Francisco, Pedro and Cesar are 13-year old friends who met in St Paul. (Pedro and Cesar are cousins) They were aboard the Anson Northrup during the Great River Passage Unveiling last Thursday. They are from Mexico; they attend middle school at Washington and Battle Creek, and have access to the internet at Francisco’s. They like to bicycle! Photos include a Google map showing approximately where the boat turned around, a rare river’s view of the industry (scrap metal recycling, gravel, and coal) which uses the 17 mile Great River Passage to transport goods and services, the train trestle that chatty Captain Bob navigated the long, large Northrup skillfully around, the sun setting on the gorgeous bluff above Pig’s Eye Lake and other St Paulites who enjoyed the free 90-minute tour.
There is a self-help book for people who are stuck in a creative rut. It is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and it is almost guaranteed to jostle the inner creativity that you have been suppressing for however many days, months, years, lifetimes. What I took out of the 12-week program is that you gotta nestle up real close with your inner artist and take some time with him/her. It means doing something spontaneous with yourself, and completely hogging him/her for a few hours, as in not sharing her with even your closest friends/lovers/family members.
With this date-with-myself in mind, I checked out the St. Paul Spot. A guided tour at Wabasha Caves piqued my interest, and next thing I knew, I was zipping through West St. Paul, on my way to the caves. I arrived 10 minutes early, sitting on the stone retaining wall until our Baby-Face Nelson tour guide announced the beginning of the tour. He led us to the first of seven caves and introduced the caves from the Ordovician period—sounds like it would be pretty nice to live in the jungle-like, sandy-beached version of Minnesota. Well, that ordovician beach eventually formed into the 99.9% pure silica sandstone which was mined mid-1800’s to make glass. The caves, which would be more accurately referred to as 7 mines, have a revealing history from the mine that supplied the Ford plant with their windshields, to a mushroom warehouse, with a lot of surprises inbetween.
If you want to take yourself on a date, especially at a place you can geek out on interesting history and ghost stories, the Wabasha Caves are for you– and your inner artist. Whether you go alone like me, or bring a friend/family/date, you’ll find this tour an eccentric change of pace, entertaining and educational all at the same time. But let this be a fair warning: although your inner date may be too abstract to give a damn about temperature, the steady 54 degree caves will probably chill your more corporeal self, so bring a sweater.
Three themed Summer tours include the Historic Tour: Thursdays at 5:00 pm, Saturdays at 11:00 am & 12:00 noon and Sundays at 12:00 noon; The Gangster Tours on Saturdays, (2 hours) 9:00 am and 12:00 noon $24 (reservations recommended); and the “NEW” Ghosts and Graves Tour, a two-hour tour on Saturdays at 2:30pm, $24 (reservations recommended.)
You can find all of these tours and more on the daily listings of the St Paul Spot website and mobile city guide at www.stpaulspot.com