A daily service provided by The Minneapolis Club is to slip a little card under your door to inform you of the likely weather – low and high temperatures and a brief description of the likely conditions. On Monday morning the words ‘Light snow flurries’ had been written. The card had obviously been written by a native of Minnesota, for when I opened my curtains the ‘light snow flurries’ were the sort that would bring Britain to its knees. The snow seemed heavy, and the roads were white. As I would be flying home later that day, I may have been concerned at this turn of events, but from long experience I knew that a bit of snow was not going to affect flights from Minneapolis/St Paul. Actually, my biggest concern was the prospect of taming my big, powerful, rear-wheel drive Dodge Charger on the slick pavement (how American have I become?)
The dining room was much busier as a new working week began, and club staff fussed over me and told me that they had only heard very positive reactions to the shows. I had a good breakfast, including a bowl of hot, creamy porridge, which seemed like a good idea with such an arctic scene outside the window, followed by eggs and bacon, with a couple of slices of toast.
As my flight was not until 5.15 in the afternoon, I had plenty of time to kill, so I packed slowly, making sure that I had retrieved every item of clothing from every draw and wardrobe.
Having checked and re-checked that I had not left anything that I didn’t need in the room, I left the club at 11 and loaded up the car. I guided it onto the road very gingerly, and sure enough at the first green light as I squeezed the accelerator pedal, the rear of the car squirmed and slid around before the big fat tyres finally found some purchase and moved me forward. I also concentrated on leaving a big gap to the cars in front to give me ample space to brake without sliding ignominiously into them. It was a pleasure to be on the road among others who understood how to drive in the wintery conditions, but of course the Minnesotans have to put up with it for 6 months of the year, so it is just a fact of everyday life for them.
I had decided to go and walk somewhere and chose the intriguingly named ‘Hidden Creek Falls Park’. I found a parking space and walked through the snow to what appeared to be a picnic area at the centre of the park.
There were no signs to the hidden falls, well I suppose there wouldn’t be, would there, so I set off along what looked like a path through the thick woods.
I at least new that I would not get lost, for my tracks in the snow were the only ones there, so I could always follow my route back to the starting point, Hansel and Grettel style.
Eventually I reached a perimeter fence but of a creek, or falls, there was no sign, so I made my way back to the picnic area and struck off down a different path which this time proved more successful, leading me to a part frozen, part flowing stream and eventually to the site of the falls which, I have to say, were a bit disappointing. Maybe if I had visited when the stream was in full flood it would have been more impressive, but as it was the trickle of water fell off a concrete, graffiti-covered wall. Some pretty icicles had formed, but it was all a bit of an anti-climax. Even more so when I found a flight of steps which took me right back to the car park – my adventurous treks through the wood had been a bit pointless, although quite exciting and fun.
By now it was getting on towards 1 o’clock so I decided to make my way to the airport which was very close (I had heard the sound of jets taking off in the thick cloud). although it really was still very early to check in. I settled into the Charger again and slid in a rather nice broadside manoeuvre out of the carpark and asked Google Maps to find me a petrol station where I could top the tank up before returning it to Hertz.
The check-in at the airport was quick and easy and I had plenty of time to have some lunch before perusing the various shops in the impressive terminal, and eventually going to my gate. As boarding time came closer it became apparent that this would not be a full flight, and indeed when we were called to board it seemed while First and Business classes were quite busy, economy was practically empty – the few of us back there had so much room to spread out in.
We pushed back from the gate at precisely 5.15, but our actual departure was delayed due to the requirement to have the plane de-iced. We taxied out to a remote corner of the airfield and there two praying mantis-like vehicles emerged from the darkness and coated the craft in a green gunk.
The Airbus being deemed safe to fly we sat at the end of the runway, throttles were opened, and I started my journey home. In a little over two weeks I will be back again, this time to Boston, and the main bulk of my American tour. But I must say a huge thank you to everyone in Kansas City, Omaha, Burlington and Minneapolis who have made this stay so enjoyable and so successful.