Friday, July 09, 2004

The 4th of July

So the independence day long weekend has come and gone with lots of fireworks, lots of nationalism and lots of fun. The Saturday was very wet and stormy so we headed over to the Mall of America, supposedly one of the biggest shopping centres in the world. It has 520 stores plus 60 restaurants, a 14 screen theatre and an amusement park, Camp Snoopy, with 30 rides all under one roof. It is considered a potential terrorist target but security seemed to be minimal. However road rage associated with parking places appears to be the major problem. A couple was stabbed there on Monday in a fight over a spot when apparently the 4th July sales caused a shortage of parking. But this could have been caused by the American phobia of never walking anywhere. These car parks are huge and usually have plenty of room but people seem to drive around and around and.....until they find a spot right at the door. God forbid you have to walk 50m!
We went to see "The Terminal" starring Tom Hanks which was a very funny movie.
Had dinner again at "Tejas", the south west style restaurant in Edina. They had changed the menu but it was just as good as last time. My Mexican duck (yes, really!) was to die for.
Next day we drove into St Paul for "Taste of Minnesota" which was a disappointment food wise. Fried food and food on a stick was the order of the day....basically carnival food. There was only beer, no wine. but the setting was nice on the river and all the paddlewheelers had arrived from down river to add a bit of "color and movement". Also lots of commercial booths selling everything from dating services to health insurance (perhaps because of the high cholesterol content of the food available), amusement rides and musical entertainment. I managed to find a great bratwurst stall that even supplied sauerkraut, pickles and mustard, just like in Germany! Tasted as good as it sounded. Huge crowds (you get used to that) were in attendance and the fashion police could have made many arrests if they hadn't obviously been on leave. The American flag was desecrated in so many ways....from jewelry, to shirts to ties to headbands etc.
MSP is the birthplace of Charles M Schulz so they celebrate Charlie Brown with statues of Snoopy all over town. I took a few pics of those but you could have taken one of them all, if you are a Snoopy fan that is. St Paul seems to be more open that Minneapolis and is nicer to walk around with more parks and many trees. They had decorated all the light poles with hanging baskets of flowers which was a nice touch.
Although summer has not arrived as yet (well it came and went!), it soon became obvious to us that the heat and humidity required us to move onto better climes. That we found at the Green Mill Brewery.
God bless America and air conditioning!
This chain of "pubs" brew their own range of beer in on site micro breweries. The Coors equivalent was great. So was the food. There is definitely a move towards "real" Asian here. Makes a change from the burgers, and I got fresh fruit with my shrimp, read prawn, wrap instead of fries.
So by the time we had eaten dessert and had a coffee at the bookstore chain of Barnes and Noble, it was time to hit the sack. We were woken later by the Minneapolis fireworks plus some residents of the apartment block with their own show. So we did really see 4th July fireworks!
Now I am going to have a whinge! Americans and Australians may say the same words but we don't speak the same language! I have never had so much trouble ordering a meal or drink. Take the word "beer" for instance. a simple one syllable word that has international meaning you would think? Not so! Well, not here anyway. I am thinking of getting cards written so I can just show the servers....would save a heap of time and reduce the ribbing I get from a certain person. There! that is off my chest.
For dinner went to a relation's new home in Hudson over the border in Wisconsin. Well it was supposed to be a light snack....nachos. But they were not like the nachos I had ever seen. Was more like a 5 course feast. They are a nice couple. She is an artist and has lots of her own work hung around the house. Some I like, some I don't. She was very adventurous with the internal color scheme of the house. Bold strong colors, yellows, greens and tans....but it all works.
He has a son in Iraq. No matter what you think about USA/Aus policy in Iraq, the anguish of the average citizen who has family in the conflict zone makes you less concerned with the politics of the situation. As usual it's the man in the street that bears the brunt of the politicians' ego based decisions.

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