Monday, June 23
What do you get when you cross a centipede with a parrot? A walkie-talkie! How about crossing an elephant with a skin doctor? a pachydermatologist! One more - What do you get when you cross a Parisian expatriate with some Minnesota musicians? Pari-sota! Parisota plays "Hot Club" music, which I guess grows out of the Jazz branch of the musical tree. If you really want to find out what Hot Club is, check out Parisota for free in Rice Park at noon today. Maybe bring a hot club sandwich to enjoy while listening to the Hot Club music. Or bring a 9-iron and a lighter and . . . nevermind. Poke your head into the nearby Saint Paul Public Library while you're there. It's worth a peek.
Tuesday, June 24
Do you know why movies are sometimes called flicks? Apparently early motion pictures were viewed at 16 frames per second (fps), with a shutter opening and closing for each frame. At this speed, the human eye can detect a flicker - shortened to "flicks" - from the shutter action. Today each frame is viewed twice - films are shown at 24 fps, but the shutter opens and closes twice for each frame. The 48 clicks per second is too fast for our eyes to detect. Even if you're not fascinated by that bit of trivia, I bet you'll be enthralled by the Penguin World Surfing Championships covered in Surf's Up, this week's Toddler Flicks selection at the Mall of America. Toddler Flicks offers a different movie every Tuesday at 11:30 am for free. And just think, now you can tell everyone in the popcorn line why it's called Toddler Flicks! Yea!
Wednesday, June 25
My favorite part of going to a Twins game when I was a kid was when the guy with a cooler strapped around his neck would start walking up the stairs toward my seat calling out, "Malt cups! Get your malt cups here!" The ice cream was OK, but I loved it because the malt cup came to me. I didn't even have to leave my seat, and suddenly I was eating ice cream from a wooden spoon-like paddle. I still love it when stuff comes to me, like the Smithsonian traveling exhibition titled IndiVisible, for example. It's at Fort Snelling until July 20 and focuses on the intersection of African and Native peoples in the Americas. Not only did this important exhibit come to my town, but it's free to see. IndiVisible's got it all over a malt cup.
Thursday, June 26
I believe the Minneapolis park system to be one of the best in the world. No residence in the city is more than a few blocks from a park, and the land bordering major bodies of water are open to the public. One of the first park superintendents was Theodore Wirth. You probably have heard of him, thanks to his namesakes on the northwest side of the metro. But another name to know is Eloise Butler. She had to foresight to set land aside to preserve the native flora as Minneapolis grew. The Wild Botanical Garden opened in 1907 and was eventually named after Butler. If you visit the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden this evening at 6 o'clock, a naturalist will lead you on a free Garden Highlights Nature Hike. For me, garden highlights mean a patch without weeds, but I'm guessing there'll be a little more to this hike.
Friday, June 27
When people ask what you're up to this weekend you can say with a shrug, "We're going to a class hosted by the University of Minnesota's Institute for Astrophysics. No big deal." But the event is called Universe in the Park (UitP), so I suppose it really doesn't get any bigger than that. At UitP you'll hear a 20-30 minute presentation on an astronomical topic such as taking a journey through the solar system. Then, if the weather is right, you get to use their telescopes to take a guided tour of the Universe. The class tonight is at the Eastman Nature Center in Dayton from 8:30-10:30 pm. You'll get home kind of late, but would you expect anything different after a tour of the universe?
The North Pole now tilts toward the sun, which lingers in our sky for over 15 hours every day. Its glow remains on the western horizon well past 9 o’clock, and daytime highs skyrocket into the mid-to-upper 70’s. It must be summertime in the Twin Cities! Here are some free or low-cost adventures you can share with your family over the next few fabulous fortnights.
Monday, June 16
Let’s be honest. On the “Spectrum of Awesome Moments” during any given week, Monday mornings tend to anchor the “Not at all awesome” end of said spectrum, right? But that just might change this summer thanks to Bloomington’s “Monday Morning Kids” series! At 10:30 am every Monday, entertainers including musicians, yo-yo masters, and DJ’s will be on hand to start your week off on the right foot. Today the Minnesota Zoomobile brings its “entertaining environmental experience” to Moir Park. All programs in the series are free! So, while Monday mornings may never occupy the “Most awesomest thing ever!” spot, they might at least trump nose-hair-plucking day.
