10.12.2013

road trip day 5: minnesota and wisconsin

Minneapolis-St. Paul- Cheese Trail Tester
Back when I was in the planning stages of our road trip, i’ve got to admit that I didn’t give the midwest much credit. I thought we would just blow through here because there wouldn’t be that much to see or do. How wrong I was! We both love the midwest. We started our day by exploring Minneapolis. Unbeknownst to us, the twin cities are some of the most green in America. Minneapolis offers miles and miles of biking trails, curling in and out of the city and around countless small lakes. We biked on the Chain of Lakes trail, near the University of Minneapolis, which is encompasses a 13.1 mile option and a 55 mile option (we opted for the shorter distance). After biking, we toured Minneapolis’ beautiful neighborhoods while gawking at all the amazing modern homes. Minneapolis felt very vibrant and welcoming.  I couldn’t stop myself from comparing all the little neighborhoods centered around lakes to Greenlake in Seattle. After Minneapolis, we hopped over to St. Paul and sought out the Hmong Marketplace. The twin cities boasts a large population of both Somali and Hmong immigrants. The Hmong originated in China, and after being forced to flee China, they settled in the hillsides and mountains of neighboring Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Today, large Hmong populations are immigrating to the states, and we happened to find the epicenter of Hmong culture in St. Paul. We sat down at cafeteria style tables and ate the best papaya salad and coconut curry soup we’ve had since Southeast Asia.  After St. Paul, we followed one of the guidebooks we happened to grab before we left. It suggested easting our way from Minnesota to Wisconsin, so that is exactly what we did. Taking mainly backroads and scenic highways, we meandered down south, first to the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery.
Here we noshed on fresh cheese curds and drank the best chocolate malt that I’ve ever had in my whole entire life. From Ellsworth, it was on to Viroqua, a small little farming town where organic farmers outnumber the cows. Viroqua boasts an amazing co-op grocery store, where we stocked up on super fresh veggies and fruit. We ended up finding a Walmart just outside of town (go figure) and made that our campsite for the night.  

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