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Summer Day Trip #3: Jackson, Minnesota

Some time ago in the spring, I found out that David Ellefson, bass player and co-founder of Megadeth, was rebranding the coffee shop in Jackson, Minnesota. Every so often I would tell Linda that I planned to drive over there to check it out, but the morning that I actually decided to drive over there to check it out, I think I surprised her. I’m not sure she thought I would ever do it.

“What else are you going to do over there?”

“Oh, that’s it. Just drive over there, order a cup of coffee, and drive home.”

I had checked out Jackson on Tripadvisor, and honestly, Jackson seemed like it didn’t have much going on. My mind map of southwestern Minnesota was mainly a blank. I knew that I-90 drove through, but I thought perhaps the interstate was a metaphor: Beware ye who enter here, lest ye be on your way to somewhere else.

When I told Tavi we were driving two hours to visit a coffee shop, the idea didn’t seem far-fetched to her. She only had one question, “Do they serve hot cocoa?” I promised that in all likelihood, yes, they served hot cocoa, and that’s all she needed to hear.

Four hours stuck in a car with Dad just for a cup of hot cocoa. 

The coffee shop was exactly what you might expect, in some ways. The walls displayed some Megadeth and Ellefson memorabilia. And I gathered that some fans do detour off the Interstate out of curiosity. The place existed before Ellefson rebranded it, however, and locals still seem to be the main clientèle. Instead of classical or elevator music, metal softly played in the background, but the two old women in there when we were there didn’t seem to mind, or notice. The coffee itself was fine, and while the servers might have more visible tattoos than servers in most small-town coffee shops, they were no less nice.

Personally autographed guitars, and not a bad price at $499 each. 

Coming out of the backroom, Ellefson’s business partner walked by our table and smiled at us. The left side of her head was shaved, and the rest of her hair was black and shoulder-length, quite appropriate and fitting for a woman who was probably in her mid-40s. We sat at the table and listened as a man asked her about using some of Ellefson’s coffee at a local event. Apparently this event would also feature local beers. The man suggested that maybe Ellefson would be interested in developing a coffee-flavored beer, but the business partner indicated that Ellefson had “chosen sobriety,” and so associating his name with anything alcoholic would probably be a no-go.

Drinking decaf is the coffee equivalent of listening to Taylor Swift music.  


Was it worth the two hour drive for a cup of coffee? That all depends. If you’re a Megadeth fan, sure, it was worth it. If you’re simply curious about southwest Minnesota, then, yes, I would say making the drive was definitely worth it. Tavi and I discovered Fort Belmont, and we also had a great photo-op in Blue Earth, Minnesota at the Jolly Green Giant statue. Why is there a Jolly Green Giant statue in Blue Earth? I learned the answer to this burning question, too. In 1978, I-90, which runs from Boston to Seattle, was officially completed near Blue Earth. 

Me with the Giant. My life is now complete.

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First stop: Caledonia, Minnesota. Where's that? It's a small town in the southeast corner of the state. Before I opened my Rand McNally Road Atlas, I had never heard of it, and before I punched the town name into Trip Advisor, I didn't know if there was anything there worth visiting.

Distance from home: About 75 miles.

Challenge #1: Leaving by 6:30 a.m.

Challenge #2: Taking my dog, Atticus.

Actually, Atticus is a good dog on a road trip, but the forecast indicated that it was going to get into the 90s. I wanted to leave early in the …