Camping for Urbanists

Going all-in on urbanism doesn’t mean you have to give up on spending time in the outdoors; in fact, many urbanists love going camping! We’ll talk to a city planner about creating car-free camping opportunities, and then follow a group on a hare-brained winter bike trip to ski and camp at Afton.

Episode summary

00:00:00 | Intro
00:00:59 | Park amenities encourage different types of camping
00:09:51 | Comprehensive plans
00:18:13 | Ian’s ideal urbanism
00:23:15 | TransitLink
00:27:36 | Winter ski and campout at Afton
00:33:29 | What drew you to this trip?
00:36:32 | Brief summary of the trip
00:41:11 | What was your favorite part?
00:44:20 | What was the biggest challenge?
00:50:12 | What changes to the system could have helped?
00:57:54 | Would you do it again?
01:01:06 | Outro

Photos from the Afton trip

Brian, Ian, and James posing triumphantly with the sign at the entrance to Afton State Park.
Gotta take a picture with the sign!
A bike with a trailer behind it, a bag of skis mounted on it.
The right trailer for hauling Brian’s skis!
Ian and James straddling their bikes. The sidewalk they are on is covered in snow, and they are fully laden with panniers and backpacks.
Despite having to walk across the 494 bridge, we were still in pretty high spirits! Photo by Brian Mitchell.
Close-up of Brian's arm. On the outside of his long sleeve is a thin layer of frost.
Perspiration inside Brian’s jacket got frosty during the ride on Friday!
Close-up of the parts of Ian's bike that got the most snow caked on them.
The streets gave generously.
Afua posing with her bags next to the TransitLink bus that arrived to bring her back to the Cities.
Afua’s ride home!
A small cabin in the woods surrounded by snow, the sunrise catching the cabin just right.
The cabin was positively adorable. Photo by Afua Paintsil.
Selfie of James with the bikes on the porch.
The unheated porch was exactly the right size to store our bikes! Photo by James Slegers.
Ian and two of Brian's friends posing on skis and snowboards at the base of a ski slope.
Don’t forget, we came here for skiing! Photo by Brian Mitchell.
Selfie of Ian, James, Brian, and Afua taking a rest break during a hike.
Hiking in the winter is also lovely!

Further reading

Connect with us!

Attributions

Our theme song is Tanz den Dobberstein, and our interstitial song is Puck’s Blues. Both tracks used by permission of their creator, Erik Brandt. Find out more about his band The Urban Hillbilly Quartet on their website.

Unless otherwise noted, photos are by Ian R Buck.

This episode was hosted and edited by Ian R Buck, with transcript by Mike Allen, first of his name. Christy Marsden is our awesome guest booker, and technical assistance is provided by the super professional Brian Mitchell. If you’re able to help make sure this team gets paid for the hard work they do, please consider donating. We really appreciate it!

Copyright

The Streets.mn Podcast is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license. Feel free to republish the episode as long as you don’t alter it and you aren’t profiting from it.

Transcript

Ian: [00:00:03] Welcome to the Streets.mn Podcast, the show where we use transportation and land use to make our communities better places. Coming to you from beautiful Frogtown, Saint Paul, Minnesota. I am your host, Ian R. Buck. Today we’re going to be talking about camping, which is one of my favorite activities, but not just any camping. We’re going to be exploring options for car free camping near the Twin Cities. I think you’ll be surprised by the opportunities that are out there. Find the show notes and a transcript of the episode at [https://streets.mn]. Now to set some expectations for this episode: We’re not going to be talking much about like gear or camping techniques. Those are topics for a separate episode. Instead, we’re going to take a look at the systems in place that can make camping accessible in an urbanist context, and explore a couple of direct experiences that show how these systems are working in practice. Like I said, I really like camping and have gone bike camping at several parks near the cities, but I only have the perspective of a park user. Luckily, I’m joined in the studio by Christina Neel, who is both a camping enthusiast and works as a land management planner in Carver County. So she’ll be able to give us a lot of insight on how our parks become the things that we enjoy so much.

Christina: [00:01:23] Yeah, absolutely. I recently did go on a bike camping trip.

Ian: [00:01:28] Yeah. And that was kind of following the model of like, let’s do a mid-week, you know, leaving work on one day, going camping, going back to work the next day. You did take one day off, though, right?

Christina: [00:01:42] I did. I worked from home the first day left immediately after clocking out at a pretty usual time. And I did do a little bit of work the next day. So maybe I took like a three quarter day off. But yes, it was it is definitely doable to do a mid-week leave from work and then go to work at a regular hour the following day.

Ian: [00:02:06] Yeah.

Christina: [00:02:06] So my office in Chaska is about nine miles away from Carver Park Reserve, which has a bike camping only spots available. And I am planning on going at some point late this summer, early fall. It will be a different experience because there’s not a direct bike lane or bike path. It’ll be a lot more rural gravel roads.

Ian: [00:02:31] Right. Yeah, we did like that. That was a trade off of like, okay, working from home in order to be able to just take the Cedar Lake Trail and then the Lake Minnetonka Trail, which is like a, you know, almost continuous, just like completely off street experience. But it was about twice as far.

Christina: [00:02:52] Right. So it’s about 23 miles. So how many kilometers?

Ian: [00:02:58] I think I clocked us at like 40 K I think.

Christina: [00:03:01] And it’s stunningly gorgeous the whole way that trail is so well planned out. And there’s plenty of spaces for shade. There’s spaces for folks to sit and rest and get their water refilled. And it goes through a few towns. So if you needed anything along the way or or just wanted to stop and visit some local businesses, that trail is absolutely magical.

Ian: [00:03:24] Yeah, I think especially since we were doing it, uh, we just happened to be out there during a heat wave. Like the shade was the big factor.

Christina: [00:03:34] Yeah. Did it hit 100 that day? It got very close!

Ian: [00:03:37] Very close, yeah. But that also means that dipping in the lake when we got there felt all the sweeter.

Christina: [00:03:43] Yeah. To it was as far as Carver Park Reserve goes, it’s more of a rustic park than we would think of if you were going to go camp at a state park or a little bit of a fancier campground. So things like pit toilets… There is running water, but not showers.

Ian: [00:04:01] Right. 

Christina: [00:04:02] But there’s a beautiful lake and there’s firepits. And it felt very safe, but rustic enough to still feel wild. Mm hmm. I think that’s something they do really well at that park.

Ian: [00:04:14] Yeah. And I even though I’ve been there a few times for a couple of different camping trips, I haven’t really explored like, what the other amenities in the park are, besides, like, like what’s outside of the main camping area. So I am excited to go back and, like, check out some of the hiking trails and I think there’s like archery or something there and stuff.

Christina: [00:04:37] Yes. Yeah. And they have an amazing interpretive center, a nature center. So they do have a walks with some naturalists and they’re a really amazing Winter Park as well.

Ian: [00:04:47] Oh, really?

