My best friend Clio was applying for Phd’s starting last fall and when she got accepted in Seattle, I was super excited for her to accept. Then, at the last minute, she changed her mind and instead moved to Minneapolis (!?) Most people reacted as surprised as I did, but only out of ignorance since, as it turns out, Minneapolis is a great place, with lots going on! I just didn’t have any clue about it until I visited her there a couple weeks ago. First of all, Minneapolis has the largest snow banks Ive ever seen, thanks to the snowstorm that hit just before I arrived and luckily stopped in time for my plane to make it in. Minneapolis is really two cities, hence, the TwinCities nickname. Minneapolis has great cheese (from next door Wisconsin). And of course, Minneapolis has the University of Minnesota, which apparently has the one of the best clinical psychology graduate programs in the US. Good job, Clio 🙂
We spent time around town, seeing the university campus, sampled the nightlife, but then took a roadtrip to Illinois. We craigslist rideshared our way all the way through Wisconsin, driving 7 hours from Minneapolis to Chicago with exactly the type of guy you don’t want to lay eyes on when first getting in his car. Craiglist is one of those things that you hope only trustworthy people use, since its kind of risky and a little less common in the midwest than the very liberal westcoast. We got an email, text and call from this guy named Glen who Clio thought was an average caucasian guy, and he seemed nice enough to spend 7 hours in his car with. When he picked us up in the morning, an hour and a half late, we discovered he was actually a 6 foot 3, 300lbs African-American. But, we realized you can never judge a book by its cover, and all the invalid stereotypes we pegged him with disappeared when the first thing he asked us was “Oh, you aren’t afraid of hamsters, are you?” There were two, tiny baby hamsters that looked like teddybears sleeping in a cage in his backseat, and as we learned more about his job working with troubled youth and the YWCA, we realized he was just a big harmless teddybear too.
We spent the weekend in Chicago, met up with that guy named Guy, and braved the -26°C to oogle at the Chicago Bean. Its this amazing, massive, reflective sculpture that no matter what angle you look at it or approach it, you´re eyes are being tricked by all sorts of optical illusions. We also saw a friend of mine from Semester at Sea who I hadnt seen since our Fall 2006 voyage – I love reuinions like that.
After a classy night at the Chicago Symphony Hall watching the Brass Orchestra and some touristy days, we craigslist rideshared out way back with a guy named Andrew from Tennessee. He turned out to be a little nerve wracking before we met him; he wanted us to meet him at 11 am, but called at 9:30 to explain his car had been towed since he parked somewhere he wasnt allowed when 3 inches of snow had fallen. He claimed the sign was unclear, I dunno, but either way there was lots of snow around. Then he took until 2 pm to get it out of the towyard, and $160 later he picked us up at a café where we had been waiting for him. All the delays were history once we learned he was a spunky gay guy from the South, not so common if you know anything about the conservative south. We were greeted by him pumping his tires with a protable car air pump, in his tiny 2 door Honda. It wasn’t the best car for winter driving, but then when another massive snowstorm hit as we were leaving Chicago, the 7 hr drive quickly turned into 10 hours and I still can’t believe we made it home that day! Moral of these craigslist stories: it always works out, maybe not as you expected, but hey, travel is more fun that way.