Great Day to You, Friday Fun Facters!
RIP: Peter Falk. In our fondest television memories, no detective wore a trench coat better than Columbo. Case Closed…
Happy Independence Day: To our forefathers who created this great nation. And to those soldiers, past and present, who keep it that way. Let Freedom Ring…
Friday Fun Fact Forewarning (our first ever!): Due to purposes of continuity, The Committee purchased extra air time from the network for this week’s episode. We realize this is a very long episode, but creating Part III would not have done the story justice. We even bought most of the commercial time, so this episode will be presented with limited commercial interruption! The Committee suggests grabbing a rocks glass of your favorite flavor, or a BEER, and settle in for the ride…
And, expect a little bit of the official scribe wearing his heart on his sleeve. There was no way to avoid it in reliving these memories…
This week’s episode starts exactly where last week’s episode ended:
I still don’t know where we are going.
Onward & Upward. Literally.
Day Two takes us from suburban Chi-kah-go north towards the next state line, mindfully weary in the morning hours, as the Blues are still playing in our heads from the night before. Are you following along on your atlas?!
We cross the line into Wisconsin. Right after crossing the state line, we stop for a while at a highways & byways McDonald’s with free Wi-Fi. The Friday Fun Fact still has to go out after all!
Maybe to Mil-eh-wauh-kaey, as Alice Cooper tells us in Wayne’s World. Maybe to Green Bay, and the “frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. I’m thinking Milwaukee – summer; baseball season; “Take Me Out To the Ball Game.” Uh, no; as we breeze right on by Milwaukee. And, speaking of breezes, somewhere out there we pass a massive wind farm – sight to be hold. What is great here, at this moment, is that the sight of the wind farm sparks a very detailed conversation about innovation in the work place, as well as in our respective geographic locations. I’m thinking “wow – we’ve come so far in our lives from our still-regretfully-fading youth to be here in this moment having this conversation.” I’m ever-more interested in where this trip is taking us, both mentally & physically.
We start to see signs for Green Bay. And on our way to Green Bay & the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, we also see signs for Fon du Lac. Bittersweet memories of time well spent there wash over me! And, now, we pass right on by Green Bay. Where in this great land are we going?! I look on the bright side of the adventure – I get to stare out the window, enjoy the scenery, and get lost in thought…
“Here I am again, Staring out the window, as the miles roll on…”
(Special Note I: Can you hear the computer keys of our proactive Internet researchers looking that one up?! To their delight!
We press on, even farther north, and west.
We’re crossing the next state line into…
Wait… aren’t you supposed to be following along on your atlas? Are you shrugging right now?
(Special Note II: Bonus points for you if you put those last two statements together.)
(Special Note III: Yep, KellyGo is already typing a text message to me as she reads these few lines.)
Are you kidding me?!
Minneapolis/St. Paul?! A Twins game, perhaps? The new stadium just opened. NOW I’m even more excited! Who does this mystery trip thing?! How lucky am I to have friends who are “game” enough to do this. Interesting vacation spot!
And there goes Minneapolis/St. Paul!
So long, Twins game!
So long, to any clue I might have had.
So long, civilization.
And, hello thunderstorm! Just north of the Twin Cities we run into a RAGING, I mean RAGING thunderstorm. Kudos to lead pilot ChrisW for navigating the bucket-size raindrops that pounded the hood like aliens trying to rip through the roof.
I realize the need to readjust my EGB – Educated Guess Barometer. It’s apparently way out of whack.
And now, we are out there. I mean really out there.
The thunderstorm fades into a glorious & picturesque forested sunset beyond anything I think I’ve ever imagined in my mind. Beautiful…
Uh, I still don’t know where we’re going.
The conversations have gotten even deeper. This has now turned into one of those trips that you only feel you see in the movies; where there are ideas exchanged that open your mental landscape to new perspectives. The open road, though, takes the opposite approach as we make our way further north, as it closes up with trees on both sides of the two-lane highway.
As we make our way over the river & through the woods (Special Note IV: OK, it’s actually “lakes” not “river,” to be accurate, but the sentence didn’t read right poetically that way. It’s OK, I have a license to do this kind of thing!), I am now thinking we are off to see one of our bands at a festival. Bear in mind, I grasped the concept that this was supposed to be a surprise junket, so I didn’t do any research on any of the close-to-my-heart bands. I’m a passenger along for the ride on this trip – keeping in mind that it is too be a true adventure for me. I’m thinking though, “what – would the band helicopter in? Where the heck would they land with all these trees?” Another feasible possibility is my friends rented a cabin of some sort. But why on earth would we rent a cabin all the way up at the north pole for what was measuring out to be a 36-hour stay?! I try my best to focus more on the conversation – I want to be as surprised as my friends want me to be. I know their efforts have been magnanimous…
We’re still passing Dairy Queens like they were golden arches in the real world.
And, we’re still headed far enough in a northern direction that I’m wondering if I should have brought my winter coat & ice fishing gear…
Then I remember I don’t own any ice fishing gear.
