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8 Things I Learned From My “Vacation”

As you may have read from this post, my wife and I went on a road trip vacation in April. Here are some of my observations:

1.) Mad Libs aren’t just for kids. After 35+ hours in a car together, my wife and I came up with some, um…pretty “Adult” Mad-Lib stories. Definitely great for some laughs! 1b.) My grammar knowledge isn’t what it used to be (as you’ve probably noticed from reading this blog).

2.) The American Autobahn exists, and its from Columbia, SC to Charleston, SC. The speed limit was 70mph and at one point, I was going about 85 trying to keep up with traffic and I was getting passed by some people like I was going in reverse. I like speed, although my co-worker/boss would laugh at that statement, and I thought it was a bit ridiculous. My poor 4 cylinder Hyundai Sonata was screaming to keep up. Also, here’s my PSA for today…people need to slow down in work zones. I don’t care how fast you want to go on the Interstate, but when there are workers with wives, husbands, kids and pets at home working 10 feet from where your 2,000lb car is flying by…you can slow down. You won’t be any later than you already are.

3.) Unfortunately, Kentucky and Indiana confirmed some stereotypes for me. I’m not going to say which ones, you probably already know. Go Hoosiers!

4.) The best on-stage county music talent in Minnesota is probably the worst talent in Nashville. This probably isn’t surprising, but ‘WOW’ there were some good artists singing. The unfortunate part is I don’t remember a single name of any of them. Not because I was drinking, but because they kind of all run together from bar to bar.

5.) Mother Nature can be a bitch and not care whether or not you’ve been planning a vacation for months. My wife and I never really had dreams of sipping cocktails on the beach, we’re not that type. We were hoping for shorts and t-shirts, however. Nashville was 35 degrees all day, every day on our trip. In Charleston, it was windy and rainy for 85% of the time we were there. I will say the night we arrived in Charleston, it was beautiful. The nicest days were when we were driving….obviously.

6.) Technology helps being away from kiddos. Video calling your kids before they go to bed is such a great way to remember what they look like when you’re 2,000 miles away. I’m kidding; there are probably other reasons, too.

7.) You need to try the local food when you go on vacation. This might be another no-brainer, but there was just such good food in every city that we stopped at! Specifically the BBQ & “Hot Chicken” in Nashville and seafood in Charleston was so good! We waited in line in 34 degree weather in Nashville for an hour and a half to get into ‘Hattie B’s‘ to try some authentic Hot Chicken and it was worth every second! It’s so much more fun to enjoy the foods that the region or city is famous for and venture out from the same restaurants you can enjoy anywhere. Also, macaroni and cheese is better in the south…like, way better.

8.) Most importantly, my wife and I can be in the same car, the same hotel rooms, and the same restaurants for 6 straight days (should have been 8) and still enjoy each other’s company! Despite starting the trip off with her being sick at 3am before we had to leave (NO, SHE’S NOT PREGNANT–DON’T EVEN START WITH ME), to having to make a decision to cancel some plans and come home early; I can say that we genuinely had fun the entire time! (awww)

Thanks for reading!

-ML

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Charleston, We Hardly Knew Ye…

My time in Charleston was awesome, but unfortunately–very short.

Charleston, South Carolina was the 3rd stop on our road trip and I want to start off by saying that Charleston is home to some of the nicest (if not, theee nicest) people I’ve ever encountered while on vacation. And I’ve been to over 4 different places.

We arrived to Charleston from Nashville to an absolutely beautiful day with an awesome hotel setting. We checked in to the Shem Creek Inn in Mt. Pleasant (just across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. For the first time in my entire life, I was going to try one of those “Tips to get a better room” things, so I left Kate in the car and started preparing my speech while walking into the hotel. The super nice receptionist at the hotel immediately asked how I was doing and if I was checking in. I told her I was and that we were visiting celebrating our 10 year anniversary. She said “Ohhhhhh, congratulations!….Let me see if I have any better rooms available”. As you can tell, I’m quite the conversationalist and my sales pitch of “Hi, I’m here for my 10 year anniversary” worked. She upgraded us to a corner suite king room on the creek side with a wrap around balcony. And then……AND THEN…she handed me two beers. Two. Free. Beers. just for checking in!

Instantly my favorite hotel of our trip. They must know, because they followed me on Insta’.

After lugging our luggage (that has to be where the term “lugging” comes from, right?) into our room. . . Actually, I say “lugging” like we were huffing and puffing going up 6 flights of stairs with 9 suitcases and 3 coolers, when in reality–everything was on a giant 4 wheeled cart and we took an elevator all the way to the second floor… #exercise… After we got to our room, we obviously enjoyed our beer with our view of everything.

