Changes of Plans – Big Surprise, huh?

Hugo, MN

I left Mt. Dora around noon on Wednesday, heading directly for California. I stopped in Lake Charles, LA, again after an exhausting 12-hour drive. Somewhere between Tallahassee and Pensacola, Florida, the 90+ degree weather turned from simply hot to hot and rainy.

I witnessed some of the most spectacular lightning shows throughout Louisiana and into Texas. The sky glowed pink at times, my radio and radar detector hissing and chirping occasionally following the brilliant streaks of light.

I was fortunate enough to get in touch with a great friend of mine, Angie, who is staying in Houston. I caught her a day before she’s off to Colorado, Alaska and then India. We spent a quiet evening catching up over margaritas, discussing our travels over the last few months. It was fantastic to see her again. Hopefully we’ll continue to stay in touch as the roads turn beneath our feet.

Late Thursday night, I received a call that might indicate my jerk-off ex-attorney might appear in court for me next week. A call Friday around 1:00 p.m. confirmed that he would. This means that I don’t need to be in court next week and that I have a few more days before I absolutely have to be in California.

There was a strange sense of panic when the possibility of being able to stay on the road appeared. Good lord, where to now? I was so tempted to head back to Florida, but knowing that my stay would only be an additional week, it just didn’t make sense.

I remembered, then, what my initial plans were: L.A. to Sacramento to Montana to Minnesota to Austin to Florida. Now was an ideal time to follow that route but in reverse.

My primary objective after the Thursday phone call was to get out of Texas as quickly as possible. In San Antonio, I-35 appeared just a few miles away, which drops right into St. Paul, Minnesota.

It was a rough drive. While outside of larger cities, speed limits range around 70. In the big cities, though, the limits drop as low as a miserable 45 MPH. I caught Austin, TX, in the middle of rush hour on a Friday afternoon. It took hours to get out of there. If the speed limits aren’t already low, the city’s main highway is under major construction which makes traffic even more frustrating.

There were a number of phone calls throughout the day. At least those carried me through the doldrums of gridlock. Thanks to all of you for chatting.

I’m not sure what’s going on with federal transportation funds right now but it seems that every major highway is currently under construction. The whole of Texas is under highway renovation, so too are parts of Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa. What in the world is going on?

36 hours after the call on Thursday, I arrived in Minneapolis, Minnesota and bunkered down for the night.

There was a foreign sense of excitement as I rolled into Minnesota. Christina often spoke about how beautiful it is here and she desperately wanted me to see it. She wasn’t kidding: this state is stunning. The weather has been gorgeous, too. After a dull (and hot) drive through Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa, Minnesota offered me the first temperatures below 90 I had experienced in nearly a month, not to mention green trees, lakes and streams everywhere, and probably the friendliest people I have encountered to date.

I’m staying with Christina’s Aunt Kathy and Uncle Jack. I was thrilled to catch up with Uncle Bob last night and to meet Wally, his wife Kerry, Ed and his wife Louise, all Christina’s aunts and uncles. Jack, Kathy and I sat up talking late into the evening over brandy, venison sausage and cheese.

It was stunning to walking into the back yard this morning, stepping onto the dock on the lake. I sat, enjoying a few smokes and a cup of coffee, listening to the most unique variety of birds I have ever encountered in the wild. There are birds of every possible color all over the place. The morning sky was alive with their calls and chirps. It was nice knowing that I was sitting on the same dock that Christina had a few years ago, finally seeing the spectacular view she admired.

I’m taking a little while this afternoon to relax. Regardless of the amount of sleep I have, I’m simply exhausted. I think a few of us are going to get together tonight for dinner near the Mall of America. It would be nice to take a walk for a while. Perhaps I can catch one before the rain hits.

I’m leaving for Montana tomorrow. It’s about 800 miles through North Dakota to Helena, Montana. I’m not exactly sure where Andy lives yet. I’m really looking forward to seeing him again soon.

Just wanted to post a quick update as to the change in plans. I hope that you’re all well and I look forward to talking to you soon.