I have a friend who I have known for years – but until now we had not met in person. We first met on the Africam forum – the Boma, and have since extended the friendship onto Facebook. She lives in Minneapolis, which is only about an 8 hour drive from Winnipeg, so a few weeks ago I decided it was time to travel there to visit her. There are a few others in this circle of friends, who are all further away but it would have been wonderful if we could have all met. I know we would all get along great and have so much fun.
So on a drizzling Wednesday morning, I woke up nice and early, packed my car and headed south.
Before long I was at the Canada/US border.
I was pleased to see that there was a very short lineup and 2 lanes were open. I headed for the 2nd lane just as the only car ahead of me pulled away to talk to the US border patrol. A couple of minutes later it was my turn.
The officer asked me the usual questions, but as we were finishing, instead of the usual have a good day, he told me to head over to the building over to the left of me and that my passport would be given back to me there. One vehicle was ahead of me and soon after I got there, the door opened and he was instructed to drive in, leaving me there on my own.
A few minutes later the door opened again and it was my turn to go inside. I started to get out of my vehicle but was told to stay in and to open the trunk and unlock all the doors. One officer checked the trunk and the other opened every door and looked inside. They didn’t say much and I kept my mouth shut, so I have no idea how or why they determined to search my car. I must have been a suspicious looking senior citizen. A couple of minutes later they opened the back door of the building and let me drive away.
This was the first time my car has ever been searched when driving south. My car was searched once when returning to Canada when I was much younger and had been south of the border for a couple of months. Usually it is just a matter of bringing purchases into the office to fill in customs forms when returning to Canada and just answering a few questions when heading to the US. I assume I was a random pick this time unless they were choosing people heading south by themselves. I noticed the vehicle in front of me just had the driver in the car as did I, but have no idea for sure.
After leaving the border, I continued south. I drove by Grand Forks without slowing down, and decided to stop in Fargo for gas. I left home with about 1/2 a tank of gas and thought I might have to fill before Fargo, but there wasn’t any reason to stop any sooner.
It has been years since I had been in Fargo and I ended up going the wrong way at the intersection of the interstates. The signs indicated right lane for I-94, but the right lane was going west, so I should have been in the 2nd lane to head east. I realized this too late and decided to just get off at the next intersection and get back on track.
That didn’t quite work out the way I expected though. I expected to get back to I-29 and then get to I-94 – but I couldn’t find I-29 or I-94. I did end up on the 94 business loop though, so I decided that was better than nothing. This lasted much longer than I expected, but finally I was on I-94 heading east. Instead of my gas stop taking about 4 minutes, it took close to an hour all together.
The weather was kind of drizzling rain off and on for most of the day, with very short glimpses of some blue sky and sunlight once in awhile.
They were putting these new hydro poles together along the route on I-94.
Even with the delay at the border and the delay at Fargo, I managed to reach the outskirts of Minneapolis at about 2:30pm. I had expected to reach the city by 3:00 pm so was pleasantly surprised to get there earlier. I had always thought it was an 8 hour drive – but thinking about it I realized that the speed limits are higher now than they used to be – both in Canada and the US.
Next step was to find my hotel. I was booked in at an Americ Inn. I knew I had to go from I-94 to I-494 to I-35W and that was completed without problem. Then, without warning I-35W turned into I-35 and I thought I must have gone past it. I knew I must be close though, so decided to take the next exit and phone Hazel to get her to talk me through the rest of the trip. As I pulled into a McDonalds parking lot to phone her, I noticed the name of the street I was on and it was the same as the one where my hotel is located. Instead of phoning her, I got back onto the street and followed it until I found my hotel.
I am not used to driving on freeways, since we don’t have them in Winnipeg – but Minneapolis is very easy to navigate. The signs let you know when your turn is coming up and they tell you how far before the turn. It does get difficult downtown when turns are going both left and right and are very close together, but since I was taking the outskirts I had absolutely no problems.
Once I was settled in my room I gave Hazel a call to let her know I had arrived. Before long Hazel and her grand daughter Olivia were at my door. Look at this little cutie!
We headed to Red Lobster for a wonderful meal while we talked and got to know each other better.