Monday, September 29, 2008

USA 2008 / The First Week

The United Airlines flight to LAX from Sydney was almost full and we had the obligatory crying baby to put up with. The food was pretty ordinary and they even wanted to charge $6 for a beer! The movies were also a mixed lot. Not the best of flights. It was a long 14 hours.
Arrival procedures went without incident with an unusually nice lady INS officer processing my visa waiver. But as usual, LAX was a zoo and we couldn't wait to get out of there. Luckily we were able to get an early flight to Denver and wait there for our flight to Sioux Falls. The Democratic Party Convention had just finished so after a nice lunch (and a large Ben&Jerrys), we were able to people watch as delelgates moved through the airport on their way home. Funny hats and banners were the order of the day.
After a final short leg, family met us at Joe Foss Field, Sioux Falls and we were soon hitting the hay.
29 hours from door to door...a very long day!

Next morning we headed up to Flandreau for doughnuts (my favourite bakery in Dell Rapids is closed!) and then onto Brookings for a Farmers Market where good fresh veg was on sale. That night we went bowling (better known in this part of the world as "get the foreigner drunk") in Dells and had a fun evening. Scott ran defense for me most of the night so I didn't get involved in too big a big shout (round).
We had a nice family gathering on the first Sunday with lots of good food and despite severe jetlag managed to be almost coherant for most of the afternoon. Scott has installed a professional volley ball court in his backyard. While some played their hearts out in the heat and humidity, others watch with their feet up on the veranda with a glass of the cold stuff....a much more sensible option.
On the Labour Day Monday, we travelled up to Mitchell to Cabelas for some bargain clothing. Unfortunately most of their summer stuff had gone but I managed to get a few nice shirts on special. It was also an opportunity to reunite myself with Culver's butter burgers which is conveniently right next door.
We picked up our little red Nissan Versa hire car and started doing the rounds. It was good to catch up with everyone, do a bit of summer sales shopping and reacquaint myself with Perkins (pancakes!), Caribou (great cappos and blueberry muffins), Applebees (brewtus burgers) and off course Walmart!

Also had time for a short visit to the local casino to play some slots. Was a fun 3 hours and I broke even! Yes, I really did. Well except for the $4.95 it cost for my secret date's lunch.
Then it was time for the road trip.
Despite some protestations from my co driver we decided to cut across country on minor roads to Minneapolis instead of using the interstate highway system. This turned out to be a good decision. Despite the slower pace we passed through some pretty parts of Minnesota and lots of small country towns. This is the real America and it is a pity to pass it by at 75mph.
We noticed signs along the road that said "lots for sale". They didn't say what they had lots of to sell, but it was nice of them to let us know anyway.
We spent a few nights in Hudson, WI and had a great meal once more at a Carribean restaurant there, the San Pedro Cafe. Had two entrees (appetizers), fresh Ahi Tuna marinated in key lime juice with red pepper, mango, pineapple, papaya and red onion and tropical crab cakes made from blue crab folded with peppers, onions, spices and bread crumbs and finished with coconut cream and tropical salsa .........and a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
But the best meal was the traditional mucho nachos at Cindy and Steve's washed down with a few cans of Coors. And I learnt a lot more about American football thanks to Steve's tuition during a televised Green Bay Packers/Minnesota Vikings match.
Thanks for a very special evening, Steve.
Then after a bit of a female shopping spree at Woodbury Lakes, it was time to head west!

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