So when I left off our story, we were wearily dragging ourselves into a rest day in St Croix Falls, WI. After a great local meal, a walk on the river, comfy theater seats for the Bourne Legacy and a cheap hotel room (never mind the AC unit froze over), our spirits were lifted and we were ready to cross into Minnesota.
It was Saturday of Labor Day weekend and we had a 70 mile day ahead of us into Dalbo, MN. We had been looking forward to this stop in particular because a fellow tourer we crossed paths with in Michigan told us there was a barn set up for tourers to stay in, and that there was even some food there. We were intrigued by the concept of cyclist-only lodging but we didn't let ourselves get our hopes up. We had a quick day and pulled into the barn shortly after 2pm. It looked nice on the outside, and since the side was opened up, we let ourselves in. And I was blown away.
We were amazed to see couches, beds, a tv, and table and chairs set out for us, but what caught my eye was the food. Drawers of snacks, a freezer of ice cream and frozen pizza, a fridge full of every refreshing (non-alcoholic) beverage you crave on a hot day of riding. And yes, Mike, CEREAL! I ate 3 boxes right away while David checked out the rest of the facility. There was a pine shower and outhouse side by side that were cleaner than most of the public restrooms we see, and farm land all around us. All of this, just for cyclists, on a donation-only basis. We were in love!
Donn, the owner, came out with his wife to great us with huge baskets of fresh picked apples and tomatoes. Donn then proceeded to pull out his maps and show us a short cut to Fargo... ON 100 MILES OF PAVED TRAIL - an absolute utopia for cyclists! He told us we were the 137th cyclists to stay that summer. After so long on an alternate route through the great lakes, it was wonderful to be back on the main trail and get to read the guest book entries of 135 people just as crazy as us, and see their pictures all over the walls of the barn!
The icing on the cake though was arriving at the barn to find our friends Wren and Evan, who we met in Vermont and are biking across the country too. We had camped with them in New York and continually crossed paths with them until the ferry across Lake Michigan one week previously, which was the last time we saw them. Another cyclist, Kyle, showed up too. He was heading East and could only stay for a few hours before pressing on in an attempt to catch up with someone else. All the same, it was so much fun to share battle stories (i.e. wipeouts, sketchy campgrounds, weather, roadkill, alternate routes, etc), but it was also nice to have someone other than David to talk to :)
Oh, and the crazy part to me is that Donn isn't even a cyclist! 7 years ago he saw two bikers walking through sand to get around a detour and he offered them a place to stay. When they told him he lived on a major cross country biking route, he called the map makers and told them he was a "biker-friendly farmer," and he's never been able to say no since! He calls the barn his hobby, and he seems to take great joy in providing what comforts he can to cyclists. A truly remarkable example of selfless servanthood in action!
I had planned on adding more about the next day, but I think Donn Olstead Farm deserves a post all to itself. Check out the blog tomorrow to read about THE CONTINUATION OF MY BEST DAY EVER! A.K.A. Biking is fun again :)
The miles that brought us here were sponsored by David's coworker, Steve Meyers and his wife Galyn, our friends/co-cyclists/family in Christ, Duane and LeAnne Parsons, and our amazing BFFs Connor and Kristin Wittman!