Category Archives: Vacation

I want some fried sugar!

Yesterday marked the first day of the great Minnesota get together, and we were there. The Minnesota State Fair is just one of those things you just have to do. Famous for massive crowds, farm animals, free stuff, bizarre promotions, and of course, food on a stick, the State Fair is just one of those odd events where you walk around all day picking up junk and consuming even more. Somehow I managed to avoid any food on a stick.

Here’s my picks for best of the Minnesota State Fair:

Best free item: Ford caribeener key-chain.
Best food combo: Mini-donuts and all-you-can-drink milk.
Best gross out food on a stick: Deep-fried Twinkies on a stick.
Best sign up to win contest: Minnesota Public Radio – $20,000 car of your choice.
Worst sign up to win contest: Ford – daily drawings (must be present) pit five winners against each other in a duck pond race. Daily winners are invited back on the last day of the fair for more duck-pond races. Champion duck pond racer wins a 2-year Ranger lease. Too much effort, not enough prize.
Best stupid promotion: Gold’n Plump Chicken – giant fiberglass chicken perched atop a delivery van, drawing attention to a booth holding a drawing for free chicken.
Most forgotten State Fair animal: Pigeon.
Best way to get there: MetroTransit bus – bus fare is way cheaper than parking, plus you get $2 off admission.

Rocky Mountain High

Vacation. That’s where I’ve been. I actually have a valid excuse. You can’t just go hauling a laptop into the woods when you go camping. I went on the Internet once during the entire trip, and that was only when we had to re-route our trip. I didn’t even read the news or check my e-mail that one time I was online. So you’ll just have to deal with the fact that I wasn’t really slacking, I was just disconnected.

Hopefully in a few days I’ll have some pictures to post, but for now you’re just going to have to survive on the fact that I’m not a slacker. Okay, I am a slacker, because rather than ranting about something I’m just telling you I was on vacation. So I’m still a slacker.

Let’s make this worthwhile. Where I’d go on vacation? Good question.

Answer (in order of appearance): Ellinwood, KS. Colorado. Wall Drug. The Badlands. The Corn Palace.

Visiting Charlotte

I just got back from Charlotte, North Carolina. If I had to sum up the trip in one word, it’d be y’all.

Believe it or not, y’all actually means “you all” in the local dialect. As in, “What would y’all like to drink?” or the possive form “Can I take y’all’s order?” The most frustrating part of my trip was translating the local dialect into a form of English I could understand. The southern drawl actually drawls so much that the words run together into a sort of mumble, similar to how I’m often accused of speaking. It seems we could all learn to enunciate. I found myself starring blankly at many a waiter and waitress, for the life of me not understanding a word they said. I often tried to fake it by nodding my head in agreement, but that seldom works when you’re asked what y’all want to drink.

Before signing off for the evening, I’d just like to clarify that I mean no ill-will toward the southern dialect. They probably had just as hard of a time understanding me. I’m simply pointing out the differences in accent and the confusion it causes, something that can make you quickly relate to a foreigner to whom English is a second language. Too often people hear accents and quickly assign a persona to the dialect they hear. I would suggest this is nearly a form of racism that somehow assumes a certain dialect corresponds with an IQ or standing in society. Learn to appreciate differences, don’t just laugh at something different from you. When everything’s the same you get a pretty boring room. Okay, I’m done now.

Lake Itasca State Park

Nature is an amazing thing. It’s sad that we’ve spread so wide and deep across the land that there isn’t much wilderness anymore. Today I hiked a half-mile trail through dense undergrowth. The trail wasn’t well kept (which was intentional), and when I looked to either side I couldn’t see more 5-10 feet into the forest. There was that much vegetation. I could have been within snack range of a bear and I wouldn’t have known it.

It made for an interesting hike. But occasionally the wall of vegetation would break open and I could see across a clearing or a swamp. At one point the trail broke through and opened into this vast hidden lake. It was completely wild, no boat ramps or swimming docks in site. There was a beaver dam in the middle, and green slime coating half the surface. Forest, reeds, and marsh claimed the lakeshore–no sandy beach for the kids here. It was beautiful. A completely wild body of water like that is extremely rare.

The whole scene was stunning. It just reminds me how amazing the creation is. You go out into the wilderness and see something like, compared to man’s ideal: green lawn stretching into green lawn and houses butted up next to each other butted up next to the lakeshore with docks pushing out into the water from every other yard. Our way is so boring.

Moving Tim

There’s nothing quite like seeing America from the freeway. Of course I’ve been doing that for the last four years, since I started attending college in Minnesota and drove back and forth from Detroit. Of course the scenery isn’t that spectacular between Detroit and St. Paul.

But this past weekend I traveled a lot farther and saw a lot more interesting scenery. I traveled through Pennsylvania for the first time in my life. Wow. The mountains were beautiful. Western New Jersey was also really mountainous–of course by that time it was dark so I couldn’t see that much. The next day we drove through Massachusetts and again I was amazed at the huge rolling hills on the horizon.

Granted you can’t see much from the Interstate. You whiz by at 70 mph (while the governor on your rented truck starts kicking in) and can only glance out each window and look to the horizon and back to the road. It’s not much of a glimpse, but it was enough to make me want to pull off the highway and explore some back road deep into the mountains.

It really made me appreciate this country and God’s creation. When you live in the Midwest, it’s really a shock to see mountains looming ahead on the horizon.

Lake Louise State Park

This weekend we went camping at Lake Louise State Park.

Were you expecting words of wisdom as well? You’re probably pushing your luck. But do you know what I like about camping? Aside from the fact that you get to burn things, you’re free to do whatever you want. If you feel like sleeping in until noon, you can. If you feel like going on a bike ride, you can. If you feel like reading a book all afternoon, you can. There’s no pressure to do anything. I like that. I think I need that once in a while.

St. Croix State Park

Hear the hum of the mosquito, smell the smoke of the campfire, feel the grit of the sand on your hot dog. Ah, camping. Last night my wife and I took our first official camping trip. It was a one-night trial run, since neither of us come from a long line of camping experts. My dad laughed when I told him we were going camping.

There’s nothing like Dinty Moore Beef Stew cooked in the can over the fire. Especially when you top it off with s’mores. We went to St. Croix State Park and didn’t really do a whole lot. Which I think is exactly the point of camping.

My favorite part was watching the other campers. One guy brought a giant inflatable couch. I guess he’s not into roughing it.