Day 6

Day 6: Minneapolis, Minnesota to Rapid City, South Dakota

Distance traveled: 610 miles

Time: 9.5 hours

Song of the Day: “Wide Open Spaces” (The Dixie Chicks)

This will likely be my longest day of driving. It was great to get to South Dakota. It is so terrific to get to the point where the Badlands can be seen in the distance. My cousin Laura and I stopped in Mitchell, SD in 2002 and saw the Corn Palace. This time, I decided to stop at in Wall, SD to see the famous Wall Drug. There are signs for Wall Drug on I-90 for what seemed to be about 500 miles. I finally got to Wall with about 50 miles left. I walked through Wall Drug to see what all of the fuss was about. I think the coolest thing that I saw was the animated singing display that has been there since the early 50s. It was bizarre! I arrived at my hotel at about 7pm. I was glad to have the time to re-pack my suitcase, do some laundry, and watch some TV. I am very tired, so I am looking forward to sleeping in. Tomorrow will be a shorter drive – only about 4 hours to Sheridan, Wyoming. Looking forward to stopping at Mount Rushmore, perhaps Crazy Horse, and more importantly…getting to see Kelly Pascal Gould!

Days 4 & 5

Location:  Minneapolis, Minnesota

Day 4

Song of the Day:  “Purple Rain” (Prince & The Revolution)

*Double meaning dedication: for Prince, who hails from Minneapolis and

for Reina, who allowed me to stay in her room with the purple walls (Purple Reina!) 

My Friday morning started at 6:45 with Elle and Reina coming into the room I was sleeping in, and climbing in bed with me.  I played possum for about 1/2 an hour before I finally woke up.  I needed to be up early in order to get my car to Rudy Luther Toyota in Golden Valley for the 40,000 mile service.  After I talked to the girls for a little while, I hopped in the shower.  A few minutes into my shower I heard Beth say, “MC? Are you in the shower?  There is water coming through the dining room ceiling!” I quickly turned the shower off so that Beth could investigate.  With a simple adjustment of the shower curtain, the problem was solved.  Not a great way to start off a visit – it’s a good thing Beth and Marc like me (or they used to!).


Elle, Beth, Reina, Max and Marc

After my car was finished, Beth and I took a lovely walk around Lake of the Isles.  It was so great to be able to walk down the street and find not one, but two lakes! It was an absolutely beautiful fall day.  We picked Reina up at noon, and then had a girls lunch in Uptown.  I scheduled a haircut in the same area.  After that we hung out and waited for the big kids to get home.  I had a little time to talk to the kids before leaving to meet my friend Lori in Maple Grove.

Lori and I met in 1994 when I worked in San Mateo, California as a nanny.  Lori was also a nanny and we met through our mutual friend, Jennie.  The three of us became fast friends, had a lot of fun, and had some great California experiences. We went on a San Francisco Bay Halloween “Booze Cruise,” attended a Golden State Warriors basketball game, spent a weekend in Calistoga at a spa (that mud bath was weird!), and also went to San Diego.  The San Diego trip was memorable for many reasons, but I think it was the side trip to Tijuana that I will never forget.  We decided to go to a bull fight.  What a terribly depressing event.  I know that I am forgetting some events, but as I write, I am so grateful that Jennie and Lori helped to give me a wonderful year in California.

Lori and I also moved to Colorado the same year (1998).  That was so fun to be in the same area once again.  When Lori got married in August, 2003, Jennie and I were there to stand up with Lori.  What a beautiful weekend that was.  Lori and Tim were married in an apple orchard on the most perfect day.  How is it possible that I haven’t seen Lori since then?  We had a great time catching up on Friday evening.  Lori was so nice to take the time to meet me after she was done with work.  We spent 4 hours trying to catch up, and make sure that we didn’t forget anything.  I was so glad to see Lori, and it was great to hear her infectious laugh.  Lori has the kind of laugh that makes you want to keep making her laugh.  Love it!  It was such a fun evening.


with Lori

Day 5

Song of the Day:  “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” (Bob Dylan)

*I learned that Bob Dylan is from Duluth, MN (thanks, Beth!)

