I did something really exciting last week: I met a blog friend! I’ve never done this before. Who was the lucky lady?

Lauren of Our Big Fat Farm Wedding: Crazy Ever After.

Photographic proof:

Lauren is just as funny/down to earth/nice/plain awesome in real life as she is in blogland. She took me all over the Twin Cities, including on an art crawl where I met her family! It was all very official- I felt like I was really “meeting the family”. We talked pretty much nonstop and I had a blast. We went to lunch, where our “al fresco” dining quickly turned into “al downpour” dining, and I watched her handle a 4-month-old and a 16-month-old- and their food- in the rain- with stunning grace! I also got to meet her other half, Jesse, who kindly indulged us in taking several pictures of us with our hands on our hips. Jesse is great.

I was actually in Minneapolis because Stan was presenting a poster at a geology conference, which meant that when Lauren wasn’t driving my butt around in Hi-oon-die, I was usually just hoofing it or riding Nice Ride on my own for hours. I saw some real cool stuff.

I posed (again with hands on hips) in front of the famous cherry-on-spoon sculpture at the Walker Art Center:

Walked through Loring Park

Saw the cool old Gold Medal Flour sign

and learned a lot about the history of milling in the city. For some reason I found this really fascinating.

Because of St. Anthony Falls…

…lots of mills took advantage of this water power and built along the banks here. Between 1880 and 1930 Minneapolis was the milling capital of the nation. In that first photo of the Gold Medal Flour sign, you can see a glass structure in the ruins. That’s Mill City Museum, which has a lot of interesting history about milling and the city in general.

Did you know that flour can be highly explosive? There was an explosion in the Washburn A Mill that devastated the city, wiping out about a third of its milling capacity. Bricks from the tower were found seven miles away, and people 25 miles away were reporting an earthquake. Holy crapola! After that, they started installing ventilation systems to control the dust.

Pillsbury’s Best Flour can also still be seen.

Stone Arch Bridge was built in 1883 to connect fields of grain with the mills on the other side of the Mississippi. At its peak, the (newly built) Washburn A Mill alone was processing about a hundred boxcars of wheat per day!

I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by this. Just thinking about the birth of industry in our nation, the chance for people to come to the big city and work (yes, even women)… it’s just very cool to me to think of our young country dealing with stuff like, “Well okay- we’ve got all this wheat- where the heck are we going to grind it up? Oh look, a waterfall on the Mississippi.”

The last milling-related thing I will mention is that this is a photo of some ruins of the waterways that were used to power the mills:

I also rode Nice Ride around Lake of the Isles

Stan took a break from geologisting to hang out with me and climb on some stuff.

Did you know that you don’t have to mow your lawn in Minneapolis, because there are little potato men that do it for you?

It’s a cool place. One you should visit, should you get the chance.

Thanks for the memories, Minneapolis and its lovely inhabitants.