There is a change amongst my friends. A stirring, if you will. An anxiousness. Something is going on with the internal clocks of all three, as there are more than casual glances between the three of them. Of course, I’m not supposed tonotice this. Apparently, we are getting close to our destination. But there is NOTHING but trees out here! NOTHING! Unless the landscape suddenly opens up, we don’t even have enough space to park the car ANYWHERE! Just as I am thinking this, and imagining how far back it was to the last gas station & Dairy Queen, my friends comment that we are finally getting close – too close without any sign indicating our destination is close at hand. KyleS finally says “I’m interested to see if this place even exists!” They are all laughing! My eyes are as big as saucers! What?!
And then it happens…
We come up on a stop sign & the trees open up for a brief moment in the landscape.
And like a perfectly-timed surprise party cue, right there on the casino sign it advertises the purpose of the destination:
Live In Concert: Paul Rodgers
Northern Lights Casino.
Welcome to Walker, Minnesota.
Our short stay in Walker, Minnesota was filled with plenty of activities & experiences. After the long ride on the open road, we gambled on Friday night for a while, and closed down the only real bar in the casino. Saturday started off with a run at Leech Lake. OK, well, it didn’t really “start off” with a run, it started off with a mild recovery from the travel and celebration of reaching the destination, AND THEN it started off with a run.
I’m not a runner by – or for that matter, in – nature. I often say “I only run when chased.” However, my friend is a runner, so the boys thought we’d get out for a run. BeckyW decided to explore the town. Initially, we were going to take a run in the casino area. As we started out to find a path to follow, BeckyW hunted us down by way of the family truckster to tell us as she was heading to town she found a good place for us to run. Leech Lake. I have to say that as the three of us hobbled along on our 30-minute run, it was an amazing experience. New scenery, nature, and the thrill of the moment found me in a spiritual place. In the moment of the run, there was no better place for me to be, not anywhere. As we ran along the lake, and surrounding neighborhood, I found that place I go to only on occasion – living in the moment, appreciating every visual image that my mind could take a snapshot of, and heightened awareness of the details. The feel of the sand and the road beneath my feet with each step; the haze across the lake in the trees on the other side; Chris’ smile as the big man ran; Kyle’s internal focus on the run; waving to the passerby’s who more-then-politely waved back; the reconnection of mind & soul…
Back at the hotel, we cleaned up & hit the buffet. Is there a casino on the planet that doesn’t have a buffet restaurant?! It must be written in the casino must-have rule book! After we, well Chris, left the buffet with no food left to serve, it was off to town. Walker is everything you would expect in a small northern town – right out of a movie setting. “The pinnacle of existence” right here in northern Minnesota (Special Note V: Right now, Walt is laughing to himself after reading the partial movie quote.). Our time spent in shops in Walker was much too short. As we drove away knowing we would never return, there was that moment in my mind where I wanted to say “let’s stay a while longer.”
Off to the local restaurant – “off campus,” so to speak. It was important for us to hit a local joint that was less of a tourist attraction. We wanted local flavor, the local experience. And that’s what we got at the Lucky Moose Bar and Grill, complete with very local bartender, helpful with return directions back to civilization. His advice: “Go over & down, not down & over,” complete with very northern Minnesota regional accent. The food was good, the service was good, the conversation even better…
A brief interlude occurs – rest & prep time before the concert.
The concert hall at the casino is small. There’s not a folding chair bad seat in the house, set up for maybe 1,000 fans. Ours were pretty close. One perspective is “That’s it?! That’s all the people that want to see this show?!” Well, consider the regional population, even with tourists. The other perspective is “Wow – what an intimate performance setting!” Paul Rodgers was incredible. I can see in the magic moments of the show why he is Kyle’s hero. I can see why we spent 16-odd (or even!) hours on this journey. The lights, the music, the voice… the moment. All worth not knowing where I’m going. A time-capsulated trip through four decades of music, some of the best and well-known classic songs still spinning on the radio. And, some solo work thrown in to help flavor the mix. Keep on rocking Paul…
Afterwards, it’s dinner at the casino’s “five-star” restaurant. Uh, not so much on the five-star, but entertaining nonetheless. Our dining experience was complete with a conversation with Paul’s drummer, and autographs.
And the trip back home – over & down? Filled with yet its own very distinct & memorable adventures? Ah, well, we’ll have to save that for another time…
Lessons Learned from our Adventure:
- Minnesota isn’t nearly as close to North Royalton, Ohio as it appears on an Internet map when ordering tickets for a show & enjoying a glass on the rocks in the middle of the night…
- Old friends & new friends can indeed survive 32 hours of driving together on a long weekend journey – probably better than family…
- Dairy Queen replaces McDonald’s as the restaurant on every corner in the far reaches of northern Minnesota.
- From Walker, Minnesota, it’s better to go “over & down,” than “down & over”…
- Paul Rodgers Waters is either one musician or two, depending on who you ask…
- The magic is all about who you are with, not where you are going – especially when one of those people really doesn’t know where you are going…
- Reliving the vast geographical scene of the crime was almost as fun as the trip itself. Almost…
- Live For The Moment…
- Thank you to my dear friends for the experience of a lifetime. Words cannot express my gratitude. I am blessed to know you…
Now the challenge to our readership: what is your most vivid memory of adventure?
Tunes of The Week:
Burning Sky – Bad Company
Radioactive – The Firm
All Right Now – Free
Feel Like Making Love – Bad Company
Shooting Star – Bad Company
Raise a Sentimental Glass!
May Your Friday Be Followed By A Destination Anywhere Saturday!
Realizar Sus Ambiciones