“On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again...”
My wife and I do not lead a particularly exciting life. We don’t own a lake cabin or pontoon, don’t golf, don’t snowmobile – usually the only things we do for entertainment are watch our grandchildren’s various sporting events and travel, and we haven’t been doing much traveling the last few years. In January, we were pretty eager to get out of town, as was most of Minnesota, but when we compared our calendars, we couldn’t find more than three days in a row where one or the other of us didn’t have something scheduled.
A few weeks ago, during what felt like our twelfth blizzard, I said, “Man, it feels like a long time since we’ve gone anyplace.” Ten minutes later I got an email alert from a travel place advertising plane tickets for $135.00 to Asheville, NC. After spending a few minutes looking at a map to figure out where the heck Asheville, was, we signed up.
Don’t be offended, North Carolina, that I didn’t know where Asheville was on the map. My guess is many people in North Carolina don’t know much about Big Stone County, even though it’s widely considered the “Paris of West Central Minnesota.”
What we’ve found over the years is that all those lists about Top Ten Places to Go, etc., are really kind of pointless. There are fascinating things to see and interesting people to meet no matter where you go.
One of the problems about being where we’re from is that if you like to travel, it takes so long to get anywhere. It was a two-hour flight to Asheville, which is exactly half as long as it took us to get from our house to the airport.
I was a little concerned about airport security, because a couple days before we left I had about a dozen pre-cancerous bumps frozen off my poor bald head and I looked a little like I had some dread tropical disease, the kind where they lock you in the hold of a ship and shove you overboard near a desert island.
I kept my hat pulled down low, we passed through security with no issues, and arrived in Asheville right on time. Then it was time to pick up the rental car.
Car rental companies are one of the mysteries of the universe to me, in part because they have a long list of cars at different prices, and you’re supposed to pick the perfect match. The only problem is that I can’t ever remember getting the car I thought I requested. One very clear memory was the time we thought we were renting a zippy little car with good gas mileage, but they’d given all of them to other people. The woman behind the counter looked concerned for a couple minutes and then asked, “I don’t suppose you know how to drive a pickup truck, do you?”
Why yes, yes I do. Stick me in an F150 - what a treat.
This time I’d picked out another little car, in all honesty probably the cheapest one available. Instead, they gave us a Dodge Charger. That would have been swell if Germany and the Autobahn was our destination, but we were headed for the Blue Ridge Parkway where the speed limit is 45 mph, slower in the curvy parts. And there are a lot of curvy parts. Driving a car with a speedometer goes to 140 seemed like overkill.
But when we pulled out to pass a possum, we blew his doors off, so to speak.
Copyright 2023 Brent Olson
Ah, ha! Living this close to the "Paris of the Prairie" gives me immense hope! And, yes, i do need to get out more especially after such a long, cold and snowy winter. What better chance to blow the doors off a possum!