01 September 2010

Moose Jaw Minute #4: Away We Go

How y'all doin' there, eh?

Over the river the through the prairie, to our Moose Jaw home we go. Okay, that's a lie. More like, out of Chicago, into Skokie, a buzz through Madison, whip around Minneapolis/St. Paul, overnight in Fargo, stop in Minot, cross the border at North Portal, through Estevan, and then to our Moose Jaw home we go. Twenty-four hours in a U-Haul, a border crossing, and a load-up/unload later and Dave and I find ourselves standing at the starting line of our lives together as a married couple (cue Etta James singing "At Last!").

The trip was uneventful...seriously. We had the fortune of driving one of the newer U-Haul models on our one-way trek to the Jaw. It lets you know when you are getting the best MPG on your trip. Needless to say, sometimes we were in the green and sometimes in the red. We managed to collapse my one-bedroom apartment into the 10' truck, leaving behind one chair, one towel rack, one floor lamp, and one credenza (that one managed to take a nice tumble as I attempted to maneuver it on my own...needless to say, I made a bit of a mess and ended up with a door off the hinge, shelf on the floor, and back piece torn up. I'll miss that credenza -- heavy as it was), and a partridge in a pear tree (the squawking was just too much for the long haul). The night before we drove out, our friends threw us a lovely picnic by Belmont Harbor, a potluck of good food, wine, friendship, laughter, and tears (on my part). It was a gorgeous last night in the beautiful city of Chicago and I will never forget it.

From Chicago we drove to Fargo, ND and managed to swing through Madison to visit one of my best friends from college, James, and his girlfriend, Alison. We had an awesome brunch and had the chance to catch up on life, family, PhD work, and our wedding. It was so good to see them and I am hopeful they can make a trip up sometime soon (hint, hint James!). Our brunch was at the Daisy Cafe and Cupcakery and they have delicious-ness in the form of a bacon cupcake. Did we sample the bacon-y goodness before us? No, but we have vowed to go back -- sans yummy brunch -- so we can make room for this delightful morsel of food. James and Alison, we will let you know when we are on our way.

Fargo was fantastic. A small town that appears to celebrate local artists, farms, and people. We ate at a great restaurant, HoDo, where local farmers are the name of the game. Now, mind you, this is where a mini freak-out happened. As we walked down the small "main street," I suddenly came to the realization that this whole street would be considered one neighborhood in Chicago...think Andersonville. Instead, this was the town. Where the majority of folks seemed to be hanging out on a Saturday night. I suddenly had visions of myself being blocked in on main street, end to end, with no public transport to take me out of this neighborhood and into another -- why? Because there aren't any! Let the hyperventilating begin -- sans the brown paper bag but with a death grip on Dave's hand. Are those fingernail marks I see? Just kidding...but, it did suddenly dawn on me, in a VERY real way, that I am entering quite a different world from the one I am coming from knowing that Moose Jaw is much like this. Alice down the rabbit hole.

From Fargo we ventured through Minot -- John, I now see what you are talking about -- and then up to Portal, ND/North Portal, SK. The border crossing. Portal is, well...oh, my. Just sad. A town that exists solely because folks cross the border there and for no other reason. We sat in a line behind trailers and trucks before realizing we could move over to the automobile lane. Here is where anxiety builds...we pull up to the crossing and the guard behind the window asks a few questions and then fills out a pink sheet of paper and indicates we have to park and then go into the office in order to have our paperwork processed. Fine...we were expecting this. We were also expecting that, per everything we've read, processing of paperwork and having my goods checked out would take between 1.5 and 2 hours. We step out of the U-Haul (okay, we groaned, creaked, and stumbled out of the U-Haul) toting paperwork, our large file with all of my immigration docs, passports, and everything in between. I put on makeup to make myself look more presentable and Dave spat on his hand and ran it through his hair. We gave each other a high five, chest bump, a "WE CAN DO THIS!" and then entered the building. We stepped up to the counter, placing bets on how long this whole adventure would take. Dave's guess: 36 minutes. My guess: Longer.

Reality...FOUR MINUTES. That's right. Four. Sign here, stamp there, attach docs here. See ya. Done, done, and done. How's THAT for efficient service? Now, granted, I wasn't carting over my wine collection, toting a vehicle, or smuggling child labor across the border...that may have been the difference, but four minutes...unprecedented. I felt a little cheated. I wanted to yell, "But, but...I LABELED everything! I spent Thursday LABELING everything! I have nice labels that match up to the paperwork we are providing you. Everything is in ORDER. Don't you just want to LOOK in the truck?!?!" Cheated or not, I did NOT say those things and we were happy to make our way back to the U-Haul and start the last stretch.

We crossed through Estevan, SK (The Sunshine Capital of Saskatchewan!) and then settled in for the remaining bit of travel in our cabin of U-Haul cab comfort. I've never been more happy to see Moose Jaw, my new home. Nothing says "home" like 48 degree weather, spitting rain, Mac the Moose ready to greet you (side note...there is a jet next to Mac and Mac is bigger than the jet. Talk amongst yourselves.), and a tight back from too many hours hauling my goods across the border. I'm happy to have had the 24 hours with Dave, to see some things I wouldn't have seen otherwise, to be able to put a pin in Fargo, ND on the map and know that I want to return. It was a good trip.

We unloaded in record time on Monday and everything is pretty much ready to go. We are planning a trip to Calgary, AB for the three-day weekend in order to stop by IKEA for office supplies. We are hoping to make a stop in Banff as well and visit some friends of Dave's that live in the area. I'm looking forward to getting away for fun this weekend and think it will be a nice way to celebrate the three-day weekend we both have.

What's twelve more hours in the car? :-)

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