I seriously can’t believe people want to read about the hill-billy, road-trip travels of the Menke family, but there it is. They apparently do. It was a little weird keeping my journal this year, knowing I’d be retyping it here later, but it didn’t change things all that much. I might have left out all the talk of bodily functions (does anyone really want to know how many craps I take?), and certainly every time I pulled out my camera, I had Dave running away to hide, worrying beyond all reason that it would soon be posted here for all the world to see…
The trip this year was always meant to point us east toward Washington D.C., which Dave seems manically bent on dragging his family through for the ‘experience’. I say: go on the dang field trip with Charlie’s school next year if you want to go that bad. But that would leave Morgan (and me) out of the loop, so the discussion always ends there.
Anyway, I digress. Right up until two weeks before we were to leave on our trip, the plan was to go east. I had voiced my displeasure early and often throughout the planning, always ending with “But I’m sure it will be fun. Dave is totally in charge and I will make sure we eat good food. How bad can it be?”
Morgan was delighted with the plan, as she had it in her head we’d be making many stops to highly populated and urban areas rife with retail opportunities.
“This is a CAMPING trip,” I’d remind her.
Dave poured over maps and the internet, planning — no doubt — a fun filled adventure. I didn’t ask much: only to drive a northern route either coming or going to spend a day and night in Pictured Rocks Park for kayaking in the liquid green waters along rocks and caves of northern Lake Michigan. (It sounded cool when described in a recent Outside magazine.)
To my amazement, while in Hayward over the 4th of July, Dave said, “What do you think about going to Banff?”
Am I dreaming?
I LOVE BANFF!
And so it was: I got my way by being totally easy going.
As usual, we made no plans or reservations, preferring to travel by the seats of our pants. Which I find always a good thing, since — how can anyone plan for disaster? At least when disaster strikes, you haven’t upset any plans or reservations.
It makes perfect and complete sense to me.
Banff is a long drive from Minnesota on even the most direct of routes. It’s an even longer drive when going by way of Wyoming. And no, not Wyoming Minnesota, as some of the people I told assumed I was referring to. The state of Wyoming. Specifically, the Wind River/Riverton area, where we would be picking up the young and traveled Charlie Menke from his stay with some good friends.
Also complicating the journey was the pain and suffering we’d feel at the separation from our beloved animals.
I did feel bad dropping Lola off at Bed and Bone Kennel, but that’s her own fault. If she wasn’t such a freakin’ Cujo, she could have had a lovely time playing with all the other dogs in their sofa-strewn “Big Dog Party Room.” No, Lola gets her own “special room” at the kennel. Which basically means solitary confinement.
I’m sure my parents reading this are cringing right now, expecting me to skewer them here for bailing out on taking Lola to the lovely locale of Round Lake for some one-on-one time with Granny and Gramps. I’m sure the dog they opted to care for in place of Lola (Holly, I believe her name is) was worth the devastation of our relationship.
Kidding. No hard feelings, guys. (Which they made-certain of with a timely cash payment for “the barn utilities.” Give it up. We all know it was guilt money.
Look at the time! And I haven’t even started the journal! Here we go!!
ROAD WARRIORS 2010, DAY 1
Dropped Chin (the chinchilla) at Scanlons and dropped Dave’s car off at the Buttenhoff’s, and we are OFF! Only 2.5 hours later than ‘tentatively planned’. We are getting so much better at this!
No one ate dinner and therefore we contemplated a stop in Waconia (only 10 minutes from home), like we did last year. We were discussing how we swiped a bunch of mayo packets for camping from Subway when… suddenly we are past Waconia and past all food opportunities. So I’ll give you one guess as to who was driving.
Two hours later — and only, I suspect because he had to pee — and we stopped in St. James, MN. It bears noting how things have changed in just a year or two of these road trips. (At least when there is a cell signal anyway). I grab the iPhone and choose an app: Bing or Where or iWant… tap “Local” and search restaurants. All the options pop up. You hit the map button and it opens the GPS and guides us there.
You’d think with all the technology we’d end up somewhere better than McDonalds.
It matters not. I love my iPhone!
Since Dave requested the “graveyard shift” (that would be the late-late driving shift 1 or 2am to whenever) versus the early-late shift (before the late-late), I took the wheel after McDonalds.
Morgan has the luxury of having the whole back seat to herself and it is piled high with crap.
I should mention, for the sake of history, should we ever forget, that Charlie is absent from this initial leg of the journey because he is out in Wyoming with Monchamps. We are “picking him up”, if such a thing is possible being that we are a thousand miles away and heading north to Banff.
Exciting this year is the addition of a MIFI! For Dave’s sake I will once again try to explain the concept (he still doesn’t get it). A mifi is a portable wireless hotspot that uses a cellular data signal and broadcasts it to people nearby — me on my laptop, Charlie on the iPad and Morgan on the iPod.
Oh my gosh. We sound like such LOSERS!
Anyway, I got the VirginMobile unit as opposed to the Verizon unit because VM is cheaper all the way around. You don’t have a contract, only paying for data as you use it. That’s the upside. The downside is that Verizon has better coverage.
So far, not so good. My AT&T iphone coverage has been better than the wifi. Me thinks this Sprint network that VM is on does not “rock” like the Best Buy salesgirl said it did… Time will tell.
I settled into the seat with my current audible book “Girl in Translation”, while Dave pulled out his lime green inflatable neck pillow (which he professes to love just as much as I love my iphone) and instantly nodded off to sleep. Morgan is watching Moulin Rouge and I fear her recitations of the songs from it will rival that of last year’s Road Trip movie of her choice, Rent. At least Charlie isn’t here to complain about her singing…