Traveling for the holidays.

The Hubby and I have been looking forward to seeing family at the holidays for a number of weeks. The downside is that this year seeing family involves an 11-13 hour road trip to southern Illinois over the winter season, which ended up meaning this:

The storm, part of a system that began in the Rockies earlier in the week, led airlines to cancel more than 1,000 flights Thursday and caused whiteout conditions that left roads dangerous to drive on. It was blamed for deaths in at least five states, with parts of Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan hit with more than a foot of snow. – from CBSnew.com

Ack! As part of our route we have to drive along 35 South, which was closed earlier in the week due to a 25-car pile up that resulted in two deaths and seven injuries. BUT, the storm had moved past by Friday morning, and so we started our journey from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Carbondale, Illinois at 1pm this afternoon.

Driving through most of Minnesota was fine – we hadn’t seen any of the storm up by us – but by the time we hit Iowa the roads started getting icy and we were down to about 45-50 miles per hour. Happily there was no falling snow, but the big semi trucks kept kicking up wet slush onto the windshield. It took us four hours and about a full bottle of windshield wiper fluid to reach Waterloo, IA, which is only about 30 minutes longer than usual, but I was DONE. I was exhausted from clenching the steering wheel, switching back and forth between lanes to find the least treacherous path (often one lane was often better plowed or traveled than the other), and swearing at idiot drivers going far too fast for the conditions. The Hubby took over for a little while, but when the sun set the highway became an even less appealing place to be. So we called it and found a hotel.

This:

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Is soooooo much better than this:

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That’s really what the highway looked like in some places!

The hotel has ended up being an unexpected treasure. It’s in the middle of nowhere, but it’s a new construction and clean, quiet, with comfy bed and pillows, very sparsely booked tonight and the staff are all very nice. We had a pizza in the common room (well, my gluten-free self had pizza toppings) and we played a couple rounds of Lost Cities and 7 Wonders before retiring to the room. Tomorrow we’re planning on being on the road at sunrise, but since it’s December that’s not until about 7:30am. We’re hoping that as we get further south and leave the path that the storm traveled the road will be clearer.

Safe journeys to all of you who are also traveling for the holidays.

Traveling for the holidays.
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Vacay Update

Phew – has it been a whirlwind week! I’ll have to save the story-telling for later, but here’s a few things we did and saw. Stories later!

 

Now I’m here in my hotel room as Skepticon, excited to attend tomorrow’s workshops and hang out with awesome people. Actually, that starts in just a few minutes. I’m stepping away from the computer because there are skeptics to meet and booze to drink!

Vacay Update

Vacay!

My vacation started yesterday! I woke up, had a leisurely breakfast with The Hubby at French Meadow (nomnomnom), made a half-dozen small stops and then was on the road by 9:30am.

A leisurely breakfast with the Hubby.

I drove down to Carbondale, Illinois to visit my Mom. Carbondale is about an 11 to 13 hour drive given traffic and number of pit stops. Because I drove by myself I had total music control! Mwahahaha! This was my playlist:

  • Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe
  • Shelley Segal – An Atheist Album
  • Atheists Talk Radio
  • Rachel Maddow Show
  • Skeptically Speaking
  • Paul and Storm – Do You Like Star Wars
  • Quackcast
  • Skeptoid
  • Roy Zimmerman – Faulty Intelligence
  • This American Life
  • k.d. lang – Hallelujah single
  • In the Heights
  • Pulp Fiction soundtrack
  • Queen – Greatest Hits
  • Tim Minchin – Ready for This
  • The Dregs – Thank You Sir, May I Have Another
  • Amanda Palmer – Theater is Evil
  • Wicked the Musical

*sighs happily* It was a skeptical, atheist, science, broadway nerd fest. And it helped me get through Missouri and waaaaay too many “TODD AKIN US SENATE” yard signs. Blech. I did pass a neat, unexpected billboard which I wish I could have taken a picture of (it wasn’t really convenient to stop). Here’s what is said:

“Rape is rape. Respect others.”

Really simple design: White letters on a dark maroon background, and a website in impossibly small font tucked along the bottom edge. It made me happy that some group cared enough to speak out, but sad that they had to.

So now I’m here! We had sushi last night at Fujiyama and then came home to crash in the living room for chatting and wine. Today we’re cleaning up the house (Mom’s moving out to the east coast soon!) and then heading down to Vienna, Illinois for Grandma’s 80th birthday. Next we’re off on what I’m calling our Bluegrass Tour:

Carbondale, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Lexington, Louisville, back to Carbondale

We’re pretty laid back about the trip. We’re going to see the Parthenon and Golden Athena in Nashville, I want to go to the aquarium in Chattanooga and see Ruby Falls, Rock City and ride the Incline Railway on Lookout Mountain. We’re planless for Knoxville as of yet. In Lexington I’ve been told to drive through the scenic horse farms and stop in Chinoe Grill. And in Louisville I’m meeting the lovely people who run the clinic escorting blog, Every Saturday Morning. They’re going to liquor me up on Tuesday night and then drag my ass out of bed way too early on Wednesday morning to escort at the Louisville EMW Women’s Surgical Center. After that, breakfast with the other escorts and then Mom and I head back to Carbondale. Let me know if there are restaurants or hot spots we shouldn’t miss!

And on Thursday I head to Skepticon in Springfield, Missouri. About Skepticon…well, I’ll save that for the next post. For now, click on the image below to learn more about the event.

Vacay!

Vegas, Baby!