Tuesday, June 17
Remember the song "99 Luftballons," later recorded in English as "99 Red Balloons?" It tells the story of a nuclear war that breaks out when a bunch of floating balloons are mistaken for missiles. The song was recorded over 30 years ago, but its Wikipedia page was last modified two weeks ago. Apparently we, as a species, are fascinated by red balloons. Or maybe we're fascinated by stories. You're covered either way at the Red Balloon Bookshop. If you visit today at 6:30 pm you can meet Jacqueline West, author of the "Books of Elsewhere" series. If Elsewhere isn't your thing, you are invited to fold dragon origami, sign up for one of several summer reading programs, or secure a ticket to meet Chris Colfer on July 16. He's known as Kurt Hummel on Glee, but has several titles to his credit as well. When you're done at the bookshop, take a stroll along Grand Avenue. It's got a bit more personality than most streets, and you just might find yourself a real red balloon.
Wednesday, June 18
If you're an American Idol fan you're familiar with this scene: A camera focuses in closely on Ryan Seacrest's face as he reveals the city they're in holding auditions. He holds nothing back on the big finish, "This . . . is American Idol!" while the camera pans back to reveal thousands of Idol hopefuls crowded around Mr. Seacrest. At these words the crowd breaks into wild applause and those close enough to the host get their 15 seconds of fame. That scene will be shot here, today, at Mariucci Arena! But that's not the Daily Adventure. Idol just hasn't been here for eight years, so I thought I should mention it. The adventure for today is Cromulent Shakespeare Company's performance of The Comedy of Errors on Maple Grove's Town Green. The performance is free and begins at 7 pm, rain or shine. Right before the show starts stand up and say, with feeling, "This . . . is A Comedy of Errors!" I dare ya.
Thursday, June 19
There's been debate recently about a new legislative office building near the capitol. Some say the proposed design is too expensive and a new building is unnecessary. I'm sure there were similar debates back in 1892 when construction on the Landmark Center began, but what a building it turned out to be! Soaring spaces, marble and intricate woodwork abound. Take a free, hour-long tour of this castle today at 11 am. The history of the place tells like a good story - grand beginnings eventually muddied by gangsters and bureaucracy until its destruction seemed inevitable. I'll let your tour guide finish the story but > spoiler alert < the Landmark still stands.
Friday, June 20
I'm a teacher. I've witnessed first-hand what can happen when two kids who are just learning to play the violin decide to perform a duet on talent day. I've also witnessed first-hand what happens when the MacPhail Center for Music gets ahold of budding musicians. It's pretty amazing. So I feel like I can fully endorse the free MacPhail Allegro Orchestra Festival performance in Mill Ruins Park today at 1 pm. There's lots to see and do before or after the concert as well. The memorial to the victims of the 35W Bridge collapse, Guthrie Theater and the Mill City Museum are all right there and open to the public, not to mention Mill Ruins Park itself. And, while you're down there, consider leaving a blanket on the hill to save your spot for one of the best Fourth of July fireworks displays in town. I'm sure it will still be there when you come back.
Hello, Regal Guardians. The time has come for me to hang up Daily Adventures for another school year. Endless days with my boys will soon be replaced with harried evenings filled with homework, practices and other obligations. But we’ll always have these memories, right?
Our favorite adventures this year were the Twin City Model Railroad Museum combined with a walk on the Heritage Trail (June 26 & 28), a bike ride to the Sibley House Historic Site (July 6), the walking tour leaving from the Mississippi River Visitor Center (July 9), and the kohlrabi/opo squash dinner we enjoyed after our visit to the Nicollet Mall Farmer’s Market on August 1st.
I will continue to tweet fun things that cross my path @AColdOmaha. Until next summer, happy trails to you!
Tuesday, August 13
I yo-yo the same way that I juggle. I begin with my hands in a comfortable position; my forearms parallel to the ground. Then, with each successful toss of the ball or round trip of the yo-yo, my hands move gradually higher in the air until I’m trying to perform my feats with my hands above my head. I bet Dazzling Dave Schulte doesn’t yo-yo over his head. He is one of only 12 recognized National Yo-Yo Masters (Randy Jackson is another), and he is freestyling today at the St. Anthony Library at 2 pm. Dave is dazzling, so it’s sure to be an awe-full performance, but we’ll have to gasp silently. The show is in a library, after all.
Wednesday, August 14
It seems that it was fashionable in the early twentieth century, if you had access to a lot of money, to build yourself a castle. One example is Casa Loma in Toronto. Casa Loma was completed in 1914, but the family moved out in 1924 because they couldn’t afford it any longer. I’m guessing a similar fate befell the Turnblad Mansion, home to the American Swedish Institute. This castle was completed in 1908 but was given to the community in 1929. Lucky for us, because these days the ASI houses lots for us to see, do, and eat! Today you can view an exhibit on glass making called “Pull, Twist, Blow,” and the kids can try their hands at glass frosting from 1 to 3 pm in the Slojd Club for Youth. Glass work unleashes a powerful hunger, so you might want to visit the critically acclaimed FIKA Cafe while you’re there. You know it’s good when the menu boasts ingredients like remoulade, vasterbotten, and arugula emulsion.
