Click for larger imageIn California, you'll hear people refer to a certain class of bad drivers as "DWA" - which means "Driving While Asian".  I suggest Minnesota adopt "DWYWMWPB" - "Driving While Young White Male With Perfect Butt".  I was once convinced California drivers were some of the worst around.  I was wrong.  The award goes to drivers in Minneapolis.  Armed with generic, rust encrusted, American, four-door cars these boys with perfect butts are frightening to witness.

I left Minneapolis at noon for my two hour drive north to Duluth.  Minneapolis in an attempt to slow down the DWYWMWPBs has torn up most of the downtown streets, resulting in Click for larger imagelong delays and questionable routing. Breaking free of the grid lock the freeway opens up and I speed to the Iron Range.

I love any city which greets you with lots of trains and rail yards.  Duluth is a beautiful city.  The water of Lake Superior stretches to the horizon, its shore dotted with industry, rail lines and cargo ships.  The city is filled with giant, red-brick buildings complete with towers, cupolas and arches built from the fortunes of steel and grain. 

Click for larger imageI'm booked at the Best Western Edgewater, a name which implies proximity to the lake.  I discover a better moniker would be the Best Western Edgefreeway Scary Biker Brothel as my anticipated room gives a perfect view of six lanes of asphalt on one side and six mean-looking biker babes on the other. I opt for finding a different hotel and select one which advertises "Crazy Betty's Tuesday Special!"  Crazy Betty, however, constructed her hotel with 6 foot drop-ceilings.  If I were to step into the shower, my head would lift the ceiling tiles.  Hotel number three is a converted factory with ample headroom - about 17 feet of it - an outstanding view of the waterfront and lift bridge, and best of all - laundry machines.

Click for larger imageI take the afternoon to explore Duluth. First stop: The Lake Superior Transportation (read: railroad) Museum.  Duluth is home to a famous railway and the museum houses great pieces of rail history, including a 156-foot, 500+ ton steam locomotive and an afternoon "Domino's Pizza Dinner Train".  As tempted as I might be by the  idea of being trapped for two hours in a train with children and Domino's pizza, I opt to explore the rail yards I saw on my way into the city. 

Click for larger imageThreading my way through the industrial section of Duluth, I wander through chemical plants, cereal factories, waste processing and coal yards.  The diversity of industry competes with a diversity of odors - everything from wood chips to chlorine.  I end up in a BNSF switching yard clearly marked "No Trespassing" but having no idea how to get back out.  With insufficient room to turn even the MINI around, I end up reversing for half a block before the railroad police have time to notice my little car.

Click for larger imageNow, there are some lessons I've learned in life I sometimes pretend to forget.  Lessons like:  If I meet someone and they're drunk, it's probably only a once-a-year thing.  Or, if I wait long enough, they'll finally open up and be as loving as I could possibly hope for.  Or, they probably only have that ugly painting as a joke and they don't really like sleeping on that stained futon.  Or - Mexican food prepared by white people in Minnesota will probably be just as good as California.

Click for larger imageI should have known better than to eat at a place called Little Angie's Cantina and Grill.  I really, really should have.  Angie is a name far too pale for good Mexican food.  Further, no one associated with anything other than an Italian restaurant should be called little and then only if they are made men.  For the record to everyone in Minnesota:  quesadillas are not made using smicrowaves and guacamole is not made with PEAS!  (Oh, you think I'm making this up, don't you!)  If I eat at another Mexican restaurant before passing the eastern border of California, I ask you to send me nasty email and remind me of this day.

Click for larger imageWatching the ships pass under the lift bridge, the sun setting over the city and the waves slapping the breakwater, I think to myself I could live in this city.  (Of course, I've never been here when it is snowing, so my thoughts are not entirely grounded in reality.)  San Francisco is a lover who has let himself go.  He is looking a bit shabby, run down and unshaven.  He isn't the same lover I met years ago and I wonder if we'll be together forever or if I'll end up moving somewhere else.  And if so, where will that other place be?  That is the problem with lovers - you can leave in search of something better and maybe you'll find it, or maybe you just end up longing for the one you left before you realized what a good thing you had. 

Tomorrow is a long day - seven hours across the upper Peninsula of Michigan on my way to Saint Ignace and Mackinaw Island.  Thank goodness I have the magical fried-egg penis amulet from Erika...

Road Trip 2003 Statistics
Day Number
12
Location
Duluth
Odometer
9,244
Miles to date
3,066
Funds Raised
$774.17
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