Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Minnesota Lakes & Pontoons...Don't'cha Know

I'm back from Minnesota.  I had a hard time getting there.  My wished-for weather arrived in the form of lightning storms over Minneapolis... so our plane was diverted to Sioux Falls, SD because we didn't have enough gas to keep circling until the lightning stopped.   Sooo... we gassed up in SD and were on our way to Minneapolis again in about 45 minutes.  We arrived, but the lightning was still intermittent so the ground crews had all scurried away inside.  That meant we sat on the tarmac waiting for the lightning to go away for almost an hour.  I was sad that I'd wished for the lightning.  At last the ground crews crept outside again, and we were able to hurry off the plane before something else happened.
I had a car waiting for me, and the driver kept calling me to see where I was.  There was a luggage snafu and no one could figure out which carousel it was coming in on.  When we looked at the boards that post such things, our flight wasn't on there.  I guess they couldn't decide whether our flight had come from Orange County or from Sioux Falls.  In any case, neither was listed and so we wandered around lost and dejected until we had the bright idea to ask at the Delta service desk.  Finally: luggage located and I was off downstairs to meet the car and driver.
I was outside in the ground transportation area for less than 2 minutes and my hair was literally dripping sweat from the heat and extreme humidity.  I was literally a hot mess while trying to find my driver.  As quickly as I could I jumped in the car and asked him to crank up the air.  The heat and damp air were deadly - as bad as anything in Puerto Rico, but no nice sea breezes OR sea.  Yuck.
When I got to the hotel I was able to hose off and get comfortable before being picked up for dinner by one of my new coworkers.  She came with her husband and they were both so nice.  She was blonde and had beautiful blue eyes.  When we got to the restaurant, we happened to see some friends of theirs - also all blonde and all with beautiful blue eyes.  I suddenly realized I was completely surrounded by Swedes and Vikings, don't'cha know.  They are a good looking bunch, I have to say, but it was an odd feeling to be a minority of sorts.
The next day, this same coworker and another one picked me up for the trek north to the resort on Gull Lake.  It was a long, long trip - almost 3 hours in the car with people I barely knew.  At last we arrived at our destination.  And it was stinking hot and humid.  And our rooms weren't ready.  We got some lunch and waited.  And waited.  Before our rooms were ready, the others had all arrived, and everyone wanted to get the party started.  It started with a happy hour.  Lots of drinking.  There are only so many Diet Cokes or tonic waters I can drink.  I was bored, but everyone else was having a really good time drinking.  At dinner time (still hadn't been to the room because my luggage was held hostage in the car of one of the happy drinkers) everyone boarded a pontoon (they pronounce it "pan-tOOn") for a migratory trip around the lake - basically bar hopping and eating our way around it.  Yay.
The first bar also provided our appetizers: onion rings, deep fried chicken wings, deep fried coconut shrimp, deep fried jalepeno poppers, and tater tots (Really?? I flew 3 1/2 hours and drove another 3 for TATER TOTS?!?)  There were little flies buzzing around that kept biting my ankles.  It hurt.  We were finally able to leave that hell-hole and get on to the next watering hole - the very same place where we'd had bad pizza for lunch.  So - yay - we got to have more bad pizza.  And lots of drinks.  And apparently the staff was too overwhelmed to serve us our sodas and/or water: we had to get up and get our own.  At last we were on our way back on the pontoons to our own hotel for dessert.  Everyone thought it was hysterical to throw cherry tomatoes and raw veggies back and forth at the people on the other pontoons.  Our driver was racing with the others and water sloshed in and got us all wet.  Everyone thought that was hysterical too.  The fearless leader of our pontoon grabbed tongs (from the vegetable trays that had been baking on the boats all evening) and attempted to field the veggies flying our way.  He got his shoes very wet but made a valiant stand.
The sunset over Gull Lake during our vegetable fight

Finally - AT LAST - we got back and herded up to where the ice cream was.  We made our own sundaes, but what's this? - the staff had forgotten to provide spoons.  So while our ice cream melted they scurried around trying to find spoons.  There were hundreds of dragon flies buzzing all around us.  It was kind of cool - they are like bug fairies, and don't bother me.  I'd never seen so many all at once, but I'd never been to a lake in Minnesota either.  It was almost 9:00pm and still light outside.  I was told it doesn't get dark until almost 10 in the height of summer.  Crazy.

