I started the day at Spyhouse Coffee in Minneapolis. What a wonderful place to hang out! The one I tried today was in a reclaimed wood and brick factory building that also houses several offices, design firms and other businesses. The photos below give you an idea of the ambience of the whole building. The coffee was rich and smooth and good, and the blueberry muffin started the day off on a good note as well.
So it seems that in all major cities I have driven through thus far on this trip, construction is rampant. Roads are being widened, whole intersections are being rebuilt, and interstates are being resurfaced. Bridges are being dismantled and rebuilt and widened. There appear to be a lot of people working, actually on machines and with shovels in hand and waving flags and cutting big chunks out of asphalt. There seem to be jobs available. Just an observation. You know. It looks like a modern day WPA, if you want to know the truth.
Funny thing, there are lots of signs up in the midwest that tell you, in big black letters on a bright orange sign, that if you intentionally run down a highway worker, like mow him over and kill him, you’ll be fined about ten grand and may get multiple years in prison.
Do they think we want to kill these folks on purpose and they have to give us incentives not to do this? Is that really necessary? I’m just a dumb southerner, but hmmm…
I stopped for gas today. Twice actually, but let’s talk about the first time. The second time was boring. Oh, and before we even do that can I complain about the amount of WIND in North Dakota? The Mighty Wind, as it were? The cold, relentless, blow my poor little red car off the interstate, freeze my gas-pumping ass off wind that NEVER lets up? It’s windy. It’s blustery. It’s cold. Did I mention how WINDY it is? Yeah, that too.
Okay, so I roll into this gas station, or actually I blow into into it, sort of scooting up to the pump sideways as Rosie tries her best to get a grip in this WIND, this MIGHTY WIND, that keeps blowing all over North Dakota. I see the old man in front of me pumping gas into his Dodge Caravan, and his baggy pants are flapping about as hard as his toupee. There is a lady coming out of the store with a Diet Coke and she is drinking it by pouring it sideways into her mouth, the WIND is blowing so hard.
So I slide into the area by the pump, and I look to my left and I see this WalMart-sized palette of salt pellets. Bags, probably twenty five pounds or so, I guess, of salt pellets. Now, I figure that these are not for use on popcorn on family movie night. I figure they must have something to do with the winter that people tell me they have up here (“Winter is coming.”). In the south, you pull into a gas station, unassisted by wind of any kind, and you look to your left AND right and you see cases of Bud, but you most certainly do not see salt pellets.
So I go into the station to relieve myself and buy replacements fluids, and I hear Lady Antebellum playing over the loudspeaker. A hometown group, from Augusta, Georgia, playing in North Dakota, the Land of the MIGHTY WIND. I’m impressed. I look straight ahead of me as I’m headed for the men’s room and I see an entire wall of live bait in the store. Right next to the Cheeze Whiz and Cheetos and M&Ms (sharing size). I see minnows and other swimming things and some crawly things and God only knows what else.
I expected to hear Rod Serling’s voice.
Here we are, in another place and time, in the land of the MIGHTY WIND, where candy and tobacco and people and fish are as one. We are…in…the Twilight Zone.
One of my friends on line said, “Welcome to my childhood. All you have to do is add Marlboro Reds and Trans Ams, and there you go.”
Changing the subject, I am loving the Maps feature of the iPhone 6. iOS 8 is working like a champ for me on this trip. It is a little too smart for its own good sometimes, though, and a little too direct with its suggestions, albeit sweet since my phone uses an Australian female voice.
When I got to Fargo today, finished with my visit (see more below) and got back in the car to head for Bismarck, the sweet Australian lady simply said, “Head west. Straight west. For a very long time. Keep going straight until I tell you to stop.” I think I’m at that part of the trip that just heads due west all the way to Seattle.
I got a chance to meet another longtime Twitter friend in real life today. Julie Kuehl and I have known each other for at least four or five years on Twitter (neither of us could remember exactly how long). I came to know of her when I listened to the International Mac Podcast, and she has been on several others, domestic and foreign, that I listen to as well. She also does some work for Ken Ray of Mac OS Ken fame and various other freelance jobs and projects.
We met in downtown Fargo, ND, at Atomic Coffee, and sat for a long chat, mostly about the tech stuff that we both love. We compared iPhones, software, talked about her doing EyeChart Magazine related work for Ken Ray, and family and personal joys, trials and tribulations.
It was very nice to meet another friend in person, especially since it could be in Fargo. The picture below was taken outside, in front of the Fargo Theater. Julie also filled me in on some of the local Fargo lore and legend, including the fact that the original wood chipper (and the leg that was going into it in the movie) are on display just off Interstate 94 not far from downtown. Yeah.
As I’ve said before, the driving is great, the scenery is fabulous, but the highlight of the trip so far has been my contact with the people who enrich my life and make it more fun and interesting.
Thank you Jordan Grumet, Diane Misch, and Julie Kuehl for being a part of my life and making it richer.
I love you guys.
Tomorrow, I hear that I’m supposed to stop in Medora, ND, for some lunch. Another little birdie has told me that there used to be a killer old-fashioned breakfast place in Billings, Montana that makes the best pancakes ever. I need to check that out when I get there.
Hey, friends are very important, but a guy’s gotta eat, you know.
Until tomorrow, dear readers.
Good night, from Bismarck, North Dakota.