Return to Minnesota

It has been over 3 years since I first hopped off the plane in Minneapolis/St Paul airport and I was excited to be back. I have so many great memories from this special place and Minnesota will always hold a special place in my heart. My friend Allison suprised me by meeting me at baggage claim and I hastily pulled a happy birthday banner out of my bag, my arrival coincided with her birthday and I think she appreciated her kiwi birthday present. We lugged my ever growing bags to her car and drove to a Mexican restaurant for lunch and then went for a walk around lake before sampling some cider at Sociable Cider Works (seems like cider is finally becoming a thing in the states!). There was a mobile blood drive parked at SCW’s and they had partnered with them to give donors a free drink (at a later date) – I like their style! Later that night we met up with some of Allison’s uni friends for her birthday dinner and then drove back to her parents place in Sartell where we were staying. I was very very thankful to be staying in my own room, in my own bed for the first time in over 2 weeks.

The next morning we headed to Savers to do some thrift shopping. Op shops are amazing in the states, they are filled with so many cool find and we spent a couple of hours searching through the store. I only walked away with a couple of items due to my limited bag space. We went back to the Ley’s for lunch and on the way we spotted a few garage sales. Garage sales are a big thing in Minnesota it seems. They start on Thursdays andn through the weekend. We went to 6 just in one small area of Sartell that day. My favourite one was an estate sale that had a lot of cool old items, like old medicine bottles and soda cans. We went back to the Ley’s for a delicious dinner and then headed out for cheap drinks with Allison’s flatmate Krista.

The next morning we headed back to the cities to pick up my friend Erena who had flown in from Colorado for the weekend to visit. After a quick stop in Sartell for lunch we headed to Nisswa, which is where the summer camp we all worked at is. We checked into our motel that stunk of cigarettes (in our non smoking room) and then headed into the town, wandering through the many gift shop and getting some of the famous Chocolate Ox icecream. For dinner we had another walk down memory lane with Rafferty’s Pizza and then headed to Ye Olde Pickle Factory for drinks. It was a very fun day and very reminiscent of days off spent during camp.

Erena and Allison enjoying some Chocolate Ox

After a truly awful motel breakfast the following day, we headed back into Nisswa where we met up with another camp friend Kate and then drove out to camp. It was very weird being back, nothing had really changed except all the people were different. We stayed for lunch and had one of the exact meals (cesar salad with biscuits) that we used to have 3 years ago – athough the salad bar had got significantly better. After lunch we walked around the grounds and reminisced a bit before heading to Grandview Lodge for some more Chocolate Ox. That night we went to another old haunt for dinner, Zorbaz. Zorbaz was packed and we had a great night, joined later by another camp friend Patty, who was actually in the same cabin as me.The following morning we headed into town for breakfast as we weren’t willing to put ourselves through the motel breakfast again. After breakfast we went for a walk to the Nisswa lake and along part of the Paul Bunyan trail (Paul Bunyan is a giant who has a pet Ox named babe, his footprints are what shaped all the lakes in Minnesota…or so the story goes). We then met up with Kate again and she took Erena back to the cities to catch her flight while Allison and I drove back to Sartell and had dinner with her family.

On the shores of Bass Lake where I spent many hours in canoeing or kayaking classes

The infamous Camp Lake Hubert sign

The next day was the 3rd of July, so Allison’s friends had the day off. We drove to a nearby “beach” with her friends Emily and Mallory and spent the day there sunbathing and swimming. That night we drove to the next town over where they were having a festival. We Hing out with some more of her friends, listened to music and watched the fireworks display.

The 4th of July, or Independence Day, is a big deal in the states, so I was excited to be in the country for it. We were spending the day with Allison’s extended family at their lake house. Our first stop was to the town of Crosby where they always go watch the local parade. This was a very small town parade, where the polce, fire brigade and local businesses drive past and hand out lollies. After the parade we headed to Allison’s uncle’s cabin on Dam Lake for lunch. Dam Lake was really pretty and there were a whole lot of humming birds buzzing around. We also took the pontoon boat out onto the lake and went swimming before a thunderstorm rolled in. We had to head back reasonably early as Allison’s dad had to work the next day. When we got back we drove to Emily’s house in St Cloud to watch the fireworks display. Before the fireworks started there was an awesome Minnesotan lightning storm. I love the storms in Minnesota, they have awesome for lightning and are very dramatic. The fireworks displays in the States are also pretty epic though.

Typical small town parade float

The view from Allison’s uncle’s lakehouse

Allison’s mum had the following day of, so we hung out with her for the morning and headed into St Cloud to go shopping and run errands. Later that afternoon our friend Becca arrived from Iowa. We had dinner with Allison’s family that night and then headed to a bar in St Cloud with Mallory and Jeff to try their famous Buffalo drinks.

Sadly, the next day was my last full day in Minnesota. We got up early and drove to a place called Taylor’s Falls. When we got there we had lunch in a drive in restaurant where the waitresses serve you in your car. It was a pretty cool experience, but I think I prefer eating at a table. Afterwards we killed some time looking at some glacial potholes before renting a canoe and canoeing down the river. The canoeing was a lot of fun, we sang songs the whole way. Unfortunately when we got to the pick up point the company forgot about us and we ended up waiting an hour in the heat to be picked up. Because of this we didn’t get back to Sartell til later so we ordered some food (which was also an hour late) and went outside to have a campfire with some of the Ley’s neighbours.

Canoeing down the Croix river

We had to leave reasonably early to catch my flight the next day, so that was the end of my time in Minnesota. It was so great to go back and even better to see some of my friends who I talk to all the time on Skype but hadn’t seen in person for 2-3 years.

But it was time to move on to the third phase of my trip, next stop…California!

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