Minnesota Musings

Registration for my conference isn’t until this evening, so I had all day to kill.  I went to Minneopa State Park and looked at a waterfall and drove through some restored prairie lands.  What the guide books DON’T tell you is the mosquitoes are RAVENOUS and NUMEROUS!  I’m sure there exists somewhere a place where mosquitoes are more dense, but I haven’t been there yet.  It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that if you leave your car and stand still for 30 seconds, you’ll be covered.  I didn’t do much standing around!

After that I took a drive south to Blue Earth, site of a monstrous statue of the Jolly Green Giant.  I’m not sure WHY I did this.  I guess it seemed like a good way to see some of the state.  Oh, it’s FLAT.  Did I mention that?  I’m used to Dolly Parton, and here’s Kim Cattral.  30 mile drives and the amount of time they take are nothing new to me.  But this drive seemed to take HOURS.  Just mile after mile of farms.  And you can see what’s coming for at LEAST a mile or two.  What gets me most is that there ISN’T much traffic at ALL!  Oh, and the main road (US 169) is CONCRETE.  Why New York stopped making roads like this still is a wonder to me.  They last DECADES with minimal maintenance, and this road did NOT suffer the “thud-up” effect of regularly-spaced expansion joints.  Not sure how they did that…

Two funny observations:  1) It seems that all the “side roads” in Minnesota are unimaginatively named with numbers.  I haven’t bothered to figure out if there’s any organization to it.  But it’s funny to see “284th Avenue” coming up and then to look to the left and see nothing but a dirt road.  2) While on a detour of 169 between Winnebago and Blue Earth I came upon a yellow highway sign indicating a potential hazard.  You know the kind:  Straight, right turn, then immediate left turn, then straight again.  So I look ahead, but everything’s flat and depth perception can be deceiving.  I’m looking for more signs–anything to tell me when to slow down.  Because I’m going to have to slow down, right?  I’ve seen those signs before, and if you do 60 through anything marked with that sign you will NOT make it to the second curve.  You WILL make it to the hospital or the morgue!  Then I see it.  The hazardous road.  Apparently “hazardous” is relative, as the road in front of me lazily arced to the right through a full 90 degrees and then just as lazily swung back to the left another 90 degrees.  I barely had to turn the wheel and could comfortably have taken both curves at 80 MPH without even worrying.  I guess when you’re used to only having to turn your steering wheel once every 5 miles or so, something that radical can be a big deal; hence the signage.

There doesn’t seem to be a whole heck of a lot to do around here, unfortunately.  I am VERY MUCH looking forward to the meet-and-greet and LAN party tonight!

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