Minnesota in the Mirror

Part of the pleasure in coming home is remembering a trip. I thought of the odd things I didn’t write about, mostly things that didn’t fit anywhere else. Toothpaste is one of them. Does toothpaste go bad? My dentist gives patients a tiny tube at every six-month visit. I had three of them in my bag. It was late, and I was tired, so I presumed the paste looked gray because I was looking at a bit of gray sealing film. A day or so later I saw the paste itself was not white or blue or striped. I shrugged and used it anyway, figuring if it was lethal, I’d already be dead.

John plays a license plate game when driving. He has done this as long as I can remember. He glances at a vehicle he is passing and notes the state it comes from. When the children were little, he said the name out loud and occasionally had a map for them to color in each state he found. I should ask if it helped them with geography. The game begins when we pull out of the driveway and ends when we come home. He found all but four of the lower 48 states on this trip. We have seen Alaska plates occasionally and one from Hawaii only once. Would it be classified as distracted driving? Maybe not, because John is far-sighted, and he has memorized the distinctive colors. He also knows which states have tags on the back only and those with tags on front and back. When he sees gold and dark blue in the rear mirror, he says, “Here comes a New Yorker.”

The most amazing thing about this game is that he keeps it all in his head! If I were playing, I’d write the list in alphabetical order and wouldn’t know which states were missing. After driving for several hours, I’ll ask what he has found. He’ll say he has all the northern states from Maine to California or all those from New England. On this trip he had everything east of the Mississippi River except three in the northeast. By that, you can tell he has a permanent map in his head. The states he spotted probably glowed in living color. How can one head hold all that information as he drives for thousands of miles?

John sees more while driving than I do while concentrating on looking out of the window. He saw a hearse pulling a boat! Tennesseans take fishing and boating seriously, so I’m wondering if yesterday there was a casket in a boat for one last ride around the lake.

There is always one motel room that was the worst. This trip, it was the last one. The outside looked fine, and the desk clerk seemed normal. We had our suspicions when we got out of the elevator and smelled air freshener. Surely the room would be okay. We opened the door and were hit by the overpowering smell of odd flowers. You know how suspicious people in the movies search for a bug that records their voices? We looked for the air freshener with the same intensity. We think it was in the air conditioner, so we turned it off. Luckily we didn’t bake through the night.

During the last trip, I complained about toilets designed for short six-year-olds. This time we had a bathroom designed for a basketball player, one with six-foot arms. The toilet paper holder was on the opposite wall from the toilet! What was the designer thinking? Walking across the bathroom to get toilet paper is not normal.

The bathroom high point was a newly installed sink. I wash hose every night, and I can tell you that 90% of the time the stopper won’t work in a motel room. I’ve seen a stopper so crooked that it couldn’t fit in the hole. Most lead you to believe you can trust them for five minutes, and they suck the water out in ten seconds. I’m surprised they don’t slurp and burp. Well, this good one was like newer tub stoppers, the kind you step on to close. No, I didn’t use my foot in the sink. I pressed it with my hand, and it would have held water for 24 hours! Stoppers in heaven are going to work like that.

Speaking of heaven, coming home was heavenly. It was way past lunchtime, so John took David and me out to lunch at Bogart’s. David and I flopped in chairs in front of the TV, while John packed for his early-morning departure to the train club. We chatted while watching some show about rehabbing mansions. I walked through our non-mansion house, and I was pleased with the neatness of it (!!!), the height of the ceilings, and the spaciousness and lightness of the rooms. Dark colors are “in” for motel décor, and my reaction was appreciation for light and space to move about. How blessed we are to live here!

44 thoughts on “Minnesota in the Mirror

  1. About dark hotel decor… the last place we stayed was a Hampton Inn with the WORST color scheme I’ve ever seen in a hotel room: dark concrete gray with lime green accents. There was no way to know if the room was clean and it was difficult to find any light for reading or applying make-up. We actually complained about it to the manager and then again in an online survey. We were told this was just the way it is now; we said, won’t be coming back to any Hampton Inns, then. 😏

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      1. I don’t think our threat will hold much weight, but honestly this was beyond ugly– and we’d stayed in this place before when it was so pretty. Why, why…?

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  2. You have some interesting recollections from your trip and John is not only amazing with his ability to remember the license plates, but that after a week of driving, with only a pit stop and thus no driving for the wedding dat, he was ready to launch out again for a long drive to Tennessee!

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      1. Once again I’ve nodded off more than few times doing tonight’s post – I need another day off to rest after two days of walking a lot and events. I am not usually a gadabout but have scheduled some events as it was a crummy Summer and I know once the snow/ice is here, I drive as little as possible. And if as icy as last Winter, walk as little as possible too. I have to get some new directions for Saturday as they say it will be nice and sunny Saturday. Sunday is the second Monarch Open Butterfly Garden and an event at a park of old-time memories (like the old-fashioned cars, the tall bicycles and people in period costume). They do that at Greenfield Village this past weekend, so I image this is a free knockoff of that. So that will be a busy Sunday/weekend next weekend, but still unsure of the Sunday – don’t want to be on the go two solid days.
        I know I am feeling my age with not enough sleep – there are just not enough hours in a day.

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  3. Hi Anne
    Randomly searching and found this post .
    I think John is someone who is happy from within- he is curious as a child and revels in simple pleasures without complaining of tiredness or illness or anything else.
    As soon as you’re back home, off he goes again- tell him I admire his innocence and his spirit and hope to meet him( and you ) in person some time.
    Susie

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  4. Your husband not only knows how to keep himself occupied but he has a great memory as well. Seems like the kind who could tell story after story about the everyday things he observes 🙂 That sounded like quite the motel experience in the last motel. I wasn’t too sure what you meant by wash hose but I think I get it now lol. Agree that it is great to come home and remember a nice trip 🙂

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    1. John’s memory is really good for the license plate game, and I think it is phenomenal for history. I call him my walking encyclopedia.

      I wear compression hose for circulation and wash them every night. That’s why I was so aware of sinks in motel rooms.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Do you travel much?

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      1. Memory games are great as they help keep the mind occupied and so keep you more alert. John really does sound like walking encyclopedia – if he doesn’t have answers, at least he’ll have ideas and suggestions 😀

        I used to travel quite a bit. These days not so much but planning more travels in the next few years 🙂

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    1. We try to leave the house in good order, too. It just seemed cleaner than when we left, and that was impossible. Recently a blogger talked about returning from a vacation. She had cleaned thoroughly before leaving and came home to a mess. I forget the details, but it was something like a pipe that burst and a wild animal that got inside.

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  5. Hi Anne, I laughed over your bad room. We have had two really bad rooms…one in Hollywood, Florida, and one on the way to Cape May, that one was called the Dutchman, and we still go by it now and then. I think it has fallen vacant and is slowly being reclaimed by the land. If I remember correctly both these places were made of rugged cinder blocks with only a coat of bad paint slapped on. I was once in a place with the toilet paper out of reach, but I can’t remember where or when now, so it must have been a long, long time ago.

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  6. Just catching up on some of your posts about your trip to Minnesota. John’s game with license plates is amazing, especially now that some states have multiple types of license plates. And a hearse pulling a boat! We have an eccentric disc jockey that lives in our town who drives a hearse. His claim to fame is that he played with Bill Haley and the Comets, so he has that painted on the side of his hearse. Strange!

    I am glad the gray toothpaste caused no ill effects!

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  7. Maybe that gray toothpaste was a charcoal toothpaste? I have gotten a sample of the charcoal type (fluoride-free) and found I actually liked it! I admit though, it’s not the most appealing-looking paste!

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