Somewhere in Ohio, en route to Washington, D.C., to protest a new president, two clashing worlds came together with a handshake.

It was Friday at 9 p.m., the night before what turned out to be a massive women's march on Washington, and a group of Minnesota women bound for the nation's capital collided with a group of truckers taking a smoke break outside a convenience store on Interstate 90.

The women were hard to miss, their heads capped in homemade pink knit hats, the unofficial uniform of the march. Clustered together under artificial light, they were a striking sight.

"Who'd you vote for?" one of the truckers called out, to no one in particular.

Most of the women didn't answer, slipping inside to find a late dinner. Sarah Buchanan stayed behind.

"Hillary Clinton," she told him.

"See, I just don't agree with Hillary Clinton," said the trucker, a Missourian named Leslie McAlister who just finished a route and was waiting for his next gig. His earpiece glowed blue in the misty parking lot.

As the other truckers watched with amusement, McAlister and Buchanan each named faults in the other's choice for president. Once done, they smiled and shook hands.

"You gotta have a conversation," said Buchanan, a French and women's studies professor at the University of Minnesota Morris. Even if it felt futile, here on this night that President Donald Trump was dancing at his inaugural ball.

"I don't know if I changed his mind," Buchanan said. "But he didn't change mine either."

There were 462 miles to go to Washington.

Hundreds of Minnesotans traveled halfway across the country Friday and Saturday, bound for a demonstration in the nation's capital. One fleet of a dozen buses shuttled mostly women from around the state to D.C. and back in rapid succession, two 24-hour journeys with just a few hours in between for the demonstration.

Inside the buses, passengers prepped for the impending protest of an administration they say threatens women's and minority rights — by singing folk songs, sharing homemade food and counseling one another about how to move forward under a Trump presidency — both mentally and physically.

On Friday morning, with 947 miles to go, Katrina Bucknell and Sarah Amado launched an impromptu yoga class on the sidewalk of a rest stop in Tomah, Wis.

“I just gotta stretch my body out,” Amado said. “I’m trying to get some positive energy.”

“Do a heart opener,” Bucknell suggested, demonstrating by moving her shoulders back and pushing out her breastbone. “You’re giving and receiving at the same time. You’re sharing.”

Back on the bus, Brittney Carlson of Shakopee passed the time reading “A History of the Wife,” which traces the origin of women’s role in marriage.

“It’s not a page-turner,” she said.

Carlson was traveling with her sister, Tanya. They had always planned to travel to D.C. at this time, thinking they would be witnessing the inauguration of the first female president. They planned to take their mother along as a gift to her.

“It’s not the way I wanted to go,” Tanya said. “It’s not the day I wanted to be there.”

The Carlson sisters decided to take the trip anyway, and they found it joy-filled, if tinged with sadness. Brittney said that after Trump's win, she started journaling in order to process the "stages of grief."

"I cried for a week," Brittney Carlson said. "I had to let out feelings."

Ann Burns, who was sitting in the row in front of Brittney, reached over the top of her seat and high-fived her. “I cried for a week, too,” she said.

At 11 a.m. Friday, Chasity Cypher was almost four hours into the Sisyphean task of unrolling her mother Alicia’s knotted ball of yarn. Alicia, of New Richmond, Wis, was knitting Chasity a pink and purple “pussycat” hat to match the other marchers’. In one ear, she listened to audiobooks she’d preloaded, on constitutional law and the history of the Third Reich.

Behind them, Lydia McAnerney of Minneapolis worked on a dark green cowl scarf. Several rows ahead of them, Ann Borman was working on her own order of pink hats.

The bus had just passed Wisconsin Dells, with 880 miles to go, and Trump was taking the oath of office.

No one mentioned it. No one streamed it. Inside the bus, there was no inauguration.

Recreation time started just past Gary, Ind., with 683 miles to go.

A plastic bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies made its way up one row, while a container of homemade snickerdoodles went down the other.

At the front of the bus, Buchanan, who was traveling with a group of 14 women from Morris — many of them mother-and-daughter pairs — brought out a Magic 8 Ball, the toy that purports to predict the future. She took questions from the other passengers.

“Will Trump say anything offensive in the first 24 hours in office?” The ball answered: “It is decidedly so.”

“Will Democrats take back the House and Senate in 2018?” The ball answered: “Signs point to yes.”

“Will Michelle Obama run for president?” The ball answered: “Yes.”

The ball certainly knew its audience.

Augusta Finzel, 21, and her mother Sally, were also members of the “Morris 14.”

It was Augusta’s first time going to a political rally. She’d made the decision spontaneously, having just gotten back from four months studying in Russia.

U.S.-Russian relations, from her perspective: “It’s complicated.”

What wasn’t complicated was the electricity she felt.

“I just love that I’m surrounded by so many women who are so powerful and intelligent,” Augusta said. “It’s just beautiful.”

Saturday morning, zero miles to go.

Despite having spent close to a day on a bus, Gloria Everson was wide awake and grinning at 8:30 a.m. as the buses from Minnesota pulled into Washington.

"Right now, you can't help but feel energized," said Everson, who organized the caravan.

"I could hop to the Mall," she said. "It really feels historic."

 

Twitter: @SharynJackson