Minnesota, Day 1: Thursday, February 24, 2022

I’m in Minnesota! And it’s cold. Extremely cold.

I wouldn’t be visiting this place this time of year if it weren’t for KG, one of my two original tramily members from the Appalachian Trail, living here. But there’s also something magical about this kind of snowy fridigness. People just deal with it, and no one seems particularly bothered.

There are massive snowdrifts everywhere. The streets aren’t very clear, but it seems like every other person has four-wheel drive. KG, for instance, is a little too confident in their RAV4, and after we slip and slide to whatever destination we are headed towards, they crunch it right up against the massive snow banks that line every roadway (while giggling, I might add), which forces me to stomp right through the middle of the snowbank or fall under the car. This happened once while I happened to be holding a latte. I was not pleased. But otherwise, winter here has a certain charm.

Anyway, chronological order.

The flight wasn’t very enjoyable because it was completely full and very hot, but it was still fun to feel that sense of going somewhere in the air. I had quite a time figuring out how to get out of the MSP airport because the signs that take you to the baggage claim just kind of end unexpectedly and I found myself in the departures hall, but I eventually made it to the doorway just as KG pulled up. I gave them a huge hug and then immediately scampered out of the 10-degree morning and into the car. Honestly, it feels like a while since we were in Michigan with Patches last summer, but also not? What is time.

I was hungry when I landed, and KG had taken the rest of the day off, so we first went to Matt’s Bar to get a Minnesota specialty: the Jucy Lucy. It’s a burger with melted cheese in the middle, and the name really fits. KG warned me about the temperature of said cheese, and they were not messing around. It is hot. And delicious. We got a half-order of fries, too, which was really two normal sized servings of fries. We caught up on life while we ate our salty, juicy heaven of a lunch.

The famous Jucy Lucy at Matt’s Bar

After that, we went to this fantastic little bookstore called The Irreverent Bookworm. What I possibly enjoyed the most was the section labels. In fiction there was “Regular Ol’ Fiction,” “Moar Fiction,” and “Still Fiction.” Historical fiction was “Ye Olde Historical Fiction.” The kids’ LGBTQIA+ section was, simply, “In case it was uncelar, we’re here for baby queers.” Fantastic.

There was also a gallery of things that had been found between the pages of donated used books, which ranged from notes between friends to inspirational bookmarks to condoms. I really liked that idea to hold onto and display ephemera tucked between strangers’ books. Maybe one day my bookstore will have that kind of gallery.

KG had a Zoom meeting at 2, so we went back to their house for a bit. When that was over, we made a trip to the coffee shop Sovereign Grounds. That’s where I got the latte that I was holding when I slid off the snowbank and partially under the car. It’s fine. I’m fine.

This was followed by one of the best vintage/antique stores I’ve ever seen: Hunt and Gather. It is mystically indescribable. There is just stuff everywhere, but somehow it’s not tacky. It’s funky and cool and overwhelming. There are dolls, buttons, typewriter keys, books, postcards, tarot cards, huge bowls of random stickers, fabric, clothing, plates… just everything, floor to ceiling. They also have two of those “surprise egg” chicken machines like the one I love at Cinda Lou in Westerville, a Columbus area favorite. They also had old Kodak color slides, hundreds of them, just scattered in a bin, with multiple viewing racks. I could go on. I was on cloud nine. We were there for at least an hour. KG knew I would fall in love with that store, and that, folks, is how you know you have a friend who knows you. 

KG at Hunt and Gather

After that we went to the Walker, a modern art museum. It’s free on Thursday evenings, which is why we went there tonight. It was cool, especially the exhibit with work from Julie Mehretu, an artist originally from Ethiopia who makes huge abstract paintings incorporating cityscapes and touching on modern themes of revolution, climate change, and migration. In another room, there was a black poodle sculpture that I really liked. Those are the highlights.

Our dinner experience was a bit of a quest. We went back to KG’s place and met up with their roommate Brian. Brian drove the three of us to where we were planning to get pho, but it was closed. We went across the street to another place, but it was extremely busy. So we ended up driving half an hour to another pho restaurant, which turned out to be worth it. It was a great night for tasty basil-y jalapeño sriracha-filled soup. It was so much fun talking with them, getting to know Brian and reviewing AT memories with KG. After dinner I was totally exhausted, and I zoned out in the car on the snowy drive back to their house. 

KG and I watched the first two episodes of season two of Love is Blind on Netflix, although I fell asleep at the end of the first one and only saw bits and pieces of the second. It was very entertaining. We also had a pot of lemon ginger tea, which I regretted at five in the morning, but which tasted very good while we were huddled around their computer in the basement room with the space heater on full blast.

It was a great first day in the tundra with my friend. I love that we can go months without seeing or talking to each other and still fall right back into our friendship the moment we are together. There’s something great about friends like that. I’m excited for the rest of this cozy little adventure!

So happy to be with my friend again!

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