Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Feeling Minnesota

It seems like we have been driving for a long time.  Our travel days are relatively short, but there have been a lot of them since we left Seattle, with a few breaks when we stopped to visit friends.  Our plan for when we got to MN was to stop for a couple weeks, giving us a chance to visit with family and friends, celebrate Thanksgiving, and hopefully relax a bit.  We also had to take some time to winterize the van.  We had lucked out up to this point with below-freezing temperatures some nights but relatively mild days.  With a forecast for highs in the single digits we knew we had to drain the water tanks in the van and prep it for winter conditions.  We lucked out again for winterizing, my mom happened to have a full bottle of cheap vodka that we used for the water tank so we wouldn't have to deal with the taste of RV antifreeze when we start using the tanks again later in the trip.
We spent the majority of our Minnesota time at my mom's in Stillwater.  It was nice to have a bunch of room after being limited to the van for the past several weeks.  The space was a blessing for Madeline as she is just starting to walk, although she won't admit it and refuses to show off any time we ask.  Madeline also had her pick of about a thousand toys to play with, a bunch of new ones my mother bought for her along with most of the toys my brother and I had growing up.  Because she became enamored with horses during several of our stops earlier in the trip, we had to dig out the bouncy-horse for her to ride during our stay.  This horse was used by my aunt and uncle, then my brother and myself, and family friends after that, so it's over fifty years old with a LOT of miles on it, but again provided fun for a little one.  There was also an overwhelming assortment of Fisher-Price and Playskool stuff both new and old to choose from.
Madeline has a real love for books, and many of her books feature either farm animals or jungle animals, so we have been teaching her animal sounds and she's getting pretty good.  So far she has mastered the horse, dog, sheep, elephant, owl, fox, our favorite the bear, and her favorite the donkey.  We decided we would try to introduce her to the real thing so we took an afternoon and headed off to the zoo.  The local zoo doesn't have elephants, and the bears were hiding while we were there, but she knew what the foxes were, got the woof woof for the wolves, and I wasn't about to correct her for the donkey sounds when we saw the zebra.  Without the stripes we probably wouldn't know the difference either.
Uncle Jim, Aunt Pat and Madeline
For Thanksgiving we had dinner with my brother, my mom, and two of her siblings, Brett and Elizabeth.  It was a delicious, traditional meal with turkey and all the fixings, with Madeline sampling and rejecting pretty much everything.  She has become a bit of a picky eater with her tastes changing daily.  The day after Thanksgiving we headed south to Montgomery, MN to visit my dad's brother Jim and his wife Pat, along with several of their kids (more cousins) where we had a second Thanksgiving dinner.  While we were in Montgomery we also stopped by for another quick visit with Brett and Elizabeth, and got a chance to visit with my great-uncle and aunt, Paul and Nancy Vollmar.  Paul and Nancy ran a fishing resort in Ontario, Canada and our family would visit once or more each summer from when I was only a few years old all the way into high school.  Those trips probably had a lot to do with me developing a love of the water.
Along with family visits, we also got a chance to visit with friends and share a meal at Big 10.  Big 10 is a sub shop and pub on the U of MN campus that I pretty much lived at while I went to school there.  We had tried to go back for a visit last year at Xmas but they were closed, so it was nice to go get my fix while we were in the area.  We also made some time to get together with some of my mom's friends so she could show off her grand-daughter.  Unfortunately, this trip is teaching us that it is a lot harder to arrange socializing when you have a little one.  Trying to work around nap times, meal times and a bed time that occurs a bit too close to happy hour meant that we didn't get to see some of the folks we wanted to during our stay.  Hopefully for our next visit we will have figured out better ways to work around her schedule so we can see some of the people we missed.
On our scheduled day of departure there was the forecast for some wintery weather, and we decided to stay a day and deal with the snow there before getting on the road, but with more snow and very cold temps. forecast for later in the week we took our chances and headed out.

1 comment:

  1. Just say the word and I can start you on the happy path of parenting a horse crazed girl.