Oh, people were still not done drinking, but thankfully, THANKFULLY I had roommates in our particular townhouse that were ready to go to bed, since it was 10pm and breakfast was at 7am.  We got in the car, luggage in tow, and drove to our rooms.  Where I promptly had a very bad night's sleep.  I guess I was expecting more of a 4 or 5 star resort.  You know - good pillows and good mattresses, nice bed linens.  This was nice and clean, but a little rustic.  Plus, I knew I had to get up early for the meeting and that automatically jinxed any good sleep I might have had.
Wednesday morning: Breakfast and a morning meeting.  Pretty standard, and I learned a lot about the team I'll be working with.  We had a working lunch and then - oh joy! - the team building activity: a scavenger hunt.  I hate to be negative, I really do.  But that was one of the lamest things I've ever done.  Grown men and women screaming at each other to run! RUN! in that hot humid heat to find, and take pictures of ridiculous things.  Now, if there's a prize at the end that I want, I'm as competitive as anyone. But I am NOT competitive just for the sake of competition.  These sales people are like Pavlov's dog when you dangle a contest in front of them.  It was just nuts.  And stupid.  I was thrilled when it was over and I could go back to the room all by myself for some quiet time.  The owner of the car had gone golfing and she very kindly let me use her car.  I really liked her.
At 3:15 it was time for my massage so off I went.  It was OK.  The girl who did it told me how tired she was, and that she'd done 6 massages before me and had one after me.  (Was I supposed to feel sorry for her?)  After she said that, I didn't expect much, and it was a good thing, because I didn't get much.  But I didn't really care because it killed time, and I didn't have to pay for it.  Plus, it was quiet and peaceful in there.
Back to the room to clean up for dinner as I had massage oil all through my hair.  Dinner was at an Italian restaurant on the premises that everyone raved about.  Seriously, Olive Garden is better than that restaurant was.  Maybe the wine was good - everyone was really enjoying that - but from my perspective the food was lacking.  Not a lot of flavor in anything except the flank steak strips with a wine reduction sauce.  I liked that, but no one else did as they didn't like rare meat.  *sigh*  Only one more day to go, however.
Thursday: Breakfast and morning meeting.  Results of the scavenger hunt.  My team won.  Oh, the chest beating and hilarity...  and the eye rolling from me.  Finally, it was over, and I was assigned to go to the airport with a couple of girls who had room for me and my large, giant suitcase.  I liked them.  They thought the scavenger hunt was stupid too.  And they thought the food was bad.  We came to the conclusion that we live in areas where there are A LOT of choices as far as eating out (they were from New York) and that maybe we were spoiled.  Probably quite right about that.  Not a lot of choices in that part of Minnesota, and they are pretty much a meat and potatoes crowd anyway.
Minnesotans are very proud of their lakes.  Rightfully so - they're beautiful.  I enjoyed seeing a portion of the country I'd never seen before.  It was green, and full of wildlife (one girl almost ran into a little deer family while out running one morning), and gorgeous flowers.  We heard loons on the lake.  There were spectacular sunsets.  I assume the sunrises were equally beautiful, but I was in the shower for those.
But I missed my home.  And my husband.  I felt like they could have done this meeting in one day in a hotel in Minneapolis and spared us the 2 days of travel to and from the remote resort.  It was hot and sticky and even though everyone was really nice to me, they already knew each other really well, so I felt like an outsider.  And I WAS an outsider, for heaven's sake - I don't live or work there!
So I was glad to fly home to my husband, my own house, my own bed.  Home is always a good place for me to be.  But I was glad to have experienced the grandeur of a Minnesota lake at sunset.  Even more glad that I'd captured it on my i-Phone.

Minnesotans say there are three good months in each year: the summer months.  It's when they go to the lakes, get out on the water in their boats and pontoons, go to their lakeside cabins.  They enjoy every minute that summer offers, because they know in a few short months the harsh winter will be upon them again.  And unless you just love to ice fish, the lake will be unavailable for awhile.  So I was glad to see this seasonal beauty accompanied by my new blonde, blue-eyed friends.  And for a little while, when we were on the water at sunset, I was glad I'd come.


  1. You sound just like me.

    I used to travel to many of these silly little things during my banking career and I hated all of them. I never understood why anyone would want to be dragged away from their family for a couple of days for something that could be accomplished right at home. It was never my idea of fun.

    And not to sound 100% grumpy, but I have absolutely no desire to go to Minnesota. Not to offend anyone. But I'm a Florida girl, the heat and sunshine are in my blood and to me, cold is nothing but misery. I wouldn't fare well where it was frigid and dark most of the year.

  2. That last photo is gorgeous, for sure. But the rest of it sounds like a nightmare! Sheesh!!

    Hey, at least you didn't lose your suitcase. (Nor for long, anyway...)


  3. I lost my first post, so if it shows up again, I'm sorry. I hate when this happens to me.

    I feel sorrry for you because I know that trip was a hard one. I would have been a wreck, first because I hate lightening, and second, I hate flying, and with both of them together, it just wouldn't work for me. I'm afraid I don't have a lot of patience either. I'm surprised that someone was there at the airport waiting for you.

    I also hate bugs! Ugh. Humidity drives me crazy. I love heat, but it has to be dry heat.

    Don't you just love being around a bunch of half drunk people who think everything is so funny? I'm like you, I would find it extremely boring. I have to hand it to you though, you seemed to endure it like a trooper and I'm sure everyone liked having you there.

    I can understand though, why you were so glad to get home.

  4. What an experience!! Your plane ride sounds like the ride from hell. I would have hated it! I hate lightening and flying........the two together would be an altogether bad time for me.

    Don't you just hate to be in a group that is drinking? They think everything is so funny and I'm like you, I only find it extremely boring. Poor baby, I felt sorry for you, and all those bugs! Ugh. I would hate to live in Minnesota, even though I am Swedish. I can understand why you were glad to get home.

  5. LOL!! I can just picture you on your lame scavenger hunt! The lake pictures are beautiful!

  6. Pretty funny now that it's over! At least you got some gorgeous pictures!

  7. gorgeous sunset pictures! The color is amazing.

    Yes, I was at Balboa Island...one of my favorite spots!

  8. Nothing is as good as home and family. You did gather some lovely photos and eventually maybe it will be a funny story for you. Not now.


  9. And just an aside...guess who had a physical today and had to pee in a cup...eww yes moi!

    Clean catch my a double s~

  10. Sounds like a wonderful trip. I only visited Minnesota once for a business conference, and it was striking how many of the folks were all blonde and blue eyed.

    Recently we went to Ireland, and over there, every third person has red hair and green eyes. :)

    Have a great day - Marsha


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