Friday, December 22, 2006

Like a mountain turned on its side

At last, the white stuff arrived. We sat and looked out the window in disgust as the rain poured down. It was, after all, December 21. Disgusted not because we hate rain, but because we love snow. All that precip was going to waste. Ah, but the next time we looked up from the computer, it was a white out. What did we do then? Threw on the coat and mitts, jumped on the bike, and headed down River Road to Midwest Mountaineering.

The ironic name of the place has never bugged us that much. (Uh, you might have noticed: There are no mountains in the Midwest.) Nor has its location here in flatland deprived it of the honors it deserves. The Twin Cities grandaddy of silent-sports shops has a national reputation for its impressive inventory of top-shelf softgoods, camping equipment, paddle-sports gear, skis, backpacks, and—yes—climbing gear.

While we still like to head out to REI now and again, it's a bummer of a car trip (almost unapproachable by bike or foot). The completely bunged interchange with Lyndale and the 494 frontage road is enough to keep us away for months at a time. Besides, we've come to believe that REI's house brand is a little suspect in the QA department. Midwest Mountaineering, on the other hand, lives in its quaint storefronts at seven corners, a few doors down from the 400 Bar, the Wienery, and a dozen other West Bank landmarks that are legitimate solo destinations on their own.

One minor pet peeve with MM: The most recent store layout? With the long outfitters' style checkout counter? Works roughly like a canvas pup tent. Nostalgic. Cute. Totally lame. No one knows where to stand, who's working the registers, what's the traffic flow. For a store that has every other snow-picket perfectly in place, this is one placement that is NOT bomber.

Midwest Mountaineering
309 Cedar Ave. So
Minneapolis, MN 55454
Phone local: 612-339-3433
Toll-free: 888-999-1077
Fax: 612-339-7249

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