Christina: [00:04:48] Yeah. So their trail system changes considerably during the winter and they, they rent out snowshoes there and they have some trails are converted exclusively to cross-country skiing.

Ian: [00:05:00] And they have like they have signs up that are like, if you’re skiing, you went the wrong way, you know, so… And you can see all of like the lights that they have along the trail to to illuminate it when it gets dark in the winter.

Christina: [00:05:12] Mm hmm. At like four [pm].

Ian: [00:05:15] Yeah.

Christina: [00:05:15] Exactly. And like, all of that stuff is from planning, which is the stuff that I really geek out about as a, as a planner myself and especially as a regional planner, is how did all of that go from bullet points on a paper to being approved by all the local officials and budgets and everything it had to get approved by and then done in real life the first time and then maintained every year. Right. So who designs all that signage and who… make sure that all those lights are working. It’s so many moving parts. And I think a lot of times as like travelers and recreators, we get so wrapped up in the experience we don’t really think about, “How did this even come to be?”

Ian: [00:06:01] Mm hmm.

Christina: [00:06:02] So Carver County especially is really unique because a lot of people think it’s oh, it’s this very rural county. It must be completely its own entity. But we are in the metro system. So the Met Council, right, is able to allocate funds, so state funds, Met Council funds, down to the county level, and then the local cities within the county and even the townships. They all have to buy into these kinds of projects. So Carver Park Reserve especially is a Three Rivers Park…

Ian: [00:06:34] That’s in Carver County.

Christina: [00:06:35] …but it is collaboratively maintained and managed with Carver County.

Ian: [00:06:41] Right?

Christina: [00:06:42] Yeah. Do you know offhand, do we have any Minnesota state forests Within a bikeable distance of the Twin Cities?

Ian: [00:06:50] There is one state park.

Christina: [00:06:53] Not the same.

Ian: [00:06:53] No, it’s not. Afton State Park is the only one.

Christina: [00:06:57] There’s any state forest in Minnesota allows dispersed camping, which is very, very rustic. But that is my ideal camping of just no light, no electricity, no fire, no nothing.

Ian: [00:07:10] Right.

Christina: [00:07:11] Just wherever you decide to go and you snooze and then you wake up in the morning and keep on going and you.

Ian: [00:07:17] Leave it as it was.

Christina: [00:07:18] Mm hmm.

Ian: [00:07:20] Yep. Yeah. I think in terms of like use of public land, that’s one of my ideal uses for public land is just like, yeah, keep it just wild and let people camp on it. And I mean, obviously don’t let the campers, like, mess it up, but.

Christina: [00:07:40] And that helps them keep their budgets low. They don’t have to do a ton of staffing because there’s not their campsites are more they’re not even really campsites. It’s… There’s no maintenance…

Ian: [00:07:53] Right.

Christina: [00:07:53] Virtually. And then that means that they can pass that savings on to the visitors. So for example, it was what, $10 to camp in the bike only camping area?

Ian: [00:08:07] Yes.

Christina: [00:08:07] At Carver Park Reserve. And then how much was it at Lake Elmo?

Ian: [00:08:11] It was like 24 bucks.

Christina: [00:08:12] Okay.

Ian: [00:08:12] Yeah.

Christina: [00:08:13] And then so like dispersed camping. If you are in a region that gets to enjoy that, I mean, it’s free.

Ian: [00:08:20] Yeah. 

Christina: [00:08:21] Essentially. I mean, you can always you can always donate to our local park systems. They don’t pay me to say that. It’s just something I feel strongly about. But like, that’s the thing about accessibility to outdoor areas and outdoor recreation, especially for urban populations, is there’s a high cost, there’s a high cost of gear, there’s a high cost of going to the place and doing the thing and enjoying amenities. So any ways that parks and recreation facilities can keep things low, like offering bike only camping spaces that are extremely rustic and aren’t paved or anything that helps them keep costs down so more visitors can enjoy it.

Ian: [00:09:04] Yeah, when we when we talk about like the difficulties of like, like suburban sprawl and like, it requires us to build all of these, like, sewer lines and electric lines and, you know, all of these utilities out to these, like, houses that are far apart and, you know, becomes exponentially more expensive to, like, maintain those communities, like take that and then times ten when you think about like, oh yeah, they had to run a bunch of electric lines out to each of these campsites because people wanted a 30 amp hookup,

Christina: [00:09:37] Right.

Ian: [00:09:38] And it’s like, did you really need a 30 amp hookup to go camping, you know?

Christina: [00:09:43] Right. 

[00:09:43] [music]

Ian: [00:09:51] One thing that I have been thinking about is like in our advocacy communities, right? MNDOT is quite often portrayed as like the big bad guy, right? And we complain about many things that MNDOT does and how hard they make it for, you know, active transportation, right? Folks who are biking and using transit, etc.. But also, like I’m a little bit in in conflict in my mind of like whether I would rather have the DNR administering like our state trail system or whether I want MNDOT to be administering our state trail system because like on the one hand, it’s hard to trust MNDOT to not just be like “the car people”, but when the DNR is in charge of things, they, they fall into the mindset of like this is a recreational amenity and so we are going to treat it as one, which means that like during the winter, the first instinct that the DNR quite often has is not we’re going to plow this so that cyclists can travel from one place to another. We’re going to groom it so that cross-country skiers…

Christina: [00:11:08] Right.

Ian: [00:11:09] …Can use the trail. And so that like that conflict, it’s something that like we deal with on the Gateway state trails specifically.

Christina: [00:11:17] Right.

Ian: [00:11:17] You know, they plow the state trail out to a point and then past that point, it’s only usable by cross-country ski folks. And I’m like, but I wanted to go to Stillwater.

Christina: [00:11:29] Yeah. And that’s a big challenge in the planning world, is seeing multi use trails as exactly that. It’s not just for people who drove to the park, get on the skis and then have fun and then drive back home.

Ian: [00:11:44] Right.

Christina: [00:11:46] It’s for everyone. And I wish that there was like a magic solution to like, can we have MNDOT and DNR play nice together? And that’s really challenging to have two agencies that are so, so different.

Ian: [00:12:01] Yeah, I wish that the DNR would also think about like, Oh, we’ve got some wonderful like Afton State Park that’s close to the Twin Cities. What if they put, you know, prioritized making a trail that went all the way to the state park like straight from Saint Paul? That would be fantastic. They would, of course, be doing that in partnership with, you know, the counties and municipalities and everything that they’re going through. But like, I think that the DNR would be like it would be good for them to champion that cause. Right? There’s agencies I’m also really curious about, like it’s not just the departments that are doing the thing that affect how well it’s going to turn out.

Christina: [00:12:46] Right.

Ian: [00:12:47] It’s, you know, the entire comprehensive plan for the counties and for all of these, like, you know, cities, not even just cities within that county, but, you know, like it’s important for the cities of like Saint Paul and Minneapolis to have dense enough housing so that folks can live there. And we don’t have to build a whole bunch of suburban sprawl, because when we build that, then we lose space that we could be using for rustic camping opportunities, right? So like, it’s it’s a whole comprehensive urbanist, like, vision that has to be realized in order for.

