Monday, July 19, 2004

The weekend is always full of fun and interesting events and some people actually are interested enough to read what seems to be my weekly weekend recap which usually appears sometime during the course of the average Monday, (Assuming I an not incarcerated or on vacation). This weekend found me spending the majority of my time at a local small-town community festival. They run the gamut of small-town activities... parade, dance, beer garden, bands, fair-style fried and fattening foods, parade, queen and royalty coronation, parade and fireworks followed by a traffic jam to leave the small town.
Somewhat well-known (local) band Leep 27 was the entertainment at the much-frequented beer garden for Friday evening. The crowd was impressive and the food was tasty. The prices had increased on nearly everything - except the bingo - from last year. In only my second year of attendance, I am becoming accustomed to the way things work. Eat, bingo, drink. Repeat. It is customary in a small town to offer a refill (of beer) to those you know as you run into them in the fenced-off beer garden. Not knowing too many of the locals by way of being a relative newcomer myself, my beer was safe and all mine.
Saturday brought the small-town custom of a not-so-small parade. Over 140 units ranging from antique tractors and shiny sports cars with festival royalty to Ronald McDonald and Goldy the Minnesota Gopher mascot. The parade lasted nearly two hours and the heat was felt by the spectators as our small group of six polished off nearly three 12-packs of various varieties of soda. After the parade ended and traffic crept from the small town, Mary and I ventured to a nearby fabric store in search of ribbon for some wedding-related crafting. This trip involved about five spools of wine-colored ribbon, most of which we used to decorate a wishing well which would be for the stacks and stacks of greeting cards hopefully bursting at the seams with American greenbacks.
I scorched my fingers with droplets of molten hot glue as I pressed the ribbon in place ever-so-carefully. We stopped after every couple feet of ribbon so I could pry the solidified droplets from my extremely warm fingers. As we progressed, I became more skilled at applying th eribbon and eventually had it perfected. Then we ran out of ribbon. I'll have to re-learn this skill next time as we complete this fantastic little wishing well.
As the day wore into the evening, I was in the mood for a nap regardless of its length. That dream of a nap never came into being. I figured that I would go on living even without my wish of a nap. We quickly hurried into town to partake in more summertime festivities which, tonight, meant taking up residence in the beer garden after taking part in a couple of bucks worth of bingo.

The band tonight (Shaw Brothers) was the same one which, last year, riled up the crowd into a gigantic mosh pit which caused me to lose a contact lens and nearly strangle the one who began the brawl in the garden. This year was a bit more subdued but, again, I ended up directly in front of the band with a beer pitcher in one hand and the other held high, pumping my fist along with the music as I quasi-danced with Mary. Eventually we decided it was best to hit the road and beat the traffic. After waiting for thirty minutes for her brother who never showed up, we left, figuring he would find his own ride.

Sunday brought a trip to a store in a land far, far away. The trip began just moments before noon as we drove from the far southern reaches of the Twin Cities towards a nearby Applebee's. As I approached this restaurant, a friend from a nearby suburb called to ask what our plans were for lunch and invited us to The Olive Garden. We made one more stop for the cheapest wine glasses ever manufactured (12 were purchased from the most evil of all retailers - Wal-Mart) and we were on our way once again with impeccable timing as my friend and his fellow Target co-worker and roommate had just been seated.

This stop in our trip lasted until nearly 2:30 as we experienced first the slowest service I can remember and then the discovery that on our previous visit, our gift card had been wiped out by the presumably greedy server who felt like stealing from regular customers. Too bad I can't remember the server's name. If I could, I would be sure they would return the next day to find that they had suddenly joined the ranks of the unemployed.

After this side-trip on our ultimate journey, we continued onward to the eastern suburb of Woodbury. Mary was more than a little skiddish about driving to an unknown address later this week for a rather sketchy interview at an unknown company. (Ask more questions next time, OK, Mary.)

I drove to before-unknown location by only asking what exit it was I had written on the direction I had previously pawned off on her. She would have been fine with the directions and the Mapquested map I printed off for her. But she wanted to drive it before she had to actually drive it. I guess it's the old adage - better safe than sorry. It did, however add time to our little journey. Time which wasn't made up.

I quickly drove, by memory mind you, to the end of this street in the foreign land of Woodbury and was back on the freeway in mere minutes. We continued our trek into the northwoods of our state. We dashed at speeds of 75 miles per hour through faceless suburb after faceless suburb. After Woodbury, they all seemed like one gelatinous blob of business parks, industrial buildings, strip malls and cookie cutter houses. All told, before arriving at our final destination of North Branch, we traveled through 10 (or more) suburbs, 2 cities and four towns. We logged over 80 miles in our roundabout drive and in the end spent $300 more on the mattress set than I had intended to spend. It never would have been purchased without the promise of one year no payments/no interest financing. America is still great. Where else could you spend so much with mere change in your pockets. They didn't even ask for money down. Suckers! It comes Saturday and if you are lucky, I'll write a well-researched review about my new sleeping arrangements after the weekend passes.

The drive back from this town which seemed to be little more than an outlet mall, a horribly placed set of stoplights and some restaurants for the shopper who drive to this desolate town for bargains on old or defect-ridden clothing and accessories. It did, however, have a classic diner-style Denny's. But Mary has something against Denny's. So we just drove by it.

On the drive back through the opposite side of the twin towns we went through many more suburbs than we did on our journey through the eastern side. At this point I was beginning to get groggy as I hadn't received ample sleep after the beer garden the previous night and the excessive driving wasn't helping. I stopped for gas in a classy 'burb and asked Mary to take over the piloting duties. The last stop before her home was at an area Target store to add more (and now necessary) items to the wedding registry for the new bed. ANd some power tools. Can't forget to ask for those. More stuff on the wish list.

After a quick jaunt to her house, we hopped back into my car and ventured into town for the last night of the festivities. All capped off with fireworks. We placed our chairs new the balnket her family had placed on the ground earlier and grabbed some food to inhale while partaking in more bingo-ing. I think we played for nearly 90 minutes at the palrty sum of 25 cents per card. I came oh-so-close to winning so many times but never cased in on the jackpot which often was $25.

The fireworks were amazing and worth the wait and hassle of traffic leaving the town. I have never seen a small town put on such a display and judging by the response, the thousands who attended felt precisely the same way. I am sleep deprived today due to last night's fireworks show but it, as I said, was worth it.

So much bingo-related fun and the whole weekend there; including bingo, beer and food; only cost me $40. Summer fun can be had for an affordable price after all.

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