Right Outside Your Door: Exploring Your “Backyard”

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Loring Park, a short stroll from my apartment, on a lovely spring day.

On one of those warm afternoons we had some weeks ago, I was not scheduled for work and felt the burning need to get out of my apartment and explore the outside world. I still feel so grateful, so amazed, to be living in the midst of so much awesome stuff, things I can experience in walking distance from my place, I sometimes find it difficult to believe, I’d spent so much time the last few years daydreaming about it; now I’m here, in the thick of it.

Of course, sometimes, it can feel like, in the humdrum daily grind of work or school, you just want to come home and unwind, ignoring the outside world and just mindlessly surf the net or play video games. After all, all those parks and museums and stuff will be there tomorrow, right? Weeks can pass before I again reflect upon how much stuff there is right at my fingertips, and I again want to get out there and explore. It’s amazing how much exists, hidden in plain site, that you discover just around the corner.

As reported by Andy Studevant at MinnPost, today is Obscura Day, organized by the website Atlas Obscura, “dedicated to highlighting the most interesting places in the world.” I’d never heard of this site before, but it seems like something to dig into. There will be a couple of events showcasing a couple of the Twin Cities most revered weird sites, Minneapolis’ House of Balls and the Wabasha Street Caves in St. Paul. The Wabasha Street Caves are certainly interesting, and in spite of hearing the name for years, I’ve never had the pleasure of exploring the House of Balls, so I may check that out later today. Obscura Day reminds me of how much adventure exists all around us in our local communities as well as the wider world, just out of sight, and are just waiting for you to experience them.

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Spoonbridge and Cherry…. so shiny!

While, during my ramble the other week, I didn’t check out anything truly “obscure,” even rediscovering things taken for granted for a long time can be a refreshing treat, as well as visiting a new locale. Strolling through Loring Park, for instance, watching albino squirrels frolic and wood ducks paddle about, it struck me how much wildlife were there right in the heart of downtown. Scaling the pedestrian bridge above busy Highway 94 and crossing over into the Walker Sculpture Garden, home of that landmark of Minneapolis, Claes Oldenburg’s and Coosje Van Bruggen’s masterpiece of absurd whimsy, the Spoonbridge and Cherry. I mean, what better emblem for this weird and quirky place than a huge piece of silverware holding a monstrous piece of fruit? Well, that’s my take, anyway. It’s funny that, back around 2006 when I was still living out in the ‘burbs, I kind of adopted the name “Spoonbridge” as my online persona, and now, a scary amount of time later, I’ve actually come to live so close to the famous sculpture, and yet it took me a month or two to actually visit it again. Grass was sprouting, tourists were taking pictures of each other under the oversized kitchenware and the Minneapolis skyline in front of the blue skies.

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Enjoying a flight. Check out that citrus peel infused tap!

Continuing through the nostalgic and beloved sculpture garden, I walked over to a new place I’d just found out about, Sisyphus Brewing, one of the metro’s newer breweries, which have been popping up all over the place in the last few months. It still kind of amuses me that I can be so close to a craft brewery I could just walk right over there and grab some beer anytime I want (if I didn’t need to worry about funds, of course). Sisyphus was a fun little space in an historic building just outside of the Dunwoody College of Technology, and it had a small group of folk trying some beer on this lovely weekday afternoon. Ordering up a flight of the breweries’ offerings, I sampled the offerings. They had some good stuff. While I would not call myself a true connoisseur, I’m trying to step up my tasting abilities for beer, as well as tea (oddly similar in their procedures, you know). I’m kind of one for the hops, so Sisyphus’ OPA2, an oatmeal pale ale, was right up my ally, but I know a lot of my friends prefer the richer, more gentle, taste of stouts, so I picked up one of the breweries’ signature “growlettes” of delicious, chocolaty stout to share at the next get together.

Yes, it is easy to become accustomed to all of the things in your own city, but sometimes I think it is fun to take a little time to reacquaint myself with things; especially since the city is changing all the time and it is fun what pops up when you weren’t paying attention; seems another brewery is in the works just down the street from my place, Lakes and Legends Brewing Company, which promises to open “late summer 2015.” Keep an eye out!

Sisyphus Brewing, Wednesday/Thursday: 3pm-10pm, Friday/Saturday: Noon – 1am, 712 Ontario Avenue W. #100

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Sisyphus Brewing building

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