The Twin Cities area is an odd place, as I suppose any major metropolitan area is in some sense, except perhaps the East Coast. Minneapolis and St. Paul are quite cosmopolitan, liberal and progressive, with a vibrant theatre, art, and music scene, major corporations and universities. The suburbs are the same as suburbs anywhere. Chain restaurants, McMansions, malls, parks and trails. But once you get beyond the second ring, things get all red state. And I kind of love it. Because I’m a ten minute drive from the countryside, quiet roads and farmland. Wildflowers, lakes, sunsets. I grew up in a rural area, so sometimes I crave the nothingness and open skies of the Great Plains.
There is another magical place that I only recently discovered. A retailer called Mills Fleet Farm. I’d heard of it before, but until they built one in nearby Carver, Minnesota, and I stopped in after dropping off my son at a friend’s house, I’d never actually gone in. I was taken aback by the sheer size, and the inventory that was nothing like I’d ever seen. It’s a cross between a bait shop, Walmart and Costco, and chock full of awesomeness. Though I’m definitely a Kansas girl, my family was more or less city folk, and never into the hunting, camping, farm, and fishing scene, so some of the stuff in here was nothing I’d ever seen before.
Full-on rain gear. For all the sword boats and lobstermen up here on the lakes. Or if anyone wants to dress up like the Gorton’s Fisherman for Halloween.
This is only one of SIX aisles of nuts. I feel like there should be epinephrine stations at the end of each row. Has anyone ever had a craving for a chili-lime pine nut? Not only are there nuts, there are an equal number of aisles devoted to things covered in chocolate. Like you want a chocolate-covered praying mantis? No problem, do you want it slathered in milk chocolate, white chocolate or dark chocolate?
I very much enjoy the military surplus section. These field jackets are from the German Army. I feel better that they do have surplus German Army field jackets because no one really wants to see that band get back together.
I can’t lie, I was a little disappointed that only these boxes were for sale, not the actual mortars or grenades that they stored. They’d make nice flower planters in some doomsday prepper’s backyard, though.
This Romanian Army overcoat is made out perhaps the itchiest substance I’ve ever touched. Imagine sandpaper and steel wool. But rougher.
You can actually purchase this guy. Why? Seriously. Why?
That is a lot of blaze orange. Enough to burn out your retinas.
I can’t even.
Miles and miles of ammo. If the Wolverines from “Red Dawn” had been able to hit a Fleet Farm on their way out of town, maybe the Soviet troops wouldn’t still be occupying post WWIII America.
I don’t even want to think about how this “medicated” product is used.
40 pounds of bird seed. Forty. Pounds. In case you’re inviting Big Bird over for dinner.
Who says farmers’ wives can’t be fashionable too?
© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2014