Pinched II – Trooper Boogaloo
After the crazy storm during the evening, Paul and I woke up to a bright, sunny day and a dry parking lot. The storm had largely moved on and things were looking good. We had a long but uneventful day planned, with just 400 miles of slog to Minneapolis. No parks, no corkscrews, nothing particularly fun. But a necessary run across the countryside to get back to the good stuff. We had breakfast at the hotel and loaded up the bikes. Good to go.
As we set off I started scanning the route with my GPS unit’s weather radar feature. I quickly noticed that there were some lingering cells littering the plains between us and Minnesota. We rolled out of Pierre and out onto the state highway route that I’d planned. (I learned my lesson in last year’s Loop trip, so interstates are a route of last resort. Besides, the interstate routing was actually significantly longer than the highway distance, and just a bit shorter in timing.)
The miles started to roll by, but the clouds and radar were giving me a bad vibe, so I re-routed us to a different highway that seemed to be splitting through the active rain cells. The plan worked, although it added a few miles and a bit of time to an already long day. Fat and happy from breakfast, we limited ourselves to gas and hydration stops.
We crossed the border into Minnesota after several hours and stopped to take a picture with the signage, then back on the road. I noticed that the speed limit dropped from a civilized 65mph to an outrageous 60mph. I filed my protest by setting my cruise control to 69(dude)mph, per my GPS speed monitor. “9 you’re fine, 10 you’re mine,” like my pappy used to say*. Well, my pappy wasn’t a Minnesota State Trooper named Wood, apparently. “9 you’re mine” is apparently what Trooper Wood’s pappy used to tell him, ’cause he lit my ass up before he even went by me in the oncoming lanes. The chase was on! Next thing I know I’m hitting triple digits as I streak to freedom across the cornfield backdrop. Just kidding. I pulled over and had my helmet off before he completed an 18-point turn that Paul would’ve been proud to call his own. Trooper Wood approached me and introduced himself. “I’m Trooper Wood. I clocked you at 69.” “hehehe,” I didn’t say. “Damn, your radar is really accurate,” I also didn’t say. “Sorry, sir. I thought I had it set a little lower,” is what I said. We chatted for a bit at the side of the road. We both agreed that my bike is pretty awesome and that it would be even awesomer at a slightly lower speed. He took my license and disappeared for a bit. I texted Melissa to let her know that I would be in the pokey and to start raising bail or baking hacksaws into cheesecakes. Trooper Wood came back and handed me my license and…a Written Warning! Hell yeah. I will say that Trooper Wood’s work was effective, as we kept a more sedate pace until we crossed the river into Wisconsin the next day, and boy did shit change in Wisconsin. But Minnesota got it’s money’s worth out of Trooper Wood’s time, from my perspective.
Onward towards Minneapolis. We stopped for some gas and to rehydrate on the way into town, as we were both feeling a bit worn out from the ride. But the great news for us was that we’d basically avoided all of the storms. Everywhere we stopped people asked us how much rain we had seen, and everyone was amazed that we’d basically stayed dry throughout. The downtown area was soaked as we made our way to the hotel, as a matter of fact. We stashed our bikes in a lot a block from the hotel and walked back to check in. The guy at the counter was suspiciously happy. I didn’t like him from the start. “Oh, yeah, let me check what’s available. The crew has been slow cleaning the rooms today.” Damn. It’s like 6pm, my dude. What’re you talking about. “Yeah, I don’t have any rooms with two beds available right now.” Fuck. “Are you okay with two rooms with one bed? No charge.” Fuck yes! So Paul and his snoring were now his own damn problem for the night! Buoyed by our good fortune, we checked out the rooms and were even buoyed-er. Great place right in the heart of downtown. Very nice.
We had talked about going to the Giants vs. Twins game, which was starting around 7 and was just down the street. We decided that we’d had a long day, the city looked interesting, and our time would be better spent drinking, exploring, drinking, eating dinner, and drinking. We celebrated this decision by getting a drink. Off we went on a half-mile walk to the nicest dive bar we’d ever seen and had a beer. I had yelped a couple of candidate restaurants, and the bar was next to the closest one. After we had drunk down some of the road dust, we wandered next door to The Best Restaurant In Minneapolis.
This place was great. Hands down one of the top meals I’ve eaten. We grabbed two seats at the bar and struck up a conversation with the two gentlemen next to us. They are interior designers based in Minneapolis, but have…select clientele. The 80yo partner seemed to enjoy describing the crazy lengths that his clients go to in order to secure his services. “We’re being flown out to Aspen to take a look at the progress on the client’s house next week.” As pretentious as all this sounds, they were really kinda delightful. They sang the praises of the restaurant and recommended the steak tartare. Bless you both for the recommendation, Interior Designer Couple Guys.
Paul and I followed the recommendation and got the steak tartare. Which was spectacular. Then we got the shrimp, which was spectacular. And the fish. Which was spectacular. And the steak Bavette. Which was spectacular. Perhaps you’re sensing a theme. The whole meal was great. The bartender was great. I even enjoyed the bathrooms, and I’m not sure that’s a sentence that I’ve ever put together before. We walked out of there blown away by the dinner, and not ready for the night to end. So we headed back to the hotel and sat down at the bar for a nightcap. While nothing of note happened, it was another great experience for the evening at the hotel bar. On the whole, Minneapolis pretty much knocked it out of the park. Which is pretty much what the Twins did, too, scoring a run in the bottom of the 10th to beat the Giants. So in the end, we certainly made the right choice to go out on the town.
*My pappy** never said that.
** I don’t really have a “pappy.” I just made that up for narrative effect.