Nguyễn DZuy Nam
Minnesota is My Home
(written: 3/30/04)

Minnesota is my Home State. I am very proud to say that, and in the paragraphs that follow I will tell you my reasons why I love living here in Minnesota.

First and foremost, I should tell you a little bit about where I grew up. I was born in Edina, but I grew up in the city of Burnsville. Burnsville currently has a population of 60,220 and is about 20 minutes south of Minneapolis. It’s one of the fastest growing suburbs in the Twin Cities area in the past three decade. I remember when I first moved in my house in 1986 much of Burnsville back then was undeveloped. My backyard had a railroad that was used twice daily by trains carrying cargo heading north and south. It was somewhat of a dense wilderness area then with lots of trees, tall grass, raccoons, snakes, red foxes, deer, skunks, woodchucks, rabbits, a few mice and various birds. Now the railroad tracks are unused and much of the ground has been flattened out and new town homes are being built. My house sits on the bottom of a hill and it is such a warm cozy home throughout the four seasons of the year. I live in an area that has everything I want to do or need all within driving or walking distance, which brings me to my next topic: Minnesota.

In today's difficult economy, many people are moving into Minnesota to find a job. The population of Minnesota continues to grow at a faster rate than the overall national average. Our current state population is close to 5 million. The majority of the population lives in the Twin Cities area, which is Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and the surrounding suburbs. The capitol of Minnesota is St. Paul. Most of the people in Minnesota are nice and polite.

Why Minnesota you might ask? Minnesota offers plentiful activities and attractions for the one who seeks adventure. One word that would describe everything about Minnesota: DIVERSE. Minnesota is diverse in that it offers shopping, arts and performances, sports, outdoors, state and national parks, scenic touring, resorts, campgrounds, lakes, rivers, and many attractions. Where should I start? Well, weather might be a good start.

Weather: Winter & Beyond

For those in the South like California and Texas you might think that Minnesota is cold here all year round. I can see why some might say that since on a U.S. map Minnesota looks like the furthest state north and it touches Canada. Actually, the weather here in Minnesota is quite pleasant. Yes, there are times when the climate is unstable from being warm and then cold and back again, but that’s the fun of living here in Minnesota. Mother Nature offers us a diverse weather pattern, so you’re not always stuck with sunny, rainy, windy, cloudy, or snowy days all the time. The summers are warm, and we usually get several days in July and August when it's reaches beyond 90 degrees or so. It may get humid for a short time span. Typically, though, our summer temperatures are in the 70s or 80s. Of course, it can get very cold here in the winter. It sometimes gets as cold as -40 during January in the upper north of the state like cities of Bemidji and Duluth. Don’t be fooled by us Minnesotans. When that happens all of us are inside the house. We are not icemen from the ice age! We get a blizzard or two almost every winter, and we average about 50 inches of snow per year here in central Minnesota.

Most people who live in Minnesota enjoy the winter. Winter offers ice skating, sledding, snowmobiling, and skiing. My favorite winter activity is ice fishing. When the ice gets thick enough I drive my car out onto the ice and drill a hole in the ice to fish through. The ice is sometimes as thick as three feet. I have a hand ice auger to drill my hole, but this coming winter I plan to buy a gas-powered ice auger that will allow me to drill through the ice in no time. A lot of those who ice fish have little houses that they bring out on the lake. They have holes in the floor so they can fish in them. Some of these ice fishing houses have a heater, stove, and even a TV, and is about as comfortable as your own living room! Minnesota offers one of the country's most extensive snowmobile trail networks, with close to 20,000 miles of trails.

To make a winter more exciting every year a Winter Carnival is put on by either Minneapolis or St. Paul for its festivities. This last Winter Carnival an Ice Palace was built to host the NHL All-Star Hockey Game. Traditionally, the palace was to be built every 100 years, but we have had three built in the last decade or so. The last one was built in 1992 for the Superbowl game at the Metrodome.

Shopping

If you love shopping there is the world famous queen of all malls, the Mall of America. It is located in the Twin Cities suburb of Bloomington. The Mall of America is the largest indoor shopping center in the country. Besides the clothing and the fine dining restaurants at the Mall you can visit Camp Snoopy, the nation's largest indoor family theme park with more than 30 rides and seven acres of fun. There is also the Lego Imagination Center, which is knows for its enormous four-story LEGO showplace entertains guests of all ages and contains LEGO bricks to play with, models to look at, and sets to buy. If you like movies there is the AMC Theatres located inside the Mall, which has over 14 screens. Nightclubs and bars are available on the upper level for those who love to dance and meet other singles. The place I enjoy most at the Mall of America is taking an underwater tour in the Underwater Adventures Aquarium. It’s like you travel 14 feet underwater where both fresh- and saltwater fish and other marine animals such as sharks, stingrays and giant sea turtles swim so close, you'll feel like you can reach out and touch them! With over 1.2 million gallons of water, this aquarium features a 300 foot-long curved tunnel, complete with a moving walkway that simulates a scuba diving adventure, but without getting wet! It’s totally amazing, and I am a frequent visitor there when I am at the Mall. Of course if you are not enthusiastic about shopping at such a big mall there are several smaller shopping centers throughout the state that offer clothing and other items of interest. There is some exciting downtown shopping in Minneapolis. Famous for downtown shopping is the Block e area. Block e is bound by Hennepin Avenue and First Avenue North and in between Sixth and Seventh Streets. Block e is equivalent to the Mall only you need to go either outside or take the skyway to get from place to place for the attractions. Whether you enjoy dancing and singing at the Hard Rock Cafe, playing video games at GameWorks, relaxing with coffee and a good novel at Borders Books and Music, roaring with laughter at the Improv Comedy Club, or taking in a movie at Crown Theatres, Block e promises to have it all.

