Unless y'all have been living in a cave in the remote portion of northernmost Saskatchewan, you may have heard about this. In no way am I trying to minimize the devastation here.
This is huge, horrifying and ugly. People died. People are permanently injured. Things have changed in a way only tragedy can change them.
It is also a fact that, in our fair Twin Cities, traffic pretty much sucked before this happened. Between poorly planned roads and the ever-present summer construction, backups are pretty much a way of life now- all day, all the time.
And now, it has managed to get even worse.
I'm trying and failing to find a word that adequately describes what driving around town has turned into these last few days.
I have taken the liberty of coming up with my own:
So, knowing that I was expected in the Duluth region this weekend, I left nice and early, hoping to spare myself the inevitable screaming and fist-shaking that normally accompanies me plus large amounts of other cars.
Problem is, everyone else in the city pretty much had the same plan.
Bumper to bumper at 1:30 in the afternoon.
About halfway there I couldn't take it anymore.
I decided that I needed to be anywhere but the freeway. I exited and jumped on good 'ol highway 23, a much lesser known outlet into Duluth.
Pretty much the best decision I've made in the last year, with the exception of deciding to legally change my name to Whiskeymarie Von Partypants.
Ms. Partypants, formally.
I'm calling this "Whiskeymarie Von Partypants' awesome solo mini accidental road trip"
Once off the freeway to hell-
I slowed down to a respectable 55mph, opened the sunroof, and pretty much decided to actually enjoy the journey for once.
First stop: Some little Lutheran cemetery in Askov, MN.
It was very peaceful and pretty- kind of like a really nice park, but with dead people everywhere.
Next stop: Holyoke, MN Population: 6
The sign for the town seems to be pointing at a burned-out restaurant/bar building.
And that's it.
I imagine Holyoke's town slogan to be:
"It ain't much, but it's ours so just quit judging us you big fancypants snobs!"
There is nowhere on I-35 where you get a view like this. Really,there is nowhere along I-35 that I haven't already seen 9,495 times and would want to stop and take a picture of. If I could close my eyes and have a robot drive my car I would. I fucking hate that drive.
Two big, hairy biker guys wanted to be my friend here.
Time to go. Bye bye, scary guys!
This is the gateway to Gary New Duluth, where I lived for the first 5 years of my life.
Gary is a VERY odd part of Duluth- it's on the fringe both literally and figuratively.
I kind of think of it as sort of the "Twin Peaks" of the North. You kind of expect to see a midget walking a sheep on a leash down the street, or something like that.
It's worn and faded here in Gary. If Gary was an article of clothing, it would be a ruffled pirate shirt with ring around the collar and gravy stains down the front.
This is the house where we lived.
It's pretty ugly now- I almost didn't recognize it. I think I freaked whoever lives there out when I sat across the street staring at the house ad taking pictures.
Some guy came out & was talking on a phone, so I left. Quickly.
If you hear that the police are looking for someone matching my description for stalking, pretend you don't know me. Thanks- I owe you one.
To give you an idea of the level of weirdness in Gary, I took this one of a local drinking establishment.
Um, was "Vomiteez" or "Gangreenz" already taken?
Friday night's dinner was here.
If I lived in Duluth again, I would weigh 450 pounds- because I would be eating here all day, every day.
I would have a plaque there commemorating my eating achievements.
When I died of a sudden but expected "heart episode" or "choking because I was shoving it in so fast" they would play "Danny boy" on the bagpipes in my honor.
Time for the street dance!
West Duluth is known far and wide for their love of hair bands, monster trucks and spandex clothing.
I have, in my youth, spent much time in the West End.
I like to think of the West End as our own "little Tennessee".
This was my accessory for the evening- a fine bracelet from the Coors Light line currently being sold on QVC.
I'm probably holding onto someone else's beer here along with my own, or I'm just two-fisting at this point- who knows?
Unfortunately, none of the pictures I took of the crowd turned out.
This, or this may give you some idea of much of the crowd attending. Just add in a few frat-boy types that are so drunk their pickup lines come out as "Mwhhh...beer blahhhmmmm swuup tits niiiiice pwahhh" and you get the picture.
It was, in a word, Awesome.
By the end of the night, the street had several layers of crushed beer cans on it, creating a sort of Bud Lite "silver brick road".
Kind of a White Trash "Wizard of Oz". We'll let Britney have the lead role in the movie. She deserves it.
Saturday afternoon at Fish Lake with my boyfriend Bullet. He's a real dog.
He's an amazingly good swimmer, that furry boy.
My BFF Waffle and Mr. Waffle were there too.
Sort of an inter-species double-date.
Me, right before I lost even more brain function due to high-speed tubing.
I haven't laughed that much in a looooong time.
If you could see the swimsuit I'm wearing (borrowed) you'd laugh too.
Gratuitous titty shot- My suit was still wet when I put my monkey top back on & it started soaking through.
Mr. Waffle kept asking me the rest of the weekend if I was still lactating.
I have been dubbed "the Lactinator"
Mr. Waffle took me for a ride on his motorcycle down to Canal Park to go to dinner here.
(as a quickie review- entirely underwhelming.)
I spent a ton of time on my hair before we left, and I thought that if I twisted it into a barrette before we left (no helmets- I KNOW, I know. You can be the first to say I told you so if I ever end up wearing a helmet permanently, I promise) that everything would be fine.
By the time we got there I looked like this.
Also: Drinks here, and here, lots of sleeping, a stripey sunburned back, lots of bruises, a dog that eats toothbrushes, and hanging with my girls.
I'm home now.
I'm achy from the tubing.
I need to eat some vegetables.
Damn, I had a good weekend.