Today was a rather quiet day, with Richard downstairs in the SCOTE meeting learning all sorts of new traffic stuff from his cohorts from across the country, while Suzanne did nothing - and enjoyed every minute of it. In the afternoon, Suz took a walk through downtown St Paul, and started having "Ha-lucy-nations" - there were statues of Charles Schultz's Lucy character everywhere on the St Paul streets! She began tracking them down one by one, and once Richard was freed of his trafficly duties, he assisted in locating the loads of loopy Lucys. In between locking in on all the Lucys, we had a great homestyle dinner at Mickey's, an authentic neon and chrome '30s diner on the streets of St Paul. Once the light had faded to the point that no more Lucys loomed, we went back to the room to rest and catch up on typing up all the fun we've had so far.
Lots and lots and lots of Lucys
Another quiet day, with Richard still trapped downstairs in the AASHTO SCOTE meeting, and Suzanne relaxing. Not much to report until eveningtime, when we were invited down to the Minnesota Science Center for a very nice dinner among the questionable medical devices and giant dinosaur bones. After dinner, we wandered the exhibits and played, er, interacted with the displays on energy, biology, the big ol' Mississippi River, and other scientific stuff. Sufficiently entertained and edified, we wobbled back along the St Paul riverfront to prepare for the NCUTCD meetings that lurked in the coming days.
Whale of fun at the Minnesota Science Center
The morning began with Richard down in the wrap-up meetings for SCOTE, with both of us getting together for lunch, while watching us & everyone else get blown away by the high winds ripping through the streets of St Paul. After lunch, the NCUTCD Bicycle Technical Committee convened under the alleged leadership of Richard, and began digging into FHWA's recent rulemaking proposals on bicycle traffic control standards. After an afternoon of this, we were more than happy to be sent up the river - on a very enjoyable paddle boat cruise up and down the Mississippi put on by our local hosts, with good food, interesting people, cool breezes, and great scenery.
Down by the St Paul waterfront
This day began really early with a breakfast meeting of the committee chairs, and then the first general session hit before Richard had time to get fully awake. Fortunately, there were no major items before the Committee this morning (or so Richard recalls). After this, the technical committees reconvened in the basement for the long task of finishing the review of the FHWA proposals. While the committee meetings themselves were uneventful and smooth, it was interesting in that the hotel was simultaneously hosting the NCUTCD meetings, a district meeting of the Institute of Transportation Engineers... and the national convention of the National Organization of Women (NOW). This odd juxtaposition of diverse constituencies did make for some interesting interactions as folks looking for sessions on "Gender-based Violence" might have inadvertently ended up in "Protected-Permissive Signal Phasing". While all this was happening, Suzanne was having a much better time, having had the sense to go to the Mall of America instead. Here she spent the day shopping and sightseeing, and then enjoyed an impromptu guided tour of St Paul landmarks (such as Jesse's house) on the return trip. Dinner was at a nice Italian trattoria in Lowertown - only Suz was too tired to go after being malled, so Richard personally delivered some dishy pasta back to her in the room.
View from the Radisson room
Friday morning was another rather early and exceptionally wet one, as the rain fell outside and NCUTCD general session began inside. The meeting started at 7:30 in order to get through the over 250 items requiring a decision by the group, and 7 1/2 hours later, at 3 PM, the last item was voted on as the rain still fell, and the official part of our trip was formally adjourned. :) We wasted no time in getting out for some afternoon fun, but immediately ran into some new acquaintances - a circle of people (and apparently one of the Lucys) protesting against the NOW meeting also sharing our hotel. We made it past our free-speech friends and rolled out to the Mall again, where we were terrorized by large angry-looking cereal-shilling bees (see photo) while going through those hundreds of stores selling everything from farm toys to used postage stamps. The evening was capped off by continuing our Star Wars vacation tradition by watching "Attack of the Clones" at the cinemas on the 4th level.
Deranged bee terrorizes Mall of America
Today, after a rather difficult load-out and check-out, we left behind the Radisson Riverfront and its 15 minute elevator waits and cold and near-cold running water before things could possibly get worse. We de-stressed by motoring around the sights of St Paul and seeing the seats of government of Minnesota. Not wanting to ignore the other sibling making up the Twin Cities, we zipped a bit west on I-94 to cruise the streets and highways of downtown Minneapolis as well. From there it was up to the northern suburbs, where we dropped in on Suz's brother and his family for an enjoyable evening of catching up on what kind of trouble the family has gotten into since our last visit.
Capitolistic St Paul
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Latest Historical Revisionism 01 April 2005Scripting: Richard C. Moeur