Sneaking One In Before the Skies Open Up

May 1, 2012

8.8 miles

Lexington-Hamline, Ramsey Hill, Macalester-Groveland and Highland Park.

What better way to burn off some work-related stress than to jump on the bike for a ride? Never mind the grey sky and forecast for rain, the blog and exercise took precedent tonight.

This round-about is a little taste of European driving. Saint Paul and other cities are increasingly using roundabouts to slow traffic. (Traffic engineers call it ‘traffic calming.’) Single lane roundabouts like this one are easy to navigate. Wellesley and Wheeler in Mac-Groveland. Multi-lane roundabouts are a spectators sport that combine the best parts of the Indy 500, a demolition derby and chess.

Novick’s Super Service, South Snelling and Stanford Avenue, appears virtually unchanged from 40 or 50 or more years ago except for the lack of gasoline pumps.

Movie-makers like the retro look of Novick’s. I’ve seen several for film crews shooting on the premises over the years.

Novick’s has been in business for more than 80 years judging by the sign above the door.

This colorful storefront belongs to ArtScraps, a unique store that sells a mindboggling and frequently changing array of art supplies. What makes ArtScraps different from other art stores is that nearly all the items are manufacturer rejects, overstocks or would otherwise be thrown in the garbage. Prices are very reasonable so it’s an inexpensive way to get a lot of fun art supplies.

ArtScraps is at 1459 St. Clair Avenue, a.k.a. St. Clair and Pascal.

A mural on the Pascal side of ArtScraps.

Larry Webb and his daughter Lakeea were hanging out on their Dayton Avenue porch, talking, as I rode up.

Larry Webb described his neighborhood this way, “It’s pretty quiet. A lot of working people; nice friendly people.”

“I’ve lived in New York, I’ve lived in Chicago, Detroit and I think Saint Paul is pretty nice.  I’ve also lived in Minneapolis.  It’s a little bit more civil over here.” Larry told me.

Larry moved to Dayton Avenue from Woodbury two years ago.  “People are a little more friendly here.  In Woodbury everyone’s a little more laid back and stay personal to themselves.”

Lakeea spends a lot of time at the nearby Jimmy Lee Rec Center, “ Swim, play in the gym and talk with my friends.”

Larry laughed as he talked about the perils of maneuvering nearby University Avenue which is in the midst of light rail construction, “Well, since University is going through their transition, I wouldn’t put anybody on that mission.” When he does get to University, Larry enjoys Pappy’s in Midway Center for Chicago style dogs, Perkin’s and Denny’s.

All American Auto Service.

Completely by chance I came upon another “vintage” service station. Sidebar-I like the word “vintage” but in many cases I think it is nice word for old and outdated.
Anyway, All American Auto Service is found on fashionable Grand Avenue at Oxford Street. It harkens back to the 1940s when auto-related businesses thrived on Grand.

Notice the wheel rim above the pump in the foreground while part of a transmission seems to hover above the pump in the background.

Looking east across Oxford Avenue toward All American Auto Service.

From Grand, I continued south on Oxford until it ended at St. Clair and then I turned west.  A block west of Lexington Avenue I came across 1160 St. Clair, which looks to be a small house.

The house at 1160 St. Clair would be easy to miss if it weren’t for the bright magenta paint.

Another angle of 1160 St. Clair.

I pedaled quickly homeward with no intention of stopping again as the sky grew darker with the impending sunset and rain. But as I cruised south on Syndicate Street I got a whiff of the unmistakable fragrance of fresh doughnuts being made at P.J. Murphy’s Bakery.

A baker happened to be in the alley dumping trash as I rode up so I complemented him on the delightful smell. He kindly offered me a fresh doughnut, which I forlornly turned down because donuts go right to my butt.

P.J. Murphy’s retail space at 1279 Randolph Avenue is dark. The only clue that bakers are hard at work on the next day’s pastries is the light from the kitchen.

One of the bakers preps doughnut dough. I got this shot by holding my camera above my head to shoot through the kitchen window, which is about seven feet above the ground.

And with that I got back on the bike and made it home dry and safe despite the unexpected but worthwhile stop at P.J. Murphy’s.

May 1, 2012 route

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