Last North Dakota learning (and this looks as if it may also apply to Minnesota): the people here are very nice. This may explain the fact that every single gas station in a town has the same, exact price for gas. No need to shop around; it’s all the same. Now, some might call that collusion, which is of course illegal. But I think it’s simply neighborliness. An even playing field. But seriously—Minot, Grand Forks, Fargo. All unleaded gas was $4.09. We saw one gas station—out of dozens—that was $4.07. Probably a renegade from back East. A fellow without any manners. In Minnesota, the price so far has been $3.99 at many towns, including Minneapolis. Amazing. I don’t know about YOUR town, but in ours, the prices vary widely (not on the same street corner but across a town).
Lisa here – we hightailed it out of Fargo this morning and found our way to Collegeville, MN, to meet our friend who is a novice. He happily showed us around the campus - the highlight of the tour being the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library to see the display of amazingly beautiful illuminated bibles they have produced. 5 out of 7 books are now printed. You must see them here: St. John's Bible.
We also enjoyed greatly knowing that Garrison Keillor launched his career here at St. John’s. Minnesota Public Radio—the powerhouse of public radio and precursor to NPR—was launched here as Minnesota Educational Radio. The Lake Wobegon Trail even meanders past here in the form of a bike trail made from former RR tracks.
It was wonderful to see our friend, Julie’s former co-worker, Aelred (formerly known as Johnnie), and to have a guided tour, complete with seeing some of the private monastery spaces. Thank you, Aelred, for sharing your life with us. He also baked us a round loaf of cinnamon raisin bread that we are anxious to have for breakfast. We were so absorbed in the experience that we forgot to take pictures, except for this terrible one on my iPhone (no fill-in flash capability on the ole phone):
Once again we have hit a heat wave and we knew we could not leave Nick in the van for too long, so between sights, meals, and a very lovely mass, we checked on the dog to make sure he was OK in the heat. This required moving the RV twice. Thank goodness that the Benedictine tradition is rooted in hospitality. Julie had to park the RV across many parking spaces late in the afternoon to capture a little shade in the 90+ degree heat. When she emerged from the RV, a brother was getting into his vehicle. He welcomed her and assured her that it would be fine for her to take up 5 parking spaces in the faculty parking lot at this time of day. St. Benedict would be proud of his hospitality.
Remaining present to the constraints of the trip can be frustrating for us, but it does provide a very clear, and therefore, comforting path. For example, before we arrived, we had planned to spend the night in the very swanky guesthouse of the monastery, but it was clearly inappropriate for us one of us to be sleeping in the van with the dog in the parking lot in this particular place. (We had no idea how large—and lovely—the place was!).
The other issue was that we were not really 100% present to Nick. So, today he ate the rest of the *#&$& Chippers we bought in Fargo (Julie meant to put them away in the fridge but forgot), the rest of the box of dog treats (the bathroom door wasn’t secure and we keep all his food locked up in there), and some trash (we had him tied up outside tonight and thought he was far away). Can’t wait to pick up that #2. Right now, it’s still pretty hot and humid in our bedtime quarters, as we write this, and Nick is sound asleep. Julie has broken from all tradition to shower at night; Lisa is now doing the same. (And Julie has taken over writing this. I wonder if you can tell when I took over….)
Now, the 3 of us are trying to stay cool and away from the mosquitoes in a campground near St. Paul tonight. This is the place we had “booked” for Day 23, so now we’re here for 2 nights instead of 1. We are ecstatic that there is a Trader Joe’s nearby; we hadn’t provisioned ourselves for camping tonight. Now, we’re set with yummies for tomorrow, too.
Off to bed.