Thursday, August 15
Thursdays in the Twin Cities aren’t just for farmer’s markets anymore! Today you have at least five free music options around the metro. Mears Park (Heiruspecs), Bryant Square Park (Dandelion Wine), Como Lakeside Pavilion (Fridley City and German Bands), Minnehaha Falls Park (Sweet Rhubarb), and the Lake Harriet Bandshell (Alison Scott) are all places where you can find your groove. You can probably find free music around Target Field after the Twins game, too, if five-gallon buckets and pan flutes are your thing.
Friday, August 16
If you weren’t able to build yourself a castle in the early 1900’s, you could order a ready-to-assemble house from the Sears catalog. To support an operation of this magnitude, Sears opened nine regional catalog centers, one of them on Lake Street in Minneapolis. Sears abandoned this building in 1994, and it sat empty for 12 years until the Midtown Global Market opened in 2006. MGM now hosts Family Friday every Friday from 5-8 pm. In addition to the free music and activities for all ages, you’ll find myriad unique businesses and restaurants. Houses, however, are not currently available here.
Daily updates on Twitter @AColdOmaha.
Tuesday, August 6
Disney and Pixar treat us pretty well, right? They know that children don’t go to movies on their own, so they usually toss the adults a few bones, over the kids’ heads, to keep us interested too. Hopefully PBS Kids follows suit in “Sid the Science Kid: Sid the Movie.” The Theatres at Mall of America will screen “Sid the Movie” for free today at 11:30 am. Sid himself will be on hand to greet moviegoers. A giant kid with purple starfish hair seems a little intimidating to me, but little ones rarely seem to have an issue with these types of characters. Go figure.
Wednesday, August 7
There are few things more enjoyable than an outdoor, summertime concert. The anticipation of the show is almost tangible before the music starts. Moods are so bright they outlast long lines at Porta-Potties, and even the occasional rainstorm doesn’t seem to dampen spirits. In fact, adverse conditions might even enhance the memories. Today we have the chance to see a Grammy Award-winning band outdoors for free! The Okee Dokee Brothers perform at Woodbury Lakes Shopping Center from 10-11 am. I’m sure they will play songs from their Grammy winner, “Can you Canoe?” You can hold up a sign that says “I Can Canoe” and look like a cool insider.
Thursday, August 8
Three fun facts about skating: 1) The oldest skates ever discovered were found in a lake in Switzerland and are about 5000 years old. They were made with a horse’s leg bone and leather straps. 2) As long as ice is warmer than -4 degrees Fahrenheit, there is always a very thin layer of water on the surface. That’s why it’s slippery. When skates contact ice it melts even more so you are, in essence, “sailing” across a sheet of water when you skate. 3) Skate rental and ice time is free on Wednesdays and Thursdays in August from 11:30 am to 1 pm at Victory Memorial Ice Arena. Come sail away!
Friday, August 9
This isn’t a cheap idea, but for baseball fans it could be pretty memorable. Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins and the 2014 All-Star Game, offers tours almost daily from April through September. The 90-minute tour is free for kids younger than six, but ranges from $8 to $17 for older folks depending on school, military and Social Security status. I am a marginal baseball fan, but I’m a huge fan of Target Field. It’s a great place to spend a few hours in the stands. I’m betting it’s even sweeter on the field.
Saturday, August 10
Find your inner caveman or cavewoman at the Carl Kroening Interpretive Center from 1 to 3 pm today. For $5 you get to search for wild edibles, learn how to throw a spear, and start fire without newspapers, matches and lighter fluid. I’ll believe that when I see it. Register ahead of time, and then step back in time to the Land of the Lost!
Also today, Fort Snelling State Park hosts "Campfire Tales: Stories of the Night" for free from 7:30-8:30 pm. Sounds like it will be just like a summer camp bonfire with sing-alongs and stories about night creatures. Muhahaha! That was my scary laugh.
Sunday, August 11
The Minneapolis Institute of Art is raising the roof! Well, raising on the roof, really. In collaboration with the University of Minnesota’s Bee Squad, the MIA has four beehives buzzing on their roof. You can find out more about deez bees and other critters during Family Day at the MIA from 11 am to 5 pm. You’ll find all sorts of bug-inspired exhibits, projects and performances for free at the museum and the neighboring Washburn Fair Oaks Park. Bee smoker not required.
Daily updates on Twitter @AColdOmaha.