Thursday, July 8, 2010

Random Minnesota, Part One

George is annoyed that I haven’t blogged about our wonderful vacation to Northern Minnesota, the land of his heritage, of pine trees, of “ya,” of cold-water lakes and iron mines and lutefisk and saunas and hot dishes. Our stay at Pehrson’s Lodge was arranged by my brilliant sister-in-law, who dreams one day of leaving her high-powered job as a hospital administrator to be a travel agent.

And no, we didn’t eat lutefisk. I choose life, thank you very much.

Today’s post contains Totally Random Musings from the two-day drive up north. I took detailed notes on our drive because, frankly, what else can you do while sitting in the car for about 890 miles.

A white-tail deer leaping through misty young corn fields in Ohio is a lovely sight, especially in the early morning sun.

George, the USAF navigator, cannot trust the Garmin, which we have named Garmy. I would go wherever she told me to go. Isn’t that the point? But no, George yelled at her and did his own thing through Chicago. The silence as she recalculates the route is moody and dripping with implied criticism.

After 11 hours on the road, all the blood in my body has pooled into my butt and ankles. It’s a miracle my brain is getting enough oxygen to keep me breathing.

Hotels with clean indoor pools make traveling with small boys much more pleasant.

Northern Wisconsin is beautiful, with gently rolling hills and small farms with picturesque barns and silos and undulating green fields surrounded by patches of trees. Such a contrast to the super-sized, flat corn farms in southern Wisconsin. Cheap food costs us a lot in heritage and dignity.

For George, getting Garmy wasn’t about getting directions. It was all about the data. Garmy gives us altitude readings, and George is keeping track of the highest point we reach in Wisconsin. 1,176 feet so far. Somebody get the oxygen.

I would like to shake the hand of whoever invented the portable DVD player. Oh. My. Gosh. Advice to parents of small children: under no circumstances allow your children to watch movies in the car EXCEPT on long road trips. The novelty will wear off and the players will not be nearly as effective when you REALLY need them. Trust me on this.

Old, collapsed homes have stories to tell. It makes me sad that I don’t know them. I hope when they were abandoned, it was because the families moved on to better digs.

As we drive through the land of large wood-piles, I am reminded that George’s grandfather was obsessed with wood. He chopped so much firewood that a lot of it rotted before it could be used. Now, for people living in the Great White North, obsessing about firewood isn’t necessarily a bad thing…certainly more useful than, say, obsessing about rubber stamps. But knowing all that wood rotted makes me sad.

1261, new record altitude. George missed the peak, though, and wanted to double back. I said no, and he replied, “Some people just have no interest in science.”


Billboards are ugly. Q.: Why would a health care clinic use an image of wolf and the slogan “We Stand Alone” on its billboard? A.: Because their marketing person is AN IDIOT. I don't want a lone wolf practicing medicine on me.


George made a CD for our wedding anniversary of songs that were popular in 1986. It’s impossible to walk like an Egyptian while sitting in a station wagon. Bummer. You also can’t Wang Chung. Or perhaps you can. Does anyone know what wang chunging is? I’ve always thought it was a euphemism for sex, but that may just my dirty-minded English major mind at work. Again.

1367 over Duluth. As we drove over the huge bridge into Duluth, Nick asked, “What’s Dulŭth?” For the rest of the vacation, we will refer to Duluth (pronounced Dulooth) as Dulŭth. George and I noticed that Duluth has a Barnes and Noble and a Starbucks. George suggested that I could live happily there. I countered that it was currently SUMMER, and therefore lovely. But long, long winters with lots of snow and cold and dark are NOT my idea of an ideal place to live. Nanook of the North disagreed and felt I was being unnecessarily picky.

We arrived in Virginia and met George's parents at the nursing home where his grandmother now lives. She finally met Jack, who was unhatched during our last visit to Minnesota. (Note: Being hugely pregnant in July in muggy, mosquito-infested Minnesota is not fun, especially when there isn't any air conditioning in the house you're visiting.) The meeting with Grandma went very well. She was pretty alert and oriented, especially for an almost 99-year-old woman. She appeared to enjoy watching the boys bounce off the walls with their pent-up energy bursting out their seams.

Then we went to the liquor store to stock up for the week.

On our last stretch of road just south of Cook, we were terrified by a golden retriever who ran across the highway and came within inches of being hit by a car in front of us. It was a beautiful dog, running faster than any dog I’ve ever seen, with an amazing expression of joy on its face that I’ve seen on Hoover’s face thousands of times. I missed my own dog and prayed he was doing okay at the kennel.

We arrived safe and sound and so happy to be done with driving for a while.

Part Two of Random Minnesota will include such fun stories as two visits to the Cook Medical Center emergency room, gonad jokes, and how bribery makes family vacations happier. You won’t want to miss a word of it.


  1. Love this! What a fabulous bunch of memories. Sounds like quality family time!

  2. I've been to Minnesota in the summer with the thousands of winged flying things in the air!!Not my idea of a good time...but concur that the scenery is beautiful! Love your musings as the trip always make me smile at the end of my day as I catch up on yours.
    Lu C

  3. 1367? Really? :D
    The air pressure down there might smother me! (says she who lives pretty darn close to 5280, aka Denver).
    And yes, MN in the summer heat with their honkin big mosquitoes is NOT fun!
    (and my WV work is knocism)

  4. Great post! I can't wait for part two!

  5. Not wishing to cause trouble, but.....if George is so annoyed about you not blogging your Minnesota trip, why has he not updated his photo blog since October '09? I clicked on his photography blog, hoping to see a pictorial of the vacation trip, but.....nothing. Just sayin'.

  6. Oh, Susan. Now George is annoyed that I said he was annoyed. He says he wasn't really annoyed and I was reading too much into his tone of voice. Sigh.

    As for his not updating his blogs, I'm not sure why he's so delinquent. He's still cooking every weekend, inventing recipes, and of course taking photos. It's a good idea for him to post the vacation pics. He got some awesome sunset shots.

  7. "Annoyed that you said I was annoyed"???? You're killin' me, woman.

  8. Susan
    Too funny about the one a funny Mapquest story for George. My youngest sister lives in the "boonies" in Florida(our slang for the sticks!!) and I was going to visit. I went to Mapquest and requested driving directions from Jacksonville Airport. All was well until we got near her town. It was 10:00 at night, dark and a slightly inhabited road. The instrustions said, "STOP AND ASKE SOMEONE THE REST OF THE WAY" I wish I had saved it.
    patti moffett
    PS next time you get to Walmart in the Caladryl drug isle, look for a product called "After Bite" It is a stick of aromatic spirits of ammonia. It is the best product for bee stings, mosquito bites, chiggers, green head flies (a favorite at the Jersey shore. Stops the itch, butn sting immediately. I "never leave home without it"


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!