Saturday morning, Reina came in at 5am, and climbed in bed with me, saying that she was cold.  I said, “Don’t you want to get in bed with Mommy and Daddy?” And away she went.  I know that Beth and Marc really appreciated that (ha!)!   We started our day by going to the Mill City Farmer’s Market in downtown Minneapolis, in order to prepare for the dinner party they were hosting that night.  What a great city!  I love that it feels like a small town.  We procured wonderful produce to create a very special dinner.


MC and Beth

After the farmer’s market, we went to Surdyk’s for the purchase of the adult beverages, and wonderful cheese.  That is a great store!  We took our loot back to the house, and then Beth and I headed out for a few things that couldn’t be found at the aforementioned locations.  We started prepping for our feast.  Guests arrived at 7.  It was so fun to meet Beth and Marc’s friends.  They have established a great group of friends in Minneapolis.  We had a feast consisting of ratatouille, roasted beets, flank steak, and fingerling potatoes.  For dessert we served Graeter’s (a little tribute to Ohio)!  What a fun evening!


Marc, Beth, and MC

It was such a great weekend.   Max, Elle and Reina are awesome kids.  I loved seeing what terrific little people they are becoming.  Beth and Marc have done an excellent job raising polite, respectful, fun, and charming children.  The fact that they are absolutely adorable, is a bonus!  I love that family.  It was hard to say goodbye, and I missed them immediately.

Day 3

Day 3:  Beloit, Wisconsin to Minneapolis, Minnesota

Distance traveled:  315 miles

Time:  5.25 hours

Song of the Day:  “Fearless” (Cyndi Lauper)

Thank you, Wisconsin, for providing a lovely drive today.  The sun was shining and the temperature was perfect – almost 30 degrees cooler than yesterday.  I even spotted some trees whose leaves were changing colors – the first sign of fall!   It really was a lovely drive.  I was curious to see what the Dells were all about.  I noticed signs for water parks, adult stores, and magicians, so I decided not to stop.  I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the Ho-Chunk Casino that I kept seeing signs for.  However, when I got off of the exit, it was nowhere to be found.  Maybe I didn’t go far enough.

I knew I was getting close to Minnesota when I saw the sign for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway.  I recalled that Laura Ingalls Wilder actually lived in South Dakota at some point.  I learned that when driving from Seattle to Michigan with my cousin Laura in 2002.  The memories of the Little House on the Prairie series came rushing back.  I thought about taking a trip to Mankato in the wagon (usually to get lumber, right?).  Would I run into Nellie Olsen in Walnut Grove?  And what about that dreamy Almonzo?  I loved those books.  Oh, and the TV show.

It was about 3:00 when I arrived at Beth & Marc Mason’s house in the Lowry Hill neighborhood of Minneapolis.  Beth and I met freshman year in college in Dodds Hall.  We became fast friends.  We lived together in a house called “The Blue Moon” for 2 years, and then we shared an apartment during my last year at Miami.  Who am I kidding?  Marc basically lived with us, too.  I love these two!  We have had so much fun together over the years.  I have seen all of their homes: from Cincinnati to San Francisco, both Chicago condos, and now Minneapolis.  We have an open and honest friendship (what other kind would you want?).  I always have fun when I am with Beth and Marc. Like the time we went to a Halloween party as Jack, Chrissy, and Janet from “Three’s Company.”  Hahahaha!

I was so excited to see Beth & Marc’s three children.  I met their son Max when he was about 3 months old (he is now almost 10!).  I met Elle when she was about 6 weeks old (she is now 7!).  I have only met their youngest, Reina (3 yrs), one other time.  I have seen Max and Elle over the years, but I haven’t seen any of them in almost 3 years.  Beth and I had some time to visit before Max and Elle got back from school.  We met them at the school bus and I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Little Baby Max is a big kid now!  What a sweet boy.  Max is such a good kid.  Elle is a little pixie-like character who, like me, loves to sing.  She was quick to play some songs for me.   And Reina…what a character!  She is such a cutie.  Reina has great language skills, and loves to hang with her big brother and sister.

I may be close to another marriage proposal.  Elle asked if she could share my bed with me tonight.  She told me that she is a really good snuggler – she even demonstrated with one of her “squeezy hugs.”  I told her that tonight was a school night, so we should wait until the weekend.  Beth warned me that Elle likes to get up early, and that she may end up in bed with me.  What a doll!

