Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A 13-Day Trip to Sweet Home Minnesota

As much as I've been looking forward to this very post about our trip to MN, I have been dreading it because I knew it was gonna be long. Regardless, I can't NOT write about the eventful 13 days we spent in my homeland.. So, here ya go.

One of our stresses before heading up north, was finding a sitter for Romeo. It killed me to even consider leaving him home (instead of taking him with us to MN), but dog flights run around $200 (one-way!) not including a trip to the Vet for meds and permission to fly. Wahh! No other choice, but to find someone to watch him. Theres really no better way to say it, but he is one high-maintenence little boy. He is one of the most well-behaved, happy lil pups I've ever seen, but he definitely requires a little patience and flexibility. He's basically a mute until you put him in his house (crate), especially at bedtime. He sleeps with us every night - practically taking up a good 1/20th of the bed - and it's not uncommon to find him literally under one of our pillows or spooning spine-to-spine with Justin at some point. What I'm trying to say, is it's not easy to find a sitter who is willing/able to take him outside 6-10 times a day, keep a consistent eye on him so he doesn't get into anything shady, share a bed with him and someone who won't scream everytime he sneaks a lick. With all that said, we found a couple different friends who were totally willing to take on the task.. except 2 weeks is a flippin' long time. We decided the best option for that length of time was for him to stay with my good friend/co-worker/old roomie/newlywed, Tiffany and her hubs, Andy.

I dropped Romeo off in the afternoon and we headed for Atlanta later that evening. Since our flight was leaving from ATL at 7:30am the next day, we decided to go down the night before to hang and stay with our friend, Curtis. We actually left home around the time we planned, and rolled into Hotlanta earlier than we thought. Curtis had plans for din, so once we got into the Atlanta area, we pulled over to eat. An hour later, and ready to just get there already, we headed back to our exit to finish the last few miles of our drive. We got maybe 20 feet out of the parking lot, when we hit dead-stopped traffic. It was moving extremely slow, so we inched along, snailing our way to our exit to get on the freeway. We weren't even halfway down the ramp when trafic stopped completely. 30 minutes go by, no movement. An hour and a half goes by, and you can imagine how we were feeling. Justin needed a bathroom SO bad, and I was tired and sick of driving (since he couldn't with his toe). There were people walking around, up the ramp, and it was so confusing. We couldn't see anything but stopped brake lights for miles up the interstate. Throughout the unjustified wait, police SUV's occasionally plowed their way down the jammed ramp, as if they owned the road (I guess they do). Not much later, we could see headlights and cars driving toward us, UP the ramp. Cars honking, people shouting..Talk about major confusion, congestion and chaos! After about sitting stopped for 2 and a half hours, another cop forced his way down the ramp with his loud speaker on, yelling, "Stop going the wrong way!!! This is an ON RAMP!!" With our luck, on top of the traffic jam, the car sitting in front of us on the ramp was stalled. Typical! Traffic was finally beginning to move, and now we're stuck behind a stalled car. I did a quick maneuver and snuck behind the police car that was forcing his way down. We finally made it to the bottom of the ramp, where we sat in another 1/2 hour of traffic (mind you, this is at 10PM!!!). As we began to move along, it was mandatory that we look at the MESS that sucked up 3 hours of our lifves, and it was an accident, but nothing crazy. We expected a 60-car pile up, but it was just a midsize car and a motorcyle. AUGH! Great start to our trip.

