Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Steph's Wedding Weekend - Saturday/Sunday

Lake Itasca in the early morning light
Erin and Rodney outside the logging camp
Saturday morning started early, we had told Rodney that we would meet up with him at 6:00 am to go geocaching. As we were getting ready I was sneezing and felt some seasonal allergies kicking in.  I asked Erin if we had anything and she gave me an allergy pill.  She warned me that she takes them at night because they cause drowsiness. Not being all that concerned I took the pill and we were on our way. The cache we went for was in the northern part of the park.  Well, not technically in the park, but close enough.  We were able to park about 500 feet from ground zero and take a trail right to where we needed to go.  We were near some cabins, so we quickly and quietly found the cache and were on our way. We decided that since we had found the cache quickly we'd have plenty of time to go to breakfast at the logging camp near Park Rapids. On the drive over we had time to chat with Rodney.  Years ago he spent a summer working at a nearby resort, so we got to hear some interesting stories.  We arrived at the logging camp a bit early so we wandered around a bit before heading in to eat. It had been years since I've eaten year, but I still had a sense that the place was familiar.  Breakfast was fantastic, and we all had our fill before heading back to the park. I was glad that we were able to sneak this fun excursion into our trip.
Mmmm... Pancackes...

Picture Time

The back of Luck and Rachelle with the musicians in the distance
When we arrived back at the park Erin rounded up her stuff to help Steph get ready.  Around this time is when the allergy pill started to kick in, and I went to lay down. The next thing I knew my phone was ringing and Erin was telling me I needed to get ready and go down to the dock for pictures. I got dressed and ran into Rachelle just outside the cabin. She pointed me in the right direction and I soon ran across my dad.  He didn't want to walk down to the docks and then back up in the heat, so we drove down and waited for pictures. The day was starting to heat up, and there was a fair bit of humidity. The AC in the van felt wonderful. Pictures didn't take too long and after that I drove over to where the ceremony was going to take place with dad. I spent some time chatting with Tim, the officiant, while people were arriving.  It had been a while since I'd seen him, and it was nice being able to catch up with him. When the ceremony was ready to start I found an empty seat with Rodney and Betty. Tim came over and handed me the marriage licence and said we'd meet up afterwards to get things signed.  The ceremony itself was fairly brief.  Tim was really funny, and the breeze off the lake helped keep everyone cool.
Steph and dad walking up.
After the ceremony everyone headed over to the reception, except Steph and Jake who went to take a few more pictures.  When they finally showed up there were a few more family pictures before we ate.  I was disappointed with the food, but that seems to be common for most weddings I go to.  When the party died down, I went back to the cabin to change before coming back to help take down decorations. After that we headed to Koreen and Dan's cabin again for some more Farkle and Bean Bag Toss. I stayed until just after it got dark and the fire was going.

The following morning everyone was planning on grabbing breakfast together, however when we got up and started talking to people they all began to bail on breakfast.  After saying our goodbyes Erin and I went over to the lodge to checkout and have breakfast.  We both had the french toast special and were very pleased with it.  The waitress told us that they had just switched to a new bread for it that day.  When we were done with breakfast we headed out of the park and down to Park Rapids to do some geocaching.  We found a fun PMO only cache and cleaned up a cache we had missed on a previous trip.  From there we stopped a couple of times for caches before arriving in Detroit Lakes.  We tried to find the final of a multicache we had started previously, but even with an extra hint from the cache owner we couldn't make the find. We then headed south of town for some new caches that were put out for a recent event, but it was getting hot out and we were feeling a little frustrated so we decided to call it a day.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Steph's Wedding Weekend - Friday

The view on our drive to Itasca
Friday morning Erin and I had a couples massage scheduled. I was still a bit tender from my recent surgery, but felt good enough to go ahead with it. Laying on my stomach was a little uncomfortable at first, but I soon forgot all about that.  Both Erin and I thought this place was better than the last one we had gone to for a couples massage.  After the massage we headed back home to pack up some final things and then we hit the road for Itasca.  

No, this isn't the same picture, look at the trees
We needed to find a cache along the way to keep our streak alive, so we stopped in Hawley.  The cache was a bit tricky, with a tool being the only obvious thing at ground zero, however after looking at the hint we found the container and got the log signed.

