Continuing the travel adventure story, I picked up my rental car at the airport and started driving for the first time in almost a year. What a feeling! I left the airport the way I normally would, and immediately… set out for my old neighborhood. Turned off the crosstown onto 55/Hiawatha heading north towards Minneapolis. Totally an automatic response, not thinking at all. Because of course I don’t live in my old neighborhood, and I’m staying with a friend of mine by the Lakes. I needed to stay on the crosstown past Hiawatha and exit at Cedar — not 55. On going a few blocks I realized this, but took the opportunity as a good excuse for a change in plans (“someone” was telling me something about my priorities, surely!) and headed straight to my grandmother’s house.
My very cool nonagenarian grandmother lives in the house she and my grandfather built just post-WWII, when they had a whole houseful of little baby boomers running around. She now lives there with one of her grown daughters, who marvellously keeps an eye on her and thus allows her the best old age scenario of all — being in your own home with your own familiar things around. They didn’t know I was coming until I called from the car, but quickly set an extra place at the table so I could have a simple dinner with them. And there we have it, after only 2 hours in the city of Minneapolis, the hours of travel (20 minutes walk to the station, 2 hours on the train to Gatwick, 3 hours at the airport, 9 hours on the plane, an hour on the ground in Minneapolis before I was good to go) were worth it. And I’d do it all over again.
Getting to Grandma’s house from the airport was reasonably easy, since my old neighborhood (where I was subconsciously headed) was only about 2 miles from her own neighborhood (and no that’s not a coincidence, I love northeast Minneapolis with a passion). But it did not take long in Minneapolis to start to realize the impact that the missing section of 35W is having on traffic and transport. On the way to Grandma’s I saw all of the signs marking 35W detours and saw the barricades up on the road itself. The return trip was even more exciting because the normal route would have been a straight shot down 35W and across the no-longer-existing bridge. I had to think about how to get back to the Lakes (in S. Minneapolis) from my Grandma’s house (NE Mpls) without getting on 35W at Johnson street. And I messed it up big time. I did drive on University past the site of the Bridge and had a preliminary look; I will go back this weekend and take some photos and post them here. But I also ended up in Saint Paul before I figured out how to recover and get back to where 35W south picks up on the other side of the absent bridge. Oops. I slept long and hard last night and look forward to more Minneapolis adventures in coming days.