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View out of our hotel room

We had scheduled a Ghost Tour of the USS Yorktown for that evening at 8pm, which I was probably more excited about than Kate (fun fact about the author: Mike really enjoys ghosts and paranormal stuff…but HATES scary movies-especially ones with ghosts). So we asked the super nice hotel receptionist for advice on eating; if we should go before or after-she recommended after. So we took a nice walk down the boardwalk before going over to the ship, which was about 5 minutes away.

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USS Yorktown before our Ghost Tour

When we got to the dock at Patriot’s Point where the USS Yorktown is, we asked a security guard a few different questions about the ship and he said that the tour guide that we have, is probably the best in the world at giving that tour. He has written several books regarding the Yorktown as well as Charleston in general. His name is Bruce Orr and he was phenomenal. We didn’t really have many (any) ‘ghost experiences’ on the ship, but the stories behind the ship and the tour was phenomenal. We both had a lot of fun and I bought his book and got a picture with him… :)

The tour was over at about 10pm, so we found a spot to eat literally right next to our hotel called Vickery’s . I wanted some authentic seafood; so I had the Lowcountry sauté and Kate ordered the Shrimp and Scallops with Basil Pesto. You don’t care-but I don’t care either, it was awesome and you should go there. Also, the waiter (again-super nice) was like “you guys came all the way out here and haven’t had fried green tomatoes?”. So, sat down next to us in our booth and ‘sold’ them to us. So, always looking to spend more money, we ordered those as well and HOLY F were they good! I generally dislike tomatoes, but these were so damn good! Big fan. The waiter was awesome, he even gave us some “under the radar” bars to try out during our trip. Also, they played 90’s music–which was awesome; including the Fresh Prince of Bel Air Theme Song!

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Fried Green Tomatoes at Vickery’s

The next day we went to Middleton Place Plantation to check out how the rich and famous of the 1850s lived. It was pretty cool. That’s all I’m going to say, it’s a plantation…not Wally World; and it was cold and drizzly. We then had a harbor cruise and reservations at HUSK later that day, so we walked around downtown Charleston for a while when we got back. Quick fun fact about HUSK, is it was recently named the most iconic restaurant of South Carolina: (See). Then we got coffee at a place called The Rise Coffee Bar; some of the best coffee I’ve ever had-seriously! After walking around Waterfront Park for awhile and having fun with our Slow Motion feature on our phones, we started towards the harbor.
We hopped on the Harbor Cruise at 3:15 pm and chatted for awhile with our captain about which craft beer they were serving was the best. He was great!

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Kate and the Boat Captain

Unfortunately, I can’t remember which one I picked–but he was right (pretty big information nugget there, huh..). The harbor cruise was really cool, we saw lots of different attractions in Charleston from a different perspective, including Fort Sumter (where the Civil War started), and a really cool view of the USS Yorktown, the Marina, and the bridge. We also had dolphins swimming along the cruise for a majority of it–that was pretty cool!The captain also said that Charleston has been voted the friendliest city in America for the past 20 years. I haven’t fact-checked, but I believe him.

Anyways, during the last part of the harbor cruise, I get the following text from my mom (babysitter team #1): “I may not take Grace to ECFE.. I think I’m getting sick“. This immediately sent us into ‘Parent Mode’ and we started thinking “Ok, Kate was sick before we left, now she’s sick…the kids are going to get sick”. We started the conversation about skipping the rest of the trip and heading home in the event that they got the flu. We ate at HUSK after the cruise and the food was amazingly delicious, the atmosphere was awesome, the waitress was great…but we didn’t really enjoy it because all we kept doing was texting back and forth with home trying to figure something out with the kids. This obviously wasn’t a conversation either of us wanted to have at that point in time-but our kids are important to us…you might have made a different decision.

We made the decision that night at the hotel to cancel the rest of our trip (which included a night in Gatlinburg, TN and whitewater rafting in the Great Smokey Mountains) and head for home. I chatted with the same receptionist at the hotel (after one night of our upgraded room) and she was amazingly supportive and told us that they would absolutely waive the cancellation fee because of our situation. Seriously, one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed at.

We left for home at 5am on Tuesday and made it to Chicago at 8:30 that night. Home at 2:30 Wednesday.

Bye Charleston…I’ll be back someday to finish off my extra 2 nights at the Shem Creek Inn.

Some more photos:

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Fishing boats down the boardwalk from Shem Creek Inn
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Kate & I before the ghost tour
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Inside the USS Yorktown
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USS Yorktown
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Middleton Place
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Middleton Place
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Middleton Place
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Tomb at Middleton Place
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Blacksmith at Middleton Place
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Kate & I at Waterfront Park
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Cruise ship that was approximately 40,000x bigger than our tiny harbor cruise ship
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Ft. Sumter
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Arther Ravenel Jr. Bridge
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HUSK Restaruarant
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My meal at HUSK–pork belly wrapped in pork shoulder..YUM
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HUSK Cornbread
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Kate’s lettuce wraps at HUSK
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We snuck out to the beach before we went to bed the night before we left to see the beach/ocean
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This is clearly a pizza…
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View from the end of the boardwalk back towards our hotel/Mt. Pleasant
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A couple nice little boats along the boardwalk by the hotel

Thanks for reading!! Go visit Charleston–seriously.

