September 23rd, 2021

on the res

landed in MSP

I spent about 1.5 hours in Winnipeg airport going through security, then going through American customs, both of whom unpacked all my shit, including the bike. I was hauled out to secondary inspection for wanting to come to the US without a return ticket or any friends or family i specifically wanted to meet, despite the fact i obviously was on a bike tour since all i had was a bike, clothes and camping gear. But they did let me in, eventually.

It made me feel a bit better when another guy in secondary inspection was an actual American, a hunter who had headed up to the northern Manitoba backcountry to shoot game. He said he always gets pulled in for having guns and camping gear. He said it's ridiculous that the land border isn't open. He also said it was dumb that so many people were "flooding in" on the Mexican border while they're not letting Canadians in "who are our friends", but i let it pass because he seemed like an otherwise decent guy. Honestly, the hunters i've met on this journey are the most friendly and useful contacts i've had when it comes to tips about where to travel, where to camp and what places are beautiful. I still think killing animals for sport is creepy, but you can't deny there is a subset of North American hunters who are solid outdoorsmen that really love going out in nature, and they're a very different bunch to the obnoxious German trophy hunters i encountered on the plane to Namibia a few years back.

Pretty much everyone in line was complaining about the cost of the COVID tests we all had to do, in spite of the fact that everyone i talked to was vaccinated. People have this vibe of "what's the point of vaccination if we still have to do all this nonsense", which, i can't say i disagree. One guy pointed out that in America there are entire stadiums full of unmasked, and - to some degree - unvaccinated sports fans packed in tightly, shouting and cheering all over each other, meanwhile we're all masked and tested just for an hourlong flight. Not to mention they're not even letting people over the land border where we would all be socially distanced in our own private mode of transport anyway. I mean. Fuck.

There was also the usual group of performatively "rich" people who decided to talk about Bitcoin prices and compare how much they spent on the flight (one guy was proud to have spent double what i did) and then compare how much it was versus charter flights, which go up into the thousands of dollars per hour... but of course that's how the ultra rich get over the border without spending 1.5 hours in security. I almost forgot that performatively "rich" people existed because i never go anywhere where they go, except airports apparently.

Anyway, here i am. At a chain coffee shop. Waiting for the bike shop to open. I sense a picture post incoming...
on the res

winnipeg picture post

Okay, coming at ya from a very boring chain coffee shop in St Paul, Minnesota, i present the Winnipeg picture post. Visiting Winnipeg was great. Being in a big (ish) city again, seeing murals and graffiti and social services and bike paths and walking trails and public transport and all of those things that are pretty much absent in small towns, it reminded me just how much easier and more convenient life is in the city.

Here are some of the things that caught my eye.

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So that was Winnipeg. It's just turned 11am here in St Paul, so i'll drop my bike box off at the bike shop, and then i have an hour or two to kill before i can check into my hotel, over on the Minneapolis side of the airport. I suppose i should visit Mall of America since it's right there, even though i detest malls and chain stores in general. Dive into the belly of the beast, get it over with, and then hopefully avoid any chains for the rest of the trip. Good luck to me, because America is surely the chainiest place in the world.