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Friday I decided to go on a roadtrip after work.  I basically wanted to see how far north I could make it in a weekend. The dream for a while has been to make it to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, which is due north of me. After doing some map work, the mileage says this is just too far without a co-driver to drive through the night.  South Dakota or Minneapolis was the next feasible destinations. I also discovered my StreetPilot that died on the way to Burning Man was playing opossum, it fired right up when I tried to upgrade software on it.

7:00 PM Friday – Leave Austin.  Drive up I-35 to Fort Worth to Oklahoma City, arrived at a rest stop south of Wichita, KS at 3:00 AM.

Saturday morning at the rest stop there was a group of three blue Corvettes with receiver-mounted C.B. antennas, something you don’t see every day. I met up with them later on the way to Kansas City. Never did get to see who was driving.

It wasn’t until Kansas City that I finally decided where I wanted to go.  The Garmin calculated arrival times in Minneapolis at 5:45, Sioux Falls around 4:00. I’ll probably never have a reason to go to South Dakota, but I’ll likely fly to MPLS to visit my peeps there, so that was that. Up I-29 I went.

I was accumulating Gowalla stamps, so it was natural to swing over to Omaha to get one for Nebraska. Omaha also has Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway, which is headquartered in Kiewit Plaza.  It’s located in west downtown, which seems rather, well, old.  Not much going on here.

From here it was a quick jaunt up to Iowa, arriving at the border around 1 PM.  The nice old lady at the Iowa visitor center was a fountain of knowledge, dropping morsels of information at every sentence, and urged me to come back and spend more time in her wonderful state. Admittedly Veisha was happening right now and Steve was visiting in Ames too, but I was set on my goal to go further north.

3:50 PM, it was weird rolling into South Dakota. I finally realized how far away from home I was. IA and SD along I-29 remind me a lot of the Texas panhandle.  It’s flat, very lush and green, and tons of agribusiness is clearly happening.  This time of year, the farmers were doing controlled range burns to get rid of last year’s crop cruft.

Nearly two hours later I finally arrived in Sioux Falls, SD. I never ventured into the city proper, but followed I-229 up around to I-29. From there it was about 10 miles over to the Minnesota state line.  According to GPS, the visitors center wasn’t actually in MN, but the next exit to turn back west would put me on MN soil. The weather felt weird, there was a slight cool breeze yet very warm and sultry. I took a couple of quick snaps at the Minnesota sign and turned around to head back to Austin. In retrospect I had time to linger around longer and/or at least find a cheeseburger there.

On the way back, I was lured to the lights of downtown Omaha, so I stopped back in there again.  The “new” part of downtown was pretty, and they had a sweet pedestrian bridge over the river.  Apparently the prom was happening, as there were many fine ladies in fine formal wear loitering around the Qwest Center. There were lots of college kids wandering up and down the riverfront. I think I’d like to visit this city again to wander around myself.

I arrived in Kansas City at 2 AM. Having been on the road constantly for 16 hours and 700 miles it was time to crash in Lenexa, KS. The next morning it was time to make the final stretch back to Austin.  The rest of the trip was uneventful.  I got back home at 10 PM.

Total mileage for the trip was 2,272 miles with an actual driving time of 31 hours, 33 minutes.  I’m now confident Minneapolis is possible in a weekend, but there would be no time to do anything there. This trip already had a frenzied pace; there was no lingering over a cup of coffee at breakfast (or even breakfast for that matter), few photo ops, no twelve hours of sleeping in at motels, no setting the cruise at 70 MPH. Just sheer out and back driving with lots of loud music. I had a blast and would totally do another trip like it!

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