While workers in St. Paul completed construction on the Red Bull Crashed Ice course — a two-day event for professional skaters to race down a 1,600- foot- long- ice track. This seemed a good brief recess from too many daily political crises. Returning to the city for the sixth time, it typically draws more than 100,000 spectators participating and enjoying winter with Minnesotans and its many out-of-town visitors. The race began its second night at its top in front of the Cathedral, with night lights flooding the skies, its bevy of flashing non-stop shades blending their hues of oranges, purples, yellow, blue— as first the women skaters; then the men, raced down its many curves and steep declines challenging them as we spectators gasped, wondering how any could survive.
By day, other events such as the annual Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt, started the next morning, promising that somewhere in that snow, $10,000 could be yours. It continues as many days as it takes to be found somewhere in the limits of St. Paul, with daily clues provided by the St. Paul newspaper. Amazing snow sculptures could be seen at the Vulcan snow Park. Royalty oversees the annual winter parade ending at Rice Park that features a 70- foot tall, 4,000-block ice palace in time to be available for the many thousands more pounding the streets of Minneapolis to attend the Super Bowl L11, located in Minneapolis this year!
No stranger to entertaining thousands, the powers that be in Minneapolis have set up a zipline across the Mississippi River to Minneapolis to catch 10 nights of free outdoor concerts including a Prince Tribute and other concerts costing as much as $1,750. The American Bierkebeiner cross-country ski race has been moved from Haywood, Wis. Though all the 10,000 tickets to ride the 800-footline across the Mississippi, along the Grain belt Bridge are already sold, it should be quite the spectacle.
Moving to Minnesota in 1969 from mid Iowa, my husband and I could not believe Barbara and Don, our new colleagues at the St. Paul Public Schools were serious, when inviting the two of us to join about three other couples to go “North” for a 3-day Columbus holiday, skiing at a lodge instead of going South somewhere. Neither of us had skis or warm ski clothes – and more importantly, both of us were OK with that. Yet somehow we let them talk us into it. Following one anthers cars on the highway ‘north’, we stopped at a favorite restaurant to dine on steak while listening to them laughing about past adventures there such as taking turns waiting to use the outdoor john.
“What?” I shouted to Don. “You said the lodge had an indoor john or I wouldn’t go!”
“Well, It does have an indoor john but it isn’t used in the winter,” he said while the others laughed.
None of them mentioned following the lit candles stuck in the snow leading to the sauna on the edge of the frozen lake, then leaving all our clothes except our tennis shoes in the dressing room and running into the enormous heat immediately steaming up my rimmed glasses, I being the only one wearing glasses which handicapped me since I couldn’t see much without my glasses. One of the guys said, “I must say, the gals look better than us!” which wasn’t too comforting, especially since my vision was blurred at best.
Suddenly another guy ran onto the frozen lake and jumped into a hole into the frigid water, jumping out rapidly while laughing urging the rest of us to follow. Barbara told me the tennis shoes protect our feet and the towel wrapped around the edge of the ice hole protects us when we jump out — fast! My husband grabbed my hand and we both jumped in, then out fast, while laughing crazily, feeling like we had really passed a test. From that day forth, I began cross-country skiing, then tried down-hill skiing, and skinny dipping in Norwegian lakes. I have since become an avid outdoors adventurer. Thanks for having Norwegian friends. But next I’ll join the womens’ protest marches going on not only across the USA but in Europe as well. And I no longer wear contacts.