There’s a lot to say about Minnes-oota, doncha know. Ya, there’s lots of lakes and snow, just like the Norwegian and Swedish immigrants were used to back home. You betcha.
Apologies to any 'Sotans whom I’ve offended with my mocking Scandinavian accent. My only exposure to the dialect has been through movies and Betty White in Golden Girls reruns when I was a kid.
My real experience with Minnesota was fleeting and uneventful. I raced across the southern border of the state along Route 90 heading from Wisconsin towards the Badlands in South Dakota. The most memorable part of that stretch of country? The suicidal insects that Jackson-Pollocked my windshield and front bumper. These bugs came in all shapes and sizes, and different colors—at least, their insides were different colors. Every few hours, I’d have to stop the car and break out the Windex because the wipers couldn’t handle the sticky goo remains of the tiny kamikaze artists. Valiant and courageous defenders of their personal air space, but no match for a speeding Subaru.
Minnesota—Dakota for “whitish or cloudy water”—is filled with lakes and rivers, making it a great place for outdoor adventure. The State Tourism Board actively promotes Voyageurs National Park, which is located in the upper northeast corner bordering Canada near the wilderness mecca Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Minnesota has no less than 22 scenic byways if you’re the driving type (this article is titled “Road Trip” after all). If you're feeling a bit more urban, the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St.Paul) have an extended series of bike lanes through the cities—a good eco-friendly way to see the place where almost half the state population resides. You can then extend your bike ride into the hills around the Mississippi, Minnesota, and St. Croix River Valleys.
As for cinema, within the past two decades, Minnesota has fared slightly better than its neighbors to the south and west. Robert Altman shot his last film here in 2006 (A Prairie Home Companion). Sam Raimi shot some of his 1998 thriller, A Simple Plan, here after learning some techniques for shooting in the snow from his friends, and Minnesota natives, Joel and Ethan Coen. (We'll delve into the film a bit more next week in Wisconsin).