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Archive for December 5th, 2017

Fall Road Trip, Part the First

December 5, 2017

I mentioned in my first Holidailies entry that I’d been on the road for six of the previous weeks. At that point, I hadn’t yet gotten around to doing any entries about those travels, but that changes today, with the first installment of Trip Report Tuesday, a new December feature here at Hat on Top, Coat Below. I’m still sorting through all the photos I took but I’m far enough along to cover the first week of of our journey.

Mr. Karen and I left the mountain in early October. The snow that had fallen up to that point had mostly all melted, so things looked autumnal. There were spots of color here and there, though the tamaracks hadn’t yet gone golden.

State of the mountain upon our departure

Since the weather was clear, we chose to take the more scenic route to Montana. Our dinner break just outside of Missoula was enhanced by a beautiful sunset.

Sunset over the truck stop

We made it to Belgrade, Montana that first night. The next day we just drove and drove and drove, ending up stopping in Murdo, South Dakota a bit before we’d have like but it was the last freeway exit with non-sketchy lodging for quite a while.

Wide open spaces

We got to see some unfamiliar landscapes the next day, as instead of continuing all the way across South Dakota as we’ve done many times before, we dropped down into Iowa, Sioux City specifically. We arrived in plenty of time to make it to the Kansas concert that was our goal.

Acoustic set

The day after the concert, we got back in the car and continued east, opting to avoid the interstate to mix things up. I successfully lobbied for a short detour to see the World’s Largest Popcorn Ball, figuring we’d seen a big ball of string on a previous trip so might as well add to our collection. It was disappointing to find it was in a big dish so not as ball-like as it could have been. It was here that I thought I broke my trusty Canon point and shoot that’s been through so much with me. I inadvertently bumped the on button and the lens was coming out as I was putting the camera in my pocket and that was not good. It showed me an error message on the screen and turned itself off and refused to turn back on. After we got back in the car, I Googled possible solutions and worried. I’ll skip ahead here and say that what seemed to work to fix it was leaving the battery out for an extended period and taking a deep breath and slapping the camera face up onto a hard surface several times over the next several days until whatever was out of whack got back in whack. I was relieved.

World's Largest Popcorn Ball

We made it to Mr. Karen’s mom’s house in Illinois that evening after we saw the popcorn ball. The next day, we headed off to Six Flags Great America, a place where we’d gone on dates as teenagers when it was still Marriott’s Great America. The first thing we did was head to the Demon, my favorite coaster from back then. (Pic below is from that line.) A lot of the theming has been removed over the years, including the Demon song played in the queue (which itself was reduced from its glory days), but the trains and the track are still there. The ride jostled me way more than I remember, but of course my bones are older now. After the Demon, we got some Dippin’ Dots and walked around and goggled at the changes to the park since we were last there. We rode a few more coasters, finishing with Superman, our first face down coaster. I was apprehensive about it while we were waiting, but ended up loving it so so much. I would have gone on again right then if the line hadn’t been so long.

Waiting for the Demon

I spent the next two days working with my brother on the final clean out of my mom’s house while Mr. K hung out with his mom and helped her with some projects. As it turned out, my brother and I didn’t need to rush, as the scheduled closing on the house was delayed a week. Still, we were there so we did our thing. It was odd seeing the house so empty; by that point, my nephew and his girlfriend and their cats had moved out with all their stuff, so it was as bare as it had been since my mom had the house built in the mid-70s. She added this fireplace to the plan; it wasn’t the most elegant solution, stuck into that space the way it was, and she didn’t use it very often (not at all in the last couple decades), but it made her happy. That she was able to get the house on her own as a single woman back then was quite an accomplishment. Now it’s time for us as family to let go of the place; we’ll always have our memories (and photos).


Next week on Trip Report Tuesday: Michigan, Illinois, Michigan again, and heading south.


On this date in 2016: Skol Vikings
2015: On Not Working
2014: Brain Training
2013: In Which My Brain is Fried
2012: Private Leander W.
2009 through 2011: No entries
2008: It’s Holidailies Time
2007: No entry
2006: I Used to Crochet

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