Christina: [00:13:27] This to work. So it’s everything from again, the Metropolitan Council. And so when we do our comprehensive plan every ten years at the county level, it has to be approved by the Met Council.

Ian: [00:13:41] Oh, really?

Christina: [00:13:42] Yes.

Ian: [00:13:42] Interesting.

Christina: [00:13:43] We have to submit it to them and it’s outlines everything from our mobility plan. So getting people from here to there and everywhere. So it includes our parks and recreation plan, plans for our cities, and that involves us actually talking to all of our cities and towns in the county and what their vision is for their annexation area. And then we can start thinking about land acquisition on the county level. So that’s how Carver Park Reserve was created was through land acquisition. We had this beautiful resource in the county and.

Ian: [00:14:18] But it was like privately owned before?

Christina: [00:14:21] I don’t know, I’d have to look at the plats and things from pre-74. So our comprehensive plan lays out where are our parks right now, what do we want to do with expanding them? And that includes goals that are a little bit more short term and super realistic and things that we are absolutely, we’re so sure we’re going to do. We’re going to do these bike lanes here. We want to expand this path within the first five years. And then we also have some of our big, loftier goals. And that’s kind of the beauty of a comp plan, is it’s not a checklist and it’s not just guidelines. It’s somewhere in between. Okay. So it’s kind of like this living document, and that’s why we update it every ten years.

Ian: [00:15:02] Right.

Christina: [00:15:02] So that’s why we want to keep sprawl so contained and working with the cities, especially like Chanhassen and Victoria, Chaska. And make sure that they’re setting realistic boundaries on where they think that they’re they’re going to expand or not. Some of our cities are not expanding, and we do have some that are shrinking too, which is fine.

Ian: [00:15:24] Yeah, I’m sure it doesn’t feel good for the people who are still in those communities quite often, that is.

Christina: [00:15:31] Yeah.

Ian: [00:15:32] That’s a challenging experience, seeing your town shrinking.

Christina: [00:15:36] Right.

Ian: [00:15:36] But at the same time, like it, it does strengthen our ability, you know, assuming that those people are moving to a high density urban area.

Christina: [00:15:46] Right, Right. Yeah. If they’re moving to a higher density and the city has decided that it wants to shrink its borders, then that they have to discuss things with the county at the county level so that we’re still providing resources and and things to the folks who are going to be living outside of city limits. So, yeah, so it gets really complicated. We don’t just abandon them, right, because their city has decided to change the borders.

Ian: [00:16:16] I noticed when I was looking on the various county websites for like their camping solutions and everything, Scott County had a bunch of like, like future parks listed and I was like, “Well, these don’t exist, so they don’t help me right now.”

Christina: [00:16:33] Oh, but it’s exciting because you’re going to see some long range planning in real life very soon!

Ian: [00:16:39] It’s really strange to see that kind of long range planning, just like listed on a consumer facing, a customer, facing website of like.

Christina: [00:16:49] Right! That’s something we want to do. We don’t want it to just feel behind the scenes and then we’re like, Hey, it’s a grand opening of this thing you haven’t heard of. We want buy in from residents and visitors.

Ian: [00:16:59] That’s true.

Christina: [00:17:00] Or before the park even opens or before the park even breaks ground. And Scott County is really lucky that they have some serious monies to be able to do those things.

Ian: [00:17:11] Oh, do they?

Christina: [00:17:12] Yeah, they.

Ian: [00:17:14] Do. I sense some professional jealousy here.

Christina: [00:17:16] No, no. I mean, bigger cities with bigger budgets have tend to have bigger challenges.

Ian: [00:17:24] Sure. What cities are in Scott County? Is that Shakopee?

Christina: [00:17:28] Yes. Okay. So like Shakopee has some big like financial institutions there.

Christina: [00:17:34] Sure.

Christina: [00:17:34] So we have like Valley Fair and the Canterbury…

Ian: [00:17:38] Is the casino in…?

Christina: [00:17:40] They are their own entity because it’s on Mdewakanton Sioux land.

Ian: [00:17:44] Yeah.

Ian: [00:17:45] But they’re I think there’s an Amazon building over there, they have some big, big names and that’s how they can have additional funding to do some amazing long-range planning in parks. And they have the land. Scott County wasn’t very populated until Shakopee really blew up in the last 25, 30 years. 

[00:18:07] [music]

Ian: [00:18:13] Christina. How do I just get the world to be the way that I want it to be?

Christina: [00:18:18] Oh, my goodness. Oh, well, when I find out, I’ll let you know.

Ian: [00:18:23] But definitely when you find out, you’ll just make it that way. And I won’t have to worry about it anymore.

Christina: [00:18:29] Yeah! I mean, honestly, I would love for everyone’s dreams to come true. And as a land management planner, my job is to take someone’s dreams and imagine that they are made of clay. And so we can get what they really want and kind of mold it into something that’s really realistic.

Ian: [00:18:51] As long as they tell you what they want, what they really, really want.

Christina: [00:18:53] Yeah. And very rarely do they. They sometimes don’t say I want and they just really demand it.

Ian: [00:18:59] Sure.

Christina: [00:19:01] But no, like, what would be what would be your dream bike camping situation for. Should we say specifically the Twin Cities.

Ian: [00:19:10] Yeah. I mean yeah. Let’s yeah, let’s talk about the Twin Cities like.

Christina: [00:19:13] Yeah.

Ian: [00:19:13] Um, so, like, since I can’t think about this without thinking about, like, the rest of everything, you know, like I want us to have a good, like, dense urban core.

Christina: [00:19:26] Right.

Ian: [00:19:27] Where all the people live, which allows us to have, like, rural space, undeveloped space in near proximity to that urban core. And of course, that means that we’re going to need to, like, connect that urban core to other like small towns in the region and stuff via probably a regional rail network. Right? And so I’m I’m basically recreating Europe here.

Christina: [00:19:56] I mean, the rail line will eventually go to Hopkins Eden Prairie…

[00:20:01] Oh, sure.

Ian: [00:20:01] …Eventually?

[00:20:02] The the light rail that’s being constructed right now? Yep. Yep. And yeah.

Christina: [00:20:10] But what if we could have that branching in every direction, right, to all of the amazing parks in the area?

Ian: [00:20:16] What if we didn’t have, you know, cities like White Bear Lake that are just deciding like, “Oh, bus rapid transit line that’s being developed right now? I don’t want that to come to my downtown.”

Christina: [00:20:28] Right. And like, we can’t afford as, as a collective group, we can’t afford to just wait for those policymakers and decision makers to retire.

Ian: [00:20:37] Mm hmm.

Christina: [00:20:38] Like, and how do we get them to care and buy in and do things that really matter that aren’t just financial decisions? Because there are no dollar signs in people’s eyes when you tell them you should put in a campground for cyclists. Like, that’s not a thing.