Finally on the Freeway...
Thanks to the traffic, we barely got to see or spend much time with Curtis.. He insisted on giving us his room for the night, as well as drove us to the ATL Airport the next morning. We woke up at 4am and hit the road before 5, in order to make our flight, enjoying a total of 3 hours of sleep.
Getting through security and to our gate was no problem.. Justin was in a lot of pain, so we really had to take our time. When we bought our flights, I listed Justin as "handicapped" so we could have a little extra time for boarding. As we approached the boarding ramp, the nice little woman at the gate desk told us she changed our seats for us, moving us closer to the front and giving us more leg room. How nice! I secretly felt like Ben Stiller during the opening scene of Meet the Fockers, where too many things good kept happening him when he usually has the worst luck. Praise the Lord, it was a nonstop flight. Just when I thought we were going to have a comfortable flight with an entire row to ourselves, a 7-foot Shaq-look-a-like stomped down the aise and stopped at the row directly behind us. Uhhm.. I felt Giant Man squeeeeeeze his way into the row - the middle seat (directly behind me) - and enjoyed his jumbo knees spear me in my back. As I listened to the two obnoxious women on either side of him, trying to befriend him by making comments about his size, I overheard an attendant arrive at the scene, crack his own lame joke, and asked Bigfoot if he wanted to move up to our row. Of course he said yes, and of course he got up, sqeeeeeezed his way out of the row and then sqeeeeezed his way into our row (luckily taking the undesirable aisle seat). Let's just say, I sat in the shape of a candy cane the entire flight, leaning on Justin and trying to give Shaq Attack half of my seat (as if I had a say..). We landed in sweet-home-Minnesota around 9:30am and rushed to get our luggage so we could leave the airport in the dust. On our way to baggage claim, we did something neither of us had ever done before.. We hopped on one of those little, motorized carts - operated by the tiniest little old man in a wooly cardigan. We giggled the whole time, as he buckled Justin and his carry-on in with a seatbelt. Bless his little heart! He saved Justin from a good 15-minute walk and dropped us off right where we needed to go. We were exhausted, but the day was just beginning.

Enjoying the leg room before the invasion of Shaq.
We spent the morning with my fam, eating a nice breakfast and laughing about stupid things. My sweet Aunt scheduled mani/pedi appointments for us girls with her long-time friend, Kim.
Straight from our nail appointments, we headed to our family friend/wedding coordinator/personal attendant/florist shop, to pick up the the veil she made for Vanessa. It got a little emotional, as she showed us where she incorporated some of the beads from our grandma's wedding dress on the clip. After squealing as she gave us a couple previews of the wedding flowers, we made it back home, where the last hours of wedding prep began.
Checking out her beautiful veil

Getting silly!
We mostly worked on the last things needed for the reception..Organizing the music playlists for the ceremony and reception, printing and assembling the escort cards and name cards for the wedding party tables, assembling the programs, assembling the favors and making the little favor/thank you cards. Whew!

My mom and I, working hard on the fuel of Diet Coke
The next morning, we got up and jumped right into the-day-before-the-wedding activities. We gathered all of the centerpieces, dishes, silverware, glassware, decor and everything we could possibly need for the wedding and the next 2 days. After loading up as many cars as we could take, we headed to the wedding ceremony and reception site, The Round Barn, a B&B in Redwing, MN. Vanessa (and  Jon, and my mom, and Jon's mom) had been collecting items for centerpieces to add to the shabby/chic/vintage scheme, including mix-matched, vinatage dishes, drinkware and silverware. As it worked out fabulous to have purchased all of the amazing pieces (enough for 135 place settings!), none of the dishes, drinkware and silverware were rented, which meant.. everything had to be hand-washed by us (rather than the caterers). And, inconveniently, the barn was not complete with running water, bathrooms or a kitchen, so the dirty dishes had to be carefully packed in Rubbermaid containers after the reception, in order to transport them back home the next day for cleaning.

Setting the tables!

Each centerpiece was unique, and most place settings were unique and randomized.
After hours of setting up, we rushed to change and get ready for the rehearsal dinner later that evening. The weather was fabulous, but the mosquitos were eating us alive.

Bride and Groom, practicing their walk back down the aisle..
I (along with little sis, Lanae) was a Maid of Honor and Justin was an usher.

