July 4th, Saturday
We decided as a group that we wanted a relaxed 4th of July. Oh yeah! Naomi made an awesome breakfast of amazing omelets. Did I mention that I love vegging out in front of the TV.
There is an amazing show on the science channel called Man Tracker. The premise: a Canadian tracker with a beard and cowboy hat, on a horse attempts to catch two contestants in the Canadian wilderness before 36 hours is up. He doesn’t have a compass, but he does have a local guide. The contestants get to choose what they want with them, but they have to go on foot. The course is different every time and it usually is about 40 km. Very, very, very entertaining.
Guacamole, chips, watermelon, and snacks all day long.
Later, Naomi made real mac ‘n’ cheese, not in the casserole, but lots of nice creamy goodness. Man Tracker and mac ‘n’ cheese.
That night we headed over for a wine and cheese 4th of July night at Naomi’s friends’ house. Joel (another Joel) and Kevin are a blast to hang out with. Good cheese, good wine, good times. Sheri and her husband came over and hung out too. I first met Sheri when I visited Naomi, Brianna, and Sheri’s apartment in the spring of 2001 on my 1st college spring break. Then the three of them came down to Gainesville on their way through to Ft. Myers.
By midnight we were all pretty sleepy and headed home. Happy birthday USA!
July 5th, Sunday
We went to brunch at the Happy Gnome and had coffee and beer and wonderful goodness. Naomi’s parents live close to the bike shop where we need to take Nate’s bike. We head out to their house and air out our tent and sleeping bags. Of course we forgot the poles in Naomi’s apartment, thankfully the Reeves are well-stocked on anything that you could possibly need ever (important later).
I start to visit and catch up with Theresa and Nathan is with Mark in the resource-rich basement trying to come up with some prototypes for the back of our bikes that will work better than strapping things down with bungees. Naomi quickly reminds us that we need to head to the bike shop and find out what to do with Nate’s bike.
The bike shop guys at Gateway Cycle are really nice and knowledgeable. The problem they surmise is with cheap spokes. So, the wheel either needs to have all the spokes replaced, a handle built wheel with specific spokes, or a machine built wheel with specific spokes. We go for replacing all of the spokes. The guy says that it can be done by Tuesday. But of course we’re planning on leaving Tuesday morning. He looks again and asks if we need all of the spokes to be matching? We say of course not and so the bike was to be finished by Monday afternoon.
We run many errands around the town. Naomi is doing an awesome job of being a happy chauffeur. She takes us by my old neighborhood and house by the state fair and we stop at the old coffee shop and reminisce. We headed in the direction of Grace Church Roseville and wave and head to the REI located near by. They have some of what we need, but Naomi says we should go to Midwest Mountaineering in Minneapolis. She calls her mom to ask if that’s where they had gotten some really good camp food and Teresa calls the store to make sure that it was in. It was a really cool store.
We head back to the Reeves’ house and Theresa had put our laundry in the dryer and had even laid it all out after it was dry. People are really good to us.
The three of us then head to a small Italian place, Donatellis, with tacky decorations, but great food. We ordered this Sprite with lime flavoring in it, called Green Rivers. Yum! We were stuffed and headed home.
Naomi and Joel headed to bed early because they had to work the next day and we soon followed.
July 6th, Monday
We wake up about 10ish and head downstairs to Nina’s Cafe where we have gotten coffee every morning. It is just above Common Good Books, which is owned by Garrison Keillor who we love.
We are being pretty lazy because all we have to do is go pick up our passports from the main post office and hopefully meet up with Matt Peiken, the reporter who followed me during school up through my senior year of high school.
We headed out to the post office after lunch about 2 pm. We ride through downtown St. Paul passed the Xcel Energy Center where the Wild play hockey and passed the Science Museum where I went many times as a kid. I wait outside with the bikes and Nathan heads in to pick up our general delivery mail.
He comes out 10 minutes later empty handed. Not there.
With general delivery, there is only 1 post office per city that does this and you can’t address it to that post office, you just write your name, general delivery, the city, state, and zip code. You can’t call to see if it is in, you just have to go and personally pick it up with your ID, not even your spouse’s.
So we head back to go meet up with Matt Peiken. I am very frustrated. We are supposed to leave the next morning and are supposed to be sleeping at Naomi’s parents house. I call and leave Naomi a message to tell her of our dilemma and we head to Minneapolis by bike. Along the way we pass my brother Joel’s old high school and other familiar places.
When I was growing up, Minneapolis seemed very far away. It isn’t. It is just across the Mississippi River.
We make it to Matt’s by about 4:20 and he’s left to go walk his dog. We ride our bikes to the river in search of him and quickly find him and his chocolate lab, Wellstone. I loved talking with Matt growing up. We would have very intense political discussions and challenge one another. Those were very formative for my growing up years and did a lot to challenge my perceptions of the world. So of course we dive in to some more fun political conversation and laughing for the next few hours.