Yeah, that's the same truck in front of us.
When we arrived in Detroit Lakes we stopped at Perkins for lunch.  I think the kitchen was really backed up that day. It took forever to get our food. With all of the neat places there are to eat out here it's amazing how often we just go to Perkins.  There's something to be said for consistency and predictability.

Cabin #4 - The Best Cabin
Dan taking a picture of a very tame chipmunk
After lunch we drove the rest of the way to Itasca.  It was a good thing that we had broken the trip up because when we arrived I was already feeling a little sore from sitting so long.  We checked in right away, but since the cabin hadn't been cleaned we weren't able to get the keys for it. From there we went over to where the reception was going to be held. Erin decided to help with the decorations, but since I wasn't terribly interested in getting yelled at for putting things in the wrong place and since I couldn't really do much anyway with my lifting restriction I decided to see who was around.  I wandered around a bit before finding Shelly and Betty who had returned from their walk.  After that we went up to Koreen and Dan's cabin and played some Farkle.  It's a dice game similar to one I've played on the computer before. It was fun, but Koreen seemed like she's way better at the game then everyone else.  I'm not sure how she kept getting lucky, but the luck seemed to last all weekend. After a bit the guys showed up. Rodney, Dan, and Luke had rented bikes from a local place. Koreen left to go help with flowers and we transitioned into playing a bean bag toss game. Rodney and I teamed up and were pretty good, we only lost 1 game to Jason and Rhonda and it was somewhat close. Eventually my family finished up what they were doing and came over.  The plans had been changed from going to Zorbas into just eating at the cabin. Steph, dad and I took a few minutes to go back to her cabin so she could do a last minute hair cut. When we returned there were hot dogs and brats ready and we had supper. After eating we hung out around the fire until Erin and I went to bed.

Steph's cabin
Rodney, Rhonda, Jason and Steve
The group eating supper
Dan building the fire

Thursday, August 22, 2013


This is what freedom looked like this morning.
Recovery from my surgery has been going well. I've been able to move around more each day and the pain is diminishing.  I've been off the pain meds since Tuesday night and my head has cleared. It's been nice being able to recover at home, but being stuck in the house has started to wear on me. This morning after I got up and showered I figured I would attempt to find a cache myself.  I decided to head North on I-29 to Argusville I had grabbed most of the caches up there, but there was one more easy one to find.  The drive out was pleasant, it was a cool sunny morning and I had the windows down.  When I arrived at ground zero I took a moment to appreciate being out of the house before making the quick find.  On my way home I stopped by Walmart for a few odds and ends.  After a brief rest at home my mom stopped by and we went to Costco and grabbed lunch.  It might have been a bit much for me. When I got home I was feeling fatigued and took the opportunity for a nap.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My brush with death (or just a routine surgery)

Saturday morning started the same way many Saturdays in the past had.  We got up a little early and met Connie for a 3 mile run. It was my worst run of the week. The pace was fairly slow with lots of walking.  When we got back Erin and I did some yard work since we were already hot and sweaty.  She started pulling weeds while I mowed the lawn. After I finished I helped her pick weeds for a while longer before we went in and cleaned up. I spent some time getting a few new geocaches ready to publish and decided I would skip breakfast and have a very early lunch.  Pizza was sounding good.

After eating my stomach was getting upset so I went downstairs for a nap. When I woke up my stomach was still upset and I didn't feel like doing much of anything.  We had planned a caching trip on Sunday with Clark and Mike and I needed to get our Garmins setup for that, but didn't want to leave the couch. As the evening progressed I was feeling worse and worse. Eventually I texted Mike and Clark that I would be cancelling the caching trip.  I was really disappointed that I needed to cancel, but I knew it was the right call. Thinking I might just be painfully gassy Erin picked up some generic Walmart Gas X. That seemed to help a little with the pain.

Saturday night I decided to sleep in the basement, since it was a easier to sleep on my back with the bed propped into the corner of the room.  Throughout the night the pain persisted and switched from a general pain throughout the abdomen to the lower right side of the abdomen. I started to think this was something more serious then just something I ate.  When I got up for the morning I had Erin search online for symptoms of appendicitis. It seemed to be a pretty good match for what I was experiencing. Not wanting to believe that diagnosis I decided to see how I felt after a shower.  Standing in the shower didn't help anything and I finally decided to go in to the Emergency Room.

