Category Archives: Vacation

The Mount Rushmore of Presidents Vol. 2

Time to check in on more pictures from my trip to Mount Rushmore with my Mom.

One of the debate topics that occasionally rises is who is the next President to go on Mount Rushmore. Say that Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln were the 4 greatest Presidents of the United States before construction was started on Mount Rushmore in 1927, won’t there some day be a President as great as them, that should also be placed alongside them.

To be honest, I don’t think that they will ever add another President to Mount Rushmore. Our country doesn’t spend money on projects like this any longer.

But say that they would, the choice for the 5th President according to the Presidents & Executive Politics Presidential Greatness Survey is pretty obvious. Next to nobody else even got any votes:

1. Franklin Roosevelt – 108 votes
2. Barack Obama – 12 votes
3. Ronald Reagan – 8 votes
4. Dwight Eisenhower – 6 votes
4. James Madison – 6 votes

It would be hard to argue that FDR wouldn’t be the next President to go up. He steered the country through its greatest economic collapse and then most of the way through WWII.

Let us say that some day another face was added to Mount Rushmore, the truth is that it might not even be a President. In 1937, a bill was proposed to Congress to add Susan B. Anthony to the mountain. I’d imagine there would be a pretty strong movement to add Martin Luther King Jr. to the mountain today.

Although it would be hard to imagine putting a Civil Rights Leader on the mountain after the mountain was stolen from the Lakota in 1876 in violation of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie.

But I digress…


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There are still more Mount Rushmore pictures coming!

The Mount Rushmore of Presidents Vol. 1

It is time to crack into the final spot I hit in South Dakota with my Mom last year. Mount Rushmore.

People (particularly bored sports talk show hosts) are always trying to make comparisons in the sports world to Mount Rushmore. Who would be on the Mount Rushmore of Iowa State athletics? (Dan Gable, Fred Hoiberg, Troy Davis, Jack Trice) Who would be on the NBA’s Mount Rushmore? (Lebron, Magic, Jordan, Wilt) Who would be on Cyclone basketball’s Mount Rushmore? (Hoiberg, Niang, Tinsley, Grayer) Who would be on Cyclone football’s Mount Rushmore? (Troy Davis, Jack Trice, Seneca, Matt Blair)

That type of thing?

But does the Mount Rushmore of Presidents have the 4 best Presidents on it?

According to the official results of the 2018 Presidents & Executive Politics Presidential Greatness Survey, they did a pretty good job.

A little about the survey:

The 2018 Presidents & Executive Politics Presidential Greatness Survey was conducted online via Qualtrics from December 22, 2017 to January 16, 2018. Respondents were current and recent members of the Presidents & Executive Politics Section of the American Political Science Association, which is the foremost organization of social science experts in presidential politics.

Here is their Top 10 Greatest Presidents

1. Abraham Lincoln
2. George Washington
3. Franklin Roosevelt
4. Teddy Roosevelt
5. Thomas Jefferson
6. Harry Truman
7. Dwight D. Eisenhower
8. Barack Obama
9. Ronald Reagan
10. Lyndon Johnson

Therefore, the creators of Mount Rushmore did manage to pick the 4 top Presidents that were available to them. FDR hadn’t been President when Mount Rushmore began. He was President when it was abandoned however. During WWII, the United States couldn’t afford to spend any more on the project. At this point, it is safe to assume it will never be finished.

Here some pictures from the trip to Mount Rushmore:


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A few more pictures of Mount Rushmore are still stretching their legs, waiting for the call to get into the game.

Custer State Park Vol. 2

Today is as good as any to check into the back log and post some more pictures from my trip to Custer State Park with my Mom.

I wouldn’t say that Custer State Park was a disappointment, but it didn’t quite live up to the hype. I do feel however that I had more time to visit Custer State Park, I would be way more impressed with it. I hope I do get to do that again at some point. Maybe do some hiking. Maybe find these buffalo that are allegedly all over the place.

But like I wrote earlier. The lack of buffalo was made up for by the awesome feral donkeys.
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Here are more pictures from Custer State Park:


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I felt really bad for the donkey that stood facing the sign. I did talk to him and give him food. He eventually came out and joined the other donkeys.

There are a few more Custer State Park pictures in the hopper.

Custer State Park Vol. 1

Custer State Park was one of the most hyped up Black Hills location that my Mom and I were told to visit.

Some people even indicated that it might be the best part of the trip. The reason:

Buffalo!

Repeatedly, I was told that when we went to Custer State Park, we would see more buffalo than we could imagine. Throw a rock, we would hit 3 buffalo. You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting 4 buffalo.*

Custer State Park was indeed awesome, but it had nothing to do with buffaloes. It was all about the feral donkeys!!

Here are a few photos from our trip through Custer State Park:


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I have more pictures from Custer State Park coming in the near future!

*This is not an endorsement of swinging dead cats.

Saint Paul Mission Trip – Misc.

This last collection of Saint Paul Mission Trip photo were taken by other people, but I’m not sure what day they were taken. Enjoy!


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It truly was an incredible trip and transformative trip! If you ever have a chance to go, GO! You will not regret it. Not even when you can’t sleep, it is 2 in the morning, and you are sleeping on an air mattress on a concrete floor. I absolutely mean it!

South Dakota

Probably past time I posted some pictures from the mission trip to South Dakota.

In reality I could tell a thousand stories about this trip and write a page about each picture, but I’ll hold back and be satisfied with a brief description of each picture. If you want to know more, chances are you know where to find me.

