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“Clever and Witty Title”

My first post in over a month–I hope you enjoy it!

Hi….I couldn’t think of anything good for a title for this post…I’m open to suggestions.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything. Actually, I haven’t posted anything since Memorial Day. I’ve been….whats the term??…busy?

…no….

…Lazy? Yeah, that’s it!

I’ve been lazy!.

Kudos to people who do daily blogs or social media posts. Even weekly is tough! Apparently I’m on the Dane Cook plan. A ton of stuff right away, and then not so much. I ran into some old co-workers/friends yesterday and they all told me that they thought that the blog was funny! Obviously this renewed a fire in me to post something again. So, if you really like my blogs, tell me every single day and I’ll put one up every single day.

No I wont….Good God, can you imagine? I would alienate all of my Facebook friends and lose a bunch of Twitter followers in a matter of months. And we all know, that’s all that matters in life, right?

Anyways, I’ve had a Google Drive document with a long list of topics that I thought would be interesting to talk about. Obviously, my stories are probably my best work–but stuff just doesn’t happen to me very often. So, instead of trying to put a bunch of thoughts together for one topic. I’m going to touch on a few of the topics that I have written down. I have no idea where this post is going to go from this point forward, but one of my favorite radio personalities on KFAN, Dan “The Common Man” Cole’s ‘bit’ is that he never does any prep-work before a show and just flies by the seat of his pants. He’s got a daytime job on a major market radio, he’s doing OK. I can probably do the same thing-as I’ve said before, I’ve been winging it for awhile- how hard can it be?

[Editor’s Note: I was going to have a bunch of topics lined up and comment briefly on each one, but I couldn’t stop typing during my second topic…so now it’s only two topics and, shockingly, a long post]

First topic on my list: “Digital Parenting”. So, my 3 year old can navigate her way around an iPad (Amazon Kindle–but iPad is shorter) better than I can drive in the city-so that’s great….. My 1 year old is now getting the hang of it as well. Now, I want to start by saying that my kids are not on the iPad all day long; in fact–my 1 year old threatens to burn the house down anytime she is inside it and my 3 year old is getting into riding her bike–which is awesome. They would just rather be outside-and they should! They are 3 and 1 and it’s summer-I want them outside! I just find it fascinating that kids that can’t tie their $7 shoes can operate a $1000 smartphone. However, I will say that parenting is “easier” with these devices in certain situations-such as car rides. If we don’t pack the iPads for a drive longer than 20 minutes; I will turn around and get them. I would rather listen to the “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” or “PJ Masks” than a crying child. Man….typing this out makes me sound like a bad parent! Let’s be clear–argue with this statement all you want, but this is the way the world is going: Kids are growing up in a digital age and they know how to use technology at an age that was unheard of even 20 years ago. But, 20 years from now (2038–yeah its a real year) if they DON’T know how to use and adapt to technology–they’re going to be in trouble. Go ahead, prove me wrong-I’ll wait 20 years.

I don’t believe this makes you a bad parent if you give your kid some sort of screen time-but for Christ’s sake…set a time limit. Truthfully, our iPads are out on road trips and maybe 10% of the time at the house. Seriously. My wife and I are very aware of how much time they are on it. Obviously childhood obesity is increasing by the year, so kids definitely have to get outside and do things, but the digital age isn’t going anywhere and they are growing up right in the middle of it. Speaking of screen time (and I’m a giant offender of this), try to put your phone away when the kids are around. I know that I’m not good at it, but I’m trying to get better. It bugs my wife and it even bugs me-and I’m doing it! I read something on one of my friend’s Facebook posts the other day that hit home: “You only get to spend 18 summers with your kids”. Let that sink in.

We’re off to a good start, right? Nice controversial topic right out of the gate.

Let’s lighten up a bit with Topic #2: “My Emotional Attachment to Sports”: My wife is either going to skip right over this or go through it with a fine-toothed comb and call me out on every little thing that I say that she might have a different view on. Love you, honey.

