Humans aren’t built for infinite velocity or nonstop acceleration. Life was not meant to be lived like a marathon without a finish line. We need our days off from work, our pauses between musical measures, our moments of calm between stretches of pain, our interludes between content-packed chapters, our tactile diversions from doomscrolling, our little isolation-booth time-outs from social media, and our interstate rest stops on long, long, long drives. Sometimes we need breaks from sustained input, from our cravings for visual or intellectual stimulation. Sometimes during those little recesses, the world can’t help sneaking a few minute interruptions through the cracks.
Bordering one side of the French Quarter is our old friend the Mississippi River, which we last saw in Minneapolis on our 2014 road trip. We’ve effectively now seen both ends of it. After dinner at the Royal House, we ended our day of too much walking with even more walking, checking out the art, the businesses, and the life teeming and scheming along its banks.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.
We knew we’d spend Day Four seeing parts of downtown St. Paul, but we hadn’t originally planned it as a round-trip walking tour from and to our hotel. Once we got into town and looked more closely at what we’d mapped, we realized walking might be easier than driving the not-so-square street grid, to say nothing of parking fees.
We never write down all the possible attractions in each city we visit. Some things we’ve seen in alternate versions in other cities. Sometimes we have to decide where best to allocate our funds, and where to skimp for the sake of the things that excite us most. We’ve seen nature and science museums in other states. My son is a fan of those, and we’ve found plenty to enjoy in them. He wasn’t with us this time.
The Science Museum of Minnesota probably has awesome displays of physics and chemistry and animals and thermonuclear fusion technology and interactive outpatient bioengineering stations inside. Or maybe not. We wouldn’t know. We declined to investigate in depth, though we were curious enough to check around the perimeter, duck inside, and see what could be seen for free.
So far on Day Three of our road trip, we’d spent the early morning at the Mall of America and the early afternoon touring the stabilized ruins of a twice-gutted flour mill. For the late afternoon, we took a different direction and headed outdoors for a walk along the banks of the Mississippi River. Behind and around the Mill City Museum lies some refreshing spots of natural scenery and a chance for rather welcome serenity.