring up open-mouthed at a very small part of the area on the ground floor reserved for ‘play’ with all sorts of roller coasters flying past in all directions!

To our surprise, given that we’d just visited Hiawatha Park, one of the attractions that Sandy wanted to show us was Minnehaha Falls, a 53-foot waterfall on Minnehaha Creek, a tributary of the Mississippi River.

The sun was shining from the wrong direction for me to get a decent photo of this lovely statue, but you get the picture (no pun intended) …

And the Falls are impressive.

More autumn colours were beginning to appear on all sides as Sandy drove us around a few of the largest lakes in Minneapolis, explaining why she enjoyed walking around some more than others because, she says, each lake retains its own personality.

There are 13 miles of paved shoreline paths to walk or bike around and the walking and biking trails are separated for the safety, mostly of the pedestrians. People canoe or kayak in the summer and, when the snow falls, ice surfers skim across the surface or play games of pond hockey! And all this is just 10 minutes away from downtown.

Sandy had organised for us to visit with Jean Kummerow, another MBTI luminary and co-author of some of the many books they’ve both written. After driving us around many of the landmarks, including the Minnesota State Capitol, which is considered an architectural masterpiece and is open to the public each day despite undergoing renovations, we made our way to Jean’s apartment which overlooks the Mississippi River.

The Mississippi River is one of the largest rivers in the world. It divides east from west through the centre of the United States. It is 2,350 miles long and flows from Lake Itasca (being pointed out by Sandy) in northern Minnesota southward to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. Its watershed covers 1,231,000 square miles and drains portions of thirty-two states and two Canadian provinces.

St Paul was settled in the 1840s at the head of steamboat navigation on the Mississippi, near the original site of the falls some 12,000 years ago. It became the territorial capital of Minnesota in 1849 and the state capital in 1858.

Minneapolis, twelve miles upstream from St Paul, developed in the 1850s around the waterpower of the falls, to become the flour-milling capital of the nation from 1880 to 1930 and the largest city in Minnesota today.

It was great to look out over downtown Minneapolis from Jean’s apartment as we all celebrated being together again with a glass of champagne, poured expertly by Suzi.

Jean and Sandy were in great form and it was delightful to take our glasses outside onto Jean’s balcony before taking a walk beside the river itself.

Back in Jean’s apartment, we could look down at the Stone Arch Bridge below. This is a former railroad bridge crossing the river at Saint Anthony Falls in downtown Minneapolis. It is the only arched bridge made of stone on the entire length of the river and also the second oldest. The bridge was built to connect the railway system to the new Union Depot

As the sun began to set, I even captured a tiny bit of it setting over the skyline. I found myself feeling so lucky to have been transported back over fifteen years to when I had first met these two wonderful friends..

Minneapolis St Paul MN, USA – 14-15 September 2014

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