I will point out that they split our group into 4 separate groups. Because of that I don’t have pictures of some of the kids and lots of pictures of the kids in my group (TEAM INVASION!).

Also, these are phone pictures. Sorry about the quality.



Sunset, the first night in Martin, South Dakota.

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Part of Monday night’s activity. A photo scavenger hunt. That Boone FUMC won!


Another scavenger hunt photo.


Another scavenger hunt photo.


Not part of the scavenger hunt, but part of the scavenger hunt journey.


What is the hand holding?


How many Martin residents died in WWII? Summer and Pastor Sarah show the answer.


The local college.

Lots of spiders and snakes and other insects in Martin, South Dakota.


Ben (from Youthworks), MacKenzie and Sarah painting stucco. Which is the worst thing ever to paint.


Katelyn waiting for somebody (me) to hold the ladder.


Alex making a new friend (Willy).


Bennett High School, home for the week.


The view from the top of a hill overseeing a Lakota Pow Wow Ground.


The view from the top of a hill overseeing a Lakota Pow Wow Ground.


The blazing hot sun.


No sign of man for miles.


Learning a Lakota dance.


Lakota dance.


Lakota dance.


Jentry helping Andy study the Bible.


Sarah, MacKenzie, and Amber painting a picnic table at the Bennett County Nursing Home.


Alex scraping a picnic table.


Katelyn scraping a picnic table.


More Alex.


MacKenzie, Sarah, and Amber painting.


Alex painting a picnic table.


Katelyn painting a picnic table.


Amber and Sarah with puppies that kids brought out after we dropped them off after Kid’s Club.


Amber and Sarah with puppies that kids brought out after we dropped them off after Kid’s Club.


Sarah with a puppy.


Puppies!


Katelyn soaked after Kid’s Club Water Day.]


Sarah at Kid’s Club.


MacKenzie at Kid’s Club.


Amber at Kid’s Club.


Shelby (Youthworks) getting doused at Kid’s Club Water Day.


Alex getting a balloon smashed on his head at Kid’s Club Water Day.


Amber at Kid’s Club.


Eric, we will never forget you.


Amber making a deal. Jim got the worst end of the deal. He has to watch GOSSIP GIRL.

I often call the Youth Group Mission Trip the best free vacation ever! But truthfully, it is the week that I grow the most as a human being. In about every way imaginable.

Kansas City Mission Trip

A few weeks back I was one of four lucky adults that got to chaperone my church’s youth group on a mission trip to Kansas City.  It was truly one of the best weekends of  the year for me and I sincerely hope that I get asked to chaperone a trip again in the future.

The Sunday after the mission trip I spoke before the congregation about my experience.  I was operating on about 45 minutes of sleep because the night before was Sara’s graduation party.  I got home at about 3 in the morning. I was also dogsitting Jupiter and any time I remotely dozed off he was waking me up for various reasons.

This is an approximation of the speech I gave to the congregation. Only it is better (I hope) because I’m not about to fall asleep.

The Kansas City Mission Trip was an amazing experience and there are two things I took out of the trip.

The first thing was perspective.  On Saturday night during our debriefing we watched a Nooma video that gave some extremely startling statistics:

It would cost 20 billion dollars to provide basic nutrition, heath care, and clean drinking water for the entire world.  20 billion dollars sounds like a lot of money, until you put it in perspective.  20 billion dollars is how much money Americans spend on ice cream every year.

1 billion people in this world survive on less than 1 dollar a day.

Did you eat this morning?  800 million people in the world won’t eat today. 300 million of those people are kids.  Every few seconds somebody dies of hunger.

1 billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water.

Those are worldwide statistics and they are horrible, but here are a few statistics that hit a little bit closer to home.

In Kansas City on any given night there are 13,000 homeless people.  To put that in perspective, Boone is a town of about 13,000 people.  There is an entire town of  Boone in Kansas City every night that doesn’t have a home.

In Kansas City there are 350 beds for the homeless. To put that in perspective, on a good day, there are about 350 people here during this service worshiping.  So think about it this way, everybody in this church would have a place to sleep tonight, but everybody else in town would be looking for a place to sleep. Underneath a bridge. In an abandoned car. On a friend’s couch. If they are lucky.

Many of those people won’t find a place to sleep.  That is why when we worked at the Faith Hope Ministry on Saturday, many of the people were there to sleep. They were sleeping there during the day, because there wasn’t a safe place for them to sleep on the streets.

Here is another statistic about the homeless in Kansas City that breaks the heart.  The average age of a homeless person in Kansas City is 7 years old.

I can’t imagine what life would be like if I was 7 years old and homeless.  What was your greatest concern when you were 7 years old? Mine might have been missing the Duane and Floppy Show. It wasn’t where I was going to sleep that night. It wasn’t when I was going to eat again.

Another part of the perspective I learned on this trip was extremely shallow.  I apologize for the shallowness of this observation.

I wouldn’t make it as a homeless person.  I just flat out wouldn’t.

I don’t look the way I do because of lack of exercise, although I’m sure that contributes, I like food.  I like good food.

I could not survive on the food that the homeless are thankful to have. Even the “good food” that was served at the Faith Hope Mission was tough to choke down.

Our final stop on Saturday night was at a Family Shelter. This shelter had been receiving food donations of expired food from an area Trader Joe’s.

This is perhaps my favorite memory from the trip.

One of our jobs was sorting the food that was too moldy to eat from the food that was moldy, but a person could eat it. The look on our youths face when Andrea handed them a package of strawberries that were covered in mold and told them it was edible… it was priceless.

The truth is that there were going to be people getting that food and those people would be THANKFUL to be getting it.

