Friday, September 2, 2011

Day 3 - Minneapolis

My third day of traveling started in Milwaukee, WI, and landed me in Minneapolis, MN.  I took a tour around Marquette University with Jamie this morning before heading out.  Marquette has a beautiful campus with a mix of very old and very modern buildings.  It's has a great, warm urban/residential vibe and a lot of beautiful landscaping and architecture.

The road was a lonely place today and I was struggling to stay focused and alert.  I made a few stops to keep things fresh, but the 90 degree heat was weighing on me.  As I drove across Wisconsin, my one goal was to hit Eau Claire and drive down the streets Justin Vernon used to inhabit before Bon Iver.  The town was great little suburban spot with families and a quaint downtown area.  People were walking around downtown in bathing suits while carrying inner tubes for spending the hot day on the river.  I set my Bon Iver album on a street corner and took a neat little picture.

I'm visiting with my friend Rachel in Minneapolis and staying overnight with her boyfriend, Jon.  They go to North Central University in downtown Minneapolis.  It's a nice little urban campus within walking distance of a lot of cool spots.  We had dinner at a brewery a mile or so away with plenty of outdoor seating, then walked down to the water for my first view of the Mississippi.  Minneapolis is pretty picturesque and offers plenty of bike lanes all over the city.  I'm definitely jealous of how bike-friendly Minneapolis and Milwaukee are, combined with their flat terrain.  Those are definitely two things that Pittsburgh was lacking.

Tomorrow and Saturday are my longest days of traveling.  Tomorrow I drive about 10 hours to Rapid City, SD, with a stop in Sioux Falls on the way.  I'm hoping to hit the Badlands right around dusk to get an amazing sunset.  Thank goodness for gaining an hour when I change time zones!  Tomorrow is definitely Rapid City or bust, but the following day I'll have some options as far as how far I'd like to push into Montana.  Today is the last day I'll see a familiar face until I hit Tacoma, so it's going to be an interesting few days of traveling.  I'm enjoying the trip, but will definitely be looking forward to the end pretty soon.

I'm extremely thankful for this trip, though.  I can't believe I'm actually taking a solo trip across the country.  It's been fantastic to see so many states that I wouldn't have seen otherwise and to really interact with people in these cities that I'd only seen in pictures and TV.  Cities like Milwaukee and Minneapolis aren't necessarily "must-see" locations, but they're great American cities with real, genuine Americans that remind me what this country is all about.

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