We've been traveling across Minnesota for the past few days and are now waiting out the severe thunderstorms in Pipestone, MN. Along the way, we've run into some great people, and some not so great weather (although we've surprisingly had a slight tailwind for the past few days). Our lovely view from the motel we're staying at in Pipestone is pictured below (not pictured is the rain and lightening).
While we were in Minneapolis, we wanted to visit an urban farm as there are many in the city, but thought it would be more interesting to showcase one of the coolest grocery stores we've ever been to -The Seward Co-op. In addition to being located in one of Minneapolis' most vibrant neighborhoods (Seward), the Seward Co-op is housed in an eco-friendly building that brings locally produced food from "Farmer to Franklin" (located on Franklin Ave).
The principles of cooperative organizations not only support the community in which the organization is based, but also the surrounding community of local farmers and food producers. As a collectively run organization, members are part owners and receive discounts on featured food items throughout the year, and if the cooperative is profitable they also receive a patronage refund (a share of the profit that is equivalent to their in-store purchases throughout the fiscal year). The Seward Co-op is especially dedicated to promoting a healthy community by offering classes and programs that teach about buying local, and growing food among many other subjects. The Seward Co-op also hosts a community supported agriculture fair called "Know your Grower" where CSA farmers come to the store to inform and invite customers to participate in their CSA.
We were sad to leave such a great group of people in such a fun city, but the trip must go on!! Our next stop was 65 miles away from Minneapolis, MN to Hutchinson, MN. We rolled into town around 7pm, but needed to make a quick stop before we set up tent. It seems to be getting colder despite the fact that it is the middle of June, so we thought we should buy an extra layer (jacket, hoodie, etc.). While I was inside making my purchase, a woman with her daughter approached Kevin asking him the regular questions we get from people interested in what we are doing: 'Where are you headed?' 'Where did you begin?' 'How long have you been on the road?' During the conversation Kevin told her where we were camping and shortly thereafter we headed to the campsite.
We set up camp and were falling asleep when we heard a noise by our bikes. We immediately thought that someone was trying to steal them! Kevin quickly stuck his head out of the tent and saw a plastic bag sitting beside our bikes. Inside the bag was bottled waters, energy drinks, and energy bars. We then heard, 'Hello! I met you at the store! I just thought I would bring you a little snack!'
Her name was Nancy and she had even brought us freshly popped popcorn. We chatted with her for awhile and were very grateful of her thoughtfulness, but it didn't end there. Nancy invited us to her home for breakfast (even though she was going to be at work). She said her husband, Jay, made great waffles! The next morning we arrived and ate like kings: waffles, eggs over easy, bacon, strawberries, grapes, orange juice and coffee!! Jay and Hannah (their daughter) were very hospitable and friendly, and even their dog, King, was a love bug.
As we were leaving, it was nice to see that they had their own little garden in their backyard.
With our bellies full we headed to Ft. Ridgely State Park located just off of the Minnesota River and actually arrived to the park by 5pm -a new record for us! We leisurely set up camp, took showers, and cooked up some delicious stir fry all before the sun set (also a new record!).
After being devoured by gnats (yes gnats bite) we gladly hit the road toward our next destination -Garvin County Park located about 65 miles southwest near Garvin, MN. The winds were blowing northwest at about 20-25 mph all day, so for the first 3/4 of the day we had a tailwind, but for the last 11 miles we experienced a brutal headwind that dampened our spirits as we ascended one of the few hills in Minnesota for what seemed like 3 or 4 miles. Luckily when we arrived to our campsite the host was kind enough to lend us some dry firewood, kindling, and lighter fluid which made starting our fire to cook food a lot less work. We even made friends with his two daughters who we plan to be pen-pals with when we return to Philadelphia! I am excited to have a pen-pal. I haven't had one since elementary school, and we thought it was really cool that they asked that of us.
The weather will hopefully clear up by tomorrow (cross your fingers). We will be leaving Minnesota and moving into South Dakota. Four states (four BIG states) to go until we hit the west coast!