The morning was cool and misty. I lingered in my sleeping bag listening to the water of the Mississippi River rush by our "campsite". I had to take a dump, so I left the coziness and headed out in search for a bathroom. I found an outhouse next to the park office. It was a true outhouse, a shed with a hole in the ground. There was a chair with a hole cut in the bottom above the hole. I wondered whether I could hold out long enough to run to the car and find a nearby gas station or fast food joint, but I was already "prairie doggin'". I sat on the chair and hoped that nothing crawled out of the hole. They did have a good quality toilet paper.
Tom was still sleeping, so I sat on a picnic table next to our site and watched the river run. The campground supervisor came by a few minutes later and struck up a conversation. "You and your friend are lucky" he said. "Why is that?" "Neither one of you woke up with a water snake in your sleeping bag". With that Tom bolted up, he must've been listening from the comfort of his bag. "At night they like to find anything warm and snuggle up for heat. Lots of people have been bitten in the morning because they don't bite until folks try to get out of their bags. You boys are lucky!". Two nights on the road and we narrowly avoided catastrophe twice.
It was Saturday morning and we wanted to make Minneapolis by mid afternoon as it was only a five hour drive. We would be staying with Jerry Solon, Tom's Uncle, for a few days. This was all part of Tom's itinerary that he had mapped out in his head since he was a twelve year old. I was along for the ride and didn't mind letting Tom decide where we were going and what we were doing. I was happy to give up any semblance of responsibility and decision making and go with the flow, where ever it went. We pulled into the Twin Cities just past one and decided we needed beer. We pulled into a shopping plaza and Tom ran into a package store. As I sat in the bug I noticed something strange. Everyone was huge. There were big asses everywhere I looked. I had to think...did I take acid this morning and it just started kicking in? Minnesota is the "Land of 1000 Lakes" and all I could think about was Land O' Lakes, butter that is. Butter must be the staple of the local diet along with buckets of grain and corn feed. Tom got back to the car and we drank a beer while I pointed out the heifers as we drove to his Uncle Jerry's.
Jerry and Tom embraced while I stood at the side of the bug drinking a beer. After some brief introductions we entered the Solon's home and sat down to watch the Kentucky Derby. I couldn't care less about the race, but feigned interest knowing that these people would be housing and feeding us the next few days. Jerry's wife put a drink in my hand and we settled down to watch the "fastest two minutes in sports". Three minutes later Tom and I excused ourselves so we could visit Tom's cousin who was in college at St. Cloud State.
Tom's cousin David was a huge, strapping mid-westerner who along with his butter eating must've been hitting the weight room daily. He was playing guard for the school's football team and showed us a letter he had received from the NFL regarding interest from pro scouts. The excitement of being on a college campus and the thought of partying with some hot coed's was short lived when David informed us that everyone was studying for finals and no one was partying. He did, however, hook us up with someone who knew someone who could get us some weed. We made our deal and smoked a joint on the way back to Jerry's.
The next day we tooled around Minneapolis checking out the area around Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet, which must be a no butter zone, because the girls were definitely a lot less bovine. It was a warm, sunny afternoon and the area around the lakes were filled with sunbathers, joggers and more sunbathers. We sparked up a few and sat on a blanket admiring the view. Tom had a small boom box and was intent on finding a good rock station. Tom was a rock connoisseur. He had DJ'd at his college radio station and knew every rock song and artist from 1965 till 1985. When a song would come on he would recite the date, artist, album, band info, liner notes... whatever he knew about the song. Years later when I saw the movie "American Psycho" in the scene when Patrick Bateman (aka Christian Bale) was preparing to kill one of his victims by dressing in a rain suit and plastic (to shield the blood when he chopped him up with an axe)and espousing upon Huey Lewis and his body of work in response to "Hip To Be Square" playing on his stereo, was a dead ringer for Tom's espousing about his rock. I wondered if the screenwriter had met Tom and gave Bateman Tom's idiosyncrasy to enhance his psychoticness.
We had dinner at the Solon's and decided to head out to a bar we heard about on the radio that had a two for one happy hour. It was a Sunday night and expectations for an eventful night were low. So much for expectations.