As the sun rose over Brandon on Sunday, January 8, 2012 it was obvious that it has been an exceptionally mild winter with virtually no snow. We loaded the car and headed South shortly after 9:00 AM. The roads were clear and dry. After we crossed the border it became obvious that North Dacota had even less snow than Manitoba.In some parts of North Dakota there are red alerts because of the risk of grass fires. We stopped in Fargo to do some shopping and spent the night at the Howard Johnson’s. On Monday we continued our drive to Minneapolis. We stopped in for a visit with Jeff and Pat in the afternoon and picked up the items we had ordered for Frank and Angie in Cuenca: a cordless drill, a computer monitor, and some radish seeds. We then drove over to the Bloomington Self Store facility where our car would be stored while we were in Ecuador. Then it was off to the Super 8 in Bloomington to unload the car. We had supper with Amy at Applebees and purchased a large container of chili powder for the folks in Cuenca before dropping off the car at the self-store. We walked back to the Super 8, arranged for a 3:30 AM wakeup call, and hit the sack.