The Perfect Date

This is out of order…I’m really annoyed by that.

I forgot this one on my list, and jumped ahead to the sleepover. Grr.

Oh well, I guess since they were both about six weeks ago, what could it possibly matter?

At any rate, I hadn’t seen Elena in quite some time. We chat, constantly, but a visit hadn’t happened. We decided to make a date night. I love date nights. It is something I only ever do with her, but it is so fun.

I picked us a nice restaurant. Faces Mears Park. Aptly names, as the restaurant faces Mears Park. It is a sustainable cooking restaurant and I found it just by browsing St. Paul reviews. Turns out, Lane had been jonesing to go there for a few months! It was kismet.

We had a great dinner where I talked endlessly about meeting Christian Kane. I was almost embarrassed at how much time I put into retelling that story. But she knows who he is and she went with me to see him in Portland, so it was important to me. She, once again, gets great friend honors for listening to me drone on for over an hour. At any rate, dinner was really good. Great service, drinks were fantastic. I was driving so I didn’t gulp down four of them like I wanted to…  I had an Asian tuna melt. Phenomenal. Unfortunately, I talked for so long it got cold and I only at half of it. But it was terrific.

After dinner, we drove to the Highland theater to see The King’s Speech. Elena chose the movie. And, well, once again, she did not disappoint. (She has a knack for picking good things–movies and books especially). I had never been to the Highland theater. It is old-fashioned, with a marquee out front and only two screens. Super old school. I LOVED it! I’d drive out there to see a movie any time.

When we were pulling up to the theater, it is right in the middle of a busy street. We were running close on time and getting a little nervous about finding parking. I turned on my parking karma and wham! there was an open spot on the street, no meter, right across from the front door. How lucky is that?

Then, if the karma wasn’t enough, the car parked directly in front of us had the license plate that had SEE for its letters. SEE is Lane’s last name. I couldn’t believe it! I mean, what are the odds of that?

So, of course, I grab my phone to snap a photo:

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Elena said, “why are you taking a picture of that?”

I said, “so I can blog about it”. And she said, “okay, but make sure you say that I said it is crazy because 094 doesn’t even mean anything to me.”

That, of course, cracked me up. Who cares about the numbers? Her last name is on the license plate of the car in front of the ONLY OPEN PARKING PLACE on Cleveland. That’s not enough?

Anyway, I found out later, that the theater is literally a half a block from my dad’s new store. So weird. His first day was Monday and this was Friday. So two days later, he was driving by that same theater, on his way to his new job. How strange. If I had known, I’d have dragged Elena to the store at midnight to take pictures!

The movie was, fantastic. Cannot possibly say enough good things about it. I was tickled pink it won Best Picture. Very deservedly, if you ask me. And Colin Firth? Sigh. ‘Nuff said.

After that, we drove up to Crocus Hill and looked at some of the beautiful mansions, then I drove her back to her car in downtown. It was just a bit after midnight and I was strangely revved. I should have been tired, but I wasn’t.

I was headed toward home when Gus suddenly took a sharp right and drove us deeper into the city. I had no idea where he was going until he parked himself right across from Rice Park. Evidently, Gus had a desire to see the ice sculptures for the Winter Carnival.

According to him, it was extremely nice out for the middle of the night:

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32 degrees in January, at midnight? That is practically tropical for MN. Seriously, I had no gloves on and my coat was unbuttoned.

By contrast, right now, writing this it is March 11. It is about six weeks later and it is NOON instead of midnight. And right now, it is 36 degrees. Does that give you an idea of how nice it was outside?

Unbelievable.

So, there I was wandering around downtown St. Paul in the middle of the night, by myself. I was surprised at how not weird it felt. I wasn’t nervous. Heck, there were tons of people around. It was strange. Apparently, midnight is a popular time to check out ice sculptures.

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I think ice sculptures actually photograph really well at night. Better than during the day!

The sculptors were actually still hard at work finishing their creations. The judging wasn’t until a day or two later, so there were lights and chainsaws and activity everywhere you looked.

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It kind of felt like I was part of some secret group. Not many people get to hang out and watch the carvings in the middle of the night. It was fun.

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Amazing, isn’t it? These are just blocks of ice…carved into these amazing shapes?

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This was the entrance. It is totally lined with pine boughs, it smelled like every wonderful Christmas memory you’ve ever had. I actually just stood there for a moment, breathing through my nose.

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The carnival is, obviously, celebrating 125 years. This is the ice wall you saw me in front of with Arionna. Tell me it isn’t cooler at night.

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By the way, I took that my setting the timer and balancing my camera on a parking meter. Really. I *just* made it through the ice and snow to my spot before it flashed. Barely.

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Because it was an anniversary, they put old photogaphs from previous carnivals right into the ice, like a large photo frame. It was really impressive.

Of course, I wanted a shot of myself in the ice throne.

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Yes, I’m really there. But the only place to set my camera down (other than the ground, but that was too low) was so far away, the flash wouldn’t reach.

Finally, I wandered around until I saw someone looking bored enough to help me. I asked her to take my picture.

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My favorite is how you can see the purple of my sleeve shining through the ice ball on the edge of the chair. So cool. Literally. Even with the mat to sit on, ice chairs are cold.

Maybe *that’s* why babycakes didn’t like it?

Well, either way, I loved it.

I was down there for about an hour, just checking things out and taking pictures. It was really a great way to end our date night. Next time, I’m making Lane stick around for the midnight excursion.

 

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