Petro Albert Lea, Minnesota

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From I-35 just before the actual exit (exit 11), a wood plank building stands majestically among trees and snow this time of year. The sheer size tells motorists there has to be something worth stopping for inside. For truck drivers, it is a bonus; ample truck parkng and fuel islands as well as the usual trucker amenities other Petro travel stops have (laundry, showers and restrooms for drivers).

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The public restrooms are actually beautiful; stone walls, trough style sinks and stainless steel fixtures.

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There are even toilet seat wipes in the women’s restroom (no toilet seat covers, which this California girl has had to get used to out on the road, as many states we’ve stopped in don’t have them in the restrooms). Side note: now I see why my beloved Grandma Grace always carried a small pack in her purse, she’d been a bit of a traveler.

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This Petro has a tavern in the Iron Skillet. There is also a Pizza Hut, Coldstone Creamery and McDonald’s, but the wide selection of other food the store sells makes one reconsider a meal of fast food. They have sandwiches freshly prepared in to-go containers as well as salads, veggie and fruit cups, yogurt and anything else your heart (and stomach) desires. The coffee bar was so large, I couldn’t even fit it into a photo.

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We smelled a wonderful meaty scent from the parking lot and this was its source; a woodburning spit roasting various meats.

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Two larger than life viking carvings gave us a fun photo opportunity.

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Had to get the husband to pose!

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There were shelves and aisles of hand made items.

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Of course they had a collection of Minnesota Vikings football fanwear.

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And Minnesota Twins collectibles!

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There were shelves of goodies for wine enthusiasts.

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Even blinged out wine accessories.

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Cookbooks ended a shelf of home made edible goodies as well; jams, salsas and state manufactured sauces.

I was probably more excited than I should have been in this store, but it was was my favorite truck stop yet! My husband wanted a viking hat for our two year old nephew and the cashier had to dig in the stock room to locate them. She emerged from the back with several hats and horns in her hands and without a word, she went to work assembling one for us, dancing to music coming through the PA system, happy to be there. Thank you Minnesota for your hospitality and making my first trip to your state a great one!

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