Michael's Excellent Adventure

Side Trip

Convenience Stores

Before this journal gets through the Midwest, one subject deserves special note, and homage. One wondrous institution that I would like to call your attention to, without which this trip would surely have foundered on the rocks of fatigue and starvation, is the Midwestern convenience store. Here in Portland, we may think we know the handy gas station mercantile, but I realize now that until this trip, I knew but a pale shadow. The true Midwestern convenience store has your snack foods, your soda fountain, and your restroom, but it has so much more. Hardware. Video rentals. Air-conditioned seating area. Deluxe pizza restaurant and delicatessen. These, friends, are the Fred Meyers of convenience stores, and are a boon to any weary cyclist. They are a protean establishment, and are known by many names. In Montana, look for the bright red sign announcing "Conoco." In North Dakota, Cenex. In Minnesota, Super America. In Wisconsin, Kwik Trip. But they all share one common thing: the Gatorade is always cold.