I want to drop a few pounds. My swimsuit is starting to look like a Speedo even though it’s not. But I’m not off to a good start. You see, I just returned from my annual Father’s Day fishing trip. For the last 27 years my dad, brothers, and I have zoomed off to a nearby lake for the weekend to catch some fish and play a few holes of golf. We’re not very good at either, but that’s OK. The trip is really about catching up with each other and eating like we’re still 20 years old. That’s the trouble. It was a fruit-and-vegetable-free weekend for me. The closest I came to eating a vegetable was the sauerkraut on my bratwursts. Does that count? I think I’m actually craving a radish right now.
Monday, June 17
The Three Rivers Park District is a little mysterious to me. Not only am I unsure which parks and trails are included in this district, I don’t even know which rivers they’re talking about. What I do know is that their facilities are first-rate, so I will assume their programming is as well. Today a Three Rivers naturalist brings snakes and turtles to the Hilde Small Stage in Plymouth at 6:45 pm. The pairing seems a bit odd to me considering that most of us swerve to avoid hitting turtles on the road while many speed up for a snake. But, who knows? After bonding with one tonight, you just might decide to make a snake your next pet.
Tuesday, June 18
The Minnesota History Center has some interesting programming for adults this summer including a food crawl in the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods. For kids, you’ll find “Then Now Wow,” the largest exhibit ever created by the Minnesota Historical Society. You can drill iron ore in an underground mine, ride an old streetcar, and see the emergency exit door from the school bus involved in the 35W bridge collapse. And, as if that weren’t big enough, kids can participate in “History HiJinx” by creating Paul and Babe on-a-stick puppets. Ask to make them life-sized and see what they say. Admission to the Minnesota History Center is free on Tuesdays from 5-8 pm.
Wednesday, June 19
Imagine it’s 1858. Minnesota has just been admitted to the Union, Abraham Lincoln lost his bid for the US Senate, and Minnetonka Mills is the biggest business center in Hennepin County. Thanks to a robust sawmill on Minnehaha Creek, over 2,000 pieces of furniture roll out of the mill every week. By 1883 the Minnetonka Mill Company had switched from lumber to flour and was pumping out 350 barrels of what I like to call “Magic Cookie Dust” per day. Charles Burwell moved in from Connecticut to manage this operation and built a nice little home on the edge of the millpond. The Burwell House still stands, restored to its 1894 grandeur, and you can tour it today for free from 6-8 pm. Why the history lesson? That way you can help give the tour. Guides love it when people do that.
Thursday, June 20
Another history lesson: A guy named Ralph Samuelson invented waterskiing in 1922 in Lake City, Minnesota. Ralph was 18 when he strapped two boards to his feet and held on to a clothesline while his brother, Ben, fired up the family boat for a ride. Now let’s see, a powerboat, a couple of 2 by 4’s, and some clothesline? I must admit, that does not sound like an activity I’d green light for my boys. But lucky for us, it worked out in a big way. People eventually decided two skis were too many, and only one skier was too few. Even one layer of skiers became passé, so now we have (say this in a big, low voice) “The Waterskiing Pyramid, mid, mid . . .” You can see all of this tonight for free when the Twin City River Rats perform on a river near you at 7 pm.
Friday, June 21
Today is the first day of summer, and it’s going to feel like it! It’s also “Soul Folk Fusion Night” at the Northrop Summer Music Festival. I coined that term, and am not sure what it sounds like, but if you head to Northrop Plaza at the University of Minnesota tonight at 7 pm, you’ll get an earful for free. Chastity Brown brings her “Americana Soul” to the stage along with Southwire (“Gospel Folk”) and the Ericksons (“Experimental Folk”). I think “Experimental Folk” means they play their banjos with bows but, again, you’ll have to show up to find out.
Molly and the Magic Boot plays at the Open Eye Figure Theater Friday at 7 pm and Saturday at 11 am and 4 pm. The shows are free (donations accepted) and ice cream cones will be served after each show! I’ve seen two performances by Open Eye, and both have been outstanding. They will also come to you on what they dub the “Driveway Tour,” and offer “Camp Go Figure” for kids ages 10-13 beginning July 9. Call (612) 874-6338 for camp details. You can bring your life-sized Paul and Babe on-a-stick puppets from Tuesday and show off your skills.
Daily Adventure updates available on Twitter @AColdOmaha. Happy Trails!
It’s my fault. Over the years my boys have run a dirt path into our back yard. I planted grass seed yet again this spring and then hoped for rain. I must be doing something right this year because we got it. Oh, have we gotten it. So I apologize.
Summer doesn’t technically begin for another couple of weeks, so I think we still have a shot at some sunshine. But, for all intents and purposes, my summer starts today. My boys and I just finished another school year and now we are looking at several months of togetherness.
With all this time staring us in the face, we need activities that get us out of the house every day. Maybe you do too. That’s where Daily Adventures come in. I’ll share the free or inexpensive things that I find to do with kids over the summer. I plan every weekday for you! Sometimes I’ll even throw in bonus ideas for the weekend.
If you’d like to share a fun idea, send me a tweet @AColdOmaha. Enjoy!
Tuesday, June 11
I’d like to start by providing a fallback that you can use all summer long. My favorite resource is Hennepin County Library’s Kid Links. Here you’ll find all sorts of free activities for kids including book clubs, performances, and hands-on science classes. Today you can make your own Diary of a Wimpy Kid, make your hair “fly” using static electricity, or get charged up about how batteries were invented. Yes, that was a corny pun, but when you imagine your iphone without a battery, you might get charged up too.
Wednesday, June 12
While we're looking for things to do this summer, let's do something good. Big Hearted Families, associated with Doing Good Together, can help make this happen by walking you through a five-step process for volunteering in your community. It can be as simple as picking up litter on your street one time, or as involved as staffing a non-profit on a regular basis. You can find a list of creative volunteer opportunities in June here. The warm fuzzies you get will feel good, even when it gets hot outside.
Thursday, June 13
I don’t often dance. My rhythm is decent enough, but I have no moves. None. I just recently started putting my hands up around my shoulders while “Love Shack” plays at weddings. If I’m feeling really spunky, I might walk in place and snap to the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.” But there’s hope for me. The Ordway is hosting a Summer Dance Series on Thursdays beginning today. They’ll have pros teaching basic steps from Surf Rock to Swing. Meet for the free lesson at Rice Park at 5:30 pm, then practice your newly acquired steps to the sweet sounds of a local band beginning at 7:15. Even if dance isn’t your thing, a summer’s eve in Rice Park isn’t too bad.
Friday, June 14
I’m a schoolteacher, and I don’t have anything named after me. Harriet Bishop was a schoolteacher during the pioneer days of St. Paul, and she has a whole island named after her! The Minnesota Opera is performing La Boheme on Harriet Island tonight for free at 7 pm. Tomorrow evening the Lake Harriet bandshell will witness the soaring vocals. Lake Harriet, in case you’re wondering, is named after Harriet Lovejoy, the wife of Fort Snelling’s founder. I guess you gotta be in the right place at the right time to get something named after you. Anyway, I don’t know if opera is my thing, but the fact that it’s outdoors and free make it worth checking it out. Add a picnic and I might just go both nights.
Bonus: There are all sorts of family activities to be had at the Stone Arch Bridge Festival this weekend. You’ll find lots of music, art, car shows, and even free bicycle repair. The festival runs from 6 pm tonight to 5 pm Sunday.