Saturday, 5 September 2015

Twin Rest Days in the Twin Cities

Location: Shakopee, MN, USA
After getting dropped off by Bonnie at Osakis we continued following the Lake Wobegon Trail south east to meet up with Tory. The riding surface was nice and the weather was great so we kept a good pace. At one point a fallen tree blocked our way and it seemed easier to man handle the tree rather than our bikes, so we pushed and pulled the branches to get an opening and carried on our journey.  We had a rendezvous organised with Tory and didn't want to be late so we pushed pretty hard to cover the 98 miles. Soph did an amazing job considering see was feeling so full of cold. We actually arrived slightly early to the gas station and treated ourselves to sports drinks and ice cream.  When Tory arrived we loaded up the car and headed towards the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul's. Tory and Steve had a beautiful home with amazingly soft carpets and a fantastic guest room for us to stay in with a brilliant assortment of pillows to choose from, none of which required preparation. We showered and got sorted round to wait for the rest of the family to arrive. Tory's husband Steve brought the kids, William and Christina, home. We had tours of the kids' bedrooms and were shown their toys and favourite things. While still on the tour the doorbell rang and the pizza arrived so we all headed down for food.  Being a school night we all headed to bed fairly early.

The Friday was a lazy day for us. While Tory worked from home we sat on the sofa and watched a film and planned our next 10 days of riding. When the Skyfall credits started to roll I headed off to do the oil changes on our Rohloff hubs and clean the chains so we'd have a lovely smooth ride when we got back on the bikes. The afternoon was even more relaxed with us doing next to nothing until everybody arrived home again. The evening though was full of fun. We ate a beautiful chicken casserole (although I think us Brits might call it a chicken pasta bake) before heading out to have a bonfire on the front drive way. The kids ran round as the adults sat by the fire. While I ran around William asked me to roll down the hill in the back yard. Having developed motion sickness on a Waltzer in Sheffield last year I was apprehensive but peer pressure won out and I found myself lying face down in the grass praying for the world to stop spinning. It was a very similar feeling to waking up in the tent in Harrison those many months earlier but thankfully much less messy. After pulling myself together I assumed my rightful seat around the fire, now with added neighbours. We drank, chatted and drew chalk pictures on the driveway. As the light faded Tory added a packet to the fire to change the orange flames to green and blue. When this faded Mike, one of Steve and Tory's neighbours, added a ball of Christmas lights. The effect was similar to the packet but with the added black ball of smoke billowing down the street. When order and orange was finally restored we headed to bed.

The Saturday morning everybody was a little slow to kick into gear but when our fasts had been broken we headed into Minneapolis to check out Cultivate, a free festival centred around local, sustainable food. The park was extremely busy and we waited in line to enter and then again for beer. After the adults had drinks we headed to the kids zone to paint on a wooden silhouette of a cow and draw designs on T-Shirts. The atmosphere was fantastic and we spent a while just soaking it up.

Next we headed back to the car and had a drive around the city. There are tall high rise corporate buildings, cute little boutique shops and everything in between. Minneapolis was the first major sized city we had experienced since Vancouver and I loved being back in such a huge conurbation. There is even an old derelict, exploded flour factory. We got two bites of the cherry with this one as we drove right past it then parked up the car on the other side of the river and walked down by the water front to get views of the skyline, the waterfalls and the blown out old factory.

As we turned to head back towards the car the thunder and lighting that had been entertaining us for the last 20 minutes finally brought the rain and we rushed back to the car and headed off to find some indoor activities. The first of which was a pint in a very Irish pub.  It had been where Steve and Tory had first met and the pub was actually a really good example of what a good pub should be like.  Both the Americans and Canadians do try and have a traditional pub but they seem to fall short because they are too brightly lit, everything is too new or far too clean.  Keegan's Pub however was in fact a pub, the main reason being that they shipped the interior of the pub across from Ireland and rebuilt it.  Next we tried to get food at Brit's but being Saturday night there was an hour wait on the table so we headed over the road to The Local (there is a bit of theme going on) to have fish and chips and an European Shandy (made with lager and Sprite whereas as Summer Shandy is made with actual country style lemonade and lager).  After the food we headed back across to Brits to check out their bowling green on the roof.  We headed back to Tory and Steve's home to watch a few minutes of American Football (they just call it football, weird) but soon we found ourselves in the beautifully soft bed heading off to the land of nod.

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