St. Paul shines as rail brings Twin Cities closer


Some siblings come across as rivals who seem disconnected, and that’s the way I saw Minnesota’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul until this summer.

Now light rail connects these sisters, which means there’s no reason to stay with one and ignore the other.

The ride is 48 minutes between Green Line end points: St. Paul’s newly renovated Union Depot (where Amtrak and Megabus depart) and Target Field (home of the Minnesota Twins). In between are 21 quick stops.

A collection of collections


Red Wing, a Mississippi River city on the Minnesota side, has been home to a pottery museum for years — but now it’s billed as home to the nation’s largest pottery collection.

The donation of a Nebraska couple’s private stash, 5,000 pieces worth around $1.5 million, motivated the all-volunteer Red Wing Pottery Foundation to successfully relocate and expand the museum into the longtime factory’s annex. It is near the kilns that used to transform clay to vessels that held coffee cream to casseroles.

Car buffs ready to shine


A 1977 Gremlin van soon will be moved into the Kenosha History Center, and the timing is deliberate.

The van (an American Motors Corp. prototype that never went into production) and Jeeps from five decades will be in place in time for “Kenosha Homecoming: Great Cars on a Great Lake,” July 22-26. The homecoming, an official American Motors Owners Association car show with up to 700 vehicles, occurs every three years.

Pizza fresh from the farm

9 declares that 93 percent of Americans ate pizza in the last month, and each of us averages 46 slices per year.

Dustin Booth and Emily Fradenburgh are among a growing number of rural Wisconsinites who smelled opportunity because of conclusions like these. They live on Polk County farmland with a former sawmill that his parents used to operate, near the end of a dead-end road in Echo Valley, near Clear Lake.

Nominating Wright sites


Savvy international travelers pay attention to UNESCO World Heritage Sites because on this list are the planet’s most awesomely significant destinations.

What makes the cut? Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. China’s Great Wall. Cuba’s Old Havana. Egypt’s Giza Pyramids. India’s Taj Mahal. Peru’s Machu Picchu. Add the Banks of the Seine in Paris, Acropolis in Athens, Vatican City in the Holy See, the Old City of Jerusalem and Sydney Opera House.

Native American flavor


Wild rice and cranberry dishes show up on many restaurant menus, especially in autumn, but rare is the restaurant that regularly serves fry bread or venison in Wisconsin.

I dine at many types of ethnic and specialty restaurants but have yet to see one devoted to Native American cuisine. Is this a gaping hole in our culinary offerings or proof of not enough interest to successfully frame a restaurant this way?

Four great spots combine live music & lodging


It’s pretty easy to find lodging and live music under the same roof, especially on weekends or in metro areas, but rare is the business whose music is a higher priority than overnight accommodations.

My four examples start close to home.

Celebrating our dairy heritage


My first bank deposit was winnings from county fair entries in the 1960s. I was a kid who accumulated many more pink ribbons than blue, but that never — for long — dulled my enthusiasm to keep trying.

As I recall, even a plate of pathetic brownies was worth a quarter in prize money back then.

Love Italian food? Visit Eataly


On the last day of our first trip to Italy, in 2008, my priority was a two-hour bus ride from Milan to Turin and the birthplace of Slow Food International, whose worldwide efforts protect food heritage.

That visit was a couple of weeks before the area’s Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto — the massive, biennial gatherings that began in 1996 to honor artisanal and regionally unique foods. I didn’t realize my irritatingly bad timing until after locking in airfare, months earlier.

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