As we have mentioned before on this blog, the two of us met on the west coast in Portland, OR. However, she is originally from Seattle and he is originally from the Twin Cities, and both of us love the cities from where we hail. We have families and memories there. We’ll always have a home there. Rather than blogging about the how much we love our hometowns, though, or the best things about them, we have decided to write about the top 5 “random” things we miss about our home cities. What we mean by this is that we are writing about the things we miss terribly about the places we grew up, but things that you wouldn’t actually give a friend as a reason why they have to visit the city. These are typically things we would never have realized how much we loved them until we actually lived in other place that didn’t have them. If you don’t understand the criteria, read on we guess.
She Says: What Do They Call It When Everything Intersects? SEATTLE
I’m obsessed with Seattle. Despite the fact that it was only my permanent place of residence for the first 18 years of my life – and I’ve been in Portland and Salt Lake since – Seattle is still the city I claim as home.
It’s always interesting to see the response of individuals who ask me “So, you’re new to Salt Lake – what do you think?” From angered slash insulted to just plain shocked, most are pained to hear me say that I hate it. If I’m being polite, I let them know I think it’s just okay.
I will admit, though, that I can understand that perhaps it’s not just okay. But when one hails from a city as amazing as Seattle, it’s downright impossible to even consider another city to be as miraculous. Yes, miraculous.
For the sake of this blog entry, I am going to list off five “random” reasons as to why everyone in the world should think Seattle is as perfect as I. Please note, I do have two stipulations for you if you continue to read on. 1. In no way, shape, or form is anyone to think of these five things as the only incredible elements about Seattle. There are millions, if not trillions of reasons why Seattle is the best place on earth. 2. If you do not already live in Seattle, please don’t let my opinions encourage you to move there. Every time I go back, it’s more populated with transplants crowding the place up.
Here we go…
1. Water. Being on the Sound is a perk in itself. Not only does the water provide a beautiful skyline, you get your boating, your swimming, and an ideal setting for a classic event we Seattleites like to call Seafair.
2. Food. Yes, you can find great food almost anywhere. There is actually a decent restaurant or two in Salt Lake (or so I hear … I’ve yet to find one). But you have not lived through a great meal until you’ve eaten at Saigon Kitchen, Etta’s Seafood, or The Pink Door. Even Beth’s Café and Dick’s are better than the best restaurant in Utah… no joke.
3. Music. And I’m not even going to brag that we gave the world Nirvana, Heart, Jimi Hendricks or Merilee Rush. But honest to God, one can hop into a random bar on a Tuesday night and find amazing musicians playing their little hearts out. Many of them deserve to be on a much bigger stage.
And for good measure, I’m just going to make a quick note that a life is left incomplete until one attends a show at the Gorge … it’s a staple for any concert goer and music lover.
4. Sports. Now pipe down about the Sonics leaving. And close your mouth about how much better your cities football or baseball or soccer team is. What counts here is that we have a plethora of college and pro sport to begin with – and our high school sports can be as equally fun to follow. Couple that with mind blowing stadiums and super fans and Seattle sports are something to envy.
5. Wine. Not many people know it, but we make wine like nobody’s business. Forget Napa and head to Prosser in South Eastern Washington to make the rounds taste testing at different vineyards. Or head 25 miles North of the city to walk the grounds at Chateau St. Michelle and try some of the best wines in the US. And if you’re not a wine lover, we still have Rainier Beer we provide to the masses.
There you have it.
He Says: Skol Minnesota Skol
Minnesota is great. It’s unpretentious and simple, but large and ambitious all at once. I love it. And here are five “random” things I miss about home.
1. Thunderstorms. I always knew I loved Thunderstorms growing up in the Midwest, but I never realized how much I did until I moved out to the west coast. I remember my first thunderstorm experience in the Northwest. It was my first year of college out there almost ten years ago. I was sitting with a group of friends one night at a cabin on the coast in southern Washington. (And no, I did not meet any vampires). The mist of rain began to build up into a storm and we grabbed our drinks to make our way out to the front porch. We sat for about an hour with the rain coming down watching thin lines of lightning shoot across the sky and listening to ruffles of thunder interrupt our conversation every so often. As the rest of my friends remarked in awe about the storm, I couldn’t help but smile just a little bit in longing for home. Don’t get me wrong, the storm was fun to watch, but it was at this moment that I realized that Midwest thunderstorms are in a category all to themselves. There is nothing that compares to these storms.
I have since learned that the warm, humid Minnesota summer air moving upward and colliding with cooler air creates the effect us Midwesterners know all too well. The rudimentary science of it aside, I would be remiss to fail to mention the severity of these storms. Many homes have been damaged and many lives taken, and I do not take the destruction of these storm lightly. However, one cannot help but be in awe at the sheer power and magnitude of Midwest thunderstorms. The thin line of lightning I watched in the Northwest is instead an intricate spider web of electrical charge that illuminates the entire skyline as if the midnight sky is daylight. The lightning strikes again every two minutes or so and just as bright and powerful as the last time, each strike causing the viewer to think it was more incredible than the last, whether it came from the clouds above or the ground below. (Well, to be technically correct, we only see lightning that comes from the ground up. Lightning coming from clouds down lowers a path of negative electricity that we cannot see. Let me adjust my nerdy glasses). There are no conversations during these storms because the thunder isn’t polite enough to simply interrupt conversation. Rather, the acoustic effect of the lightning rattles your bones and, often times, leaves you trying to catch your breath. All the while the rain runs through the gutters like a river in the street bringing the smell of relief from the harrowing humidity the Minnesota summer days always offer.