Ian: [00:20:56] Yeah.

Christina: [00:20:56] And so how do how do we get people to be like to get excited about the warm, fuzzy things that cost quite a bit of money that won’t bring in a bunch of money, but it will raise the experience of your community members.

Ian: [00:21:11] Right. Yeah. And when I think about like, okay specific things that that I want that I would need, you know, in order for my kind of camping experience to be like, more readily accessible. You know, of course I think about having safe, pleasant routes to those places. Quite often I have to like, make a trade off between like, “Oh, I could go to Lake Elmo, which is very, very close.” But also like half of half of that distance is not on safe cycling infrastructure. And even the safe cycling infrastructure that I am on. It’s not like one trail that I’m following all the way out there. It’s like I’m piecing together all of these different routes that I know because I know the area really well. But if I didn’t know those, you know, those pieces, like, you know, I would probably end up on like an unsafe road much, much earlier.

Christina: [00:22:08] Mm hmm.

Ian: [00:22:10] Versus like, okay Carver Park Reserve. Like, that was an amazing ride all the way out there. But it was like…

Christina: [00:22:15] It’s long! 

Ian: [00:22:16] It’s four times as far.

Christina: [00:22:17] Mm hmm.

Ian: [00:22:19] Yea. So there’s that aspect. And then there’s also, like you said, offering stuff that does not cost very much. And also like, I feel like, like it seems like some, some park districts have figured out that like, oh, midweek camping, there’s much less demand for this. But for the folks who do want to do that occasionally, like that can be a great experience and we can make that more palatable by having like specific deals for just like, Oh yeah, it’s going to cost you less if you want to camp for a night or two in the middle of the week.

Christina: [00:22:54] Oh, what was it? One of the parks I was looking up might have been Baylor, I.

Ian: [00:22:59] Think it was.

Christina: [00:22:59] Baylor Park had like the mid-week special or it was like.

Ian: [00:23:02] Two nights for three or three nights for the cost of two.

Christina: [00:23:05] Yeah.

Ian: [00:23:06] And four nights for the cost of three.

Christina: [00:23:07] Yeah.

Ian: [00:23:07] That’s fantastic. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:23:15] [music]

Ian: [00:23:15] I guess one last thing I would mention is that, you know, for folks who who don’t want to or can’t bike out to a camping spot, you know, there is always a Transit Link, Right.

Christina: [00:23:31] Yes!

Ian: [00:23:31] Which will take you anywhere in the seven county metro area. It’ll take you anywhere that is like more than half a mile away from the nearest fixed route transit option. But one of their rules is you can’t take camping equipment with you on transit link, which seems really messed up.

Christina: [00:23:51] Can you bring like, a bag?

Ian: [00:23:53] Yes. I would easily be able to hide my camping equipment from them, but that doesn’t change the fact that like that is a value that they have communicated…

Christina: [00:24:01] Right!

Ian: [00:24:02] To me now that they don’t want campers.

Christina: [00:24:05] I would love to talk to them in a professional capacity and ask them where that comes from and really dive into like, is this coming from a stereotype perspective? Like where what is this? What’s the deep down issue? Yeah, because that angers me.

Ian: [00:24:22] Agreed.

Christina: [00:24:23] In a way I don’t know if I can talk about on a podcast.

Ian: [00:24:27] And I think probably 95% of the time, like the driver isn’t going to care.

Christina: [00:24:30] Right.

Ian: [00:24:31] But like, there’s that 5% chance that you’re going to get a stickler for the rules.

Christina: [00:24:35] And then that’s like, that could ruin your trip. And especially if you’re with a large group, like what do you do? Do you just go wait until you can call another Transit Link operator and see if that one isn’t going to like. No, that’s not good.

Ian: [00:24:49] Also, how do you define camping gear? You know, because.

Christina: [00:24:52] A backpack.

Ian: [00:24:53] Right. A lot of the gear that I use when I’m camping, I use all the time for my everyday life. Yeah, it’s just stuff like a tent and a stove that are like specifically, I only bring them out during a camping trip.

Christina: [00:25:07] Right. Are they going to look through my… my bags?

Ian: [00:25:10] Yeah. No, they’re not.

Christina: [00:25:11] And then they’re going to be like, “Well, you got to leave your stove by the side of the road, but everything else can get in here.” Hmm.

Ian: [00:25:18] Yeah. Do they have a TSA check? You know, before you before you can get on a transit link?

Christina: [00:25:23] Ooh, yeah, I might. I might contact my contacts over there and just, like, just pick their brain and be like, so what? Like, let’s talk about the feasibility of a group of teenagers and an adult going camping via this way. And just. I just want to see what they’d say. I’m not going to write like an exposé or anything. I just I want to know, like, is there any flexibility there? Because that seems that seems unreasonable and it seems like there’s an inequity issue at play.

Ian: [00:25:56] Mm hmm.

Christina: [00:25:56] That should maybe be called in a little bit.

Ian: [00:26:00] Yeah. Yeah. And there’s definitely like, there’s a there’s a perception about, like, what a service like Transit Link is for, you know, who it’s for, what is an acceptable use of it. And you know, I call BS on that whole mindset because like, it doesn’t matter why somebody wants to use this service. 

Christina: [00:26:25] Right.

Ian: [00:26:25] You know? They’re like when it comes down to it, they’re using this service in order to not have to rely on a car.

Christina: [00:26:32] Exactly. And less cars on the road. Yeah, more happiness for me. But like.

Ian: [00:26:42] You know what they say, “Mo cars, mo problems.”

Christina: [00:26:43] That is mo cars mo problems! I truly believe that as a planner, planning is for everyone, every resident, every visitor, every person who even thinks about coming to my jurisdiction. They matter to me. And in that same realm, recreation opportunities, biking and camping are for everybody, regardless of who they are and where they came from, they are always welcome.

Ian: [00:27:13] I hear that you offer free tours of the the town of Chaska.

Christina: [00:27:16] Why not? I’m not a Chaska planner. I’ll give you a tour of the entire county, especially the unincorporated areas.

Ian: [00:27:25] All right, Christina.

Christina: [00:27:26] Yeah.

Ian: [00:27:26] Thanks for joining us on the show.

Christina: [00:27:28] Oh, thanks for having me! 

