RAFFI: After too many days of being stranded in small towns and being caught in the wilderness, beautiful as it may be, we arrived in Minneapolis, Minnesota, just another city of which we knew relatively nothing about. But we got to know the place soon enough, beginning our first night by walking through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden up into the prominent downtown section, a real lively area that is very pretty at night, due in part to Minneapolis’s skyway system, a widespread system by which what-seems-like every building is connected by suspended, climate-controlled tunnels. Many of the skyways are artsy and/or lit up, and, as a result, give the city more architectural flavor. The next day, on Mr. Hoeger’s advice, we ventured to Lake Calhoun, one of many sort-of large bodies of water that lies in and around the area—interesting because you don’t usually see such natural things in such an urban landscape. We walked around nearby as well in what can best be described as a hip collection of shops and restaurants, eventually walking two miles from our car to a record shop and, on our return, getting caught in a torrential thunderstorm. But everything turned out okay when a very friendly bus driver gave us a free ride and free passes to transfer onto other buses that would lead us to our car. On the drive home, I had a monumental realization that we were caught in the most opportune moment, with the rain and the Minneapolis, to play Minneapolis-native Prince’s iconic eight-minute-long ‘80s song “Purple Rain.” But one play wasn’t enough, so I played it again, then again, and again, and for the rest of the night we listened to “Purple Rain” on repeat. This didn’t sit too well with Hor and Dunc, but I had to milk this once-in-a-lifetime chance for all it was worth, and, in all seriousness, the song seemed to really translate the scene outside—that I suppose Prince had in mind—to the music in our car. We ate dinner that night after the rains had ceased in a very small, but highly-rated restaurant, where we were treated to two free desserts by the bartender and nearly seduced by a thirty-something-year-old drunken woman. Afterward, we trudged through the street puddles of the old Warehouse District and riverfront, whereupon we decided to cross the river, which happens to be the Mississippi, and then walk down to the University of Minnesota. This walk took longer than expected, but it was well worth it. The reflection of the rain-drenched cityscape on the river was magnificent; as were the various trains and colorfully-lit bridges we passed. By the time we got to the university, it was two in the morning, so we made the long trek back to our car, and drove home (Motel 6), blasting “Purple Rain” the entire time. The next day we went to the largest mall in the country, and, well, I’m not sure what else to say except that it was a really big mall. The day after that, our final day in Minneapolis, we spent our night at the city’s famed music venue First Avenue/7th Street, a venue that served as an important platform to success for Minneapolis-based acts like Prince and The Replacements. The show we attended was comprised of three bands, each of which had its own unique and, at times, quirky energy. The headlining band was Linkin Park/Limp Bizkit-esque, and the singer took himself a little too seriously; nevertheless, we had a great time to see these guys, virtually unknown, giving it all they had to appease a small crowd of maybe thirty people. In terms of quality, nothing beats live music in small venues; stadiums just don’t possess the same atmosphere as places like First Avenue, where the relationship between performer and attendee is so much closer. After the show, we walked around downtown again just to take in the awesomeness of Minneapolis at night one last time before we left. Upon our drive back to the motel, which was about five miles from the city, I put on some Replacements, which created a beautifully perfect vibe as we drove over the deserted streets from which the music drew its inspiration. But I couldn’t help but feel sad to leave this place that we had possibly grown, over the course of our four night stay, to really love; then again, I was comforted by the idea that I will one day return… And I don’t mean on vacation.