Girl’s Trip Day 2-Deadwood & Rapid City

Day two of my fabulous Girl’s Trip found us getting coffee and checking out of Cadillac Jack’s, then on to shopping in fabulous Deadwood.

I didn’t realize that Deadwood is as big as it is. It’s an interestingly historic town (read more about that here), but also a very touristy town. There are so many neat little shops to check out and, inevitably, you run into buildings with some historical plaque telling you about things that went on in that building.

Our first stop was, of all places, a basement cigar shop on Main St. I’m not a fan of cigars, but the shop had a cool vibe. Everyone else shopped or had a drink, but I decided to go find the Harley-Davidson shop. The Flirt collects HD t-shirts from different places, so it made a nice souvenir to bring back for him. It also made for a good excuse to get away from the smokey environment.

A little later, we met up and continued shopping. We had lunch at the Sick-n-Twisted Brewing Company. The food was ok but the dark beer I drank, called “Panty Dropper”, was super good. No, I did not drop my panties. I like those well secured, thank you!

Shopping accomplished, we got back in the van, which our favorite Librarian expertly maneuvered into, and back out of, the parking garage. On to Rapid City!

Once in Rapid City, we checked into the historic Alex Johnson Hotel, which is in the heart of the downtown area. Party Girl, who made all of the travel arrangements was able to get a great deal on his usually expensive hotel because we stayed during an off season time. If you get a chance to stay there, do it. You may even see a ghost!

There was a delay getting checked in, because our rooms weren’t ready. So, we met up with Party Girl’s younger brother, and his wife, then went off to eat supper at the most amazing Mexican restaurant called Que’ Pasa. The food there is so good, and I had a margarita that had Serrano peppers in it. The rim of the glass was lined with salt and chili powder. I’m not a big drinker, but this was a mind blowing beverage. How refreshing that it was savory and not sickeningly sweet like a lot of margaritas can be.

What a surprise to have someone else join us! A guy from my home town and his wife ate with us, and it was lovely to have the opportunity to catch up with him. He did some amazing impressions of some of our teachers, and told all kinds of stories that had the whole table busting up. What an amazing time!

After we got done eating we went to a cigar bar called the Tinder Box. I’m not sure what the attraction is to cigar bars for Party Girl, she doesn’t smoke them. The vibe in these places is always really cool, but for those of us who have allergies, it’s not the most fun place to hang out. We were there for about an hour waiting for our reservation time for the big surprise even if the evening… a Speak Easy!

Several blocks of walking back alleys brought us to this door, and we went down to the basement where a code was given. Once the code was accepted, we were seated all around this claw foot bathtub made into a coffee table.

The drinks were so cool, and we passed them around so everyone could taste them. Some of these drinks were made by burning some kind of alcohol in the glass, which was cool. The Librarian ordered one of these, and I managed to get some pictures of the process. It was so dark that it was hard to see, but he used something (maybe salt?) to shake into the glass to make sparks, and then he poured the still flaming alcohol on the floor. Once he tamped out the fire and poured the shaken drink into the glass, The Librarian noted that the floor was still on fire where he poured the flaming alcohol out.

Shortly before the flaming drink show, Party Girl fell asleep. She really hadn’t had that much to drink, but we aren’t spring chickens anymore, and the day before had been a long one. It wasn’t long before her brother and her son, who arrived at that point, posed to have their picture taken with her blissfully napping in her high backed chair. Then a picture was taken with our waiter, and also with a group of ladies who’d been taking a group picture in the corner next to us.

An hour or so later, Party Girl wakes up. We’ve all been drinking and chatting, while she catches up on some much needed sleep. Needless to say we filled her in on all of the things that had gone on while she was checked out, and true to form, she was a good sport about it. Time to go back to the hotel and get checked in.

We had Jack and Jill rooms, which are two rooms joined by a bathroom. The Alex Johnson Hotel is so nice, Faithful Readers. The rooms in this really old hotel have been redone, but all of the historical features have been preserved. The beds are so comfortable, and the staff are amazing. Do stay there if you get the chance.