Perspective.

It is a reminder that everything we get is a gift from God.  Everything. That car that you are driving. Gift. That house you are living in. Gift. Those clothes on your back. Gift. That food in your belly. Gift. That air in your lungs. Gift.

The second thing I took from this trip is that this church has an awesome youth group.

I don’t pick the word awesome randomly and I don’t mean it the way most people use the word.  It is true that the members of the youth group are many of those things. They are cool. They are neat.

I mean awesome in the truest sense of the word: our youth group is awe inspiring.

The work they did was awe inspiring. The compassion they displayed was awe inspiring.

They inspired me to remember what it truly means to be a Christian. To serve others and always remember the questions: “What can I give? I have been blessed. Who am I going to bless? How can I be more generous? How can I step into my divine responsibility to give?”

I can report to this congregation that without a doubt that the Fair Stand will be in very good hands in 2035.

Here are a few pictures from the trip:


I just want to close this journal entry with two Bible verses that kind of sum up the way I think of the trip:

“Beware lest you say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.” You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
-Deuteronomy 8:17-18

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, TO BE RICH IN GOOD DEEDS, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
-Timothy 6:17- 19

In particular this passage from Timothy is one of my favorites in the Bible. Along with Psalm 139 and Ephesians 4:29.

Editor’s Note: Since I wrote this blog, I have been asked to chaperone the mission trip to Minnesota next year.

Vacation Journal

Here is a copy of the journal I kept while I was on vacation last week.  It covers parts of 10 days and over 1300 miles.  While I doubt anybody reads this whole thing, it was an important exercise for me.

There are no pictures, but I will post some pictures from my vacation at some point in the futre.

Friday
17:33 – Put up my hard hat.  Clocked out. Left the Computer Mine.  Vacation officially started.
17:53 – Check mail.  Brandi Carlile tickets have not arrived.
18:45 – “Cleaned” living room for the arrival of the Gorshes.  Sat on Clockwork Couch. Fell asleep.
19:15 – Gorshes arrive.  Order Casey’s Taco and Hot Sausage pizza.
19:16 – Realize my house is not really clean enough for Evie.  I hate it when my Mom is right.
20:00 – While enjoying Casey’s pizza, determine that Evie enjoys Miles Davis. Not such a fan of live Led Zeppelin.
21:00 – Finish the 6/6 Gorshes Photo Project.
21:45 – Evie makes an incredibly loud sound.
23:57 – Bid the Gorshes a fond adieu and sleep the good sleep.

Saturday
8:45 – Wake up in time to watch Game Day. Might be the last time I get to watch Game Day for a few weeks.  This saddens me.
10:58 – Lee Corso picks Wisconsin to beat Ohio State.
11:47 – Mail arrives.  Assorted bills and political advertisements. No Brandi Carlile tickets.
11:48 – Call UNI ticket office to ask: “What the Hades?”  I am told that for some reason they just decided to never mail me the tickets.  But they will be waiting for me at the Will Call Window.  “Thanks UNI Ticket Office”. This statement is a mixture of sarcasm and gratitude.  About 60% sarcasm.  40% gratitude.
12:47 – Clean out Foster Bunny’s cage and let him roam the back porch while I clean the back porch.
14:48 – Clean the fridge.  After the “Great Cleansing” the follow items remain in my fridge.  8 different types of jelly, 5 different types of salsa, 3 different types of barbecue sauce, 3 different types of pickles, 3 different types of mustard, 3 different types of root beers, about 24 cans of pop (7 different varieties),  6 bottles of bottled water ( 2 different varieties), 10 slices of processed American cheese, 1 jar of Miracle Whip, 1 jar of pickled beets that I bought due to a miscommunication with Derrick, 1 tub of butter, 3 sticks of margarine and a bag of baby carrots.
16:35 – Meet Sara in the Computer Mine Parking lot for trip to Cedar Falls for Brandi Carlile concert.
17:45 – Stop in Wellsburg, Iowa to try the award winning tenderloin of the Town House Supper Club. When we can’t find the restaurant we stop at the local Casey’s.  They have scorpions in shadow boxes for sale as “art”.  Kid behind cash register tells me that that the Town House Supper Club is closed for remodeling.  I thought I was only cursed by old timey ice cream parlors. I am not pleased. Sara buys me a Fig Newton to assuage my pain.
18:30 – We arrive on “The Hill”. I had contacted my Cedar Falls “expert” earlier in the week to find out a restaurant to eat at besides Sub City.  The response came back: “There are other restaurants in Cedar Falls?”  But what I heard was “I’ve criticized my parents for not wanting to try new restaurants, but perhaps that was hypocrisy.”  We try Great Wall Chinese Restaurant. This experience is similar to when Jill and I ate at Jade 88 back in February.  We are the only people in the restaurant.  The food is tasty though.  Not to the level of Chinese Homestyle Cooking, but not bad. They have cool fish lamps on their walls. I don’t feel that Sara appreciates them at an appropriate level.
19:20 – We arrive at Gallagher-Bluedorn.  It is not what I’m expecting.  Although the auditorium itself is beautiful, it is “designed” to make it as extremely difficult as possible to find your seats. After picking up tickets at Will Call, we approach Volunteer #1 looking for assistance.  She tells us that we have to go up the elevator.  Volunteer #2 walks us to the elevator.  After getting off the elevator we hand our tickets to Volunteers #3 and #4 that are standing right outside the elevator. They tell us to go to Door 5.  Door 5 is 10 feet away.  We walk the 10 feet and give our tickets to Volunteers #5 and #6 that are standing outside of Door 5. They tell us to go into Door 5. Inside Door 5 Volunteer #7 points out our seats.  There are two of us. There is 1 open seat. We point this out to him. He tells us that they will “make room”.  We get near “our” seats. People have made room.  We sit down.  Sara notes that the height of the wall that prevents you from falling 150 feet to your death is about 2 feet tall.
19:30 – Opening act Pieta Brown takes the stage.  She plays about 5 songs.  She isn’t bad.
20:15 – Brandi Carlile and her band take the stage.  They play a set without the Cedar Falls-Waterloo Symphony.  It is amazing.
20:45 – Volunteer #8 approaches me and asks to see our tickets.  I give them to him.  He tells me that these aren’t our seats and points in kind of a general direction of where we are supposed to be sitting. He is not friendly or jovial.
20:47 – We give our tickets to Volunteer #9 who points out our seats to us.  They aren’t really seats.  They are more like chairs that overlook the two foot wall.  I actually love this because it means legroom!
20:52 – There are only two other people sitting in this “section”, so rather than sitting in our assigned chairs, we sit next to them and strike up a conversation.  Volunteer #9 doesn’t seem pleased about this, but she doesn’t do anything about it. I ask them: besides Sub City, where is a good place to eat in Cedar Falls? She recommends Beck’s or Pablo’s. An exact quote from the lady: “There is more to Cedar Falls than Sub City.” I feel I should text this to my Cedar Falls expert, but I fear she might drive up to Cedar Falls and slap this poor lady.  Decide I will tell her about this swipe at Sub City in an indirect passive aggressive manner.  Hi Shannon! While Sara goes out to the hallway to drink a Diet Pepsi I learn that the male in this couple moved from California for the female in the couple. He is “looking forward” to his first Iowa Winter.  My Aunt Sherrie would think he moved here because he had “no options”.  The less cynical side of me would ask “are there options to love”?
21:00 – Brandi Carlile comes back on stage and kills it in the 2nd set.  I had thought maybe it was foolish for me to go see Brandi Carlile for a 3rd time this year.  But all told, I spent about $100 dollars on 3 shows. I will find out later in the week that there are people willing to spend quite a bit more than 100 smackers to see just 1 show.  So maybe I am cheap.  Brandi plays many of her best songs: “Dreams”, “The Story”, “Oh Dear”, “Closer to You” and “Turpentine” to name just a few. But perhaps the highlights of this show for me were two covers I’ve never heard her play before. I’ve always felt that her voice is reminiscent of Patsy Cline, but I’ve never heard her play a Patsy Cline song.  She played “Crazy” and nailed it!  Near the end of her set she played a cover of Lenard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.  With the beauty of her voice and the majesty of the backing symphony orchestra, I’m not ashamed to say that I got goosebumps.
22:00 – After the show, (Brandi included her traditional Johnny Cash cover of “Folsom Prison Blues” in her encore) Sara tells me “I want to be Brandi Carlile.”  She did this with an inflection that only Sara can do that makes you think that it actually might be a possibility.

