Last weekend I drove 300 miles to Big Lake, Minnesota. I went to visit my dear friend Carrie. Since she moved to Minnesota I have only seen her when she comes to Madison. This has been eating at me. Part of the problem was that I had some serious health problems and after my recovery I was not ready for the hours in the car due to my nerve pain. So this year I decided it was going to happen. I have been doing better and was ready to give it a go. So we picked a weekend a few months out and stuck to it!
Usually when I go visit friends I bring Taylor. She is easy to travel with and adored. However, this time I decided to travel alone. Not that there was any reason she couldn’t come with, but I felt like I wanted some alone time. Honestly I am glad I took it. Taking time for me is something I struggle with as a person, parent and spouse.
While being alone in the car I played my middle and high school favorites. N*SYNC, Backstreet Boys, Alanis Morissette, Britney Spears, Matchbox Twenty and so on. For the first few hours I sang along to the music – basically having a live concert that no one was invited to. Then I yapped at my dad for a spell until reception got spotty. Once we disconnected I silenced the tunes and left myself ‘alone’ with nothing but thoughts. Now let me tell you, the thinks that I thought were nothing but thoughtful.
It was great just to be lost (while paying close attention to the road and vehicles around me) in an undisrupted bubble. I was able to venture on a journey down memory lane. Highway 94 and I used to know each other like the back of one’s hand while I was in college. I would make the trip from Minneapolis to Madison every few weeks to see friends and family. It’s quite amazing all the stories I have that took place just while driving that stretch of road. After reliving that sector of my youth I moved on to all the memories I had with Carrie. We worked together and have been friends for about eight years (give or take a handful of months).
One thing that kept me entertained for about hour was remembering in great detail all the fabulous stories she always has. Really though, it is not entirely just about her stories. It is the way she tells them. She is animated and passionate and a bit long-winded, but in a good way. She is also one of those people who has the most bizarre, random, crazy things happen to her. By the time her stories were ending (in my head) I needed coffee and I was close to Menomonie. So I looked up local coffee houses. The only one with 4.8 rating was The Blind Munchies Coffeehouse; so away I went.
Even though it was just over a mile from my exit I embraced the journey. As I pulled up to an older medieval style church it hit me – the blind munchies – as in follow blindly. So I parked my car and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t burst into flames as I went into the basement of the church past a sign that read “Hippies use side door”. In the hall leading to the cafe was a cool jazz mural and an old school telephone. I went in and ordered my coffee to go dodging all the questions I could. Smile sweetly, but don’t engage. Give as little information as possible or you will be sucked in and held captive.
On my way out I used the phone paying a quarter to use the rotary dial phone to call Taylor and leave a message because well, unknown number calling. So I snapped a picture and made a mad dash for the door glancing over my shoulder to ensure I was not being followed. When I was outside I released my breath and shook off any holiness that may have touched me – you know, precautions. Then I proceeded to call my husband to let him know that I had called him from a random number and that I in fact, had NOT burst into flames as expected. I drove away grateful; the simple things in life.
One of the great things about traveling alone is doing things on your own time. Eating, sleeping, potty breaks and all the rest. It doesn’t matter if you don’t eat breakfast until 9am, two hours after you wake up. OR if you eat dinner at 7:30pm because you decided to share a bottle of wine at 5pm first. It is unbelievably relaxing to operate on your own needs (and politely considering the needs of your hose). This made me feel like a grown up all over again or at least my own independent person.
When I arrived at Carrie’s I was greeted with lots of kisses. I immediately fell in love and sucked up all the attention I could. This is Bella, the shyest of the three. Odie and Baxter will be pictured below.
It was so wonderful and therapeutic to catch up with Carrie. We sat and talked and had coffee and talked and had wine and talked and talked some more. Spending time with her makes me feel two things very strongly. 1- I need to do this more often. 2- We haven’t been apart or skipped a beat since we last saw each other. It was wonderful and I am so grateful to have her in my life.
We, of course, also indulged in pedicures and sushi. We not only entertained each other, but also the gentlemen giving us our pedicures and our server at the restaurant. Nothing like a pair of animated giggling girls to keep you entertained. We also researched and ventured to visit a tattoo parlor. Unfortunately it was not my time to get another, although I am saving my pennies (and accepting donations). We looked through portfolios and talked with a couple of artists for Carrie’s FIRST tattoo. We made an appointment for the next day since they were both booked. Even though I would not be in town for the ‘mutilation’ of her body, I was still excited for her and her husband who would be able to join her.
Ted was just as wonderful, accommodating and hilarious as I remember him being. They truly make a great pair. It is alway enjoyable to catch up with him since we share similar taste in jokes, books, movies and t.v. shows. Although he cannot tell a story quite like Carrie, Ted sure makes the story while you are there. I wish they lived closer because I could use some of his humor in my families live on the regular.
Carrie and I shared a bottle of Portuguese Rose during the dinner hour while chatting and waiting for Ted to return home from work on Saturday. It was delicious and I highly recommend it. Once he returned and was ready to go, he gladly chauffeured us to a local Thai restaurant. Now I have never had Thai before, hence our reason for going, but this is an experience I was NOT prepared for. It probably did not help that we were buzzed from the wine and full of the giggles. We ordered things with a 1 or 2 star out of 5 star rating. 5 stars being very hot and 0 being no heat. Well, let me tell you…these items were either spicier than rated or I am a pansy. Needless to say I failed royally. Since my dear friends were buying dinner I tried so hard to eat at least one of the meals that Carrie and I ordered to share.
After about half of my portion I went into a sneezing fit. Clearing my sinuses of any and everything that has ever resided there. I could not stop and feared for wetting my pants with the intensity of the expulsion of mucus that I made my way to the restroom. Once I had regained my composure I returned to the table and apologized for not being able to finish. Carrie laughed and said she couldn’t finish hers either and Ted smiled with beads of sweat on his forehead and bridge of his nose. After paying the bill we went to pick up pints of ice cream (dairy free for me) and head home laughing all the way.
Sunday morning I had a little photo shoot with the pups. Trying to get them to focus and look at me all at once was definitely a fail. I did however, get a cute one of each of them individually. I also love the one of Bella with the tip of her tongue out; even though Baxter and Odie are cut off.
On the way home I decided to make a pit stop in Hudson, Wisconsin to surprise and harass my dear friend Rachel. It was nice to spend just over a half hour catching up with her. I was also able to see her kiddos who were very concerned that I did not bring Taylor with. Shows who they love more.
By the time I got home on Sunday evening I was feeling both tired and recharged from the weekend. I had been revitalized by my visit and alone time. Nothing beats spending time with good friends you love dearly. Weekends like this are really good for the soul.