Sunlight woke me up. 7:33 a.m. Where am I? And then the realization that I was still in South Dakota, and that I needed to get out.
I wanted to take a shower, really I did, but I lost a towel in Portland, and my other one is buried somewhere in a duffel bag in my car. Plus I don’t have any soap. So I went to do my other bathroom business. It was while in the Men’s Room that I heard an old man grunting in the shower stall, that I noticed two pairs of crocs, and that I heard a woman say something nasty. Let’s not say what I heard. Let’s just say I heard it. And that it was not a pleasant thing to hear.
I will say that among other shitty things about South Dakota, nobody knows how to brew a halfway decent cup of coffee. The KOA coffee, when I poured it, looked like tea that hadn’t steeped for long enough, so I dumped it into the trash. Well, no, first I took a sip, realized it was some flavored bullshit coffee anyway, then I dumped it into the trash. The gas station coffee was the same deal, minus the added flavor. But I had to drink it. Because there was no other choice. Because I needed caffeine. And when I was done drinking it, and done eating a terrible egg salad sandwich from that horrible South Dakota gas station, I pulled over at a McDonald’s in Minnesota and got myself a halfway decent cup of coffee. Yes. McDonald’s had the best coffee I tasted for five hundred miles. You never can tell.
Then I kept driving.
Minnesota is just as boring as South Dakota, but more pleasant. No hills, the speed limit drops to 70, and it’s a blue state. Something about being in a blue state made me feel more comfortable. I can’t explain it. Or no, yes I can: South Dakota had billboards all around blaring shit like, “Abortion is for people going to hell!” and “Conception begins at life, sinner!!!!” Minnesota, by contrast, had wind turbines everywhere. In a battle for the heart and mind of this liberal, I’ll take wind turbines over signs that tell me I’m going to burn for an eternity any day. (Not that I’ve ever had to deal with an abortion, knock on wood, but I’d most definitely advise one if I did.)
So yes, Minnesota: boring, in an amiable sort of way. Lots of roadkill again. I saw a dead fox.
Also, Minnesota, like the rest of the country, has a great deal of highway construction going on right now. It’s all being funded by the stimulus. If I may take a moment to advise Minnesota’s federally elected officials: Ahem. Sirs and madams. For the last sixty miles on I-90 going east toward La Crosse, the whole right lane makes your car do the jitterbug. Makes CDs skip, too. I noticed many, many stretches of less-worthy highway being entirely re-paved. Please, put the pork in the bill where it’s needed, which is that sixty mile stretch before La Crosse on I-90 East. It’s just the right lane, really. I’ll tell you how to get there. It’s easy. In fact, you could probably figure it out from what I’ve already told you.
Then there’s crossing the Mississippi. And then there’s Wisconsin, which is also boring, but which has trees, some of which are beginning to show their fall colors.
Then there’s Madison.
I got into Madison around 4:00, which is when my friend Danny said he’d be done with all of his grad-school brouhaha. He wasn’t done with it. He was in a basement at the University, talking about the “Environment.” So I parked on the main drag, looked in my pockets for change (none), ran to a vending machine, put a dollar in, pressed the Coin Return button, which did not work, bought a Pepsi for 60 cents, ran to a coffee shop, got change for a dollar (and a small coffee), got back to my car, put the money in the parking meter, and sat. I sat for an hour, looked at maps, made phone calls, people watched, said Hi to the wedding party guests as they walked by. That was all. Then Danny came. Then I went to his apartment. Then I took a shower (it was glorious). Then we went to a park for some party thing, and now I’m back at apartment sitting around while Danny and Helen (girlfriend??? She’s only 20, you cradle-robber) do school work. And it’s ever so nice to not have to do anything but drive a broken and breaking automobile to wherever I feel like going next. And it’s oh so much better to not have any more mountains to cross in that broken and breaking automobile.
Tomorrow, I conquer Madison. I’ll tell you all about it when I’m done.