Once checked in and unpacked, Birdy Girl and I went up to Vertex, on the top floor. This bar is so cool! You can order a drink and sit inside next to windows overlooking the city, or you can sit outside next to the gas fire pits. Party Girl’s younger brother met us there and the three of us sat outside next to one of the fires, and caught up. What a lovely evening.

So ends Day two of our fabulous Girl’s Trip to South Dakota. Blessings all!

Don’t look behind the curtain…

Greeting Faithful Readers, and happy Saturday. Today was lovely… in a slacker sort of way.

Not only did I get to sleep in, but I got to spend some time with a friend going to one of our farmer’s markets, and chatting over lunch at a local restaurant called The Starving Rooster. I also ran into another friend and her husband. I shopped and ran errands. Then, I slacked off and did nothing of any consequence for the rest of the afternoon.

It’s been a long week, and I thoroughly enjoyed all of that.

Part of my afternoon slacking included reading articles and sifting through news about what’s going on with the impeachment. I ran into this in reference to that…

That’s right folks, nothing to see here. Please don’t look behind the curtain, or even at the curtain. Shoot, there might even be something lurking in the curtain rod. Good lord…

I feel exhausted already, and the impeachment process has only just begun. It’s been a long road ahead of it, and it’s not going to get any shorter. I’ll try not to talk about it too much, but today it’s on my mind that our allowances for lawlessness, really reckless endangerment, will be our undoing. I think it might be too late at this point. Hopefully not.

Having entertained myself and “rested”, now I will do some chores. Here’s hoping that you all leave room for yourselves in between all of the things that need doing. Lazy Saturday blessings all!

Road Trip: Western North Dakota

Yesterday The Flirt and I went on a road trip, which is one of my favorite things to do. He has had a jones to trade in his truck for something new, and so we went to Williston, ND to check out what they had to offer.

Williston is two hours from Minot, and is smaller in population, but it was a good excuse to get out of Dodge, if you will. I really enjoy getting out of Dodge.

I also enjoy it when he drives, so I can bring a crochet project along and keep my hands busy. This afghan is one I’ve been working on for my nephew. I used a modified block pattern which leaves a lot of tails to weave in at the end, but it’s worth the work when it’s all done. I actually made good progress, and am finally nearing the end of this one.

First stop on the way was in Stanley. We heard that all of the Shopko’s in the nation were going out of business, so we thought we’d check out the going out of business sale. Holy buckets… I had no intention of shopping, but the deals were so good I couldn’t help but pick some things up. Having filled up The Flirt’s back seat, we got back on the road to Williston.

We arrived at the dealership, looked over what they had to offer, and he began the process to see if a trade could be made. While the dealership crunched numbers, we went to lunch at a restaurant called Famous Dave’s. Minot doesn’t have a Famous Dave’s, so this was a particular treat. I ate what they called “burnt butts”, which is like burnt ends, but is pork instead of beef. The coleslaw was really good… not bland at all, and not too soupy or too dry. The Mac and Cheese, which had a good spice to it, also included sweet corn. The corn was unexpected, but turned out to be a great addition. There was also a corn muffin, which was a little more like a cupcake than corn bread in consistency, but it tasted good. All in all, it was a fabulous meal, and there was so much we both had to get to-go boxes. Looking forward to going back!

As it turned out, no deal was made for a new truck, so we made our way home by way of New Town, which is south of Williston if you take highway 1804. The terrain here is so lovely. I am a huge fan of the High Plains with its rolling prairies, but western North Dakota is particularly beautiful with more prominent features starting with the Missouri River, Lake Sakakawea, and then the Badlands in the south west.

I love taking pictures, and so I snapped a few from the truck as we drove between Williston and New Town on highway 1804.

Across Lake Sakakawea, you can see Saddle Butte.

Taking pictures from inside a moving vehicle, and the gloominess of the day, make for less than stellar pictures. On top of that, I was using my iPhone, which doesn’t take the best pictures. However, you get an idea of the terrain in this area.