-ML

Nashville on Stage

We made it to Nashville and did some things!

Ahh Nashville, the destination of choice for our vacation! After leaving St. Louis about 11am, we took a quick refueling break completely by chance in Metropolis, IL (home of Superman).

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We arrived in Music City around 3:30 to check into The Capitol Hotel in the downtown area, across from the Capitol building…thus the name. The staff at this hotel was very nice; the hotel itself was OK. It was the cheapest downtown hotel. This may shock you-so please sit down or stop driving; the pictures were better than the actual hotel. It’s basically a 3 story motel with the room doors facing the outside. Not a big deal to me; as we were planning on going out downtown and having a good time until the wee hours of the morning anyways! However, if you’re looking for a cheaper hotel close to Broadway, I’d recommend it. I’d probably even stay there again-just don’t expect the Four Seasons.

About a week before we left for our trip, I had reached out to Minnesota Vikings long-snapper Kevin McDermott (who is originally from Nashville) via Twitter in hopes that he would give me some advice on local things to try. Well, he actually responded!!

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We’re basically best friends.

Big “Thank You” To Kevin for taking the time to actually give a thoughtful response to me, I was impressed. So anyways, after checking into the hotel, we decided to take him up on his recommendation of great BBQ and headed to Peg Leg Porker to try some authentic Nashville BBQ. It was pretty good! I’m not going to say it was the best I’ve ever had, but it was very, very good. I really liked the flavor, but honestly–the ribs were a bit dry. The mac and cheese was phenomenal–something about shells and cheese that drives me wild.

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My meal at Peg Leg Porker, Dry Rub Ribs, southern style baked beans, and shells and cheese

That night we went out to Broadway and checked out some of the bars and I was immediately blown away by the amount of talent on every single stage. So we enjoyed some music and some long-neck bottles. It was really a good time! Also, I think Nashville must be the Bachelorette Party Capitol of the world. I think there was at least one at every single bar-unless it was the same one and they were following us…Either way, we both had a blast and enjoyed some really good music.

SO, anyone who knows me also knows that I get borderline obsessed with taking recommendations from people I know. Well, that obsession goes to a whole ‘nother level with a celebrity. So, I was ready to go right down the line of suggestions from Kev (yes, I can call him Kev); but Kate thought maybe we should do what we had already planned to do instead. #marriage (KIDDING, KATE …if you’re reading this …if you’re not, then #marriage…)

Well, I was in luck because one of the things we had planned to do anyways was go to the Ryman Auditorium. This got us out of the 35 degree weather that plagued the city all weekend anyways. I was indifferent about seeing the Ryman, I’m not a giant country-music fan and I generally don’t like old buildings (right now, my mother is reading this and nodding in agreement–and now she’s laughing at that statement). Kate and I splurged and bought the “behind the stage” tour, and I will say that it was really cool. We were in the same dressing rooms that once had Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Garth Brooks, Hank Williams, and most importantly, Carrie Underwood getting ready for a show at the Ryman (The Grand Ol’ Opry was also held there from 1943-1974). That was a pretty cool experience, as well as actually standing on the same stage as some of the greatest musicians ever. Our tour-guide was terrific and really made sure we understood the history behind the building. Basically, the building started as a church to offset the number of saloons that the city had. #History101

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View from the stage at the Ryman
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Hank Williams, Johnny Cash & other stars’ memorabilia

After the Ryman we needed to get something to eat, and although the on-site cafe looked REALLY good; we opted to try out Nashville’s famous “Hot Chicken”. Apparently the place to eat Hot Chicken is at Hattie B’s . We arrived at the closest one to our current location (I believe there are 3 around Nashville) and the line was out onto the street and parking was tough, so we found one about 5 minutes away and figured that would be a little quicker. It wasn’t. We arrived and again saw the line into the parking lot just to get in! Well, that obviously means there is something inside worth waiting for. So we did…for an hour and a half…in 35 degree temperatures. Once inside, you can order chicken with six different flavor levels: Southern, Mild, Medium, Hot, Damn Hot, and Shut the Cluck Up. Kate had Southern and I had Medium (could have handled hot); and we both agreed they were the best chicken tenders we had ever eaten. They were giant, juicy, and just enough breading to make them crispy without overpowering anything. Absolutely delicious! Again, I had Mac and Cheese because…just because.

After we ate, we checked out the Parthenon. It’s big….its fine. I dunno what to say about it… It was cold and rainy/snowy..so we were already kind of hating being outside walking around. Worth seeing…I guess? Judge for yourself.