I remember plenty of nights on my parents’ front porch watching for hours as the night sky illuminates the impressed faces of family and friends around me. There were summer nights growing up when the entire family trudged down to the basement due to the threat of a tornado. Along with our blankets and pillows, we would carry an old black and white television, every sibling anticipating the exciting possibility of a power outage, which would mean all the popsicles and ice cream would have to be eaten immediately for fear of melting. I loved the post-storm summer evenings when I would build mini ships out of fallen sticks and place them in the water that raged through the front street gutter. Then I would race as fast as my little feet could carry me as I tried to keep up with my noble ship. I even remember the truly fearful storms I witnessed, such as the time my high school baseball game was interrupted without warning by a storm. The next thing I knew, my older brother and I sat in my parents’ big blue van with two friends unable to drive because we were enveloped by the storm and couldn’t see out the windows. No more than 100 feet from us, a flash of lightning and immediate boom struck a power line that crashed suddenly to ground as sparks flew.
More than any other “random” element of home, I miss Minnesota thunderstorms the most. The puissance and potency of these storms will leave you in awe.
2. Lakes. This may seem like an obvious one for the Land of Over 18,000 Lakes, (what idiot decided to sell us short on our state nickname anyway), but I miss the lakes. A lot. I always knew I liked them, but I don’t think I realized how much I needed them. When I moved to Oregon I quickly realized that the abundance of lakes was more of a luxury than I thought. (Although this brings with it an abundance of bird-sized mosquitoes, but you gotta take the bad with the good). In Oregon, you typically have to drive a little ways to find a nice swimming hole, and even then it is typically a river inlet, not a lake. Then I moved to Salt Lake City and I realized that this was the first city in which I’ve lived that was not originally settled due to the water that it surrounded, whether that be the ocean, a river, lakes, or anything. And yes, I realize this is odd since it is called Salt Lake City, but it’s true, there’s no significant body of water within the city limits.
For those of you that are not wrote on the lakes in Minnesota and simply know that there are a lot of lakes, this is how I usually explain it. You can be anywhere in the entire state and you will be within 20 minutes of a lake. No matter where you are in Minnesota, you can hop in the car and get to a lake in 20 minutes. I have no confirmation of this being the case, but I am so confident of the fact that I think I am probably over-shooting the amount of time and that it is actually closer to 10-15 minutes. There’s always a place to swim. It’s wonderful. Growing up, you always knew someone going to their cabin for the weekend and you could simply tag along for a weekend getaway. Waking up on a nice summer morning with the paper and a coffee looking out across a calm lake is the way everyday should begin. I miss the lakes.
3. Fall. I love fall everywhere, but Minnesota falls are perfect. Maybe it’s because there is a finally a break from the humid summer, if only briefly before the cold winters begin. Maybe it’s because the air turns from warm to cold so quickly that the leaves reverberate with undeniably pulchritudinous color. Whatever the reason, I love the fall in Minnesota. There’s something about putting on a sweater for the first time of the year and sitting outside in the brisk air with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. The air smells fresh and an almost sweet scent hangs in your nose. Each breath awakens the mind with a gentle hint of cold, but calms the soul with the peacefulness that fall brings. Everyone loves the crunch of fallen leaves under feet, but those Minnesota leaves are bursting with color. The golden yellows, bright oranges and deep reds crown the maples and elms throughout the state. Travel to Stillwater in autumn and you will see what I mean. There’s something about grabbing a good book on a beautiful fall night and in Minnesota it’s sublime.
4. Minnesota Nice. I travel to New York for business and people stare stupefied when I hold the door for them. I smile at a homeless man in Oregon and he grumbles that my smile wasn’t accompanied by a fistful of change. I say hello to a stranger in Utah and they see this as an invitation for them to preach the gospel according to Joseph Smith. In the Twin Cities, though, everyone has a smile, a short 15-second story about the weather, the day or whatever, and then you’re on your way. You can’t help but feel your day has brightened from that positive energy. Go to a sporting event in Minnesota and watch the tailgaters interact with fans from the opposing teams. You are guaranteed to see some variation of this sequence:
Minnesota Fan: “Booooo! Go home! You suck!”
Opposing Fan (feeling outnumbered at an away game): “Yea, we’ll see once the game starts right? We’ll get you on the field.”
Minnesota Fan: “Yea, you have a good team this year. You guys look all right. Where in State X are you from anyway?”
We can’t help it. Minnesotans are too nice. We heckle for all of ten seconds and then go back to our roots: being friendly. We can’t heckle people persistently. (Well, unless your name is Tim Brewster, Tavaris Jackson or Norm Green). We can’t be mean for long periods of time. It’s just not in our nature. And for my money, I’d rather be criticized like Marshall Eriksen for being too nice, than the alternative.
5. Cheese Curds. You’ve never had a real cheese curd until you’ve had a Minnesota cheese curd. (Well, or a Wisconsin cheese curd, but no one wants you to get all plump like those Packers fans). The next time you’re in the Twin Cities during September, stop by the largest State Fair in the U.S. and try out the cheese curds. There’s nothing like fresh cheese, soaked in beer batter and then deep-fried to perfection. Just take one bite and listen to that warm cheese squeak against your teeth. The taste will make you smile emphatically. You’ll need to grab a beer at this point, so grab a Premium and enjoy your delicious helping of cheese curds.