Gwen and I have begun a trip to Chicago and Minnesota. Two days ago, we flew to Chicago, met my parents (who were setting up for an antique show), borrowed my dad’s truck, a ’91 Ford, and lit out on I-90 for St. Paul.
I think my father has a predilection for vehicles that have loose front ends. This truck was also loud and primitive–possibly one of the last pickups that was built primarily for hauling loads, rather than for personal transport. Also very loud, and hard on gas–a fill-up cost $47. Cheaper than flying, though. Getting onto the interstate was stymied by construction, and we wound up going quite a bit out of our way before we actually found an on-ramp. Driving through Illinois, we encountered a frustrating pattern where we’d be backed up with road construction, get to a toll booth, and for about one mile after, the road would be clear. Then it would be down to one lane, more construction, and another tollbooth. Repeat until the Wisconsin border. After that, it was pretty much smooth sailing.
We reached St. Paul while there was still light and navigated with little trouble to the home of an old friend of Gwen’s, where we are staying.
Yesterday morning, we were up at a relatively early (for a vacation) hour to go kayaking, which I’ve never done before. We were right on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. An outfitter dropped us off at an upstream point, we paddled along for about 4 hours (with a few stops for snacks and sunblock on the way), and we got picked up near the outfitter’s storefront at the end. It was fun, though my enjoyment would have been greater if it weren’t for a comparatively mild migraine. We saw at least six bald eagles close-up–I’m pretty sure that was the first time I’ve seen them in the wild in the USA.
Today we drove into Minneapolis and wandered around Gwen’s old haunts. Her old neighborhood is an awful lot like my old neighborhood in Chicago–I felt right at home. We also spent some time downtown, looking at nifty old Art Deco buildings and walking through the human habitrail system. Tomorrow we’ll be getting together with a friend of mine, Jen, who lives in Philadelphia but was raised here–it just so happens that she’s visiting at the same time we are.