I beat it across the four lane highway to a park on the other side. People are automatically suspicious of you when you’re wearing a pack and wandering around the city. Since this was a park, and more or less on the very edge of St. Paul, I at least looked like maybe I had a legit reason for being there.
It wasn’t ten minutes after ordering it that an Uber driver picked me up. He was on older gentleman, a retired truck driver, just making some extra cash for something to do. We traded a few truck driving stories, he was more of a line haul local type driver, I had been over the road for a few years at one point.
I got the impression he was bored if he wasn’t working. It took almost 30 minutes to get to the north side of Minneapolis. I was damn glad I didn’t try and walk that, it would have taken hours and I wasn’t in good enough shape to carry that pack that far, even without being under the weather.
The spot I had picked out near Northtown looked like it might work because there was open space and no fence along the tracks. There was even a little wooded area across the street from some older homes next to the tracks that I could probably set up camp in.
I stretched out again and actually got a little shuteye. When I woke up, I wasn’t feeling any better. I wanted to check out the area and I thought I could walk around to the north side of an intermodal loading facility just to my north and see if there was an even better spot a bit closer to where trains stopped for crew changes. It was a bigger facility than I thought and it took more walking than I had expected to get around it. In fact, I didn’t make it.
After a half mile, and the realization that I’d zapped my strength and willpower I caved in. I reserved a cheap motel and used Uber again to go crash for the night. I wolfed down a medium pizza, at least I still had my appetite, and that was that, I was out like a light. I woke up in the morning still feeling like crap. So, I decided I’d swallow my pride and take the bus back to Madison and lick my wounds. It turned out to be a good idea.
I felt better the day after I got home and made some adjustments to my gear, a smaller pack, and less stuff!! I was ready to try this again. I figured out a couple of things, one, I could take Amtrak to La Crosse from Columbus, WI, 30 minutes north of Madison, and get to La Crosse later in the evening, cutting my waiting time by about two thirds. The cost was about the same as a bus ticket.
Not only that, the train station in La Crosse wasn’t too far from my catch out spot, I still couldn’t walk directly to it because of the high water in the marsh, but there was a bridge I could hide under until it got dark, and then make my way down the tracks.
So, I stayed home with Terri over the weekend, then I started getting antsy, but I didn’t want to go on a Monday, so Tuesday came around, and off I went again! This time, I took the bus to Columbus and waited for Amtrak.