trecc #3: pursuing Fargo

The main fact that governed this day’s itinerary was one ambitious goal: making it to the Fargo, ND, area in time to attend a college ministry.

[This is a week-long series logging my random drive from Portland to North Carolina, including a pretty in-depth look at each crazy day. You can get the whole picture at the TRECC Itinerary.]

I certainly would be cutting it very close on time. I was starting not very far east of Bozeman, Montana, heading to the far side of North Dakota – over 700 miles. I got driving about 8:30am (after a pretty great night’s sleep in the Pathfinder, actually).

There would be a time zone change on the way, meaning I would lose an hour in the middle of North Dakota.

Further complicating matters, I didn’t know which school I would end up at – or what ministries (if any) might be active tonight. In case you’re wondering, there are three major-ish schools in the area: North Dakota State (in Fargo), Concordia University (in Moorhead, Montana), and Moorhead State (also in Moorhead).

Finally, there was added value in making it to Fargo ahead of time. It turns out a few days on the road doesn’t help the hygiene, so I was hoping to check in to a motel before visiting a campus. If possible. You know, to keep from further encouraging the hobo-prejudice I occasionally encounter…

First step: Identify a ministry.

It took a little bit of searching, but I found out a campus-based ministry would be meeting at 8pm at NDSU. (No name, for reasons I’ll soon reveal.) The 8pm time gave me hope I might actually be able to get a motel and still get to NDSU in time, but we would see. Meanwhile, if you’re wondering how I can search the internet while striving to get to Fargo quickly… just click here.

Second step: Drive like I mean it.

That means no extraneous bathroom breaks. Get gas when I do stop. No other stops. No Happy Meals or even happy meals – instead, my “car diet,” a semi-regular feature of this road trip, which consisted today of various granola-ish bars, Boost drinks (high protein), apple juice, and water. It gets the job done.

As I’ve noted before, Montana’s default speed limit is 75. It turns out N. Dakota has the same beautiful attribute. So that certainly helped.

Long drives can be nice, and I did have some good time with God on the drive. Turns out looking around at His magnificent creation can be a pretty strong call to praise. Who knew?

Third step: Fix the car battery.

At my final gas stop (a disappointing necessity since it was just short of Fargo), I realized my battery was dead. Yikes. The whole TEN hard-driving hours had come down to this, with the ministry starting in about an hour and a half, and me still… unhygienic. So close, but so far.

When my car got broken into way back in Boston, the smarty thieves actually disconnected the battery to shut off the alarm. The coil had been loose for a while, but I’d fixed that way back when. Today, it decided to have some fun – was it the crazy wind? The 75mph? I dunno. But fortunately the fix was simple enough, and I was on my way.

The conclusion of the matter.

Found a motel, got a razor on my face, took a shower, hit the road to closeby North Dakota State University. It all went a lot more smoothly than it coulda. When I got on campus, the wind had picked up, and the temps had dropped, but I made my way to the Memorial Union with about 10 minutes to spare! Whoop!

And then, as has happened occasionally on this trip, the plan changed. I looked in on that ministry that supposedly started at 8pm – and either they weren’t meeting at 8pm or they really weren’t expecting visitors. Bad info on a web site is always a big bummer, no less so when the visitor happens to be coming from 700 miles away.

But don’t fear! As I sat waiting for that ministry, I got randomly invited to another one – Chi Alpha – meeting at 8:30. So it turns out I got a bonus 30 minutes (after all that hurrying!) to enjoy the wireless, then found myself in a Bible study with at least 200 Chi Alpha peeps.

As I said, that sort of switcheroo isn’t completely abnormal for this trip.

The study was good, and for the second night in a row the worship band was pretty hard-rock. (Cru last night was as well.) That’s my fave style, generally. Not for theological reasons, just preferenc-ogical reasons.

And here’s today’s Collegiate Ministry primer: Some of you may not realize that Chi Alpha isn’t truly a “parachurch” ministry. It’s a denominational ministry of the Assemblies of God (“the Assemblies” if you’re on a first-name basis). Joining Chi Alpha (XA) in that genre are Baptist Collegiate Ministries (of the Southern Baptist Convention) and Reformed University Fellowship (Presbyterian Church of America), among several others I’m a little less familiar with.

So now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

Just when I thought my day-long adventure was over, I came outside to blizzardy conditions! Crazy cold, crazy snow. They’re expecting like 4-6 inches accumulation tonight, April 10th and 11th. THIS IS NOT NORMAL I’M FROM DALLAS WHAT IS GOING ON.

TRECC stats

  • Today’s T-shirt: Santa Clara University
  • Today’s states: 2 – Montana & North Dakota
  • Miles driven today: about 740
  • Campuses visited today: 1 – North Dakota State University
  • Total TRECC states: 5
  • Total Trip states: 34
  • Total TRECC miles: 1581ish
  • Total TRECC campuses: 4
  • Total Trip campuses: 95
  • Time left until start of College Metro in Wake Forest, NC: 5 days, 7 hours at 12:45am Central Time

Written from the warm Motel 6 in Fargo, North Dakota

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