Sunday
8:50 – I’m surprisingly up for Church, despite the lateness of the previous evening, when Mom arrives to pick me up.
9:40 – Andrea gives an awesome (truly awe inspiring) sermon about superheroes and how the greatest superhero the world has and ever will see is a Christian.  At the end of the sermon Andrea and Phil take off their robes to reveal that they are wearing Batman shirts underneath. I have a sinking suspicion that they didn’t have to go out and buy those shirts special for this sermon.
10:05 – The combined choirs of 4 churches perform a song to conclude our worship service. I’m disappointed to see that my Grandma isn’t in the choir, but excited to see a choir with lots of men in it.  Our church choir is a little light on the men.  Of course that is partially my fault for keeping my angelic voice under wraps.

10:15 – Josh tells me that Wesley’s hair color must have come from the Schwan’s man.  I assure him that I was born with red hair.  Then the red went away.  Then the hair went away. Mom tells him the story about how my Grandma (Paternal) knew I would be born with red hair because I “visited her in a dream” before I was born.  I’ve always doubted the veracity of this tale because I don’t remember visiting anybody before I was born.  However, Josh thinks it is a great story.  I am reminded that I should really make an extra effort to make it to Taize Worship next November.

13:00 – Angie, Jon and Alice arrive for Alice’s 3 month photo shoot.  I don’t really know how to take baby pictures, but Angie has ideas.  I give them a tour of the house that consists mostly of the phrase: “This room is too dirty to go into…” and “someday this will be different”.  Alice photography goes seemingly well.
17:30 – Meet the Howards near a private pond for the Howard family photo shoot.  The light wanes quickly and Jesse limping around on his crutches doesn’t help the speed of the event, but I think good work is accomplished.
19:30 – I show up at the Howards for supper.  Kelly makes a very good Shepherd’s Pie.  We watch the Phillies-Giants game.
21:00 – Willy shows up because he is a social butterfly and needs to be around other people.
21:30 – I realize that I was supposed to go to the Mehtodist Men Steak Fry tonight. Whoops!

