Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Travel

May 17, 2012

Saint Paul: Discoveries in fun ways

By Christine Tibbetts

CNHI News Service

Research is fine but couple it with actors to grasp some science in fun ways on a holiday in Minnesota.

That’s what happens in Saint Paul at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Fun is good, and abundantly available here, while information spews out easily.

“Real Pirates” is the blockbuster show right now, continuing through Labor Day. Might catch it elsewhere, but only in Saint Paul will 15 professional actors who studied the pirate ship research engage you in the stories.

Whydah is the name of slave ship that became a pirate ship. Facts documented by National Geographic.

“Love life until you run out of money,” is the advice one pirate-clad actor advised me. Startled I was at first.

“Fair winds and a following sea” is the wish with which to greet people, another theater-pirate said, as I read the museum exhibit displays.

This museum is on the banks of the Mississippi River; its side door gives access to one of America’s 397 National Parks.

Saint Paul is definitely a metropolitan mecca, and also the entry to 72 miles of National Park trails, wooded bluffs, and riverbanks.

Curious I thought. Easy friendly, with sophisticated cuisine and entertainment. Maybe that’s why I could overnight on the river in a repurposed towboat.

The Covington Inn was built in 1949 to tow barges on the mighty river; now she lulls people to sleep in four guest rooms as other towboats push the barges with grain, soybeans, corn and wheat.

Sixty semi tractor-trailer trucks needed for the same load. Aboard the Covington, I climbed a spiral metal staircase to my quarters — four windows to the river and city skyline views.

Narrow door to a broad, gracious deck, furnished with lounges and sit-straight chairs at tables. Comfort and big city/river views.

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