Eleven years ago today I went to Beta Colony!
Sorry, it’s an in-joke you won’t get unless you’re a fan of the Miles Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold, who lives in Minneapolis and has been known to refer to the enormous Mall of America there by that name. Otherwise, it’s just too long and involved an explanation.
However, that wasn’t until late afternoon. I got a fairly early start on my jaunt across Minnesota, starting out on a village street that turned into a country road, then a county highway, then a bigger county highway, then a state highway that eventually turned into an urban boulevard. Of course, it took most of the day to do this, and along the way I drove past field after field after field of corn and soybeans. In September, of course, they were just about ready to harvest, and in some cases were being harvested as I drove past.
I passed through a number of little brick towns with big shade trees, including one with the lovely and evocative name of Bird Island. The highway took me right through downtown, where what should appear before my eyes but a quilt shop, in a lovely old two-story brick storefront building. Of course I stopped. I think I’d have had to turn in my “quilter” title if I hadn’t. The shop was as nice on the inside as the building was on the outside, but the funniest thing was that they had a sample of a quilt pattern (Pine Trees by Thimbleberries) just like one I’ve made up on the wall —
I bought fabric, of course. It was the first fabric I’d bought on the trip, actually.
I arrived in Minneapolis, my first big city of the trip, about mid-afternoon. I had heard tales of the Mall of America, and I thought, well, why not?
The Mall of America is ginormous, about the size of four or five regular malls. It’s big enough to have an amusement park in the middle, a branch of Knott’s Berry Farm (the “other” big theme park in Southern California) called Camp Snoopy. Yes, after the Peanuts character (apparently Charles Schultz lived in Minnesota). I rode the roller coaster, which on its own merits is one of the wimpiest roller coasters I’ve ever ridden, but it was the best roller coaster I’ve ever ridden in a shopping mall. Of course, it’s the only roller coaster I’ve ever ridden in a shopping mall…
I basically spent the rest of the afternoon acquiring very sore feet (and a heavy brown wool pullover sweater, which, another injoke, was a rather ironic purchase given where I bought it), before hieing off to find myself a motel and a phone to call my mother from. At least this time I didn’t have to time-zone calculate. I’d crossed I-35 that day, which runs north-south through both Dallas and the Twin Cities, and so was in the same time zone as my mother.