Soooooooo change of plans. Remember in my last post how I said I was headed to Belgium for the World Beard and Moustache Championships? Well I never made it to Belgium. A few days into my trip I crashed a bicycle in Amsterdam and broke my right elbow. My team of beautiful 5'11" Dutch doctors told me that my olecranon wasn't going to heal itself and I needed surgery. Alas, I was forced to cut my trip short by 10 days to fly home to Colorado to have surgery. It was a rotten bit of luck, but I'm focusing on the silver linings, the biggest one being that I now have the entire summer off work because of my STD!
SHORT TERM DISABILITY that is! I consider myself very fortunate to work for an organization that provides this benefit. Much of my job involves lifting heavy boxes, and until I can once again lift all the heavy boxes my STD insurance pays me to not be at work. So now I'm a full-time travel blogger! Naturally I booked a few Crapitols trips to fill up my summer vacation. One week after surgery I was off to Minnesota!
I stepped off the plane at MSP into the muggy Minnesota morning and boarded the bus for downtown St. Paul, the less glamorous, but just as lovely, of the Twin Cities. Upon arrival I grabbed a cup of Caribou Coffee and trod the few blocks to the capitol.
I breezed past the hoards of 5th graders swarming the building and straight into the tour office. I expected a bit of security, but to my surprise there was absolutely none, which is always a relief when you've got your carry-on backpack full of Oxycodone, fiber supplements (OIC is a very real problem) and Preparation-H wipes, and you'd rather not have a state trooper going through all your stuff. I waited a few brief minutes with the group of a dozen or so retiree couples for the next tour to begin. I met a nice gentleman from Louisiana who told me this would be his 49th state capitol, only missing Sacramento. We exchanged nerdy bits of capitol trivia until Victoria emerged to lead us on our tour.
This gleaming-white marble masterpiece is the third building to serve as the seat of Minnesota's government. Begun in 1896, opened to the public in 1905, and magnificently restored from 2013-2017, this building is simply stunning. Victoria explained that most of the state capitol buildings constructed around the turn of the 20th century were heavily influenced by the Beaux Arts style of the 1893 World's Colombian Exposition in Chicago. The Minnesota Capitol has the second largest unsupported (not sure what this distinction means exactly) marble dome in the world, behind St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Renowned architect Cass Gilbert, whose resume includes the United States Supreme Court building, and the capitols of Arkansas and West Virginia, designed the building. When it opened to the public in 1905, the simple plains folk of Minnesota flocked to see the electric lights for the first time in their lives.
Under Victoria's superb navigation, our group artfully dodged several large packs of 5th-graders, and we made our way to the roof. Yes, the roof! It's always a crap-shoot whether or not a capitol tour will lead you up to the dome or the roof (so far only Denver and Lincoln have offered access to their respective heights). We ascended a tiny winding staircase and found ourselves on the roof with a glorious view of downtown Minneapolis eights miles away. Atop the Southern portico of the building sits the gleaming gold quadriga (a statue in the configuration of a chariot pulled by four horses) titled The Progress of the State, designed by Daniel Chester French, who also designed the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.
We were lead back downstairs to our final stop in the Governor's ceremonial reception room, outside of which sat a guy staging a one-man protest with a sign reading, "Jesus created the Earth flat." I don't know about you, dear readers, but I can think of at least three things wrong with that statement.
Having completed her excellent tour spiel, Victoria dismissed us to explore at our leisure, which coincided perfectly for my urge to find the bathroom. As I was pretty limited in the use of my right arm, I opted for the nearest ADA bathroom. This private suite was everything one could hope for in a modern public restroom, and opioid-induced constipation be damned, I had an immensely satisfying dump. Thank you Metamucil!
I can't tell you how satisfying it is to successfully complete a mission such as this. It's tough to wake up early and travel four hours via bus and plane and bus again just to poop in a very specific place at a specific time. Within a few hours of landing I had already achieved my main objective, so the rest of this short 3-day trip was icing on the cake.
I bought a couple of enamel pins in the gift shop, a US Capitols Passport (which I hadn't seen anywhere previously), as well as a postcard for my dear grandma, filled out the tour evaluation survey (again, excellent job Victoria), and went on my merry way.
Also they had a Lego replica of the capitol.
I then hopped on the Metro bound for Minneapolis to meet my dear friend and gracious host for the weekend, Chris. He and his too lovely wife Jen gave me a place to crash, three sweet dogs to pet all weekend, and a guided tour of the cities best alcoholic slushie drinks. I also finally made it the legendary First Avenue to see sexy-silky-smooth Chromatics.
I was also able to have lunch with my dear cousin and godfather, Tony, whom I hadn't seen in a few years. He's the short one in the picture:
I couldn't have asked for a better couple of days in Minnesota. This was a much needed bit of fun after a few weeks of broken bones and cancelled trips and surgeries and the rest of life's little bummers. Thanks so much to Chris and Jen and Ben and Tony and Victoria and the Minnesota Historical Society and Abbie and RZA and Winston. I love you all.
AND THEN the icing on top of the icing on the cake: empty seat next to me on the flight home!
Stay tuned for a barrage of crapitol trips throughout the rest of the summer!