After a lovely dinner (butternut squash risotto – wow, Beth!), the girls helped me bring my stuff in.  I even brought in the home made pickles that are being transported with care from my Aunt Mary in Michigan, to my cousin Leslie in Salt Lake City.  Don’t worry, Aunt Mary!  There are 2 jars left (2 didn’t make it out of North Carolina), and I am keeping them on ice in the car, and in the fridge at each location.  Those damn pickles.  They are delicious!

The kids went to bed, and Marc, Beth and I had a great time reminiscing about our favorite 80s TV shows and their theme songs (a game that Ben, Katie and I started in Cincinnati).  Test yourself – you will love it.  YouTube is a great resource if you forget the theme songs.

Now, off to bed.  I am taking my car to get a 40,000 mile service tomorrow morning.  Then, I am getting a much needed haircut (what will I do without Dave Sanor?).  Tomorrow night, I am getting together with my friend Lori.  I can’t wait to see more of Minneapolis.  I think the only other time I have been here was when I got bumped off of a flight coming back from Omaha in the summer of 1994 (more on that tomorrow night).  Pictures will appear in tomorrow night’s blog.

Day 2

Day 2:  Cincinnati, Ohio to Beloit, Wisconsin

Distance traveled:  445 miles

Time:  7.25 hours

Song of the Day:  “American Girl” (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers)

This post is not interesting, just informational.  Today’s goal was to get more than halfway to Minneapolis.  I left Cincinnati at 11:15, and I was advised to follow the route that avoids Chicago.  I stopped in Indianapolis at about 1:15.  Then, again, in Oglesby, Illinois.  Indiana and Illinois proved to be very boring drives.  I was so glad to arrive in Wisconsin.  I am sure you are wondering why I stopped in Beloit.  My brother suggested that I stop here because it is home of Beloit College where Mom and Dad’s good friends, Barb & Dick Lucier, went to college.  After I checked in at the Holiday Inn Express (in the middle of a free 2 drink happy hour – yes at the Holiday Inn Express), I decided to drive to campus and check out Barb & Dick’s old stomping grounds.  Located on the Rock River, the downtown was cute, but it was quiet this Wednesday night.

(Image courtesy of

I came back to the HIE, so I could start watching the finale of “So You Think You Can Dance” from last night.  I had to avoid all social media today fearing that someone would post who the winners were.  Then, I was on the phone a bit, trying to solidify my plans for this weekend in Minneapolis.  I am so excited to see Beth & Marc Mason and Lori Lindblad Snyder!  A more interesting post will appear tomorrow night.  I welcome phone calls!

Day 1


Day 1:  Chapel Hill, North Carolina to Cincinnati, Ohio

Distance traveled:  500 miles

Time:  9 hours

Song of the Day:  “Piece of Clay” (Marvin Gaye)

It was an early start on Tuesday morning.  I set my alarm for 6:30am so I could say goodbye to Ella before she left for school.  At 6:26 there was a knock on my door, and I heard, “MC!  It is time to get up!”  I awoke quickly, and told Ella to come in.  I was moving slowly, and Ella said, “I woke up just like it was no trouble!” (I later found up that she had been up since 4am very saddened by my impending departure).  I sat with her as she at her breakfast, and then it was time to say goodbye.  Ella cried and cried.  I held it together until the car pulled away.  My heart was breaking!  I knew that she would recover quickly as soon as the distraction of school appeared.  I got myself together, and packed up all of the last minute items.  I was on the road by 8:45am. 

Pretty quickly into my drive, I decided that I should memorize the lyrics to “Life is a Highway.”  Whenever I take a road trip (or drive of any length), and that song comes on, I always call my cousin, Leslie, and leave a message with me belting the chorus. I decided it presented a good challenge to memorize the lyrics (Won’t Leslie be thrilled?).  Or perhaps I would discover open mic nights all over the country.  In the middle of this challenge, I was flooded with the memories of a cross country drive I made 15 years ago.  When I moved to Denver, my dear friend Maggie drove with me.  We set-up a similar challenge.  We tasked ourselves with memorizing “One Week” by The Bare Naked Ladies.  It was at that moment, that I decided this memory was good blog material.  It was also at that moment that my phone rang.  It was Maggie!  I am still a little weirded out by that.  Not that Maggie called, but that she called AT THAT MOMENT!  And, yes, we did revisit the lyrics to “One Week.”  Quite successfully, I might add.

