DAY 19 – SATURDAY JULY 27

ST. CLOUD TO MONTICELLO

An engineer and a choreographer walk into a bar . . .

Victoria ended yesterday’s run on the upper side of the St. Cloud Convention Center. I needed to start today’s run on the lower side – the river side. There can be no gaps in our path!

Sarah Drake drove to Munsinger Gardens to say goodbye as we headed south from St. Cloud. Victoria met Sarah there. I was hoping for high-fives as I ran through, but the timing was wrong. I did a couple of laps around the gardens and headed west over the University Avenue bridge. No worries – I know we’ll cross paths with Sarah again.

Victoria took over at the Beaver Island Trailhead – fueled by adrenaline as she navigated the bicycle-unfriendly crossings of Interstate 94. She’s always fast, but a little bit faster today . . .

Our reception at Montissippi Park was awesome! Sue Seeger organized a 21-gun salute for our arrival and Ricky Kothenbeutel and his parents joined Victoria on the run to West Bridge Park. Ricky had already done a half-marathon in the morning. He followed up with a fast 5K with Victoria from Montissippi into town. Someone mentioned that there was a firing range adjacent to the park, but I’m pretty sure it was a salute . . .

Charlotte Gabler just got back from Washington DC, feeling the Monticello magic as she exited I-94. She took time to talk with us and her daughter Haley joined us at the kitchen table. Haley was just getting home from her second job. She’s cool, calm and enjoying a sandwich. Mom is a little more animated. 

We covered a lot of ground at Charlotte’s house. Personal stories, local history and Monticello today. She’s given much of her adult life to community service on the Planning Commission and City Council. We’re pretty sure she’ll be Mayor someday.

Bill Fair was working out back at Saint Henry’s Church – in the garden. He’s a volunteer here. I met him as he finished up some watering and put a hose away. We moved to a table in the shade and I explained why his story is important to this research. He understood.

Bill is a former Mayor and City Council member. He’s also a current City Council member (a story within a story). He cares deeply for Monticello. Bill and I drove around town, through the new overpass and roundabouts to see the schools and Pioneer Park (thank you, Lions!). We went to the Community Center and the place was packed on a Saturday afternoon. All age groups were represented. We rode through downtown passing swan sculptures and murals. Bill was proud and I was impressed.

Bill shuttled me back to East Bridge Park for my meeting with Nancy McCaffery from the Parks Commission. She’s the top volunteer gardener in town, a position formerly occupied by Bill Fair’s mother. She says that she’s not in charge of this effort – she just brings the tea. I think she does a bit more . . .

Hallie Leffingwell and kids went berry picking with Victoria back at Montissippi Park. Hallie is a local artist (she painted the mural on the Montiarts building). She’s a fitness professional who rides motorcycles (maybe bicycles, too?) She’s a boxing dancer and a dancing boxer – the first one we’ve met! We connected with her and daughter June at the evening event.

Victoria and I made a quick stop at Rustec Brewing Company before heading down to West Bridge Park for the evening gathering. An evening of storytelling followed by hot dogs and potato salad. A perfect end to the day. 

An engineer and a choreographer walk into a community . . .