We decided on going to Essentia since it was close. The ride over was very uncomfortable and I noticed every single bump in the road. I was glad we didn't have to go all the way downtown. After getting checked in at the ER we killed some time in the waiting room.  I was uncomfortable, but as long as I didn't move I wasn't in too much pain.  Since they were out of rooms in the ER I wound up on a bed in the hallway next to a staff refrigerator and ice machine. The first thing they wanted to do was get some blood from me, and start an IV.  The IV seemed to go in fine, but getting blood was a bit more difficult.  The first nurse was unable to find anything in my left arm, so she got another nurse to try my right arm.  This time after some digging she finally got some blood.  After getting a urine sample they said I would need to wait for the lab work.  It came back faster then I thought it would but was inconclusive.  My white blood cell count was somewhat elevated, but not enough to indicate appendicitis.  They said they could either do a CT scan, or send me home.  This didn't feel like something that would get better by going home, and since I thought it was appendicitis I decided to get the scan.  The scan was quick, and an interested experience, and the results showed that it was appendicitis.  I was told they would schedule the operator for today, and the doctor would swing by to see me.  In the mean time I would be waiting in the hallway until they would get a room for me.  The doctor dropped by and said there were a lot of operations going on today and it would probably be sometime in the afternoon before I would go in.   He briefly described the operation and was on his way. This was the only time I saw him, although Erin said she did talk with him after he was finished operating on me. Since we were just waiting, Erin decided she would go grab a cache to keep the streak going, and get some lunch.  I waited in the hall for around an hour or so before someone can to take me up to a room.  She asked if I wanted a wheel chair, but I said I would try walking.

The trip up to the room was quick and soon I was laying in bed answering questions for another nurse. Within a few minutes of getting up to the room Erin came in. After answering the questions for the nurse I changed into the hospital gown.  She said it would still be a while before surgery and asked if I wanted something for the pain.  I was a little hesitant, but decided to try it.  I got morphine, which did wonders for the pain. The afternoon passed slowly as I waited for surgery. Around 3:00 there was some action getting me prepped, but then they came back and said it would be around 5:30 before I went down for surgery. As I waited I tried not to think too much about what was going to happen. I've never had any kind of surgery before and was a bit nervous.  Since there wasn't any other option then getting my appendix taken out I just focused on moving forward through the process.  When the time for surgery came around I was wheeled down.  We we got to the operating room I moved onto the table and was told to breath some oxygen.  I remember about 3 breaths and then fighting to regain consciousness in the recovery room and needing to cough.  I think they asked about my pain level, and I thought they game me something for it, but my abdomen was still hurting quite a bit. I didn't feel like I was in the recovery room for long before they brought me back to my room.

At least that's how I remember it, it's still a bit fuzzy.  I think Erin left after that to get a few things to stay the night. Just before she got back I remember the fuzziness suddenly fading.  It was like waking up, although I was already awake.  The nurses said that it would help my recovery if I could get up and move around.  Moving hurt, but knowing it was the right thing to do I pushed through the discomfort.  After using the bathroom I was able to walk around the hallways for a bit before heading back to my room. Lindzee had brought Erin some gummy worms when I was in surgery and I had a few of them. They were delicious.  I watched some TV to pass the time, and sometime around 10:30 I was able to eat some peanut butter toast. After that I decided to try to get some sleep.  I was hooked up to an IV which seemed to pass right into my bladder. I was running to the bathroom quite a bit before asking to have the IV slowed down.  After that I was able to get a little sleep between trips to the bathroom and being woken up to have my vitals taken.

In the morning I had some more antibiotics pumped in.  I was hungry but was hoping to get out of the hospital before having a real meal.  A doctor dropped by and let me know they could stop the IV but didn't give more details then that.  After I was unhooked from the IV I got up and moved around as much as I could. I was eager to get out of there.  Since there wasn't much on TV on a Monday morning Erin and I watched the finale of Whodunit on my Surface. Right as it finished the nurse came and in said I could go.  She gave me a prescription for some pain meds and some instructions on what I needed to do to take care of myself.  After packing up Erin and I were on our way home.