Bridesmaids + Mum
 After rehearsal, we headed downton Red Wing to Liberty's (same place who was catering the wedding) for the Groom's Dinner. When we arrived, the restaurant staff wasn't quite prepared for us yet. There were still some people in our reserved room finishing up. The bridesmaids began to sit at tables as that were being combined, but we had to wait on 2 older women who decided to take their good-ol-time, despite being encouraged to relocate or finish up by a few servers. We watched as they huffed and puffed, as though we were imposing on their reserved party room. As we were waiting for them to leave, one of the women whom I referred to as "Old Blue" (her head-to-toe outfit was an awkward powder blue ensemble), began grumbling about the fact that Jon's mom (mother of the groom) brought a special homemade dessert, as part of a tradition of some sort. Old Blue snarled in a crotchety voice directly at me - "I didn't know it's OK to bring your own food to a restaurant.. You think this is a potluck??" Whhaaat?? What was that Ol' Blue?! What did she care that Jill brought something? It was none of her dang business! She shouldnt have even been sitting in our room anymore! I replied to her in a nice tone, "Oh! Yeah.. This is a wedding rehearsal dinner.. Are you here for the party? After all I heard back was a grunt, I continued, "I'm sorry you're upset that we have a special dessert.. Would you like some?" She said, "No." I said, "Ok! Have a great night! No worries for you!" She just grunted a few more times and she and her friend hobbled their way out.. Good riddance Old Blue & Company! Sheesh..On with our evening! The food was delish and we had a great time laughing, toasting and organizing our schedule for the next morning.

Kiddies all grown up
After dinner, we bridesmaids and my mom went back to the barn to finish all the setting up..Still so much to do!

Escort Card Tree
Working hard!
Good morning, Wedding Day!! All of the girls got up early and began getting ready.. Natalie (one of the maids) did all of our hair, and I did everyone's makeup.. Who needs a salon, ehh??

Vanessa's hair turned out gorgeous!
Once we made it to the Barn, we all got dressed, at some lunchski and did touch-ups on makeup.

The Maids
Our flower bouquet baskets were incredible!

Vanessa was absolutely stunning!

Stacie came hours early to help Christie with setting up and all of the floral arrangements! It meant so much to me that she was there..
Christie helping with the veil..
We finally headed outside for photos

The ceremony was so incredibly beautiful.. The weather was fantastic (a little chilly) and no bugs! The bridal party and Vanessa walked down the aisle to a MUSE song (the instrumental version), Exogenesis: Symphony, Pt. 3 (Redemption). Oh my word. I already cry everytime I listen to MUSE, especially Exo. Vaness began walking down the aisle at about 3:35 into the song (after the climax) and you bet I bawled like a baby! I was up there, shoulders shaking, quivering chin, tears rollin'.. Ohh the waterworks. Before we all walked, I told Lanae (who was standing directly beside/behind me) that it's up to her to stop me from crying if I lose it.. As I'm whimpering to myself and trying to pull it together, I began hearing Lanae talking to me like a vantriloquist, saying the most random words I've heard. All stealth, she whispered, "Baby rhino's. Tacos.".. "Cowboys."..."Jelly beans." Of course, at that point, we started to get the giggles. No longer was my face blubbering with tears, but instead I had to focus on keeping myself from busting out laughing, as she kept feeding me the most random words in the world. Good work, Lanae. I knew I could count on her!

Ohh what a sweet day it was. After the ceremony, we all had lemonade in the courtyard while the chairs were transferred inside to the reception area. The bridal party had our grand entrance, we all enjoyed a fabulous dinner and then came the speeches. In a recent post, I rambled all about my speech. Let's just say, it wasn't pretty. It was SO fun to have Dan & Stacie there! We danced the night away, and Justin even danced a little, despite feeling some pain with his foot.

First dance to "Faithfully" by Journey -- SO them!
Eyyy Macarena! At some point in the evening, my brother Mitch took his shirt off, and danced (in his words) Guido Style. Oh jeez. In the photobooth, the guys even posed with "GTL".. Crazy boys!
Lanae and I decked out the 'Getaway Car' with lots of window paint and some poms.. What a memorable night!
We spent the next morning cleaning up the aftermath from the wedding and reception, then Jon and Vanessa met us back at my parents' place for gift-opening and lunch, since they weren't leaving for their honeymoon for another week.


