I will go on just about any damn tour of anywhere. I tweeted to that effect recently, and my friend Jared remarked:
Field trips. Hell yes. I hadn’t been thinking about them that way but I’m using that from now on. And Jared is right: you can go on field trips as an adult for no reason. Or for simple, pure, middle school reasons, like curiosity or joy. Field trip day was the best, wasn’t it? The zoo. The post office. Hell, one day my daycare took a “field trip” to a pizza place. (We got to tour the kitchen – it counts!)
A good tour is like a book with walking. Except you can ask the book questions! I’m always the one who asks questions.
I’m mostly writing about this to crystallize it for myself. I know I enjoy tours and I should sign up for more of them.
Seeing how I started this blog fairly recently, I thought I’d share some cool field trips I’ve been on in the last few years:
St. Anthony Falls Laboratory
The tour I tweeted about. UMN maintains a fluids laboratory on the river, with everything from a natural wetlands area that studies river wildlife to a high-tech wind tunnel on the inside.
Took a day trip up to Phoenix with my parents to visit the winter home and studio of Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s an absolutely beautiful facility. We had to be quiet in one of the rooms because architecture students were working. Highly recommended. I want to go back and spend more time there.
Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Office
Less cool than Taliesin, but lovely nonetheless. I went by myself during a work trip. I daydreamed about buying it, closing it to the public, and making his studio my studio. Most impressive feature to me was a piano that had been installed in the play room such that the body extended over a back stairwell.
Titan II Missile Silo
From my journal on December 28, 2016:
Only guided tours are available, and we took one. The entire facility was smaller than I had imagined. When operational, it housed a 4-man crew on 24-hour shifts who sat guard over a 9-megaton hydrogen bomb deployed via intercontinental-ballistic missile. I very much enjoyed the tour. It was interesting to hear about all of the systems of verification and identification and target selection and such that were used. The crew took orders for Target 1, Target 2, or Target 3. Three buttons. They didn’t get to know what the targets were. Interesting that there are so many safeties on actually launching the missile, but seemingly only a single press required to select targets. If it were me I’d worry about forgetting to switch from 1 to 3 or 3 to 1 or what have you. It really does launch as soon as both keys are turned, just like in the movies.
Dive Bars of North Minneapolis Bike Tour
No pictures from this one. Bill Lindeke, a local urban historian of sorts, organizes themed tours on the regulary. This one had us biking around North Minneapolis visiting various notable dive bars, or places where they used to be, including one of the last 3.2 (pronounced “three two”) bars around, the T-Shoppe. They only sell “near beer” with a max of 3.2abv, but make up for it by serving them in enormous frosty mugs. I’ve been to most of the dives on his write-up for City Pages.
Soap Factory Islands Tour
The Soap Factory is an art building/collective thing that I don’t totally grok but they put on cool programming from time-to-time. I went on an “islands” themed art walking tour that explored literal geographic islands like Nicollet Island, and less traditional islands like a lovely little community garden that exists in an island of land between two roads intersecting at an angle.