[00:27:29] [music]

Ian: [00:27:36] I promised that we would get to talk about a direct experience with these systems. So let me tell you about the most ambitious camping trip that I have pulled together now. It all started two MLK Days ago. It was two years ago on MLK Day. I had been feeling very cooped-up during the winter of 2019 to 2020, really feeling like I needed to to get out there, despite the fact, of course, that I bike as my primary form of transportation. But I was really feeling the itch to, like, go out and, uh, and do something like downhill skiing, which is an activity that I really enjoy but uh, had not had many opportunities to do, uh, during, during the last couple of winter seasons at that point. Um, so, so I started, you know, kind of expressing to a bunch of friends that I, that I wanted to go out and go skiing. And um, at that point I had really, like that was the first winter where I had really jumped into like living car free and was really trying to, to figure out how to do just about everything in life without, uh, traveling by car. And so I started, um, thinking about biking out to, uh, Afton Alps. And an opportunity arose on, uh, on MLK Day when I found out that a couple of friends of a friend were, were going skiing. And I was just like, “Well, okay, uh, yeah, I’ll, I’ll bike out there and I’ll ski all day and I’ll hang out with some new people and then I’ll bike home.” And I wrote a Streets.mn article about that experience at the time. Um, the, the take away from me uh, that year was that it was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed doing it, but also acknowledged that not many other people would find that experience palatable. So I wanted to figure out how to make this type of trip, uh, work for, you know, a larger group of my friends. Because, like I said, one of the things that I wanted to be doing was taking some friends out on a trip like this. So, uh, here’s, here’s the design that I came up with, and I included this in the article that I wrote up, uh, in 2020. Um, so I concluded that this was going to have to be at least a three day trip so that, like, the, the biking could be on day one and then skiing on day two and then biking back home on day three, kind of spreading all of that out. Um, now the best place to stay, of course, would be in the state park because it’s very, very close to Afton Alps.And furthermore, I realized that setting this on a holiday weekend would be best because then, in addition to spreading out the biking and skiing between a few different days, uh, that would also allow for a kind of rest day, uh, right after skiing, maybe do some hiking in the state park, check things out there, you know. Um, so the plan evolved into biking to Afton State Park on Friday evening, staying overnight, uh, in a in the state park, skiing on Saturday, hiking around, uh, the state park on Sunday, and then biking home on Monday. Now, the, the final piece of the puzzle, uh, was that, uh, not many people have like, camping equipment to stay outside for a whole three nights, right? Um, so luckily, Afton State Park has a few cabins. They also have a couple of yurts that you can rent, and so I made sure to keep that in mind to, to incorporate that into the plan. When I came up with this original plan, I did not know about Transit Link. Now, the sticking point with Transit link is that it only operates on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., so Transit link fits very nicely into the plan as it already existed, right? Um, if anybody you know was not feeling up to biking out to Afton State Park, then uh, they would be able to take transit link there and back. So after I did this trip in January of 2020, I was feeling really good about the idea of, uh, of taking a bunch of friends out to a cabin for a weekend and hanging out and going skiing. Uh, and then, of course, global circumstances, uh, made it a little bit less palatable to do something like that in January of 2021. Um, so my, my grand vision for making this into like an annual event, um, got delayed a little bit. But by August of 2021, with vaccines nicely rolling out and things were, were looking pretty good, I felt confident enough to book a, uh, one of the cabins for a few nights, uh, in January of 2022. And I started talking up the trip with friends, you know, inviting people along to see who is interested. And, uh, well, I mean, spoiler alert, we did it. Uh, we, we went on this trip, we made it back, and, uh, here are the stories of how that went. 

[00:33:23] [music]

Ian: [00:33:29] So I’d like you to meet the cast of folks who decided to take on this adventure with me. We’ve got Afua:

Afua: [00:33:37] I don’t know. Like, how can I say, like, I fully understand what it’s like to, like, enjoy nature and be outdoors if I’ve never tried it in, like, the specific way before?

Ian: [00:33:46] Brian:

Brian: [00:33:47] I think it would have made a good story after the fact, which I think it has.

Ian: [00:33:52] James: 

James: [00:33:53] I’m glad that you invited me along and that you recruited a bunch of crazy people.

Ian: [00:33:59] And Melissa:

Melissa: [00:34:00] I felt bad that I couldn’t have biked back with you all because it looked like a really nice day for you to bike back with it also. I felt bad because it only took me an hour.

Ian: [00:34:08] So let’s jump right into it. First, I wanted to know what attracted each person to joining this trip initially.

Brian: [00:34:15] A weekend to have some adventurous fun. I didn’t want you to have to do it alone either, because I know that wasn’t a great experience. So it was a little bit of like a social obligation to you. I knew it probably wouldn’t have been like the most thrilling fun during that ride, but I’ve done it, so hey, that’s an accomplishment. That’s kind of why I end up like I think. I think, yeah.

Afua: [00:34:36] I honestly was just curious at first. I finally can go out of town and experience like, nature, like fully encompassed, like, completely enveloped in nature. But I can, like, learn about this, like community I’m a part of.

James: [00:34:53] I’ve done a little bit of bike camping before, always self-supported. And so I was always carrying my own gear and always I hadn’t done any winter camping. So this seemed like an achievable challenge given what I’d done before. But also it seemed fun in that it’s not just me, it’s a group of people and you can kind of rely on people to carry other stuff and entertain you.

Melissa: [00:35:20] Well, and I’ve been thinking about biking out there by myself anyways, because I finally did that for the first time in 2021. I didn’t know that I could do that. And being able to bike there and back and it was probably late March. So, you know, not ideal conditions for biking. I did it then, so I figured I could do this. I realized that I haven’t done a whole lot this pandemic, let alone in the last year or so, that’s just a little bit more different or a little bit out of my comfort zone. So part of it is that that I love to collect experiences. I like to do things that are off the beaten path, so to speak, and this certainly fit that bill.

Ian: [00:35:59] Yeah, the paths were quite unbeaten, at least on Friday evening.

Melissa: [00:36:03] I was mentally thinking about that as I use that phrase. No. And I was honored that you asked. I mean, you and I haven’t really hung out a whole lot. I don’t mean your enthusiasm is extremely infectious and I’m just like, this is kind of a cool idea. I can get behind this.

Ian: [00:36:21] That’s saying a lot coming from the person who, like, started the 31 days of winter biking hashtag.

[00:36:32] [music]

