Tuesday, July 21, 2009

And here we go

It's weird to think of all that's happened in the past week. It seems like enough to fill at least eight days. I got the fans replaced in my car, all by myself no less, though one of my coworkers was with me to hold a few parts when I needed it (we did the job after work, by the way, so no time was robbed from the clock). I'm not sure the a/c is entirely fixed, but at least we got one of the major problems taken care of for only $60.

Last night I ordered a GPS I've had my eye on for quite some time: a Garmin Venture HC. It's pretty well-reviewed, and I got it so I could start geocaching on a somewhat regular basis. I've always liked going with my brothers and friends, but now I'll be able to go even if no one else is available (not so easy when I don't have a GPS, hence the purchase). It should get to me on Friday or Saturday, so hopefully we can get some caching in this weekend. And speaking of this weekend...

24 hours from now (give or take a few) we will be on the road to Lincoln--our halfway stop on the trip to Stillwater, Oklahoma, which will soon be our new home. The boxes in our apartment have been multiplying lately, and some of our rooms have developed a rather curious echo to them, which is normal but a little strange nonetheless. It has been fantastic living here for five years, despite the very frigid winters, but I'm excited to move on to a new town, with a new job, and meet new people too. Last night we went out to dinner with my cousin, his wife, and some other friends, and tomorrow we'll get to see Jon and Sarah one last time before heading out tomorrow. I was hoping to get one last trip to the Brass Rail, but we're going to hit up Key's Cafe instead. BR is just too far away. Sad, yes, but it will be another reason to get us back up to Minnesota. :)

So this will likely be my last blog post from Minnesota, at least for a while. It's been a great run, and here's to new faces and new frontiers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mille Borne

Our apartment has kind of disappeared lately. I don't mean like Deathstalker and his invisi-blanket, though. It's more of a Millennium Falcon/Star Destroyer disappearance. Our living room is here, but hiding in plain sight, more or less. We're getting everything in our place packed up for the big move in a week (yikes!) and right now our carpeting is buried under a massive pile of boxes, packing paper, and rolls of tape. It's been slowly working its way to this point for a few weeks, but wow, now that our stuff is actually more in boxes than on shelves...well, it's kind of an odd thing to have happen. There's still a lot left to pack up, but it's probably a good thing we started when we did. And thanks to everyone who has given us boxes! So far we haven't had to actually go out and buy our own, which has been awesome.

Tomorrow I'm going to the auto parts store...kind of. Our black Corolla has two radiator fans, and one of them needs replacing. Well, to be specific, it's the fan blades that need replacing, not the fan motor itself. It's a very cheap part, but no place actually sells them. You have to purchase the entire fan/motor/bracket assembly, which is a couple hundred dollars. So I'm gonna give the salvage yard a try and see if I can yank one out of a car sitting on the lot. I'm also going to change the oil in our other car at my friend Sarah's house. Her dad always lets me use his garage, for which I am heartily grateful, and it will be nice to see her parents one more time before we move too.

I had a looong road trip this weekend: 1600 miles in four days, all by me lonesome. There were plenty of podcasts to keep me company, though, but it sure is good to be back home. It's past my bedtime, though. Time to hit the hay.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Packing it all in

Despite not lighting off a single firecracker, smoke bomb, ground bloom flower, artillery shell, or even the lamest firework ever invented, the snake, I still had an outstanding Independence Day yesterday. In the morning I went to the local Hmong Festival with my friend Ben and his girlfriend. Despite living two blocks from the park where they hold the festival every year, I had never actually attended it. So I figured that since we're heading to Oklahoma soon I might as well go. Ben has worked with the Hmong people for years, so he and his girlfriend were able to explain all kinds of cultural things to me as we walked among the hundreds of booths displaying and selling all manner of items. Not entirely unlike an American state fair, the booths contained clothes, DVDs, candy, music, treats, trinkets, live performers, and some with nothing more than an assortment of herbs, roots, and unmarked pills. The sounds were loud, the people chatty as all get out, and the prices fairly reasonable.

And then came the food.

Nearly four blocks of wall-to-wall food tents were hawking sausages, chicken, fish, rice, papaya, mango, egg rolls, spring rolls, drinks in strange small cans, and lots of other culinary curiosities that I had never seen before. The three of us shared some lunch while watching a soccer game, and before I left we picked up three cups of what's called "Nava," which is basically colored tapioca pudding mixed with coconut milk, syrup, and bits of water chestnuts. The tapioca looks like grubworms, instead of tiny little balls like I'm used to, and the whole thing is slurped through a pretty big straw. That was probably my favorite part of the whole festival, other than seeing some insane athletes compete at Takraw. :)

In the afternoon my wife and I headed up I-94 to Saint Cloud for some good old-fashioned family time with the relatives. We spent the afternoon and evening at my uncle Paul's house with lots of my extended family, and even though we didn't really do anything super crazy or exciting, it was a lot of fun (maybe I'm getting old, but I really enjoy sitting around and just talking sometimes). My cousins and I found a geocache and traded a superball for a small action figure, and there was also some card and croquet games too.

So yeah. Happy Independence Day everyone. :)