We stopped by the grocery store to get some bacon and bread.  I was craving bacon sandwiches. When we got home, Erin made the sandwiches which were awesome. Then I showered and took a nap.  I was hoping to not have to get the prescription filled for the pain meds, but later on in the afternoon I realized that I would need them. If this writing isn't up to my usual standard blame the meds.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Day Trip to Wahpeton and Fergus Falls

Last weekend Erin and I took a trip to Wahpeton and Fergus Falls to do some geocaching. We had cleaned out Wahpeton before, but enough new caches had been put out to justify the trip.  Most of the caches we picked up in Wahpeton were micros, and not many really stood out. We were finally able to claim a find on Artificial Cache which we had been to 2 previous times.  It was neat seeing the area in the summer after seeing it in both the winter and spring.  I wish I would have taken some pictures to show the differences. From there we stopped by Foxhome MN on our way to Fergus Falls.

Erin and the town founder
We arrived in Fergus around lunchtime and stopped by Mabel Murphy's for some lunch which was excellent as always. We wanted to leave a few caches in Fergus Falls to find when we're down here for a wedding in a few weeks, so we targeted some of the ones we thought would be harder to find.  A few caches brought us to some neat parks in town. And we found a fun cache under a bridge downtown. One of the caches that earned a favorite point was a micro hidden on this statue. Finding it went quickly, but signing the log took time and some ingenuity on our part.

Another fun cache was out in the cemetery at the old state mental institution. We parked a ways off and walked over on the dirt road.  As we were walking a minivan passed us on it's way to the cemetery.  We were surprised that anyone else would be out here and passed some time browsing the headstones until they left.  Once they had departed we quickly found the very unique cache, signed the log and started our walk back to the car.  Recently I had told Erin about playing on hay bales as a child and since there were some in the field we were walking past I boosted her up for a quick picture. After that we headed towards home.  It was a great day for a caching adventure.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Getting Carried Away In Bismack

This past weekend Erin and I took Lindzee out to Bismarck to do some geocaching.  Saturday morning Erin was doing some family stuff while Linzee and I snagged some first to finds. There was one we struggled with and even emailed the cache owner for a hint.  The hint didn't really give us anything other than what was on the cache page, but since it was on our way back to the truck we stopped by again and found it within 30 seconds.  Linzee and I laughed at how we had missed it the first time. After lunch we met up with Erin and decided to do a few caches in Mandan near the river.  Erin and I had been out on this particular trail before and grabbed most of the caches in the area, so the first cache we were going for was 1.4 miles from where we parked the truck.  The hike was nice, and after some bushwhacking we found a couple of caches. The trail continued out into the river and around the bridge, and there were caches on the other side so we continued our journey.  The caches on the south side of the bridge were a little more challenging, and we spent about half an hour trying to get into a locked cache. We even called the cache owner and confirmed we had the right combination, but the lock just wouldn't open.  When we finished with that it was a bit later than what we'd planned and the girls wanted to see if we could hike out to the south and have Erin's dad give us a ride to the truck.  Lindzee put in a bunch of work figuring out where we were, where we needed to go, and directions for Erin's dad.  After another half mile of hiking and a bit of waiting on the side of a road Erin's family showed up to give us a ride back to the truck.  They said they hadn't been to the part of Mandan where they picked us up, or where the truck was.  It's amazing the places geocaching takes you to.  After our adventure we hit up Mackenzie River for supper. Stacey seemed disappointed in her chicken sandwich, but the rest of us enjoyed our food. After supper we grabbed a few more caches and brought Erin to the other cache we had missed earlier in the day.  After another search we still couldn't find it so we went home to log caches.  I emailed the cache owner and she updated the cache page with a picture and a better hint.  From the picture I knew exactly where it was, and we decided to go grab one last first to find to end the day.  15 minutes later we had found it, signed the log and were driving away. The coords were about 50 feet off which is why we hadn't made the find earlier.  It was nice being able to find this after all of the searching we did earlier.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

2013 Vacation Day 10

Saturday morning we woke up in our own beds and started unpacking all of our stuff from our trip. Inspired from our meal at Va Bene I recreated the pizza with a bit of a twist of my own for lunch.  It turned out fantastic. When we finished eating we headed off to the Red River Valley Fair to see John perform with his band.  It was his first public performance and he did very well. After he played we spent a little bit of time exploring the fair until the Deltener boys performed.  We enjoyed the show and the chance to talk with Kelly and Justin.  I was very surprised to see his crazy old mountain man style beard.  On our way back home we stopped at big lots for some Jolly Rancher pop that we had discovered on vacation.  I was glad to see they had it, even it they were missing some flavors. We were bumming around the house preparing for a lazy evening when I got a call from the Pirates.  They were in town caching and just wanted to give us crap for one of our hides.When I talked to them, they suggested grabbing supper, so we met art Marco's Pizza. The service was great and we had a great time talking with everyone.  The kids are all super talkative and we could have stayed there all night chatting. This wound up being the perfect ending to our 2013 vacation.