Monday afternoon was the day my brother left for National Guard basic training in Fort Jackson, SC. My mom wanted to do something special for lunch/dinner, since he'd be gone for the next 3+ months. Of course, I helped her with decorating the table Mitch-style, by adding some guns and knives and military-ish kinda stuff to the china my mom had already set out. Mitch totally got a kick out of it! After some emotional 'goodbyes', his car came to pick him up, and he was gone. I miss him already. We spent the rest of the evening watching home videos from when we were little, and watching movies and eating Jack's frozen pizza in the basement. One of the many things I miss most about home: Jack's pizza, and movies with the big surround sound my dad has set up. It was a bummy, good night. 
"Are you serious?!"
Yes, that IS an old grenade.. Haha
I laugh when I see this photo - Not quite sure why we are posing with our dinner rolls.. I guess it just felt right.

My little brother, all grown up.
Tuesday, we planned to meet Mulder (good friend/old college roomie from college) at the Mall of America for lunch. It was so great to see her and catch up, even though it was just for a short time! I miss her so much. We always joke about how incredibly gigantic my head looks next to hers.. haha! It's unreal! After lunch, Justin, my mom and I walked around for a little bit. Justin was still in a lot of pain, so we kept it short and sweet.
Straight from the MOA, my mom dropped us off at Dan and Stacie's place (felt like I was in Jr. High again!) where we drove with Dan to meet Stacie downtown St. Paul for dinner. They took us to this fantastic little tequila bar/restaurant called Barrio.. Aughh yumyum!


We had a blast at dinner and then decided to make our way to Uptown, Minneapolis to Chino Latino for dessert (Dan, Stace and Justin had never been before!). We laughed all night long. It felt like I never moved.. After our fun evening, we made it back home, where I felt so exhausted, I thought I might pass out!
You can always tell which one is Chino, by the unmarked block of sparkles!
We ended up staying up til 4am, playing Dutch Blitz and watching one of my favorite movies growing up, Overboard. Ahh! Seriously! Every single night we all stayed up late, hot-tubbing, eating and watching old favorite movies. It was perfect..

Wedenesday, my long-time friend Misty (we used to work together in frangrances/cosmetics) drove hours to meet me for lunch and an afternoon with her and her lil boy, Maverick! It had been over 3 years since I've seen Misty, plus it was my first time meeting him. I had SUCH a great time seeing her and playing with Mav.. After lunch, we headed to pick up Justin and went to a park to play for a little bit. When we got back to my parents', it was was so cute how Maverick kept calling my mom "Gramma".. Ohh we laughed so hard! Misty always puts me in such a great mood.. it was definitely a highlight of the trip!

Uhh.. Cutest little rockstar kid, EVER!

We really wanted to do a "double date" with Lanae and Jordan while we were home, since Jordan is ALLLL Lanae talks about these days (JK!).. But seriously, we had a blast. Applebee's half-off apps and Bingo, baby! None of us were lucky enough to win, but we did become buddies with the overly-friendly-and-talkative little old man named 'Hal' who seated us.. Lanae and I kept calling him "Shallow Hal" (teehee). Back at the house, we did another regular round of games, hot tub and movies.. Good times.

Thursday night, we headed back over to Dan and Stacie's for a yumski, homemade Cuban dinner and we watched (500) Days of Summer. Ohmigosh, I absolutely loved it. Plum wine and laughing with my best friend.. The night was perfection, until my camera broke. Wahhhh!

Friday, we had plans to meet all of my college friends/roomies back in Uptown for Mulder's birthday.. Jade, Ashley and most all of the men came too. We met up for dinner at Bar Abilene & more hanging at Cowboy Slims (never been to either..) and had a great time catching up and reminiscing about the old days.. I wish I could hang with my old buddies every night. Seeing them, made me miss them more than I have in a really long time.
On our way to Uptown (Mpls.) -- Downtown, St. Paul. One of my favorite views..
Coming up on Minneapolis, another one of my favorite views..
Me, Sarah (new friend), Ash, Mulder & Jade
I'm pretty sure it was late-later that night, that Justin, me, Lanae & Jordan went to Cub (grocery store) at 1am to get pizza rolls and taquitos.. I almost wet my pants a few times, as Justin zoomed around on a motorized cart, beeping the horn from time to time. Oh my gosh! I thought I was going to lose it! More movies, hot-tub and games..Goodnight!

