Written August 16, 2013.
Today I woke up nice and early in my tent partly due to the fact that the sun was very bright at 7am and partly due to the fact that the interstate was just over 100 yards away; at least I imagine a football field would fit snuggly in that space. My destination was set: Minneapolis as soon as possible so I could see my friend Brynne, who took the day of to hang out and host me.
I rode East on interstate 94 for about 120 miles before having to stretch and refuel. During that span of road, I was mostly focused on pacing the cars around me, as construction was all over and most of the highway was down to a one way lane. The landscape was green, mostly flat, but nice to see after the brown hills of Montana and North Dakota.
At my first rest stop, I grabbed some coffee and a couple apples for breakfast and just relaxed. While waiting, I noticed two other sport bikes had pulled up to the pumps: another Kawasaki 650 and a Suzuki SV650. Both were loaded down with traveling gear. My first thought was, “awesome, I’m not the only idiot that travels by sport bike!!” When the bike owners returned to their rides, it wasn’t too long before we all got to talking. The two, Max and Chris, had just left Fargo and were headed toward Indianapolis for the moto GP race that was going on this coming Sunday, August 18th.
All of us were heading to Minneapolis, so we thought we’d ride the next 130 miles to the city, have lunch, then part ways.
It was weird to ride with other people after 1,800 miles of riding solo, at my own pace, doing whatever I wanted in terms of stopping to take pictures or stretch, but it was a nice snap back to reality. If I forget what riding in a group is like, all my riding buddies back home (Josh, Chris, Brian, Justin, Scott, and Brittney) will be upset that I suck at grouping up in October. The ride to Minneapolis from there was entertaining because construction continued, we rode only 3mph over the speed limit, which my gas mileage was grateful for, and we had fun trying to learn a weird form of biker sign language to each other.
It took us just under two hours to get into the city where we met Brynne and her boyfriend, Randy, for lunch at old Chicago. After lunch, my two new riding buddies left to continue their adventures, Randy went to work, and Brynne and I found some things to do.
Our first stop was to relax by getting much needed manicures. I opted for a bright green polish to match my green swimsuit and, yeah don’t judge, my bike. It looks sweet, okay?! The lady giving the manicure didn’t think it looked sweet, she kept insisting I try pink or orange or red, but I didn’t back down. Getting them done was much better than the repainting I had been doing every other day after my riding gloves had worn them down.
After our nails, we went for a walk to a nearby lake. We were practically in the center of the city and the manmade lake was a popular destination on such a warm day.
We had contemplated paddle boarding, but opted to go check out the Mall of America (MOA) instead. When I was a kid, the MOA sounded like heaven. Rollercoasters inside a giant mall? Heck yes! When we arrived, I thought it looked just like the Lloyd Center in Portland, with shops lining one great long corridor, four floors in all, but then Brynne told me there were four of these great corridors, and that we had plenty more to see. We rounded one corner and out of nowhere this giant atrium-type opening was visible, and it was filled with rollercoasters, carnival rides, and tons of Nickelodeon-themed things.
My dad would have bailed right then and there at the sight of all the Spongebob items; the two do not get along.
I think my favorite store in the whole mall was the massive LEGO store. We stopped in there for at least a good twenty minutes so I could create my own LEGO people, a gift for my little sister, and scope out all the cool LEGO statues. The biggest was a robot-type guy that was almost two stories tall, and the attention to detail was phenomenal.
After the LEGO store, we wandered over to a Forever 21 that included all of their departments for once. It was huge!
They had a massive jewelry area, men’s clothing, kid’s clothing, intimates section, and of course all of the women’s section. I managed to escape with only a $2 necklace and nothing else. Brynne was not so lucky, she had found a couple more items that she couldn’t live without. Our last stop was to LuLu Lemon, a store I had never been to in person. I love their yoga clothing, I always check it out online, but dang was it expensive… like $48 for a sportsbra, no thanks. The gear was all great to look at, though.
On our way out of the mall, I saw a Columbia Sportswear store and I couldn’t resist going in.
I don’t think I’m homesick, but I do like to compare a lot of the little and big things with home, because I think Oregon is just that cool. I found a cute dress on their clearance rack and attempted to see if I could get a discount for being an Oregonian. I was surprised when they said I could get 10% off for that… but I had to sign up for their rewards emails. There’s always a catch, I suppose, but I gave in anyway and got the cute dress. I still like to think I got the discount because I’m from Oregon… denial.
With a bit of time left in the evening, Brynne suggested a couple things we could still do. We settled on going to an Ice Cream shop called Sebastian Joe’s. They serve all homemade ice cream and were obviously good because the line was very long. Several flavors sounded very good, but when I heard what the ingredients in “When Pigs Fly” were, I knew I’d love it; bacon, maple, and chocolate chips in vanilla ice cream. It was amazing. So much so that I posted an Instagram on Twitter and I think the store follows me on Twitter now.
The rest of the night consisted of us winding down with free entertainment from Brynne and Randy’s rambunctious kitties.
I had a great day getting to meet other riders, hang out with my good friend, and enjoy some parts of what Minneapolis has to offer.
The city itself is only about 280,000 people, and its twin city, St. Paul, is the same size. To put it into perspective, both cities put together are still smaller than Portland’s 580,000 people. I guess I had just assumed that Midwestern cities were bigger, and though this is the biggest city I’ve been to on my ride so far, it wasn’t overwhelming.