We drove up Friday evening - one of the longest 6 hour drives I've ever driven. I really don't like driving in the dark. It feels like you aren't making progress. With the Wife's permission I drove 5 over the limit most of the way which still kind of felt slow. I think I irritated her the entire way since I was having a bad allergy attack and I was sniffling and snorting all the way. We got to the BM and MoH's just after midnight and we talked for another two hours before we decided that we needed sleep.
After a good five hours of sleep we got up and tried to make plans for the day. The group was going to split up with the lady-folk going to get their faces rubbed (i.e. facials) while the men-folk were heading down to the Mississippi River to walk some trails.
The walk along the Mississippi was relaxing. There are some pretty good walking and biking trails on both sides of the river. The river runs in a shallow gorge so most of the surrounding buildings, old mills, condos, and museums, are a bit higher than the river. This makes the place quite interesting. The Missouri trough Omaha is flat and rather ordinary. We did a 3 mile loop that took us by the locks and dams and several historic mill buildings.
By the time we got back to the car, the woman-folk had finished their facials and we arranged to meet them at the Happy Gnome for lunch. This is one of the BM and MoH's favorite places for brunch and beer. I have to say that the brunch was pretty good. The only downside was the late arrival of the hash brown truck resulting in the substitution of breakfast potatoes and the lack of some of the desired beers. Even with these shortages, we ended up quite satisfied. In case you didn't know, the Happy Gnome is located at the Center Of The Universe so now I can say I've been at the center of the world and center of the Universe.
Since we were planning on a large dinner, we had to walk off the brunch so we did a walking tour of F. Scott Fitzgerald's various homes in the area. While I didn't know much about F. Scott Fitzgerald, the tour was interesting taking you past some really cool looking old homes, gardens, and hotels. Well worth it.
The walking tour was followed by a tour of the GS' new man cave. This one actually has a bedroom with a door. The Wife is proud that her GodSon has finally got a grownup apartment. We all sat down, a few of us plopped down on the floor, imbibed some beverages, and relaxed a bit. The guy-folk had already walked some 5 miles now and I, for one, was pretty wiped. It's a nice apartment - good job GS.
Not wanting to leave out the AB, we piled back into the cars and went to the AB's school to see where he teaches. He teaches English at an all boys military academy. Very nice place.
After the school tour, it was time for the birthday pièce de résistance: Meat. We all converged on Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit , an awesome German restaurant. This place, frankly, is beyond belief. The decor, the waitress clothing, the wandering accordion players, the food - totally German. We started, of course, with a round of beers - served in 1 liter mugs. The Wife needed both hands to lift it. (My pathetic diet coke was in a half liter girlie-man mug.) The MoH then ordered three platters full of every form of schnitzel and breaded meat product on the planet. The seven of us managed to empty about 2 1/2 of the huge platters. I was feeling like a schnitzel myself but it was soooo good. Meat ... Meat ... Meat ... Beer. Along with the meat, beer, and shots of German stuff, at your request the waitress would use a spring loaded teeter tooter kind of thing to shoot snuff up you nose. While I didn't partake, several of our party did. They all blew black snot for awhile (UGH!).
One of the wondering accordion players was called over and we all sang the family song - the schnitzelbank - before he went into a long 10 minute rendition of personalized birthday songs for the Wife. It was fun.
After finishing our food and beer, we went out to the huge tents out in the parking lot to drink more beer and talk loudly over the polka music. The place was incredibly crowded. We were jostled constantly as we formed a tight circle to talk and drink. We were joined by the MoH's brother. We had planned our own little beer game - everyone drank when they got her brother to say Maverick (It's a McCain-Palin joke). They must of thought we were crazy talking about top gun, western TV shows, and other Maverick related stuff. The MoH's brother caught on pretty quick so a lot of beer was consumed.
By the end of the night my feet and legs, with all the walking and the standing in the tent, were starting to ache. We piled into the cars one more time and converged at the BM and Moh's condo for some more talking, drinking, and fun.
That was one of the fullest Saturdays I've had in a long time. I'm sure I left all sorts of things out of this post. I'm also sure I'll be reminded about it by someone.
We slept in a little on Sunday. We woke up to pouring rain. We ate some light breakfast - No Meat Please - before we said our goodbyes and drove home. The drive was better during the light of the day. The leaves in Minnesota are starting to turn - the dark green trees are getting frosted in gold, orange, and red.
I've been really bla for the past few weeks (months ??) and, even though this weekend was the Wife's, it help my mood tremendously. We had a great time spent with great people. Can't wait for Thanksgiving when even more of the family gets together.
Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der gemütlichkeit
Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der gemütlichkeit
Eins, zwei, Drei gesoffe!
Zick! zacke! zicke! zacke! hoi! hoi! hoi!
Zicke! zacke! zicke! zacke! hoi! hoi! hoi!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Honey!