My stop for the evening was at the home of Ben & Katie Kerrey and their kids Will, Evelyn, and Thomas.  Katie and I were college roommates from freshman year on (excluding the year that I abandoned her to nanny in California).  Simply put, Katie is the best friend a girl could ask for.  For 20 years, she has been one of my biggest supporters, and has ALWAYS (and I mean always) been there for me, especially at one of the hardest times in my life.  Ok, enough of that (love you, Katie!).  Oh, and Ben is pretty great, too.   


Evelyn, Will, and Thomas

I arrived at the Kerrey’s just in time to go to Thomas’ (3yrs. 9mos) soccer “practice” with Katie.  Ben took Will (4th grade) and Evelyn (1st grade) to their soccer practice.  After we got back there was a rush to get every child showered and fed a post-soccer snack before going to bed.  Katie quickly made 3 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (like a pro!).  Thomas played cars and at his sandwich. Then, as he was escorted upstairs to begin the bedtime ritual.  Will and Evelyn came downstairs to eat their snack and visit with me before they had to go to bed.  Will shared a YouTube video with me that he promised would be hilarious.  It actually was pretty funny (Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive”).  Then he hurried up to bed.  Evelyn was still finishing her sandwich, so we had a chance to chat.  She asked me if I was her mom’s sister.  I said, “Well, technically we’re sorority sisters.” When I caught a glimpse of the blank look on her face, I said, “Well, we have known each other for 20 years, and we are like sisters. But, I’m not her sister like your Aunt Christine is her sister.”  Evelyn said, “Oh yeah, that’s right. You’re my godmother.”  Then she wanted to know who Will’s godmother was. Ben and I told her that Aunt Christine is Will’s godmother.  Evelyn said, “I want Christine.”  I dropped my jaw and said, “What am I? Chopped liver?” She giggled and said, “Well, I really like Christine.”  I replied, “Are you trying to trade me in for a newer model?”  She laughed, but was sticking to her request.  I told her it was too late because I already signed the papers and everything.  Why did I tell that story?  No marriage request from that girl.

The kids went to bed (or pretended), and we started our dinner.  Katie bought a lovely tenderloin, and decided we should grill it.  After consulting the recipe, it was determined that we needed a meat thermometer to make sure the meat was cooked properly.  Ben and Katie realized that they didn’t have one.  I said, “I have one.  In the car.”  Katie laughed, and wondered if I could find it amidst the treasures.  I said, “I’ll be right back. I know exactly where it is. ”  And I did.  I walked to the car, moved one laundry basket full of spices and other kitchen necessities (why start over with spices?) and one bag.  I opened the lid of a shallow rectangular plastic storage container.  Voila!  There was the meat thermometer.  Those of you who know me well (or have worked with me) probably are not surprised to know that 1) I have a meat thermometer, and 2) I knew exactly (and I mean EXACTLY!) where it was.  I gave that meat thermometer to the Kerrey’s.  If you were around me while I was preparing for this move, NO ONE GOES AWAY EMPTY HANDED!  We stayed up way too late, but had a great dinner (Thanks, Katie!), and as always, a great visit.  I said goodbye to the kids in the morning, went back to sleep, then got myself ready for Day 2. 

I’m Off!

The car is not fixed, but I can open the trunk now.  I am a little concerned that the kind man who “fixed” it may have caused a little more damage.  However, I am hoping that he figured that most of it would have to be replaced. 

One of the many perks of being delayed a day, was being able to have lunch with my wonderful sister-in-law, Kate.  Yet another perk was the delicious mango lassi I enjoyed.  Image

I spent some time this afternoon packing my car.  I arrived in North Carolina with my car filled to the gills, and a car top carrier stuffed with clothes, towels, and anything else that was in a Zip-loc tote or bag (thanks for helping me load the car, Mindy Kelly!).  My brother was convinced that I could put everything from the car top carrier in the car, so that I would get better gas mileage.  I am pleased to announce that he was right.  My car is well packed, after playing a mental game of Tetris with the items.  I can even see out the back window (insert backing into a telephone pole jokes here).   I was able to finish that by the time Ella’s after school play date left.  Then our fun began!

