It always ends the same way: “I’m never going to do this again.”

And then I think about Minneapolis. 

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Unfortunately, mine is just straight-up guilt. All pain, no pleasure. 

I chase streetcars.

It doesn’t happen every day, but it’s happened enough that I know the color of Irma Thomas’s blouse on the electrical-box painting across from the Saenger. (yellow)

Ms. Irma, I’m sweating so hard. Looks like I’m gonna sweat all night. And this is the time I’d love to be out of the sunlight.

Poplin doesn’t breathe much after the first block. And every time it starts clinging like microwaved shrink wrap, I remind myself: “I’m never going to do this again.”

But the red siren will come calling again, this I know, promising a twenty-minute-early return home. Hopefully I’ll be stronger the next time. But you caught the last two! Until I missed one Tuesday. It’s good exercise, though! Not in dress pants and a tie. 

I try to quiet the voices in my head long enough to make room for Minnesota. I like to mentally travel up to the Mississippi’s headwaters to imagine how my commute might be different.

Famously, downtown Minneapolis is filled with building-to-building tubes. The Minneapolis Skyway began in the early ’60s as a way to get pedestrians and cars to clear way for each other (and to prevent those pedestrians from seasonal hypothermia). The Skyway now extends 9.5 miles—the equivalent of reaching the fifth cop car on the Causeway. And the “attraction” ranks #11 on TripAdvisor’s Top Attractions list.

Our #11? That would be, ahemour streetcars. Silence, foul temptress!

At the front cover of my daily commute, I do my best Minneapolitan. Less Minnesota nice, more in search of Minnesota ice.

My .5-mile hike from Immaculate Conception to the federal courthouse may be nine miles shorter than the Skyway, but it can be nearly as cool. Follow my Family Circus-style route.

The first stop on our ten-minute journey is the Carondelet Hampton Inn & Suites. The quick sliding door makes up for the slightly hovering (and certainly strange) lobby smell. But we’re here strictly for the feels. The Hampton Inn leads into the Place St. Charles. And just like that, we’ve spent one minute of our travel time in the air condition.

Next up, the Hotel Intercontinental slides its door open a block down St. Charles. In its offseason from its normal life as Rex’s reviewing stand, the hotel welcomes the overheated hoi polloi. Just keep moving, right into the Pan Am building. Voila, another climate-controlled minute.

Now we’re getting close to our intended destination. Know what would get us closer? Jaywalking across Poydras. I’m not recommending lawlessness, but pre-8:00 a.m. Poydras isn’t dangerously packed, and its neutral ground is beaten down with foot traffic. Plus, it’s the last chance for some public AC. The Poydras Center only offers seconds of relief, but what’s the sweat-to-seconds conversion rate these days? A quart? Summer inflation is real. 

From there, it’s a trudge across Camp St. and into the full-body deep freeze. Or just a 70º office.

Paradise, downriver from Minneapolis. 


For all its comforts, the Skyway must be unsightly, right? Second-floor walkways everywhere you look? How ya gonna get a float under there? Well, Minnesotans are proud of it, and we always can appreciate some healthy parochial self-love.