Like many students, I took advantage of Miami’s insanely long winter break by traveling. My friend, Mark, raves about his home state of Minnesota any chance he gets, so visiting him was the obvious choice. The plan was to fly to Minneapolis, then drive up to his family’s cabin in Wisconsin the next day. And before you ask, yes, I wore my hazmat suit the entire time I was traveling.
One of the highlights of my trip occurred before I entered the state. I get nervous on planes, so once the Cincinnati TSA declared me a non-threatening passenger, I went to the one place I knew would help me relax: the bar.
I found a seat and ordered a glass of neat whiskey to assert my dominance as a lady traveling alone. Sitting next to me were a group of college-aged guys en route to Vail. This gaggle was downing rounds of Michelob Ultra and shots of Bulliet bourbon. With such an excruciating combo, they clearly did not want to remember nor enjoy their journey.
Toward the end of their indulging, one of the boys commented, “WWe have 13 minutes until our gate closes, and it’s kind of far away.” Cashing out as quickly as they could, the gang booked it to the opposite end of the airport... I hope they made it in time.
I picked the perfect time to go to Minnesota: January. I got a text from Mark the night before my flight warning me that they “just got hit by a wet blizzard, so heads up.”
After picking me up from the airport, we stopped to order some lattes from a local coffee shop. The stroll was treacherously icy. Despite “penguin-shuffling” our way there and back, I almost wiped out a number of times. The car offered solid ground and solace as we drove back, which vanished when I saw the driveway.
We parked atop a significant slope with the black asphalt as slick as a buttered William Howard Taft trying to get out of a bathtub. I couldn’t see a way down that didn’t involve sliding down on my ass and straight through the door.
After 10 minutes of coaxing and convincing from my companion, I held onto him for dear life and tiptoed down the incline using any patch of uncovered driveway I could find. I’m surprised, after Minute Two, he didn’t throw me over his shoulder and fireman-carry me to the door.
The best part of the trip wasn’t taking in the beautiful scenery, seeing my best friend’s childhood home or even shooting a gun for the first time — it was the pets I met.
In the St. Paul suburbs resides a cat named Luca. I was told she sleeps 23 out of the 24 hours of the day, and if I left my bedroom door open at night, she’d stop by in search of warmth. I decided to test this theory, and sure enough I had a grey ball of fur laying on me within an hour of turning my light off.
Mark and I made plans to try and sneak Luca back to Oxford, but we decided against it, as cats and 12-hour car rides don’t mix.
And in the Wisconsin cabin roams a 5-month old chocolate lab named Fitz, after the lake freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald. She swam through the air like a shark and had teeth as sharp as one, too.
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If you had a hand exposed, she would wiggle over and have it fully engulfed in her mouth within seconds. We joked she had a foot fetish, but only for my friend’s feet, as she constantly nibbled on his toes.
I miss both of them dearly.