Monday
9:00 – I wake up with one goal: to stay in my pajamas as long as is humanly possible.
10:00 – I thaw out hamburger to make Hamburger Helper.  I have friends who look down their long noses of judgment at me because I occasionally eat Hamburger Helper.  I don’t have the ambition to cook anything better on this day.
11:00 – I think about cleaning my living room.
11:03 – I email my weekly picks to Andree, Russell and Baier.  Upset: Baylor over Kansas State Lock: Oklahoma over Missouri.
12:00 – I realize I don’t have any milk to make my Cheesy Enchilada Hamburger Helper.  If I go to the store I would have to put on nonsleeping attire. I go down to my Mom’s to borrow milk. Instead, she makes me homemade chicken noodles.
13:23 – I think about cleaning my living room.
16:30 – I dust some stuff.
16:42 – I put the hamburger away. I’ll make Hamburger Helper later this week.
18:00 – Show up at my Mom’s for supper.
20:15 – I put on real clothes and leave for the bowling alley.
22:47 – The Patio Pros enter the night in first place, but get handled by C&B Drywall 18-6. I personally have a decent night.  Winning 3 out of 4 personal points, but it isn’t enough.

Tuesday
8:30 – Depart for Kalona with Mom.
10:45 – Buy Buttermilk Cookies at the Bakery.  I love these cookies. I refrain from buying any more jelly.  I have 8 jars at home in the fridge.
11:02 – Community Store is closed on Tuesdays.
11:11 – Stringtown Grocery Store is closed on Tuesdays.
11:17 – Jackpot! Cheese factory is open.  I buy two pounds of cheese curds, in case any friends drop by the rest of the week.  I also buy, Smoked Swiss, 2 Year Old Cheddar and Chocolate Cheese. I need to buy some crackers when I get a chance.
12:17 – Mom wants to go by Riverside Casino to see what it looks like. I take her to the Future Birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk.  I text a picture to a few people to let them know that this guy doesn’t waste his vacation time.
13:15 – Don’t find the casino, but decide to go to Iowa City to eat at Steak’n’Shake for lunch. This is despite the fact that both Sara and Jesse have tried to shoot down my dreams of eating at a Steak’n’Shake in the past.

13:37 – Turns out I don’t know where the Steak’n’Shake in Iowa City is located even though I KNOW I’ve driven by it many a time. Aimlessly driving around Iowa City.
13:47 – Call Sara for directions. She doesn’t answer.  Call Toby for directions.  He doesn’t answer. Call Jesse for directions.  He answers.  Apparently we drove by it about 5 miles back. Nice!
14:02 – The joyride works to our favor.  2-4 is Shake Happy Hour at Steak’n’Shake.  Steak’n’Shake isn’t anywhere near as bad as Sara and Jesse hyped it to be.  In fact, it was actually on the enjoyable side.  I wouldn’t go out of my way for one again, but it certainly beats the offerings of the Evil Clown Empire, Burger King and Wendy’s. Plus, to my knowledge, none of those places have a Shake Happy Hour. Game, Set, Match. Steak’n’Shake.
15:37 – Arrive at what is left of the Czech Village in Cedar Rapids.  They have a “Speed Hump” sign that is moderately amusing.  We stop in a bakery and buy some stuff.
17:17 – Stop at an abandoned gas station on Highway 30 to photograph it.
18:22 – Stop in Tama to photograph historic Lincoln Highway Bridge.
19:02 – Stop at Country House Family Restaurant in Colo for supper.  I love this restaurant. I have the fried chicken dinner and it is great. Order raisin cream pie to go.
21:30 – Sitting at home. Eat raisin cream pie.  Some cheese curds as well.

Wednesday
8:30 – Watch Prospect Place episode of Ghost Adventures on On Demand.
9:15 – Watch Waverly Hills episode of Ghost Adventures on On Demand.
10:00 – Watch Stanley Hotel episode of Ghost Adventures on  On Demand. Text Jill.  Find out she has been by the Stanley Hotel on an Orchestra trip. Color me with the colors of jealousy. I think they are green.  I decide to watch The Shining later that night in honor of my Ghost Adventures marathon.
10:45 – Watch Return to Bobby Mackey’s episode of Ghost Adventures on On Demand. This is an episode I’ve never seen before, but Jill spoke very highly of it.  By watching this episode I learn that Bobby Mackey’s is in Wilder, Kentucky.  I decide that if I go with Teresa to visit Ernie in Kentucky next year, Bobby Mackey’s is definitely one place we are visiting.  That list now consists of Lambert’s, Beale Street and Bobby Mackey’s.  I don’t believe in ghosts, but I’m willing to believe in the possibility of ghosts. That must make me a ghost agnostic.  Episode is as good as Jill advertised. I leave the epidosde confused as to why anybody would turn a slaughterhouse into a music club.

12:00 – Mom and I pick up Vi for lunch.  Since I get to pick the restaurant, I pick Pickles Pub in Kamrar.  I’m not sure that they are open for lunch, but there pizza is so good it is worth the risk. If not, Webster City probably has a restaurant or two that serve edible food.
12:47 – We are in Kamrar. At this point I tell Mom and Vi that I’m not sure that they are open during the day. I had eaten here once with Shannon during the day, but that was a Sunday.
12:53 – They are open, but they don’t serve pizza during the day.
12:57 – Mom asks the waitress if they will serve us pizza.  The waitress says it will be a little wait, but they will turn on the pizza oven.  Big points for Pickles! We order Fried Pickles because Vi has never had Fried Pickles.
14:00 – Pizza was excellent, as always.  We leave a large tip because they turned on the pizza oven and it looks like our waitress has been crying.
14:30 – Stop at Stanhope Meat Locker.  I don’t buy anything, but Mom does.
15:15 – Home cleaning living room.  It is spotless and I can finally get under my entertainment center to hook up the switch that makes it possible for me to sign up for Netflix.
15:20 – I sign up for Netflix.
15:25 – Watch Food, Inc. on Netflix.
18:00 – Eat pastries from Czech Village bakery. They are terrible. I spit some out. I think about giving some to Foster Bunny, but decide not to be cruel.
20:00 – Pop some popcorn and open up some ice cold Pepsi Cola.  It is time for The Shining on Blu-Ray!
22:30 – I love Stanley Kubrick!

