Orange barrels and blue language

Fall colors in Minnesota are breathtaking. In the Twin Cities metro area we have a vast color palette for our pleasure. Sugar maples show off brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges while oaks turn burgundy or brown. It is nature’s last hurrah before everything smothers in a deep white shroud.

Summer also have a varied color selection. The primary colors are blue in the lakes (and green in stagnant waters) and greens from the trees. We also have orange barrels causing red-faced drivers with white knuckles on the steering while cussing up a blue streak. My preference is nature’s colors, but as of late I have had to endure MnDOT’s artistry.

The Twin Cities metro area has the confluence of three large rivers, the Mississippi, the Minnesota, and the Saint Croix. In addition, the Crow Wing merges with the Minnesota in the far western metro. There are several hundred other lakes, smaller rivers, and creeks which pose highway building challenges along with sharp elevation changes from the river valleys to the more populous areas. Nearly all the major routes in the southern metro are undergoing maintenance or construction at this time. The soggy start to our summer impacted many projects with the unintended consequence of stacking critical projects on top of one another. Of course, the MnDOT management mindset of “Cripes! We have budget to burn before the end of the year! Uff da!” never helps. That is why so many projects seem to start in mid to late June.

The next few weeks will test the native’s patience. Summer’s imminent end is when the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and Minnesota State Fair begin and the U of M begins welcoming students for fall quarter. The onslaught of tens of thousands of out-of-town drivers relying on out-of-date maps, or GPS apps that do not factor in traffic or construction, or a GPS that has not been updated in several weeks, adds to the challenge. For those of you wishing the visit the Renaissance Festival from the south, you should be OK. Getting to the State Fair will require extra planning. Check with the 511MN.org before hitting the road. The gas you save will be your own.

Roads and bridges are not the only things in need of routine maintenance. Relationships work best with some TLC time. Planning some quality time with your special someone prevents bigger problems down the road (pardon the pun). Keep the communication open and remember your family and friends are there to help. Sometimes life causes unavoidable delays or an emergency repair arises. You will be far better equipped to handle the problem by tackling it together.

Update your GPS device or app before getting on the road. For you smart phone users, try a freeĀ  app called Waze, which is available for all major smart phone types (search for it in your app store). If you rely on maps, ensure they are not hand drawn and have phrases like “Hic sunt dracones” (Here there be dragons) and “Terra incognito” (Unknown land), or they were from your local Hupmobile dealer; if so, please donate them to your local historical society and buy new ones. Give your special someone a meaningful hug and enjoy nature’s colors.

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