Monday, August 5, 2013

2013 Vacation Day 9

Friday morning, our last morning in the bed and breakfast started like the others.  I would wake up a bit before Erin and catch up on email, eventually she woke up and breakfast was delivered. After breakfast we didn't have much reason to stick around so we packed up and hit the road.  The plan was to camp at Saint Croix state park for a night or two and then head home.  On our way out of town we stopped by Target to pick up another phone charger since the one we had was acting a bit flakey.  From there we went to Jay Cooke state park to grab the multicache there.  The hike was beautiful, and we both decided that we should come back someday to camp here. After the hike and cache we hit the road again on our way to Moose Lake state park and another multi cache. Just before getting to the park we found a restaurant called the Lazy Moose and stopped for lunch.  The food was fairly good, and the view was fantastic, looking out over a river with a small island on it.  Our caching adventure in Moose Lake ended prematurely because of mosquitos and previous logs mentioned we'd be getting into some messy mud.  From there another state park, this time Banning State Park.  The park looked nice, but it was getting hot out and the bugs were really bothering us.  After finding the cache we decided we'd be happier heading for home instead of camping.  On the way back we stopped at 3 more state parks for the avian adventure multi caches, Father Hennipin, Mille Lacs Kathio, and Charles Lindberg. It was a lot of fun visiting so many state parks in one day and it was nice to find so many multi caches.  As the sun was going down and we were nearing Detroit Lakes we approached a thunderstorm.  We were lucky to avoid most of the rain from it, and it appeared to be going past us, so we stopped for a late supper at Perkins.  After supper when we hit the road again round 2 of the storm rolled through.  The hard rain wasn't the most enjoyable to drive through, especially where there was construction on highway 10, but we made it home safely from our trip.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

2013 Vacation Day 8

Gooseberry Falls
After dealing with the parking nightmare that Duluth was we decided to get out of town and head to Gooseberry Falls for some hiking and geocaching. After eating breakfast I loaded up the Garmins and we set out on our day trip.  When we arrived in Gooseberry I discovered that I didn't have as many caches loaded up as I thought I did.  We made the best of it, and found the ones in the park and had a very enjoyable hike. When it started to heat up we decided to cache along the way back to Duluth.  Oddly enough a few of the caches we found had just been found by a friend from Moorhead just a few days prior to our visit.  It was neat seeing a familiar name on the log sheet.  When we made it back to Duluth it was supper time.  We went to the black bear for supper.  The view from the restaurant was nice and the food was good, but I was a little disappointed.  After supper we called it an early night since we were both pretty tired.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

2013 Vacation Day 7

The view from a cache along the Superior Hiking Trail
We woke up and bummed around until 9:00 when breakfast was delivered.  It was pretty good except for the ham in the eggs.  Seriously, canadian bacon is NOT bacon!  After breakfast grabbed a few caches on our way over to Superior, WI to grab a cache, and play some mini golf.  While not nearly as cool as Pirates Cove we still had fun playing and I recorded another win.  From there we decided to head back to Canal park to shop and checkout the downtown area.  This wound up be way harder then it should have been.  I missed a turn and then couldn't get back to where we wanted to be.  Eventually we found a parking garage and decided to park there before discovering they were full after circling the lot a few times. Finally we made it back to canal park and had lunch at Grandma's again.  From there our wandering began.  There were a few moderately interesting shops in the area, but overall I wasn't too impressed.  We walked over in the skyway to downtown a found the skyway to be depressing.  It seemed to have a lot of closed down shops and vacancies. I wonder if the skyway is getting any return on the investment they made putting it in.  There was a car show/street fair going on downtown.  After that we returned to the truck and decided that we weren't all that hungry for supper.  Instead of going someplace fancy for our anniversary we stopped by a grocery store and got some donuts and milk and went back to the B&B. It was an oddly appropriate way to cap off the day.