One of the bad things about this area is that it is in the top end of the Bakken oil play and all of this beautiful countryside is dotted with oil wells. In this picture, you can see natural gas flaring:

Oil wells, and wasting of natural gas notwithstanding, it was still a beautiful drive. We made it to New Town, and hit that Shopko as well. We ran into some people we knew, and I found a few more things to buy, and then we drove home.

It was a good day.

I love a good road trip, and have a few more planned for the summer. This fall, I am driving out to NV to visit Younger Son, and a few others. It’s going to be a great adventure, and it’s killing me that I can’t get in the car and go now!

Here’s hoping you all have opportunities to get out of Dodge, whatever that looks or feels like or looks like for you. Getting away for a little bit is a good thing. Blessings all!

We, the People of Retail…

I just arrived home from my 2nd job at the Big Red Box Store, and I have a bit of a rant to share with you, my Faithful Readers.

This is supposed to be the season of giving, sharing and treating each other with kindness. I’m happy to say that I witness that a lot during my time at the Big Red Box Store. However, there are a some people who have some bad shopping habits. I mean, REALLY bad shopping habits.

I witnessed a boy, about 6 years old or so, try to fold a shirt and put it back on the shelf like he found it. His mother, in her haste to get on with her day, said to him: “Son, just put that down and don’t worry about folding it. They have people that do that.”

Ahem…We, the People of Retail, would like to share some things with you about that. Yes, I said “we”. I feel pretty confident that the people I work with, and many thousands of others who work in retail would agree wholeheartedly with what I have to say below:

1. People who work in stores of all kinds do have the duty to clean up, or “zone”, their areas every day. However, that doesn’t give anyone the right to shop in a sloppy manner. Not only are you making a mess for the people who work there, but you are also leaving the place messy for the other shoppers who come behind you and try to shop in the same area. We, the People of Retail, can’t be there right behind you to clean up after your sorry butt, and have many other duties as well to get done.

2. For the love of all that is Holy, do not teach your children to shop in a slovenly manner. They will shop how you shop, so please teach them to shop nicely with your words and your actions.

3. Please do not leave your garbage lying around, or try to hide it behind items on a shelf. Every store has multiple garbage cans. Please find one, or ask for help to find one.

4. If something spills or breaks, please notify one of the store employees immediately, and keep others from rolling their carts through the mess while waiting for one of us to grab some cleaning supplies. Once I was helping someone in the grocery area, and I heard a wet sound of glass breaking. Sure enough, I went around the corner to find that someone’s kid had thrown a jar of salsa onto the floor. That happens, no big deal. What was disturbing about the whole thing is that they just drove their cart through it and tried to act like it wasn’t there. I asked them to please hold still while I cleaned up the floor and the wheels of their cart, but they just ignored me. Not cool to track salsa through the store and be a dick about it.

5. Do not let your kids play with things in the store, sit/stand on the shelves, climb the shelves, play hide and seek between the clothing racks, or any other obnoxious play that belongs outside. And for the love of God, do not let them get on the bikes and the skate boards we sell just because it keeps them busy and keeps them from distracting you from your shopping. They are your kids, you are responsible for them.

6. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, drop your young kids off at a store and leave them there for hours. Eventually they get bored and get into trouble. It’s not nice to do to them and we aren’t your babysitters.

7. Please have patience when we explain that we are out of stock for the particular item you wanted. We can’t help that you waited until the end week, after that popular item has been on sale for several days, to come in and try to buy it at the last minute. Pouting about it and asking what we think they are supposed to do now because we don’t have that item in stock is not an appropriate way to act.

I know that my Faithful Readers wouldn’t ever shop sloppy, or let their kids run rampant through a store without supervision. I bet you know some people who do though. Please feel free to share the aforementioned items with them, if you think it will help.

Overall, I guess I just need to ask that general public think before they shop. Treat people how you would want to be treated, and don’t be a dick. Be nice. Not only will We, the People of Retail, appreciate it, but so will all of the other people shopping around you.

Here’s wishing you all a happy shopping experience this Holiday Season!

Rules for taking small children shopping

I worked at The Big Box Store last night, and it was complete Bedlam; people everywhere, stuff everywhere and almost every small child in the place screaming his or her head off. Luckily, it kept me busy enough that I didn’t have time to get bored, so the evening went by quickly. However, I observed several things when it comes to shopping and small kids that I’d like to share with you, my 18 Faithful Readers. It’s a bit of a rant, so please bear with me.

