Monday, August 29, 2016

Summer Trip To Minnesota, Part Four

As you read from the previous entry, this day had an early start.  Since we’re now at a Hampton Inn the breakfast isn’t quite the level of the Embassy Suites offerings.  Which means no cooked-to-order omelettes.  

No omelettes at all, actually.  

Since I ate heavy breakfasts the past two mornings I decide to go for the healthy stuff today.  We eat, then it’s back to the room to pack the last few items then head out to the vehicle with the luggage.  

The child has three appointments today and the last one is early afternoon.  We figured as soon as that one was complete we get on the road back towards The Land Of Dorothy. How far will we go today?  Who knows?

In the back of my mind is the recollection of our previous “let’s just drive and see where we end up for the night.”  But to avoid a repeat of that day we are targeting Omaha, a city with plenty of hotel offerings.  

Back to the present.  Driving downtown to Mayo Clinic is a ritual with which we are well-acquainted.  We know which parking garage to enter, we know where the elevators are, we know which direction to go once we egress the lift.  

The womenfolk head to the child’s first appointment while I make a beeline to the blood donor center.  Now lest you think I’m a callous dad who took no time to be involved in his child’s care, in my defense this was a follow-up which did not need to involve me, nor would I have been comfortable there.  Wife and child were in full agreement with my choice to go give blood instead.  

And besides, I’m looking forward to the juice and sweets I receive afterward.  

That done, I rejoin the ladies in the main lobby of Gonda Building.  It’s a while until the next appointment but I still think I made the right call in just checking out of the hotel and staying put for the time being.  My only goof during this timeframe was to not bring a book.  

The time passes, however.  Soon it’s time for the next appointment.  Then the third.  

And then we all get hungry.  Of course, in waiting for the third appointment to wrap up we wind up in the waiting room while the doctor dictates a letter we need for the school.  And wait.  And wait.  

Finally, letter in hand we head out the door, then out of the parking garage.  

Down highway 63 toward Interstate 90.  Time to blow this taco stand!

(We stop at Burger King on the way out of town and satisfy our stomachs.)  

Again, I prefer today to the last time I drove this direction, with snow on both sides of the Interstate and brief white-out time in Iowa.  

Since Mayo took longer than expected we don’t reach Omaha until almost 8 in the evening.  Fortunately we found a Hampton Inn (I should buy stock in that company) that is in a decent neighborhood where we could walk to a restaurant.  

The hotel itself was fine.  Yet people either above us or just adjacent to our room seemed to enjoy wrestling late into the evening.  At least that’s what it sounded like to me.  Thankfully I had my white noise app and earbuds I can use in bed.  

And I look forward to spending the next night in my own home.  

Next entry:  The license plate game!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Summer Trip To Minnesota, Part Three

Since Friday was such a hustle-bustle-be-around-a-whole-lotta-people day we decided Saturday would be more laid-back.  

Following that day of leisure it was time to have one last (grand) Embassy Suites breakfast, then pack and leave the Twin Cities for the easy drive to Rochester.  

Many of the churches were wrapping up their services when we arrived at our destination.  First stop was Apache Mall.  I needed a couple of shorts and it's a good time to buy them (clearance!!).  J.C. Penney fits the bill nicely.  

The gals wanted to shop for other things.  Since I shop like a man I found what I needed in 10 minutes flat.  Give the merchandise to the Geofamily women and I headed over to Scheels.  

It never hurts for me to kill time in a sporting goods-outdoor retailer.  Beats being alone with my thoughts in the women's clothing section while the other family members take two forevers trying to decide what to buy.  (Stupid childhood rotten memories.)  

I check out Scheels' inventory of rifles and shotguns and also research ammunition prices.  It's also nice to see .22 ammo out for sale again, even if it is inside a locked cabinet.  

Finally the women are done and it's time for lunch.  Greek food at Nupa! 

For the rest of the afternoon it's more visits to retailers, however today only involves window shopping.  Got some good ideas for upgrading our house's main bathroom at Home Depot.  

