Day Five’s return trip from the nuclear missile command center back to Fargo was draining and featureless. Our evening plans took us to the complete opposite of that: Fargo’s cozy, artful downtown. Lots of brownstone buildings from times past redone at ground level with contemporary storefronts, hiding the occasional flourish here and there, all largely deserted on a Wednesday evening. The whole place was practically ours.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.
With a population well over 100,000, Fargo is hardly a small village. The moderately busy city streets took us past a lot of home improvement, construction, and agricultural businesses, but its downtown reminded me of a lot of town squares we’ve seen back home, except not square and with actual shopping options that catered to my interests.
We arrived the day before an annual street fair would bring carnival food and fun to the citizens all weekend. Sadly, we couldn’t extend our Fargo visit beyond a simple overnighter due to a tricky appointment we were looking forward to on Day Six. The street fair tents, like many of their mom-‘n’-pop shops, were closed when we arrived.
Not that there weren’t things to look at or do.
We had modest dinner at Smiling Moose Deli, a semi-nationwide sub shop we’d never seen before. Their website says they have one Indiana location, but Evansville is nowhere near us and a moose motif makes no sense in our state. My Bayou Chicken sub was better than most Subway offerings, and my wife was content with her Greek salad.
I’ve heard rumors that we have indie music stores back home. If so, none of them are within five miles of my house and they’re not very good at luring me. The little shops and slightly less little chains that exposed me to new sounds throughout the late ’80s and early’ 90s all shut down before the end of the millennium. I don’t have much use for the Top-40 selection that dominates Best Buy and every big-box store, which means most of my music shopping today is sadly done through Amazon. My wife waited patiently while I flipped through the bins at Orange Records and came away with Mike Doughty’s The Flip is Another Honey (good luck finding that at Target) and a second CD that escapes me at the moment.
One thing I regret about most of our road trips: I almost never make time to visit comic shops in other states. That means whenever we’re out of town on a Wednesday, the official New Comics Day every week for us habitual collectors who want the newest installments of our favorite series now now now, I have to contain myself until we return home at the end of the week and I can finally get to my local shop after half the books I collect are probably sold out. This time, a stroke of convenience: there just so happened to be a shop across the corner from Orange Records. Thankfully the young folks at the twenty-year-old Paradox Comics-N-Cards didn’t stare too hard at us middle-age strangers. They didn’t have everything on my list (I distinctly recall them having zero copies of The Wicked and the Divine #2), but I picked up enough to contain myself for the next few days.
After strolling up and down several city blocks, we took our leave, navigated the narrow grid of confusing one-way streets one last time, and made one last stop for the evening at the kind of place we rarely see anymore: a hotel with a distinctive interior. After so many chains with so much corporate-standard lookalike decor, it was refreshing to see a lobby we hadn’t already walked through in ten other states.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]