Winter is Coming…

Mon (14 Aug) –

Check it –

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That’s right, I did it. Sorry, Keeper, we… I hooked these two beasties up, under Keeper’s watchful eye (he had the checklist), dumped the bilges and got ready to go to Minneapolis. Last night we put away the Clam, packed up the bikes, bled off the propane to secure the outdoor kitchen, just in case I made good on my threat to drive all the way to Minneapolis. Mid-morning we stopped in the Van Riper SP office on the way out to let them know we’d be vacating our spot a day early. And we were given a refund. Michigan is all right.

Wisconsin too. Until I had to get gas. Duluth was a heavy contender for Flight’s commute because, in his words, “Well, that way you won’t have to get gas.” I asked, “Is that tricky?” Flight said something to the effect of, “Well, it’s easy to get in a bad situation at a gas station, meaning you may get pinned in and have to disconnect the Toad, and you’ll be around stuff that can blow up if you hit it, so yeah, it can be.” Well, crappity crap crap crap. His parting advice, “Just go to a truck stop so you’ll have plenty of room to maneuver.”

I watched the fuel level sink below ¼ tank and started my search in earnest for said truck stop, despite not being signed off on my underway replenishment operations. I read “CENEX family stop (maybe?), Truckers Welcome.” Sweet! I made my move to get off the highway and didn’t immediately find said CENEX. It took 1.2 miles down the road through small-town America to get to a small Mom and Pop gas station. Pretty sure truckers don’t come to this place, as they all know better. I pulled a fancy u-turn of sorts to land our traveling circus at both gas pumps and blindly guessed the location of the fuel tank. Nailed it.

Inserted my card. Nothing. Wouldn’t take my card. Wouldn’t take any card. Not even the fellow ‘s across the pump from me. The manager came out to say their credit card system at the pumps had gone down just as I drove up. I was not entirely surprised – Flight does refer to me as “The Walking Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)” as I do tend to leave fried electronics in my wake. Also not surprisingly (I was clearly buying A LOT of gas), the manager was very apologetic and told me the credit card system was fine inside and I could just start the fueling process. It was and I filled up the tank and departed without hitting a single thing.

I got back on the road and my phone told me I would be getting to our new campsite just outside Minneapolis at 4:10 pm. And then it was 4:40. And then it became 5:30. Shoot. I had Keeper text Flight. He had landed at 2 something in Minneapolis and was Ubering to Baker Campground. Through Keeper, I learned of Flight’s promise to pick the best campsite. We rolled into Minneapolis just prior to 5 p.m. in the thick of rush hour traffic. After a day on the road I felt well versed in operating Davista by now, but I was not prepared for what happened next.

I learned that in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota (Utah says this too…), there are only two seasons: winter and construction. Winter is coming, but it’s not here yet and road construction is in full swing. The 94 tunnel going through town is partially closed and not allowing any vehicles over 9000 pounds. I saw a small sign indicating so and began to panic as we’re more than twice that limit. Before we left, my college roommate told me she looked for the “Nervous Mother Driving” window sticker from the Partridge Family Bus, but couldn’t find it. Too bad, it would have been the perfect warning sign to stay out of my way.

Now following little truck detour signs in an unfamiliar city in may not be challenging in and of itself, however doing so in rush hour traffic surrounded by people who have never driven such a long-legged beastie was extremely so. Every time I left enough room to merge, with my turn signal clearly indicating my intentions well ahead of time, pint-sized little cars kept popping into the space. I was left with no other option, I donned Maryland habits (that’s where our plates are from) and merged as necessary, which had the same effect as Fezzik yelling, “Everybody MOVE!”

After being diverted not just once but twice from 94, we found our way through the city to Baker Campground, pulling in to see a very relieved Flight lounging with his luggage.

Our stay in Minneapolis was unfortunately short, as there’s so much the Twin Cities have to offer. We didn’t even get to see nearby Minnehaha Falls, which was recommended by a good friend who’s a Twin City native. Since tide, time, formation, and solar eclipses wait for no one and we had a long way to travel in a short amount of time, we were only in the area for one day and that was consumed by mundane errands. :/ Most critical of these was getting new glasses for both Firebolt (“Mom, I don’t really need them,” while screwing up her face to squint…) and Keeper (“Mom, I was heating and bending my earpiece to make it fit better and it broke. But it’s okay, I used duct tape to fix it.” Hmmmm…) so both could actually see the eclipse. A close second was going to Trader Joe’s as we were next traversing the Frontier, so we had to stock up.   Not falling in the mundane errand category was a fantastic visit with one of Flight’s Stanford friends and his oldest son who was also home (the rest of the family was still in Hong Kong).

Now to decide: do we go the shorter northern route (through ND, MT, and ID) or the southern route (through SD, WY, MT, and ID) with potentially more interesting stops…

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