Click for larger imageThank you to Joe Gallagher of Joe the Barber fame for listing Road Trip 2003 on

Five giant cinnamon rolls, a cup of coffee and a bottle of water:  $3.26. 

I almost feel guilty this morning as I eat breakfast with Scott, Michelle and Samantha.  In San Francisco, a single cinnamon role costs $3.26 - or more.

It was time to head north after breakfast at the Dutch Bakery and a tour of Orange City.  Scott mentioned I would drive by the highest point in Iowa, located in the center of a farm.  I spot the sign about 45 minutes out of Orange City, pull over and take a picture while the workers at the local silo stare at the stranger from California. [If you click here and look closely at the picture, the high point is indicated with s small white marker to the left of the silo.]

Click for larger imageAside from the smell of pig manure and tornados, I like Iowa.  The little towns are quaint.  Perhaps I should buy a town, make it a queer commune and open a restaurant which serves salads fresh from the fields - literally.

I stop at a rest area just across the Minnesota State border.  Southern Minnesota looks a lot like northern Iowa with cleaner rest areas.  I saunter to the wash room and notice a newspaper rack with ads for "Rural Singles - Where Country People Meet".  The headline of the current issue reads "18 Wheeler Singles."

Click for larger imageWhich reminds me - Andy and Bill gave me a lovely 49-channel CB radio to chat with truckers.  I learned the radio doesn't work inside the car, so I can only use it when I'm at rest areas.  I suppose if I were into rest-area encounters, I might be interested in this concept.  Sweaty foam pads in truck sleepers have absolutely no appeal.  Maybe when the trip is over I'll auction the CB radio off as valuable memorabilia and donate the proceeds to charity. 

I arrive in Minneapolis late in the afternoon.  Whether through my incompetence or a mix up at the travel agency, I end up staying in the city rather than at a hotel near the Mall of America.  I discover my hotel was previously the Milwaukee Road railroad station and I'm pleased.  The hotel includes an indoor water park complete with water slide that exits the building, twists twice, then spins around to shoot you back into the pool.  A camera broadcasts all the pool activity to every television in the hotel - which would really be fun for a queer convention. 

Click for larger imageHaving settled in and waited for rush hour to end, I head out for the Mall of America.  It is the only mall I've ever been to which has signs at all the entrances telling you to leave your firearms in the car.

Mall of America includes, among others: "911 Marketplace" - a store selling everything imaginable related to September 11th, "Al's Farm Toys" (which, like Kum & Go, I really hope will sell t-shirts but does not), and "Creative Inspirations" - a Christian store selling figurines of Jesus playing basketball, football and soccer.  I watch people walking through the mall sullen and distracted. I can't understand why they aren't laughing loudly and smacking each other on the back.  Some of them glare suspiciously when they see my smile. 

Click for larger imageThe Lego store features t-shirts with images of American flags rendered in Lego.  The red, white and blue theme is big in the flyover states.  Nearly every hotel I've stayed at has mints on the pillow wrapped in red, white and blue wrappers.  I've seen trucks with giant eagle and flag motifs in the back windows, women dressed from head to toe in the flag and plaster eagle statuettes with flags.  If the economy recovers, I propose it will have less to do with tax cuts and more to do with sales of flag-related merchandise. 

Click for larger imageWhatever one might think of Camp Snoopy, Hooters, Lego, and Planet Hollywood, they do bring the midwestern boys out in droves.  Say what you will about their questionable accents, they do have more nice butts per capita in Minnesota than nearly any other state I've ever visited. 

Tomorrow I have a short drive north to Duluth.  I may spend the morning on the water slide before I head out...

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Road Trip 2003 Statistics
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Miles to date
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Guess odometer readings, win a valuable prizes.  [More]
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Road Trip 2003 Email Newsletter

The Plan - Road Trip 2003
Itís time for a road trip - a really, really big-ass road trip...[More]
The Route - Road Trip 2003
San Francisco to Maine, twenty two states, two countries and 8,000 miles...[More]
The Vehicle - Road Trip 2003
An itty, bitty car with just enough space for a suitcase, GPS unit and...[More]
Road Trip 2003 Captain and Crew
Who would be crazy enough to drive 8,000 miles in a really small car...[More]
Join in - Road Trip 2003
Read along, ride along or follow along...[More]


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