Thursday
7:30 – I’m up. I rearrange my bedroom.  I theorize that this new arrangement will help me keep my bedroom cleaner.  I have lots of theories on cleaning. However, I don’t actually do much cleaning. Cleaning is more of a theoretical activity for me.
11:30 – I’m cleaning my office. The goal is to clean out the Hat Closet and make it a second Frame Closet.  I also want to be able to see the floor again.
11:47 – I get an email from Russell that he is “vetoing” my upset pick of Baylor over Kansas State because he doesn’t “feel” that it is an upset.
11:48 – I point out that Kansas State is a 6.5 point favorite and ranked.  Baylor is not ranked.
13:30 – Russell emails that it technically might be an upset, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Baylor won.
13:33 – Of course, I’m wouldn’t be surprised. That is why I made the pick.  I change my upset pick to Texas over Iowa State.
14:22 – Russell refers to the belief that Iowa State could beat Texas as a “fantasy”.  I don’t respond. I shut off my computer. I believe I won’t touch a computer again until Monday.
3:30 – I can see the floor again.  I am a cleaning god.
16:37 – Teresa calls me to tell me she is in my driveway. I tell her that she might as well come inside. We aren’t leaving until my show is over, even though the show is on Netflix and I can watch it at any time.
16:56 – We leave for Trostel’s Dish.
17:30 – I get a text from Vest at the Computer Mine. He has a question about the Microsoft eOpen website. It is good to be needed.
17:47 – We arrive at Trostel’s Dish.  I can smell Yuppie all over this place, but despite being under the weather, I give it a shot.
17:48 – This is a sharing restaurant. I wasn’t prepared for that.
17:57 – Teresa orders Arancini and a Taco Pizza. I order Beef & Shrooms and Pomme Frites.
18:30 – The Pomme Frites were kind of average, but the Arancini is incredible.  The Beef & Shrooms and Taco Pizza are also above average, but the Arancini really steals the show. If I were to come back I would just order 4 orders of it and call it a night.
18:31 – Teresa asks me if I would come back. I tell her I would, but since it is a sharing restaurant I would come with a larger group of people (like when I went to Chino Latino back in April). Teresa is somewhat offended by this statement, but I tell her that I would let her come along.
20:02 – I’m standing in Sara’s garage.  She has offered to give me a mirror that is roughly the size of a twin bed.  I’m hoping that Teresa’s Murano is the perfect vessel to convey my new prize home. I have been eying the Gorshe Forrester behind their back for about a month now, but I’m hoping I won’t need it any longer.  Teresa says she doesn’t know if she can help lift the mirror because of her bad neck. I give her a pep talk and she’s willing to give it the old college try.
20:06 – By the slimmest of margins the mirror fits in the Murano!  Oh bliss! Heaven and bliss!
20:22 – Standing in the Beaverdale Walgreen’s. I am out of acetaminophen. They are having a sale on it. Buy 1 get 1 Free.  They are completely sold out of all sizes except for the Super Jumbo bottle. I now have enough acetaminophen to ease the aches and pains of a small village.
21:03 – At the Casey’s in Madrid.  They are selling scorpions in shadow boxes as art. Did I miss something?
21:30 – Leave giant mirror in my garage because Teresa can’t carry it to basement due to bad neck. Start thinking about strong friends that will be able to help me move the mirror to the basement.

Friday
10:45 – Stop at the Computer Mine to answer a Microsoft Eopen website question.  This seems to be my expertise at work.  Some would call it job security.  I call it reason #345 why I hate Microsoft.
11:00 – On the Interstate.
12:22 – Drivers from Wisconsin are stupid.
1:17 – Drivers from Nebraska are stupid.
2:00 – Wheels down. Eagan, Minnesota. The Promised Land. Nate and I go to lunch.
2:08 – Lunching at Genghis Grill.  There are small differences between Genghis Grill and HuHot.  They are as follows: Steak is marinated, seasonings, eggs, sauce is thicker, sauce is put in a separate bowl and cooks mix rice in for you.
2:25 – Genghis Grill is a winner.
2:32 – Nate and Bethany have canceled cable. There goes Plan A for watching Iowa State-Texas game.
17:00 – Nate has left for work. I’m heading to Minneapolis to see Becca and Gelli’s new apartment.
17:07 – On 77. Becca’s directions say to take 62 East. GPS says 62 West.  Trusting Becca.
17:15 – GPS was right.
17:28 – Arrive at the new apartment.  It is nice.  Get to meet Ponyo who is cute. Becca and Gelli don’t have cable. There goes Plan B for watching Iowa State-Texas game.
18:02 – On the way to a tea house we drive by the Uptown Theater. I still long to see a movie at this theater.  Their midnight movie this weekend is The Lost Boys. I am reminded that The Lost Boys terrified Bethany when she was young. I don’t think I could talk her into going to see it.  Then my thoughts are stopped cold.  I see an advertisement that lists their next several midnight movies. In a couple of weeks they are showing The Shining. If that wasn’t such a terrible weekend for it, I would come up to Minnesota just for that. I’m still miffed about missing A Clockwork Orange at the Uptown a few months back.
18:15 – At a tea house called Tea Garden.  The baristas look like cliché hipsters, but the clientele looks decidedly normal. I wonder if the baristas secretly wish to work at a more hip tea house.
18:32 – Becca tells me that she was willing to pay 600 dollars for a ticket to see Shakira in concert in Chicago. I’m flabbergasted. I’ve seen my favorite band in concert and it cost me 38 bucks. I’d be willing to pay more, but not 562 bucks more.
18:48 – Back at the apartment awaiting Bethany’s arrival.  We are deciding between two locations. Hard Times Café and Mac’s Industrial Sports Bar.  We decide on Mac’s Industrial based on the fact that their menu includes a Fried Plate of Death.
20:37 – I am face to face with the Fried Plate of Death.  It is a good distraction because despite the fact this is a sports bar, all that is on their televisions is stupid hockey. I secretly hate this state.  Saint Cloud State is embarrassing Minnesota. 1 billion chinamen and this American could care less.  Fried Plate of Death is good, but not great.  It pales in comparison to the appetizer combo plate at The Open Flame.  Now I am longing for The Open Flame.
22:28 – Make plan with Becca to go to the Sculpture Garden at 1 PM on Saturday.
23:13 – Watching Weeds with Nate back in Eagan.

