A Visit to the Twin Cities: HmongTown, George Floyd Square, Lake Minnetonka and lots of Sculptures

On our last day in the Twin Cities, Daniel and I headed into town to do some sightseeing. Neither of us were particularly keen to navigate traffic in the motorhome so we rented a car instead. We ended up with a Kia Soul, a zippy little vehicle that was an absolute pleasure to drive.

With our new wheels secured, we moved on to the next order of business – lunch!

Our wheels for the day. This Kia is zippy! Ok everything is probably zippy compared to a motorhome.

HmongTown

A sprawling Asian market located in St. Paul, HmongTown is an indoor-outdoor complex with a vast array of stalls and vendors. The Twin Cities is home to the largest urban concentration of Hmong in the United States. HmongTown market is an important gathering place for the community.

Seattle is also home to a large Asian population and we had we grown accustomed to various Asian cuisines back home. Daniel and I hadn’t had access to many diverse foods since starting our roadtrip and we felt right at home here. The produce aisles were particularly interesting and we enjoyed browsing all of the unique fruits and vegetables.

We arrived hungry and set out to find a food stall. HmongTown is enormous and we wandered around for a while before finding a couple of food stands. I ordered pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup which is one of my favorite foods back in Seattle. This particular pho wasn’t my favorite but it was still a pleasure to be eating pho at all.

On our way back to the car, we explored another building and found a little food court with a bunch of food stands clustered together. This is where we probably should have gone in the first place. Ah well, now we know for next time.

For more information on HmongTown, this article in Saveur is pretty interesting: A Tour of HmongTown Marketplace.

Exploring the HmongTown produce market
Almost every vendor had masks for sale. The new must have fashion accessory! I regret not picking up a few.
Pho noodle soup for lunch

George Floyd Square

Next we headed to the intersection of Chicago Avenue and 38th Street in Minneapolis. This is the area where George Floyd was murdered by police earlier in the year. Daniel and I wanted to see it for ourselves and to bear witness.

Barricades surrounded the intersection so we parked a few blocks away and entered on foot. A makeshift memorial to George Floyd stands on the location where the murder was committed. The area is now tended by the local community who are still grieving for his loss and the loss of so many others.

Visiting George Floyd Square was an incredibly powerful and moving experience. I feel fortunate that we got a chance to see the memorial in its current state.

George Floyd Square
A moving tribute to George Floyd
The memorial also pays tribute to other lives lost
Billboards above the memorial have been repurposed to honor George Floyd
Another billboard memorial to George Floyd
George Floyd mural. Sadly, this artwork was defaced the day before we arrived. Some of the black paint is still visible.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

The largest urban sculpture park in the country, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is home to over 40 pieces of art. Located on 11 acres next to the Walker Art Center, the Sculpture Garden is a peaceful place to relax and enjoy views of the city.

While Spoonbridge and Cherry is probably the most famous sculpture in the garden, there are lots of other interesting artworks on display. And it’s absolutely free!

Daniel and I spent a couple of hours wandering around the gardens and enjoying the afternoon. It’s a great way to explore the city in a socially-distant way.

Spoonbridge and Cherry
Shadow at the Crossroads. That’s my shadow on the right.
LOVE by Robert Indiana
Hahn/Cock by Katharina Fritsch
Hare on Bell on Portland Stone Piers by Barry Flanagan
Walking in the gardens
Wind Chime (after “Dream”) by Pierre Huyghe

A Tribute to Prince: Paisley Park and Lake Minnetonka

We ended the day with a pilgrimage to Paisley Park. Located east of Minneapolis in the suburb of Chanhassen, Paisley Park is the former home and recording complex of rock legend Prince.

Entrance to the estate is reserved for tour guests so we didn’t actually go inside. I wasn’t super comfortable taking a guided tour during a pandemic so we contented ourselves with a drive-by.

Paisley Park. Daniel shot this picture from the passenger-side window while we drove by. It looks like a corporate office building.

While we were in the area, we continued to nearby Lake Minnetonka. In a famous scene from the movie Purple Rain, Prince tells his love interest to go “purify [herself] in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.”

So of course we had to go stick our feet in the lake and “purify ourselves”. It seemed like a fitting way to end our day in Prince’s hometown.

Welcome to Lake Minnetonka Regional Park! Turns out there is no actual beach here, only a boat launch.
Purifying our feet in Lake Minnetonka. Photo by Daniel.
Lake Minnetonka

Where are we now?

We are at Lake Minnetonka just east of Minneapolis!

Date: August 20, 2020
Great American Road Trip Status: Day 46

Location: Minneapolis, MN
Miles Traveled in the Rialta: none!
Total Trip Mileage: 4182.1

For more details on our Great America (Socially Distanced) Road Trip, see my previous posts:

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