Return to the hotel and spend the rest of the evening watching athletes pursue gold, silver and bronze.  We all hit the hay early as there's an early wake-up time in the morning.  Child's first appointment is 7:45.  

Say goodbye to the fun part of our getaway.  

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Summer Trip To Minnesota, Part Two

It’s Friday morning!  What will we do today?

I had a (rare) bright idea.  How about visiting the campus of the University of Minnesota?  After all we’re right here and I’d like to start a “Big Ten Conference” tally of schools, or at least communities where these institutions are located.  I already have the Big 12 pretty much done.  

U of M would make the Big Ten total three.  Last summer we stopped and paid a visit to the University of Iowa and way back in 2009 we took a spin by the University of Nebraska—Lincoln.  

Yes, I know the ‘Huskers were in the Big 12 conference at that time but I won’t quibble if you won’t.  

I also have no aspiration to get real serious about visiting Big Ten schools or communities.  Given the conference stretches from Lincoln, Nebraska all the way to the Atlantic Ocean I just don’t think it’s do-able given I still work for a living and can’t live the lifestyle of the full-time RV-er.  

Plus. if I was truly serious I would have taken advantage of two opportunities from our Chicago trip last year.  Could have traipsed up to Evanston for a Northwestern visit and likely swung through Champaign-Urbana to add the University of Illinois.  

However, today the gals are fully on board with a visit to the land of the Golden Gophers.  After a leisurely breakfast, including a made-to-order omelette courtesy of Embassy Suites, we make the short drive.  

Since it’s still summer break finding a place to park is no problem.  Feed the meter and we start walking.


(Like how I framed the Minneapolis skyscrapers nicely in the center of the shot?)

Beautiful campus.  Well-landscaped and nice architechture.  After a fashion we locate the information desk and get directions to the admissions office.  

No, no solid commitment yet.  Not even on the “under consideration” list at this time.  Nontheless we were impressed by the attitude and helpful nature of everyone we spoke to .  

Geogal and I felt the need for a reality check so we reminded the child of how cold it gets in Minnesota in winter.  But I then quipped: “If you want a suntan, go to Arizona State.”  

That’s in full humor.  ASU isn’t even on the long list.  Since Geogal and I lived in the Grand Canyon State for many years we had experience and dealings not only with the institution but also with many of its graduates.  And we’ve never been impressed.  

Back to the present.  With the campus visit in the books it’s time to head back to Bloomington.  First stop?  IKEA.  

We haven’t been in one since moving to Kansas 8 years ago.  But some things don’t change and we’re familiar with the Swedish retailer’s routine of walking you through every display area before you arrive at the warehouse and cash registers.  Throughout the walk I was afraid of Geogal saying “We need to schedule a trip back here, and bring the pickup truck.”  (Geoguy’s response:  “Eep.”)  
So I should not have worried.  We did pick up a few small items but that was it.   So what do we do now?

Go across the way to the monument to American capitalism.  

I’m not a big fan of indoor malls to begin with, and it seems the traditional mall, with anchors rounding out a row of retailers, seems to be dying out.  

Yet the MOA is a notable exception.  When you’re the largest indoor mall in the country you’ve got some clout.  

We’ve been here before so the novelty wasn’t significant to us.  Still, the gals had some stores to visit but before all that we chose to do lunch.  

Where?  Why not Tony Roma’s?  I’m always in the mood for ribs and I haven’t been to Roma’s in a very long time.  

They didn’t disappoint.  

Appetite satiated, we re-entered the mall proper and I soon said good-bye to the gals.  They had cosmetic stores to visit and I wanted to check out one of the attractions:  Fly Over America.  

Well worth the 18 bucks.  

But with that done I still had to wait for the ladies.  I chose to spend my time quaffing a mocha from Caribou Coffee, then headed in the direction of the Apple Store (natch).  

Some time later I met up with the gals and we all enjoyed sampling the latest offerings from Cupertino.  

