Feelin’ Minnesota

It was an easy flying commute but a tough few hours.  After much back and forth and variations on the theme of “so you’re comfortable with this?” from my end, TC decided it was time to depart Michigan and get her trial by fire qualification via a drive from Michigan to Minneapolis.

In theory this was easy on me as I was able to simply fly to MSP from Boston after my redeye from Oakland.  Much easier than trying to get into Marquette or even Duluth.  In practice, it was nerve-wracking at best, thinking about her doing her first no-kidding long drive with the kiddos and without me.

Quick digression, though… I mentioned Oakland, and this was pretty cool.  I had 24 hours there during my second of two trips while gone from the family back in the UP, and was fortunate enough to have a brunch with my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, and all her kids (one home for the weekend from college even!) at my parents’ house.  This is extremely rare, both managing to do this sort of thing under the auspices of work and getting all of those people together at once.  Noteworthy and unforgettable!

Back to Minneapolis.  I arrived there at about lunchtime while TC and the fam were en route.  I was able to track Keeper’s phone’s location, so every half hour I’d keep my angst in check by bringing up the display of Keeper’s face trucking down Minnesota’s back roads toward Minneapolis.  Progress appeared solid, and I grabbed a Lyft to the park at which we’d planned to camp with the intention to scout campsites and check in prior to their arrival.  We had opted for a park on a lake (you need to work not to be on a lake in Minnesota I think) on the west side of town near a good college friend I’d hoped to visit while in town.

My Lyft driver was a very personable, younger Somali gentleman whom I was able to chat with on the 45 minute drive.  My Navy time never took me to the horn of Africa, and my knowledge of the area is more or less limited to Black Hawk Down and Iman / David Bowie, so I wasn’t the best conversational partner.  I did manage to ask him whether he enjoyed Minnesota (yes, but it’s quite cold in the Winter) and whether he missed Somalia at all (NO!).  Um, duh.

Returning to the family, Tacco killed it.

IMG_8836Managed both the gas station evolution (which requires far more pre-planning than it would appear) and a detour through downtown Minneapolis, the thought of which made me shudder.  They rolled in triumphantly in the late afternoon, and we settled into another thoroughly pleasant campground.  The Midwest seems to do these well.

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The following day in Minneapolis was devoted to errands, as we’d yet to have such a day.  Eye exams and new glasses for the kiddos, Trader Joe’s for the rest of us, and a bit of mall time in the interim.  Not the Mall of America mind you, but the one in Wayzata is as thoroughly pleasant as the campground was, as is the rest of the town.  I can see why Brandon and Brenda missed it at times, despite their new Beverly Hills digs.  I’m sensing a recurrent “pleasant” theme in Minnesota.

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We spent the evening catching up with one of my college roommates and great friends, and his oldest son at their gorgeous house on (another!) lake in Plymouth.  Fantastic.  As often happens, it ended up being the type of thing that was so brief that it makes me wish for a full-on several day visit instead, but still great to see him.  I’m able to do that sort of fly-by visit quite a bit with my job, but I’m finding that we’re doing even more of it than I’d expected we would with this trip, as we keep remembering about people who are in town and/or others who happen to be either vacationing in our area or currently living somewhere in our path.  It’s turning out to be one of the unexpected benefits of this year.  It would’ve been nice to join them on their boat on Lake Minnetonka the following day, but it was time to head West.

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