Ian: [00:36:33] All right. Before we hear more from our campers, let me give you a real quick summary of what all happened that weekend. So on Friday, when most of us were at work, we had a nice big ol’ snowstorm. There was a lot of snow that fell throughout the day and it was just petering out at about 6:00 pm when Brian James and I were meeting up at my house doing our final packing to hit the road and go to Afton State Park on our bikes. Now, of course, that means that we had the maximum amount of snow on the ground that had not been plowed that we possibly could have. The timing was very, very poor. But, you know, we had already reserved the cabins and so there wasn’t any getting out of this weekend of of camping. So we headed out from Frogtown. We were not able to take most of the trails that I had originally been planning. For example, the Robert Piram trail. Right? That would take us down to the 4.94 Bridge, because they weren’t they were not plowed, but the roads were moderately clear enough for us to be able to bike on. When we got to the 494 bridge, it was completely the pedestrian and bicycle section of that bridge was completely unplowed, so we had to walk across that entire bridge. And we met Melissa on the far side of that bridge. We, the four of us, biked together through Newport, Saint Paul Park, Cottage Grove, all the way out to Afton State Park. It was very slow going. We got to experience some snowplows passing us rather closer than we would have liked. Got some spray from those in our faces. It was it was quite an experience. Meanwhile, Afua originally was planning on taking transit link to the park to meet us, but a lot of stuff happened on her end that prevented her from being able to make that connection before 7 p.m.. So she ended up getting a rideshare service out to the park and she met us rather late at night. She showed up at the cabin. On Saturday. Brian and I were very excited to get up and get going early in the morning. We biked over to Afton Alps and we spent most of the day skiing there. A couple of his friends showed up and the four of us skied around for most of the day. We headed back to the cabin in the evening, Melissa, James and Afua had mostly taken it pretty easy during during that day, on Saturday. I believe James went hiking. Melissa stayed in the cabin and read a book for quite a while, just, you know, having a nice relaxing time. On Sunday, Brian, James, Afua, and I went out, went hiking for quite a while for most of the day, did some of the trail loops in the northern part of the state park. Melissa ended up having to go home on on Sunday because her arthritis was preventing her from being able to sleep comfortably on the beds, on the cots in the cabin. So she biked back to Saint Paul Solo on Sunday and the rest of us hung out that evening. And on Monday morning we packed everything up and Afua caught a Transit Link back into the Twin Cities. And then James, Brian and I biked on the way back. By that Monday morning, there were more trails that were plowed and cleared than on Friday evening, but we still were not able to take the 494 bridge across. So we ended up coming north into the east side of Saint Paul on the east bank of the river. So we ended up curving around with the river and took Sam Morgan Trail into downtown instead of the west side of Saint Paul. So with that, I would like to ask each of the campers, what was your favorite part of the weekend?

Brian: [00:41:16] Like getting into that warm cabin after arriving and just like knowing that we made it and we had a fun weekend coming up and that we could then warm up and, you know, I think getting there, you know, like then, you know, you can do it again to get home. And it’s going to be a lighter ride because we’re eating food. And we rode there in the night and we were riding home in the daytime. So it was really like it was all going to be downhill from there.

James: [00:41:48] I liked having a cabin because it allowed me to just be there. And then whatever you want to do at the park, you could do. So I went hiking a couple of times. That was really the big activity that I did, but I didn’t have to like worry that my phone was going to die or that I would get back to the camp and I would just be freezing all night.

Melissa: [00:42:13] I would say just the camaraderie, the fact that we all came together and were relaxed and having a good time. And, you know, half of us hadn’t met each other before. So I think that was kind of neat. And we all got along very.

James: [00:42:27] Well and I enjoyed eating communally. When I’ve gone by camping before, it’s largely been an isolated experience. And so being able to just do that with other people, yeah, that’s fun.

Melissa: [00:42:40] He did a little bit more hiking in that day. He also had a really epic nap. While I read a book. I was able to read it all in one sitting and wow, that’s lovely. I don’t have a lot of time to do stuff like that. So just not having any expectations, any plans, any particular thing I had to go do. It’s nice just to know, be in a warm cabin and read and and watching somebody peacefully sleep that I’ve seen just a couple of times in my life. I’m sorry. He was sleeping with the smile on his face, so I wasn’t really watching him.

Ian: [00:43:13] That does sound very James.

Afua: [00:43:15] So number one on Afua’s top hits, talking to Melissa and James in the cabin when you guys first left to go to Afton. Number two would honestly be every time that I was like by myself and like didn’t realize how quickly my phone was dropping because of the cold, but like, I was having such a good time. But I got to have some great conversations with friends like any time, because, you know, my phone was basically available for calls the whole time because a lot of people have been trying to reach me except.

Ian: [00:43:47] For when it was dead.

Afua: [00:43:48] Yeah, good point. My watch wasn’t dead. All I need to do is connect to wifi or a hotspot.

Ian: [00:43:57] Sure Yeah. Wifi out there on the Prairie Loop Trail in Afton State Park.

Afua: [00:44:01] Okay, guys, what you’re hearing is, like, Ian thought I was going to die. I knew I wasn’t going to die because I have been to a lot of survival training since I was a kid. 

[00:44:14] [music]

Ian: [00:44:20] You had maybe a month of like proper snowy winter conditions before this trip to to kind of get used to it.

Brian: [00:44:29] Yeah. Five, five, six weeks whenever that first snow hit in December.

Ian: [00:44:32] Yeah. So how well prepared did you feel going into this?

Brian: [00:44:37] I felt pretty prepared. At the beginning of the winter, I did not own pogies for my hands on the handlebars. I did not have fenders on my bike. So those like the gear things that I think I had picked up, which I was happy for, both to prevent kind of spray and to keep my hands a little bit warmer. Something I think I learned during the trip is on our ride home. I was getting hot and like going up and down all the hills and you told me to take off my middle layer and just do. So. I literally was wearing a thin wool long underwear, a very thin, like, nylon t shirt, and then my windbreaker layer and literally nothing else. And so I would have been very cold if we weren’t biking, but that kept me warm enough while while biking home and I wasn’t overheating so much. And that was a good call that I hadn’t really, like pushed it to that to that extreme. This is like the most snow I’ve seen in my bike and the most, like wintry conditions I’ve had to ride through. I got to deal with my gears skipping because there was so much snow and salt in the rear cassette got to deal with like snowplows hitting us with a spray of salty snow.

James: [00:45:49] I think the biggest challenge for me was probably that I was not as in shape as I would normally would be, or at least that I had expected to be. And also because I hadn’t been out a whole lot, my bike could have used some maintenance.

Ian: [00:46:09] Oh my God.

James: [00:46:11] The…

Ian: [00:46:12] Yea tell us about those.

James: [00:46:14] Yeah. So I guess both of my derailleurs are a little bit misaligned because they just haven’t seen maintenance in a while and normally I can get by with that okay. But this showed up about halfway through the trip where we had one really big hill that we had to get up because my derailleurs were a little bit misaligned. And also just because at the point in the trip we were at, there’s a lot of ice that had built up in my drive train. I was not able to like shift down to the gears that I wanted to on both cassettes, and I was either in a higher gear than I wanted to be or I was cross chained and I was skipping gears. And so at some point I, I started just walking hills Yeah, because I, I just couldn’t keep grinding at whatever gear I was in or I couldn’t keep just going two or three strokes and then skipping a gear.

Ian: [00:47:17] Right. Right.

James: [00:47:18] Yeah. So that was really frustrating. And it, it ended up making the trip take a little longer, which also just would wore me out a little bit more than I would have expected.

Melissa: [00:47:28] You know, there’s a couple of different challenges that I was dealing with simultaneously. And the ones that I can’t control, which is my arthritis. So the cabin bedding isn’t the softest or most comfortable. You know, nobody’s ever going to say that they are. But if I don’t sleep well, then it’s hard for me to want to be active and just mind over matter. Just trying to pretend that it doesn’t hurt when it does. So I’m gracious. I was grateful for all of you understanding me, taking off a day early and I stuck around for like an hour and a half hoping that you guys would come home, that they could say goodbye and even heated up water just dealing with physical pain, you know, those sort of unseen day to day things that impact me. And I don’t really talk much about it. I acknowledge it to people, but it usually doesn’t impact me too much. And I like to keep it that way.

