I’m usually pretty practical; I’m the girl with a plan. But put me in a car with a sunroof and I turn into a freewheeling blond without an agenda.
I flew into Minneapolis at the butt-crack of dawn on Sunday. After wandering the underbelly of the airport in search of the rental car company, I found myself behind the wheel of a red Dodge Caliber loaded with Sirius satellite radio and a sunroof. It’s like I’d hit the lottery.
I assumed driving would be merely utilitarian on this trip – a way to get from point A to point B – but now it’s a mini vacation in and of itself. As the sun beats down on my head, I crank up Classic Rewind on channel 15 and let my hair blow straight up in the air. It’s summer in Minnesota and it’s stinky hot and humid and I like it.
It’s the sunroof’s fault that I’m writing this from Lake Edward in central Minnesota. My plan last night was to lock myself in my hotel room, all alone, and write and be serious. But my girls, granddaughter, son-in-law, parents, niece and younger brother had all gone to the lake in the morning and I was feeling homesick for them by 6:00. So I called my daughter, told her I was packing up the Caliber and heading up north. I checked out of the hotel, put on my shades and hit the highway.
I haven’t seen a decent sunset since the last time I was in Minnesota. Sunset in Pennsylvania, while pretty, is brief. The sun disappears behind the hills and trees long before it sets. Here on the prairie, you watch it slowly sink into the western sky like a pancake absorbs thick syrup. As I watched the long lazy sunset while driving north on Hwy. 10 between Big Lake and St. Cloud, I knew I’d made the right decision to leave my work unwritten and head up to the lake.
It was dark when I got here and Claire was already in bed. The rest of us sat out on the deck and laughed and talked. Carlene looked a little like Eminem sitting curled up in her dark sweat pants and a dark hoodie pulled over her head. Mosquitoes are on that girl like flies on stink. I don’t know if it’s her neon white skin or if she has better blood than the rest of us, but there isn’t a mosquito within two miles that doesn’t know Carlene’s in town. It’s like the mosquitoes have walkie-talkies or something. “But the stars are amazing,” said Michaela. And they were. And so we sacrificed Carlene to the mosquitoes for the view.
We went to bed too late and woke up too early, but I don’t want to sleep my vacation away. Baby Claire is awake and rummaging through my suitcase. My parents are talking on the deck. My brother is making eggs and bacon and will soon get the boat ready for a morning of fishing with Dad and Matt. There isn’t a cloud in the sky and the lake is sparkling. Moments like this don’t happen holed up in a hotel room. They come compliments of a pimped out rental car and that little inner voice that said, “Just go.”