Minnesota, Day 3: Saturday, February 26, 2022

We slept in today, which was magical because I didn’t get much rest the night before last. It was around 9:45 before I finally got up, and once again, I went coffee-less and food-less until we drove to a bakery called Brake Bread (because they deliver bread and baked goods on bikes, get it? Get it?), where KG’s friend Katie works. I got a cinnamon spinner, which is basically a very fancy, very tasty cinnamon roll baked with brioche dough.

Mmmmm. Tasty treats from Brake Bread.

Immediately after that, KG decided that we were going to bypass breakfast and get an early lunch at Cecil’s, a Jewish deli and restaurant in St. Paul. We split chicken matzo ball soup, a reuben, and an order of latkes, and it was all divine.

We sat there for a very long time talking. Well, mostly I listened while KG talked about the historical context of the war in Ukraine, NATO, and post-WWII terror of communism, along with the United States’s role in the Soviet-Afghan conflict—among other topics. I was extremely interested and overwhelmed by all of this, like I always am talking with them about geopolitics. I feel like I have no real knowledge or unique perspectives to offer in the conversation, and it made me want to read a lot more news. So they gave me some source recommendations.

By the time we left Cecil’s, it was after 1:00. KG had to drop off some used outdoor gear at this place called Repair Lair, which, as the name suggests, repairs old outdoor gear, and then we went to pick up the skis and met Katie (of Brake Bread) at Lake of the Isles for some cross country skiing!

KG on a patch of bare ice

It was very fun, but super weird to have just my toe connected to the binding. Also, the skis are really narrow and light, which felt strange because at times I forgot I had these big long sticks on my feet.

We were literally skiing on top of frozen lakes. Like, that’s just what everyone does. There is a track specifically for cross country skiers going around the perimeter, and signs directing walkers to one area and skiers to another. I can’t get over that this is just a thing people do everywhere in the winter—ski, fish, walk, snowshoe all over these massive frozen lakes. It is really something.

Cross country ski tracks and ice fishers on Lake of the Isles

Katie guided us around the Lake of the Isles, then to a few smaller lakes, one of which I think is called Cedar. We passed under a few bridges and tunnels, where there was not as much snow and you could see the bare ice. So crazy.

KG and Katie think these were from some sort of festival a few weeks ago. They’re like little ice bubble sculptures.

It was such a beautiful day out, and I really enjoyed talking with Katie and KG. Katie went to school in San Francisco, sews these really cool capes, did a gap year where she spent five months working and five months traveling on her own in South America, and studied abroad in the middle of the mountains in Mongolia. Whoa! I love hearing other people’s stories. It boggles my mind how many ways there are to do life. Every path is so unique, yet here we were together in the same place, skiing on a frozen lake, just three little humans with long sticks on our feet all gliding through the winter.

Going under a bridge to connect to another lake

After skiing, we were all tired and starving. We tossed around a few dinner ideas, and I just threw it out there that I did love the Jucy Lucy and wouldn’t be mad about getting another one. So we found ourselves back at Matt’s Bar, the place I went with KG right when I landed on Thursday.

We got a full order of fries and all that ju(i)cy goodness. Katie and I enjoyed beers while KG had their usual root beer (pronounced by this particular individual as “rut beer”). The burger tasted just as good as the first time, and we wolfed down the fries while we talked.

Pro tip: Make sure you have enough cash if you go to Matt’s Bar; they are cash-only. We were just shy, and had to wrangle the ATM in the corner.

I didn’t take a photo of my second Jucy Lucy, unfortunately, so here’s a pic of yours truly living her best life.

We debated going to KG’s friend’s concert after that, but I think we were both pretty tired. So we went back to the house and watched what Brian described as the Korean version of Love is Blind. I didn’t see much of it because I fell asleep almost immediately. I was so exhausted; I just could not stay awake.

This trip was honestly everything I wanted: adventure, food, and chill time with my friend. I got to try a new sport, go climbing again, explore some funky shops, visit with KG, meet cool new people, and eat some really good food.

I like that we got to hang out as much as I like that we got to go skiing and climbing. I enjoyed my morning on the U of M campus, and I enjoyed talking more with KG about politics, life, and travel. It was a good, restorative trip that made me appreciate winter and get out of my head.

Now I’m ready for March, and THE PCT IN LESS THAN TWO MONTHS! Bring it.

Life’s neat in every season.

This is the last XC ski photo, I swear.

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