Matt is always doing something interesting. He is no longer at the Pi-Press (St. Paul Pioneer Press) but he is working on a local art scene project call the 3-minute Egg, you can check it out at 3minuteegg.org. He goes all over the Twin Cities to see bands, art shows, dance, and other cool stuff and makes 3 minute videos that you can view for free and can subscribe to. One really cool thing about Matt is that he is always thinking how he can make life good. He challenged us to pursue bigger and better things in our personal lives and careers. I’m not even sure that he realizes that he does this, but it is fun to keep on dreaming about life and choosing not to settle. Matt has energy and you feel energized around him.
He made us dinner that he hoped was edible. Of course it was delicious and it only took him 15 minutes. Somehow we are always hungry. Matt also gave us a copy of his self-help parody Positive MEinforcement: Shout ‘Me First!” and Make Every Day All About You! It is very funny and you should buy a copy. We took a couple of pictures and took off. I’m very glad that Nathan and Matt got to meet and that we all hung out.
Life is good.
We headed back and took Summit Ave for some of the way and went by my old junior high school, Ramsey, and went in to take a picture. A janitor said the school was open for a while more and so we went to explore. I started heading up the stairs that I used to slide down, when an older woman on her way down asked if I needed anything (more in the tone of what are you doing here?). I said I was a former student and wanted to look around; she said she had students upstairs; I said I wouldn’t disturb them and asked to go upstairs; she said that she would prefer if I didn’t. So I didn’t. We headed out and made it back to Naomi’s in just a few minutes.
Naomi and her mom, Theresa, had been brainstorming and had decided that it would be best for Theresa to pick us up in the early afternoon on Tuesday and then head to pick up our bikes so that we would head out early Wednesday morning. Good plan.
Naomi, Joel, Nathan, and I headed to a pub called Moscow on the Hill and had a dessert called Napoleon, which was just delightful and a shot of horseradish vodka and a martini. I don’t really know much about shots, but I did spill half of my martini so that it looked like I had a little accident. Such is my life.
We headed back to the apartment and said our goodbyes; Naomi and Joel headed to bed, we watched more Conan.
July 7th, Tuesday
We got up and headed down to Nina’s and met a really nice lady that made our bagels. She was a free spirit and was really encouraging. I will say that it is tough remembering everyone’s name especially if we don’t write right away. So hopefully this person knows who they are and we thank you for your encouragement and excitement for us on our trip. [Nathan says he thinks her name was Theresa].
I wander around Common Good Books and ask if Garrison comes in at all. The guy says that he is coming on Thursday for something and that occasionally when he is bored he’ll come in and buy a couple hundred dollars worth of books. I’m not going to lie, I was hoping that some how he was there and that we could have hung out for a few hours and have him tell me about Lake Wobegon.
We headed out to pick up our passports. Trip #2 to the post office. I am filled with hope. But the question still looms: Will our passports be there? That is the question. No. Not there. They say maybe tomorrow. No one is really helpful.
We have heard that we might be able to borrow a car the next day to head back again to the post office.
We get all of our stuff packed up, grab some burgers from Costello’s, and wait for Theresa to pick us up.
We loaded all of our stuff into the van and headed out to Mahtomedi.
Theresa made lasagna for later and laid down because she was starting to have a migraine. We borrowed the van and picked up Nate’s bike and headed back.
I had a nice relaxing day of watching TV, while Nathan and Mark created a contraption to better suite our stuff on the back of our bikes.
We enjoyed a nice dinner of lasagna, bread, and salad. We had more good conversation about the state of affairs in our country. There were many differing opinions, but its fun to try and fix our country around the dinner table.
We watched more Conan and headed to bed.
July 8th, Wednesday
Okay, okay it’s going to be the day! Yes! Passports and Canada here we come. (Can you see what’s coming?)
We get up and chill out and Mark and Nathan perfect the back of the bikes. Nathan does some sewing of webbing and rigging.
We get on the road and head downtown and Nathan heads in and 15 minutes later comes back out empty handed.
So it turns out that it was processed in Minneapolis and some how we had the wrong zip code, but still St. Paul on there and the lady said that we should go to the 7th street post office. So I look for a post office and find one nearby and of course that isn’t the correct one. So we ask for more instruction and it turns out that its on W. 7th Street about 2 1/2 miles away, just off 35 E. So we headed out. I am absolutely fuming at this point. It was good that even sailors weren’t around. Some of this information the lady at the first post office, the main post office surely could have shared with us.
Nathan goes into the W. 7th Street post office and comes out 15 minutes later empty handed. So it turns out that yes this post office had received our package but because it was marked general delivery and they don’t do general delivery, they did a return to sender. Seriously! So instead of sending it to the correct and only appropriate post office in town, they sent it back to Florida. So all of our waiting in town for extra days is for nothing.
I am still fuming. Who leaves their passports??? Who leaves their passports when traveling internationally? Us.
We head back up to Mahtomedi and stop at the Fleet Farm and pick up some more materials for the back of the bikes.
We hang out at the house, I nap, we brainstorm what to do about the passports, and hang out.
Theresa and Nathan had been thinking about creating a cozy to put our food pot in after putting in the water so that we don’t have to simmer something on the stove.
Mark introduced me to a new iPhone game earlier called Flood-It! I really like it. I don’t need another game to be addicted to, but of course I already am.
We are getting ready for bed right now and can’t really get an early start because of forecasted thunderstorms in the morning. That should bring us up to date and you’re a trooper if you’ve read this far.