I know this recap is a bit delayed, but I’ve been living my life away from the keyboard. That’s a good thing every now and then, no?

We woke up to start the second day in east-central Montana. Again, I was pretty toned down on this trip, so it was a surprise to me how much, especially in middle America, how much I got stared at. That was the case as we stumbled across the street to get fuel and snacks. The clerk was plenty friendly, but the staff and customers all kind of stared or glared. It was interesting, but I can’t say I was overly uncomfortable.

We spent the rest of the day basically targeting the Twin Cities—there’s a mall there I wanted to hit up because they had a few of the things on my wishlist that I wanted to see in person. This has especially been the case for me when it comes to Macy’s: their colours tend to be off a bit compared to reality when browsing their site or app. So it helps to get eyeballs on stuff. Plus, we’d need to eat. The plan was then to stay in either Duluth or Ashland, Wisconsin. We’ll get to that.

North Dakota was really the transition part of the drive. It was where the land flattened out and got notably greener. It also had a truck stop where I was of very much interest to the locals. I’m not sure that anyone actually took photos of me, but I’m assuming they think I’m deaf or something. Again, I wasn’t wearing anything terribly femme, either. Maybe it was the long hair and lack of a goatee…

We got to the Twin Cities right around dark, and we got to the mall just fine. They offered to upgrade my Macy’s card to an American Express version and I got a bunch of money off for that. Huzzah! I’ll take that. I bought the things. We then hit up the food court as they were closing and cleared them out.

That’s when I started hotel hunting. For road trips, I tend not to book too far in advance because I’m always afraid of wanting to go much further or crashing and burning before we get there. So I tend to look the day of and find something generally reasonable. That wasn’t possible in Duluth or Ashland, though, with the cheapest being around $200. Memorial Day weekend, you see. I didn’t think those would be big hubs, but the hotels disagreed with me.

So we drove on. On into the night.

As we were between MPLS and Duluth, there was a glow in the sky. A bluish one, and I quipped to J that this is normally what the Northern Lights look like, but I’ve usually seen them as green with purple and magenta. We’re silent for a bit, miles ticking by along a dark I-35. That blue glow? Yep. That was the aurora alright, the rare blue one. J’s first night up north and she actually sees the lights. I’ll write about it in another post, but my father, who has never seen them, was not pleased when hearing this news.

Duluth was plenty fine, but we didn’t stop. In fact, other than a rest area on the Interstate, we rolled on, aiming to get to Houghton, Michigan, that night. Or, as it was going to be, in the morning. I was a bit paranoid about animals, but we saw remarkably few deer. I know these roads pretty well from living up there, too, so I wasn’t all that concerned. There were options for pulling off and sleeping for a bit if we needed.

We rolled into town just as the horizon went from the black of deep night to that first hint of a steel blue. It was around 445 in the morning when we got to L’s house. She was crashed out in a recliner in the living room so I didn’t disturb her. Well, I did a little bit, saying hello and rubbing her arm a bit, but she’s a professional at sleeping. I’ve known that for a long time. I’m kind of jealous.

L left her bedroom for us, and we crashed out, the bed frame and mattress identical to the ones I had literally just gotten rid of a few days before. Sleep felt familiar. That was 1650 miles in less than 48 hours.