All of that done, time to head back to the hotel.  Catch a late meal at Chick-Fil-A then return to the room to view the Olympics.  

Not a bad way to spend a day in "civilization."  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Summer Trip To Minnesota, Part One

Time for another road trip!  

Unfortunately this isn’t to a new or exotic destination.  Rather it’s a return trip to the Mayo Clinic for Geoana’s post-surgery visit.  We hope this is the last sojourn this year to Minnesota, this one makes the 2016 tally total 4.  (For the record I only went on two of these jaunts, the others consisted only of the female members of the Geohouse.) 

Since the office visit is set for Monday we decided to make this wrap around a weekend and throw in a visit to the Twin Cities as well.  I put in for the days of Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday off.  

Those approved, we are now in preparation phase.  Since we traveled to Rochester MN three times in 2014 and so far three times this year we have a pretty good idea of what’s in store.  Where to stop, when to leave, expected time of arrival, these are all factors that lack any mystery.  

Geogal and I decide we’ll leave a little after 7 on Thursday morning.  That will give us ample time to drive and take necessary breaks along the way.  


Geogal, on Wednesday evening, realizes she forgot to pick up her prescription.  Our pharmacy closes at 6.  

They don’t open until 9 the next morning.  

Great.  Not even into day one of the trip and we’re already behind schedule.  

Well, no reason to be in a hurry in the morning.  

Thursday arrives.  We rise, we eat, we load the vehicle.  We’re about ready to leave when Geogal asks Geoana to get her epi-pen. 

About five minutes later it dawns on us grownups that the child doesn’t know where her epi-pen is.  She looks longer but to no avail.  

Finally we decide we just need to leave anyway.  We can give her a good lecture along the way.  

Stop by the pharmacy.  Now we can hit the road!  


Barely 10 minutes out of town we stop for road construction.  And wait.  And wait.  

No pilot car, just a guy in the roadway with a “Stop” sign.  We look ahead.  The crew is laying asphalt and the large roller is only starting to flatten the warm black stuff.  

Wonderful.  We’re not even out of the county and we’ve run into another delay.  

However this time we have a solution.  I made a U-turn, drove back to U.S. 36 then drove to the intersection with highway 60.  Turn left, takes us right back to highway 383, connecting with it past the construction zone.  When turning onto the highway I look left to see if the delayed traffic is moving again.  


Ha!  Took us a few miles out of the way but at least it got us ahead of where we’d be had we stayed waiting for the road work.  

Score one for Geoguy!!

While we did get on the road later than we intended the rest of our drive that day was uneventful.  

And we arrived at our hotel in Bloomington just about 11 hours after beginning the journey.  Yes, we were tired but still on speaking terms.  And Geogal did well driving through a deluge on I-35 between Ames and Clear Lake, Iowa.  

That was the only precipitation we encountered the whole trip.  I must say this day’s drive was much superior to the last time I journeyed to Minnesota.  That was in January and featured not only arctic temperatures but also a nice amount of blowing snow on the return trip.  

I’ll take temps in the 80’s and 90’s plus a fair amount of green outside.  

Next entry:  Higher education and capitalism!

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Prized Possessions

There are times where I want to write an entry however...

What do I write about?  

I didn't want my corner of cyberspace to get stale but long days at work and busy weekends don't make for good downtime, a much-needed ingredient if I'm to compose worthwhile entries.  

Then, last night, inspiration strikes where I least expected.  

Geoana and I were down in the guest bedroom (a.k.a. the room where some stuff is kept because it has no other place) looking for her sleeping bag.  In the process I take some bedding off a box and there I see some items from long ago.  

Almost forty years ago.  

My Star Wars figures.   Geoana sees the case, opens it and says "cool."  

Nice to see the old friends.  

I won't be seeking early retirement with these things.  One doesn't need to magnify the pics above to realize they were played with and sure as heck aren't in the boxes.  

I don't care.  I enjoyed them back then.  I enjoy having them now.  I'd rather keep them.