I got to have my “special time” with Ella (that is what she kept calling it).  This was so entertaining.  Most of the time she wanted to play school.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that playing school was NOT on my agenda.  I was the teacher, but she wanted me to introduce her to my class and explain that she was the leader for the day.  I gave her the task of taking attendance and making sure that all students were in their assigned seats.  Then she kind of took over.  There was lots of, “Ok. Now guys…”  The funniest part was when she told me that one of my students, Emma, was climbing on her desk and eating everyone’s lunch.  I was then directed to send Emma to a time-out, and then the principal.  I think it ended with Emma poking Ella in the eye, so I had to call the parents.  Then the police were called.  It was a rough day at “school.”

Dinner discussion was mostly about our future.  When Kate and I were walking Ella to school the other day, Ella asked me if I was married.  When I told her no, she replied, “Well…I know someone who you can marry.”  I turned to her and said, “Oh yeah? Who is that?”  She took both hands in the thumb’s up position, pointed to herself and said, “Me!” Kate told her that she couldn’t marry me until she turns 18.  Ella then decided that 19 was a better age.  She declared that boys can marry boys,  and girls can marry girls.  I did let her know that aunts marrying their nieces was frowned upon.  I think it is adorable.  Don’t worry, I will have to let her down gently soon.

I am sad that my time in North Carolina has come to an end, but I had a wonderful visit.  I am so proud of my brother, and all that he has accomplished.  I was so glad to spend so much time with Kate – we had a great time.  I love Dave and Kate’s new house and their neighborhood.  I also loved my new “quarters” (thanks D & K).  Of course, I love seeing my Ella Bella.  She and I have a great time – I love to hear that girl laugh. 

Now, the next part of my adventure begins.  Today it occurred to me that I will be visiting people from all stages of my life.  I will see a high school friend, a few college friends, relatives, a friend from my time in Denver, and a friend from my days as a nanny.  What a wonderful way to move on to this next adventure.  So, tomorrow, I will stop in Cincinnati to see my college roommate, and a WONDERFUL friend, Katie (DiMasi) Kerrey.  Looking forward to seeing the Kerrey family! 

Travel Delay

My plan was to leave tomorrow (Monday 9/9). Of course, when you plan things, they don’t always go according to plan, right? Well, Friday night provided some excitement for me. As I was backing out of a parking spot on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill (with my sister-in-law, Kate, in tow), and CRUNCH!!! A telephone pole appeared out of nowhere. The reality is that, of course, I saw it, and was trying very hard to avoid it, but with the hoards of college students walking behind me (refusing to let me back out), I moved when I had my opportunity. I did not hit anyone, just the telephone pole. I was VERY upset, and I am pretty sure all of the expletives I know were unleashed. Kate listened to me swear like a sailor, and tried to reassure me that it was a dumb parking lot, and accidents happen, and it could have happened to anyone, and so on. After few minutes, Kate said, “I’m not sure if you are ready to find the situation humorous, but it will be good material for your blog.” That helped to put a smile on my face.

The bottom line is that the damage that occurred appears to be minor, but has prevented me from opening the back of my car. I stopped at a body shop on Saturday, but they asked me to come back on Monday. I will attempt to take care of that tomorrow. My plan is to leave North Carolina on Tuesday, but I will know more tomorrow.

Thank you for all of the votes on a blog title (Blogtle?). I am going to consult with my brother (“The Doctor”), and make a decision tomorrow. There is one good thing about not leaving tomorrow…my niece was very excited! I will be glad to have more time with her.


Who’s got a good title? Looking for suggestions!

As some of you already know, I am moving to Oregon.  I was encouraged to start a blog to document my move.  Well…my extended drive West to be exact.  I begin in North Carolina.  Yes, I do know that is the wrong direction.  However, it was a great time to come and visit my brother, David, and his family.  Ella started kindergarten last week, and Dave started his new job today!  Kate is throwing a party for Dave on Saturday, to celebrate the completion of his PhD.  What an accomplishment!  I will depart Monday to head West.  More blogging to follow.  Suggestions/comments (I guess) are (sort of) welcome as I am new to this.