A project of Zach van Schouwen.


Summit Hill, Saint Paul

Our venue has changed a bit lately. Places That Don't Suck has relocated to sunny, sotwarey Seattle, so look forward to some new destinations here. Say, every six months, if the past is a guideline.

Getting here was an exercise in difficulty. My girlfriend and I chose to drive across the country, rather than taking one of the more conventional methods like, say, a plane. I bought an SUV (see, more blog posts *are* coming), filled it with junk, and we started driving. Four hundred pounds of books and clothes followed us by Amtrak. (I highly recommend this shipping trick. Dirt cheap, and you don't even need a receiving address.)

The only problem was that two days before we left, I came down with some sort of death flu. I spent every day lying on the couch moaning, periodically going down to fill up the car -- an act which drove my fever up about 2 full degrees each time I did it. So it was slow going. I drove across the country, popping aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol, cough drops, dextromorphan, etc. in roughly equal doses. This was enough to get me to about Columbus before I endured a full system collapse. After recuperating at the Short North Wendy's, we traveled on to Cincinnati, then back up to Chicago, then to Bismarck, with chills and shakes the whole way and multiple hospital visits.

(Adding insult to injury: When we got to Seattle, we both came down with strep throat immediately. The first week-and-a-half was spent in our miserable, humid, messy hotel room.)

So it was a mixed bag. But there's one gem in the entire experience (well, a few, really):

Summit Hill, baby. Saint Paul does not disappoint a worn-out traveler. My goal was to see the F. Scott Fitzgerald house -- for a while last year, I was trying to write a biography of its architect, William H Wilcox, a strange man who drew a famous map of the battle at Antietam (during his Civil War service), designed the Williamsburg Bank Building in Brooklyn, then went on to build half of St. Paul, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. So I had to walk down Summit, which has at least twelve houses he designed, not least of which was the home of young Francis Scott.

It's one of the houses mid-row. Not bad digs at all. But the rest of Summit is just stunning. Easily one of the prettiest streets I've ever seen, right up there with South Portland in Brooklyn. And it goes on forever.

I can't say we stopped in Minneapolis -- we didn't. I also didn't realize the river I was looking at from the park on Summit was the Mississippi. Later on, in Fargo, I was trying to figure out when we were going to cross it. Turns out Fargo is the RED River, genius. Oh well, I'll catch it on the next cross-country road trip, I guess.


Amy said...

I'm researching William Wilcox b/c he designed a church in Winona, MN but I'm not finding much. Where should I look? AmyLucas@ amymlucas@gmail.com

michelle said...

Yup, you'll need to see the Mississippi River as part of your Full American Experience. Although the Red River would have been a start.

Anonymous said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................