Minnesota Westward

First up - I greatly apologize for the tardiness of this post! The days have been jam packed with all sorts of adventures, and when you are sleeping outside when the sun goes down you are ready for bed. And for all of the camping that we've done, we have yet to have ONE campfire – kinda crazy right? But I digress… back to our travels.

After leaving Pictured Rocks we scooted over to Minneapolis to meet up with my brother Keith, his girlfriend Hope, and my mom for mom's third and final farewell on our trip. Keith had requested a Wisconsin specific beer so on our way to him we grabbed some Spotted Cow by New Glarus Brewing. We made a pit spot at a liquor store, and even though I've been to Wisconsin before I forget that they L-O-V-E to drink. So even at 2:00 PM on a Thursday the liquor store was busier than you would think. We didn't officially have lunch so we grabbed some jalapeƱo beef and cheese sticks, the beer, and were two pretty happy travelers! I'm a sucker for roadside attractions so imagine my joy when we pulled into a gas station with this little gem! There are definitely more roadside attractions in our travels, so stay tuned!
Roadside weirdness.

Mom goes to see Keith almost every summer and this summer she wanted to go for the Minneapolis Polish Festival, and it just so happened to work out that it would fall mostly in line with our trip. I had been to Minneapolis a few times before, but mostly in the winter because, hey isn't it the best time to visit? I kid, I kid. This was, however, Ben's first trip to Minneapolis. Let me say that I love Minneapolis – I'm sure some of it has to do with the fact that my brother has lived there for well over a decade. The first time my parents sent me on a plane by myself was when I was 16, and it was for me have Thanksgiving with him in Minneapolis. Minneapolis speaks to me in a way that other cities don't. It could be the neighborhood that my brother lives in, but it has this nice "hippie" vibe. I love being places that embrace my inner hippie - where you can find all natural deodorant and locally made face cream at the local co-op. Call me Bourgeoisie, or hipster or whatever you want but… I like what I like. Minneapolis has that vibe and frankly, I like it. So there.

Minneapolis has a ton of "green space" - one of the things that makes the city unique. Naturally, during our visit we did a little urban hiking. We headed over to Minnehaha Park - which surprisingly has waterfalls and heads right down to the Mississippi River. In the winter the falls are frozen and people have been known to sneak behind the falls for a gaze from the other side. Keith also told us that someone (presumably with permission) took a kayak over the falls with a GoPro earlier this year. They're not huge...but still. 

Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis, MN.

Some of the family, standing in some sand that has been carved out near the Mississippi River. 

 We headed down to the river where people were wadding through. I asked if that was safe and Keith said he wouldn't be doing it anytime soon. So there you have it. Also the roots of the trees down by the river have been eroded from the water and they eventually grow bark to protect themselves from the harsh winters. Nature is NEAT! NEATURE!

Nature being resilient! 
My only request while we were in Minneapolis was to eat a Jucy Lucy, a quintessential but often disputed cheeseburger. The dispute is over which bar invented it. I had been to Matt's Bar on my last visit and after some discussion we decided that we should opt for the "upscale" stuffed cheeseburger place. So after our trip to Minnehaha we went to the Blue Door Longfellow. And what goes better with a burger then some local American beer? Nothing! Ben had a Shenanigans by Indeed and I had a Farm Girl by Lift Bridge, both were delicious! 
Rocket Statue/Former Playground on the way to lunch.
The next day we went to the Polish Festival. It was great - Polka music, sausages galore, Polish Beer. Mom danced in a conga line... a great time for sure. The day before Mom made the mistake of referencing two thirty-something guys as "pseudo adults" - so naturally Keith and I teased her the rest of the time that we were in fact pseudo adults and couldn't be held responsible in the least. The "kids or pseudo adults," as mom may refer to us, headed to the river-front to check out St. Anthony Falls while we left mom to soak up all of the Polka music her ears could handle. Keith told us that most of the manufacturing building, General Mills etc, that once stood there are now mostly condos but it was still pretty crazy to think about all of the manufacturing that this country used to have. As we drive around the country we certainly don't see much of it going on anymore - really kinda sad.

Former American Industry, current American condos.  The building on the left behind that taller branch exploded and is now a courtyard to the condos behind. 
I should also note that during this stop we tried to make an appointment to get the wake/sleep button on my iPhone 5 fixed at an Apple Store. After we made an appointment for Sunday morning they assured us over the phone that they could "get that taken care of." Come to find out that they do not do those repairs in-store but rather only in their Austin warehouse, and I could have it back in 7-10 business days. UGH! Monday morning Ben was calling around for a store in town that would sell the replacement ribbon. We found one, Ben installed it and put it back together and wait for it… the wake/sleep button worked, but the mute button on the side didn't work anymore. Double ugh. So we ended up heading back to the place that sold us that ribbon to have them swap it out for a non-defective cable. Around 7:30 PM (Closing at 8:00) they put in three different ribbons, all of which didn't work. They finally got to a totally different box of parts and got one that worked. They truly did an amazing job and went above and beyond my expectations. I was thrilled with my newly working wake/sleep button (which had not been working for five months) but I was not so thrilled that my GPS was acting a little screwy since getting my phone back. GPS is important when you are on a road trip across the country. Luckily Ben figured out that they put a magnetic screw where one shouldn't be and it was messing up the compass so that was an easy little fix!  (Ben's comment:  This is another example of why I usually only trust myself to fix things.)  

Keith and mom had both taken trips out West so they gave us a ton of knowledge and some pointers on where to go and things not to miss. It was a great last stop before heading into the unknown.


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