I don’t remember the exact day and time that I became a big sports fan, but I can remember certain things growing up that definitely contributed to the addiction. The first thing I remember is going to Twins’ games in the old Metrodome when my favorite MN player ever was manning center field, the late Kiiiiiirrrrbbbbyyyyy Puck-Ett. The first game that I ever went to was right around the time of the ’91 World Series team. I don’t think it was that year however. Kirby was forced to retire in ’96, so it was definitely before then. My first game was against the Seattle Mariners; Kirby Puckett and Ken Griffey, Jr.—baseball immortality! There was even a home run hit to the lady DIRECTLY behind me. Seriously, had I been 6″ taller and not deathly afraid of a ball hurling towards me at what felt like 900 miles an hour…I’da had it. I remember walking into the “field area” of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome for the first time and just being in awe. It was the biggest building that I had ever been in–the lights and sounds were almost overwhelming to a kid from a town that would have fit under the Teflon roof. This was probably my gateway drug.

The next step into the emotional sports attachment abyss was the Randy Moss and Kevin Garnett era. KG in ’95 and Moss in ’98 (like you didn’t know that one) took Minnesota sports to a media fame level that hadn’t been seen for quite some time, if ever. I was never a giant Timberwolves fan, but I remember watching a skinny high school kid play with NBA players, whose cards I had in a shoe box. It was surreal–the skills and attitude that he brought to the team at 18 years old was awesome. That patented KG double shoulder-shake, turnaround fade away jumper was something everyone tried to replicate. Speaking of attitude, Randy Moss: He had a negative attitude, famously took plays off, nudged people with his car, paid fines with “straight cash homie”, walked off the field, mock-mooned Green Bay fans, and squirted an official with a water bottle. Still, he was the reason that every kid in Minnesota wanted to play wide receiver. Everyone wanted to catch that 45 yard bomb and score 20 touchdowns. Unfortunately-99.9998% of MN kids probably weren’t 6’4″ and running 4.25 40’s. I was a bit under that…5’10” and like a 5.0 40 yard time (any high school teammates reading this are wholeheartedly disagreeing with that number). I played Tight End anyways-we’re supposed to be slow and sit on the bench, which is what I told myself. Anyways, if you forgot how good Moss actually was, click here; I bet you watch the whole thing. Moss is the greatest receiver to every play the game. KG and Moss were stepping stone #2 into the addiction; the ball really was rolling now. Also-kinda off-topic, Michael Jordan is better than LeBron James, don’t @ me. It’s the truth…you’re forgetting how good MJ was, OR you’re too young to fully appreciate how good he was.

I can clearly remember stop #3 along my journey. The 2003 NHL Western Conference Playoffs… Quarterfinals: Minnesota Wild vs Colorado Avalanche. This was the Wild’s first playoff appearance since becoming a team 3 years earlier. I started watching during game 5. Wild were down 3-1 in the series. I had NEVER been a big hockey fan at all; never played hockey-can’t skate to save my life. I turned on the game in the 2nd period basically for background noise. The Wild were winning 3-0 in Colorado and they ended up winning the game 3-2. I was really intrigued with the pace of the game and how intense every single shift was. If you’ve never watched hockey or don’t think you like it–watch playoff hockey; it’s different. The next game was Monday and the series was back in St. Paul. The Wild were still down 3-2 in the series, but I figured I’d turn it on anyways. The game was relatively boring until the 3rd period. It ended up going into overtime tied 2-2, when Richard Park scored to force a game 7! I was almost hooked. Wednesday night in Colorado (9pm start time on a school night) I turned the game on and watched the Wild beat the Colorado Avalanche, again in overtime on a Andrew Brunette goal, scoring on goalie Patrick Roy (pronounced “Wah”, for some reason), who retired the next day. The Wild then faced the Vancouver Canucks and DID THE EXACT SAME THING!! They came back from being down 3-1 in the series only to force and win in game 7. We won’t talk about the Anaheim series in the Conference Finals, bit of a hiccup there…But at that point, I was completely hooked.

