MARTINEZ: Hello, Minot

I should’ve booked a hotel in Nebraska.

When I accepted the job at The Minot Daily News, I was excited to begin my journalism career. I’d just graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May, and after living in Texas my whole life, I wanted to move somewhere where it wasn’t 90 degrees on Christmas Day.

I bought winter clothes with the intent of wearing them for the first time in my life, rented a U-Haul truck with a dolly for my car and planned what was estimated to be a 24-hour drive with my father.

My mother insisted that the two of us rent a hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska, the midway point of the trip, but we refused. My father and I are the type of people that’ll place grocery bags all the way up our arms like hangers on a closet rack just to bring everything into the house at once. We don’t do second trips.

After deliberating, we constructed a bullet proof plan. We’d leave Friday morning at 5:30 a.m. and arrive in Minot at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday. As long as we took five-hour driving shifts and slept when it wasn’t our turn we’d be fine.

We were so wrong.

The straps on my car came undone in Oklahoma, I hit a bird in Kansas and I never want to drive through the back roads of Nebraska again.

And if you’re wondering why I don’t have anything to say about South Dakota, it’s because I was running on a bottle of Coke and half a Kit Kat bar at that point. But, after what turned out to be 28 hours of driving, we were finally approaching Minot… or so I was told.

Google Maps said we were just 10 minutes away from my apartment, but all I could see were open fields and the occasional abandoned shack. It was like an episode of “The Walking Dead.”

“I’m sure we’ll reach civilization at some point,” I assured my dad with moderate confidence.

Sure enough, we turned the corner and saw the town. Let me tell you, when you’ve been stuck in a U-Haul listening to the greatest hits from the ’70s for 28 hours straight, the sight of Walmart, McDonald’s and a Buffalo Wild Wings is like stumbling across El Dorado.

We’d arrived.

After moving everything into my apartment, my father and I went to go pick my mom up at the airport. She was the smart one that decided to fly in instead of making the drive.

The three of us spent the next few days walking around the Scandinavian Heritage Park, shopping at Dakota Square and eating at The Starving Rooster. Everywhere we went, we were greeted with friendly people who welcomed us to Minot once they found out we weren’t from around here.

I dropped off my parents later that week at the airport and came to a red light on my way back to my apartment. In that moment, a rush of emotions came over me as it hit me for the first time that I was on my own.

But fear oddly wasn’t one of those emotions. Sure, I was sad that I was so far away from my family, but I was also eager to start this new chapter. I’m looking forward to working here in Minot, and I want to thank everyone I’ve met so far that’s made this process a lot easier.

Also, there’s a 50-50 chance my car won’t survive the winter. If you see a black Camaro pulled over on the side of the road, help a guy out.

This is the opinion of Justin Martinez. He covers Minot High School and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.

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