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If you got all hot and bothered by this picture, then you’ll probably enjoy it. We didn’t go inside either.

After the Parthenon, we went back to the hotel to regroup for a bit and then headed back out in the cold. We decided to walk to the Wild Horse Saloon because of how famous it is and Kate wanted Deep Fried Pickles. After walking for quite awhile, we finally got to the front door and saw a sign that read “Closed for a Private Event”.

Terrific.

So, we decided to check out the pedestrian walking bridge that went over the river. This was really cool both literally and figuratively. The view of downtown Nashville is awesome from the bridge!

See (can’t you feel the cold?):

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View from the Pedestrian Bridge

After walking for quite awhile around downtown, we were hungry (almost hangry) again. This time we went to Puckett’s right down from our hotel. Again, I had BBQ and mac $ cheese. Are you sick of hearing what I had to eat yet?…Me too..sorry…but here’s a picture anyways.

Pork, Sweet Potato Fries, Mac & Cheese
Yum!

That night, we went out to some more bars–this was probably the first time that Kate had actually started feeling better since we left Minnesota. Unfortunately, we had a long road trip to Charleston the next day. (Read about Charleston)

We are definitely heading back to Nashville for a long weekend when we both feel 100% healthy and it’s not the same temperature as the place that we escaped from.

‘Till we meet again Nashville!

-ML

Here’s some more pictures:

6 Days, 4 Cities, and 2,879.3 miles

So, my wife and I went on a road trip!

I apologize for the lack of posts lately, I’m sure there has been a void in your life that just couldn’t be filled or overcome. I’m sorry.

The reason for the lack of updates was because my wife and I took a road trip! About 6 months ago, we made the decision to plan for a vacation to celebrate our 10 year anniversary! Kate and I never really went on a honeymoon and never really took a “big trip” before we had kids. We did most things on the cheap and put money into our first house. The first 6 years of our marriage, we spent an absurd amount of our own hard-earned money fixing up a house to flip it. So, while our friends and family were taking big elaborate trips, honeymoons, and vacations, we were pulling up old smelly carpet, replacing appliances, landscaping, installing cabinets, and refinishing hardwood floors.

Almost the same. . . Ok, anyways–back on topic… Kate suggested that we go to Nashville, TN for vacation. Kate and her brother went about 5 years ago and she thought that I would really enjoy it (don’t you dare throw that previous paragraph at me….I stayed home-and, since this blog is all about me, that doesn’t count). So, in the fall of 2017, we made the decision to officially put it on the calendar and book a trip to Nashville in April! After looking at a map, we figured out that Charleston is only a hop, skip, and a jump from Nashville–we could go there for a couple days too…and we could break up both long drives with stops in St. Louis, Gatlinburg, and Chicago. BOOM! It was settled.

We went through a travel agent, which—I’m not sure was necessary; I didn’t have to pay anything extra and she found some pretty cool hotels, but…eh; I probably could have done it as well. Since it didn’t cost me anything extra–I guess it was alright. The trip was set, we were going to leave early morning on Thursday, drive to St. Louis and spend the night and arrive in Nashville on Friday. Friday through Sunday morning would be in Nashville, Sunday through Wednesday morning would be in Charleston, Wednesday – Thursday would be Gatlinburg, and finally Thursday – Friday would be Chicago.

So, the Wednesday night before the trip we are going to bed around 11pm and my wife sits up in bed and says “I think I’m getting sick”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a nightmare–I was very much awake because I could hear my 3 year old awake and crying in her room. After I get back from getting her back to sleep; the 11 month old is up. Kate hasn’t left the bathroom since I went into the 3 year old’s room a couple hours ago. Always a good sign.

Once I finally got back to bed, I asked an extremely sensitive and caring rhetorical question that I didn’t want the answer to: “Did you puke?”

“yeah-a bunch”. . . Instantly, this went through my mind: (Chris Farley Voice) “good, Great, Grand, WONDERFUL!” (Don’t get that joke? Click here.)

Ok, so what the hell do we do now? We’re scheduled to blast off in like 4 hours! Kate’s sick, I’m super tired and the girls are most likely out of whack now for the day. Probably not how grandma and grandpa envisioned the babysitting sentence starting off on day one. Anyways, around 10am, Kate finally comes downstairs and I buttoned up my salesman pants and talked her into still going on the trip. I knew that if we didn’t leave–we never would. And the car was packed and I had been overdosing on caffeine.

Ok–I’m coming to the realization that this is probably going to be a long post. So if you need to pee; I’d do it now.

We left for St. Louis about 5 hours later than we initially planned on leaving—not the worst thing in the world; but still. Kate was an absolute trooper; she didn’t feel awesome, but made it all the way to St. Louis in one shot (minus one stop in Cedar Rapids, IA to visit my cousin).