Saturday
11:00 – Search in vain for a way to watch Iowa State-Texas game. Ends with me staring at Bethany’s computer watch Gamecast on ESPN.com.
11:04 – Bethany calls from work. Suggests I go over to John’s to watch football. That would be awesome, but I already have plans with Becca to go to the Sculpture Garden.
12:28 – Halftime: Iowa State 14 Texas 3. Really wish I could watch this game.
13:00 – Arrive at Becca and Gelli’s.  I watch Iowa State-Texas game on Gamecast on my phone.
13:14 – Becca and I head for lunch at Hard Times Café.
13:26 – Becca thinks Hard Times Café is in Dinkytown. We end up in a traffic jam. Minnesota must have a football game at 2:30.  Look at all these people headed to the stadium.
13:43 – We drive past Minnesota Stadium.  All these people aren’t driving to the stadium. They are leaving the stadium! There is 5 minutes left in the game and there is maybe 10,000 people left in the stadium. I text Jesse to find out the score of the Minnesota-Penn State game. Minnesota is down by 9.  They are down by 9 and their stadium is empty.
14:11 – We find Hard Times Café. It is in a Somalian neighborhood. That is code for ghetto in Minnesotan.
14:16 – This is a true hipster place.  Vegan and vegetarian food. The baristas AND the clientele scream cliché hipster. Who am I to judge though? They probably look at me and think I look like a cliché badass and it is true, but badass is who I am. I can’t run from it.
14:18 – Hard Times Café has an interesting way to order. You write down your food order on a piece of paper and hand it to the barista. But for the drink, you can actually talk to the barista. I order an Eden Omelet and Organic Grape Juice.
14:22 – Derrick calls me. Iowa State has officially beat Texas for the first time in school history. We discuss how proud we are to be Cyclones.
14:25 – I text Russell to ask him if he believes in fantasies. I still haven’t heard from him. Andree and Jesse both text me to celebrate the victory. I had received texts from Baier earlier in the day, but surprisingly he does not text me after the game.  Perhaps he was still in shock.
14:27 – Our food is up.  It is very good. I try some of Becca’s biscuits and gravy. It is surprisingly good for not having any meat in it.
15:03 – We arrive at The Sculpture Garden.  Although they have moved some sculptures around, I don’t think there are any new sculptures from the time I visited it with Bethany a couple of years back.
15:05 – Lots of wedding parties here getting their pictures taken with a giant cherry. Little weird Minnesotans.
15:27 – The flower garden hear is amazing!
16:47 – At Jamba Juice.  This is my first lifetime visit to a Whole Foods.  I order Banana Berry Smoothie without a boost. I don’t believe in performance enhancers.
17:00 – Hug Becca goodbye.  Going to Bloomington to meet Bethany and John at John’s place to take some pictures.
17:03 – The quickest route between Minneapolis and Bloomington involves 35W South.  The police have closed this road because Obama is in town.  I appreciate the meaningful health care reform. I appreciate Wall Street reform. I appreciate removing combat troops from Iraq. I don’t appreciate this Obama!  It will be a long 8 mile drive down Nicollet, with the sunlight wasting away.
17:22 – Arrive at John’s. Bethany still isn’t ready. Sorry for the angry words Obama.
17:47 – Arrive at Century Park. It is pretty dark, but we take some good pictures.  At least I hope they are good.
20:27 – At The Park Tavern Bowling & Entertainment Center in St. Louis Park.  For years I’ve listened to Bethany praise the green chicken wings served here.  Here with John, Bethany and John’s friend Ryan.  Hostess asks us if we want a table near the karaoke or far from the karaoke.  We ask if they can just “not do karaoke”.  She responds, “I wish.  Believe me. I wish.” Her eyes glaze over as she seems to be remembering a traumatic experience from the past.  Then in an instant she is back with us.  She seats us around a corner and far from the karaoke.
20:33 – Some guys is killing Journey on stage. Not in the Brandi Carlile way, this is literally musical homicide.  Hatred for karaoke is reinforced.
20:47 – The green chicken wings arrive.  They are excellent!  They are also very spicy and very large.  They are least 4 times the size of normal chicken wings.  Also interesting is rather than celery, the “side dish” is cucumber slices.  Tasty, but I think it actually makes the burning sensation on my lips worse.
20:52 – Woman who actually belongs a stage is doing a serviceable job on Janis Joplin. As it turns out, serviceable is as good as it gets on this night.
20:55 – Nate calls and says to order for him in 15 minutes.
21:10 – We order for him.
21:14 – The guy that murdered Journey is now murdering Survivor.  Fantastic!
21:20 – Nate’s wings arrive.
21:40 – Nate arrives.
23:23 – On the way back to John’s I hear my first legendary John-Hardcore-Right-Wing-Rant.  Ryan holds his own as his Yes Man!  Some of my favorite phrases include, “Back in the 70s” and “I heard a scientist say once.”  Okay, my real favorite phrase was when Bethany says, “I’ve asked you to show me documentation of that claim before and you can’t find any!”
23:42 – Back at John’s watching Jim Gaffigan clips on YouTube.