#4 was my wife (awww): I am not athletic. At 32, I’m still coming to grips with it, but I’m just not. I have some attributes that are better than average, but overall–I’m just not athletic; I get it. I’ve fully embraced the dad-bod, insurance agent lifestyle. I was on the football team in high school and played Kickoff, Kick Return, Field Goals, and Tight End/Defensive End if we were up by 5 touchdowns with 7 seconds to go. Kate, on the other hand, has enough athletic talent in her pinky toe to make up for my shortcomings. I used to play Pep Band while she was lighting up scoreboards at Yellow Medicine East basketball games. During the early years of our courtship, I used to drive 4 hours to watch her play college basketball at St. Catherine’s University each weekend; eventually I only had to walk about 10 minutes to watch her after we both transferred to Bemidji State University #BestDecisionEver. Kate’s dad was an extremely good basketball coach and she learned a lot from him, but she also put in the time to get very good. She used to tell me how, if she made 1,000 baskets, her dad would buy her a CD. Kate has amassed quite the CD collection. You’re probably wondering–“OK, Romeo; how did this affect YOU?” Well, I watched Kate play most every single basketball game since high school and there was an emotional attachment to watching her succeed and the competitive spirit that she had. Although she never showed it… whenever Kate played basketball, she always looked like she would rather be taking a nap. But I got into those games, I got to know the teammates and the dynamic of the team chemistry and the friendships that they formed. I never really had much of that sitting on the bench.

Also, I hope my kids have her athletic ability.

Sports has always been an emotional outlet for me-whether I was playing or not (most likely not). There’s just something about it that I can’t describe. I know there are a ton of people that think I’m crazy–but I know there are a ton of people who know exactly what I’m talking about. Since the birth of my daughters, I can say that I’ve eased up on watching every single game (especially the Wild–82 games plus playoffs is a bit much). But I follow the social media accounts of the media writers, players, coaches, national outlets, etc. This might sound crazy, but when the Vikings win on Sunday; I’m in a better mood on Monday. The outcome of 22 millionaires on a grass field has literally no bearing on my life at all; but I care and it affects my emotions for a day or so. I wear the purple colored glasses, I think the Vikings are winning the Super Bowl every year or the Wild are hoisting the Stanley Cup; but then I remember that…you know…Minnesota.

Remember the ’98 missed field goal by Gary Anderson against the Atlanta Falcons; I had to ride a bus to Sharing and Caring Hands with my church group immediately after (most of us were late)–and I don’t think anyone said anything the entire 3 hour bus ride. So, I know I’m not the only one that gets affected by the outcomes of games. If you’re a glutton for punishment, feel free to relive it here.

I wish I had a better way to end this; I really do… I honestly didn’t think that I would get to be such a long post-but I can’t seem to stop typing. I hope you enjoyed this post! I’ll try to keep posting a bit more often than I have been. I’m still trying to grasp onto the fact that people actually enjoy these.

Thanks for reading!

-ML #83

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Memorial Day Memories

Isn’t that a beautiful picture??!!

So as I start this post, it’s 9pm on Saturday, May 26th and I’m 3 Captain Morgan & Sprites deep right now, so we’ll see how this post goes. Spelling and grammar could become an issue later in the post as the Captain takes over. The timeline might not make sense either-because I’m not going to do the whole thing in one shot. You’ve read my blog, its never only 2 paragraphs…Anyways, this is the first post I’ve written sitting by a campfire surrounded by in-laws; hence the Captain & Sprite (kidding guys—if you read this).

I don’t post nearly as much as I wanted to when I started itmightbemike.com. I had big dreams of doing 4 posts, gaining 23 million followers and making stacks of cash off advertisement placement. So far, I’ve earned $.37 since the blog started and no big endorsement deals yet… I’m barely making enough to cover my typing costs.