Ian: [00:48:17] Yeah.

Melissa: [00:48:18] But I can’t hide from it forever. So I felt bad. I felt bad leaving a day early, but I really needed to sleep in my own bed.

Ian: [00:48:24] No. Yeah. I’m glad that you were looking out for yourself. And. And when you first messaged us, I was like, I thought to myself, like, Oh, no. Is this going to mean that? Like, Melissa isn’t going to be able to ride back on her own. But like, then, then I realized, Oh, no, this was more about the beds than about the biking.

Melissa: [00:48:43] It was definitely not about about the biking. In fact, I felt bad that I couldn’t have biked back with you all because it looked like a really nice day for you to bike back with. And yeah, it also I felt bad because it only took me an hour. It took me, what, two and a half, 3 hours to get there and barely enough.

Ian: [00:48:57] Yeah, we did notice that we were like, “Oh man, we’re the ones who are holding Melissa back!”

Melissa: [00:49:02] Oh, no. Because I wouldn’t have done this at all without any of you. So you didn’t hold me back.

Ian: [00:49:06] Yeah, that’s true. Thanks for saying that.

Melissa: [00:49:09] Yeah, of course. Plus, you know, the sort of mother hen and feeling that I had was like, you know, when James was struggling to get up the hill because of his gears, shifting issues. I wasn’t going to leave him behind.

Ian: [00:49:20] Yeah.

Melissa: [00:49:21] I wouldn’t even. I wouldn’t even let him be last most of the time. I just. We’re in this together. So I knew that if something happened or I had a flat tire or something, he wouldn’t leave me behind. He wouldn’t leave me alone. So I just felt like I should do the same.

Ian: [00:49:35] So Afoa In the days leading up to the trip, you had some challenges booking a trip with Transit Link, right?

Afua: [00:49:42] They were overbooked and they told me about like, you know, but because of how bad the storm is going to be tomorrow and just in general, if there wasn’t a storm, we typically get cancellations around like 1 p.m. on Friday. So like call around 1 p.m., like don’t call because I said like, should I call earlier? Like any time I have time on Friday, should I just call? They’re like no, call at 1 p.m.. Like that’s when we’ll know whether we’ll be able to book you same day.

[00:50:06] [music]

Ian: [00:50:12] Now, this is a pretty good segue into talking about what kinds of changes we can make to the transportation system to make car-free camping more accessible. So capacity wise?

Afua: [00:50:24] Right. So they need more buses, they need more drivers, they need more call center reps.

Ian: [00:50:33] Short of changing the transit system.

Afua: [00:50:37] Right.

Ian: [00:50:37] I think a piece of advice we could give folks who want to do this type of trip would definitely be scheduled trips. Any time, you know, five days in advance, do it on the early end of that.

Afua: [00:50:50] Yeah, that’s true.

Ian: [00:51:10] Okay. Yeah. Yeah. And it would be really nice. You kept talking about, like. Like it’s 2022. Why don’t they have an app I want to have, like, be able to see my trip progress and, like, you know, is the driver on the way and everything in addition to, like, just being able to like, click click and like, you know, reserve a trip? Yeah, you know, like Plymouth’s uh…

Afua: [00:51:31] So nice!

Ian: [00:51:31] You know, click click a ride transit system.

Afua: [00:51:35] Yeah.

Ian: [00:51:35] Obviously is app based and sounds fantastic.

Afua: [00:51:38] At the bare minimum transit link, which is literally a link for transit systems. So just like there’s so many bare minimum things that they could do, like get a Wix page, get a WordPress, like get a Squarespace. If you don’t want to hire someone.

Ian: [00:51:55] Like wait. Okay, link, I get it. I get.

Afua: [00:51:59] It. No, no, no. That’s not even the joke I was trying to make. I’m saying they are too responsible for so many things. They literally connect transit systems between counties. How do you not even have a website where people can log in with an email and a password to manage their own trips? How?!

Brian: [00:52:23] A prioritization of clearing the cycling and walking paths along the choke points. So like the 494 bridge, we really can’t reduce our dependency on cars if we can’t use anything else in large parts of the year. So that needs to be priority. So it’s it’s easier and welcoming to be able to bike across the Mississippi River at some points inside of Afton State park, there’s the start gate and there’s a very big hill. You have to go down and up. And so our cabin was, I think a mile and a quarter maybe from the entrance to the park, including a big hill. So if people are getting out there via Transit Link at other means, they’re going to have to walk that distance. And there really wasn’t a sidewalk next to it, at least that I could see in the winter. Maybe there is in the summer. Um, and so that’s not it’s very kind of car-centric.

Ian: [00:53:21] Which is ironic when, you know, to we’re talking about a state park here like, oh, look at all this car-centric infrastructure.

Brian: [00:53:28] Yeah. And I had heard that the campsites Afton State Park and that big hill are kind of the way they are because they wanted to discourage people from the cities of using that state park because the people around there wanted to limit the use of the state park. So it wasn’t as as busy.

Ian: [00:53:45] That is concerning, if true.

Brian: [00:53:47] So maybe check on that. But that was something I had. I had heard and it was like the camping sites, like the cabins are one thing, but the campsites with the tent, they’re all hike inoto camp. And but that was a lot of the reason for it.

Ian: [00:54:00] Which I mean, that that type of campsite appeals to me a lot more because, like, you know, I’m like, Oh yeah, I don’t have to be around a whole bunch of people with their cars. It’s just a parking lot.

Brian: [00:54:12] Yeah, No, I totally get that. And I appreciate it too. It’s just a striking difference from like, like Lake Elmo Park Reserve near at the summer where it’s just rows of campsites that you can drive up to. And they’re a little more like there’s infrastructure directly at them and sort of like you have to hike half a mile, three quarters of a mile or a mile away from the car and the buildings to to get to the site.

Ian: [00:54:36] Yeah, Yeah.

James: [00:54:37] One thing we can talk about is that we are winter biking in the state of Minnesota, which also has many sub jurisdictions. And in particular we traversed three different counties and probably four or five municipalities. We even saw we had one path that we came up on 70th 70th Street in like Cottage Grove or Woodbury or somewhere along the river.

Ian: [00:55:05] So we had just passed through Newport and we were like, right on the border with Saint Paul Park, and we turned left onto 70th Street and we saw this nice cleared path and we were like, Oh, sweet. A trail that sounds great and is suit like.

James: [00:55:22] We we got like two or 300 feet or something.

Ian: [00:55:24] Yep, yep.

James: [00:55:25] And there’s just like an embankment where the plow had stopped and given up. Mm hmm.

