Wabasha Street Cave Tours

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


and one for a St. Paul writer

Found this article in my favorite bathtub reading periodical (print edition!) while preparing for an Oscars party,  where I’ll go armed with another St. Paul writer’s predictions.  (Big prizes!)

A bus riding, St. Paul dad, encounters some Nice Girls. and becomes hopeful about his daughter’s future.

of Dessa Darling & new urbanists

From the SXSW line-up.  Dessa Darling, as she is sometimes referred to,  recently became Artist in Residence at St Paul’s McNally School of Music.   She played  at the Concrete and Grass festival in Mears Park last summer.   Her next St. Paul play date is with the Live at Five series on April 19 .

Today I’ve got a deadline for  a story  on the recent 30th Anniversary of Seaside, Florida and joint meeting of the Congress for New Urbanism, the Founder’s Forum and awarding of the 2011 Seaside Prize to Dhiru Thadani.  Coming from the genuinely functional urban area of St.Paul,  I find it amusing to listen to New Urbanists banter and bicker about the proper way to design walkable developments.

These men and women have devoted their lives to designing developments that look, and act, like St. Paul. The streets are lined with sidewalks,  the houses have front porches, and cars are relegated to an approach through the alley.  The civic buildings have architectural merit – they are landmarks in the landscape.  And the focal points of a distant vistas – like the  St Paul cathedral as viewed  for miles while driving down  Smith Avenue and crossing  the High Bridge.  I digress.

This year the Forum was heavily tweeted about, and the conference attendees were divided into the old guard who wouldn’t know a baggage tag from a hashtag, and the new generation of urbanists,   such as @cnunextgen, who tapped away on their smart phones while the forum panel debated .

Want to know what these brilliant  folks are thinking about smart growth?  Here are a few gems from the tweet feed,


The organization is important. Who else would have been able to pull together in Mississippi. – Plater-Zyberk #SeasideAt30
29 Jan Favorite Retweet Rep

n Greece, despite lack of maintenance & space, nothing was torn down because everything belonged to someone specifically -Stef#SeasideAt30
CNU NextGen
cnunextgen CNU NextGen
RT @stevemouzon: An object is an object. It is not necessarily in a causal relationship with cultureStefanos Polyzoides, #SeasideAt30
CNU NextGen
cnunextgen CNU NextGen
Doing & learning, doing & understanding, doing & transforming. Urban and Architectural design as ways of becoming. -Polyzoides#SeasideAt30
CNU NextGen
cnunextgen CNU NextGen
RT @suhender: Community isnt just about people. It includes social financial and natural capital as well. ~Hank Dittmar #SeasideAt30
CNU NextGen


Enjoy the music.