My first real job out of college was working as a reporter for a small daily newspaper in a town just outside of Reno. Northern Nevada is, to be sure, an interesting and fertile place to be a journalist, which means that it can also be an incredibly bizarre—and sometimes frightening—place to live. One of the local judges I covered kept a gun in his desk drawer. The district attorney looked like Elmer Fudd and talked like Ross Perot. The mayor was a former local television anchor who, for some bizarre reason, was semi-famous in Australia. And these were the respectable people.
One day a few months after I arrived, the river that flowed through Reno flooded, inundating much of the area and making it impossible to leave. The airport was shut down. The interstate was closed. The pass into California was blocked. For 24 hours, nobody could get into or out of the city. To my colleagues and friends who were native Nevadans, this was, naturally, no big deal. To me, it might as well have been the end of civilization.
It didn’t really matter that I didn’t have the time or the money to go anywhere: It was the idea that I couldn’t get away that gave me cold shivers. As far as I was concerned, this is what hell would be like: stuck in Reno, with no possibility of escape.
I thought about that episode a lot as I read this month’s cover story, and not because the Twin Cities is at all like Reno (for which we should be eternally thankful). And not because the coming months will bring plenty that we might want to flee: snow, televised awards shows, Jesse Ventura’s new book. No, I thought about it because it reminded me that getting away is as much a psychological act as a physical one, that breaking routine is often as important as changing time zones.
The cover story, edited by associate editor Rachel Hutton, offers some advice on how to do both. Yes, we tell you how to escape winter. But we also tell you how to embrace it. And because we’re all Minnesotans here, we thought we should be practical about it. Rather than tell you about getaways that only a select few will ever get to enjoy (if you’ve got the cash to rent a villa in the Turks and Caicos, you probably don’t need our help), we decided to show you how to get a more meaningful experience in places we already know you visit. So we give you an insider’s guide to Las Vegas (the number-one domestic destination for Minnesotans) and tell you how to have a Señor Frog’s–free trip in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Because we know that many people’s lives are too busy to take a week or more to go that far, we also made sure we included some getaways that are close to home—as well some ideas on how to make the best of what winter has to offer, from kiteboarding to cross-country skiing.
I cannot guarantee that any of these will make you feel completely revitalized, rejuvenated, or ready to withstand the worst of what winter in Minnesota may bring. I will, however, promise that whatever you do, it’ll be better than being stranded in Reno with Elmer Fudd, a gun-toting judge, and a pseudo-celebrity politician