Ian: [00:55:31] And so when I reached that spot and I, like, looked over my shoulder back at the group, you know, to be like, Hey, guys. Okay, time for us to go and get in into the road. I, of course, saw the sign that said, You’re now entering Saint Paul Park. And I was like, Oh, we’re at the city limit. Saint Paul Park did their part of like clearing this trail up until the border and whatever city we’re about to enter has not done their part. And of course, it was Cottage Grove.

James: [00:56:03] Yeah

Ian: [00:56:03] But then on the way home by Monday, Cottage Grove had cleared their part of the trail. So.

James: [00:56:07] Yeah, yeah. On the way back the by that time, I mean, that was a couple of days. So it gave them a pretty, pretty. They had a good amount of time. Yeah.

Ian: [00:56:18] They had a whole weekend to do it.

James: [00:56:19] Like all of the city paths, all of the county paths seemed pretty well cleared. It was just the MNDOT…

Ian: [00:56:27] Yep, yep, yep, yep.

James: [00:56:28] Bridge. So yeah, the take away from that I guess is better. Prioritization of clearing facilities for all, all transportation users and coordination to because that’s that was the thing with the border between Saint Paul Park and whatever.

Ian: [00:56:47] Right right right right.

Melissa: [00:56:48] We want it to be easier for people.

Ian: [00:56:50] Yeah. Yeah.

Melissa: [00:56:51] And we want other people to take for granted that these trail systems exist just like we do with some of the trail systems we love and use today.

Ian: [00:56:59] Oh, yeah. I mean, I’m young enough that there are a lot of pieces of Saint Paul that I have just like taken completely for granted in my life that then I hear like Andy Singer talking about like, Oh yeah, in the early 2000s when we were trying to like, you know, having to push for such and such thing to happen, I was like, Wait, that hasn’t always been like that.

Melissa: [00:57:18] Of course not. Yeah, Yeah. And so it’s just I heard a phrase the world was already built for us to be happy or successful or something like we owe it because we were able to enjoy the fruits of the labor that happened before us. And therefore we need to give forward or give back whatever direction you want to say, because others did that for us. And it was a very ascetic. Like I just sat there and thought about that phrase, which I badly, badly paraphrased just now. But we have to keep pushing, even if it seems like, you know, yes, it should be happening already or there’s not much that we need because we’ve already gotten a lot. No, there’s always going to be improvements. And there’s in the the walking and biking community, we want people to have as much access as possible, just as much as an auto driver does. 

[00:58:09] [music]

Ian: [00:58:15] Last question about the Afton trip. Would you do it again?

Afua: [00:58:20] I would. I would. I know, like, this trip was really stressful because it like new for everybody, but also new in this, like a lot of new variables.

Melissa: [00:58:49] Maybe someday.

Ian: [00:58:51] Okay.

Melissa: [00:58:51] Or maybe by myself. It was fun. I’m not going to deny it. It was a great time and part of it was being able to meet people I’d never even heard of or met before, or people that have only gone on bike rides with. You know, That was pretty fun. You know, I do prefer biking outside of the winter, so I am looking forward to maybe more trips like this in warmer, more warmer months, but not too warm of course, you know, that was a pretty fun adventure for that particular moment in time. And I’m so glad I did it. And the only regret I have is that we didn’t get a photo of all five of us.

Ian: [00:59:28] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Melissa: [00:59:29] At any point it was harder and easier than I thought, and I wouldn’t have known either of those. Why it would have been a little bit harder or easier to do if I hadn’t tried it. So for that alone, I’m really glad I went. I’m really glad you asked me to.

Ian: [00:59:44] Yeah. I’m glad you came.

Brian: [00:59:47] I… Probably. I don’t know if I would tow my skis or not. That was a lot of work. I felt like I was working very hard.

Ian: [00:59:56] Now, I did notice that, like, Transit Link, you know, they have bike racks on the front of them.

Brian: [01:00:04] Yeah, that would be an interesting approach that might make for a better trip is kind of more hybrid cycling and Tranit Link because like it would be nice having your bike out there just to get from the trail like the start of the park to the cabin and we could bike from the cabin to Afton to go skiing and that kind of stuff. So having that trailer and the skis would be nice to have, but all that distance would be nice to take Transit Link.

James: [01:00:26] I would say hesitantly, Yes. Okay. If I were to do it again, I would only do it if I knew that I had done the preparation to be in good physical shape and I’d done the bike maintenance and all of that.

Ian: [01:00:41] Would you be interested in doing like the Transit Link option if you.

James: [01:00:44] I would probably do that. Part of the thing that drew me to this trip was its novelty as something that I hadn’t done before. The novelty would still exists to me to using the Transit Link, so that’s something. I feel like I could do it again and get different things out of it. Like if you’re not biking the whole time, like I wouldn’t have been as anxious about overexerting myself hiking or like going out and I hadn’t skied before.

Ian: [01:01:13] Oh sure, sure.

James: [01:01:14] I might have jumped more on that and gone skiing with you and Brian.

Ian: [01:01:20] Now, you know, it’s the funny thing?

James: [01:01:21] This is just you sign me up for next year, isn’t it?

Ian: [01:01:23] Yeah. I mean, I have every intention of making this into, like, an annual thing, so yes! Maybe get to cabins next time If I have enough. Enough interest, like six months in advance.

James: [01:01:34] Mm hmm. Yeah, we could just, like, rent out the whole whole block and have a party.

Ian: [01:01:39] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. This is our little urbanist town now. 

[01:01:43] [music]

Ian: [01:01:46] Thanks for joining us for this episode of The Streets.mn Podcast. If you would like to connect with any of our guests, I have included links to their online presences in the show notes. This show is released under a Creative Commons attribution non-commercial non-derivative license, so feel free to republish the episode as long as you’re not altering it and you are not profiting from it. The music in this episode is by Eric Brandt and the Urban Hillbilly Quartet. This episode was hosted and edited by me, Ian R. Buck, with transcript by Mike Allen, first of his name. Christy Marsden is our awesome guest. Booker and technical assistance is provided by the super professional, Brian Mitchell. If you’re able to help make sure this team gets paid for the hard work that they do, please consider donating at [https://streets.mn/donate]. We really appreciate it. If you have feedback or ideas for future episodes, drop us a line at [podcast@streets.mn]. Until next time, take care!

About Ian R Buck

Co-chair of the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition, podcaster, and teacher. Ian gets around via bike and public transportation. "You don't need a parachute to skydive; you just need a parachute to skydive twice!"

Articles near this location

2 thoughts on “Camping for Urbanists

  1. Melissa Wenzel

    [belated comment] Thank you for this podcast and more importantly, for this opportunity. I know I never would have tried to do anything like this without you! It was great to get to know all of you better, too!

    1. Ian R Buck Moderator   Post author

      I’m so glad you were able to be part of the trip! While I was getting the episode ready to publish, I realized that I hadn’t yet reserved a cabin for this year’s version; and of course they are already booked solid through most of the winter season. 😑

Comments are closed.