Gotta get to the Loppet

I don’t remember where I first heard of the Luminary Loppet sponsored by the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival; I’m pretty sure it was back when we were in Fargo.

The term “Loppet” originated in Scandinavia . . .It is a great gathering of skiers who ski on a specifically groomed trail either classic (diagonal stride) or free (skating technique) of various distances….The Loppet means different things to participants.  For some it’s intense competition, for others it’s a relaxing way to spend a day outside, taking in the pristine beauty of the country side or wilderness. Cross Country Canada.

I’ve had the above picture, taken from a calendar featuring Minneapolis / St. Paul, on my wall for more than a year. Everyday I would look at it and think about how amazing it would be to do the Luminary Loppet this year, and it inspired me to lose weight to be able to physically do the Loppet. I will admit that losing weight this year had taken a back seat to sheer survival, but I registered us back in October fully hoping we could make my dream of completing the Loppet come true.

Joel I can’t imagine doing the Loppet last year during the polar vortex. As it was, we were bundled up in DIY winter gear. I had my old work shoes with two pairs of socks (one wool), pajama pants under jeans, t-shirt and winter coat, mittens, scarf and hat. I had a sweater and another pair of socks on standby in my backpack. I should have brought my ski mask. Becky wore yoga pants under her only pair of jeans right now. They have holes in them, but she refuses to buy new clothes until she knows what her new job attire will need to be. She had thick lined boots she wore for the first time and a new polka dotted hat and mittens.

Becky's new hat and mittens. Scarf is going to Goodwill though.
Becky’s new hat and mittens. Scarf is going to Goodwill though.

Becky I asked Joel to do one thing in all this: figure out how we were going to get there and where we were going to park. That’s it. Which, I will admit, right now, my comments of “Are you sure?” were entirely rude and uncalled for. I was wrong. I fully admit that. However, my asking about the tickets and their location insanely numerous times are WELL deserved. He left tickets to a Red Sox game in the car once. That will never happen again because I can be that annoying. He loves me. I got the ring to prove it.

Joel The directions on where to find a shuttle to the event were rather sketchy on their website and email, but I was glad to see a big road block sign with a flashing yellow light and “Bus Pick Up for Loppet” in huge black letters on a sandwich board. We parked in a nearby lot and sat near the sign.

After 5 minutes, Becky asked me if I was sure we were in the right place. I said they probably don’t put signs like that up for fun. Didn’t matter how prickish I was, she asked every 30 seconds after that.

We kept watch down Hennepin Ave. for signs of our bus. Several had extreme difficulty making turns onto our road, sometimes taking 2 minutes to turn through an intersection two streets away. None of them stopped for us, though. In the distance a car alarm went off. Becky sat on a window ledge while I stood at attention for our ride.

The car alarm got closer.

Weird. Why would a car alarm be moving? The honk, honk, honk grew louder in the cavern of stores until the source came around the corner. It was our bus.

The guy stopped, opened the door. The HONKING continued. He motioned for me to stand by. He ran to the back of the bus, then back to the front, hit a few switches, ran to the back again, all the while the honking continued. Finally, he flipped a switch and the honking stopped. We boarded, the only ones to do so.

One mile later, and several interesting choices of streets, including one with cars parked on both sides that made it an unwilling one way. A car on the other end stopped, but then kept coming as if it could defy the laws of physics and squeeze through the other way. It thought better of this, but did not back up for our bus. It was the equivalent of trying to get through a mall at Christmas – annoying and impossible to not bump into people. He could have given Harry Potter’s Knight Bus a run for its money.

Finally we reached the starting point for the Loppet. There was another bus at the drop off, but after waiting five minutes for it to get the hell out of the way, our driver gave up and said we could just jump out where we were. Oddly enough, after Becky got off, he decided to close the door on me, whacking my knee pretty good in the process. Not the best way to start a night that would require two properly working knees.

Becky After asking Joel if he had the tickets countless times, we were there.


Map of the Loppet
Map of the Loppet

We have arrived at the Lagoon Tent, and we prepare our decent onto the lake.

What will happen to our fateful travelers? Will they make it around? Will they Freeze to death or kill each other before the end? Check in next time!

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