Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Road Tripping (#ThinkKit Day 10)

#ThinkKit Day 10 - I'm calling in a lifeline for the first time and going with this one:

Road Stories
Getting places. Tell a story about transportation, about getting from Point A to Point B – whether it's a road trip, a long bus ride, or bicycling nowhere in particular.
I had meant to blog about my trip over the summer but got busy, and then thought maybe it was too late for it to be interesting. But no - it was just waiting for today!

A friend of mine invited me to come up to Minneapolis in August for the Square Lake Film & Music Festival. I decided that I didn't want to drive, so I took the MegaBus up. I frikkin' love the MegaBus. It's affordable, clean, quiet, and I can knit and charge my phone while letting someone else do the driving. I took the late bus to Chicago, and then would take another one from Chicago to Minneapolis. The only catch was that there was a 5 hour window in between. In Chicago, on a Thursday. In the middle of the night, from midnight to 5 a.m. I kind of assumed that Chicago was always going, that I would be able to easily find somewhere to spend the time. I asked a friend who lives there where I could cool my heels for a few hours in the middle of the night, and it turned out the only place in walking distance that was open all night was a McDonald's.

I usually avoid McDonald's. The only thing I can eat there might be the fries and I've been wary of them since they admitted years ago that they cooked them in beef tallow. But McDonald's it was, and it was kind of fun. I got coffee and grabbed a booth to camp out until sunrise. It was amazing people watching. I made friends with the security guard, who seemed like a nice older man. He treated the people there kindly, letting them stay for hours unless they fell asleep at the table. I watched two guys dressed like preppy businessmen come in around 4 a.m., wide awake, and it made me wonder about all the people out there who operate on completely different schedules, and what it must be like to be up all night and sleep all day. I read my book and drank coffee and chatted with the security guard for several hours, and then I was off on my next bus ride.

Several hours later we arrived in Minneapolis. My friend was still at work, so I threw on my giant backpack and hiked over a couple miles to the Sculpture Garden and hung out by the giant spoon. Then my friend came by and picked me up. It's so nice to have those friends that you may not see for years, but who you're immediately comfortable with when you see them again.

Saturday morning we (my friend, his partner, a friend of theirs, and myself) were ready to head to the festival. The majority of the people who attend ride bikes there - about a three hour bike ride one way. I was slightly nervous about being able to keep up, but I was determined not to slow anyone down. We threw our bags and tents in a big van and headed off with a group of cyclists. We wove through Minneapolis and onto a long, paved path that headed out of the city. I found it amazing that this incredibly long path existed and led out into the countryside. I managed to keep up the whole way without killing myself, which I count as a victory.

They had warned me that at the end of our ride there was a huge hill. I was determined that I would make it up the whole way on my bike. So tired near the end of the ride, I finally saw the hill, my nemesis. It was enormous, and ridiculously steep. Who cares that I was already worn out? I was going to do it. I gritted my teeth and began to pedal. And then... hey, I was walking! My brain decided to override my legs and without even realizing it I'd jumped off the bike and started walking it up the hill. You win this time brain, I thought.

We were in the first wave of people to arrive, so we had our choice of places to set up the tent. When they'd said the festival was on a farm, I wasn't sure what to expect. This was quaint, and really neat. It was behind the family's house, with a small stage built behind. A large barn further back would serve as a second performance and film area.

Once we tented, we broke our bikes back out to go swimming at a nearby pond. I glared at the hill as we went down, but it wasn't intimidated. At the pond, two of us did the slow dip into the water while the other two ran and jumped in full force. When we were finally all in, bobbing up and down, someone said something that sounded incredibly wise at the time: "There are two kinds of people in the world - those that get wet gradually, and those who just jump in." I wasn't sure I liked being the toe in the water type.

On the way back to the festival, I once again faced the hill. It would not beat me this time. I gritted my teeth and began to pedal. And I pedaled, slower than I have ever pedaled in my life. Slow enough I wondered if I had enough momentum to stay upright. And it felt like it took an hour, but I beat that damn hill. Victory!

We spent the rest of the day lounging on a blanket as various bands took the stage. I dozed off and on, having left all my energy on the bicycle, and I woke up to three guys in a drumline. Pretty awesome, I think. The festival was really relaxed, I think because everyone had biked three hours to get there. I hope I'll get to go again next year, or the year after. It was the perfect road trip.