IN THE BAKED earth moonscapes of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, stepping outside of an air conditioned vehicle into the mid-day summer sun can feel like opening a pizza oven and sticking your head inside. There’s a wall of hot, dry air that bum-rushes your face, cleans your pores and dries your eyes.
The sun beats down on you, and your skin feels like it’s cooking. You can almost hear the moisture vaporize from your body. You can almost feel the water leave your skin. And for a nanosecond, you can almost see it vaporize into a tiny cloud above your head, before the heat rays sear through it, finishing the task before the whole scenario repeats itself over and again.
The desert truly claims you.
In the midwest, a different sensory experience awaits the masses as pure evil has unloaded the hottest of summers. In Wayzata, Minnesota, the temperature has twice reached 100 degrees. Those temperatures are accompanied by humidity, which is nothing like the pizza ovens of the desert southwest.
When stepping into the summer swelter of Minnesota, the humidity envelops you. It surrounds your body, and clings to you like a wet, suffocating jacket – mostly ill fitting and certainly uncomfortable. It’s akin to immediately transferring yourself from a 76-degree air conditioned room into a two-person Swedish sauna, where your friend has been inside for 20 minutes tending the rocks, spawning an ecosystem of steam and sweat.
This super-heated vapor structure rests atop your skin, mixing with the sweat leaking from your pores. Your body reacts to humidity like two water drops mating — things just get wetter and messier. Your lungs feel heavy, and soon enough that feeling of wearing a wet jacket becomes reality, as your clothes are soaked, you’re standing still and your mind is processing why the sweat valves have been opened like fire hoses.
Welcome to the Minneapolis suburbs, where the temperature just six months ago was 130 degrees cooler than its hottest day so far. Minneapolis, situated further north than Toronto and on the same latitude as Belgrade, Serbia and Sevastopol, Ukraine, presents another level of extreme as our society careens out of control on the climate-change autobahn.
Here in the land of 10,000 lakes, the summer swelter is celebrated by #lakelife and #wakelife, where the locals retreat to family cabins in the woods and mornings are spent carving the glassy waters on a wake board tethered to a tricked-out boat blasting Luke Bryan from the tower speakers.
Climatology aside, lake life in Minnesota is as essential to the state’s identity as pond hockey and the gerbil tubes connecting downtown skyscrapers that keep you sheltered from winter extremes.
The thick air, steady pattern of thunderstorms and dense thickets of trees can make for some gorgeous sunsets or early morning fishing. Those senses combined can also create a feeling of claustrophobia. You really can’t escape the space you’re inhabiting.
The humidity hugs you like your old, smelly aunt. The thunderstorms immediately give way to sunshine, before the encore of inclement weather hits you like the lights from a disco ball at 2 a.m. And the density of the trees make finding the horizon impossible. It’s like living in a corn maze, except it’s green. Without the envy.
Just remember the mosquito spray, the case of Michelob Golden Light and a tube of sunscreen. Minnesotans are a pale bunch when they emerge from the stank of municipal hockey rinks and end their winter hibernation. Approach them slowly, use a friendly voice and offer them a cold can of Golden Light.
After all, this is the season they suffer for. And truth be told, the lake life is “not so bad” as our Canadian neighbors like to say.
Luce Line Brewing Co. usually has a dozen beers on tap and a steady stream of food trucks offering everything from BBQ to pizza. Try one, try them all. But the Minnesota Ice is a Kolsch style beer considered both crushable and refreshing. Luce Line is located in Plymouth.
The bike trails are pretty great. Paved, gravel, dirt – a little bit of everything. Conveniently, if you're going to hit Luce Line Brewing, you can do so off the Luce Line State Trail, a rails-to-trails convert that offers 63 miles traversing towns and countryside.
Sometimes we recommend music we don't actually listen to — in this case, we'll offer up Prince. The Minnesota native died in 2016 at his Paisley Park compound in Chanhassen, a western suburb. Here's a ranking of Prince's music by the Los Angeles Times. Find your favorite, and "Fallinlove2nite."