What follows are, in my humble estimation, a list of guidelines to consider when taking small kids shopping. I know that sometimes you just can’t help but take your kid out when they’re having a bad day, so what I’m really doing is poking fun at idiots who just don’t care about the ramifications of their actions.

#1 – If your baby has a dirty diaper, for the love of all that’s holy, please take your kid to the restroom and get him or her some clean drawers. I know that you have important shopping to do but, by delaying the inevitable, you not only make your child and yourself miserable, but also everyone else around you. The desperate screaming is bad enough, but dragging your poor little kid through the store trailing an eye-watering stench behind you is just mean, especially when you walk right by the restroom and look at it and keep walking.

#2 – Please don’t drag your small children out to go shopping at 10pm at night for fun. Everyone has times where they have need to make a quick emergency run because they’re out of diapers/milk/food/whatever, but taking a leisurely stroll through a busy store with small kids late in the evening just because is insane. Your kid is tired, doesn’t want to be there, doesn’t appreciate that you dragged him through the toy section and didn’t buy him anything, and is now screaming his head off. Wow, amazing how your kid has lungs the size of the Grand Canyon…are you that proud that you like to show them off?

#3 –  For those of you who live in any place that is now experiencing a heat wave of 40-50 degrees, like North Dakota, please do not truss your child up as though he or she will be traveling through an apocalyptic blizzard. I see you wearing your light jacket unzipped, no hat, no gloves, and no snow boots. Why, then, do you stuff your child into seven layers of clothes and expect that they will not protest being in their own portable sauna? The angry screaming and frantic tugging at their clothing would be the big clue here.

#4 – I know I’ve said this before, but it’s worth saying it again. Please do not come to My Toy Department for sight-seeing purposes, and bring your small child with you. Unless you have to shop for a gift for some other child, it’s not a good idea to tell your kid, “We’re going to the Toy Department now, and I’m not buying you anything.” All I will say here is that you reap what you sow, buddy. The begging and pleading for a toy, following by angry screaming when you make them leave empty-handed is very predictable, and you knew better. Did you actually think this third time trying that would work?  That’s right, I remember you.

#5 -My Toy Department is not a babysitting station. Leaving your kid to play with the toys while you shop for TWO HOURS is not only wrong, but the mess they leave behind is a testament to your lack of regard for everyone else. If you needed time alone, leave your kid with a friend or loved one.

#6 –  Feed your kid before you come to The Big Box Store, or at least bring a bottle or snacks with you, if you intend on shopping at supper time. Your poor kid is running on empty and hasn’t got the ability to hold in the frustration of feeling like he or she is starving to death while you go up and down rows and rows of food that is to be seen, but not eaten at the moment. Your child will not appreciate the long wait in line either. I guarantee that you, and everyone in a quarter mile radius of you, will be much happier if you plan ahead a little.

~~Ok…now I’ve worked myself into a complete snit. One moment please, while I take a deep breath and calm down. I’ve arranged to have some familiar Muzak playing while you wait. While I’m getting myself together, you’ll be treated to the dulcet tones of Suicide is Painless and The Girl from Ipanema, the two Muzak songs that always play in elevators. Ok…much better now. Thanks for your patience! ~~

Lucky #7 – Pay attention to the full moon. If you see a full moon out, please make every effort to stay home with your small child. You think I’m kidding, but I’m drop dead serious. If you think about it, the Moon controls the tides of our oceans, and our bodies contain a lot of water. It’s no wonder The Big Box Store turns into absolute Bedlam on a weekend with a full moon, like this one.

So now, it’s early Saturday morning and I am getting ready to go back for more fun and games. The good news is that most people don’t take their kids shopping at 8am. They are all sleeping in from staying out too late at The Big Box Store too late last night!

Small luxuries add up

I’m sitting here thinking about all the quiet I have been able to soak up this week, and am grateful for that luxury. It’s so wonderful to not have the tv running, and to be able to watch any movie I want when I do watch it without someone complaining that there aren’t enough explosions, or that there is too much kissing (because kissing gives you cooties, apparently. Thank the gods for small favors!).