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My cousin Craig and I. One of us was on the clock.

We got to St. Louis at about 8:30pm and fell directly face-first into bed. Now, as anybody knows, once a person in a house gets sick–the others are sure to follow. This was definitely on our minds the entire trip to St. Louis, “what if the kids get sick? What do we do?” After chatting with my parents who again, were taking the first shift of babysitting (each set of grandparents got 4 days), they said the kids were doing awesome and that we should enjoy the trip, with Kate feeling better (not 100% yet), we agreed that should be the plan.

St. Louis was cool, but honestly; we were there for such a short amount of time that we really didn’t take in much (any) of the city. We went to the arch because it was literally across the street from our hotel (Hampton Inn at the Arch); but in the short time I was there, I was really impressed with the downtown area of STL!

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Kate and I at the Arch. (I don’t know why the picture is so small…its either this size or a life size picture of the arch…)

Ok while I’m typing this, I’m having a change of thought. Cory Cove on 100.3 KFAN, would call this an “on-air production meeting”. This is already getting long, so instead of having a long 50,000 word post, I’m going ‘glaze over’ the entire trip and put links to the different cities we went to, and you can get my thoughts on those directly at the bottom of this post (with pictures!!). Hopefully the rest of this post intrigues you enough to click on these. #clickbait

After a couple days in Nashville, we headed over to Charleston and while enjoying a really interesting harbor tour of Charleston; I received the following text from my mother: “I may not take Grace to ECFE.. I think I’m getting sick”.

Immediately my wife and I went from “vacation mode” to “parent mode”. We spent the rest of the night contemplating whether or not we cut the vacation short and go home or trust that the kids will be fine and continue with our trip. This conversation went well into the evening and we finally made the decision that if the kids did get sick, we would want to be there; and probably more importantly, they would want us there. So we made the decision to leave Charleston Tuesday morning, skip the Gatlinburg stop and drive as far as we could.

Turns out “as far as we could” is 14 hours, 1,243 miles, and one time change. Charleston to Chicago. #RoadWarriers

We spent the night in Chicago in a 2 person whirlpool suite so we could relax after sitting in a car seat literally all day. We had a bottle of wine and some fantastic Lou Malnati’s Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza. This was actually pretty nice and relaxing.

After a 2,879.3 mile round trip (Two Thousand, Eight Hundred Seventy Nine POINT Three) we got back home about 2pm on Wednesday (2 days earlier than we planned). I will say that the reaction we got from Grace when we walked in the door made me forget about the fact we had cut our trip short…Although, I definitely was a bit resentful that I had to cut our first “real vacation” in quite some time short, but it was good to be home.

However, I am curious and would love your opinion. Please leave me a comment on what you would have done. My wife and I had an extremely hard time making the decision to come home. The thing that we kept thinking about was if the 3 year old got sick. IF she were to get sick, she’s going to want mom & dad (mom) next to her –no question; the 11 month old probably couldn’t care less. That alone was a driving factor in us coming home early. So please–let me know what you would have done; would you have done the same thing or would you have stayed?

Sorry for getting long-winded…The experts would say that I’m 736 words over the ideal length at this point.

Oh, and the girls never got sick…

Please read my blog posts on the other cities. They’re not as long and probably a lot more humorous; unless you just don’t find me funny, and that’s OK!–many people don’t (my wife, kids, parents, friends, in-laws, colleagues, the cashier at Target, etc)…

8 Things I learned from my vacation

Nashville On Stage

Charleston, We Hardly Knew Ye

Also-please let me know what you would have done in our situation…I’m genuinely interested!

Thanks for reading!

Please share and subscribe if you enjoyed it!

-ML

I know a guy…

A quick story about getting my car fixed after it was rudely rear-ended.

This is a very popular term whenever someone is in need of electrical work, auto repairs, plumbing issues; and for some people, “certain medication”. It makes sense to ask someone that you know and trust if they “have anyone” for a certain project. You trust that person and if they’ve had a good experience with the person or business they’re recommending, you can usually bet that your experience will be similar. In today’s age of social media, a thousand positive reviews on Google, Yelp, or Facebook can sometimes get discarded by a poorly placed negative review. So, its’ nice to “know a guy (or gal!)” outside of all of that noise.

Do you remember about 2 months ago, when I got rear ended on my way to the Super Bowl 52 festivities? If you haven’t read that story; go ahead and click that link quick-have a laugh and then come back here. I’ll wait.

Done?

