Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Having been impressed by North Dakota’s beauty, which to our relief was nothing like the plains of eastern Montana, we had high expectations for Minnesota. On many fronts the state has delivered. Lake Itasca was quite the treat where we had the chance to walk across the headwaters of the Mississippi River (inset). We witnessed the small stream grow into a wide, meandering river as we followed it south towards Minneapolis. You might think the water and warm weather as a recipe for enjoyment. This would be partially true. However, I have affectionately renamed the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” the “Land of Humidity, Mosquitoes, and Ticks.” The name doesn’t roll off the tongue like “The Beaver State,” but I think most would find it fitting. On one particularly miserable day, we cycled all morning through the pouring rain, thankful that the mosquitoes could not brave the elements - that is until we came to a stop. Apparently, Minnesota mosquitoes are even heartier than Montana mosquitoes (which are capable of navigating 20+ mph cross winds and performing aerial maneuvers that would make a WWII fighter ace turn white, all just to suck your blood). The Minnesota insects have been blessed with the ability to fly through tropical downpours featuring solid sheets of water. I suppose things could have been worse - a tornado was reported in the southern region of the state.

But alas, I complain too much. We have been spoiled by the people we have met after all. A fellow cross-country cyclist by the name of Dan bought us each a Snickers bar when he spotted us outside of a grocery store. It was a blast to have an exchange with someone that had been bitten by the touring bug, especially since we have not had the pleasure of meeting many other folks doing the same thing. We had a most enjoyable visit with Lance, a fascinating contractor that had been to the Antarctic a dozen times to construct remote field laboratories. He entertained us with stories of survival methods (a topic he teaches) over a couple beers that he so graciously shared.

Once in Minneapolis, the royal treatment didn’t stop. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a wedding party in a city park that insisted on including us in their delicious picnic buffet (we were of course unable to refuse). We also ran into a fellow by the name of Ross while checking out the University campus. Because we didn’t have a place lined up to stay on our first night in town, he offered to put us up for an evening. Not only did he treat us to an awesome pizza restaurant, he also cooked us one of the most delicious traditional breakfasts that I have ever tasted. Turns out that Ross is an incredibly chill and exceptional individual that is a chef, teacher, father, musician, mechanic, cyclecross racer, scientist and a multitude of other things. I was truly envious of his skill set.

The following day we met up with Sue, family friend of the Bettenburgs. Sue was an incredibly gracious and social host. Her and her friends showed us a terrific time on lake Minnetonka, where we drank and ate to our heart’s content as we floated around the lake in a party barge. We soaked up the sun and enjoyed our first swim of the trip. Over the course of three restful days spent at Sue’s house, we were able to check out Minneapolis in some detail. We visited Mall of America, the largest shopping center in the US. The four-level complex is so big that it features a full blown amusement park in the middle (see picture). We also took time to explore downtown and uptown where we got a taste of some excellent local bars and even found a Whitecastle. The burgers, while tiny, numerous, and tasty, were no match for the Juicy Lucy (a notoriously delicious burger served at the 5-8 club located near lake Nokomis).

Looking back, we had a whole ton of fun in Minneapolis. We plan to leave in the morning, but we will wait to see how that goes… Cheers!


  1. I had a chance (no pun) to meet these two nice men while I was a vendor at a kennel club show in cambridge minnesota. What a great journey these two are on. I had great envy for the free spirit they had in their fields.

    The life lessons (physical and Mental) at their age can only reward the rest of the population every time we get the honor of crossing their path.

    I am excited for you guys, and wish you safety, and continued growth.

    the Glass Blower
    A.E.A. (apprentice earth angel)

  2. We are so glad you guys are having such a great trip. We are currently experiencing very warm weather here at home. We are having george,sue and colin over for dinner for Poly's birthday big 55. We miss you. Love the blog, great to see how many nice people you have met.

  3. Steve: So glad we could bump into you in Cambridge! It is with great pleasure that we travel to meet such awesome people as yourself, it's the real benefit of traveling =)
    Dawn: I had to give the ol' Poly a call - he said he doesn't have birthdays anymore hah! Nonetheless, 55 going on 30. Miss you all at home and hope you had an excellent celebration =D

  4. We've become avid readers of your blog and enjoy every entry. It's awesome, you're all the way in Minnesota by your own muscle power in the 21st century! Ashlee mentioned that you wanted more comments - I had some trouble posting a few times because ....let's just say sometimes I don't communicate well with my computer. Anyway - here it is, a comment.

  5. When reading this entry I could totally relate to your mosquito woes. Here in Thailand the mosquitos are thick and I am pretty sure that I get a new bite daily. (Which is super annoying) I am glad to hear that you are making steady progress on your adventure. I might go with Jon when he meets you in the southwest! You both should be grateful because I just created a gmail account so that I could post on your blog, and I hate gmail...but I like you guys so I made the sacrifice!

  6. Mary: Glad you are still enjoying the blog! I suspect several folks read it in the background, it's just so nice to hear from y'all via email or comments =) Don't feel obligated though, we're just glad to have dedicated readers!
    Kayla: Hope your Thailand experience turns around (mosquitoes and otherwise). We would love to meet up with you two in the southwest! Glad to hear you made the sacrifice with gmail just for us =D