This morning, I took another bath. This must be the third one this week. Three baths in one week and, since the kids are at school all day, there’s nobody around to holler through the door and ask me for something.

And I left the door open, because there was nobody there to see. Well, that is except for Harley, and what does he care?  He only likes me for my arms.  Besides, who’s he gonna tell?

Not only did I leave the door open, but I streaked across the hallway after I dried off.  It’s nice not having to care about stupid things like that, if only momentarily.

I’m having lunch with my dear friend and sister, Brea, today. Not only do I get to have lunch with her, but I get to not have to worry about when I arrive and leave. Since I have the day off, there’s no worry about an hour’s worth of lunch. And then I’m going shopping afterward, just me, myself and I.

Truth be told, I’m feeling naughty and spoiled today. Small luxuries sure do add up to a nice big whole!

Buying a car for a teenage boy

I imagined that when it came time to buy my sons a car, I would have saved up enough to get a really neat old car that any teenage boy would drool to own. The picture Younger Son

Dodge Charger - It would be tall dark and handsome, were it a man!

has as his desktop wallpaper, a 1969 Dodge Charger (see right), is a good example. Another fine example of a pretty car is a Chevelle. I got to drive one once, and once was enough to get me hooked.You see, I was as this party…ah, but I digress. I’ll save that story for another time.

I like old cars and trucks. I remember once there was a used car lot across the road from my grandparents’ house, and I used to go over and ogle the GTO that sat over there for quite a while. That it sat for so long tells me, now, that there was something wrong with it under the hood…ooooh, but was it ever pretty. Yum.

I grew up driving a 1979 Chevy Blazer – It was red with a white stripe down the middle. It was not the prettiest thing, but I liked driving it, and since then I can’t really swallow the idea of driving anything with less clearance under it than what the Blazer had. That thing could plow through snow drifts like nobody’s business. While I was driving the Blazer it made me feel a little invincible, and I liked it. One time a friend and I went driving and we went over to one of his dad’s fields and…oops… Digressing again. Back to the subject!

When I was in college, I drove a 1974 Chevy pickup. It was bright canary yellow and had a beat up old topper on it. It was a used truck my uncle bought and used for years. When my uncle passed away, my dad inherited the truck, and that’s what I drove in college. It might not have been the prettiest thing, but it started on a dime in the bitter cold, on fumes, when everyone else was having to get their vehicles jumped just to start. The engine was simple enough that I could crawl up into it, change the air filter, fix a stuck throttle, etc. I loved that truck, but it died…and that was that. Then my dad bought me an Izuzu P’up. That was a good little truck. Oh…those were the days.

My trusty van.

Currently I drive a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan. I know some people cringe at the thought of driving a “family” vehicle, but it’s very practical, and drives like a pickup truck. I can take all the seats out and have plenty of room to haul stuff. When the seats are in, I can haul lots of family or kids. It even has a video player in it for those long trips. I can’t gush enough about the virtues of that video player enough for long trips. It saved my kids’ lives on more than one long drive, and my sanity to boot! Not only that, but I can plow through the snow drifts with it like nobody’s business. You can see the recurring theme here in the vehicles I like to drive.  As much as I love muscle cars, my true happiness lives in practicality and function.

I’ve been looking through the want ads for something cheap I can buy for Older Son to drive around. It’s become apparent that we aren’t going to survive with one vehicle very well, and I am hoping to stumble across something very cheap in the next few months. With Older Son working now, and Younger Son in school activities  and chomping at the bit to get a job himself, I need to get these boys their own ride. Hmm…how about a nice GTO? Or a Road Runner? I know…I bet they’d like a nice Firebird! What boy wouldn’t?

Unfortunately, with the current budget we’re working with, they are going to be lucky get their hands on a Volkswagon Rabbit. That’s ok…as long as I can get them something that gets them from p0int A to point B. Truthfully, I am looking at find them a good sturdy pickup. I would like something with hauling capacity, as well as something with a hitch on it. Let’s not forget that it needs to be something that’s easy to repair. Now days, everything has a computer “brain” in it. The problem with that is when the car’s brain has a fart, the whole thing goes to pot.