Anyways, I have gotten so many people reach out to tell me how much they enjoy the blog. Kate’s cousin John (John’s wife Michelle took the above picture…more on that later) told me “yeah, they’re….they’re….yeah-they’re pretty good” when referring to my blog posts-and John just doesn’t pass out compliments willy-nilly. So, thank you to everyone who takes the time to read my lengthy blog posts. I genuinely enjoy when people tell me that they enjoy the posts. So, again-thank you! Conversely, if you don’t like them-please never tell me because I can’t take it, but I’ve covered that before.

Memorial Weekend is one of my favorite weekends of the year! Something about the 3 day weekend to start the summer off just seems to hit the spot. Also, tied along with Memorial Day is Bass Opener. I love fishing for bass; they fight hard, they’re generally easy to catch for a part-time fisherman like myself; and early in the year when the water is cold-they taste pretty good. Please know that I’m very aware that Memorial Day isn’t for me to have a 3 day weekend to go fishing and golfing. It is a time when we reflect on the men and women we have lost serving our Country so that wimps like me who don’t serve our Country, can go fishing and golfing whenever we want to.

To those who have served or currently serve…Thank you.

Every year we go up to Area Lake in Central Minnesota to catch some bass. My in-laws and I always have a competition between the two boats. 9 times out of 10, my brother in-law Rob and myself win the competition between my other brother-in-law, Dan; and father-in-law, Ryan.

This year, was number 10.

The night before launch, my cousin-in-law (is that a thing?—I’m calling it a thing), Mark texted me and said “I’d be willing to fish with you and Rob, if you had an extra spot and extended an invitation”. Well, Rob and I delineated for hours over the decision. Do we dare offset the delicate balance that has existed in the 1984 Lund that has been so good to us the past several years? Well, Mark is good people, so we decided to let him join in the fun.

Heading over to our favorite spot on Area Lake, the boat motor hiccupped, gagged, and then projectile vomited. We had been zipping the across the lake at break-neck speeds, when all of a sudden we were dead in the water. Luckily, we had Firestone Auto’s finest mechanic sitting center position in the boat. So, I expected Mark to pop up and MacGyver something out of a gum wrapper, empty beer can, 5” piece of fishing line, and the anchor. Unfortunately, he doesn’t work on boat motors.

We were only about ¼ of a mile to the honey-hole, so my father and brother-in-law had no trouble pulling us the rest of the way, ribbing us the entire way—which was expected, of course. So, that is story of the picture above: John & Michelle and Jeremy & Betsy (that’s right, I’m calling you all out by name) thought it would be fun to take a picture of us getting towed instead of, I don’t know…helping. Well the picture turned out pretty darn cool looking, so jokes on them. I think we caught more fish per person than they did anyways. ;)

Anyways, as you can imagine, Rob was a bit upset that his boat wasn’t working on one of the most important fishing weekends of the year. He wasn’t necessarily complaining-just negative, as was I. Well, the aforementioned Mark, who is having open heart surgery at the end of June (with a 1 month old at home), spoke up and said “Ok, I’m having open heart surgery in a month—so, only positive vibes in this boat!”.

It was at that time, that both Rob and I decided that maybe a boat motor lower unit wasn’t that important.

We spent the rest of the morning making fun of each other, laughing excessively, sharing stories of marriage and parenting, and generally talking smart; all while catching a couple fish. It was genuinely one of the most fun times that I’ve had in a boat. One of those times where you remember laughing your ass off, but you don’t remember any specifics or why you laughed. It was tons of fun! We trolled around for another 3 hours before deciding to head home, knowing it was going to take at least an hour to get home at a top trolling speed of 30lbs thrust.

While on the troll home, we went over a spot of the lake that was about 75’ deep and I thought “why not try to catch a sea monster” and threw a deep dive Rapala over the edge of the boat and caught….

A snail. An actual, literal, real life, slow-moving snail. In 50’ of water. Here’s the picture.