Great! So, eventually after doing a bunch of “sleuth” work on my own, I filed a claim against the person who hit my car through State Farm directly. The gentleman with the vintage Impala told State Farm that he hit my vehicle, but said that there was no damage. Well, ladies and gentleman that statement equals “admission of fault”. So, State Farm said they would pay for the whole cost of replacing my bumper and nothing goes on my record with my insurance agency, so my premiums stay the same. In all honesty, had the guy not run me all through downtown Minneapolis and just apologized initially; I probably wouldn’t have pursued anything because you could barely see the mark. The moment that he tried to run away from me, I wasn’t giving him a brake (pun intended). Actually, now I hope his premiums go up 372% :) Whatever happens to him, I needed to get my bumper fixed.

Well, I know a guy. His name is Todd. He and his wife Amy, own Collision Pros & Glass located in the very small town of Clarkfield, MN. I grew up in Clarkfield and actually spent a year or two working with Todd detailing cars after he repaired them. Actually, as I’m writing this–I have no idea how or when I got hired there or when I really left-maybe I’m still employed? Todd, if you’re reading this and you remember-let me know. Did I just show up with donuts one day and leave a couple years later? Did I dream the whole thing? I’m completely drawing a blank–must have been a real intensive and thorough interview process. Either way, I think I was OK at my job. I had a 1992 Pontiac Bonneville that I washed about every other day at the local car wash, so I knew how to clean a car. Maybe that’s how I got the job! It was a small town, so word probably got back to Todd that I had the cleanest grandma car anyone had ever seen and he was like “I gotta have this kid at my shop”.

Yeah, that’s probably what happened.

I had a lot of fun working with him in my late teenage years. Him and I have pretty similar personalities, very sarcastic with tons of ‘tongue in cheek’ comments. So there was plenty of barbs tossed back and forth and even more practical jokes between us. When I worked there, he had a makeshift dirt track just outside of his shop, where he could practice his jumps. If he wasn’t an auto body specialist, he would have had a career as a race-car driver. Not NASCAR though, it would have been something off the wall-like school buses, tractors, or dump trucks, maybe 4-wheelers. I would like to put this out there that he challenged my grandma car to a drag race against his 4-wheeler (quad as he called it). The race took place about 3 miles east of town, and I forget how the race ended up——–wait-no I don’t- he lost. Todd has never met a gas pedal that he didn’t like, I can appreciate that.

Anyways, I called Collision Pros & Glass and said “Todd, I need a bumper” and he said “I know, I saw your Facebook post and it was the funniest thing I’ve ever read in my entire life. It’s such an honor to be speaking with you! I can’t believe I’m talking to you on my personal cell phone!!”. I’m just kidding, only about 3% of that happened-like the first 12 words, the rest was me trying to pump up my ego. He did enjoy my story, however.

Todd let me know his estimate and how it ties in with insurance, etc. Since I’m such an impeccable driver, I wasn’t really sure how it all worked. I told Todd that whenever he was ready, I would meet my dad halfway and switch vehicles so dad could drop the vehicle off with Todd (my dad would find out later that he had agreed to this). Thanks Dad.

After I made the switch with my parents, I got the vehicle back in ONE DAY. Not even one day, less than that: 23 hours-exactly. Do you know how long it would take me to YouTube ‘how to remove a bumper’, actually remove the bumper, put the new one on, and clean an entire vehicle? Me neither, but it would be more than 23 hours! The coolest part about the vehicle getting fixed was how unbelievably clean it was when I got it back! I have 2 little kids, so it’s dirty again-but WOW was it clean for a day! He even touched up some paint chips and included touch up paint for any future door dings. When I dropped my car off, I had 42 cents in the cup holder, when I got it back there was 53 cents in there. This is an honest company my friends! Or I miscounted the first time.

I think my blog posts are turning into “Small Business Review”, but that’s OK. My parents owned a Coast-to-Coast (True-Value, & Hardware Hank) hardware store in town for a majority of my childhood and I watched as a Wal-Mart 15 miles away help put it out of business. It’s not any fun to watch your parents’ business basically get pushed out of town by a business not even in the town. So, I’m going to give some love to the small businesses out there! Or at least for this post and this one. There is absolutely a level of service that is not matched by the big companies. Admittedly, I’m as guilty as you are and have 3 Amazon packages delivered seemingly daily at my house, but I still get a feeling of satisfaction when I buy something from the local hardware store, coffee shop, or restaurant. I generally make a conscious effort to help them out.

So if you need a vehicle fixed, repainted, rust removed, add some fender flares, or even a hitch added; please give Collision Pros a call!

If you don’t want to drive the whole way, my dad can meet you halfway.

-ML

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Patient of the Day!

I went to the dentist; and I didn’t die–more importantly, it didn’t suck!

