Monday, September 22, 2008


I love Minnesota (for about 4 months of the year).

I may have mentioned before that Butch works out of town a lot. I don't advertise when he does (for obvious safety reasons) but lately, on and off, for the last few months, he's worked mainly in and around Duluth, MN. He works most of the week (sometimes all week) when he gets a job "out of town". He typically comes home on the weekend but on occasion has worked out of state and has had to stay for a weekend.

Last year, we went to Alexandria, MN when he had a job there. That was very nice and it introduced the kids to the idea of the "mini-vacation". It's great because we get to go to rinky-dink little museums where there aren't hardly any people (everyone's in school!) and the volunteers there love to spend extra time with our little group.

We've been promising the kids all summer to visit Duluth but I'm so glad we waited until last week! The weather was PERFECT. School was in session so we were the only kids around. We got to walk from Canal Park right up to Butch work site and take pictures and video of his crew in action! It was a little weird for Butch to have his worlds collide like that but he really enjoyed having us there to break up the boredom.

He stays in a hotel across the HUGEST bridge in Superior, WI (which is decidedly a NOT fabulous town) because it's a whole lot cheaper but very close to Duluth. We stayed in a suite so we didn't drive each other nuts and we all fit in there just fine.

I planned only one night and to visit the zoo but we ended up NOT going to the zoo and staying two extra nights.

Here are some pictures of some of the things we did.


(I had to buy a cheapy camera, another Kodak Easy Share, on this vacation so my pictures are a little blurry but as I was trying it out, I took this one of Bocker and Matty eating continental breakfast. Matty looked up and said, "No pictures on my vacation!" sorry Matty, no can do)

Mari started playing with the "kissing bears" she brought in her "packpack" to the hotel. They were REALLY gettin' it on, and the kids and I were completely shocked at the sound her bears made while making out. We asked her where they could have possibly learned that behavior. I still don't know.

(Trina is pointing out our "you are here" at the bottom tip of Lake Superior. This was a really cool, aerial view of the great lakes and was so huge it wouldn't fit in the camera viewfinder! I really recommend coming to this city and especially visiting the aquarium. It was a beautiful, interactive place that the kids really enjoyed.)

Ice Cream

Walking Around and In Canal Park

(aftermath of ice cream)

Butch's Work Site

We got to get up really close to see the building that he was helping to construct right downtown Duluth. He is actually looking forward to going back to do the upper floors because his view of Canal Park and the lake is phenomenal from up there! I hope we can go back too, and maybe spend one or two nights, go back to Gooseberry Falls, or see some of the lighthouses and visit some more museums.

The crane operator had to load a plank back on to the truck because it was wrong. I was amazed to watch how he had to lace it through the steel I beams, hoist it over the beautiful next door building with the really big windows, over the street lamp and onto the truck without really being able to have a clear view. It's quite an operation! You should have seen the look on the lady's face who was stuck in traffic under it as it was coming down. She looked up in horror and had that "get me outta here!" look on her face as she rolled down the window and craned her neck to see what was going on! Butch ran across the street to hop up on the truck as a way of reassuring her that she wasn't actually UNDER the plank and that she was perfectly safe where she was. The operator did a wonderful job of getting the plank back on the truck nice and safe.
Gooseberry Falls
Bocker's always been obsessed with lava. He asks me a million questions about it all the time. This trip was FULL of references to lava. He was in lava heaven.
Weazy thought Tommy's toes were as pretty as the scenery.
I let Matty venture out much more than anyone else (against my instinct), but he needed a little freedom after being "extra safety monitor" for so many days! It did just the trick for an increasingly whiny boy who was getting a little stifled in the van.

Two Harbors Museum

The "Edna G" tugboat has been in the harbor for over 100 years. It's a floating museum (big ships don't need the tugs anymore we were told by the wonderful guide who gave us a private tour). We also got to see a big taconite ship load up and pull away from the big loading dock. It was quite interesting for us landlubbers.
Trina is freaked out by mannequins. So am I.

We all had a great time and had a very positive reaction to our little/big group as we walked around Duluth and the other places we went. Sometimes we got strange looks (probably because of the presence of school age children during school hours) but, overall, if someone asked me if all those kids were mine, they were very sweet and would say something like "Oh, I was one of seven!" or "I have 6 of my own!" or "Good for you!" or "They are so well behaved!". It was a good thing for everyone that we took this little trip.
Next post:

Kidspeak from the last few weeks

I've got some doozies from the trip.

At dinner after our first night home together, we discussed where we'd like to go if we had unlimited funds and time to do it right.

I suggested to go South.

Mari said "Keksis". Bocker said "Texas!". He also wondered how long it would take to get there. Butch said it would take a couple of days. Bocker then wondered how long it would take to walk there. Trina told him it would take about a week of walking. Bocker said we couldn't do that, we'd probably get "walk-sick".