Arts & Performances

Every now and then I like to take in the entertainment scene and go see some popular acts at some of the finest theaters. A few years ago I attended the popular “Rent” at the Historic State Theater with a friend. The performance was incredible and the venue was ideal. It’s an absolute must if you enjoy the arts and performances scene. Minneapolis and St. Paul feature some of the country’s finest theaters and world-class museums: the Guthrie Theater, the Children’s Theatre Company, the Fitzgerald Theater, the Walker Art Center, the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, and the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota. There are touring Broadway productions at the Orpheum and Historic State Theatres in Minneapolis.

Attractions

Other than shopping Minnesota’s attractions is what keeps Minnesotans in Minnesota. It has something for everyone. If you like to see animals the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley is your ticket. It has giraffe, birds, dolphins, fish, monkeys, lions, and a trail you can walk to see animals in their replicated natural habitat. If you like to touch animals the Como Zoo in St. Paul is the one. If you like horse racing and betting Canterbury Park in Shakopee is cool. If you like car racing the Raceway Park in Shakopee rumbles all summer. If you like roller-coasters and thrill rides Valley-Fair in Shakopee will amaze you! If you like to see lots of fish The Aquarium in Duluth is phenomenal or again, the one at the Mall of America is really nice. If you like gambling there are a few casinos on the Indian reservations. If you like science the Science Museum makes you think.

Sports

I am a big sports fan, but that’s probably not a surprise for all of you male readers. The sport I enjoy watching most is football. I enjoy watching my favorite team the Minnesota Vikings play throughout their season. There is also professional basketball teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Minnesota Lynx, a baseball team in the Minnesota Twins, and a hockey team in the Minnesota Wild. Of course, there are college teams, which give all of us Minnesotans sports variety such the Minnesota Gophers. The University of Minnesota has great teams in basketball, wresting, football, baseball among others. As I write my essay today (March 29,2004) the Women’s Minnesota Golden Gophers Basketball Team have made it into the Elite Eight NCAA Championships.

Medical Clinics

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester is world-renowned for its medical care of its patients. President George H. W. Bush among other high figures are many of whom have visited the Mayo Clinic. Mayo has earned a reputation for solving hard-to-solve medical problems based on more than 100 years of results. The clinic is famous for their cancer treatment.

State Parks / National Parks / Scenic Areas

Minnesota has 66 state parks. Large regions of Minnesota are preserved and have varied landscapes. It’s the qualities that make each state park unique in its own way and helps beautify our wonderful state. Most of our state parks offer camping, canoeing, swimming and fishing opportunities.

As I travel along some major highways like Interstate 35 or 94 the road has its own reward. It’s an exhilarating freedom driving off into the countryside with only the rich farmlands or undeveloped regions, and of course my eyes are open to whatever I might find. Every now and then I see pheasants (see picture below), deer, ospreys, eagles, owls, raccoons (see picture below), opossums, and other animals native to Minnesota. It’s the wondering of what you might see that makes the road a journey from beginning to end. You never know what you might encounter as you travel.

Lakes / Rivers

At the beginning of the essay I asked “Why Minnesota…?” Now I am finishing up my essay and I have saved the best for last. The ten million dollar question if anyone anywhere ask me today “What do I love most about Minnesota that keeps from moving to any other state?” Lakes. What is Minnesota known for? Minnesota is a “Land of 10,000 lakes.” There are actually 15,291 "official" lakes in the state! There are small and large lakes, and some in between. I have a passion for the great outdoors, and fishing tops that list. Not only is fishing so good here, but it allows to go outdoors away from family, work, and your daily routines. Instead I can listen to birds chirping and seeing an otter splashing while I throw a lure out to get a fish to bite. I can reflect on my past week or year’s accomplishments and failures. Some might say how depressing that would be, but for me it’s such a stress reliever to be on my own away from other people enjoying the beauty of nature. It’s the serenity of nature and its surroundings that captivates me. Have you ever heard an American Robin (see picture below) whistle or a Mourning Dove “hooing” early morning or at late evening? Believe me, it’s the most peaceful sound you can hear.


Pheasants.

Raccoon.

American Robin.

American Robin’s Eggs.

Nam Nguyen and his 49-inch, 27.5 lbs. Musky caught in Lake Minnetonka.

Fishing is the most popular past time in Minnesota. It’s so big here that there are hundred of resorts throughout the state that offer packages to accommodate visitors to stay at their lodge and includes fishing boat, meals, etc. It’s fun for the whole family!


Nam Nguyen and his first brown trout caught at Willow Creek in Stillwater.

I am going to the Boundary Waters this coming June with a couple of friends. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northeastern Minnesota has some of the most beautiful and unspoiled lakes in the United States, and it is a popular vacation destination, especially for those who want to camp and canoe in a wilderness area. You get away from the world and are surrounded by the lakes, trees, and animals.

We do have a few rivers that run through Minnesota. The big famous river we have is called the Mississippi River, and it starts here in Minnesota.

So, if you ever think about wanting a little exploring to do in your lifetime and you are enthusiast about the outdoors as much as I am Minnesota is your Home. Minnesota is and will forever be my Home State.

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Citations

American Robin. < http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i7610id.html>
Explore Minnesota. http://www.exploreminnesota.com/
Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/
Nelson, Marin "Block E opening in Downtown Minneapolis" Twin Cities Guide. 5 Aug. 2002 - 31 Oct 2002.
< http://www.tcguide.com/calendar/data/1029347056.html>.
Ringneck Pheasants. <http://www.centralpets.com/pages/photopages/birds/wild_birds/PHOTO_WBD4362.shtml>.



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