Saturday, December 14, 2013

#TimeTravel // October 2013 // Minnesota Border

After we frolicked around Door County, Torsten and I spent our very first night in the van where encountered the first of a few problems that would challenge the skimpy budget we set. We literally only spent money on gas, food and the occasional attraction entrance fee. Meaning our three biggest concerns involved finding free places to park the van for the night, finding the occasional shower and learning a family of mice would be joining us for our trip.

The next three weeks we spent every night sleeping in the back of the van, most nights we were able to find a nearby 24-hour Walmart or grocery store to bunker down, reassured we at least had an available bathroom. We'd come to find that we weren't the only ones doing so either! In Niagara, New York we saw the most with at least five to ten other, more accommodating, campers parked and spending the night. While I never care to shop at Walmart I have no problem using their parking-lots and depositing my human wastes in their toilets.

Our first night night in the van was after the day in Door County where we woke up early to make the five hour drive over to Minnesota. Between the prior days activities and hours of sitting in a van, there was a stench in the air reminding us that one disadvantage of our plan was the total lack of showers. Fortunately for us there was never a shortage of state parks along the way with cheap day-passes and camper amenities, including clean showers. When those weren't available we made due with baby wipes and once even stopped at a YMCA and signed up for a free week-trial, just to scrub ourselves clean.

As we crossed the border into Minnesota, we initially only meant to stop briefly at our first state park. We went to the first one we spotted, Interstate State Park, on Highway 8, near the St. Croix Falls. After we showered, we noticed some signs for trails and decided after hours of sitting, Minneapolis could wait a few more hours as we hiked along the bluffs. We stretched our legs until it started getting dark, where we hopped back in the van and crossed the border to the most amazing sky-filled, dimpled clouds. It was surreal when we stopped our car and were probably trespassing as we took probably a hundred photos.

The third problem, that never really became resolved until I returned the van to my grandpa, was waking-up after the first night's sleep to find the morning cheese I set aside for myself had been claimed by something even tinier than myself. Throughout our trip we'd hear rustling in the night and find a few other items we'd accidentally left out had been nibbled on or disappeared, including cough drops. The whole bag's contents of drops had actually vanished! We never saw the culprits, though my grandpa invited me a few weeks after the trip to see them after he caught three of our unexpected travel companions.

Next up, we make our way into one the most dearest cities in my heart, Minneapolis.
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