Ryan and Joel’s Spring Break Road Trip: Day 3

Originally posted on Is It Sports? This is day 3 of Ryan’s 7 day spring break road trip in 2005 with his friend Joel. Ryan got to visit a town that has the same name as his last name.

Day 3 Victoria, MN – Brookings, SD
The weirdest part about coming home is seeing how much everything has changed. I live in the outer suburbs, and the growth is explosive. At the rate it’s growing, I expect Victoria to have a half a million people by the end of the decade. In any event, the growth calls for appropriate facilities, and my small little Catholic Church that I’ve gone to for as long as I can remember was next in line for an upgrade. Needless to say, when I went to mass, I half expected to see Bob Vila give the sermon.

While I was at mass, Joel, the heathen, slept in. My dad cooked us a scrambled egg dish that looks like cat vomit but tastes as good as it looks bad. That’s an interesting element in my family. My dad is an excellent chef, as is my mother. I famously screwed up macaroni and cheese on one occasion and to this day refuse to cook anything that doesn’t involve a microwave.

I mention my mother. As it turned out, she, who had been in Venezuela as recently as a week and a half ago, was on a vacation with several of my dad’s sisters and sisters in law in central Minnesota. She was at a resort near Brainerd, Minnesota, and using her powers of maternally inflicted guilt, coaxed me into heading up there to meet her. Our plan had always been to go to Fargo, but this little detour would take us well away from the interstate. Using my powers of persuasion, I encouraged Mom to buy both of us lunch, since she was forcing us to take back roads through rural Minnesota.

In the end, we met in a town called Baxter at a restaurant with improbably good looking waitresses and TVs showing a spring training game between the Twins and someone else, maybe the Blue Jays. The nice thing about my parents is that they don’t go out of their way to embarrass me, and actually, sometimes my mom fixes whatever ridiculous outfit my dad is wearing to minimize his looking like a buffoon. In truth, my parents have given me no reason to be as cynical as I am. That being said, Mom decided to forgo weeping openly when I left, much to the benefit of all involved.

And there it was. Joel and I were on a two lane highway, our speeds being regulated more by the whims of aging farmers in aging Ford F150s than by the speed limit. After about forty miles, still in our effort to navigate through rural Minnesota, we encountered Henning, a town of about 700. It’s not really an impressive town, just sitting there in west central Minnesota. The freaky part, of course, was that the towns name was my last name. I felt like Donald Trump driving through town. My name was on everything.

We finally pulled back onto I-94 and stopped in at North Dakota St. in Fargo, where, literally, all we did is used the restroom at the Taco Bell. We veered southward and drove to South Dakota. Imagine an entire interstate highway where you don’t see another car sometimes for twenty minutes. North Dakota is as sparsely populated as they tell you. We made it to Brookings, stopping only at the north-south continental divide. Thank me, I just condensed about 4 hours of driving into a sentence.

I really can’t come up with too much interesting about the rest of the night. We eventually learned the tournament field, which we had been dying to find out all evening, and the shower head in the room was about 8 feet off the ground. All in all, not a particularly dynamic evening. I’ll fill you in on day 4 in the near future. – Ryan