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Every stop gave us an opportunity to slip into a brand-new identity.

(Mind you, it’s not like New York is a picnic in winter. It’s a Delta hub, and the convenient location — smack in the middle of America — means it’s as easy to get to Asia as Europe.

Type “snow struggles in New York City” into You Tube to see what I mean.) Among the many things that astonished us about Minneapolis and St. Enormous old trees, winsome rose gardens, lushly manicured parks, sparkling blue lakes, bike lanes everywhere — it’s absolutely gorgeous seven months out of the year. And hey, if the travel writing thing doesn’t work out, we can always look for cubicle jobs at one of the 17 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the Twin Cities — or better yet, start our own business.

What sold us on the other five was how much the locals embrace winter: snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, fat biking, snowmobiling, ice fishing, building bonfires, and turning out in force to see wacky art installations pitched in the middle of a frozen lake. Compared with other metropolises, the cost of living here is affordable enough that you can actually risk being an entrepreneur.

My dad ran his own consulting firm, and my mom, an artist, always thought the next place would be better.

Evangelism dominated my public schools in Georgia and North Carolina.

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