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Middle of America

photography & words by Ryan Itchon

 travel story/



“Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you've never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground.” 
― Judith Thurman



Whenever I discuss the cities that I have visited I usually bring up the beautiful architecture, great cafés, sporting events, the eclectic art museums, places to shop and dine, but rarely would I talk about the nature within the city. With the cities that I have explored and roamed around weekly, the fast pace life of the concrete jungle feels overwhelming and the natural surroundings are last in conversation. However, my perceptions changed when I visited Minneapolis, Minnesota. Now all I can bring up is my admiration for the sublime natural environment within the metropolitan area. Minnesota in general is mainly known for it’s gorgeous surrounding waters.  Downtown you can stroll along the riverfront of the Mississippi River, take part in outdoor activities at Lake Calhoun, and within the city is the rush of Minnehaha Falls.

 Directly in the heart of downtown Minneapolis you can catch the Mississippi River flowing down the city. There are so many bridges that you can cross to see the riverfront such as the Stone Arch Bridge. The Stone Arch Bridge was built in 1883, formerly a railroad bridge, but has been made for pedestrians with biking and skating lanes. Starting off by the east side of the bridge near Pillsbury Park, making your way across you will notice the skyscrapers centred with the bridge perfectly framed in view. Further along the bridge you’ll see the historic Mill City Ruins and then the Mississippi River on the right channeling downstream from the upper dam of St. Anthony Falls. Strolling around sunset and at night is a great way to wind down, collect your thoughts and relax for a moment from the busy downtown life.

 Minnesota is regarded as the Land of 10,000 Lakes. In Minneapolis many locals and tourists enjoy Lake Calhoun during spring and summer for the outdoor activities. Arriving early in morning is great for catching the beautiful sunrise, to gaze at the cityscape reflection in the water and to walk around in the stillness before the rush of the recreational fun like boating, kayaking, SUP boarding, biking, and runners consume the water and trails.

A bit away from downtown, but still within Minneapolis city limits is the 53ft Minnehaha Falls. The waterfall flows from the Minnehaha creek and is linked by the Mississippi River. The falls is located at the Minnehaha Park with several trails to do a mini hike, open areas to have a picnic, and it also has a great off leash area for dogs. It is gorgeous all year long, but fall and winter is the best time to visit. The autumn leaves are warm and vibrant, there are several mini bridges to cross, along with boulders that you can sit on to do some light reading or have some quiet time by the water. In the winter, the waterfall freezes and forms a beautiful blue pseudo-ice cave that you can enter, but at your own risk.  A little bit of a challenge is involved when trying to explore the cave. Steep climbing and walking must be taken cautiously over the ice covered hills and rocks. With the harsh negative temperatures that Minnesota receives, the climate does not stop wanderers from adventuring this frozen wonderland. 

Minneapolis has everything you would expect from a major city, from architecture to fine dinning, however strolling across the Mississippi River at sunset, having recreational fun at Lake Calhoun and exploring the pseudo- ice caves at Minnehaha Falls will have you wrapped up in the city’s natural elegance.