Thursday, 11th May 2006

Starting Point:
Minneapolis, MN, 11:40am CDT
Ending Point:
Winnipeg, MB, 10:30pm CDT
Total Distance Traveled:
1996 mi / 3214 km
Total Drive Time:
33 hr 15 min
Total Fuel Consumption:
42.2 gal / 160 litres
(47 mpg / 4.9 litres/100km)

The after-effects of our personalized tour of Little Mankato were apparent this morning, and we didn't get started until just before the crack of noon. We spent all day fighting a strong, cold Minnesota wind, and fuel efficiency suffered notably as a result. It was a long one, but we covered a lot of ground and had a nice break in the middle.

Minnesota is a lot like Wisconsin, only with less trees and more lakes. We counted only 11 lakes along the freeway, but I've spent some time in Minnesota before and am still quite confident that all 10,000 are still there. The rolling hills diminished and utter flatness took over. We crossed the Red River of the North and tried to find William H. Macy ("Look, I'm cooperatin' here!") to see what Buick has available and how much the undercoating would cost, but we opted to skip past Fargo ("Oh, ya"). No Paul Bunyan statue for us, but North Dakota has some great encouraging billboards along the freeway (the others said "Be Nice" and "Do Your Best").

The Featured Event for me in North Dakota was a quick visit to Larimore, the town where I went to grade school. I hadn't been back there since 1989(?). It was an interesting evening, discovering how time and my memory had altered the place. Many memories came back to life as I wandered the streets and regaled a very patient Jen with stories of people and buildings no longer there.

The biggest shock to me was my old house. I knew from the last visit that there is a fence around it now; more shocking this time around was how the entire lot is surrounded by trees, and how they had built a two car garage onto the front of the the old one car garage. Many buildings I remember along the main street (oddly named Towner Avenue; Main Street is somewhere else) are gone—our neighbor's drugstore, the local clothing store, and a couple of ancient houses—and there are a lot more PBR signs than I remember.
The Dairy Queen is now some other kind of ice cream store. The things a 10-year old remembers are still the same though: the hulking grain elevators, train cars sitting idly on the tracks, the Army tank in the park and the sidewalks in the town square where we rode our bikes and pretended to be the Air Force planes we often saw overhead.

The school mascot was something I had forgotten about, but the concrete polar bears brought a bit of a smile to my face as we begin to turn north to the land of the real thing. I watched Larimore, and indeed all of the lower 48, fade into the rearview sunset before we crossed into Canada. Our day ended in Winnipeg, where tomorrow we will pick up Canada 1 and see how long it really takes to get to Calgary. Until then, be well, and work hard—


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