Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day Two - Cross Country Cage Caravan

Day two dawned cold. Dawned cold! (Haha Lame Punnery) We all slept well, lulled to sleep by the gentle rumblings of the nearby semis generators, though the lights of the rest stop were a bit intrusive. We'll likely make curtains for the E our next modification. I've made makeshift ones a couple of times before but they've always been kind of half-assed and shabby or unwieldy.

We were meeting our Uncle Steve in North Dakota for lunch, so we got a move on pretty quickly, watching the road fly under our wheels. It was smooth and flat and cold.

Now, Uncle Steve likes to talk big, in fact he's the biggest talker I know, so I was pretty excited to see this mystical wonderland he speaks of, this Northern gem of the United States.

It looked a lot like Eastern Montana except flatter.

Of course, we did not visit in the optimal time of year, as Uncle Steve explained, on the way to lunch, in the summer, ND turns green and pleasantly temperate. Children come out to frolic, birds sing and the accordion players take to the gazebo in the park, all with the charmingly rural backdrop of the coal trains, trailers full of ebony chugging slowly along.

I could see what he was talking about, the little town where he lives does have a lot of character, but that particular day, it was cold and windy, and frankly, I was already tired of driving, not even half way into the trip.

Lunch was superb. We had the choice of Traditional German Cuisine (I don't like it, said Steve.) or their favorite Chinese food place. We left our cats in the house and the boys steaming up the windows in Stormalong, and rode with Uncle Steve and the family to the Rice Bowl, a local place located in the upstairs of the library, which I thought was awesome.

The Rice Bowl had some of the best Chinese food I've ever had, especially their sweet and sour chicken, which had a thin and super-crispy breading that nearly melted in your mouth. The food was supplemented with stories about Lindsay's grandfather, a hilarious and good natured old fellow.

Boueyed up by the food and conversation, we plowed on, driving straight through the state, stopping only for potty breaks and gasoline.

Speaking of which, we got pretty good gas mileage, averaging around 20 mpg on the trip, though it was amazing how quickly it still ate away at our finances. Apart from gas, we stayed pretty thrifty throughout, only buying the occasional snack or treat, some excellent chocolate covered toffee, some Wisconsin cheese curds, things like that.

There isn't much else to say about the trip apart from breakfast the next day, where we met our friend Sarah. She chose a place along our route, outside of St. Paul and we met her and her charge, a young girl she nannys for.  Apparently, we've managed to develop a reputation amongst our friends for being notoriously picky about food places. Sarah was actually worried that we wouldn't like the place she chose and she put quite a lot of thought into it. She didn't need to worry, the restaurant was amazing. Linz ordered a foot wide caramel roll and I got an order of amazing chicken fried steak.

We chatted for a while, said our goodbyes, cleaned up the gallon of water the dogs spilled on the floor of the car (Thank god for Elements!) and kept driving.

And kep driving.

And kept driving.

Sleep became the enemy keeping us from ending the trip at home, so I only napped for an hour or so every once in a while, climbing back with the boys and zonking out for a few. I ate sunflower seeds to stay busy and listened to comedy routines on the complimentary xm radio that came with the new car (The only reason I could really see paying for radio like that - on long trips, it is nice to have the variety.)

I hated driving the toll roads through the last few states, absolutely despised them. I'll probably rant about them in a later post all of their own, but we ended paying $70+ in tolls and avoiding a large number of appealing attractions and diversions because we couldn't leave the road without paying more than if we stuck to the road.

I stopped caring about anything but getting done with the trip, and we finally got home on March 28th, at around 2am.

And that's about it. Not many awesome insights or anything this time around, not a lot of pleasure, frankly. But it was worth it. Having our pets home was worth all of it!


Steve at Random said...

Wow, I can almost taste the sweet and sour chicken. It was a lousy day in ND...I think you captured it well. I'm glad you stopped if even for a short time. And it was nice to meet the family.

Sherry said...

I'm really glad to hear that everyone got back safely if not happily. Long trips are always a pain. And driving across the entire USofA is a long trip if there ever was one. It's not something that I think I'd like to do if I didn't have a lot of money and time.

I love how Pooka looks just as dead/bored as you sounded to be near the end of the trip. Nice shot!

randymeiss said...

Yeah, Steve, thanks for not calling and telling me my one chance at meeting my soul-mate had come and gone! I could have swung by the house for a little bit.

Kris, if Stormalong ever crosses our great state again. (I recommend a June trip) Please let Uncle Steve know. I'd like to meet you even if for a few minutes, at least.