Sunday
00:47 – I hug Bethany goodbye.
1:13 – Nate is already asleep.  I read several website reports of Iowa State’s historic victory over Texas.
8:45 – This is the 4th Sunday of the year that I have missed Church.  I missed Super Bowl Sunday, the Sunday after my Birthday Barbecue and Swell Season Sunday.  Now this Sunday.  Based on the Shorty Peterson Church Credit Theory, I still have perfect attendance.  I have missed 4 services, but I also went on Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  I also once stopped in on a Contemporary Service. However, that is partial credit at best.  I should really go to the Taize Worship in November. I know I’ll also go to the bonus Christmas Eve service. If they don’t cancel the midnight service this year, I might hit two services on Christmas Eve. I might end up with better than perfect attendance before the year is over.
10:02 – Nate wakes up.
10:15 – I say goodbye to Nate. No hug. Get in the car to head to Oakdale.
10:45 – I knock on the door to Jill’s apartment.  There is a small amount of time before we have to leave to make it to Hell’s Kitchen.  Our reservation is for 11:30.  Jill is watching the Travel Channel’s all day marathon of Ghost Adventures.
10:52 – I make an effort to be friends with Kitty Baby. The other encounters I’ve had with her have not gone particularly well.  This time she doesn’t hiss or run away from me. This is known as progress.
10:58 – Jill is going to see Maroon 5 in concert on Thursday. I already know this, but you probably don’t.
10:59 – Standing in the parking lot trying to decide who will drive. Jill says, “Don’t you want to ride in the Poor Man’s Porsche?” Truth is that I never miss a chance to ride in the Poor Man’s Porsche.
11:04 – Jill tells me that when she made our reservation, they told her that Hell’s Kitchen has a jazz band playing during brunch.  Considerable improvement over karaoke.  In fact, it is nearly impossible to quantify the breadth of that improvement.
11:06 – Jill asks if “How” is still my favorite song from Maroon 5’s new album.  I tell her it is, but the acoustic versions of “Never Gonna Leave This Bed” and “Misery” along with the cover of Alicia Keys “If I Ain’t Got You” are closing the gap.  She plays for me the iTunes Bonus Track “The Air That I Breathe”. She tells me she’s excited for Thursday.
11:11 – Jill tells me she’s excited for Thursday.
11:16 – Jill tells me she’s excited for Thursday.
11:20 – Jill tells me she’s excited for Thursday.
11:28 – We arrive at Hell’s Kitchen. The hostess asks us if we want a table near or far away from the jazz band.  We give the exact opposite answer that we gave the hostess from last night.
11:48 – This is a really cool restaurant.  Live jazz band. The servers are wearing pajamas. The art on the wall is cool without being contrived. There is an awesome angel statue on the stage behind the jazz trio.
11:52 – Our food arrives.  We ordered Sweet Potato Fries as an appetizer. Jill ordered Shrimp & Crab Cake with Poached Egg. I order Bison Benedict.
11:57 – I’m not a huge fan of breakfast at a restaurant, but this is phenomenal.  This definitely goes on the list of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten at.
12:22 – The jazz trio announce when they will be playing Hell’s Kitchen again.  On the list of their future appearances is a night when they will be playing Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy. I wish I could be here for that.
12:28 – While paying the bill we discuss whether or not we could steal the sweet pen our server brought her to sign the check.  We do this in front of the waiter. He tells us to go ahead and steal it. He says he sometimes brings stuff to people for them to steal. We decide not to steal the pen.
13:30 – We are at the Carmike Cinema in Oakdale. The original plan was to go see “Hereafter”. That isn’t actually true. The original plan was to see “Life As We Know It”, but after Jill’s most recent trip home, I showed her the trailer for “Hereafter” and “The Fighter”.  She decided that she would rather see “Hereafter” and we made very soft plans to see “The Fighter” when it comes out. However, we didn’t make it back from Hell’s Kitchen in time, so we are back to the original plan of seeing “Life As We Know It”.
15:30 – It is a fair but predictable movie. Most romantic comedies are predictable, so I don’t hold that against it.  I can deal with predictable as long as it is well done.
16:15 – Hug Jill goodbye. Wish her luck at darts.
18:30 – Stop in Albert Lea for gas and fast food at Burger King.
20:00 – Home. Foster Bunny survived my absence, but I swear he looks lonely. A trick of the eye.
21:00 – Start of first Computer Mine basketball game of the season. 9 players here. This is promising. Played a couple games last year with 5 or less players.  Still haven’t recovered from cold completely and am feeling the aches of being in car for 3.5 hours. I decide to play as little as I can in this game.
21:15 – First extended playing time in this game. I feel like I’m going to vomit. Burger King was a big mistake.
22:00 – We kept it close for most of the game, but lose by a final score of 66-45. Although that sounds bad, this is actually very promising.
22:22 – Ha! Ha! Brett Favre loses to the Packers!

Monday
8:58 – Back at Computer Mine. Vacation officially over.