Monday, 11 June 2012

Week 24: Minnesota

"Of travel I've had my share, man,
 I've been everywhere;
 I've been to:
 Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota..."
 - 'I've Been Everywhere Man',
 Johnny Cash

Sounds like Johnny's getting tired of the travelling. But it's only Week 24 - we've got another 26 still to go! This week we are visiting Minnesota... and possibly paying a side-visit to Fargo, North Dakota at the same time.

What does the mind's eye picture when Minnesota is mentioned? I suppose I think of miles of timberland choked with snow, a great freezing forested taiga. And the great outdoors does have a part to play here. Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes and even just a cursory glance at my atlas has shown me that the state is indeed speckled with lakes, swamps and rivers. The mighty Mississippi is born in Minnesota and the north-eastern border with Canada is comprised of the Voyageurs National Park (think of Ray Mears paddling a canoe). This was a land that was home to the Dakota and was visited by French fur-trappers. Large swathes of the northern half of the state are still given over to Indian reservations. From which we can gather that there are no precious metals buried in the state's soggy soil. Later Scandinavians settled here giving rise to the burly Minnesota Viking stereotype - Marshall Eriksen from How I Met Your Mother comes from St Cloud. The state seems quite folky (Bob Dylan hails from Hibbing and Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion is set around the fictional Lake Woebegone) and its manners have given the U.S. the phrase 'Minnesota nice'.

But for all the folky countryside there is the big city too. Or cities. Many of the states we have visited have just one stand out city; Minnesota has two. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul are separated by the Mississippi. Minneapolis has a name of Dakota descent, is younger and more 'urban' with its skyscrapers and its larger population; St Paul is of French descent, has neighbourhoods and Victorian architecture.

For our two-city state we have, as usual, three movies to get through. These are:
  • Juno (2007)
  • Fargo (1996)
  • Purple Rain (1984)
Am I looking forward to them? Yah, you betcha...

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