The powers that be see it fit to provide me funds to travel again this year. Those powers, of course, being my state and federal government. All political assessments aside, it seems a bit ridiculous that they’re so cheery about giving me a “rebate” on my taxes - when all they did is hold on to what was rightfully mine for months and months on end before begrudgingly handing it back over.
That is neither here nor there. Well, scratch that, it’s actually both. The rebate is going to come here, so I can go there:
There being Scotland. I don’t know where, really. I know Edinburgh will be included. I don’t exactly know when. Probably in the spring. All I really know is it’s going to happen. And I remember exactly how I came to the conclusion.
I watched something on either the History Channel, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel or Travel Channel (or all the above) at roughly 4:00 a.m. in a semi-drowsy daze and several things were brought to my immediate attention:
1. It’s absolutely f%#@ing gorgeous. There is no surefire way to find fault in this logic. It’s on the North Sea. It’s filled with smoke, rolling hills, fog, peat and mystery. There are castles. Castles, people. [Deep breath] Castles. There are beautiful people speaking in beautiful, gorgeous accents. If you don’t find this country beautiful, even by happenstance from thousands of miles away, you’re an imbecile.
3. History. The entirety of the United Kingdom is only 7,000 square miles larger than the state of Minnesota, but more intense crap has happened on that island than any one brain can really digest. And a lot of it happened in Scotland. History nerds, unite.
4. There is a train called “The Night Scotsman.” I repeat, there is a train called “The Night Scotsman.”
Attention: There is a train called “The Nights Scotsman.” Do I have your attention? And supposedly it still operates in some form along the eastern coast like it did in its hay day. It simply demands you sit by a slightly cracked window with a brandy snifter of whisky and listen to the moonlit hills bounce the sound of thousands of tons of steel back into your ears. I’m sold. Hard.
So. Scotland it is.
nothing is more helpful than rhymezone when trying to write a jingle about minnesota.
this might be the most school pride i’ve ever had.
Updates on my adventure to come in tonight’s evening hours. For now, it’s disco. And cruising the Internet for a 70s disco reference that won’t fly over my head. Hard failing on that, so far.
Someday, that is my backyard. Someday soon, I dare say.
Uptown Theater, I love thee.
And I too, m’lady.
Shot with a Nikon D300 Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8
Do you remember?
Shot with a Nikon D300 Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8
I remember the moment I became fascinated by trains and locomotives. My father set up a toy train (H-Scale) in our damp, unfinished basement. It was a classic figure eight, set in a table he crafted especially for the train. I remember watching the train going around the loop over and over again. I rested my chin on the edge of the table in some fake foliage and would only move my eyes. The sharp electric smell of the little electric motor would mix with the cold, damp basement right in front of my nostrils.
I still remember what those deep breaths smelled like. But that wasn’t the moment.
The moment I became hooked was a handful of days later. I was out running errands with my mother at a small bakery located directly adjacent to railroad tracks. While we were inside, the floor began to rumble. Nobody else seemed to notice.
I ran outside, not really knowing what I was looking for. I ran around the corner of the building, and was met with the deep blast of the train’s horn. I turned my head to the sound.
The diesel powered locomotive rushed through the intersection, its cars filled to the brim with jet black coal. The wheels creaked and squealed under the weight of the load. The engines pounded away and roared as the conductor opened the throttle. The ground sagged and bent. I was a mere handful of feet from the tracks, and the cone of air blasted apart by the train left me breathless and my shaggy hair befuddled.
My mom came running out after me. She wasn’t the least bit pleased. But I was.
Nexus of Power
Proximity is everything. If you stand in the same room as a senator, you feel it. It’s beyond politics - it’s human nature. You’re closer to a nexus of power, closer to a cog in the machine that is just a bit bigger or shinier than the others. Journalism is one of the few trades in the world that has somehow managed to shove a piece of wood in the teeth of that cog, stopping it for the briefest of moments to inspect exactly what it’s up to.
Shot with a Nikon D300 18-55 f/2.8
Snow is fantastic. My rear-wheel drive pickup that weighs less than a baby unicorn on an empty stomach, however, does not enjoy the snow. It is a battle of wills that will surely end with me in a ditch and my truck, Dizzee, laughing at me.
Whatever you do, DO NOT stop in…
Admission Number Nine:
- My part of the road trip is over. I couldn’t find a way to see the rest of I-90 out without interfering with the job hunt. It’s troubling, but I’ll see that road out eventually. Josh is now barreling towards Chicago and hopefully planning to avoid Gary, Indiana (more on that in a moment).
This by no means equates an end to road trip-esque stories, pictures or video. I’ve only shared a mere sliver of the mass of multimedia we gathered on this trip. Over the next few weeks or so, I’ll be writing about encounters with boiling water, creepy flannel-clad hitchhikers and the absolute bliss that is the Super-8 Hotel and Lodging franchise. As
we I speak, a Google map is under meticulous construction, detailing points of interest and other pieces of information that nobody could possibly have even passing interest in. And that makes it even better.
Before Josh hopped on I-94 to Chicago, he managed to have a genuine Minnesota encounter. At a gas station, of course:
Stranger #1: (motioning to his license plate) “Oh…yeah…you from Washington then?”
Stranger #1: (curious, but not in a threatening manner) “Where you headed?”
Josh: “New York, I got a—”
Stranger #1: “I LOVE NEW YORK.” (5 minute conversation about how cool New York is.)
Josh: “So yeah, I’m heading down through Chicago and across Indiana, hopefully I’ll be there by Tuesday or so.”
Stranger #1: (very serious) “Whatever you do, don’t stop in Gary, Indiana.”
Josh: (confused) “Why, is there—”
Stranger #2: (biker clad in leather, walks over) “I couldn’t help but hear your conversation. Seriously. Don’t stop in in Gary, Indiana. Just fill up outside of Chicago and drive right on through.”
Stranger #1: (nodding vehemently)
Josh: “OK, well I’ll definitely keep that in mind. Thank you.”
Stranger #1: “You do that. Have a safe trip.”
Stranger #2: (nodding vehemently)
One has to wonder what happens in Gary, Indiana. Or not.
Nothing screams ‘Minnesota’ like Tupac and Powerade
South Dakota bleeds American heritage and just may be the intellectual birthplace of freedom, crushing beer cans on one’s forehead and Steven Seagal movies; not to mention home to:
- Mount Rushmore
- Crazy Horse
- The Badlands
- The Black Hills
- Laura Engels Wilder
- A great deal of corn and flax
But I’m sorry, I-90 East is the most soul-sapping drive in the country. I have two pictures, because they sum up time spent in eastern South Dakota:
We couldn’t go East fast enough. In a flat, straight line. In fact, one might say were were in constant pursuit of as much East as we could get our hands on, and it still wasn’t enough.
I can’t even begin to fathom why these horns are located here. But they are. God bless America.
Some sample dialogue as we tore across South Dakota:
Josh: “This is killing me.”
Joe: (Silence) (Shakes head)
Josh: “What is this place?”
Joe: “It’s like the Universe took a day off during South Dakota, snapped awake and made up for lost time in the Black Hills.”
Josh: “Yes. That’s exactly what happened.”
Eastern South Dakota did give us some humorous billboards, however:
ABORTION/AREN’T YOU FORGETTING SOMEONE?
YOU KNOW YOU WANT ME/SENIOR WIENER (Complete with a Mexican-style mustache and a single hot dog.)