The next night, we celebrated my dad's 52nd birthday by going to a tiny little Cuban place in Minneapolis, called Victor's. My mom had been raving about the place, and how it was featured on Food Network. Apparently Guy Fieri called the place, "off-the-hook Cuban food". Oh my word, he was right. Reservation mandatory, it was phenomenal!! It couldn't have been any bigger than a double-wide trailer, with walls covered in messages and names - I guess they love people going crazy with the magic markers! We had to wait a few minutes for them to make room for our 7-person party.

Opening cards and presents..
I ordered "Ropa Vieja" with fried sweet plantains and spanish rice. To. Die. For.
My mom wrote a nice, lil' birthday message for my dad..
This is what happened, when Jon attempted to write on the walls..Haha
One of Justin and my wishes while we were home, was to go to Culver's. The next day, we made it happen. Greasy, delicious butterburgers and cheese curds. Naughty!!

After lunch, Lanae had the "great idea" to go to Petland down the road, before heading to Jon & Vanessa's place for a little bit. I was seconds away from buying a silky terrier (girl), who looked like a perfect match for Romeo. I dunno if I was just puppy-sick, but I literally wanted to take her home. She was regularly $1200, on sale for $650 since no one was adopting her. The workers were SO pushy on me buying her (as if!) that they threw in a little pink carrier and a pink hoodie if I would buy her then and there. Are you kidding me right now?! I told them how expensive it would be to fly her home, and the manager said she would give her to me for $550, to help with the flight fees. Flip. Obviously, we couldn't get her, but it was really hard  to say 'no'. Bahhh!!

After watching an episode of LOST and lounging around and Jon & Vanessa's, we rushed home to pack the cars for the Drive-In. Summertime drive-in's are a MUST when we go home to visit.. So I was pretty glad it worked out!

Opening a belated birthday gift from Jordan..

Of course! Vanessa looks like a little animal in this photo (as she often does..) Bahaha!

My dad set up a little grill, where he grilled up a bunch of corn dogs -- Ohhh they were delish!
The Drive-In always seems to bring out the silly side of us all..

Lanae & Jordan layed in the back of her trunk.. I took this photo in pitch black, I almost died when I saw her little head pokin' out of the trunk!

Lanae jumped in the truck for a picture.. During the movies, it was actually Justin, me and Vanessa. Hip-to-hip, freezing and barely hearing anything with the 2 mini speakers (that were probably new in the 70's)..
The most hysterical part of the night, was after a bag of nasty Burger King knockoff "Funyons" ripped and spilled all over us and in the back of the truck! We kept hearing "CRUNCH" and finding random, stinky rings in the blankets and any time we moved around! Ohh another near-peeing-my-pants moment..

Sometime after the 1st or 2nd movie, my mom got on a silly-kick and began squirreling around with Vanessa's cowboy boots

We spent the next day sleeping in, relaxing and hanging out. We met up with my Aunt Dynette for a little bit in the evening before getting home for a big lasagne dinner and more movie and home-video watching. Ahh.. It an amazing light night.

Finally, our departure day arrived! We had breakfast at Perkins with my Grandma and Aunt and made it home to pack pack pack!

My sweet Grandma and me
It was pretty hard to say 'bye' after such a relaxing, memorable, almost drama-free trip! As much as I wanted to meet up with even more old friends than I did, I was glad we didn't over-jam our schedule. More family time is quite alright with me!

Forgive me for this ridiculously LONG POST. It is impossible to capture the whole trip without leaving anything out! Already can't wait to go back..


1 comment:

  1. WAH!!!!!!! YOU LOOK SO GOOD IN THAT DRESS! I don't have time to type because I'm supposed to be working, but those bridal baskets are sick! I swear, you need to be in fashion/design/or something, Clamsky! I loved your outfits (headband, earrings... etc. etc.) You're just precious and amazing in all kinds of ways. Even when you DO ask me what kind of glass I want my mimosa in, like... 12 times in a row. You and Charmaine. I swear. Love love love it! PS: Your sister looks beautiful and that was a REALLY COOL WEDDING! AMAZED, YET AGAIN!


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