Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Kindness of Strangers - Minneapolis and St. Paul

Day 8 - Buffalo to Afton State Park - 89.5 miles

One of our goals when we planned our trip was to drop out and turn off for a while and explore the small towns along the river.  We had read another cyclist's blog who had strongly recommended leaving technology at home - so although we are blogging our trip, to keep in touch with family, friends and other cyclists, we made the decision to go OLD SCHOOL and travel by map and compass vs goggle earth and gps.  The result is that we are constantly getting lost - especially in the bigger cities- the benefit - we are interacting with people instead of gadgets to find our way.

As a result today we truly experienced people at their best.  We met several strangers who really touched us.  Let us introduce you:

We had a wonderful morning ride thru Hennipen County and into Minneapolis almost completely on designated bike trails.  While cycling on the trail in downtown Minneapolis, Jane rode up beside us and asked where we were headed.  Jane had done the MRT ride south to north and kindly offered to share her route with us.

Jim, a war veteran, pulled us aside and shared his local knowledge and encouraged us to visit the dam and locks.  He recommended a great place for lunch on the trail - Sea Salt Eatery and kindly offered a place for us to camp the night.

We chatted with Matt over lunch.  Matt is an avid cyclist and spent almost his entire lunch going over our route out of Minneapolis with us.  We shared a few laughs and received some great route advice and a campsite recommendation!

Random Cycling Guy
Sadly, although Matt's directions were fantastic....we got ourselves turned around trying to enter St.  Paul.  Random cycling guy (sorry - we didn't share names) stopped in the middle of his training ride to help us find our way.  In fact, several cyclists stopped to help.  Unfortunately, none of them had heard of the MRT. 

Sheila and Patrick
Ahhhh....we have saved the best for last!  It was getting quite late and we were hopelessly much so we did not even know where we were on the map.  We were sitting in a park, looking at our map when Sheila and Patrick, out walking their dog Molly asked if we needed help.  We were discouraged to learn that we needed to cross the river to reach our campsite, but the only crossing was a major highway and bikes were not allowed.  Without even blinking Sheila and Patrick offered to put our bikes in the back of their van and drive us across the river.  They welcomed us into their home, introduced us to their terrific kids, filled up our water bottles,  and double checked maps to find us the best route to Afton State Park.  We were sincerely touched by their kindness and willingness to help!

After waving goodbye to Patrick, we started on the last 15 miles to the campsite.  Unfortunately, we ran out of daylight and rode the last couple of miles wearing our stylish headlamps!  We managed to get the tent set up and fell in to bed...too exhausted to even have dinner but in great spirits because of the kindness of strangers.

Giggle of the day:
There is something about seeing two slightly overweight, middle aged cyclists fumbling with maps that seems to bring out the best in people!  Who Knew?

Storm rolling in - Hennepin County

Coon Rapids Dam - Regional Park

Coffee break at Coon Rapid Dams regional park


Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis

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