 

There was a long time in my life; I really disliked going to the dentist. Frankly, I hated it. I know this isn’t breaking news that people generally don’t like going to the dentist. However, this is my blog and I’m going to talk about whatever I want to-this time it’s my dental experience that I had yesterday. Anyways, there was a period in my life that I think I went almost 7 years without going to the dentist (gross–I know). I knew I had issues with my teeth, I was reminded every time that I chewed, drank anything, took a breath, slept, laughed too hard, sneezed…you get the picture; it was bad. Finally, after I had a job with amazing dental insurance, I decided to take the plunge and “get back to square one” so to speak. It wasn’t any fun-college and remodeling a house had taken it’s toll…

Anyways, when my wife Kate and I moved to our current home, we needed a new and closer dentist. I knew that I needed a checkup, so I did a Google search and the one with really good reviews showed up as “Norwood Dental“. So, I called them and set an appointment. (Disclaimer: I’m not being paid or anything to post about my experience–although, since I was so brave at my appointment yesterday, they did anoint me “Patient of the Day“, no big deal).

About a year ago, my awesome hygienist, Nyssa (Nee-Sah) and Dr. Ross told me “You have a cavity that is building underneath one of your old fillings”. Obviously, I was like “yeah-OK, whatever Doc…I’ll be fine-I’m a grown ass man, where’s my free toothbrush.” Well, it turns out Dr. Ross (and Dr. Bussler) knows what he’s talking about! At my most recent checkup, Dr. Ross said “you need to get that fixed, or someday your mouth is going to be in so much pain, its going to jump off of your face” (paraphrasing). So, I scheduled an appointment to get a crown and a cavity fixed, with the possibility of a root canal if the cavity had gone too deep. Yay!

By the way, I’m talking about Dr. Ross because that is who I have dealt with 96.8% of the time I have been a patient there; in the small interaction I have had with Dr. Bussler it’s been terrific as well. I’m not sure what comes to mind when you think of “Dentist”, whatever it is; I’m willing to guess it isn’t Dr. Ross. He looks like he could fight middleweight division in the MMA tomorrow night; bald head and all. He’s hilarious and makes you feel so much more at ease by talking to you like a friend; and not a patient. Listen, when people are digging in my mouth I’d rather have them be lighthearted, funny, conversational, and look like they are genuinely having fun with their co-workers.

Anyways, before I scheduled yesterday’s appointment, Nyssa and I were talking about “the gas”. I told her that I had never had it before and her exact quote was “It’s like having 4 glasses of wine”. So, I tried it for the first time, and- IT’S LIKE HAVING 4 GLASSES OF WINE!! I don’t know why people just don’t do this for fun? There are Oxygen Bars that literally give you no feeling of anything (don’t you dare tell me otherwise)–can you imagine Nitrous Oxide bars? Sit there for an hour with your friends after work, relax everything away and then take a quick 5 minute shot of pure oxygen and you’re good to drive home. I might be onto something…Investors, please contact me

As I was sitting there floating away with my happy gas, Dr. Ross and Rachel (a new hygienist to me; Nyssa still stopped by to say ‘Hi’) were walking me through everything that was happening throughout the process. They made sure that I was still with them and felt comfortable during the whole operation. I understand that this is turning into a review of the dentist office and not a blog post–I’m sorry, but when you’re “Patient of the Day” you can do that… During the entire appointment, Dr. Ross kept making jokes about this being his first day “on the J-O-B” or how “we had a procedure today that almost killed all 3 of us, but I’m sure you’ll be fine”. He even called me a “Bloak”, I’m not sure where it came from, but at one point we got on the topic of me having this blog. As talking about myself is one of my favorite activities-I’m sure that I started the conversation; which somehow turned into me being a “Bloak who Blogs”. It was pretty funny, but as I’m writing this-I think you had to be there…

I get that this style of dentistry MIGHT not be for everyone-but again, I’d rather have someone talk to me in the same way that I talk instead of (Ben Stein voice:)”Ok Michael, it looks like you have a Grade 3 plaque buildup on tooth number 16 along the anterior side of your gumline next to the peripheral incisor with a possible Level 1 low-grade cavity” (None of that makes any sense–it was just to prove my point). So, I enjoyed the banter between him, myself, and Rachel.

I even took a selfie with them. I’m the one in the middle.

dentist 1
Rachel, Myself, & Dr. Ross

Anyways, they fixed my teeth (one crown and one small cavity–on the back side of one of my front teeth; seriously who gets a cavity there). It was a completely painless and *pause for drama* enjoyable experience. Things have clearly changed in the way that anesth….annesthest…..numbing stuff is administered as well. I literally did not feel one thing. I know that I had NOS flowing through my veins, but I could still feel things-and not once did I ever feel any pinch or pressure, etc. It was awesome.

I didn’t mean for this to turn into a Google or Yelp review of Norwood Dental; so if you were looking for a funny story or something like that, I’m sorry. You should probably just subscribe so you don’t miss the next one. But in all seriousness, go to the dentist if you haven’t in awhile. Its only going to get worse if you put it off–trust me, I know from experience. I don’t care if it’s Norwood Dental or not, just go.