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Look closely…the hook is actually through the snail!

Saturday afternoon, after we limped the boat home, the in-law cousins came over for a fish fry from the morning’s catch. Let’s just say that it’s a good thing Kate’s aunt Mary brought potato salad. But, it was a lot of fun watching all of the “grandkids” playing together for a couple hours. Even if it did involve yelling “KEEP THE SAND IN THE SANDBOX” at least 43 times.

Sunday morning, we decided to head over to Carlos Creek Winery to sample some wines. I’ve sampled them all-I’m a Wine Club Member (humble brag), but it’s free and it’s a 5 mile drive from The Lone Birch (a name that has been bestowed upon the cabin due to one birch tree on the property). They had a food truck, but only served burgers, hot dogs, fries, and cheese curds. I was a bit disappointed because when I heard “Food Truck”, I expected to see tens of tens of food trucks lining the driveway of the winery, not one tiny truck parked in an handicap space. Whatever, it was overpriced good food and we had a great time tasting wine. If you’re in Central Minnesota—give Carlos Creek Winery a shot, they have a very good selection of different wines from dry reds to sweet white dessert wines.

Kate and I always have a habit of kind of “going with the flow” with whatever plans are made, which makes it easy for everyone else; but can get stressful for us with the kiddos if plans are made. We’re both passive people pleasers—it’s a curse, but it is what it is. This weekend we made a conscious effort to do our own thing. So, we decided to take the girls to a beach to let them get their feet in the water a bit! They had so much fun and we really enjoyed watching them laugh and play by themselves! One thing I noticed is that people need to pay attention to their kids around water. I watched this one lady scroll through her phone for 15 minutes at a time before looking up to check on her kids. I couldn’t believe it. How easy would it be for the water (or some creep) to grab those kids and go? Look, I know I’m addicted to my phone, I get it—but around dangerous situations and/or when they are laughing and smiling and being kids, I’m addicted to my kids. Be addicted to your kids. This picture is my favorite!

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Isn’t she cute? :)

Later that evening, we went to get Ice Cream at Tip Top Dairy Bar in Osakis, MN. It was 90 degrees out and we had a very busy day. The entire famdamily went out to get ice cream with us. I had a post several weeks ago about eating healthy, well that goes out the window with Ice Cream. Tell me with a straight face that something tastes better than a hot fudge and caramel sundae.
You can’t. It was a great end to Sunday!

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Brain freeze!!!!!

Memorial Day morning, I was able to get 9 holes of golf in. After hole #3, my clubs and shoes were for sale on eBay for $5 . I actually finished the round with 3 straight pars, so now they’re listed at $200. I shot a 48-not great, but I’m not an avid golfer. They’re probably still for sale. When I got home, I took my 3 year old fishing off of the dock for some sunfish. Fishing with her basically involves me holding a $2 garage sale “Bratz” fishing rod watching a bobber while Grace sits next to me for 18 seconds before running up to the shore to get rocks to throw into the water. I guess it helps alert the fish that we’re there. On occasion, one fish will dodge the barrage of incoming pebbles and bite the hook. This is when Grace takes over-I’m not allowed to reel the fish in. After a 5 minute intense battle between a 3 year old and a 3 inch fish, I get the enjoyment of taking a flopping sunfish off of a hook. Once it’s off, she lets me hold the fish (at this point, the top fin spikes are usually firmly lodged in my palm) so she can touch the fish. Always the eye. She always has to touch the eye. There are at least 20 sunfish in Area Lake with poor eyesight.

It was a very fun and enjoyable weekend! We left about noon on Monday, so the kiddos could sleep on the way home.

How’s that for a poor ending to a blog post? Truthfully, the little “word counter” in the bottom right hand corner of my screen currently says “1,762 words”, so I’m getting self-conscious of the post length. So, that’s why I’m wrapping it up now. BYE!

Again, thanks for reading and if you enjoyed it-please share!!

Thank you,

ML

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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

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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