Anyway, I’m keeping my eyes open for that good buy to come along. If you had the chance to buy a vehicle just for yourself, your fantasy vehicle, what would you buy?

Confessions of a Snack Smuggler

Today Mom and I took all of the boys to see Despicable Me.

Everyone of us liked it, and we ranged in age from 8 to 64. There’s a little something in it for everyone. I think my favorite part of the movie had to be The Minions...I’ve got to find myself a mini minion for my new desk!  You can get the gist of the story from the trailer, so I won’t go into it here, but I will say that it’s worth going to see in the theater.

Speaking of seeing movies in the theater, what the heck is up with the high-priced tickets!? It’s now $9 for an evening adult ticket, and $6.50 for a matinée ticket, all ages. When we moved here in 1998, it was only $5 a ticket and $3.50 for a matinée. Yeah, I know that was a long time ago, but gee whiz.

Not only are the tickets to get in outrageous, but the snacks and drinks are so cost prohibitive that I’ve had to take up smuggling in order to support my moving-going habit. That’s right, I said it. I’m a snack smuggler.

Last night the boys and I went shopping at Wally World in preparation for our big movie day. They have a whole section in the Candy Isle labeled “Movie Candy”. No joking, I picked up enough movie candy to feed three people at three movies for just $12. That wouldn’t completely buy snacks and drinks at the theater for three people going to one movie.  Today, before we left, I emptied out my big shoulder bag, and stuffed it full of enough snacks and drinks for the six of us. I have to admit, my bag looked like carry on luggage by the time I got it stuffed full and zipped up, but it did the job.

Should I feel guilty for not having purchased the exorbitantly priced snacks and beverages at the theater? No, I don’t think so. It’s not illegal. Until they enforce any “no outside food or drinks” rules, I’ll be packing my own. That will probably happen right after they enforce the “no on under 17 allowed without a parent or guardian” rule. Yeah, like that’s going to happen any time soon.

My to-do list is so daunting, I need a Vincent Price voice over

After getting home at 1am last night, and didn’t fall asleep until about 3:30, I was surprised that I was up and at ’em by 8am today.  It’s ok, though. It’s going to be a big day, and I needed to get up and cracking if I’m going to even get half of it accomplished. Today Older Son is going to Nana’s to help her finish taking stuff downstairs that’s left over from last night’s organization orgy, so it will just be me and Younger Son getting stuff done today at home.

As discussed in a previous post, the carpenter who is supposed to be doing the remodel on my bathroom delayed until tomorrow. I haven’t heard from him yet that he isn’t coming tomorrow, so I will assume that his sister’s surgery went well and that all is a go for Wednesday. Uh…hmm. Hope I didn’t just jinx it by saying that out loud.

Nobody does menacing like Vincent Price!

Anyway, as I am operating under the assumption that the bathroom project is getting under way tomorrow (please, oh please, oh please!), there are certain things that I need to get accomplished before that can happen. So, in the spirit of getting the ball rolling, here is today’s very special edition of (cue Vincent Price echo, crashing thunder and lightning)…  The To-Do List.

  • Scrub out fridge (there’s been a code-four pickle juice spill…Yummy)
  • Do final general pick up and cleaning of upstairs
  • Get Younger to mow and edge the lawn
  • Do more laundry until my washer and dryer beg for mercy
  • Shopping trip to Menards/Wally World to buy a new pedestal sink, bathroom fan, plastic big enough to cover the bedroom/living rooms doors and the kitchen (to keep demolition dust off), expanding spray foam for the crack in the basement wall, and new weed eater.
  • Call the plumber and make an appointment to get my external hose fixed.
  • Call sand and gravel company to put an order in for landscaping rock.
  • Bake Banana Bread…I’ve got some bananas that need to be used up.

If I get all of that done today, it will have been a hugely successful day. I can do it, but I guess I’m going to need to quit flappin’ my gums on the internet and get the show on the road!

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