I'm down here in the Atrium/Pool Area in the hotel, watching the kids swim and catching up on my blogging.
I finally figured out why we're getting free wi-fi. There is free wi-fi in the public areas, including the atrium and lobby. We're on the third floor, and close enough to get in on that action.
It gets even better. I was a little nervous about finances for this trip; taking this weekend off was a bit expensive for me. The good news was that I checked my bank account online yesterday and discovered that I had one more check coming from my teaching job. I was on a 12 month contract, and wasn't sure when the 12 months ended. Yesterday, apparently. So I'm free to spend like a sailor on leave. I got that good news just before we left the hotel for the Minnesota State Fair.
Just before we left, I discovered that I'd forgotten to pack sunscreen. I insisted that we stop at a drugstore and buy some, over Kim's slight objections. She was to thank me later.
As we crept in the line of cars into the fairground parking lot, we all slathered in sunscreen. We got there too late to see Al Franken, and apparently missed a new Minnesota State Fair tradition-- the "running of the bull.". Shortly before we got there, a bull got loose in the farm exhibition area, and went after a fair-goer. The fair-goer got out of the way and the bull sent himself to the big barnyard in the sky when he brained himself on a fire hydrant.
Co-best friend Andreas has pointed out that strange things happen around he and I (I'll post sometime about the kamikazee bicyclist he witnessed in Frankfurt, Germany). This was yet another example.
Speaking of kamikazee, we decided that it would be prudent to do the rides before hitting the food area. By we, I mean the kids and I. Kim had way more sense than to get on the rides.
But before that, we had to stop at the Honky Tonk Museum. It may have been tiny, but they had amazing relics of country music, including things like...
Buddy Holly's airline ticket (not his final one, but I wondered if that was in bad taste),
Johnny Cash's wallet....
Marty Robbins' shirt-- the final shirt he performed in...
and the one that brought tears to my eyes...
Elvis Presley's sock!
I was left thinking about an old Saturday Night Live bit about Elvis Presley's Jacket going on tour as we headed off for the rides.
I told the kids we'd go together on one ride that they chose, then I'd go on one ride with each of them. They chose the Crazy Mouse for our communal ride.
Kim stayed behind at a safe distance. I began to realize that she have been the wiser one in this case.
They had one of these at Playland Park, the suburban Chicago park I went to as a kid. There was a twist on this one, though, since I'd been on-- literally. Not only did the damned thing whip you around, making you pray to god that you weren't going to be the one cart in whatever million that doesn't hold to the rails, it spun us around in circles. What kind of madman had devised this ride?
I prayed for an safe and peaceful end to the ride. I was granted this.
We finished up and Adam and I rode the bumper cars. As he went to the nearby Tilt-A-Whirl, Mel and I rode the politically incorrectly, and terrifyingly-named Kamikazee.
The picture on the side of the ride did not encourage me. Neither did the fact that they lock you in a cage in the ride. That's it in the background.
I had the foresight to empty my camera, cellphone, keys, etc. out of my pockets. We were whipped upside down and around. All through it, I kept trying to put out of my mind the fact that the rides were put together and run by carnies.
Kim, to her credit, thanked me for doing this-- otherwise she would have had to go on the ride.
Believe it or not, there were two even more terrifying rides. One was a ride where they shot you up in a ball with giant rubber bands...
And another that was like the ride that Mel and I went on, except that you swung about 150 feet in the air.
Needless to say, we did not go on those rides.
Adam stated that he wouldn't go on those rides for a million dollars. I considered my price. I'd do it for as little as $500.
I had a diet Coke to settle my stomach and we headed off to meet Kim's lifelong friend Ann, and Ann's partner Jody, and to the food area.
We decided that we had one rule: everyone had to have at least one thing on a stick.
At the food tent, Adam had a Corn Beef and Cabbage on a stick, Spam curds and fried cheese curds. Mel had Spaghetti and Meatball on a stick. I had a big honking barbecued turkey leg, pickle on a stick and some jambalaya. I was disappointed that I couldn't find alligator on a stick.
We had ten more ride tickets left-- enough for each of the kids to take one more ride-- with the stipulation that they go by themselves. I was done with rides for the day.
Mel chose a swing ride. Adam and I both thought she was going to lose her Crocs.
Adam took one more turn on the bumper cars, as I mused that in about two years, I'll be teaching him to drive.
We headed for the Democratic Party tent, where Adam got a Barack Obama for President button. We swung through the "free stuff" tent, where Mel got herself some pencils, and headed out.
We went back to the hotel room for about a half hour, then over to Kim sister Pam's place. Two of Kim's brothers were there, and while I rested in a floating chair, an impromptu water volleyball game broke out. Adam, of course, talked politics with Kim's brother Gordon, who I was meeting for the first time this trip (he lives in Syracuse, New York). We called Kim's parents and arranged to meet them for dinner.
By the time I got back to the hotel room, I was exhausted. I did manage to get my Friday Random Ten in, though, slipping one my Ipod headphones right before I fell asleep.
1. Pretty Smart On My Part- Phil Ochs
2. Freebird (live)- Lynard Skynard
3. Neighborhood Bully- Bob Dylan
4. Romeo and Juliet- Michael and the Messengers
5. That Girl- Stevie Wonder
6. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue- Bob Dylan
7. Is It a Crime- Sade
8. Green, Green Grass of Home- Joan Baez
9. Knock, Knock- The Humane Society
10. Kim the Waitress- SIster Psychic