Next Thursday I’m flying out to meet my Mom and sister in Las Vegas for a long weekend. If you read our Cross-Country Connections you’ll know that my sister is in Bellingham, Washington, Mom lives in Carbondale, Illinois and then there’s me in Minneapolis. There’s almost always at least two or three of us flying if we want to get together. This has given us a lot of excuses to see different parts of the country. We realized that none of us had been to Las Vegas, and so decided to meet there this year.

None of us are big casino gamblers, so we’ll probably spend most of the time hanging by the pool, having drinks, people watching, eating some food, and maybe renting a car to drive down to Hoover Dam. We may see a show, but we’re not too excited to pay the big ticket prices.

Do you have any “can’t miss” suggestions?

This is post 16 of 49 in the SSAweek Biodork Blogathon. Donate to the SSA today! Read more about my reader challenges here.

Vegas, Baby!

6 O'Clock BS – Protests

I am constantly doing photo clean-up. I snap a couple to hundreds of photos every day, and so I’m always sorting, editing, filing and archiving. Which means every once in a while I run across some neat photos that have fallen through the cracks.

When the Hubby and I were in Washington D.C. for the Reason Rally we took a few extra days to sight-see. During our meandering we ran across a number of protests. Here are some photos of those protests:

Occupy D.C.

Occupy D.C. had two different encampments that we found: One was in Freedom Square, the other was in McPherson Square. This is the website for the Occupy D.C. movement (note – it only lists McPherson as their location – I’m not sure if the Freedom Square group is affiliated with the Occupy DC group).

Continue reading “6 O'Clock BS – Protests”

6 O'Clock BS – Protests

6 O’Clock BS – Protests

I am constantly doing photo clean-up. I snap a couple to hundreds of photos every day, and so I’m always sorting, editing, filing and archiving. Which means every once in a while I run across some neat photos that have fallen through the cracks.

When the Hubby and I were in Washington D.C. for the Reason Rally we took a few extra days to sight-see. During our meandering we ran across a number of protests. Here are some photos of those protests:

Occupy D.C.

Occupy D.C. had two different encampments that we found: One was in Freedom Square, the other was in McPherson Square. This is the website for the Occupy D.C. movement (note – it only lists McPherson as their location – I’m not sure if the Freedom Square group is affiliated with the Occupy DC group).

Continue reading “6 O’Clock BS – Protests”

6 O’Clock BS – Protests

Washington D.C. Day 4 – Trolley Zoo Chinatown

The goal on Day 4 was to hit the National Zoo. I like zoos. No two zoos are the same and I love to see the animals, learn about them, see how many species we’ve managed to kill off or endanger since I visited last (*sigh*). Instead of taking the Metro up to northern D.C. we decided to buy Old Town Trolley tickets because they go all through the main part of the mall/downtown and have a line that swings up to the zoo, the National Cathedral and through Georgetown. Also, you miss seeing the city when you’re traveling underground :/

Oh the places you’ll go on Old Town Trolley!

We jumped on the trolley by the Freer and Sackler museums, which is fairly early on in the orange line. We rode around the Tidal Basin and by some of the national monuments and museums again. I snapped a few decent shots: Continue reading “Washington D.C. Day 4 – Trolley Zoo Chinatown”

Washington D.C. Day 4 – Trolley Zoo Chinatown

Washington D.C Day 3 – Downtown Penn & Night Tour

Note: We went to Washington over the second-to-last weekend of March, but I am really far behind on my travel blogging because I keep traveling and going to new events! I’m hoping to wrap these D.C. posts up in the next couple of days.

Day 3 was our “niche museum” day. There were a few private museums that we wanted to hit that were outside of the main Smithsonian collection. We took the Metro to the Judiciary Square stop and walked over to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Walking along the wall and seeing all of the names carved onto each stone in such small letters had the same chilling effect that walking by the Vietnam War Memorial has on me. And I had a nasty jolt when I realized that we had only walked along one half of the memorial – a wall identical in construction and also filled with names was located on the other side of the park.

One half of the memorial. There are over 19,000 names recorded on these two walls.

Continue reading “Washington D.C Day 3 – Downtown Penn & Night Tour”

Washington D.C Day 3 – Downtown Penn & Night Tour

Washington D.C. Day 2 – Reason Rally

Day 2 of our Washington D.C. vacation was completely devoted to the Reason Rally. Heck, we even went to bed early and sober on Friday night so we’d be well rested for a LONG day of walking around the mall, meeting lots of people and spending a good deal of time standing in the rain.

We woke up to a rain-free morning – gray and overcast, but rain-free for the moment. We made sure we had our ponchos, some extra bags to sit on or use to cover the backpack, a collapsable umbrella, and our “lunch” – two bags of trail mix, cliff bars, apples we had grabbed from the hotel continental breakfast and a bottle of water.

Continue reading “Washington D.C. Day 2 – Reason Rally”

Washington D.C. Day 2 – Reason Rally

And I'm Off Again!

Alright, I’ve put in the four honest hours of work that I promised my boss when I said I’d “work from home” this morning. I’m pretty proud of this acheivement because sometimes working from home involves more “home” than “work”, amiright?

And now I’m headed out the door for another trip! I barely unpacked my suitcase, you guys. This weekend’s destination is closer to home than the Reason Rally. I’ll be zipping up about 3-4 hours into the wild, untamed hinterlands of Northwest Minnesota* for the University of Minnesota-Morris’s Midwest Science of Origins Conference. It should be a good time. The speaker list is pretty impressive, and I’m excited to learn new things about the origins of the universe, the earth, life, humans and all of that good stuff.

Hope to see some of you up there!

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*When you live in the Twin Cities, pretty much any part of Minnesota outside of the 494/694 is considered to be wild, untamed hinterlands.

And I'm Off Again!