January 2011


Oh my! It’s Thursday evening already!

Wow – I haven’t posted since Monday morning and it’s now Thursday evening – and I will barely make it to posting this before my blog thinks it is Friday.

Long story short, I’ve had a great week.

I went to Fargo, North Dakota, in order to see old college friends – who moved to Fargo almost 14 years ago and never got around to moving on. In the meantime they’ve acquired a large house, interesting careers, and, last but certainly not least, two kids.

The last time I saw them was roughly 13 years ago at their wedding in Gillette, Wyoming.

Admittedly visiting Fargo in January is not an especially bright idea, but the way things worked out, I watched depressingly low high-temperatures in the weeks before my visit—roughly -25C. Happily I appear to have brought a heat wave with me—with temperatures soaring to the -9C neighborhood.

From afar I expected Fargo to be a somewhat depressing lump on the eastern edge of North Dakota: a plain plain filled with people who somehow got off the highway at the wrong moment and found themselves stuck in this god-forsaken place in the middle of nowhere and no way to get to Minneapolis or Rapid City.

I was surprised: Fargo is actually a charming little city and my friends were excellent hosts and tour guides.

For the things that matter to me, Fargo does OK: it’s downtown is surprisingly vibrant and in the process of being restored. North Dakota State University is a lot larger than I would have guessed and much nicer than I ever would have dreamed (save for a depressing basement in the student union).

There are also some nice museums—like an interesting museum at the airport filled with historic aircraft, the Plains Art Museum, and, over on the Minnesota side, the local historical society has two stunning attractions worth a significant detour: a hand made square-sailed ship that sailed all the way to Norway and a replica of a Norwegian Stave Church. Seriously – those last two things, despite being on the Minnesota side of the Red River, in Moorhead, alone justify a trip to Fargo.

If there’s one thing Fargo knows how to do, it’s shovel snow. The city has had an impressive amount dumped on it – an amount so vast that if it were to land on the UK, Heathrow would take two weeks to reopen. Many of the sidewalks are carved out of impressive drifts – I’m 5’10” (178cm) and in some spots, the sidewalks were clear, but the drifts were almost as tall as me. That said, there is a consequence to all this snow and it appears that the city is already making plans for a spring flood—including discussing when the volunteer effort to fill sandbags will begin—it’s apparently an almost annual tradition—the subject of cute YouTube videos.

I decamped Wednesday for Bloomington – my first flight, to O’Hare, left Fargo late, made up time in the air, but then had to wait 40 minutes for the plane at our gate to get deiced and leave. I ended up missing my connecting flight, but was, fortunately, able to get on the next flight that left 80 minutes later. I got to Bloomington in time for my dinner with the city’s most Suave “Heterosexual” man.

As I was coming up from using the hotel’s elliptical machine (and doing laundry) this afternoon, I was confronted with an elevator filled with Very Tall Men—it seems that the visiting Illinois Fighting Illini are staying at my hotel, and I have to confess, some of them are very, very cute. Almost enough for me to root for the team, but, at heart, I would prefer the Hoosiers won.

Instead of actually caring, I am going to the Pride Film Festival tonight.

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