If you do go to them, however—tell them that the Patient of the Day from 3/14/18 sent you.

-ML

10 Things I Learned From Staying At a Hotel (With My Kids)

As I mentioned in my previous post, last weekend my in-laws paid for a hotel room for all of their kids/grandchildren to be together and have fun for one weekend. There were definitely some things that I observed, that I would like to share with you.

Here’s at least 10. . .

1.) A hotel is a pizza joint’s main source of income. In cities with both a hotel, (motel—Holidaay Iiiinnnnn) and a pizza joint, it absolutely has to be. I saw a different pizza delivery person every 20 minutes. I suppose that people get to the hotel and think “I just carried 27 bags, 6 kids, a table, cooler, food, walked the longest hallway of all time…pizza sounds like a great ‘pick-me-up'”. Besides, it’ll go great with the beer. (Hot Tip: if you live in a town with a hotel but no pizza place – move; if that isn’t an option-open a pizza joint and thank me later. A phone call from your yacht will be just fine.)

2.) Related…It’s nearly impossible to eat healthy at a hotel. Let’s be serious-no one brings bags of salad into a hotel room. Maybe a neglected fruit or veggie tray; but the stars of the show are generally licorice, cookies, pizza, and soda/alcohol. OR..you and the family go out to eat, which is usually unhealthy as well. This isn’t a “health and fitness” blog, just saying…

3.) No matter how bad of a parent that you think you are; a hotel is a great place to see parents much worse (portrayed) than yourself. Especially at the pool area. There are kids swimming while parents are scrolling through their phones. Disclaimer: I’m not immune to this–I definitely check my phone more often than I probably should; but I was also in the pool with my kiddos-playing with them. There are a lot of impatient and grumpy parents out there as well…

4.) And, no matter how great of a parent that you think you are; a hotel is also a great place to see parents much better (portrayed) than yourself. You know the ones, the parents who are always bright and smiley, with a million things to do with the kids. More importantly, they look like they are genuinely enjoying every little activity that they are doing with their family. Weirdos.

5.) There are no good places to get rid of dirty diapers. I used the men’s room bathroom down the hall…. :D. As most mens’ rooms go, the diaper was the best smelling thing in there.

6.) Pool/Court side rooms are awesome, until they’re not. When everyone has a room court-side as we did; all of the cousins could run around, play basketball, volleyball, go swimming etc. It was awesome, they could do it all together while the parents could either go play with them, or watch from the “Base Camp” 20 feet away. They’re not awesome when your little kids go to bed at 8pm and the pool/court closes at 11pm. 3 hours of agonizing over which stray volleyball banging against the door is going to wake the kids up or, more importantly, spill my cocktail.

7.) You look forward to quiet time! From 11:01pm to 8:00am there was almost complete silence! It was marvelous! The downside is that quiet time basically means that the area is closed; not “you can sit here, you just have to keep your voices down”. It means “go to bed, it’s 11pm-you have kids who don’t care you’re on vacation they will wake you up early.”

8.) Quiet time is strictly enforced by Ruth. Ruth was the enforcer of the hotel; the Derek Boogaard of the hotel if you will. If you weren’t in your room at 11:01pm; she was going to put you in there, and wait awkwardly until you fell asleep. I’m fine with this at night, but when your kids wake up at 6am and the curfew doesn’t get lifted until 8am, you’re kind of stuck in that hotel room for a couple hours. “THIS PLACE IS LIKE A PRISON!!”

9.) Pools are dirty. Breaking news, right? I distinctly remember a point when I was holding my 10 month old and I saw some brown stuff at the bottom of the pool, looked at my wife in horror and said to her: “is that us?” Sometimes I don’t think; and this was one of those times–I slid my foot through the brown mystery substance. It was sand (whew!). Sand, at the bottom of an indoor pool- in central Minnesota- in the winter. How does that even happen? Also, the amount of snot that gets smeared into the pool water is disgusting. I saw my kids do it, I saw other kids do it. I saw parents do it. Kids, this is why you don’t drink pool water; you could die.

10.) For now, my kids like me. They loved swimming with mom and dad in the pool, jumping in from the side while I caught them, and absolutely had a blast when I could throw my 3 year old into the air about 10 feet and catch her. We had a blast! I know that eventually, they aren’t going to want to do that with me, so I really enjoyed the time we had while they wanted to have it!

Thanks for reading the entire post! If you made it down here, here’s a bonus number 11!

11.) When called upon, my kids can sleep through the night! My wife and I were borderline terrified of how both kids would sleep in the same room after the past couple weeks we’ve had at home. Both of our kids are LOUD criers and inevitably, if one wakes up the rest of the block wakes up. Somehow, both slept through the night; allowing mom and dad to get a full 6 hours!

Thanks for reading!

-ML

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